Saturday, February 09, 2008


Helllo Again, You Dusty City!


In a neighborhood near downtown Cairo is the massive tomb of Saad Zaghlool. Next to the tomb is a lively street with an outdoor market of vegetables, meat, clothes, textiles and household goods. On the market street in between a shawarma joint and a 24 hour bakery there are some stairs going up into an alley. The alley is lined with more vendors, and across from the fish stall there is a door. Inside the door and up the stairs above the Nubian men’s club there is an incredible newly renovated “super lux” three bedroom apartment. This apartment is home for the next two months.

Sometimes when you rent a flat for a couple months in Cairo the apartment is full of dingy old furniture. What I love about this apartment is that it is freshly painted and relatively empty, with a minimal amount of tasteful furniture. Plus there are stained glass windows in every room! Small lights scattered about give the impression of candles. What a classy pad!

And in case of boredom, all you have to do is look out of the window down to the market. About every half hour some screaming argument breaks out right below the balcony. There are certain characters who seem to be involved in every brawl.

I feel very happy, inspired and creative in this apartment. I stay up until 5am decorating fresh dumbek heads with colored markers at the dining room table, studying Arabic, composing and planning the shows. And I’ve turned one of the extra bedrooms into a meditation room!

My walk to school every day is only ten minutes, and I get to pass my favorite juice guys. Also near my house is the beautiful music venue called Makan that houses the women’s zaar trance ceremony. I inquired today to see if I could have the free class there, and am waiting to hear back.

My Class

Once again I have a nice class. This year, there are many more girls than before, a group of six Egyptian girls who sit together in the back and giggle. Only a few of the students have dumbeks, but I’m hoping they will all have one by the end of the week. THANK GOD my class this year is at 1:30 and not 9:30 like last year. Even so, with jetlag and all, I can barely drag my butt out of bed in time.

My Egypt Health Balance

On the one hand I’m drinking fresh juices all day long, and eating almost all raw delicious fruits and veggis. On the other hand the air is dusty and polluted, I smoke all kinds of stuff here, and going jogging in Cairo would be ridiculous and counterproductive, so I figure it balances out.
We did bring pet scoby with us and chef Rami has begun the brewing process for the historic first batch of kambucha in Egypt.

And for you raw foods people, how about this – sprouted foul! I’m serious! It’s good!

Auditions for My Own Egyptian Troupe!

I’m VERY excited because I’ve started assembling my new Egyptian drumming troupe!
As soon as I landed I started spreading the word that I’m looking for some young bright drummers and who can play stuff that’s not only Egyptian. Today I had two meetings from guys who were recommended to me, and they are both GREAT! The first guy, Mustafa Abbes, was wearing these fancy pointy shoes and picked up everything so fast! I had him play a challenging series of maksum variations and then I showed him my new samai with that part in 14 (3+4+4+3) and he got that as well! So this guy was on time to the meeting, he didn’t ask to smoke cigarettes in my apartment, he said he was on a diet, and he could play in 14. I was like, “Mustafa, are you sure you’re Egyptian?”

The second guy Baha was also great and picked up everything. And he was sooooo enthusiastic and excited!

Oh and did I mention, they are both hot? I even started imagining how I’m gonna dress them up for the show!

Pretty sweet! After meeting those two, I have a feeling this is going to be a kick ass show and I’m really getting psyched!

The first rehearsal will be at Mustafa’s studio next Tuesday.

Jet Lag

Jet lag is hilarious! I’m up every night being enormously productive at least until the morning prayer around 5am or so. Last night I ate an enormous meal at 2:30am. Today I woke up just in time for my afternoon class with a craving to smoke. I’ll probably adjust somewhat, but in the meantime I’m enjoying being on this crazy schedule!

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