Monday, October 8, 2012

Living the Dream

Luxor temple banquet by ibischild
Luxor temple banquet, a photo by ibischild on Flickr.
Classical Egyptian music in front of the pylon of Luxor temple.
Sound technician in the shadows; then drum; tamborine and group leader; oud; flute; violin.
The red-felt tarboushes are a bit of history. A little like American men wearing fedora hats. 

Does it get any better than this?

Dining al fresco, savoring the refreshing early-October breeze, near the entrance pylon of the great Luxor temple, the house of the wives of Amun.

The goddess Nut extends her star body like a canopy.

The moon? I can't remember whether there was a moon. A humid night. Hazy. Really not so good for stargazing. And the temple lit by artificial white light. The moon is an enigma here anyway. The moon is Djehuti, the ibis. The god of writing, and of scribes, and of storytelling. But around here--in Waset, the scepter city, capital of the land of the vulture Nekhbet, which is Upper Egypt--the moon is the god Khonsu. Take your pick!

So here we are at a dinner sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism. With traditional musicians. A skilled group playing classical music with a dancing rhythm. I suspect that, within the framework of each classic melody, there is some improvising going on. Some jazz riffs. After the sound technician makes some adjustments, the flute is hypnotic. And then we have a dancing beat again. No, the beat isn't set by the drum. The beat is set by the tambourine player, who sings in a decided yet sinuous fashion to show the other musicians the way. Oh, and the violinist is blind, by the way. Like the traditional blind harpist of ancient times.

Before dinner, I was able to amble among the colonnades and courtyards of the temple. Of the many temples around here, I have to say that Luxor is becoming my favorite. This temple is the architectural framework of the ancient boat procession from the opening pylon to the shrine at the southern end. I ride by the temple so often on the arabeya bus, observing what's happening in the plaza outside, in front of Abu el Haggag mosque. Children riding around in rented little pedal cars. Sweetmeat sellers and other vendors. The temple so familiar. Familiarity hasn't bred contempt. It's bred affection.

Fatigue and magic make me so relaxed. It's been an unexpected week. A conference sponsored by the South Asasif Conservation Project. Too wonderful to encapsulate in a blog post. So I've just given you the musicians and the dinner and the temple and this whimsical link to the South Asasif Project's supporters. Please have a look at the supporters. You'll go hahaha and awwww. And please consider assisting this project. It was thrilling to hear and see what they are doing to bring to light the glory days of the 25th/26th Dynasty Nubian Pharaohs.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Un-Tweets

spice shop by ibischild
spice shop, a photo by ibischild on Flickr.
Life rushes on at breakneck pace in Luxor!
No, I just jiggled the camera. Sorry!
This shot was taken a day or two ago near my apartment. Two young men, motionless, listen in on the conversation outside the spice shop. The baskets hold lentils, navy beans and the like. The spices are inside, sheltered from the sun.

End of the month again already. Time for the monthly roundup of Tweets.
But there are no Tweets this month (except forwarded blog posts.) I've been too busy with the open Facebook group Ibischild, which you are all welcome to visit or to join if you like.
So I'm going to post a few items which never got tweeted.

One morning earlier this month, I was walking my dog and I saw a Mongoose run out from under a parked car. It could have been the Marsh Mongoose pictured in the link here. It wasn't an Egyptian Mongoose, which has a gray upper body. This mongoose, and the two mongoose I saw last year on the way to Daraw, are rich brown like a beaver. Today's mongoose was a little smaller that the previous two. Not fully grown, perhaps.
My dog and I were just a couple of blocks from the river. These animals--mongoose? mongooses?--like to be near water.
My dog didn't react to the critter. Maybe she didn't recognize the smell.

This morning we had rain. First, a weak rumble of thunder. Then a drop or two of rain. A slightly stronger rumble. A brief drizzle, lightly speckling the roadway. This is about as much rain as you typically get in Luxor.
During the winter of 2010/2011 there were maybe a half dozen drops of rain one day. No rain since.
The Egyptian government has a flood watch in effect for Upper Egypt right now. Really! Maybe a canal or two might flood, or a wadi somewhere might get a flash flood.

