2013 July – September

Sunday, July 7th 2013

Hey Gorgeous, how are you? Still gorgeous, besides the heat? This constant heat is starting to drain my strength and enthusiasm for renovating! There are two gals I call “Gorgeous”, you and my C, and you’re both absolutely, unequivocally, unquestionably GORGEOUS!

Last night my Gorgeous C & Dad went to a super Mexican steak restaurant. It was just like Pa’s favorite in Numazu, you know the one we often went to on a Wednesday evening with Pat after Dad’s meeting? Great Aussie beef you used to just devour! Me too! You would sit next to me and gobble down tender steak morsels, and slurp your “special drink.” You know Phi, we should go back to Numazu one day together, just to visit those special places… it’ll be interesting how much you remember. We could go to Couer and order your favorite, the salmon pasta in white creamy sauce. We could take a stroll down along the foreshore at Senbon, throw some stones into the ocean and check to see if Allen & Brenda’s old rental house is still standing. We could take a stroll up our old street and take a peek at our old home… I wonder if the garden is still there. We could even head up the hill to see if we can find Totoro again. What do you think? Sounds like a plan, hey?

Last night, while we ate our steak, C and Dad had a good chat about Cairo. She’s amazing! She’s with me all the way, despite the military take over last week. Yes, according to reports, General El Sisi has taken over. Initially there was euphoria in the streets and the pro Morsi supporters were barely seen. Probably, and more precisely the pro Morsi groups were probably given less press. It seems the West, and a good many Egyptians want an end to his pro-Muslim Brotherhood stance. Who knows, I guess it’s still too early to tell what is really happening and why.

What do you think? Fancy cooking together?

What do you think? Fancy cooking together?

I received an email from the head at Cairo American College (CAC). His name is Wayne, and he seems a decent sort of chap. Actually, he’s married to a Japanese woman, so I’m hoping that’ll be a good connection for C. He stated that events in Maadi, where the school and our apartment are located remained normal. Neither C or Dad are too perturbed by what we’re seeing on the nightly news. To be honest Phi, we just want to leave Japan. It’ll be two years in September since I’ve seen you on a visitation, and my guess is, if I stay another two years, your mother will do everything in her power to keep us separated. And for me, well being so close to you, and yet not being able to share a book, and a laugh, and a peanut butter sandwich… well, it breaks my heart kiddo.

Anyway, I finished up three weeks of Summer School Friday, so now the renovating really starts in earnest! I could sure do with your help Phi. Fancy taking up a hammer?

Love Dad… XoXo…

TODAY’S FACT

Over 20,000,000 people live in the dusty, sprawling metropolis of Cairo

COOL QUOTES

Howard Carter, who in 1922 was first to peer into Tutankhamen’s tomb, was heard to whisper, “Wonderful things.”

The second driveway is coming together

The second driveway is coming together

Tuesday, July 9th 2013

G’day Phi, how’s trix? I guess you’re at school, and here’s hoping you have A/C in the classrooms! Another day of 35/36 degrees Celsius! I thought I’d write to you on my way back from 4 injections I had today around midday. C & Dad have to have quite a few vaccinations as part of our signing on process with Cairo American College (CAC). I’ve parked my skinny bum in Subway enjoying their club BLT and avoiding the heat of the day before I get back to sweating on the deck. The doctor said, No alcohol, no strenuous exercise and to rest for a couple of hours, but he didn’t mention working on the deck, all the same, I’m making the most of the A/C in here! Three weeks until C & Dad part for Cairo, so today I had the first of my injections: hepatitis B, polio, rabies & TB.

I finished the main part of the deck yesterday, then this morning worked on the garden and the steps down to the grass. Oh Phi, how I wish you could see it, whip your shoes off and run barefoot around the green, green grass! It looks pretty damn good, if you ask me!

Last night around 6.45pm when I screwed the final plank down, C & Dad asked Eric to come over to enjoy a Christening of sorts for the deck. I’ve been meaning to finish the deck for weeks now, but have had so many other things to do, that I haven’t had a chance to work on it. The last two days however, I’ve devoted to the deck and constantly thought of you. I often visualize you with your hammer at Jiyugaoka hammering a nail into Phil & Bonnie’s deck! So Eric joined us, and Elvis and Alice came along for a lemonade (they’re Eric’s siblings). Alice is at Seisen International Girls’ School, and just like you, she’s just finished grade 4… oh, I almost forgot, you’re now in grade 5 as of April! The international schools follow the US, European system where the school year starts in August. Alice is painfully shy, but last night, she showed us her big smile and even spoke a few sentences.

