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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


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!