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Cairo Diary

 

This is a slightly edited version of the paper diary I was keeping, while I was away in Cairo, in March 2008. The holiday was tailor-made by Kay of Farida Adventures for Artemisia & her students (and I tagged along as Artemisia's friend!)

 

Day 1 - Travelling, you might want to skip this one...

Day 2 - Still not much going on

Day 3 - Shopping!

Day 4 - A Pharaonic Day

Day 5 - Class Day

Day 6 - Randa Love!

Day 7 - Dina!

Day 8 - Party Night

Day 9 - Bye Bye Cairo...

And a 2013 Update

 

 

Day 1 - Travelling, you might want to skip this one...

 

I got out of the house incredibly early, all packed & calm. I got to Heathrow far too early an hour, even two hours before I needed, but I'd rather that than too late! It's blimmin' boring killing two hours at an airport on your own. Oh well, I bought "Rome Burning" so at least I have plenty of reading material.

 

I'm so looking forward to this trip. It's going to be wonderful to be in Cairo again.

 

And after all that earliness, the plane got delayed. The plane we should have been flying to Frankfurt in got struck by lightning, so it was hors de combat. I got moved onto a later Frankfurt flight, but it got me there in time for the connection to Cairo, despite me thinking otherwise. They held the Cairo plane up a little to make sure we could get it.

 

We arrived on time, some time after 3am. As I suspected, because the flights got changed, Lufthansa have mislaid my suitcase. Fortunately, as a result of my previous Cairo flying experiences, I always have my night things and spare knickers in my hand luggage. But my trips to Cairo do seem to be cursed in some way.

 

The taxi driver was taking the mickey, charged me far too much, but I was too tired to haggle properly, it was after 4.30 in the morning & I'd been up early. The hotel didn't seem to know I was coming, but never mind. I'm in bed now, and although I'm tired I don't feel sleep coming on yet. I've moved my eternity ring to my left hand, as a small deterrent. It feels weird to have a ring on that finger after so long! Also weird not to have one on my right hand as usual.

 

It's good to be back in Cairo. I recognised the architecture of Masr el Gedida, as I was driven through it. I texted my Egyptian friend M, "My heart is home".

 

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Day 2 - Still not much going on

 

I went for a wander up 26th July Street. Lots of shoe shops and scarf shops and clothes shops. Mine was the only white face on the street, so I think we can safely say this isnít a tourist trap. Itís a pain not having my suitcase, as itís got all my chargers (and adaptor plugs) in it.

 

Iím still not sure about crossing the roads here. So far I seem to have done it by a sort of osmosis. A bit like keeping dry in the rain- you make yourself thin & walk in between the raindrops.

 

So... we had a meeting with Yasmina & Nibel, to talk about excursions and so on. We should get to see Outi and Randa and Dina. Iím thinking strongly of not doing the sight-seeing. Iíve been to the Pyramids. I donít want to see Ramsis at Memphis, in case heís not as lovely as I remember.

 

Dinner at Felfella, which was rather delicious kushari (though some of the others werenít too impressed). I canít believe someone was arguing over cover charges and service charges. Weíd just had a lovely meal, with drinks and coffee, (well I did) and all for a fiver. In London, youíd be hard pressed to buy a sandwich for less. I went out for shay with Karolien & Robbie, whoís going back to Belgium tomorrow, leaving K on this holiday.

 

Iím glad Iíve got my luggage back. In under 24 hours. Now that Iím able to recharge my phone I seem to be able to check my email and send pictures again.

 

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Day 3 - Shopping! 

 

But first a view of the Nile:

 

 

We spent today shopping. First at Madam Hekmatís and then (and at considerably greater length) at Hannan Mahmoudís.

 

Madam Hekmat is a tiny weeny woman. There we were, 13 of us, plus Madam H & her helpers, in this tiny room, with 3 sides of the room costumes, and one side mirror. It was utter pandemonium. How anybody managed to a) find anything or b) try anything on, is beyond me. But we did. There were a few nice things there, but it was essentially not for us big girls.