Also today, I bought some scallions in the souq. Green onions in Arabic. Basal akhdar, or something like that. My Arabic is improving very slowly. But local folk are encouraging. Shweya shweya--slowly slowly.
A caleche horse was bending its head towards me. Nice friendly horsy. And then I realized it just wanted to eat my scallions. LOL!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Looking for the Bookstore

Egyptian Museum, Cairo by ibischild
Egyptian Museum, Cairo, a photo by ibischild on Flickr. 
I walked along this side of the building many times, in the belief that this was the way through Tahrir Square to the American University Bookstore. As you know, it is the way to Tahrir Square. But the bookstore?...

Being obstinate, my two new guest-house friends and I made another trip to Tahrir Square. [You can read about our first Tahrir-Square trip here.]  Once again we shlepped on foot over the bridge, with vehicles zooming by, and along past the Egyptian Museum, somehow surviving the July heat and humidity. They were looking for the American University Library, and I was looking for the American University Bookstore. Both institutions are supposed to be in a street (though probably not the same street) somewhere just off Tahrir Square.

After a sweaty trek around the Square, we explored various side streets, following the advice of various kind people who tried to point us in the right direction. Finally, we asked directions of a couple of policemen, who kindly led us to a shabby-looking once-genteel building, with a sign declaring it to be the home of the American University's rare book collection. The policemen said the building would be open on Thursday. But it looked as if that specialized library, too, had long ago moved to the new campus on the hot northeastern edge of town. So, after a refreshing stop in an air-conditioned cafe, we shared a taxi back to our guest house. Thwarted a second time.

Not to be defeated, on another day I took at taxi to Tahrir Square. Forget those folks from the guest house, I thought. Surely the taxi driver will know the location of the American University Bookstore. (And I was sick of walking, a mile or more each way, on hard baking sidewalks!)

The taxi driver took me to the intersection where the bookstore should have been, he thought. But it wasn't there. Various pedestrians and policemen tried to help me, pointing me in various directions. No sign of a bookstore anywhere.

So please don't go to Tahrir Square looking for anything connected to American University in Cairo. There is one precinct that may contain some University offices or something like that. Otherwise, it's all moved out to the new campus beyond the ring road, I believe. [Please tell me if I'm wrong!]

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Love in Karnak

Dervish Dance by ibischild
Dervish Dance, a photo by ibischild on Flickr. This is the Luxor Folk Art Group, directed by Ahmed Abdel Razik, performing on the opening night of the Luxor Egypian and European Film Festival.
[For more Festival photos, click here: Luxor Egyptian and European Film Festival, 2012 - a set on Flickr]

No, your blogger hasn't found romance! But on Wednesday night I had the opportunity to time travel to ancient Egypt--1965! Nearly fifty years ago, and a different world.

As part of the the Luxor Egyptian and European Film Festival, the movie Gharam fi al-Karnak (Love in Karnak) was shown on Wednesday night. It was so pleasant to sit on the roof terrace of the Rowing Club, together with a diverse audience of locals and foreigners, and enjoy the show.

To see a trailer for the film, click here: Gharam fi Karnak - YouTube Typically 1960s, typically Egyptian. A lighthearted romantic plot. And plenty of music and dancing throughout. A fantastic feelgood movie. The entire movie is available on youtube (with a link currently posted on the Ibischild Facebook group page.)


The other highlight of my week was the opening of the Festival, last Monday evening. This featured a showing of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. This movie had a certain poignancy for many in the audience, thanks to all-too-recent antics of a few extremists in various countries.

It was thrilling when Amr Waked stepped onto the stage. He is the movie's Egyptian star. (I'm sure it was not easy for a contemporary Egyptian to pretend to be a Yemeni sheikh!) He and the movie's producer, Lasse Hallstrom, made a few remarks.

This was quite a week. The actors I saw aren't A-list Hollywood stars (in the case of Amr Waked, NOT YET), but it was exciting to see them in person. And fun to see some movies in movie-starved Luxor! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bas! Halas! Bye Bye Summer!

Luxor doorway by ibischildLuxor doorway, a photo by ibischild on Flickr.
After this summer, we're all survivors, like this valiant little tree!

Bas! Halas! 
Enough! Finished!
No, we didn't get up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 Celsius).
But the summer was so long this year.

