Sunday, September 04, 2005

adventures in kusheri...long term

Kusheri is an egyptian dish made with macaroni, vermicelli, spaghetti (sometimes), fried onions, tomato sauce, lentils, the occasional chickpea, and "spices". It is one of the best foods I have ever eaten. It costs 1 Egyptian pound for a dinner-sized portion. With the current exchange rate of approximately 5.8 pounds to the US dollar, I could eat Kusheri every evening for dinner and spend about $5.50 per month. That is roughly the same price as one venti caramel mocha frappucino from Starbucks, including Chicago taxes and a small tip for your local barista. One coffee, or 30 nights of dinner. It's insane.
However, the average young person working a government job (ie tourist police or some such thing) makes about 40-50 Egyptian pounds per month. So for him it would be 3/4 of his monthly salary, just spent on dinner. Teachers normally start out making 200 egyptian pounds per month, which would make a daily kusheri meal about 1/7 of the salary. No wonder bread is subsidized by the government and costs 5 piastres per "loaf" of aysh baladi--the brown pita bread. 5 piastres is roughly half of 1 cent. things here are very cheap...but then you realize that people get paid so little that even very cheap things are too expensive. it's crazy. To compare: the 50 LE per month salary for the tourist police, the 200 LE per month for the teacher, and 1300 LE a month for the PCUSA mission volunteer. Granted, the idea is that we'll save money to travel in the country (so we can get to know more about where we live and the people in the country) but still. It's a little insane. I was thinking I could save half my stipend every month for travel. Now it seems maybe more than that would be appropriate, if I really want to understand what people's lives are like here, to really be a part of the community. Hmm...

Well, I think that's enough musing for tonight. My kusheri-filled belly and I are going to fill up water bottles at the filter and head for bed. My air conditioner stopped working last night, so if it gets hot i'm coming to sleep in the very ac-ed computer room. If I can't sleep, you may hear from me again. lol!

tomorrow: grocery shopping in our neighborhood! woohoo!

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