The deck... not far off

The deck… not far off

Sunday I had a bit of a scare… could have done with you patting me gently and reminding me that everything is going to be fine… some day. It was another stinker (hot, hot-HOT!) and I’d drunk about 12 glasses of water and 1.5 litres of pokari sweat and still hadn’t been to the loo (toilet). I went up our very steep stairs (more like a ladder) to fetch some more screws for the deck, and on my way down I either feinted or missed a step; I’m not sure which, but ended up at the bottom all shaky and with beads of sweat all over my body. Luckily C was home and moved me after a few minutes to the floor in the living room where she put ice packs all over my body and elevated and bandaged my aching wrist and thumb. She was magnificent! Phi, I felt so lucky, so privileged, so fortunate to have her as my beautiful, gorgeous partner… and nurse.

Suddenly though, I felt quite nauseous and almost simultaneously couldn’t help but think of you. I couldn’t block you out, and thought how much I miss you, how much I love you, and how much we’re missing out on LIVING the precious years together. I tried to stem the tears but they just kept coming. I tried to suffer silently, because I didn’t want C to think I was whimpering from the pain that had significantly subsided. Your gorgeous face was everywhere, and I just so wished I could see you… why, why, why is your mother doing what she’s doing???

Just need you with a hammer Phi

Just need you with a hammer Phi

At last I picked myself up and tidied up my tools outside… I miss you buddy! Especially as I know you would gladly help your Dad tidy up his toys! C would like that too…

XoXo…

 

TODAY’S FACT

I miss you more than ever…

 

Sunday, July 14th

 

Wow what a day Possum! We’re on our way back from C’s parents’ home in Chiba. What a grand meal of sushi… all my favourites including chutoro, salmon, ebi and guess what Dad has recently discovered, the creamy rich flavour of uni (sea urchin).

Today the moving company came and took 12 cubic metres of our belongings to ship to Cairo. They took more than I expected, which was good, ‘cause it kind of felt somewhat cleansing cleaning out the house. At 8.30am the air conditioning chap came to install 2 air conditioning units. One was a golden oldie I’ve had for about 5 years now, and the second a monster of a unit (20 tatami mat power) for our living / kitchen area downstairs.

Yesterday I finished sanding back the staircase, then I gave it an oil, and a few hours later the deck was oiled too. We then spent the rest of the day sorting our things in preparation for the moving company. We used Nippon Express and they brought 3 workers and were very professional and tidy, taping protective plastic to the walls to prevent any scrapes.

Should we pack you for Cairo too? Love Dad… XoXo…

TODAY’S FACT

  • Cadel Evans’ chances of winning Le Tour de France’s GC (general classification) are remote now after he slipped further back overnight. He was the first Aussie to win Le Tour 2 years ago when C & Dad were in Paris for the summer… viva Cadel!

 

Wednesday, July 17th 2013

 

Morning Bella. Today is quite a bit milder, it shouldn’t be too hot for a play outside today. Last night I dreamed your mother and I had become “naka-yoshi”. It all seemed so real, we were talking, and you seemed so happy. At first you had cried, because you didn’t want to be at Dad’s place, but your mother kind of comforted you, and suddenly you were in the pool giggling and watching mum & dad chat… then I woke to reality…

Here you are with the Sugahara family in Numazu

Here you are with the Sugahara family in Numazu

At the moment I’m on my way out to Kotesashi. I wish it were to see you, but in fact I’ve been in contact with Komaki Sensei from Sayamagaoka High School (your mum’s high school), and the Sugahara family. I used to teach Rie, and over the years I came to know her family well. Mr. Sugahara and I used to practice golf together, and they kindly asked me over for dinner often. Rie even asked me to make a speech at her wedding.

As I opened my laptop carry case, I noticed C had put a sticker from Kimidori Ribbon on the cover. It reads: Joint Custody for Children.