Signs that summer is OVER in Luxor!
A persistent breeze since the early days of this month. Some evenings almost felt cool.
The hottest part of the day now lasts from, say, 10 to 4, instead of 8 to 8 or..."You mean there's a time of day or night when it isn't hot?"
Kids are back in school.
Mothers crowding the lunch-box aisle at the supermarket.
I heard a bird singing, day before yesterday, A couple of little ripples of song. [Perhaps it was a warbler.] And the sparrows are chirping. I hadn't realized how bird-less the summer was.
People are out doing things during the day, now. On midsummer days, Luxor is quiet as a ghost town. Especially from 2 to 5 in the afternoon, when everything shuts down.
I forgot to mention the temperature, which has been hovering around 100 degrees (38 Celsius) for the past few days. Relief!
[We do have humidity, though. Up to around 40%. I think the river is evaporating!]
You can walk in the sun for a minute or two and not feel that you're being struck repeatedly by a hammer.
You can wait for an arabeya minibus at Luxor temple plaza, standing there for a minute or two, and not feel broiled.
That's it, really. Everyone starts to relax and get busy. After wilting under the assault of the sun for threeee loooong months.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Busy as a Bee

denderacruisedenderacruisedenderacruisedenderacruisedendera cruise
Nile riverside villages, a set on Flickr.

There's a new Facebook group, Ibischild, started by yours truly, the author of this blog. It's an open group, so you all are welcome to visit, and to join if you wish. The group is a chance for us to share information about Egypt, past and present.

Right now, if you visit the site and page down a little, you'll find info about beekeeping in ancient Egypt, and about the ancient tomb of Pabasa. A useful little discussion and exchange of info.

Well, I had no clue that starting a group on FB was so much work. I've been spending hours and hours on the internet. But we'll have fun, and find more cool links and sites than we can possibly keep up with in one lifetime! And meet new FB people, of course!

Then, yesterday, thanks to a link on the Ibischild group, I ended up spending an hour or two on Flickr.com, getting eyestrain looking at wonderful photos of ancient Egyptian artefacts and modern Egyptian life.

This is the other thing that's taking a lot of my time: uploading and organizing my photos on Flickr.com. My photo archive is still very much a work in progress. But you're welcome to visit my research library of photos--under the name ibischild, naturally.

Meanwhile, there's the second revision of my book. I'm picking up my new laser printer this afternoon, inch'Allah. So then I can do a printout of the first revision and of the work I've done since then. After a long hiatus, I should see the book with fresh eyes.

[For writer friends:  How to Deal With Revision Fatigue | Nathan Bransford, Author] 

I just corrected my previous blog post, by the way. Tahrir means liberation, not  revolution. Oops!

Monday, September 3, 2012

August Roundup

Luxor graffiti by ibischildLuxor graffiti, a photo by ibischild on Flickr.
This painting is on a different section of the same wall that has the Tahrir (Liberation) angels painted on it. (A Tahrir angel photo was featured on my Aug. 23rd post.)
My Twitter Roundup, once a month or so, will give you an impressionistic pastiche of my life here in Luxor.

5th Aug.--On the busy street leading to the station. Loose donkey trailing rope, trying to avoid the traffic.

6th Aug.--Yesterday, a woman got out of a car and made a sort of high whoop and, whooping again, crossed to a doorway where some men were standing.
How nice! a wedding (though she wasn't making the usual ululation sound.)
No. A funeral.
And there I was walking with a silly grin. Duh!

7th Aug.--One thing your e-bookstore doesn't provide: The opportunity to roam around aimlessly and pick up and browse books at random.

14th Aug.--Everyday sight in Luxor. Man at the end of my street. Long galabeya garment. White cotton head wrap. A surprise, after all this time.

20 Aug.--Luxor was jumping yesterday evening. Folks out for Eid al Fitr, and folks leaving Sunday-evening church service. Folks in Luxor Temple plaza, having fun.

22nd Aug.--Watermelon Car. No, not a lemon--watermelon!

30 Aug--Men down my street, in their little open workshop, filling mattresses with kapok. Pressing it to be even, then sewing anchoring stitches. The mattress has a cotton cover.
I want a kapok mattress! Not hot like polyester. Cool in Luxor heat. And cozy on chilly winter nights.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Little Red Mosque Is Still There!

When I was writing my previous post, I was a bit annoyed at my neighbors across the street, taking down their pretty lights right after Ramadan. They remind me of those folks who take their Christmas decorations down on Dec. 26th.

But the little red mosque still hangs above our street. I just couldn't see it from my window. And most streets still have some streamers, a bit dusty and windblown. And a lantern here and there.

Ramadan street, Luxor by ibischild
 Little red mosque, Luxor a photo by ibischild on Flickr. 

