The Truman Show: Cairo Edition

Some of you have heard me talk lately about my suspicion that I’m the main character on some kind of Truman Show. You may remember the 1998 Jim Carrey movie, where a man’s entire life, from birth, is a reality television soap opera and everyone he knows is just an actor on the series.

I had dozens of Truman moments in the past year in New York; times when I’d be walking in a neighborhood I rarely visited and would see three or four people I knew from different parts of the city, all in the span of half an hour. It’s a phenomenon that kept me fearful during my bout of computer dating, because I was absolutely certain that no matter which restaurant I chose for a date, sitting at another table would be the woman I had gone out with the week before.

I know it’s a small world, but give me a break.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that although I’ve only met half a dozen people in Cairo (outside of AUC), I keep running into them everywhere. In Radio Shack, in the AUC faculty lounge and, today, at the language school where I took my first intensive Arabic class.

I slid a little piece of news into the last graf… Yes, I’m taking intensive Arabic for four weeks: two hours a day, five days a week. The class I was set to teach at AUC had zero enrollment, so I don’t have a consistent commitment there, at least not until later in the semester. I’ll be doing guest lectures in various classes, which has already been a lot of fun. And until the end of Ramadan four weeks from now, it’s doubtful I’ll be able to get much traction in setting up workshops with working journalists.

So, immersed in the language I’ll be. The casting directors of The Truman Show: Cairo Edition have selected a diverse and eclectic group of fellow language students (from places as far flung as Iceland, Hungary, France and Spain as well as half a dozen Yanks). And I’m sure I’ll be running into all of them at random spots around town in the coming weeks.

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One Response to The Truman Show: Cairo Edition

  1. [...] I’m struck by how often ideas and advice are already floating in the ether before events happen (it’s as if the writers of the Truman Show: Cairo Edition plant them as plot points for me to act on in the days after I hear them).  Just Wednesday night, at a birthday party for a photographer I recently met here, I heard a guy talking about how he dealt with problems with his Baawaab (pronounced BO-abb) – the Egyptian Arabic word for doorman*.  He said he had learned, after living in a few apartments over the years, that you can’t be too friendly with them, or they’ll just take advantage of you.  He said what has worked is to establish the master/servant rules immediately, be nasty and let him know who’s boss for a couple of weeks.  Then, after a while, you can lay off the cruelty and be a decent human being again.  I guess it’s kind of like asserting your alpha male status with the help. [...]

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