Friday, October 5, 2012

Jumpo the elebhant

Jumbo's storied tale made its way to the streets of Cairo this week.

Driving alongside the Nile the other night, I passed a truck with "Jumpo" written on its backside. Classic Arabic-speaker mistake. There's no P sound in Arabic, so when saying or writing foreign words people often use B instead. This means Egybtians often find themselves leaving their cars in barking lots. And so on.

Here, the Arabic speaker who wrote "Jumpo" had overcompensated, and hilarity ensued. At least for me. I snapped some quick, blurry photos on my phone, and my taxi driver asked what was up.

And thus the legend of Jumbo the elephant, Tufts University's celebrated mascot, came pouring out, from P.T. Barnum and his traveling circus to the fateful day in 1975 when a fire at Barnum Hall burned up Jumbo's stuffed carcass. This also involved explaining the whole concept of college mascots, which don't exist here.

"It's nice that in America you have such folktales," said the driver, agreeing that this folktale was a bit weird.

In other news, I've been working hard getting myself set up here in Cairo for Egypt Round Two. I had some mixed emotions coming back; I regretted leaving my family and friends in America, and I was a bit overwhelmed by, for the first time in my life, having no formal schedule for the indefinite future. Also, it's hot here, and I wasn't able to fully move into my room until this past weekend.

But I found a comfortable library with fast Internet in which to ply my trade, joined a country club (actually), and have found some work. I'm even going to finish unpacking today!

Here's some of what I've been up to since I've returned:

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