And you know, I can't really be angry at my neighbors across the street, for taking down their lights. After all, their garland of colored moons and stars gave me so much pleasure. And the neighbor women covered them with newspaper every day. Oh, but I already told you that, in my previous post.

Every morning while I was asleep, the ladies came out onto the balcony and clipped the newspapers on. And every evening, frazzled from preparing the iftar meal, the ladies took time to come out and unpeg them. A little thing, protecting the lights from the pervasive Luxor dust. Expressing their love of God. Giving people like me a little joy. God bless them for that.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crossing Tahrir Square

Late one morning, I set out with two friends. My goal was the American University bookstore, which I have never seen but believe to be an Egyptological paradise.Their goal was the American University library.

"Only 20 minutes' walk," they said. So we schlepped across the 6 October Bridge and found our way down to ground level and along the riverside and somehow ended up outside the Egyptian Museum.

My companions wanted to go around the perimeter of the Square. I thought we might as well cut across. After all, there were just a few tents on the huge paved island in the middle of the Square. Really, nothing happening on this hot lunchtime in Ramadan.

A thought flitted across my mind. "Hallowed ground."
"It's just a shortcut," I reassured myself.

Luxor graffiti by ibischild
Luxor graffiti
These painted angels commemorate the people who died fighting for freedom during Egypt's January 25 Revolution last year.

And so we crossed the road and and began making our way across the heart of Tahrir Square. After one or two steps, or maybe half a dozen, I began to have the strangest feeling.

The only time I felt a similar feeling was driving along Route 30 in rural Pennsylavania. I'd just driven through the town center of Gettysburg and was driving across an enormous open green space.  And I began to have a more and more peculiar feeling. Could it be? And then I saw the monument and knew that it was. Gettysburg battlefield. What I felt was the presence of dead heroes.

In his famous address at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said,  "...we cannot dedicate--we cannot consecrate--we cannot hallow--this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it..."

Gettysburg Battlefield is haunted with the ghosts or angels of the brave folk who died there for the cause. Tahrir Square is haunted, too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tahrir Hope

Tahrir square, Cairo by ibischildTahrir square, Cairo, a photo by ibischild on Flickr.
A tranquil scene! A street branching off from Tahrir Square. Serene green leaves and a beautiful old apartment building, and sleepy Ramadan shops below.
The perfect backdrop to our blog post!

From the UK embassy, Thom Reilly could hear the tumult of Tahrir Square. Here in Luxor, hundreds of miles upriver from Cairo, things were less tumultuous. The revolution mostly unfolded on our TV screens.

Thom Reilly is the UK Deputy Ambassador to Egypt. He is stepping down, and will miss Egypt:
Hope - Thom Reilly

I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment of the last 2 years in Egypt: 
Living in Egypt through this time has felt like a voyage down an angry river: with every bend I had hoped for a smooth patch of water, yet round every bend there were only more rapids. Yet now, suddenly, Egypt feels as if she may have found a patch of smooth water. How lucky I have been and how privileged to have shared this most remarkable voyage with Egypt.

And now, as the Deputy Ambassador says, there's so much work to be done. Labors of Hercules. Working together, Egyptians can do it.
Inch'Allah.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Happy Eid al Fitr

Ramadan street, Luxor by ibischild
Ramadan street, Luxor, a photo by ibischild on Flickr.

The decorations are down now. There is one lantern still up, diagonally across the street. But I'll no longer be able to look out of my study at night and see the pretty crescent moons and stars in colored lights, hanging from the clothesline opposite.
These decorations across the street were hidden during the day, with newpaper clipped over them with clothespegs. This was to protect them from Luxor dust. At sunset each evening the women of the house would come out on the balcony and unpeg the newspaper. Voila.

Mini Arabic lesson
Root: FTR
Fitaar = breakfast
Iftar = generous meal breaking the Ramadan fast each evening
Eid al Fitr =
a time of celebration and feasting, breaking the fast of the month of Ramadan
So now you know!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Have fun! And don't litter!

Couldn't resist sharing this fun video!
CONO Amusement Park TVC اعلان كونو الملاهي - كونو متفائلين - YouTube

You'll recognize the pyramids and the Nile, then Tahrir Square.
Egyptian Museum.
Karnak temple.
Hatshepsut's temple.

