Reverse Block

Today I discovered what happens when you sob underwater.

I’m in the middle of a Rescue Diver course, which is perhaps proving to be too much for my capabilities. I am a low-energy person even at the best of times, and the course is demanding, mentally and physically. There’s a lot of information to absorb and then apply immediately thereafter. I also have a fragile ego; and since no one here knows me at all well, they don’t know that I’m not an idiot with no common sense. So with every mistake or stupid question, I feel like everyone’s mentally rolling their eyes.

So today, after a morning of struggling to memorize and assimilate a bunch of information, we went in for a search-and-recovery exercise. Entering the water, I fell (didn’t hurt myself, so no big deal). After I righted myself, the surge pulled me away from my dive buddies as I was putting on my fins. We descended to 15 meters, and the final straw was when I immediately made a mistake setting my compass–once I realized my mistake, I felt overwhelmed and stupid, my brain shut off and I began to cry. I couldn’t compose myself, so I aborted the dive.

On the surface, we decided to ditch the lesson but go back down to look at pretty fish so that I could relax and forget about my fuckups. At a couple meters I started to notice an unpleasant pressure in my sinus, stretching downward and culminating in a mild toothache. The result of crying and getting all stuffed up–the air trapped in my sinuses was expanding with ascent, but had nowhere to go. I aborted that dive too.

Feeling like utter shit and wondering whether I should just quit and save myself more angst.

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Diwali

Yesterday was the first day of Diwali, and I’m glad to be in Udaipur, Rajasthan, which is very pretty and hence extra picturesque when all lit up for the celebrations.  Yesterday just after dusk I took a walk, and here are some of the things I saw:

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Freshening up a shrine, Bundi

Freshening up a temple, Bundi

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Cognac Remy

Found a nice ghost sign on Sherif St. yesterday.

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And believe it or not, I’m still here

Cairo, argh.

The argh:

So there were clashes in my neighborhood over the long weekend in which one person was shot and killed. Lucky for me, I was actually in Sinai at the time finishing my Advanced Open Water scuba course.  But there was violence in South Sinai too: My Dahab-Cairo bus the following day rolled into El Tor about half an hour after the suicide bomb that killed two policemen and injured 48 people.  The bathroom attendants at the bus station were animatedly talking about an explosion but I didn’t think much of it (they could have been discussing a movie or something), and it was only when I got back on the bus that I learned what had happened.  Courtesy of the middle-aged dude who lived in Park Slope in the late 90s and then kept interrupting my stare-out-the-window reverie on the way back to Crazytown.  He made several little trips to my seat to tell me things and show me stuff:  First his NY driver’s license, lest I think he was lying about Park Slope, then later a photo album with a picture of his brother (Allah yarhamuh) standing in front of a Blockbuster Video at night.

Back in Cairo and things seem more or less normal except that traffic is fucking insane at all hours.  In April 2012 I read a news article that said that the average speed of Cairo traffic in 2017 would be 11 km per hour, but I think we’re already there.  My taxi driver from downtown to Zamalek told me, as we crawled along at a snail’s pace at 1 PM, that he was just two weeks back in Cairo after years in Saudi, and expressed bewilderment at the horrendous traffic.  (Nice guy, incidentally.  Gave me his phone number and wouldn’t take the fare from me — I had to leave it on his armrest.)

And I think there are fewer taxis in circulation.  This afternoon I had to walk from 26th of July St. to the Opera metro station and I did not encounter a single empty taxi during that half-hour walk.  This would have been unheard of in the very recent past.

Side note:  I’m noticing more and more mohawks in the city these days, which sort of adds to the general Mad Max ambiance.

The heh:

Lone patriotic man in Dahab on October 6th, getting his “Teslam al-Ayadi” on.

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Clashes in my neighborhood

So today I was doing some cat-care in Zamalek for an embassy friend who was evacuated a couple of months ago and on my way home the metro skipped my station, Behooth.  There was an announcement saying that the station would be skipped, “حرصاً على” something-or-other that I couldn’t make out.  So I got out at Cairo University station and started looking for a taxi.  There were dozens of young men walking down the street in one direction, as though leaving an event.  Taxi driver said that there had been gunfire in Dokki, but didn’t know much more.  He dropped me on the corner of Musaddaq and Muhi el-Deen and I had to walk the rest of the way, because he said he didn’t want to get too close, that there might still be gunfire.  I was like, hmm, weird.  I walked home and didn’t hear anything, but the narrow streets where I live were utterly clogged with vehicles.

Discovered through Twitter when I got home that there was shooting from the top of the Behooth station between cops and Ikhwan.  Apparently state media says it was Ikhwan that was doing the firing.  Har har har.

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Anti-coup march, Behooth St.

I happened upon an anti-coup march down Behooth St. in Dokki, Cairo this afternoon.  Here’s a short clip.

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