 

Except... The first thing Iíd noticed, when I walked into that room had been a flash of bright pink, really bright, cerise, screaming pink. And no-one was looking at it, so I made my way over there and took a look. It had my name on it. It was *so* mine! It was a trouser suit. Iíd said from the off I wanted some trousers. This was not only trousers, but it was screaming pink trousers, which (apart from the waistband elastic being a little oversnug round the widest part of my hips) fit me. Theyíre a bit long, but theyíre being taken up and the embroidery/beading is also being moved up.

 

The bra, now that was a different matter. Theyíre having to make me a new one, because I am stonkingly enormous in the chestal department.

 

So that was item 1 ticked off the list- trouser suit. Iím going tomorrow for the fitting, the Prova.

 

I think Iím the only one who bought there. There was a lot of stuff that even if it was in my size I wouldn't look at twice. But there was also a fair bit of stuff that I would look at again if it were in my size, and if it were less of a scrum.

 

On to Hannanís. This was way more shoppy. Admittedly again, much of the stuff was not for the big girls, but itís beautiful. She didnít have so many dresses out, but after a while, she got out the sack full of XL costumes. As each one came out, I loved them more and more. Then again, there was ďthe OneĒ. The one costume that had my name on it. It didnít actually fit me at all, when I tried it on, but it was nevertheless the one I had to have. So Hannan is making it for me. Itís a black/white animal print, Iím calling it snow leopard, because Iím not sure what animal it is, and Iíd rather not call it Cow-Print, which is what Artemisia was calling it! Noella was calling it my Cavalli dress, which is rather nicer.

 

Chez Hannan Mahmoud- such pretty sparkly things!

 

Hannanís beading is just fabulous and she uses great fabrics. Sheís got an amazing new line coming out for the Ahlan Wa Sahlan Festival. We got a sneak preview and some of the girls bought them. Theyíre decorated with diamantť and they are well special. Hannanís detailing is superb. Sheís desperately trying to keep them from being knocked off, of course. They are fabulous & beautiful.

 

In the evening we ate at Abou el Sid, on Zamalek, which was very good.

 

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Day 4 - A Pharaonic Day

 

Today was a bit of quiet time, with Artemisia & Kay. We went to Al Azhar park, which is a beautiful public park, and was a haven of calm & rest. We had a drink in the cafť there, overlooking the Citadel. We talked a bit of teacher stuff.

 

 

Then Artemisia & I went off the Khan al Khalili. It was just for Mahmoudís really. She was going mad, trying to find skirts & belts that would appeal to her students. If it were me, I would have gone for more bright colours, but apparently theyíre all pale blondes in Belgium! She knows her market. I bought a couple of scarves for me and a few coin ones that I think would sell if I offered them to my students, but which I wouldnít be heart-broken if they didnít. I got some new khul-khal, as mine are falling to bits. And ginormous baladi earrings, one pair in silver metal & one in yellow metal.

 

Then we met up with Kay again, to go on to Pharaonics. Madam Amira is a fascinating lady. A very savvy businesswoman, and completely charming. Her stuff is very high-end. Beautiful quality & design. But itís too ďOrientalĒ for me. Iím more of a Baladi babe. Iím really not at all into 2-pieces (although the crazy pink trouser suit will be my first 2-piece since the Turkish bedlah, which I sold off a couple of years ago). But Artemisia was very happy.

 

Back to the Grand, for a rest. Not much of one, though, as it was on to the first show of the holiday.

 

We were on the Nile Pharaon boat. The boat terminal and indeed the boat itself is decorated in Over The Top Pharaonic Opulence. There is a doorman dressed in a Pharaonic style uniform, and carrying a gold staff styled like an ankh at the top, like you see in the pharaonic paintings of kings holding their staffs of office, and symbols of kingliness. But Iím afraid, being a doorman, he didnít strike me as terribly kingly!