At the end, the man says, "Masr beledna helw--Our country Egypt is beautiful."
I can't understand the rest, but I think he's saying something like, "Let's keep it beautiful." [Helw, at the end, means Beautiful.]
As you know, there's a big anti-litter campaign going on in Egypt.
Glad CONO is supporting this.

This commercial is typical of Egyptian commercials, by the way: young target audience, youthful fun vibe. The Egyptian population is much younger than the American or English population. Median age in Egypt is only 24.3 years! [This linked web page lists Cairo's population as just under 11 million. They must be restricting the count to Cairo city limits. Estimates of Cairo's population typically range from 18 million to 25 million.]

Enjoy your weekend.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Coptic Museum, Mar Girgis, Cairo


The trouble with the Coptic Museum is that it's too distracting!
Not the exhibits. They are tastefully spaced and grouped.
The trouble is, the museum interior itself is too beautiful.
Each exhibit room has its own wooden ceiling, hand carved in the traditional style. You can see a photo of one of these ceilings in this article.
And the means of light control is unique. One wall of the museum contains stained-glass windows. Each window on the other wall is filled with a carved wood mashrabiya screen.
You are so busy looking up at the ceilings and around at the windows, that you forget to look at the actual exhibits!

Good things about the Coptic Museum:
Air conditioning!
Handicapped/wheelchair accessible (as far as I could tell.)
The exhibits are presented in logical groupings as you proceed along a pathway.
Temperature/humidity controls in many exhibit cases.
Beautiful ancient textiles.
A couple of remarkable bishop's chairs, with mother-of-pearl inlay.
Ancient geometric designs painted on plastered walls.
And so much more....

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Ride on the Cairo Metro

"Mar Girgis", I said to the ticket seller at Sadat Metro station. He indicated how to get to the correct platform. Between my basic Arabic, the ticket sellers' basic English, and many gestures, I'm always able to find my way around the Metro. The signs are excellent, but Sadat station is a hub and is a bit disorienting. The ticket sellers should get a raise!
On the Metro platform, look for a clump of women and go and stand with them. If you're a woman, that is. Because the women know where the women-only cars will pull up. I never had any problem on mixed cars; but you cannot make eye contact with men, since they think you're flirting. On the women-only car, you can look around you happily, without worrying about what signal you might be sending. Sometimes you might even get in a little conversation.

Crossing the bridge over the tracks at Mar Girgis station, this is what you see:
The foreground wall is the wall of the Metro station. The background wall is across the street. It is the wall of a Roman (yes Roman) fort or pretorium.
As you can see, the outer wall of the fort is curved (yes curved.) I can't remember a curved wall on any other Roman fort. But perhaps my bloggees know of one...?
This curved wall, to me, shows that the fort was built by Nubians, who never build a straight line when they can build a curve. Domes, barrel vaults, groined vaults. Nubians from Esna or beyond (upriver from Luxor) build these challenging curves without any blueprint or any measuring or angle-fixing device of any kind.

Mar Girgis is a predominantly-Christian neighborhood, named for the church of St. George (Mar Girgis). St. George was an Egyptian saint long before the English adopted him as their own. In Mar Girgis neighborhood there are several delightful churches and a synagogue, all of them historic.

This time, however, I'd come to visit the Coptic Museum, which is next to the Roman fort. There was no-one in the ticket office, so I went away to get lunch (overpriced, though quite good--some sort of kofta.) And during the whole meal I had that guilty feeling you have during Ramadan, when you're eating and drinking publicly and so many others aren't. On the TV was a service of noonday prayers--this was Friday--with President Mursi in attendance. I felt bad for him, devoutly saying his prayers with the cameras on him. I suppose he'll get used to it, though.

After lunch, I went back to the Coptic Museum and was able to buy a ticket. But my visit to the museum will have to wait until the next post.




Sunday, August 5, 2012

On Twitter

Loose donkey--on Twitter!


Decided to go with Twitter rather than Facebook.


For observations too brief for a blog post! Word snapshots.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cairo

I've been meaning to write about Cairo. I was there last week. Not this past week. The week before.


The thing is, Cairo's kind of disorienting. The big city.


Cairo is a city of over 20 million people. Possibly as many as 25 million. (Estimates vary widely.) So I'd always thought I'd never want to live there. But, in a sense, you don't live in a city, you live in a neighborhood. So it's just a matter of finding a livable neighborhood.


I was staying in the lovely relaxing guest house of the Anglican cathedral. It's in the Zamelek neighborhood, on an island. And you do feel a bit isolated there. A little bit away from the hustle and bustle. Although you're a jump over the river bridge from Tahrir Square, and in the other direction from the busy Dokki neighborhood.