Yesterday I went to the home centre hopefully for the last time. They gave me the 2 ton truck to transport the 3 bags of sand, 16 bags of pebbles (each weighing 25kg), some edging for the deck, some treated pine edging for the garden, and a few odds and ends such as 2m of electrical cable. We had a sliding door put into the main bedroom that had covered an electrical outlet (consent) and a light switch, so I had to cut through the plasterboard and a joist to thread the cable to the right about 80cm. After which I completed the rendering, put up a few architraves and skirting boards, added a bit of matching white paint, and viola, main bedroom is complete (almost… still needs a new sliding window door to the balcony). I also took the old toilet door off, sanded it back and gave it a fresh coat of paint. And this morning before I left, I moved the bags of sand & pebbles, planted about 30 pots of mondo grass (they were only 30 yen each!) and finished off the toilet door.

Here's Dad with the Sugahara ladies & Mrs. Komaki

Here’s Dad with the Sugahara ladies & Mrs. Komaki

So how’s your swimming going these days? Yesterday as I waited for the bus back to Kamata Station from the home centre, there was the wild excitement of a session in the pool from the primary school kids at their school pool. I remembered how the kinder teachers used to tell me you weren’t too keen on jumping in the pool with the other kids, but how you loved going to the Numazu Pool just with Dad. You would even hold tight to my shoulders and we’d porpoise up and down the pool… when I say up & down, Dad wasn’t too fit then and could only manage 2 laps at most!

Wow this new train line running direct to Kotesashi from Yokohama is great… we’re already at Sakujikoen! As I look over my shoulder, I recall I did a 20km road race somewhere between here & Nerima. It was 4 x 5km laps around an enormous park. From memory I just managed to cut 80 minutes, 79 minutes something. 10 days (public holiday) later I ran my fastest 10km ever in 33 minutes, and then the Sunday week after that race I ran the Tokorozawa half marathon in 76 minutes. Does your school have an Ekiden Team? If so, I’d love to coach it!

It’s 3.37pm now Phi, and I’m on my way back to Tokyo. I stopped off in Tokorozawa to wait for the direct train through to Motomachi and half hoped I’d see you on the platform… but it wasn’t to be. It was a lovely lunch with Mrs. Komaki (recently retired and enjoying her new lifestyle), Rie (who I used to teach), her daughter and her mother… so 3 generations of Sugaharas. I was saddened to hear that Mrs. Sugahara’s eldest son committed suicide 4 years ago. It was a great shock, and I could visibly tell that the family has been through hard times. They all put on brave faces, but I could feel their pain. We talked around you, and I showed them photos of you, but I didn’t mention the mess we’re all in.

Anyway Bella, I’m gonna finish my takeaway coffee and do a Sudoku or two… I miss you…

TODAY’S FACT

  • The Sugahara grandparents actually came down to Numazu to visit you and Dad. There’s a great photo of us down by Senbon
  • It was hard coming out to Sayamagaoka to feel your presence, but to not see you… I wanted to wait by your school to say my last “goodbye” before heading for Cairo… but decided with what’s happening with the High Court, it wasn’t the wisest idea…

COOL QOUTES

  • “It takes a village to raise a child” (African proverb)

 

 

Sunday, July 21st 2013

G’day Bella. Guess who came up today for a bbq? Remember Leyla & Aiden, Rie & Scott from Katoh? We had Xmas with them just 4 years ago in their home nestled between the mountains and the ocean. Scott helped me with the lawn, bringing his own lawnmower and lasher to give our turf a bit of a haircut. It needed a trim too! The grass now looks splendid! Perfect for you to whip your sandals off and run around.

Fancy a bbq Phi?

Fancy a bbq Phi?

Around 4.30pm our other guests arrived, Trav & Megumi (from Numz) with their newborn Noah, and Erin all the way from Melbourne. Erin came to visit the two of us in Numz way back when she was a HS exchange student, and now she’s studying out at Tsukuba University. Dad used to teach Erin at Templestowe Park

We're all waiting Phi...

We’re all waiting Phi…

Primary School (Melbourne) when she was just grade 6… amazing huh!? Kei also joined us, so too Milton, and Eric from next door brought his sister, same age as you my dear, and his younger brother, Elvis. It was a great evening around Dad’s new weber bbq with lamb chops, spare ribs and plenty of sausages. You would have loved running around in your bare-feet on our glorious grass in between sausages and charcoaled chicken legs.

Would love to show you around the garden

Would love to show you around the garden

On Friday the lads from school came over for our first bbq, Jamie, David So, Evan & Sandy. C, courtesy of her lost voice (she’s had quite a cold) skipped her English translation class and joined us on the deck for plenty of meat on the new weber! The lads had given us the weber bbq as a wedding gift, so it was only fitting that we launch the hot coals on this evening. Later in the evening we tuned into the AFL, and Dad & Phi’s mighty Blues just beat North Melbourne (the Kangaroos) by a single point… LUCKY!

