This past week has been very strange for me. I am used to my Cairo life being packed with too many things to do... and this week has been the opposite.
We have too many dancers working at the pharoah boats just now... so with 5 dancers ( Me, Outi, Maya, Mona and Magda) that means we each only get 12-13 nights work a MONTH. Which is NOT enough to live on. hmmm. not great. Thankfully usually when this happens i can suppliment things by teaching (which I have done a little of this week) and renting out my spare rooms ( although this week was an empty house week too). Why do we have so many dancers?... business. If the boat emplys numerous dancers... if one of us were to be sick, travel or throw a diva tantrum, then they still have enough dancers to work. It makes business sense, I know. It's just hard when there isn't much work outside of the boat. Although its tough I shouldn't complain. i have also had times over the last 4 years when there were only 2 dancers working on the pharoahs which meant work EVERY night... and that is even tougher, especially if you get injured!
so i have had 5 days without 'work'...(with some assumptions!)
Day 1 without work was great...i caught up with 3 close girlfriends and had lovely quality time. Including an interesting and informative stretching session with a girl trained in ballet. She got me almost into the splits!!! was so impressed with myself! (this assumes that for a dancer stetching isn't 'work'?)
Day 2 was THE productive day. i had over 200 outstanding emails, some from as far back as early 2009!!!! I managed to get that list in one day down to less than 10. Also did a costume shop visit (always good, although often expensive!). The evening was spent as the day started... emails... (this assumes emails, mainly about dance from dancers, isn't work?)
Day 3 and spending the majority of the time at home alone is beginning to get to me. I get depressed if left to my own devices for too long, I think its about having too much time to think! Anyway... I was moping about then said to myself- STOP, snap out of it... how can i make myself happy again....? so i went to my studio and put my 'happy mood' playlist on the ipod up to full volume and washed dishes, scrubbed kitchen cupboards, emptied the through everything into it cupboards in the living room and sorted things out for throwing out etc etc i even made a to do list and ticked some things off! It is amazing the power of happy music (mine includes Mr Boombastic!). I decided that i should keep up this energy level and went into the studio with a view to doing some stretches and thought- why not do an arabic lesson at the same time... THAT was my big mistake. I was lying on my mat, doing a glut stretch, listening to the michael thomas arabic course... and my knee hit the floor! I had fallen asleep mid stretch!!!!!! oops my energy had stopped. I planned to go out salsa dancing... but then i ordered Pizza... and that put an end to any form of movement as the evenings activety, so i slumped in front of the TV, which people who know me know is NOT a good sign! (this assumes stretching, arabic study and sorting bellydance photo cd's from music cd's isn't work?)
Day 4 i had a reason to get up... a class to teach. Yippee! I enjoyed it so much i continued for about an hour in the studio choreographing a dance for her next class! Then I tried to debug my plants on the balcony. They have mealyworm. Or at least thats the closest thing i could find online that looks like them. Internet said to dab them with rubbing alcohol and they would fall off. So i put some whiskey in a spray bottle and blasted them. ( it didn't in the end work, but it was a very bizarre experience, some from my country would say sacreligious!). Oh and I got a long outstanding job done. I have bought many lamps in my time here. i love them! But the wiring is not exactly what you would call safe, or often effective! So I gave 2 lamps to the bowab so he could take them somewhere to fix.. and within a couple of hours they were back with me- working. hurrah- success- tick off that list! Go out dancing... i could have... i had invites... but no- i sat in front of the TV, again. (this assumes teaching and making my spare rooms presentable to dancers who want to rent them isnt work?)