 

 

Apologies for the terrible photo quality. One of the things I forgot to pack was my camera, so I was relying on my crummy phone camera. It's ok in daylight, but not so good when it's dark.

 

There was a cute little girl there, waiting with her parents, a very heavily veiled lady and an obviously doting daddy. She was maybe 2Ĺ or 3, and so sweet and chatty, smiling and waving to us, chatting and playing with Noella, blowing kisses to us all. Such a cuty!

 

We were sat on a side table, close to the dance floor. We had a good view of the stage, but not a front view. Kay had words with the manager about that afterwards! Artemisia & I positioned ourselves right at the stage-side. The stage was miniscule, made with a couple of pieces of moveable dance floor. The meal was a buffet and there was plenty of it. I even managed to eat vegetables which is a bit gosh-darn healthy for me. Iím usually a hardened carnivore. I was starving though- Iíd eaten nothing since breakfast.

 

The show started with a couple of singers. The bloke singer was going Spanish-ish stuffÖ Volare, The girl from Ipanema, that style of thing. He was from a 1970s timewarp- crimson satin shirt & medallions down his chest. He got a few people up to dance from our party. When a Saaidi piece came on, I was dancing in my seat too much for him not to notice. It wasnít really my fault at all, itís that I do love the Saíaidi. Anyway, when I tried to sneak off the stage, an older gentleman, as it turned out, the manager, turned it into a Dabke. Now I stink at Dabke- it doesnít fit the music, because itís a 6-count, while the music is a 4-count, so itís always seemed wrong to me.

 

The girl singer was doing poppy stuff, she did Ya Tabtab, which was the only piece I actually recognised. It was all cute soulful girly pop though.

 

The dancer for the night was doing her set upstairs first, while the musicians/singers were doing their set for us, then they swapped over. I think that was the best way round, because it built up to the dance set, rather than giving us the dance set followed by rather rubbishy singing. So I was happy.

 

The dancer was Joanna, a Portuguese dancer. She has a slight look of Yasmina about the mouth and jawline, but darker skinned. Sheís a nice dancer & I liked her. I felt she was trying a bit too much to be Dina, but she was doing enough of her own stuff for me to enjoy watching her dancing. She used the Suhair Down hips in an interesting way, which I probably canít define now... She went into them from an accent, often in the 3s, like Dandesh might, but Dandesh would be much more grounded & baladi than Joanna was with them. I found a couple of the times she was using arms that showed a Flamenco-style, possibly generic Hispanic style, in the lift of her elbow, the curl of her wrist. She was using space in an interesting way, given that her dance space was so miniscule.

 

The first set was Oriental, majenci, then something sung, probably an old song, but I didnít recognise it. She was wearing a purple dress that didnít look terribly impressive, though it showed her moves well enough. She uses a lot of little abdominal locks. The beading on the dress wasnít all that, I thought. Iíd seen nicer dresses & bedlah over the course of the holiday so far. But anyway, apart from being a bit Dina-esque, with the hand to the nose, the hip rotations with stops, the deep dips & up again... Apart from all that, sheíd got a nice personal style.

 

 

She left & a Tannoura dancer came on. He was doing fine. He only had four tambourines to play with. He did the mother & baby thing (Iíll have to try & get someone to explain that to me properly). Then he did the Overhead spin while going out into the audience. Thatís got to be hard work on the lifting arm, those tannoura skirts arenít lightweight things. He dragged Katerin onto the stage with him and did the lying underneath the tannoura thing. Then he got Hanne up & put the tannoura skirt on her & made her spin! Nice one!