TODAY’S FACT

  • It’s time we had a hug… XoXo…

 

Saturday, July 27th 2013

Bonjour Ophelia!

C & Dad are on our way back to Nippon. We just spent 4 glorious nights in Noumea, New Caledonia. It’s off-season in Nouvelle Caledonia so we were fortunate to receive a whopping 50% off our hotel/flight booking! We stayed at the Ramada Plaza in Noumea, which was fairly central to pretty much everything. Day one we wandered around the hotel area and found a large patisserie. Dad had a whopping bagette with ham & cheese and a lousy coffee… the first of several. Later we worked out the public bus system and headed into the town centre, did a little shopping for some French cheese, etc. Our first evening we dined at a local tasty Italian restaurant.

Day 2 and we were up at sparrow’s fart (early) to board a ferry to the Island of Pines. It was a 2 hour 45 minute journey, but well worth it, as upon arrival the waters that greeted us were just divine. It was a beautiful sunny day and our luck continued as we met 2 young friendly French lasses who shared taxis with us around the island (nothing is cheap in NC). We spent a grand day snorkeling amongst hundreds of delightful fish, both big and small. We arrived back in Noumea that evening around 7.30pm and proceeded to a French restaurant that one of our new friends had highly recommended. Alas, it was full, but we made a reservation for the 25th. We ended up walking/hiking back to the hotel, a good 80 minute stroll… C is such a trooper, she didn’t complain once!

Day 3 we took a taxi boat out to a small island off Noumea, Duck Island I think it was titled. Again the snorkeling was excellent, though the water was cold and once you were out the wind didn’t help warm us up. C went in twice, but Dad was only brave enough for one swim. That evening we dined at Au Petite Café. It was fantastic. I had the chef’s recommendation, the Aussie lamb, and C had a seafood salad followed by exquisite cheesecake.

Day 4 was rather overcast and a tad chilly, so we took a bus into town to the market. Enjoyed a cake and the very mediocre coffee on offer in NC… similar to France… instant coffee machines devoid of that authentic coffee bitterness. By late afternoon it was time for a run and to fight back against the extra desserts I had been enjoying. My goal was a seafood restaurant in which to make a booking for the evening. Managed to find the restaurant, and made our booking. Upon arrival a little later (after a 25 minute stroll from our hotel), C had the duck (very good) and a sickly sweet, but heavenly dessert that likened itself to a beautifully presented snickers bar! Dad had some fancy French prawns that looked spectacular, but tasted rather average. The bill came to 92 NC francs, just as well, as we only had 95 left… so a taxi home was out of the question, and a walk home in the rain ensued.

This morning as we were leaving the hotel, C found another 100 NC francs somewhere in her purse, so we treated ourselves to a grand breakfast at the airport and C’s mum scored a few souvenirs. And now my dear Phi, we’re on a flight back to Tokyo… see you soon, I hope!

Love always, your Dad forever… XoXo…

TODAY’S FACT

  • Despite being first discovered by Captain James Cook in the late 1700s, New Caledonia was annexed by the French, and remains a French speaking colony to this day

 

Friday, August 2nd 2013

Morning Princess… guess where Dad is now? Sitting down in front of gate B8, at Dubai International Airport awaiting his flight to Cairo & a new life with C. C will follow in 5 weeks after tidying up loose ends on the house, potential renters, tax, utilities, etc. She’s an absolute gem! I feel rather guilty leaving now, as there are so many things still to do, but my orientation with Cairo American College (CAC) starts Sunday.CIMG0161

Yesterday we had a busy but delightful final day. I booked a surprise lunch at 1pm at Le Jue Larisse. It’s the same Michelin star restaurant that C & Dad invited our guests to as a type of wedding reception. It was amazing! The food was exotically presented, and the harmony of the flavours was a taste sensation to behold. We shared a bottle of French Sancerre Chablis (we’ve both always enjoyed wine from the Sancerre region). After a well deserved nap, it was time to add a few finishing touches to the rendering in the main bedroom, then a tidy up of my tools and to lock ‘em away for safe keeping. Saito San (our carpenter/builder) kindly dropped in to say “goodbye” and to let us know he’d be back in the morning to finish off the window frames.

