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.

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Coup Countdown

Just watched the BBC morning report on this crazy country I call home, what a load of codswallop. They are referring to the ongoing political stalemate as something along the lines of a three way Mexican standoff. The army, the president and the opposition. I’m not going to get into the political factions to be found within each of these groups as It would give both you and I a headache but suffice to say there are multiple sections all with their own agendas and with very little common ground other than the basic Morsi in or out, yes or no answer. For some reasoned analysis I will direct you to Jim Erickson, Cairo Rugby player, economic and political analyst, all round good guy, unfortunately he is American but we can’t have everything. Here is the link..

Egypt Update

We are supposed to be at home keeping our heads down but that’s not really my style so we have been out and about with the exception of Sunday when we were glued to the telly. That’s not to say the ongoing situation hasn’t impacted on our schedule. Friday was a case in point. Big Mo the club captain had posted on Facebook that he was going to kill a sheep at 1:30pm, now initially I was rather confused as the opponents of the Muslim brotherhood call their supporters sheep, and I was rather concerned that Mo was advertising the fact he was off to kill a brotherhood member at 1:30 local time. Turns out he was in fact referring to an actual sheep, phew.

Morsi made a speech a few days ago, not sure which day as I lost the will to live after the first 5 minutes. He managed to trundle on for almost three hours and said sweet FA. Egyptians, ever entrepreneurial had these on sale the next day down the Khan el Khalili.

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We were invited round for the BBQ of said sheep but even the best laid plans go awry in this climate. Due to the petrol shortages the delivery of the sheep proved to impossible. According to the government there is no shortage, guess these people are waiting for a drive in movie.

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I think Mo could have convinced the supplier had he wanted to, Mo is rather big and as such can be very convincing but the guy was using the shortages as an excuse to bump his price up so he cancelled the order, quite right too. As it turned out Mo managed to secure a leg of lamb so the BBQ went ahead and a fine night was had by all.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the amazing pictures coming out of Tahrir but I thought I would focus on the MB counter protest in Nasr city, their photographs are far more entertaining. Now bear in mind these supporters of Morsi are supposed to be more religious and you would therefore think more peaceful. Well judge for yourself. In their defence the following pictures depict them exercising their right to defend themselves from the opposition. Judging by the guy at the front of this one more “exercise” would seem to be the way to go.

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Ninja turtles seems to be the look that’s in for summer this year, although some of it seems to come from previous centuries with Braveheart springing to mind. No scratch that I’m guessing this is left over or pillaged from the times of the Roman occupation.

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The opposition have their share of armour plating too, though quite what this guy is expecting is anyone’s guess…….he appears to be smoking a cucumber, perhaps he has been smoking something else previously.

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The army have made their move and basically we are on countdown to a coup. Again the entrepreneurial Egyptians have blasted off the starting blocks and launched an app to countdown the time remaining. Here you go
Countdown Timer

The style of protesting this time round has definitely had a makeover. This simple red card says it all, they want Morsi to go

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On a more serious note, the 46 mob sexual assaults in Tahrir and counting need to be addressed. This picture called “circle of fear” by Salma El Tarzi is a powerful image that captures the fear that I can’t articulate.

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I’m going to leave you now with a photo of the army praying, there will be a lot of prayers said this week. Check out the hand of the solider holding the gun in the bottom right corner guarding the muslim soldiers as they pray. That’s a Coptic tattoo on the inside of his wrist……I pray that the unity shown here can be replicated, I hope you will join me. My prayers are with ALL of Egypt. Masalama

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UPDATE

Just got sent this amazing video by my son, stunning.
Tahrir

Turbo Time

They did it! They bloody did it! They have raided the last bastions of expat escapism in Maadi and removed all imported alcohol from the shelves of these fine establishments. No longer can we swan around in our “Man from Delmonte” regalia, gin and tonic in hand whilst discussing the natives. Ok so maybe it’s more faded golf gear, slightly stained, burger in one hand and a Jack and coke in the other but you get my drift.

Frankly people its the end of an era……..When they ship in all those newbie teachers about August time we will be able to reminisce, ruminate and obviously regurgitate our tales of daring doo………boring them sh@tless in the process recounting the good old days. On a side note probably better for all employers not to let their prospective workforce out on any kind of reconnaissance mission, just saying.