Day 5 my prayers were answered in the form of work. I was called into the Nile Maxim to cover a lunchtime sail. It was fun, despite having a new tabal and singer... i just loved being back doing what i am here to do!Plus , on the Maxim the program is different so i got to do almost a full hours show, rather than just 2x 15min sets as is usual on the pharoah. That was great. I felt awful though when i got an old man up to dance, cos he was dancing about by his table anyway.. he took the stick off me, and proceeded to try and dance... except he was really old and not steady on his feet and in trying to impress/imitate me he landed on the floor. It must have really hurt becuase the stage there is marble, not wood and it is hard enough on the soles of my feet, so i can only imagine what landing full onto it must have felt like. Anyway, there were no broken bones and he was still smiling at the show by the end of the sail. Thank god! (this assumes work that isn't my contracted work , isn;t work?)
Then- wow- paragraph 2- this was a busy day! I asked the bowab about a small glass top table, because i needed new glass for it. Within an hour a boy had come to measure it, phoned in to his boss with sizes and got price quote, gone, collected 'made to measure' glass, with bevelled edges, and returned it to me. all within an hour. In a country where it can take days to do easy things, somethings that you would think should take longer just happen. i can't believe i had been putting it off for years- literally! The glass broke in an interesting manner. The coffee table was beside a window. usually the shutter is left closed. The cleaner left it open. The sun shone through the window, magnifying as it did so, the beam of light hit the glass topped table and the until then perfect glass, cracked. One long wavy line of a crack that made a heck of a noise as it grew! So now, that shutter stays shut! That was nearly 4 years ago!
para 3- life is beginning to look up! - friends came over. A girl from Ireland and her Egyptian 'husband'. They are travelling to hers for christmas and we spent a while going over the extensive list of everything you need to supply the British embassy with in order to get a visa. What a nightmare! With a UK passport i have to admit I have always taken it completely for granted that you want to travel, you buy your ticket, and you go. Often just buying a visa on arrival, if you need one at all! For egyptians to travel, especially to UK or USA, the requirements are massive, even with a letter of invitation! Oh and then we went out to eat mandy. No- not a person !!! Mandy is a yemen dish with basmati rice and sultanas toped with the meat of your choice, we had very fatty lamb- I will try chicken next time. Very tasty too- and the shop is walking distance from my place. Although the poor man in the shop got into an awful tiz when i wanted to take the number for deliveries finally admitting that no one in the shop could speak english so he was worried how could they take my order? when i told him not to worry it would be ok, in arabic, his relief and surprised smile were evident!
a good day.
Day 6 is today and I have all sorts of exciting things lined up for tonight and plans made with people i can't let down, so finally i will be 'doing something' with my time 'off work! The day started earlier than I would have liked since my cleaner insists on starting her day at 8am. Usually this involves me opening the door with my eyes still closed, then going straight back to bed and waking only to pay her before she leaves. Bliss. Today i had to play the ogre and go round the house with her pointing out all the things she hadn't been doing right, or at all, and that took 20 mins. It's a job i knew I had to doo for weeks, lets be accurate, months, but i could never bring myself to tell a grown woman how to clean a glass, or a window. so I had been ignoring the probelm and hoping she would improve on her own. In fact, she got worse, sloppier and sloppier. It seems that unless you are tough, and that means delivering a warning with not hit of smile or even what a brit would consider manners, is the only thing that works. I hate it.
So now i am wide awake, have done my emials, and this blog and its not even 10am. Hmm- how to fill my day.....?
- i will go and see a circus performance (by someone who contacted me through my blog- ie work)
- then interview and my life here as a foreign dancer (ie work)
- then watch a film a friend bellydancing (ie work)
- then go out to some cabaret bars to watch lots of dancers (ie work)
amazing how little of my life isn't 'work'.... but also how much 'work' i love!!!!!!!! I'd just like to make the point. Most 'normal' jobs you leave behind you when you leave your office, shop whatever. Your work seldom consumes EVERYTHING in your life.
When you are an artist, and in particular when you are self employed and have to promote yourself, then 'work' never stops. You don't want it to stop. It becomes you. Without bellydance my whole world would be completely different. I hope I never have to know just how different.
My 'boring' , 'work-free' week... hope it's been interesting for you!