Typed up: at link.net (previously known as "unnamed") Internet cafe in Cairo
Posted from: at link.net Internet cafe in Cairo

One of those American cultural things we enjoy is watching NFL football on TV. We figured Cairo is a huge city, so we'd take the opportunity to catch a game or two. But as it turns out there's no place that shows it. I think our second Sunday here, we went to meet Alex for a drink, and he promised to show us some American football. American football, by the way, is conveyed by saying "football" and then pulling your arm back as if you're about to throw the ball. If you don't do that, they assume your talking about an American soccer league. He took us to several cafes, and even stopped by the dorms at American University. Nothing but soccer everywhere.

Some Internet digging found 2 ways that we might see some football. The first is to get Showtime Arabia satellite TV. The second is that Sports Cafe in Mohandisseen might show it. So we figured, once we're in our apartment we'll get Showtime and watch football to our heart's content. The Monday that we moved in I called Showtime to get that set up. With a bit of luck we can watch MNF at 3am, I thought. Of course there was no luck. They needed me to sign an actual piece of paper, as well as copies of my passport and credit card. We tried to use a fax machine at the telephone office but it didn't work in either direction.

So they sent a courier the next day. I signed the piece of paper and all was well. It would be done in 48 hours. The next day they called to confirm the contract, and mentioned the $150 fee for canceling in the first year. We had to think about that. I think it's very interesting that after some discussion we decided that it was a lot of money, but yes, we really are that desperate for a piece of home that we'll pay it. So the day after that I called to say OK. In 24 hours it should work. Only it didn't. They're having technical difficulties, and it'll take at most 2 days to resolve it. So now it was Sunday again, and we got a call saying we'd need to buy a new receiver.

No football on Sunday, so I went to Sports Cafe to see if they showed any, but it was sports all along. They did say that if they didn't have 3 events (all soccer) going on already, they would have been happy to tune one receiver to ShowSports 4 where the NFL is visible. We spent another day thinking about it, and decided paying for a receiver on top of everything was just too much, so we decided against Showtime altogether. But the previous day, thanks to Darell's blog I learned that Arabic Radio and Television has a package that includes ESPN. So at least we might get to see MNF.

I called ART on Monday morning, and the package is cheap! Just LE 90 (less than USD 20) for 3 months. To sign up I just needed to go to the nearest ART office, which is right behind the cinema around the corner. I searched a bit and called the phone number again and they guided me to a place a few blocks away from the cinema. Then the people there spoke virtually no English and hadn't heard of the cheap sports package. On the phone again, so the rep could explain to the sales people what I wanted. Paid my money. It would work "tonight."

It didn't work when we went to bed, but optimistically we got up at 3am to watch MNF. Of course we still had no ESPN. So the next day I got on the phone again to ask what was up. ART had not received the money from the sales office, but they'd get on it and it would work tomorrow. Miracle of miracles, the next day ESPN started working for us. And the miracles didn't end there. Skipping around channels, we also get ESPN NASN. This is the North American Sports Network which shows mostly hockey and baseball but, on Sunday night, shows 2 football games! Good ones, too. This Sunday we'll get to watch Chargers +1 at Bills, and Colts -1 at Packers. That'll be awesome! I'm not sure what the broadcast games are at home, but it's probably San Francisco, Oakland, and the aforementioned Chargers game. So we went from having no football on TV, to being able to see better games than we would at home.

We are more than ready for some football. This Sunday night, after class, we'll be headed home with copious snacks, drinks, and maybe we'll order out from Bob Sushi. (Random Cairo culture fact, all the fast food restaurants here deliver, including MacDonald's, KFC, and Hardees.)