Readjustment is two-fold, here.
First, a readjustment to Academia. Time management (ever my weak suit), course loads (I hurt already), nocturnal schedules (this, at least, I can take a liking to).
Next, a readjustment to Cairo. This provides the real source of my exhaustion. If you’ve never been here, then you need to picture it in your mind as a sort of dirtier, noisier, low-rent version of Manhattan¹. Save a brief few years as a youth in Small-Town New England, most of my life experience has been informed by an urban setting, so it’s not the city itself so much as atmosphere that lends to fatigue. While fair New England seems to be exhibiting symptoms of Autumn already, Cairo is still in the throes of summer. I’m a child of Sun, so it’s not the heat so much as it is the heat-cum-pollution, this in addition to cultural readjustment: waiting in lines, navigating sidewalks, crossing the street (my friend Javier calls it his favorite extreme sport!), enduring leers and cat-calls², stumbling through your broken lexicon of Egyptian Arabic- you get the point, I think! Readjusting to school after two years’ absence would be overwhelming enough without the cumbersome aspects of learning and relearning how to live in a place. There are days, and there are Days. My mom is certainly not wrong though. She noted once that the best thing about living here was that every day there was a Story, and I’ve found this to be completely true since my arrival.
Fortunately, Egyptians love a good holiday, and with the end of Ramadan comes a lovely ‘Eid el Fitr, during which I’ll be traipsing through the Sinai on a relaxing journey to Dahab. It hasn’t even been a month, and yet I feel that this is a well-timed and well-deserved vacation!
With all this complaint though, there is something to be said for living downtown and being able to hear the thousands of calls-to-prayer throughout the city. With every negative feeling comes an extreme sense of gladness that here, at least for the time being, this must be the place.
¹This is not to portray NYC as exemplar of The Metropolis, but since most of my readership is American, it’s a fair enough frame of reference, I think.
²Harassment here requires an entry unto itself. Forthcoming!