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Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Many thanks to our new pals Nissrine and Leda who had us to their place last night for a delicious dinner and fun evening. We met Nissrine on our last trip to Syria and became fast friends. Though Jordanian, she studies sociology in Lebanon and lives with her Lebanese cousin Leda on the hilly outskirts of Beirut, an area that resembles the foothills close to Tucson, Arizona. I think we ended up laughing harder than we've laughed since we got to Beirut. Insha'Allah, some day (soon) she will show us around Jordan and (soon but not as soon) we will show her around Detroit.

After last month's first and probably only experience ever of teaching on Thanksgaving, I'll spend most of December 23rd in the classroom too. AUB offers a relatively brief week off school between Christmas and New Year's, then (in Janurary of 2011!) we return for the two final weeks of the "Fall 2010" term. Odd.

From December 26, until January 2, Nicole and I will be in Egypt and likely offline. In early January, expect lots of pictures as well as some reflections on Luxor, Aswan, the Valley of the Kings, the Sphnix, the pyramids, the Nile...not to mention New Year's Eve in Cairo, reported to be one of the most crowded places in the world on regular days of the year. You may or may not know that Death on the Nile is one of my favorite movies; in fact, I recently reread the novel on which it's based. I will let faithful readers of this blog know how the Nile compares to Agatha Christie's representation of the place. I don't expect any British aristocrats to get shot, and asp attacks on Belgian detectives are even less likely. But you never know.

I'm in the middle of William Golding's published journals of Egypt. Golding's famous as the author of Lord of the Flies but, among other things, he also wrote a dry but vivid account of sailing the Nile in the early '80s. I have a few other readings selected to take along on the trip, including a neat "Traveler's Anthology" (in English, thank you AUB library) with short excerpts from both Arab and Western writers describing life and travel on the longest river in the world.

Today has been a long day, as many of my English 204-ers took me up on my offer to read one last draft of papers before I collect final drafts on Thursday. Usually in the States a handful of students will take advantage of such an offer. This term, most of the class decided to revise again. Consequently, I didn't get to the gym, but I did spend some quality office time with student writing.

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