Thursday, August 03, 2006

Strange Hours

I am writing this at midnight, sitting with my laptop on my balcony- the only place to get some cool air without resorting to using the air-con. Balcony culture here is big- although often mainly for drying clothes on and sending the kids out to play (at 3am?!!!!) not really sure when they get their unbroken 8 hours sleep- my friend Anna thinks it’s a wonder they grow at all with the strange hours they seem to keep. Leaving her apartment one night recently, after a girlie night chatting, I stepping into the elevator only to find about 8 children playing in both lifts…….. I guess sending them out to play with the traffic here may be tempting fate a little too much!!!!

The city is so alive its amazes me, even after being here for 4 months. The street opposite my house has a traffic jam on it right now (it is a 6 lane street which is currently crawling!)- At midnight. All the various boats and clubs along the Nile side all seem to have parties and weddings on with music blasting out over the water. The brightest lit place opposite me is a kebab shop- which seems packed at all hours of day and night and right now has cars packed 3 deep in front of it as people eat their (breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack??) in front of it. The whole scene is a sober version (in the alcoholic sense of the word only) of Dario's, Lothian Road on a Friday night, at closing time.
Then there are the laser beams shot into the sky (still to discover where they come from) possibly a hotel much like the 'sherharazad hotel' along from me which has disco lights and music every night- obviously another popular wedding venue. It is hard to imagine the number of weddings that happen here on any one night. I guess if you think how many people live in this crowded city and accept that relationships outside of marriage are practically impossible and certainly frowned on, then it comes as no surprise. Anyway- the bridges are blocked with traffic and the Nile is sparkling from all the lit up feluccas sailing by.
Advertising boards light up the horizon, teasing me with their bold Arabic script that I am still struggling to read. There are of course many I recognise- I esp. like the board opposite me now, with the huge LG in red letters- my initials light up Cairo every night!!! What is stranger than sitting here listening to the DJ's across the water is their choices of music, everything from classic oriental, to baladi pop, to cheesy Arab pop, to Nubian folklore, to Celine Dionne and reggae ton- oh- and the song 'shek, shak, shok' EVERYNIGHT, at the very least 3 times!


Nick said...

So what does "shek shak shok" mean I wonder? Is it as meaningless as those Eurovision songs?

Lorna (aka BellyLorna!) said...

yeah- shek shak shok is like tic tac toc, or ding dang dong, or something like that- just a fun play on words- but a classic for people who like to bellydance- an old standard if you like!