scribbles tagged ‘Cairo’

night felucca in Cairo

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

.Listen to the city at night while I watch this sail boat, felucca, cross the Nile after sunset.  

Later that evening I experienced the rare treat of watching a whirling dervish.   The whirling Dervish are traditionally Sufi people and the dance takes them to another plain of consciousness.   Kiddies often discover whirling without any input from religious organisation.   Whirling is a natural way of connecting with the earth,   in my case normally by falling over.   I loved their outfits, the music, the balance, skill and peace.

The sounds of Egypt were so much more beautiful than the sounds of western cities.

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bringing home the bacon

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

Friend in Cairo:   we’re meeting a man on the street corner to pick up some bacon

DowntownWe loitered on a street corner.   An old mecedes pulled up,   a Egyptain looking man wearing very dark sunglasses,   smoking a cigarette, got out of the car holding an unmarked white bag.   He looked at us, at my blonde friend and called her name.   She walked over.

As a muslim country,  rearing pigs, slaughtering them and distributing thier meat is not a high demand business.   Listening to my friend and the man talk I heard the fear of the non-muslim.

Friend in Cairo: the children at my school think that you catch swine-flu from pigs,   they don’t realise that you catch it from people

The Christians keep pigs,   eat pigs.    Pig farming in Egypt has stopped.   My friend’s  bacon supplier talked about how his pig farms used to be hidden in the heart of christian areas,   or ex-pat communities (Americans) where the locals don’t worry about them.   But now, since swine flu,   it’s not safe, people break into the farms and kill the pigs.   Now he imports his bacon from other countries.

The man offered us a lift to our next stop, the Cairo antiquities Museum.   As he drove he told us his story.   He was a native born  Egyptian.   He left Egypt at 19 to live in the US.   There for 20 years.   His Egyptain wife missed home so they moved back in 2008.   He misses America.   He misses the way people drive. Business is getting tougher.   He talked to my friend about how she managed to find him.   They shared names and places, they were friends of friends in the community of non-muslims.

Picking up the Bacon was so much more symbolic than simply putting food on the table.

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coptic Cairo

Sunday, December 6th, 2009 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

hanging church wall decorationThe word ‘Coptic’ appears to refer to an Egyptian language spoken in Pharonic times  and currently written with the Greek alphabet

The language is now used in the Coptic church,   a christian church with it’s own Pope (not the  Catholic one).    The apostle Mark reputedly bought christianity to Egypt  in the first century AD when Egypt was governed by Rome, Emperor Nero

The Copts seceded from the other Christian churches in the 5th century  because they rejected the decision of the Council of Chalcedon (451)  that Christ had a dual nature, both human and divine, believing instead that he had a single, divine nature

Christianity is now the largest minority Religion in Egypt.   About 95% of Egyptians are Muslim.   The christains have a difficult relationship with the state, government and some Muslims

hanging church wall paintingThe external architecture of the christain churches was such that I found them difficult to spot.   The give-away sign was a cross,   normally on a dome

I visited the 7th century St. Mary’s hanging church in Coptic Ciaro.   Called the ‘hanging’ church because it  is built overhanging the Roman gatehouse of old Cairo.    This church was increadibly beautiful.   Painted walls with motif’s that often looked celtic, arabic writing, gold-leaf

Wall panels were delicately carved wood inlaid with ivory in regular geometric designs.   Often straight lines constructed to enable you to see circles and curves.    The colours created a warm celebratory atmosphere,   very different from the white-washed  walls of many Church of England churches.   This celebration in art appeals to me.

Mary and Jesus - Coptic churchI was suprised to find the paintings of people (Mary, Jesus, Saints) depicted very pale-skinned people that looked like North Europeans,    an over-emphasis on pale skins given the likely colouring of the people portrayed.   They were at least portrayed with brown-eyes and dark hair

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quick scarper

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

Tourism policeHere come the Rozzers

Wandering the streets of Cairo was quite tricky.   Mainly because  it was tricky to avoid the Tourist police on most street corners.   They  hide in their  little houses.   Luckily graffitti artists often leave warnings for the tourists.   This one helped me  disguise myself as a local before I was Policed

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Muhammad ‘Ali Mosque

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

Saladin Citadel - Muhammad 'Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel - Muhammad 'Ali Mosque
Saladin Citadel - Muhammad 'Ali Mosque

Above Cairo, within the Saladin citadel, sits the Ottoman style  Muhammad ‘Ali Mosque  (1848).   An ornate structure that provides water for washing before prayer sits in the centre of an quadrangle.   The huge prayer room is lit by hundreds of low-energy light bulbs in glass jars that may once have held candles.   Tourists  glide around using flash photography with blue plastic boots covering their shoes.    I followed my muslim guide’s example and removed my shoes.

Outside the mosque is a panorama across the city.   If you listen carefully you can hear the peep-peep-peeping of the traffic below….

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car cough phone me

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |



Egyptian road traffic (car, people, horses, cows, goats, carts) work out what to do based on local circumstances rather than any obvious rules.    A free market for its users, a  self-regulating system

Pedestrians. Cairo traffic and roads were a persistent source of fascination. Pedestrians loiter in groups chatting along the roadside, waiting for minibuses and taxes. The spill out onto dual carriageways, they weave between the traffic as the cross roads

4 men and a cow in a chevroletPassengers. Health and safety culture here in Egypt is great fun for people who enjoy not having to follow over-documented common sense for those without it.   The odd free-standing cow in the back of a truck was a common site

Prangs. I was only involved in one car accident during my stay. Judging by the dents and general ‘finnish’ of the cars ‘minor’ accidents are fairly common and not worthy of repair. After our accident the drivers stopped, got out, and argued passionately with arms waving for about 2 minutes then drove away, calm

horse drawnPeeps.  the car horn mainly says ‘don’t move any closer that’s where I am (going)‘.   One of my taxi drivers found this particularly useful when he decided to drive the wrong way down what looked like a one way street.   The sound of car horns is a constant background noise to the city.

