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.