We need to plan people, we need a target to aim for, not literally obviously that would be illegal., although there are a few bearded guys who spring to mind………..anyway, I suggest we go with the old expat favourite of a stiff upper lip, no point crying over spilt milk, or in this case gallons of wasted vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila…….but is it really wasted? I Wonder where it went to………Hmmm me thinks some taxi drivers will be raking it in this weekend. “something for the weekend Sir” could have a whole new meaning on the streets of Cairo come tomorrow evening.

Fortunately for me I saw this scenario coming, or rather the Hubby did. Hats of to him he has been experimenting, fine tuning and generally footering about with the alcohol content of his totally organic home brewed “Turbo Cider” I won’t bore you with the recipe, perhaps a patent pending, suffice to say its on a par with prison hooch, and now that carefully “Crafted” recipe will be in big demand. (Crafted as in ….Can’t Remember A Fu$king Thing) type alcohol content. Portadown people you know where that comes from. Sssshhhh.

He is bottling up 10 litres tonight, I suspect I may be sent on an errand to road 9 tomorrow. Shopping list to comprise, some extra large storage jars, (10 litres just wont cut it) extra yeast, and I’m sure the wee man in the hardware shop is wondering what I get up to with that extra fine clear tubing…….I will leave it to his imagination. We even have the labels printed here you go…

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Tonight’s batch is rather special as the organic apple juice was donated by a kindly Dr Trout, special edition labels to be run off tomorrow at Soho print to commemorate his considerate gesture. Yip looks like I will be in for a busy day, never mind clearing the shelves in Kimo market of all their apple juice.

I can thoroughly recommend the “Juhayna” brand as being top quality for these purposes. It makes a light sparkling variety with a refreshing aftertaste. We did use other brands as rumour has it that Juhayna is owned by the Muslim brotherhood, we didn’t want to support them, sorry not support we didn’t want to offend them by using their brand for cider making purposes. But hey there you go turns out their product is perfect, wonder what they would make of that?

Hot off the press, I’m off to soho print with this tomorrow

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Battle Of The Beards

Happy Easter to all my Christian friends and happy Palm Sunday to all my Coptic ones, in the words of Dave Allen “may your God go with you”.  God has been rather busy of late in Egypt, apparently the more God like you appear to be translates into votes. 

Up until yesterday it was “the battle of the beards” the bigger the beard the more chance you had of winning. The Salafi  Abou Ismail posters are every where, and that’s one impressive beard. The Muslim brotherhoods candidate Shater (don’t say that out loud, it’s a rather unfortunate letter sequence) has only a standard bushy one with a mustache, which obviously proves he is a moderate……..

Although, having said that , you just know to look at him he has a hairy back, yuk,yuk,yuk and don’t be looking too close around the ears or nose either, there are definitely a few wispy bits…..He is the one that Adidas cringe over every time he has a photoshoot. I reckon they will pay him NOT to wear their products, and on closer inspection the strange shade of grey his shell suits come in would leave me of the opinion that it is a Khan el Khalili special.

Speaking of noses thon other eejit…..you know the Salafi boyo who claimed he had been mugged and beaten, but whom it turned out had undergone a beautification proceedure, in other words a nose job, well he is gone now too, what a twat.  The best part of that story was that the police arrested, charged, and obtained confessions from the 5 perpetrators within 24 hours……now thats awesome police work. 

Which leads me on to Omar Soliman the last minute Felool candidate. (Felool means remnant as in a remnant of the old regime.) perhaps the police investigating the “nose job boy” as he has come to be known where trained under this Soliman Character, for those of you not up on the Egyptian politics he was Mubaraks spy master, and ran the “rendition” operation with the Yanks which was Egypts version of Guantanemo…..nice man then eh?… unfortunately he looks like a bond villain, he never smiles so maybe he is hiding Jaws teeth or possibly a different superpower.

There have been sightings of superpowers in Cairo recently, Batman and Robin made an appearance in Maadi a couple of weeks ago but they haven’t been seen since. (the sighting was reported on St Patricks Day so maybe those Irish had downed one too many Guinness)  I’m not sure which dastardly villain they were persuing but my money’s on Soliman.