Sometimes the sound morphs to music before sliding back to


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Masa creed

Friday, November 27th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

Saladin Citadel MosqueEgyptian guide (EG):   Saladin did one terrible thing which we cannot forget.   He masa creed 400 dinner guests

Wendy:   Killed 400 dinner guests?

EG:   yes

Wendy: I think you mean massacred not masa creed

EG:   the Americans say Masa creed

I  decided not to contradict her assertion of  how Americans pronounce ‘massacred’.  My role was only to ask questions, follow instructions  and make impressed noises.   For example,   she was the  director of where and when I could take photographs insisting that her prescribed locations were best.    She argued with me  if I chose not to  comply with her suggestions.    She told me to hurry up and move on when I decided to take photographs outside of her prescribed opportunities.

Luckily I’ve escaped from her clutches  to my friends home. My friend  knows  how to

  • ‘not know’
  • acknowledge her own linguistic and meaningful creativity
  • allow her guests to make thier own judgements (about where to take photographs)
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sandy shores of the Nile

Monday, November 23rd, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

 I’ve been lured away to stay with a friend’s family  in Cairo.  How lucky is that?

There will be sunshine on  sand, pyramids, sweat, bizarreness in bazaars,   bobbing on boats, the grandest of floppy hats and the lovely Egyptian people.

Sand maybe getting into crevices, interferring with normal blog posting services, friction and chaffing.   Please be patient, we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause

(Sax warning)

Madness sang night boat to Cairo

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terminal breakfast

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

Heathrow Terminal 16am Heathrow Terminal 1 is quiet.    A young couple and myself eating breakfast in the ‘Ristorante pizzeria cafe bar’.   I choose the vegetarian breakfast omelette,   testing the viability of a possible  new years resolution, it  tastes good

My day has already involved an exploding movement-sensitive light as I left the Wendy house.  It rained glass upon me.   Luckily I had my hood-up against the rain and didn’t get sprayed with glass.     In the Reading rail-air bus terminal I met an elderly Australian gent.   He looked at my fake Australian zebra skin hat with no comment while he  bemoaned the rain outside and having to visit Britain (Wales) to see his terminally ill mother.

No queues at checkin or security clearance.   SWEET

The customs officer said ‘Cairo is too far north for that hat’   We laughed

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looking for a guide

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

Oxfam art nouveau shop frontWith the quick approach of my HOLIDAY to CAIRO I skipped out  in search of some Holiday reading. Normally I pop into the tiny yet beautiful Reading Oxfam.   The friendly staff and customers chat, the book choice is excellent,  always something to inspire and entice.

One of my friends has recently moved to Cairo and made a specific request for a copy of the Lonely Planet guide to Egypt.   Alas, the local Oxfam cold not deliver

A short walk to the Waterstones chain, a small Victorian style shop front.   Inside the store is like the TARDIS   it goes backwards and upwards,   from house to house with glass roofs between.   The store is architecturally beautifully designed and maintains unusual features such as  the mezannine floor pictured below

Once I stopped looking at the architecture and started looking at book shelves   I was lost with no idea of where  the ‘Travel’  section might be.   Looking at the labeling on the shelves only tells you what is here,   not where something that is elsewhere might be.   Unperturbed I wandered over to the foot of the stairs (both of them)  expecting to find a list of the sections on each floor.   Nothing.

Waterstones in ReadingThe  front door did not offer a guide to the store store layout with the sections identified.     The cash and information desk by the door was being stormed by an outsized  orderly  queue of people.   Glancing  back into  the huge store I felt a little overwhelmed and wandered in looking at shelf labels and the people nearby,   which are the staff who might help me?   Before full panic could set-in, eye contact with a lady….

Lady: Can I help you?

Wendy:   Do you have a map of the store layout?

Lady: What section would you like?

Wendy:   Is there a display showing where the sections are?

Lady:   No,   I’m working on that,  what section would you like?

Wendy: Travel

Lady: upstairs ahead through the arch,   on the right hand wall arranged in alphabetical order by country

Wendy: Thank you,  love the display thing you’re working on

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old lady’s shoes

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Words of wisdom from  an almost stranger*.  in this case a girl on the commuter  train to London Paddington:

don’t wear Ecco shoes,   they’ll  make you look like a really boring  old person

Ecco SandalsI would have followed this advice


Ooops!   it’s toooooo late

I picked up these little green dudes in a sale,   as preparation for my upcoming HOLIDAY in CAIRO.   They have the phrase ‘pat pending’ on the sole.   Just like the wacky races character.   I love that!   The garish green is pretty darn cool too,   for a wrinkly, if this is what boring old people wear,   then so be it.

* Past tips provided by Alan the hairdresser.   Lucia the hairdresser, an anonymous  manicurist, a Jackson’s sales assistant, a bus stop philanthropist, a mini salesman, Windows Network Diagnostics, Flat Eric  and Reading Police.
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