CIMG0163It was an early start which kicked off with the papers / cardboard, and the weekly sorting of cans & bottles… fairly exhausted now, but hope this next chapter in our life is rewarding for both all of us… you, me & C.

Love you kiddo… Dad… XoXo…

WICKED QUOTE

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac

 

Friday, August 9th 2013

G’day Phi. Well what a week. CAC has held a warm and inviting orientation week for all the “newbies” (new teachers). But first things first, the apartment. It’s huge! Already it’s filling with Cairo’s infamous dust… I don’t know how we’re going to stay on top of the cleaning! It has three large bedrooms, really large, with cathedral ceilings and enormous cupboard space… plenty of hiding spots for girls and their friends when playing hide ‘n’ seek! There are two toilets, and the school has pretty much furnished it for us, AND the apartment comes with 4 air conditioners. The only things I had to purchase this week, was a washing machine, microwave oven, and a fan… otherwise we’re good to go. We’re on the third floor and have three balconies! I like the balcony that leads off the main bedroom… I can see us sharing a cold white wine and some cheese out there when the temperature drops a little. We can’t see the pyramids, but I’m told from the roof, you can glimpse the great pyramids of Giza.

The new apartment!

The new apartment!

Well Bella, Dad needs a nap… XoXo…

QUESTION FOR THE ANCIENT EGYPTIAN GODS

Should I prepare a bedroom for my daughter, Ophelia, so she can visit us in Cairo?

 

Friday, August 16th 2013

Hello Phi-Fai-Fo-Fum. How’s your summer vacation going? Lots of swimming, matsuris and ice creams? This past week the returning teachers came back to Cairo American College (CAC). I’ll be teaching alongside two Americans in grade 5, Carolyn & Ryan, and perhaps a third teacher, Meg, who is presently back in the US on forced repatriation. FYI, CAC is an American embassy school, so leading up to the events when Morsi was ousted and General El Sisi took command of the country, the majority of embassies sent “non-essential personal” back to their home country. This has meant that our student population has dropped to around half, from 1400 to only 700 students! Wayne, the school superintendent (head) has ensured the faculty that the school will honor all contracts… so I still have a job. In any case, Meg, the fourth member of our team was sent back to the US because her husband worked with the US embassy. If the forced repatriation is reversed, then Meg will join us, and hopefully 15 or so students will also come back into grade 5.

Dad is in Cairo!

Dad is in Cairo!

As a result of all the protests, the school has decided to delay the start of the school year by a week. We were scheduled to begin classes this Sunday, yes, Sunday. Being a predominantly Muslim country, the working week starts on a Sunday, because the Friday is their call to prayer day. So, now we won’t start teaching until Sunday, August 25th. I’m a little disappointed, because I was looking forward to meeting the students, but at the same time, it’ll be nice to have an extra week to prepare.

The protests themselves have come quite close to our apartment. For the most part they look peaceful enough, and I can’t help but think of my university days and the protests I too was involved in. There are women and children involved, chants and song. I protested about Bush’s war in Iraq, Apartheid in South Africa, the Shell oil company providing oil to the South African military, Reconciliation for the indigenous people of Australia… fun times, and such passion!

At the same time, there have been many deaths. I feel quite safe here in Maadi, away from the frontline turmoil, but some of my colleagues have taken a voluntary redundancy package. With so few students, there’s less need for all these teachers. Two teachers in Dad’s building decided to leave after just two weeks, and there are others, that I don’t know them so well.

Anyway Bella, I’m safe, and quite enjoying my time, except for the 7pm curfew… I have a story to tell about that… but maybe another time… you’ll have to ask me in person.

Goodnight, and sleep tight. Love Dad… XoXo…

FAST FACT

Your naughty Dad stayed out past curfew this past week. He was on his way home from Mel & Azarea’s (also new teachers) at about 10pm. In the distance, some 200m away I could see I wasn’t the only one out past curfew, there was a bunch of lads jostling cars as they tried to pass the disused railway line. I walked closer and noticed that they would selectively give the driver and his/her car a hard time. My heart was ponding, and I thought about turning back, but as it was my only way home I ventured forward… I needn’t have worried, they let me pass without a word… chilling!

 

Friday, August 23rd 2013

Wow, look at that, just going over my previous correspondence with you, and it seems Friday is the day I sit down and write to you recently. The kids will start school Sunday, C will arrive early next month, and maybe one day soon Egypt will get its act together. Let’s hope so. This correspondence might be a tad melancholy.