If you've guessed that I'm thinking of moving, you guessed right. If I can find a livable neighborhood for me and my dog. Luxor is a lively small city with a thriving community of foreign residents. Many foreigners have left, but many have stayed, and many continue to return for the winter season every year--escaping the miserable British/European winter. But little Luxor can feel like a pressure cooker sometimes.


Believe it or not, the place where I was staying in the heart of Cairo was less noisy than my little street in the heart of Luxor. Both are side streets. But you get motorbikes racing up and down our street showing off a variety of excruciatingly-loud horns. In Cairo there was the dull roar of traffic, but none of the motorbike mayhem.


I wanted to chill in Cairo, and I did. Literally. It's significantly cooler there. In spite of greater humidity, this was a relief. And I chilled figuratively, without a schedule.


But I did revisit the Egyptian Museum, that amazing higgledy-piggledy warehouse of wonders.


And I visited the amazing Coptic Museum for the first time. But I think this could be a separate post.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Odds & Ends

My street is garbage free, at least for the time being. And now the street around the corner is looking spiffing as well. This is because people in Luxor and all around Egypt are cleaning up their neighborhoods. President Morsi is encouraging this effort.
This video shows people working away in a neighborhood not too far from the Giza pyramids (and a long way from Luxor.) ‘Clean Homeland Campaign’ in Giza | Egypt Independent


My street is looking pretty in the evening, with Ramadan decorations. The dog barks when the firecrackers go off, though.


Yesterday, I viewed the movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen at our local social hub, the Regal Lounge. Quite an entertaining movie, but the basic premise is flawed. The movie assumes all of Yemen is a waterless rainless waste, though rocky in parts.
But I've been researching the Arabian mountains, traversed by the hero of my tale. The mountain slopes are green. Wiki says::
"The western highlands have peaks reaching around 3000 meters [around 10,000 feet], with relatively fertile soil and sufficient and plentiful rainfall."
Oh well, I guess, as a writer, I have to support artistic license, but I think there are limits!


On the way home from the movie, I bought a 6-liter bottle of water. I walked on home cradling the bottle in my arms, shifting the weight from one arm to the other. 6 liters is fairly heavy. I  was wishing I knew how to carry the water bottle on my head. That's what many women from around here would do. It would have been much easier.
Of course, the easiest would be a shopping bag on wheels. I saw one on my way home yesterday, but didn't buy it. There's another shop I want to check. But now this post is getting really trivial...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Frozen--in the heat


My dog was barking a sort of yippy bark, instead of her usual baying howl. I finally figured out she was actually barking at something in the spare bedroom. Under the bed. No. Behind the nightstand, or behind the bedhead.
I saw it now.  Maybe the knotted cloth end of a dog toy. No, a tail and a rump. Not moving. A pigeon. Not an exotic Egyptian bird, just a regular old charcoal-gray pigeon, which is Egyptian because there are plenty of them around here.
The French doors from the bedroom to the tiny balcony were open. So I closed the other bedroom door, with me and the dog on the other side of it. And opened it again to put a dish of water on the floor, next to the balcony door. I figured that might have been why the bird came in to begin with—to find water. And I shut myself and the dog back out of the room.

I took the dog out for a walk, past the large municipal garbage containers around the corner. There was a boy, maybe about 12 years old, sitting motionless on the edge of a garbage container. His donkey cart was standing nearby, ready for recyclables to be loaded on. The boy wasn’t sifting through the garbage for bottles and cans, though. He was just sitting there, gazing emptily into space. Well, he’d probably earned a break. Working since dawn, I guess.
But I think there was something else in that nothing look. I’ve seen it before, in boys between age 10 and 20. I don’t think I imagine it. The feeling, more of a longing, a remote dream, that there must be something more. A lad with brains sorting through garbage or sweeping stairways, going through the same motions, day after day, with the nagging thought that there must be something better, if only he could find it, if only he could find the means to grab it.

I went on to the greengrocer’s. On the way back, I saw the recycling boy covering the goods so they wouldn’t fall off the cart, getting ready to go on to the next garbage container. I stopped to pet the boy’s donkey. Well-fed enough, with generous cushioning under the parts of the harness that might chafe. I said to him, “Humar mabsuT”—happy donkey. It’s the only Arabic I have to say that the animal is well-cared-for. Then my dog got nose to nose with the donkey, as she often does. Just making friends. The boy was afraid that the dog might bite. And then he warned me of a car coming. Nothing, really. Just communication skills, people skills....