 

Then Joanna came back in a really cute leopard-print bedlah & mandeel, doing a Saíaidi stick piece, and she got me up with her, part way through it. Just a few horsesteps & hip rotation, but it was fun. I do love a bit of Saíaidi (did I say that already?) In this set she seemed more relaxed, the audience had warmed up a bit, and she knew she had happy dancers in the audience. Also, the baladi set is so much more fun. (Not that Iím saying I hate Oriental, I love it, but itís not so much ďfunĒ, itís more serious.) She did Hawa Ya Hawa as the stick piece, then she went into a baladi progression piece, then a drum solo, which was very well done, with funny bits where she was playing with the drummer as well as the audience- the ďWait for it, wait for it...Ē game. When she was taking her bow, she threw kisses our way and one to me in particular. Is proud!

 

 

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Day 5 - Class Day

 

I got a bit of a shock this morning, coming back to my room after breakfast. The bloke in the room next to mine had left his door open & was wandering around in nothing but his undercrackers. And it wasnít a pretty sight, let me assure you!

 

At breakfast, I was was watching Melodia Arabia (music video channel) and there was quite a cool video clip of a girl singer. I asked the waiter her name & was told Dominique. Then there was another video featuring someone who looked incredibly like Khaled. I have since checked them both out on Youtube. You can see the Dominique one here and the Khaled one (it was definitely him) here

 

I went to the bank all by myself, like the brave little soldier I am (teehee!) and got a taste of the Egyptian Banking Experience. I got given a number by the security man, just like being at the deli counter at Sainsburyís. I then waited a good ten minutes, while nothing much seemed to be happening at all, and people who came into the bank after me who had no number got served, and then eventually my number got called. I now have loads of big money, not so much little.

 

It was dance class day. The first class, with Randa, was good. All Technique & I felt the benefit of having done other workshops with her before. She remembered me, and now knows my name! I may have to make my way up to the Midlands event Mariaís putting on. Iím feeling the Randa Love again!

 

The second class was with Ghazafy. I liked his warm up, which was fairly straightforward Follow Me simple choreography, not too fast. But then he went on to teach a Reda style choreo- all footwork. He was teaching it too fast for me. I need things in way smaller chunks! I sat some of it out and took some notes, of elements I liked. The others enjoyed it enormously.

 

Weíre trying to get a private lesson with Randa booked. I hope we can do it.

 

After Class, onto Emanís atelier, except that Eman herself wasnít there. Hoda was. Iíve ordered a royal blue baladi galabiya, which I should be able to bring home with me. Itís the Hannan that will take a while longer and may have to be shipped.

 

Tonight was Kushari night. A group of us went out for a meal & drink in a local cafť. It was just shawerma & kushari, and to be honest, not the best of either that I've tasted. But it was an interesting experience. They even offered us a dominoes board.

 

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Day 6 - Randa Love!

 

Today the group went to the Khan al Khalili. We met a very pretty cat, at Fishawi's.

 

 

Some of the girls had henna done. It was an uphill struggle to explain to the woman NOT black, brown henna only. But it's not worth anyone taking that sort of risk. We wandered around, before going into Mahmoud's and bought a few more scarves, and a hat. I've been wanting one of those little hats since seeing Khaled in one at JoY last year. I went off to try & find bellydancer postcards, but witout success. If I wanted postcards of Tutankhamun or antiquities, it was bad enough, but the postcard of the cheesy bellydancer in front of a pyramid, with a camel seems to be a thing of the past. I did spend far too much on some other quite cheesy postcards, I hope they'll be appreciated as the next best thing I could find.

 

Me & Artemisia then went off to Pharaonics for her Prova. It was fascinating to see Amira at work. She's talking all the time, explaining everything as she goes along- what fabric stretches, or contracts when it's beaded, the way she's designed the costume to work, how it can be altered if the fit changes. It's almost worth buying a Pharaonics piece for that alone. Shame she doesn't really do dresses. I'm still not in the market for a 2-piece.

 

It was also fascinating to see her assistant (daughter? I wasn't sure) packing costumes up to ship out. The quality control! Checking all the beading, inside & out, snipping off excess threads, checking all the accessories are right. There was a beautiful skirt there, in three layers, moss green, pale pink and a deeper rose pink. It was delicious. It was so lovely to see the care that went into each set, and how much pride they took in their work.

