Saturday, July 29, 2006

Cafes and Cinemas

The Café culture is huge here- from the men gathering in Akwa's (coffee/tea/sheesha) shops which are even more common in Cairo than pubs in Scotland, to the Cilantros/Beanos/Costa style places (a bit like starbucks) for the young, trendy and better off. Cinema is popular too- although they always have an interval half way through (I guess because so many people here smoke?) and the air con is so strong you feel ill and shivery by the end! Oh- and then there are the mobile phones, and the munching lib (seeds which are cracked open with your teeth) and the kids running around- need I say more? Anyway saw two fabulous films recently- both in Arabic (so I hassled friends to translated most of them for me) the 'Yacoubian Building' and 'Halim'. The first one (from a fabulous book which I recommend and am so glad I had read before seeing the film!) has a few gay scenes in it, so surprising it is still being shown here really where it is actually illegal to be gay and men are often locked up for it! The audience reaction to these parts really surprised me- everyone laughed- their discomfort around the whole topic was so strong they responded like young boys hearing names of body parts!!! Then in the film called 'Halim' all about the life of the famous singer Abdel Halim Hafiz- amazing and sad story- there was a lot of music and a friends dad, who was sitting next to me would call out 'Ya Sallem' or 'Allah' at particularly moving pieces of music- and tell me how on the day Nasser resigned he went with his friends into the street to listen to the same speech we heard on the film. Would love to see the film with subtitles so I understand it all more fully!

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