Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Trial of K

Some days living in Cairo feels like The Trial, with the simplest of tasks maddeningly complicated by bureaucracy, technology and geography.

Exhibit A: Game of TVs, or Mad Woman

As much as I would like you to think that we Sobos are using every moment of our time in Cairo to become fluent in Arabic, strengthen diplomatic relationships with neighboring countries, learn to play the violin, land a 360 on our skateboard and engage in other lofty pursuits, sometimes we just want to kick back with a handfull of Commissary Pringles and watch TV.

When we moved here, we fulfilled one of O's greatest desires: trading in the tube television T and I got as a wedding gift almost 19 years ago for a sweet 3D, 60-inch flat screen HDTV. High-def visions of college hoops, Monday Night Football and Orioles games kept O moderately motivated for our move. Kind brother-in-law, Matt, facilitated O's dream by offering to host a DVR and Slingbox for us in MD (not knowing he was also signing up to provide two years of 24/7 tech support) so that, through the magic of the Internet and Verizon Fios, we could have access to unlimited American programming on demand.  Surely, we could all survive two years abroad as long as we had our Top Chef, iCarly and Downtown Abbey.

But, in Egypt, it's not as easy as turning on the TV and instantly flipping through 100's of cable channels for hours on end like a happy zombie. Never in a million years did I think I would ever miss Comcast but, God help me, I do. Our new TV and the connection to all that glorious content was not exactly plug and play. I had go through a few steps first:

1. Need special transformer to adapt our 110 Volt US equipment to EGP's 220V standard. Requisition from the Embassy, wait a week.
2. Need a surge protector/power strip for said American gadgets. Order with Amazon Prime, wait two weeks to arrive through APO.
3. Need hub to connect Wii, DVD player, satellite box to TV. Spend one week locating Radio Shack, surviving drive to Radio Shack, playing charades with man at Radio Shack until he guesses what I want. Then surviving drive back to Radio Shack with our Fixer, Fifi, to exchange incorrectly purchased items for correct items.
4. Discover that Wii can't read GLEE Karaoke and Just Dance Three discs, send Wii out to be repaired - inshallah. Wait another two weeks.  Repair did not work - maa'lesh (oh well, what can you do). Screw the Wii - play GLEE songs on iPod in Bose dock and make pretend with the USB mics instead.
5. Order Apple dock and HDMI cables to connect iPad with Slingbox app to TV.
6. Of course, these items can't ship to an APO, so sign up for an account with a third party vendor to receive our shipment then forward it to us at the APO. Total elapsed time: one month.  Football and basketball seasons have now ended.
7. Meanwhile, establish VPN to access Netflix account blocked in Egypt. Gratefully watch past seasons of Wizards of Waverley Place on Mac when bandwidth allows.  Use ample “loading” and “buffering” time to build 1,000,000-piece Star Wars Death Star out of Legos.
8. Daisy chain of hardware and software in place just in time for baseball season and summer re-runs of Parks and Rec.

Victory is mine!  We are now able to watch our glorious content ....maybe 10% of the time.

Whenever the planets align and the Internet works and we have enough bandwidth to handle mass quantities of streaming video and the power in our flat is not out and the IR blasters on the Slingbox in MD have not been knocked out of alignment by cousins, dogs or other acts of nature - 3 AM MLB games and inadvertent Polish porn are on like Donkey Kong!

Next time- Exhibit B: The Office of Circumlocution, or Getting My Egyptian Driver's License

/lkm in Cairo

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for all the detailed information of what we will need!