 

Artemisia's costumes are lovely, in interesting & unusual colours. They will be fab and I'm looking forward to seeing them all finished.

 

Then a bite to eat, because it was 4.30 and we'd had no lunch, and onto Eman's for the Prova there. Eman was there today. There were 2 other people there, one of whom turned out to be Outi, who's show at the Nile Pharaon we'd had to miss, because we couldn't get the right sailing times, and who we both know from Bhuz, of course. The other was an American dancer, Samiha of New York (I've tried googling her since I've been back, and her site ought to be samihadanceprojects.com, but it's not loading). She tried on Artemisia's new costume, the burgundy one, which I won't describe further because it's a bit special, and it's hers, suffice to say it is very much an Eman Original and very exclusive, because Eman has no further supply of the fabric in question. But as soon as she did, it was clear it was never going to do anything for her, whereas on Artemisia's body, it's utterly fabulous! I have to say, she didn't endear me to her (the American woman, that is), by asking me if Artemisia was my daughter! I don't look that old, and she doesn't look that young!

 

My prova was pretty successful. It's only a Baladi Galabiya, Eman style, with bra underneath, but I know I'll get the use from it. The bra is great, the galabiya is being altered slightly to make it fit better at the neck. Then when Eman asked about the hipscarf & headscarf, she suggested something with flowers, which sounds very interesting and I said yes with alacrity.

 

So back from Eman's. A bit of a rest, and a shower then on to the Nile Maxim for Randa's show. Kay had wangled the best seats, right in front of the stage. The evening started with singers. A bloke on the keyboards & two girls. That was more bossa nova, spanish flavoured stuff. They did do Ya Mustafa.

 

But we were waiting for the dancing. It started with a rather cute tannoura dancer. He was prettier than the one on the Pharaon, but not as entertaining. Also it was a much bigger room to work the tables on, so for long lengths of time he was off the stage. Still, I watched the band, which is interesting. The violinist I could have kidnapped and made him play to me all the time. He was lovely. And we knew the drummer from the class with Randa. He waved to us.

 

Randa was on good form. She was using technique we'd done with her in class, which I always like to see. Her first set was wonderful, she did the Doing Almost Nothing thing, which I was spell-bound by. I should have taken pictures then, because she was so still, but that would have meant not watching her, and I couldn't take my eyes off her. She was in a classic Eman, in gold metallic on black, but the thing that made it stand out (quite literally!) were the ginormous bobbles on the bra & belt. They really were huge, 6 or 7 cm diameter. She was doing the drunken walk, but that's her own version, not the Dina one. And although it was the Oriental set, she was doing a lot in a very grounded way. I've seen her work much more on the demi-pointes.

 

Once again, I apologise for the appalling quality of the pictures. Crummy camera phone.

 

 

 

When she finished the set, a mizmar player came on. He was lovely, very smiley & jokey. I liked him.

 

 

 

The singer came back, in a galabiya & turban, for the Sa'aidi set. Then Randa came back in a pair of licquorice allsorts trousers. With a stick. The stick move that stuck in my head, as I'd not seen it before, was when she pushed the end of the stick horizontally into her stomach, as if being stabbed with it. I'm guessing that was specific to the lyrics of the song. She did the horsestep hop and much bottom presentation, which I for one appreciate.

 

 

 

Then at the end of that set a small rotund shaabi singer in a huge shiny dress came on and when Randa came back she was in a gold mini-skirt combo for the shaabi set. The skirt had a fringe of fluttery fabric leaf shapes at the hemline. But I can't remember much about the bra- it was the Dina cup, with the joining piece at the front in skintone, so it looked like the cups weren't actually joined (though obviously they are). In fact the blue one had the same illusion.

