Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Propositioned in Cairo

Today was the fourth day of my third Cairo visit. Getting a visa to come here was an adventure worthy of a post in and of its own, but I'm going to begin with a story from today and fill in the gaps later on.

As I've done every morning since Monday, I went downstairs to Corniche el-Nil to hail a cab to the old campus of the American University in Cairo, from which a bus would take me to the new campus. It's about a ten-minute ride from the hotel to AUC.

Normally, there's some chit-chat. The driver either asks me whether I'm from Lebanon or just compliments me on my Arabic, and by the time it's over we've reached our destination. Every now and then, the fact that I'm from Israel comes up, but usually doesn't lead to much more than a smile and an "ahlan u-sahlan."

Today, the conversation went something like this (I'm recalling from memory and translating from Arabic):

Cabby: Where are you from?
Uri: Tel Aviv.
C: Israel?
U: Yes.
C: I hear there are boys there who like boys.
U: Sure, why not?
C: You know how many?
U: Maybe 10%, maybe 20%.
C: Do you like boys?
U: Yes. Well, maybe men, not boys (laugh).
C: Well, I like girls. And boys!
U: Nice.
C: You're handsome.
U: [being polite:] You're handsomer. 
C: When do you get back to your hotel?
U: Around 7:30-8 pm.
C: We should meet outside. Do you have a cell phone?
U: Yes.

And so on and so forth. Things got a little more explicit, and he gave me his number (which I had and have no intention to call). He said something about my liking my chest (not sure whether he liked the hair or the pecs or what...), asked me what I liked to do. The word "behind" came up, for example.

Later, after the conference was over, my colleague Hope and I had dinner downtown and on our way to hail cabs to our respective hotels we saw a good number of pairs of young men walking arm in arm. Hope said something about wishing some of them were straight. I commented that they probably were. She responded, "yeah, like your cab driver." 

In the cab I too back up the Corniche, the radio was playing Farid al-Atrash singing "ya Habiibi..."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


This is going to be a short one.

Looks like the Pope's message to Africa is that condoms have nothing to do with preventing HIV/AIDS. Not only that, but they actually increase the chances of spreading the epidemic.

I don't know how Mr. Ratzinger has been using condoms lately, but someone has to tell him two important things:

1. Remove the condom from the package before putting it on your erect penis.

2. Do not, I repeat, do not reuse it.

But seriously, if anyone has an idea for an effective, grass-roots campaign, something like a million people sending the Vatican envelopes with condoms in them from around the world, please let me know ASAP.

הארץ Haaretz

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