Right now, it’s 8:48pm and we’re in the midst of yet another blackout. It’s the third or fourth we’ve had this week. Usually they last for an hour to 90 minutes. It can get quite stuffy without the A/C on, and without even a fan, damn hot!

Sometimes, but not often I hear gunshots at night, but most of the time I think they’re just fireworks. The other day some hoon launched some sort of rocket on the outskirts of Maadi… that one was around 6am and really rattled the windows. I’ve heard at least one bomb go off, but again it was distant, and it was another police station that was targeted. Foreigners are largely being left alone, except for a few brave reporters that have been assaulted and worse.

I worry what I’m bringing C into… is it right to want to be with her here in Cairo, considering what’s happening downtown? I need her by me, but will she be okay in Cairo? Is it fair to expect her to live here? When I’m at school, I’m so engrossed in what I’m doing, getting my classroom ready, meeting new colleagues, attending meetings, getting my head around the new curriculum; I quickly forget what’s happening outside the walls of CAC. Don’t get me wrong, Maadi feels comparatively safe, so I’m sure we’re under no immediate danger. Sometimes I run down to the Nile. At the entrance to Maadi from the Corniche are two tanks… I took a photo of them the other day, then after I had taken the shot, I thought, mmm, perhaps not such a great idea Ged. How will C feel amidst this mess, home alone, when I’m at school all day???

I better leave it there Phi… I’m making myself miserable. I love you… and miss you, as I miss my C… XoXo…

FAST FACT

Your Dad is a little confused…

 

Saturday, September 1st 2013

How’s life on your side of the world? I had a busy first week with the kids, and I’ve also stayed busy socially too. The students are great… thus far. A bubbly and sometimes noisy group, who need a little extra help with their Math. Your quiet ways would sure be appreciated… fancy switching schools?

In my spare time and on the weekends, I’ve been running with different groups. The first group was the Cairo Hash House Harriers. They took me out to the local wadi (like a valley) for a bit of a run, and then a beer. I also joined a group that call themselves Wompers, and we did exactly the same thing, goat tracks out at the wadi followed by a beer. There’s another group called the Maadi Runners who meet outside the CAC gate at 6:30am Friday mornings. Yesterday I ran 8 miles with them, which rounds out at about 13km. It was a pretty good pace, and I felt pretty good about myself, as I ran with the lead group (younger men of course).

Fancy a run in the desert?

Fancy a run in the desert?

Apart from that, I’ve made some new friends, mostly from among the new teacher group. Beth lives opposite, she’s American, and her husband is settling things on their house in Virginia, so much the same as what C is doing back in Japan. The two of us have spent a bit of time together exploring the local neighborhood, and cooking the occasional meal for each other. There’s also a Sydney family, who have two kids, Emily in G4 and Matt is G3. Mum and Dad are Sarah & Rick. I babysat the kids the other night because Sarah had to go to the hospital with a bout of food poisoning.

Then there’s a couple of fun lasses from Australia. Mel is from Melbourne, and it’s her first international school, and Azarea is from Adelaide, and CAC is about her 8th international adventure. They’re both a bit of fun, and they’re the main reason I missed curfew the other night!

So you needn’t worry about your Dad. He’s surrounded by good people, and he’s excited about his first year teaching in Egypt.

Love you Phi… Dad.

WICKED QUOTE

“All the pathos and irony of leaving one’s youth behind is thus implicit in every joyous moment of travel: one knows that the first joy can never be recovered, and the wise traveler learns not to repeat successes but tries new places all the time.” – Paul Fussell

 

Friday, September 7th 2013

Happy birthday Uncle Richie! Yep, it’s Richo’s 44th birthday today. I think it’s been 15 years since I’ve been able to celebrate a birthday with one or both of my brothers…

So, how’s school going now that you’re well and truly back into the swing of things after the summer break? My guess is, the Math is really becoming tricky. I remember teaching how to calculate speed, distance and time at Katoh to my grade 6 classes, finding the volume and surface area of numerous 3D shapes, MS algebra, and damn complicated word problems. How’s it all going? I don’t suppose you want to talk about school… I guess there’s pressure regarding where you’ll go to middle school… so how about Dad introduces the local Cairo neighborhood?

Well, we live in Maadi, it’s a bit of a green-belt south of downtown Cairo. It’s more or less set beside the Nile, but the railway line, a prison and a huge police complex separate any direct route to the Nile. Considering what lies outside of Cairo, basically desert in every direction, the streets of Maadi are pretty much tree-lined, though the whole area looks pretty tired, dusty and worn.