 

 

She was dancing for everyone, of course, but she was dancing quite specifically for us. And she was in really good form,happy and sharing. It was a fantastic show. The Randa Love is definitely back!

 

Back to the hotel, and Kay was offering the possibility of a Seedy Nightclub. There's one round the corner from the hotel and it's a total dive. It looked like a Working Men's Club and there was only one other woman in the audience apart from us, and she was looking bored and fed up with her companion. As we got in there was a dancer on with a reasonably ok costume, a black trouser suit, with side cut outs that showed the black biker modesty shorts. She was scarily made up. She did a little bit of shimmying, hips or shoulders, and a few hip drops, but I'd say she was more of an entertainer than a dancer. And she was great at working the male audience (though she wasn't really sure what to make of us). When she left, another girl came on, younger, in a silver trouser suit, again with a cut out that revealed white modesty shorts. However the VPL also betrayed the fact under the trousers and the shorts, she was also wearing Big Pants. Very secure. A girl can't be too careful! She was actually a lot sweeter and more of a dancer, she showed a lot more musicality, and she was doing more than just bimbling about.

 

I'm finding myself feeling quite odd about dancing here. I think it's my Egyptian friend's influence on me. I don't feel like dancing here as though I'm a professional. I feel I will be looked down upon. It's OK to dance like an untrained, social dancer. It's not OK to do fancy stuff, and it was not OK to dance in that sort of a place. I did it because that's part of the deal, but I didn't feel comfortable in myself in doing so.

 

But maybe I'm just being over-pretentious!

 

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Day 7 - Dina!

 

Today was the Prova at Hannan's and everyone else picking up their costumes. My Cavalli dress is made up and fitted, and once it's been beaded, it will be shipped to me. I've given them my work address, so that there'll be somebody to sign for it. It's going to be fabulous. The shape is great. The left leg is pretty bare-naked, but in a good way!

 

The Mahmouds were feeding us lunch, which was a mahoosive picnic on the floor of the studio (I can't believe they allowed food in a roomful of high end costumes!) I'm not a big one for fish/seafood but we had a delicious meal of fish, rice, bread, baba ganoush, salad, pickles, etc etc. The fish was from the river not the sea, but I didn't try to establish what kind of fish it was. It was marinaded and grilled, and it was hugely delicious.

 

Artemisia & I then went on to pick up my costume from Madam Hekmat. It is fabulously, outrageously, in-your-facedly pink. And large. Quite apart from the bra from Hammocks R Us, the flares on the trousers are stonking. They're even more heavily beaded than the original longer version that got cut short, and the swing on those babies could take someone's eye out. If they happened to have eyes at calf-level. I haven't yet decided how I would do my hair with this costume, but that's fairly academic until I get an opportunity to perform in it...

 

Artemisia & I then decided to go shopping. I quite like the skirts they've got here- they're long & summery. Suitable for good muslim girls. So I got one. I also bought two pairs of quite funky shoes, one in brown, one in white, the same style. Artemisia bought a dress, with mesh accents in my Cavalli black/white animal print, though I think my dress is nicer!

 

When we got back to the hotel we needed to snooze, because it was going to be a late night. We were seeing Dina's show at the Semiramis.

 

Yasmina was taking us, which is great because she knows what's what, and she has a lot of behind the scenes information. We'd been told there would be a concert after the Dina show, with either Saad or Rico. But as it turned out, it was neither, it was Bashir, and he went on before Dina. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

 

As we got to the club, there was the obligatory band already on stage, for once not doing Samba numbers, but actually doing Arabic songs. They consisted of 5 personnel- 2 boys and 3 girls.But it was a bit like tag-wrestling. Not all of the 5 were there all the time. The boy singer (as opposed to the boy keyboard player) was quite cute but I was sat right at the stage end of the table and when he came up to the front of the stage, his crotch was right at my eye level. I really couldn't look.

