15 November 2009

warning: the effects of tango withdrawal

I just finished one of the most stressful weeks of my life, and it seems that everyone I know is, from day-to-day, going insane or is utterly miserable, despite being generally happy.  This is probably just daily life in Cairo, where I spend 3 hours in a car or bus every day trying to get from one place to the next.  The following exchange has become a common greeting among me and my friends:
Double Kiss
"How are you?"
"I'm angry. You?"
"I'm anxious."
"Good, let's go get dinner."
Needless to say, I barely danced any tango this week, trying to balance exams with royal engagements (no joke, the prince is in town) and time lost to traffic jams.  And in my moments of stress I realized that I hadn't had a tango high for about two weeks.  

So, the first free moment I have, I schedule a private lesson.  Thursday 3pm.  That's simple enough.  I planned ahead: wake up at 7am, catch the 8am bus to New Cairo to make a 10am hieroglyphics exam, take the exam (translating, transliterating, and commenting on the Old Kingdom's Shipwrecked Sailor), wait for the 1pm bus, take it downtown, take a taxi to Zamalek, arrive in Zamalek 2.30pm, sit down for 15 minutes, then take a taxi to my tango lesson. 3 hours of traveling, mais c'est la vie en caire (absolument pas la vie en rose).  

...All went as planned, until when I finally got into the taxi to go to my lesson, the taxi driver refused to take the bridge I wanted him to take.  He was trying to take a longer route to argue for more money, so I was stuck in traffic for 30 minutes, making myself 30 minutes late to a 1 hour tango lesson.

I lost it in the cab.  Talking to myself, crying, sobbing in the cab driver's face asking him "lei?? lei?? ana mish fahma! mish fahma leiiii!" (why?? why?? I don't understand! Don't understand whhhyyy!).  He started freaking out and when we finally got to the studio, I said, "I'm sorry, my life is falling apart right now, please forgive me, you should've taken that goddamn bridge" and threw 30LE at him, still sobbing.  Normally I pay 5LE, but I was having an existential crisis, and I watched unbelievably as he took the money and drove off happy.

I walk into my lesson.  Mourad sees that "I'm still asleep" but then, no, "I'm upset."  

...  All he said was, "Do you need a hug?" And he gave me a wonderful tango hug, we started dancing, and by the end of the hour my body and mind were totally at peace.  The weekend took off from there: I played tennis at the Marriott, went to Puccini's Tosca, cooked breakfast, and read Harold Pinter's "Betrayal" over an espresso at Arabica.

The moral of the story is, never pay these cab drivers more than they deserve, and if you're feeling like a terrible grumpy person with no reason to be breathing, it's probably because you're neglecting your ochos, your boleos, and the embrace which makes the world a livable, beautiful place.

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