 Batman was female and Robin appeared significantly larger than him/her… in fact Robin had extra bits all over the place, with a rather fishy smell reminding me of Trout…..I’m wondering are they going to use pictures again on the voting forms so the illiterate can vote, if so whoever is smart enough to pick Batman as their logo will win, Gotham City has nothing on Cairo and we have way more Jokers.

Anyway back to the elections…….There are none of the candidates that pretty, you know in the looks department,  but then again there are very few politicians in Clintons league. On the subject of Clinton, what this campaign needs is a good sex scandal, being disqualified for your mum being American, as in Ismails case, just doesn’t have the same ring to it.  

At the very least we need a cross dressing transvestite with an extra wife, 5 instead of 4 to really shake things up. Oh the possibilities are endless……A few love children, extra marital affairs, or something really scandalous like being caught telling the truth…..or actually answering the question asked…….or even and this would be a biggy….owning up when you have been caught telling a lie, now that would rock my world. Never going to happen though….ah well

“Basha” Boy

“Basha” Boy

Things are really heating up in Cairo. Unfortunately, not weather wise just yet, but tempers are beginning to flare, not least of which is mine. Any of you from outside of this cyber-space alternative blog-es-sphere who know me will appreciate I had a little run in this week. Nothing strange with that, par for the course, as they say but this is the first one that involved me physically attacking some-one. I know not very ladylike but sometimes you have to make a stand against these ….well let’s call them bullies for now, it’s a bit early for more flowery language.

Any act of aggression in Egypt is blamed on “hidden hands” ( I love the alliteration here) or even ” foreign fingers” (that ones not bad either) and in fact the Muslim brotherhood, the largest party in our newly elected parliament, stated this week that “the foreign fingers were now pulling the strings on the hidden hands”  Do you think they sit around purposely dreaming these up in English or is it a fluke of the Arabic translation rather like “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”

 Anyway…. fortunately I can divulge the details of the incident as it is not subject to a police report, well as far as I know……..

I was doing a “big shop” in the local supermarket, its always queued out and the service is not the fastest, but hey you get used to it, just chill, allow a little more time and you always get there in the end, no worries. I reached the top of the queue and was loading my stuff onto the conveyer belt when a 14ish year old boy pushed forward with his chocolate bar in hand and asked “mumpkin ?” (if possible) so I said ok and let him go ahead of me. 

Next thing a rather dapper, suited and booted, 40ish year old man ( a Basha type for those in the know, or big boss type for those Irish numptys)  pushed in front of me with his selection of purchases, well I was having none of it and instructed the girl on the till to start ringing my items through, which she duly did. It was at this stage that things started to go pear shaped. He, the Basha Boy ( see I can do alliteration too) started screaming at the top of his voice at me, and the girl on the till too.

Now at this stage the adrenalin was starting to kick in, and in full automatic pilot mode I continued to load the shopping, blocking out the screaming from him and the staff. But once the trolley was empty I needed to get past him to the far side of the till, trolley in hand I very politely, Repeat, very politely said “lau samat” excuse me, where upon he turned and said “NO”  Pulling himself up to his full height and staring straight at me, blocking the path. I repeated the “lau samat” very loudly so my audience could hear, same response, “NO” only this time he put his hands on his hips…. I know, all I was waiting for was a flick of his hair.

Ok, so all the customers in the shop are now riveted on me and him, and so what do i do? Me… normally a very classy lady, well in my opinion…… I did what any self respecting girl from Lurgan would do. I rammed him with the trolley at full pelt. He went ar$e over you know what and landed on the floor. I followed through with the trolley until the staff disengaged it from my vice like grip. He then proceeded to get up and launch himself at me. Fortunately he was restrained by the staff, you know the let me at her, hold me back, standard daily sight,  as I side stepped outside.

The bag packers encircled me as the female customers screamed for his blood, and carried my shopping to the car, in fits of laughter it has to be said, I rewarded them handsomely with my standard 1le tip (10p) yip big spender. I’m not sure they had any great allegiance to me but the guy looked like he was some big shot from the court nearby, so maybe that’s justice Egyptian style. I certainly felt good, apart from the downer as I drove home a complete shambles, when the shakes kicked in as the adrenalin fell away.

One massive bar of Cadburys mint crisp and all is right with the world. Local papers headlines tomorrow…..heavy handed, foreign fingers, bruise basha boy, trolley trashed….oh I don’t know, all suggestions welcome.