I think the pigeon’s gone, now that the dog and I are back from our walk. The dog’s tranquil. I guess that’s the big clue.

Well, that’s enough for one day. And all before 10 a.m.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bradjolina filming Cleopatra here

Here are Brad and Angelina and film crew in Aswan, preparing for the new Cleopatra movie. (They visited Luxor this spring as well.)

So glad they're filming in Egypt. We need tourists here, and Hollywood dollars!

With regard to yesterday's post: A friend pointed out to me that, for the average Egyptian, 43.50 Egyptian pounds is roughly equivalent to US $43.50! (After all, the minimum wage here is under $200 per month.)

I hope I'm not turning into an annoying foreigner! It's pretty clueless to convert prices back and forth between currencies. In my defense, I do have to watch my dollars. I have a backburner novel set in Tuscany. It's on the backburner because it needs a ton of research, and because I can't afford to live in Tuscany for even a few months!

I was amazed at how my grocery bill plummeted when I shopped like an Egyptian. My typical grocery bill is two or three  times what I spent yesterday, because I buy some of the more expensive items.

Do you think I should take down yesterday's blog post--and this addendum?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Grocery shopping in Luxor


I’m trying to come up with a fascinating post, to resurrect my blog after a hiatus.

Meanwhile, I went grocery shopping today, with only 50 Egyptian pounds to spend. I thought you would be interested to know what I bought at the supermarket for 43.50 Egyptian—a little over 7 US dollars:

A 1-liter carton (about a pint) natural mango/peach/apple juice.
One kilo and a bit (about 2 and a quarter pounds) tomatoes.
Almost one third kilo (well over half a pound) red onions.
Three quarters of a kilo (nearly one pound) red grapes.
One packet each frozen peas, beans, mixed vegetables (peas/beans/carrots).
Half a kilo (about a pint) of rayeb, which is a fermented dairy product.
A box of 12 peppermint tea bags.

The bill would have shot up if I’d bought:

Meat (especially red meat—even liver and kidneys are expensive).
Yellow cheese (Egyptians eat various soft white goat cheeses).
Real butter.
Long-grain rice (imported—Egyptians eat short-grain).
Granola (imported from E. Europe) or other breakfast cereal.

There is a variety of nuts and dried fruits in the stores now, ready for Ramadan. These are also expensive.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Some levity

Here's the latest from Rachelle, with a great cartoon:

And here's a rolling-on-the-floor video clip from a British comedy (with thanks to Julie Daines, via Rachelle's blog):

Just hoping to brighten the day of writers, readers, & other human beings!
(I need light relief myself, after trying & failing to alter color and underlining on these links!)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lizard foolishness


Today in our front yard there was a sudden flurry of activity.  My dog chasing something.

Then  my dog was lunging at something on the tiled pathway. It looked like some kind of worm, wriggling back and forth in a sort of curving motion. There was no head to this worm, however. One end of it was a straight transverse line with some dark coloration; and it tapered to a pointed tip at the other end. Kind of disgusting.

Then I realized what it was.

I'd seen a lizard earlier. We have pretty lizards here. When they catch the light their stripes, which run the length of their body, turn a vivid greenish blue.

This was the tail of one of these lizards. A large part of the tail, perhaps half or two thirds. I'd heard lizards can grow back their tails. I went to the internet to check.

To my relief, it looks as if the tail will grow back. Especially because there was no bleeding. It will take several months to grow, though.

The tail was twitching for a few minutes, especially if my dog jumped towards it. This wriggling is a distraction for the predator, so that the lizard can escape, missing some of its tail and some of its dignity, but keeping its life. I tried covering the tail with my shadow and then removing the shadow. The tail seemed to twitch when the sunlight fell on it again.

About fifteen minutes later, while I was sitting in the sun and studying my hieroglyphics book, another lizard showed up. This lizard was intact. It seemed to be surveying the scene of the crime. "You'd better go away," I said to it. "My dog will come after you." As if it understood, it scurried under a trash can.

Well, the weather is warming up and young and stupid animals are coming out and getting into trouble. The lizard that ran under the trash can probably went and found its foolish progeny and gave it a lecture, telling it to be more careful in future.