Saturday, July 29, 2006


Then there is the shopping- this should be titled nightlife too because this is when downtown comes alive! All the good as displayed in the windows- so you only really go into a shop if you are trying or buying- to window shop, you do literally just that. There are whole streets or areas where all you see are shoes, or men's clothes, or woman's clothes, or household things etc. In addition to the shops there are all the street vendors selling anything (sunglasses, clothes, jewellery etc) they can fit on a board they can pick up and run off with if the police come round looking at work permits! So the streets are jam-packed, esp. on a Thursday night when everyone gets their lie in before the prayers on Friday. Everyone is dressed up in their 'Sunday' best and cars actually do try to cruise, ironically enough, since the traffic is so tight you often it still for over 5 mins at least on sharia Talet Harb! Something that should be experienced- but shopping for me, a foreign girl, is definitely less stressful during the day- even in the heat!!! Or in the air-conditioned shopping malls of which there are many. Last night I went to the Mall at the Grand Hyatt hotel and was amazed to see so many women in full black higab, out shopping late at night with their children and watching all the men file of to the mosque area in the mall at the call to prayer. It's another world, even if it’s the same shops (although the 99p shops here are equivalent of 25p shops- it's great!) oh- and the Bling is everywhere, on everything!!! Diamante on diamante- shoes, jeans, tops, jewellery, bags. You name it- it sparkles! Another thing about the shopping that always surprises me- women having to buy underwear from stalls on the street manned by men. Seemingly the good ones (i.e. good at their job) can just look at you and gauge your size and cup size- but imagine a woman (usually veiled and wearing clothes designed to hide the shape of your body) standing there waiting for her size to be assessed. It’s an area for female entrepreneurs to consider! The shops generally open until midnight, although in Khan el Khalili there are often some shops open 24/7, mind you they only sell tourist stuff! That’s the place to go on a weekend night, esp. now in the summer to see all the newly engaged or married couples walking around in their finery, visiting Hussain mosque and having a drink in fishawy cafĂ©, with musicians wandering around the tables busking. Some wonderful drumming to be had as well (unless you stay in the Hussain where it can interfere with sleep on a nightly basis! In fact it feels really strange spending so little time in the Khan, since most of my previous trips here have been based from there! Forever thinking really should go and chat to everyone there- but always seems to be something else going on, and it's amazing what you end up doing to avoid a hot taxi journey during the day!!! You'll note I haven't even hinted about bellydance costume shopping here........... that needs a whole section for itself- so you have to wait for that one!!!

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