Thursday, August 14, 2008

At Sadat Station

A couple of days ago, I was taking the train back home from downtown, Tahrir Square, near where the AUC campus currently sits. (This fall, the university will move to a huge brand new campus in New Cairo, which I will write more about later.) On the platform of Sadat Station (the downtown stations are named for famous people rather than for the places where they stop), a middle-aged man, who I presumed to be Egyptian, approached me and asked me a question in Arabic, which I presumed to be, “Is this the side of the platform for El Maadi Station?” I puffed out my chest, proud that he thought I would know the answer to a question about Cairo. But, sadly, I was only really guessing his question, and had no confidence that I knew the answer. And even if I did think I knew the answer, I had no confidence that I knew how to communicate the answer. My head turned down and I shrugged my shoulders. He asked the guy next to me, who, based on his hand gestures, instructed him to stay on this platform, which was headed in the direction of El Maadi.

Encounters like this one definitely motivate me to get rolling on my Arabic studies. I have picked up a few words here and there. I have some phrasebooks and a set of CDs that I am using. My formal classes will begin at the end of the month. AUC pays for lessons for Jenna and me. We have the choice of classroom study or private tutoring. Jenna is leaning toward private tutoring, but I am not yet sure which option I will choose…

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