Curfew Curry

I took my life in my hands yesterday and ventured into Carrefour at Maadi city centre. I knew I must have been on some sort of a self destruct mission as I went in around mid afternoon when it’s just nuts. I was only after something for the dinner and thought I would just nip in and out, get a couple of their pre-cooked chickens and rice but no, I ended up being distracted by legs of lamb.

I’m blaming my distraction on the curfew, it is most definitely, absolutely, the curfews fault that I even considered a leg of lamb for dinner on a Tuesday night. Well let’s be honest who has the time or the inclination to be slow cooking a couple of kilos of meat mid week. Normally i have a life and would be otherwise engaged of an evening. Anyway the special offer sign tempted and taunted and drew me in. Its power to seduce was too strong to resist so yes I bought the bloody leg of lamb.

Now you can’t have roast lamb without all the trimmings so I headed off in search of some decent carrots, (still no parsnips in Cairo it’s a disgrace) and obviously some honey to sweeten them up. Some rosemary would also be required but since I have some strange plant in the garden that vaguely resembles rosemary I thought I would bluff it. I was counting my items so I could go through the 10 items or less check-out, the rosemary would’ve pushed me over the edge.

I still have traumatic memories of my last visit when my box of water was deemed to be 12 separate items and I was refused permission to pass. Following a rather heated exchange I refused to go to another till and stormed off, water trailing in my wake, not my finest hour. In a fit of self pity I thought some coffee and a fag would sort that out only to be the recipient of the worst service ever in one of the adjacent coffee shops. In hindsight PMS may have been playing up.

Undaunted, I filled in the customer complaint form, which I know they binned, but they had under estimated the power of a woman scorned. I tracked them down via Facebook and twitter, inundated them with self righteous verbal dihorrea until they relented and sent the manager around to my house. Yes, my house because ” I don’t have the time to call in to your restaurant” says I. Anyway, he turned up with a gigantic caramel cheesecake type thingy. Rather fabulous it was too.

Back to the lamb, I had counted and recounted my items and I was deemed fit to pass this time through the “fast” checkout. I should bloody well hope so too as the woman in front had multiple boxes of Twix and Mars bars which according to the rules I was subjected to should have been counted as individual items. I thought about voicing my opinion but bit my tongue as after the unfortunate incident in Seoudi I have been running out of places to shop.

Anyway, I cooked the lamb with all the trimmings, gave the bone to the dog, and saved all the meat for tonight’s curry. Easy day today then, I can rustle up a curry no bother. Well no, the curfew has me searching for complicated recipes so I can prolong the evenings festivities, I’m currently contemplating a lamb Pathia but can’t decide to go for sweet or spicy. I’m veering towards the spicy as I still have lots of my homemade mango chutney from the 5 mango trees in the garden. I really need to catch a grip, I’m like some earth mother type but with better dress sense, obviously.

I googled things to do during curfew, yes I’m sad like that, and was rather expecting some drinking games, ways to taunt those self righteous guardians of the curfew, they may be called the police? The hubby and I had a little run in with them the other night, stumbling home about midnight when they very helpfully pointed out we were late. I pulled my blonde expat card and very politely said “oh thank you, thank you very much sir, we live just round the corner” Masalama and on we stumbled waving our goodbyes.

Well, google was rather disappointing, no drinking games were on display, it was full of nonsense like learn a musical instrument, read a book, learn a language. Stuff that its a curfew not hard labour. I was thinking brushing up on my cocktail skills, j├Ąger bombers, sex on the beach, things like that. On a posher note we did have a pimms pool party the other day which is frightfully English. Speaking of which the teachers should be back soon, some were spotted out and about the other day, white faced and rather startled looking. Now, some handy hints as to how to tease, frighten, or ideally traumatise the newbie teachers wouldn’t go amiss, that’s the proper way to spend your curfew time.

Masalama, Slainte



Dirty Laundry

I’ve been feeling I needed to write something for days now, a purely selfish cathartic piece, an exorcism of confusion if you will, as I try to get my head around what’s going on in Egypt, this crazy messed up place we call home.

Writing this blog has a been a bit like riding a bike, I’ve got into the swing of it, I’ve peddled the Maadi expat persona and concerned myself with vitally important expat lady things, wine, manicures, bookclubs, drivers, maids, gin and more wine. I’ve had a blast, and a lot of fun doing it. But the stabilisers have come of now, and I’m shit scared.

Am I shit scared for Egypt? Straight answer NO, I think they will muddle through. It will work out rather in the way the electrician who turns up with a plastic bag of tools comprising a screwdriver and some tape will manage to fix your washing machine.

You know the leaking plastic pipe needs replaced, he knows it too, but it’s the Egyptian way to stick a bit of tape on it, patch it up, and pretend its fine. Easier to stick with the old one with a few adjustments than rip out the washing machine, flood the kitchen and spend the time and effort sourcing a replacement part.

That piece of taped up plastic pipe looks different now, it’s face to world is unrecognisable, it’s a different colour, it feels different but underneath we all know it’s just the same. Sisi is not Tantawi, is not Mubarak but……

The last time around, way back in 2011 the electrician/electorate thought they would have a go at changing the pipe. They had a go, they couldn’t find exactly what they were looking for so they compromised. Morsi wasn’t an exact fit, he didn’t meet the manufacturers criteria but they ploughed on even though it started leaking from day one.

After a year of struggling on and mopping up the damage the electorate threw their heads up and ripped him out. The “told you so brigade” are happy we’ve reverted to the old one, they’re insisting it’s a temporary measure until they can source the right part. I’m happy enough with that if it’s true, it’s just the manufacturers of these parts, the political parties, don’t seem to be producing anything that fits the specifications.

They could off course change the whole machine, start from scratch with a completely different model. They could write a whole new constitution bringing into state control all the army’s commercial interests and budget. How about the pasta factories, water bottling plants, refrigerator factories, construction companies etc etc become state property, the army stick to defending national security, you know like in the rest of the world?

That won’t happen, no chance, so we will muddle on through, maybe address women’s rights, NGOs, the filthy streets, tourism etc while the elephant in the room (military/MOI) nods its head and says carry on folks, great job.

I’m no fan of the brotherhood, they were a disaster for this country economically, socially, in fact in just about every way. Their true colours have been unveiled to the world with their hasty removal of their Al Queda flags from their protests once the international media descended. Quickly replaced with brand spanking new ones in English calling for democracy. But…and here it is people the thing that’s really scaring me is the fact that there are those that think dispersing sit ins will get rid of them.

Time to waken up Egypt, for the MB are the other elephant in the room. The brotherhood have been around for 80+ years, they ain’t going anywhere. No matter how distasteful it may seem now, they need to be engaged, they need to be included, they are part of this country whether you like it or not. Dialogue is the only way forward, and reform from the inside out, and top down. You can present your shiny new exterior to the world, but without reform, well lets say in the background you’ll be washing your dirty laundry with faulty parts.