 

So Bashir came on. He's an up & coming Lebanese singer, apparently he won the Middle Eastern Pop Idol contest. So he's not too bad. He was reminding me of someone, and it's taken me a while to remember who it is- my hairdresser. He was doing proper Mawal singing, not just belting out pop songs. The lads on the tables alongside ours were enjoying his show enormously. He took requests, and at one point there was a major spat between the kit drummer and one of the duff players about who was leading the drumming. I think the duff player won.

 

So Bashir was good, though I think we'd all been looking forward to Saad.

 

Dina came on at 3am and danced for about an hour. Four costumes. Her dancing was as Dina-ish as I could have expected. There was a little combo that she used two or three times, where she starts in profile, with the audience foot behind her, weight forward, and she then accents this back hip, with a horizontal swerve to the back, and that leads into a classic Dina accented hip circle.

 

Anyway, the costumes.

1. Green, Eman-like in shape, but less opulently decorated. Understated
2. Red Tie costume. Again, Eman-inspired shaping, in a deep red metallic red/burgundy, with the accents being a red sequin collar & tie, in the plunge of the cleavage and also around the hips.
3. Sa'aidi style (ish) black/multi coloured. I've got no pictures of this one. It was a plain black bra & mini-skirt, with big jewels on the neckline of the bra. Attached to the bra was a mesh pinafore, for lack of a better word), that was embroidered with more jewels. The pinafore was straight down at the front, at the back it came together in the small of her back, then split further down. I liked this costume idea & also I liked the brightness of the jewelling, which was all multi-coloured.
4. A nearly naked dress.This was a classic bra & mermaid skirt, made in skintone mesh, appliquť'd with black lace. It was very elegant.

 

 

We were fantastically close to Dina. I can now say I've had Dina shimmying her glutes *this* close to my face, as well as Lucy. I was close enough to see the mole on her upper abs, and the (I'm guessing) appendix scar right down low on her hip line.

 

In terms of entertainment, I think we would have got more personal attention from Dina if we had been a group of young men. Dina does like to flirt with the boys. She did smile at us and not ignore us completely (I know that sounds damning, but it's not meant to sound that way). She puts on a good show, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

Then back to the hotel and bed. Though I slept really badly.

 

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Day 8 - Party Night

 

Last full day. Today was the fellucca trip, after a nice long lie-in! The weather was very close, and when we got to the fellucca place, there wasnít enough wind for the sail, so we went out in the motorboat instead. It was very relaxing and enjoyable, after such a hectic day & such a late evening the night before. The pollution haze was heavy and it was not as clear & beautiful as itís been earlier this week.

 

As we got back to the mooring place, the wind was starting to rise, and Artemisia, Rose, Noella & Katerin & I went to the Grand Hyatt, for a bite of lunch in a bit more luxury. We were on the terrace & it really did get very windy. They were moving people indoors and at one point the big table parasols, which are all on very heavy, solid bases, blew over and fell onto tables. Lots of Crash Tinkle Tinkle noises!

 

After that, it was back to the hotel. We had an appointment at Emanís at 5, but that still left me about an hourís shoe shopping time. Iíd seen some pairs made with denim that I really wanted. I found a pair in a shop on Sharia Talaat Harb, but no reduction for two pairs (there was another pair that was quite cute). I am now the proud possessor of a pair of seriously pornstar shoes. Theyíre covered in jewels. I do like!

 

At Emanís, the costumes still werenít finished. Artemisiaís burgundy one will have to come with Eman to London & Iíll pick it up from her. But the others should be finished later tonight & delivered to the hotel (they were!).

 

Eman used Artemisia as a tailorís dummy/model for a very cute baladi dress, with all lace-ups at the side, in pink holographic shiny.

 

When I was trying on my galabiya, the scarves werenít floral after all (which is something of a disappointment, but not too badly. I can always make something floral myself, now that Iíve got the idea in my head.) but blue and black & silver stripes, which is very folky looking, so it fits well with my style. When the nice hegabbed girl who was doing the fitting asked me how Iíd wear the mandeel, she indicated a knot at the nape of my neck, or at the side of my head. I took it and did a Hilal-ish wrap, where the knot goes on the top of the head which covered my hair completely, and she smiled and seemed generally approving!

