Sunday, September 30, 2012


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, 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 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.