Port Said, Egypt

Wednesday, March 6, 1929

Not a whole lot doing these days. I spend much of the time reading French or books on Palestine, India, etc. Days are warm and nights lately have been rather cool. I have some cocoa every evening with Jak and yesterday he gave me more oranges. Sometimes the rendezvous is in a little cigarette stand across the street from the Lloyd Triestimo, for which he works, or else down in the basement of the same building. Evidently two of the men sleep down there and in the evenings play cards on a box-table by a coal-oil lamp. I have many Moslem friends about town now, most of whom are either hawkers, or work for L.T. as sailors, night-watchmen, messengers, etc.

I often see a Moslem at his prayers at noon or in the evening. Last night I got in on one first-hand in the basement. Removing the shoes, they stand erect saying “There is no other God but God and Mohammed is his prophet,” or something similar, a certain number of times. Then they bring their hands up alongside their face and let them drop and say something else a certain number of times, finally kneel, say more, touch their forehead to the ground, raise it, say more, etc. three times I believe. I’ll have to get up on my Mohammedanism. Different chapters of the Koran are also recited. The main object appears to be how quickly they can get through it. They recite it so fast that only the first few words are intelligible and the rest is mumbled, lower and lower as the individual runs out of breath. At the next breath you can hear a little at first and soon. . . It all takes about ten minutes.

There are three young men who work in Cook’s here who don’t help my appetite any. In fact, it is mutual. I can’t decide whether they are English or half-breeds, but they act like His Majesty the King and barely condescend to wait on customers. Yesterday an American woman was asking about a deck passage to India and “Lovely” insisted there was no such thing while I insisted there was. Wonder if she got it. I showed her where to go to get a boat today for Bombay. She has been away two years and is staying two more.

Finally sewed some shirt-tail in my socks to fill up the open spaces and it doesn’t look bad at all. I knew a French boat was in yesterday morning without leaving my roof-garden. One look at the strut (and wobble) on a mademoiselle in the street below spoke better than words. Also a German ship came in. Two Italians today, including the Genova. I could [not] leave if I wanted to as I only have about three dollars to my name. No check, no mail. I’m sure Am.Exp. is not forwarding any more, so have asked the boys to investigate.

11:30PM — Have spent the evening with the cellar gang, having my cocoa and eating sugar-cane. They are all much impressed by America and keep asking me about it. I got Jak started on religion tonight and he went strong. Among other things, Moslems believe in 25 prophets, Christ one of them and unmarried, while Mohammed is the last prophet and married. Some day Christ will come again, visit Damascus, and pray there with Mohammed, will visit Jerusalem, then Mecca and Medina. When a Moslem dies, his body remains on Earth. His “life” or I suppose soul remains on Earth twenty years, visiting his family weekly and also visiting Damascus, Daenietta, Jerusalem, Mecca, and Medina. Then it rises up to the seventh heaven where it has to account for its deeds, good and evil, to an official of God’s. Then it goes to Jerusalem where is the gate of heaven, and waits in a tomb for I think twenty years. I couldn’t learn what happened after that. Perhaps the soul remains in this tomb till the Day of Judgment. In the Mosque of Omar is a stone that rings hollow, or rather in the grotto below the Rock, I believe. This is the tomb where the souls stay. In their visits to the family, etc. they appear as flies. Perhaps that is why these Egyptian flies are so persistent.

Contrary to yesterday, the Canal was a busy place today. The P&O Mautau and Lloyd T. (Italian) Insulinde and another, French probably, this afternoon, and the English City of York and Italian Genova tonight, not to mention several cargo-passenger and cargo boats and a British destroyer. The night is very mild, nearly 70° at midnight and over 80° in the late afternoon. These hawkers are amusing. They are always in a big heated argument among themselves and with the cops lately as the latter are bearing down upon them. $2.70 between me and Chicago via India.

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