 

Then back to the Hotel for a shower and titivate, in readiness for Yasminaís party. She lives out past Giza & her flat is up on the 6th or 7th floor, with no lift! But the view from her balcony, of the two big pyramids (I couldnít see the smaller one, just the big ones) is amazing!

 

 

I wasnít sure what to expect. There were musicians & singers. I recognised the accordeon player, because he was playing the night before, in the orchestra for Bashir. He was very smiley. He remembered me too, I think because I was too! The tabla player was young & cute, and Sayed was there playing Tura. His English is no better! He was as fun as he always is.

 

There were various "acts" throughout the evening. Yasmina danced ďAla Rimsh AyunaĒ. A couple of Nubian lads did some Nubian (well, duh!). It was interesting to see Nubian being done in a modern style, as opposed to the Reda Folklore style. They were still doing the limpy step and aeroplanes and the classic Nubian stuff, but they were doing it much more funkily, and bringing in lots of pops and locks and "street" stuff. I do love Nubian music. It always sounds happy. Then there was an Alexandrian/Bamboutiya/Melaya piece. That was a lot more Folklore Troupe style. And she didn't do much with the Melaya, just waft it about a bit, no wrap, no tricks. Then there were the Sa'aidi boys, in galabiyas with big sticks. The girl who'd done the melaya piece and another girl joined them and they led some dancing. I managed to get one of the boys to lend me his stick (with Artemisia's help) & I had a bit of a go.

 

For me, though, the delight of the evening was Hebba, Yasmina's niece, who is a complete darling. She's only 13, but her dancing has complete assurance and is a joy to watch. She understands the music so deeply, and is so expressive. She was constantly interacting with her audience, and was *so* engaging. I've no idea if she would ever perform in public, I don't know if that's permitted to her. But if she doesn't it's a sad waste of talent.

 

I chatted with Lorna Gow, about her life as a dancer in Cairo, and about her blog.

 

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Day 9 - Bye bye Cairo...

 

This morning at breakfast, the tv was showing an old b/w movie, and all of a sudden I realised that the slavegirl dancing in somebodyís dream sequence was Nagua Fouad- the gap-toothed smile, the bum sticking out, the feet. There was no-one else it could be! One of the cafeteria ladies went on to change channels later, and left it on a clip of Naima Akif, the one where thereís the trick photography and sheís dancing in an assuit dress on one side of the screen, and dressed up as a man on the otherÖ So it was dance morning. And then there was a brief clip of Abdel Halim.

 

One last burst of shopping- cakes for the office, and one last pair of shoes. These ones are sensible work-type shoes, because they're in brown and it's hard to get nice brown shoes in England at the moment.

 

Going home now...

 

Things I didnít buy:

- manís galabiya
- cover up of any description
- khaligi dress
- borro
- jewellery (apart from the enormous earrings)
- any presents for anyone else
- a handbag (definitely on my list for next time Iím here)
 

Things I did buy:

- 4 pairs of shoes
- 3 costumes
- 9 hipscarves, of which I can sell 4 or 5 quite happily. I definitely want to keep the white, hunter green, red ones. The rest I donít mind selling, or keeping if they donít sell.
- 3 pairs khul-khal
- 2 pairs of earrings
- a hat
- a skirt
- cakes for the offices
 

So far so good... Got to Vienna in good time & Iím now seated on the plane to London, and weíre all boarded in good time for takeoff.

 

And as they always used to say in the Cartoons, That's all folks!

 

A 2013 Update
For a blog of my latest trip to Cairo, February 2013, again through Farida Adventures, see my livejournal blog. This link will take you to the Cairo Diary filter.
 

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Updated 14th March 2013