Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cairo in the Rain

I've lived with rain all my life... being Scottish. In Cairo however, the rain is more like liquid pollution, leaving black marks on your face and clothes. Since it is a relatively rare sight, the streets are not designed for it, and with no drains the roads become muddy rivers.

Tonight Cairo's rivers are flowing, making the normally prolific number of empty taxi's available to hire disappear. Not a night to be walking in the street.

I feel for those in tahrir, setting up to sleep the night in the rain in preperation for tomorrows celebration/ protest/ commemorate of a year since the revolution started. It's a cold wet start to an event that many of us have been dreading. There is a fear in the air about what might happen tomorrow. If there will be trouble, or not. Its a public holiday and shops and offices are all closed.

My work has even decided to close for the day. It seems nobody wants to cruise on the Nile on this auspicious day. Fair enough, if it was my business i would close too, but its hard on everyone how little work there is in Egypt if you are involved tourism at all. Thankfully the last 2 days i have had lots of chinese tourists come to see my show... i guess to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Sharia Haram (Pyramid road) is closed for the next 2 nights.... avoiding giving troublemakers any cause to repeat the burning and looting of the clubs there that happened a year ago.

Egypt is progressing. On monday we saw the 1st ever voted in paliment meeting, watched all around the country on tv. Today the head of the army announced he was going 'to end the state of emergancy'. Perhaps I'll be sitting here tomorrow night saying that all is the same as usual........ but i have learned in my 6 years of living in Egypt, and over the last year of it in particular, the difference a day can make. I am, like everyone else i know, making plans for life as normal , the day after tomorrow, but being careful to add the 'inshallah' or hopefully' at the end of each sentence!

'Inshallah' 25th january will be a peaceful one this year, unlike last year. We don't want more fires needing put out, even if this rain could do a good job of it!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Christmas in Cairo.

I have had a wonderful Christmas in Cairo this year. Lots of fun nights out with friends....

I always spend this festive time with my family in Scotland, but this year, with work being so slow since the revolution in Cairo, I felt I just could not afford the time away from work, nor the cost of flights, to return for one week. It’s a sad decision to have to make... but i decided that if I was going to be in Cairo then I was going to make the most of it.

I told my work I wasn’t free the day of christmas and refused an order for that evening too, because I wanted to spend the day with my friends. I am not the only expat who stayed in Cairo and 10 of us got together on Christmas to spend the day as you should, appreciating lots of good food and being grateful for the friendship of people you love. It was a heart warming time away from the commercial onslaught which has become the whole of December in the western world. It was a Christmas which wasn’t focused around buying stuff. I think all of us felt much closer by the end of the meal, that our little group of friends had become a Cairo family, which is a lovely feeling when you are missing your ‘real’ family back home.

One friend, Laura from Northern Ireland and her husband, Garhy, cooked a giant turkey for us... I have honestly never seen one this big! Only thing was- they cooked it in their home... on the ohter side of cairo.... so on christmas day we were waiting to start our meal because the turkey was caught in rush hour traffic!!!
That only added to the fun of the day though and we devoured it when it arrived! It was really tasty too, very juicy.
Caroline, a friend staying with us in ‘Hotel Bellylorna’ from Scotland baked cupcakes, Yorkshire puddings and fresh bread too. Ellie and I were in charge of the soup, veggies, tatties and I made a huge trifle too, which took 3 days to finish off eating.
I was very proud of and impressed by us all. Usually our families do the dinner, it was the first time for us all to take charge, but we did no bad. It was truly a ‘typical’ and fantastic Christmas dinner.

I had a Christmas cactus tree.... decorated with lights.
I’d love to know that name of this plant- so if anyone can advise?? I’ve searched google and can’t find it!

We had our after dinner party games which was very interesting with our mix of Brits, Egyptians and Italian! It was interesting to see which things you just take for granted in each culture and the various different hand signals you use to suggest things. I now know some very strong hand signals to use in Italy if anyone ever upsets me!!!! It was the first time some people in the group had played charades...

I wrote the above shortly after Christmas day... and life has been keeping me away from the computer a lot so tried again to publish this (but blogger failed me!) on Christmas day round 2... Coptic Christmas day. Last night I watched some of the ceremony on tv (it was screened on nearly all the local channels). The army generals were there in attendance and the pope thanked them for coming and commented that the army and the people love each other. I know many who would question the validity of that comment, but i guess the desire for peace is what underlies it. Lets pray for peace in 2012.

... and for more bellydance!