22 March, 2010

Chills Ran Down My Spine

I closed my eyes for a moment and reopened them slowly, staring out over the balcony at the performance going on in front of me. As I watched, my body slowly rocking along to the beat, the lead singer looked up and our eyes made contact for a moment. It was less than a second, but in that second I felt like she could see through me, that she knew everything about me. But, as soon as her eyes moved away, the feeling vanished. 

The main women stands center and belts her voice. 
Last night, I saw an East African music concert based on the traditional concept of Zār. Going to see this performance, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, as we had been given very little information about the performance until we actually got there. 

The set up for the performance space was rather interesting. There were chairs set-up up to a point and then there were cushions on the floor for people to sit on. And then there was the balcony,where chairs were set-up to overlook the performance space. I sat in a chair on the ground floor for the first half of the performance and then moved to the balcony for the second half due to the annoying woman sitting next to me.

 One of the band members sitting center plays the 6-string lyre known in Zar.
The performance itself was spectacular. Watching the group, Mazaher, perform brought to mind the image of the South in the States from a while back. The tribal like chanting and drum beating remind me of the images I've seen of VooDoo. And well, that makes complete sense as Zār is a healing ritual which is often mistaken for an exorcism ritual. The women also play a huge role in Zār, which is very rare to see here in Egyptian culture...at least in public its rare to see. Most women here are seen to be quiet and submissive to their male counterparts, even if they may be the dominant figure when in the house, they still maintain a different appearance outside of the house. But, here they certainly do not. 

The main woman belted her voice and it echoed throughout the entire theater. At some point it gave me chills and I understood why this was a healing ritual. It was beautiful. I'm so glad I went. 

It's Thursday here already. 7:16pm to be exact, and nearly one week ago exactly I left for an adventure to the Black and White Desert. And while I'm excited to tell about that adventure, I want to give everyone the full experience. So, sadly, you will all have to wait until I get a firewire over the weekend. But, this week was not devoid of fun, as seen by the concert above. 

Sunday was Haley's birthday and after I got home from class, we went out for sushi. Sushi here is still a new concept for many Egyptians, as seen by the fact that the restaurant was almost entirely empty. I got the all you can eat sushi deal, which was a pretty good idea as I'm pretty sure I saved myself some money and everyone helped out in eating what I couldn't. 

After sushi, we rented a felucca and took a cruise down the Nile until midnight. We danced, sang, talked and the captain even let Tyler and Haley drive the felucca. It was a great time and I think she had a wonderful birthday.

Garrett and Ann dance around on the felucca. 
 Tyler, Rebecca and Ann talk about something or other while on the felucca.
On Tuesday we had our AMIDEAST movie night, where we watched an American movie to show the Egyptians something about American culture. The movie was Freedom Writers, and the basic story was that of a high school in California suffering the effects of a new integration law and trouble between gangs, and a teacher who wants to fix it all. In my opinion, it was a good movie overall, but it definitely went to reinforce the stereotypes that were already in place in their minds about the American culture. We spent a lot of the time after the movie ensuring them that the United States was not like this everywhere, even though the movie was based on a true story. 

I also taught my class yesterday for the Access Program. The topic...sports. Which I know next to nothing about. So, thanks to the wonders of the internet,I was able to find the rules to American football and baseball and explain them to the best of my ability. While I do like teaching these kids, it drives me a little nuts that none of them want to speak. My job is to get them to use their English skills and learn the culture. But, none of them want to speak. I don't understand. I guess it has to do with the different learning style where the teacher just teaches and students just listen. Which is not really how I was taught growing up at all. I guess I just need to figure out a better way to make them talk. 

Oh yeah, one more thing. Tuesday, Will and I made a quick trip to the Egyptian Museum to pick out our objects for project we have to do. But, the two of us are extremely impressed with ourselves as we can actually really read the hieroglyphs on the coffins and statues. I'm learning so much in that class. I love it!

Well, that's all for now. My adventure on the Black and White Desert will be coming shortly. I promise. Probably sometime this weekend as there isn't anything planned at the moment, which is quite odd. Well, I'm sure I'll figure out something to do.

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