We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

Wah, I just want to watch some TV.

When we first moved to Egypt, we decided not to get a TV. We didn’t want to spend the money, and Giggle had already proved himself quite adept at operating the TV and DVD player, and we didn’t want the kids watching TV all the time. Or either of us.

Lately, though, I’ve been missing TV a bit. Once in a while it’d be nice to curl up, all four of us, and watch some silly kids’ movie. We’re not really folks who buy DVDs, so our options have been limited. And Mr. Four likes sports, and he’s been stuck trying to follow games online.

So, about two weeks ago, Giggle and I bought a TV for Mr. Four for Christmas. The same day, right outside the Carrefour where we bought the TV, I signed up for satellite service with Orbit, one of the main providers here in Egypt and the one with more sports offerings. I was delighted when the Orbit guy arranged for installation that afternoon. It was a Thursday, and they were to come at 7pm. It all seemed too smooth and too easy.

Orbit called me to say the installers were running late, but that was no problem. They finally arrived around 8:30pm. I was surprised when two young guys wearing stylish jeans and dress shoes showed up with the satellite dish. They started the installation only to discover they couldn’t get onto the roof. We found the bowab, basically the doorman/superintendent, who also found the neighborhood super bowab (seriously, it seems like this guy subcontracts all the other bowabs). It turns out that roof access is through a key, and only two people have keys to the roof, including the woman who owns our apartment (my employer rents it from her). The bowab had me call her, so I did. She didn’t pick up. The bowab said to call again (many people here don’t have voicemail). So I called and called until about the 20th time, when she answered. Her English wasn’t great, so I handed the phone over to the super bowab. In the meantime, the two installers and two bowabs were sitting around our living room while Giggle tried to get them to play and Bug chattered away in his room, unwilling to sleep with all the excitement.

Finally, after a protracted conversation with both bowabs, the building owner agreed to come the next day, Friday, at 3pm.

The installers came back on Friday afternoon, but no lady and no key. The installer guys said to call them when we had the key. They were annoyed. They also wanted to be paid for the installation, so we paid them.

The super bowab told us he’d get the key from someone else, a man who also apparently owns part of the building. But he was out of town for a few days with the holiday.

Finally, on Monday, about a week ago, I contacted my employer, our landlord, who said they’d get the key and bring it over on Saturday. Which they did, hurray! On Saturday I heard from the super bowab that he had the key. So then I called Orbit. The guy I spoke with didn’t quite understand the situation but said he’d have technical support call us. This was yesterday.

Technical support called today. “So you want help with your decoder?” he asked. I tried to explain the situation. It sounded like he understood, but then he said he’d have to charge us for a service visit. He said it’d be a minimum of LE 25. That’s less than $5, but we had already paid for the installation even though the dish wasn’t installed, so I told the guy we weren’t paying for anything. He said he’d have the installers come by, so I thought.

That was this afternoon. No installers today. And we’re now about a week and a half into our first month’s contract with this company, which we paid in advance. Obviously the language barrier is a major issue here (my Arabic vocabulary includes about ten words), even though many folks involved speak English well. I should have gotten the installers’ phone number, but I didn’t. And now I can’t figure out how to communicate that we need these guys to come back. And I don’t even know if the technical support guys would know how to intall the dish in the first place.

It’s incredibly frustrating. Because you know, all I want is to cuddle with Mr. Four and watch a little TV. And it’s starting to feel like an epic miscommunication. All this is no doubt exacerbated by my flu last week and my homesickness this week, both of which have me craving some mindless TV time.

Of course in the big scheme of things this is all nothing. I know that. But darnit all. I’m feeling very irrirated and whiney and incompetent. Blech.

30 December 2007 - Posted by | oops!, our life in egypt


  1. Oh. I feel for you. I wish I could tell you how to get them to come, but all I can say is keep trying and be persistent… I feel your pain. But this type of problem is all too common. We had a similar debacle when we had our wireless internet installed. It took several weeks and we thought it would never happen, but in the end it did. You WILL get it set up eventually…

    Comment by cindy | 31 December 2007

  2. Sorry to hear about the TV trouble. Basketball season is getting into swing and Mr. Four must be missing it! Aslo, congrats on the closing. We were secretly hoping the house never sold so you’d be forced to come back to town! A little selfish… I know, but our own little “bug” likes to look at pictures of the summer and asks where you all are. It’s hard for him to “see” his friend but not see him.
    PS: happy new year!

    Comment by Helene de Fays | 31 December 2007

  3. Thanks, Cindy, for the reassurance.

    Helene, that was my secret hope as well! We still might come back, though. Happy New Year to you too!

    Comment by Ms. Four | 31 December 2007

  4. Joan, I don’t have nearly as dramatic a story as you do, but I’ve got serious sympathy. Eric and I are sitting here in our apartment in CO with no possessions (including a bed, grr), no TV, no functioning phone of any sort, and no idea when our stuff will arrive–my obsession. If I were not able to swipe a few megs or whatever of bandwidth from the neighbor, I would be losing my mind. (I have learned the value of securing one’s wireless, and great appreciation for those who don’t.) So from here in whiney-ville, I wish you good luck!

    Comment by Karen | 1 January 2008

  5. Karen, ugh, good luck in whiney-ville! I have total sympathy for you. I also have the same appreciation for neighbors’ wireless.

    Comment by Ms. Four | 2 January 2008

  6. I haven’t had television (in any country) since 1992. Internet, however, is another question. I’ll trade you one month of DISH TV (bazillion channels) that we can get here in ET, for one day of broadband, which we can’t get for any price. (Listen to him whine…)

    Comment by Marc | 3 January 2008

  7. Marc, how about a month of broadband in exchange for your yard? Or a little rain?

    Comment by Ms. Four | 4 January 2008

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