School is quite the oasis

School is quite the oasis

We live on Road 12, not far from a street of cafes and restaurants (Road 9). It’s an interesting walk along Road 9 in the evening, because the Egyptians (the wealthy ones at least) seem to come alive. On Road 9 is also the local metro stop, Sakanat El Maadi. It’s pretty reliable, and though dusty and without A/C, it’s only one Egyptian pound per trip (the equivalent of about 15 yen).

There are stray cats and dogs everywhere. For the most part the dogs leave you alone, however, I don’t think they are use to joggers (a very uncommon sight in Egypt), so they occasionally give me a scare.

School is a short 10-12 minute walk away. I wish I had sent my bicycle with our shipping company… it would make the commute twice as quick, and the road, despite a few potholes, isn’t un-rideable. Thus far, I’ve been living out of a suitcase… BUT, if reports are correct, our shipment should arrive almost the exact same time as C lands in Cairo.

Gotta run, see ya kiddo! Dad… XoXo…

WICKED QUOTE

“He who does not travel does not know the value of men.” Moorish proverb

 

Sunday, September 29th 2013

G’day Phi, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write to you. I don’t have any excuses for not writing sooner. I’ve thought of you every day, and especially during special events at school… my mind can’t help pondering what life with you might have been like.

Now, I’m sitting on our 3 seater grey couch writing to you from Maadi, Cairo. Yep, your Dad & C have made the life-changing move. I arrived here August 2nd, and C followed a 6 weeks later because she was busy tidying up loose ends on the house in Tokyo, dealing with taxes, real estate agents and the rest of our belongings.

So, we’re here in Cairo. Summer is dissipating and curiously even during the hottest spell of summer, it didn’t seem as ghastly hot and humid as Tokyo sometimes feels. In fact during the evenings it was and continues to be quite pleasant.

The School, Cairo American College (CAC) is a huge establishment, with a swimming pool (and diving pool), two soccer pitches and beautiful grass areas, an awesome gym with weights, running machines, etc., and even a 6 lane artificial turf running track! I have 19 kids in my class, the main group being Egyptian, but I also have a Danish kid, South African, British, Swedish, Indian, American & Pakistani student(s). It’s interesting because our school week starts on Sunday and finishes Thursday. Being a predominantly Muslim country, Friday is a holy day and hence a holiday. We even have a mosque not more than 80 metres from our apartment. At first it was a little hard to get use to because the “call for prayer” starts at about 4.30am, but these days I seem to sleep partly through it.

Last week we celebrated International Peace Day, I think it was supposed to be September 21st internationally, but as that was a Saturday, we held our Peace Assembly on the Thursday.  It was an amazing assembly of dance & song, of poems and wise, gentle, inspiring speeches. I couldn’t help but picture you and wish you were with me, with flags from over 80 countries held by HS students serving as the perimeter. The wisdom and hope the students displayed, made me feel proud just to be in the audience. Watching these brave international kids campaign for peace made me wish you were a part of CAC too. The assembly was particularly poignant considering the times we live in here in Cairo.

On July 3rd this year General Al Sisi took power from President Morsi. Depending on which side of politics you lie, there was either jubilation or protest. We arrived in Cairo when there were still tens of thousands of protesters in the capital’s main square, Tahrir Square. But there were also many (maybe more) that were glad to see the back of Morsi. One of the most interesting and memorable articles I read about Morsi, was posted in the UK’s Guardian Newspaper. Paraphrasing, it stated that the majority of Egyptians were upset with the West for condemning Al Sisi and the overthrow of Morsi. They, the Egyptians believed the military acted on behalf of the people, hence a people’s revolution. They were also upset that the West in condemning the coup, had conveniently forgotten the erosion of the people’s rights under Morsi after just 12 months in power. There were many that believed Morsi and The Brotherhood had come to power using democracy, but had dismantled it behind them.

Anyway dear, my C has put dinner on the table… teriyaki chicken, rice, miso soup, Spanish omelet and even fresh bread from our bread maker… how lucky am I? Fancy a bite Phi, there’s plenty for three.

Bon apetit! Love Dad… XoXo… Check out the quote below… I still have your horse pillow handy, just in case you wish to rest your head on Dad’s shoulder…

WICKED QUOTE

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

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