Thursday, May 10, 2007

Follow The Thread

End of the week, at last. It's been another long one, and the work is really coming on. Three papers to finish in the next few weeks. But relative to Brandeis, the workload is still pretty easy. Mostly, it's just the way the writing is at a much lower level here - what I would do an in-class or one-week assignment becomes a final semester paper. And the pace of reading is much, much slower.

I also went to see a play here in Egypt which my Egyptian friend Sarah was in, called The Bussy Blay. Bussy is colloquial Egyptian for "look!" or "Pay attention!" when speaking to a woman - but Egyptians also pronounce P's as B's, so it's a bit of a double entedre. The point of the play comes from a performance a few years ago of the "Vagina Monologues," which as you can imagine was a bit of a controversy. So they decided to retool the show to be more about Egyptian women.

And it's a really, really interesting and intense show, split 60-40 between English and Arabic, with lots of stories you've heard about Egypt, some you've guessed, and some you never would. I've always had trouble relating to women's-empowerment type literature - after all, I'm not a woman! But this was well-acted and well-done, lacked the gratuitous shock factor of the Vagina Monologues(although considering the culture there's some shock going on for sure!), and surprised me in many ways. The format is of students acting out anonymous monologues pertaining to particular women's issues. Two of the ones that shocked me the most were stories of girls being fondled by their Qu'ran teachers!! I guess it's not just the Catholic Church...

But there were other, lighter ones, humorous ones, personal ones, tragic ones, romantic ones - it was really quite a show and I fancy it made me a little more open-minded. But despite the one monologue entitled "Muslim Women," filled with equal amounts of rage at Islamic society and Western cultural imperialism - the show as a whole made me think the society could use just a touch of our cultural imperialism. One of the lines that stood out to me was about how "Yes, my father tells me how to dress...but so does Gucci!" Well, yes - but the difference is A)Gucci isn't supposed to be your father, and B)Gucci won't beat you for not wearing their fashion. A specious and silly comparison, to link traditional Islamic patriarchy with the much milder patriarchy of body image and advertising in the West - most often employed by Islamo/Marxo/Feminist types who need something to rail against and self-righteous suburbanites who want to pretend to connect with their "sisters" in Saudi Arabia or Sudan.

I also took Jon to see my tailor, and took the opportunity to get some pictures so you can see just how original and old-school this guy is. He really is the real deal vintage tailor, and he even does all his sewing on a peddle-driven sewing machine. Here's what his shop looks like. Click for bigger pictures.

Jon and Zaghloul.

Zaghloul's workdesk:

Works in progress.

The innards of a suit.

Waiting for delivery.


Juria said...

Y'know I've been lurking in here for quite sometimes. I'm living in egypt again vicariously through your words. You make me wanna come back and live it in this phase of life. Don't stop :)

Daniel Augusto Pereira said...

I'm glad! Unfortunately, I leave in a month...I can only hope my life stays interesting!

Juria said...

Oh!! Damn, just keep on writing then!

Jonathan Guyer said...

really, i wasnt unhappy at the tailor- dont get the wrong impression from the photo- it was really fun...

Anonymous said...

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