Saturday, December 18, 2010
One of the first things you should know about Egyptians is that when it's winter, the coats go on. And stay on. All day. Inside or out. Of course under the coats there's usually a jacket (maybe two) a sweater or two and a vest. Of course this makes sense to a degree, unlike in Europe there's no central heating or insulation and all buildings are designed to stay cool and keep the heat out. Great in the summer, not so much in the winter.
It's not the fact that people wear several layers that gets to me, it's the fact that once inside they will not take anything off! Coats or jackets stay on indoors and then people complain that they're cold when they go outside again! Of course you're cold, you've got warm inside and then gone outside without adding an extra layer!! Grrrr!!
Nor does this look to be a generational phenomena that will die out as the next generation grows up, in class students more often than not, refuse to take off their big winter jackets 'because my mum told me not to'. The result is that they sit in class looking like mini-Michelin men and can barely move their arms!
Friday, December 3, 2010
The band was The Rat Pack Tribute Show a band of impersonators from fabulous Las Vegas and they were pretty good in my opinion. 'Dean' and 'Sammy' bore the greatest physical resemblance to their real-life counterparts but 'Frank' just reminded of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, which isn't really a good thing!
They sang all the classics, inviting the audience to join in several times. Highlights for me included: Everybody Loves Somebody, Mr. Bojangles, You Make Me Feel So Young, Leroy Brown, Mack the Knife, Me & My Shadow, That's Amore and of course, My Way and New York, New York. My friends and I were swaying and clapping our way through the whole show, although a quick look at the audience seemed to show that we were the only ones! Something that really annoyed me though was the fact that they changed the lyrics to Lady is a Tramp to the lady is a champ! No she isn't!! She's a tramp! The song doesn't make sense otherwise!
Overall though it was a lovely night and we all had a great time.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Yes, I know. Exciting stuff (and I absolutely, definitely did not watch at least an hour's worth of SkyNews coverage) but I have to admit, the thing I'm looking forward to the most is
I probably will be getting a coin though. I'm sad that way.
CONGRATULATIONS WILLIAM AND
My appointment was at 12, I arrived about 10 minutes early and I walked out at 12:30 feeling like a whole new woman. No wait, scratch that. I felt like ME again!!
Look out world; I'm back!
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
This past Wednesday was the 6th of October, as any Egyptian schoolchild will be able to tell you, this was the day -in 1973- that the Egyptian army crossed the Barlev line (a defencive sand barrier reinforced with concrete) in Sinai and regained control of the peninsula. To commemorate this victory October 6th is a national holiday and this year-thanks to Weekend Trips- my friends and I spent it shooting at people we had just met!
The group had organized a paintball battle at Rehab Club in Rehab City and we were divided into 6 groups and pitted against each other. My team decided to call ourselves 'The Expendables', unfortunately, we didn't channel Sly Stallone and his crew and we lost all 4 of our matches! Did we care? Nope!! We had so much fun just running around pretending to be soldiers and picking up bruises that winning wasn't important.
So next time you're stuck for ideas of what to do at the weekend, take a look at the itinerary at Weekend Trips, let your hair down, do something new and have a blast!!
Once the happy couple reach the doors of the hall they do not simply walk through. Oh no. As if the last 10-20 minutes hasn't been enough of a hint that they're ready to party, they are whisked away into a ante-chamber before a big announcement to mark their entrance. Once in the hall, they usually head to the 'kosha' a seating area reserved for the couple, usually on a slight stage. Depending on the couple they may either spend most of the wedding there, talking to guests and having pictures taken or they barely sit down, spending the whole time dancing. Different strokes, different strokes.
Some weddings will include the 'katb ketab' the actual marriage vows part, if they don't then the couple have already tied the knot officially and have decided to split the celebrations.
As usual the highlight of any wedding is the buffet. Don't expect a piece of wedding cake, as my friend colleague and fellow blogger IrishAlexandrain recently discovered, there's a high probability that the cake is actually a foam model and the bride and groom cut a piece of cake hidden to one side.
The most important thing to remember about Egyptian weddings is that they never start on time. If your invitation says 8:30, don't go before 9:30 and don't expect anything to happen till 10 at the earliest. Most are held in hotels at night although it's starting to become popular to have alternate venues. Some people rent villas out for the occasion, allowing for an outdoor party.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
The streets will be filled with the sounds of celebration and children's play (in fact I can already hear the fire-crackers going off in my street). One of the traditions of Eid is to buy a new outfit for at least the first day of festivities so the shops have extended their sales in the weeks leading up to Eid to entice people to spend. For those less fortunate, donations of second-hand clothes will be distributed so that underprivileged children will get to experience a sense of joy at this time of the year. Families will meet up, either at the grandparents or go away together for the break to the beach or maybe the family farm.
Once again people will be able to turn to Caffeine first thing in the morning to help get them through the rest of the day. Snacking can once again begin in earnest despite the plans of many to stop this year so as not to regain any weight lost over the holy month. But few will be able to resist traditional Eid cookies or Kahk, a buttery biscuit sometimes filled with dates and sprinkled with icing sugar. A delightful sugar rush after a month of daytime lethargy.
Eid Saeed everyone!
PS: When the internet begins cooperating again, I'll upload a link to an Eid song!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
|A traditional liquorice juice seller.|
And now, dessert! Although the sweets eaten in Ramadan are available all year round, they have a special place in any Ramadan meal. In Egypt most people stick to Oriental sweets at this time of the year, the most popular being konafa a dish made with shredded fillo pastry, drenched in syrup and stuffed with nuts or cream or raisins. Basbousa is a semolina dessert again cooked with syrup. Baklava, golash (pastry not meat) and various other sweet things also make an appearance.
Sohoor is the meal eaten about an hour before dawn as a chance to fill up the tank before another day of fasting (all that food from earlier doesn't count!). This is a much lighter meal usually of eggs, fool( broad beans) and cheese.
It should be noted at the end of this piece that although food plays a major part of this holy month, it is about much much more. This is the first time I've experienced Ramadan in the heat of summer (Ramadan gets earlier by about 11 days each year, following the lunar cycle) and never in my life have I been more grateful for a glass of cold water and count my blessings that I have access to clean, safe drinking water. And that is the main reason behind this month, to remind us of how lucky we are to be able to eat and drink and to give a taste (if you'll excuse the pun) of how people with little or no food and water feel everyday and to remind us to help as many of those people as we can. A common sight in streets during this month is Moa'ed Rahman or Mercy Tables where people pay or provide food to feed the needy, these are open to anyone all throughout the month.
All images were found using Google Images. No copyright infringement intended.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Well it's that time of the year again; Ramadan! The ninth month of the Islamic Hijri calender. (The word Hijri comes from the Arabic word Hijra or migration, as the Islamic calender counts years from the Hijra-when the Prophet Mohamed left persecution in Mecca for Medina.) In Egypt one of the most obvious signs that the Holy month of fasting and piety is about to begin, apart from worse-than-normal traffic, is the appearance of the 'fanoos' or the Ramadan lantern.
The origins of the fanoos isn't exactly clear some think it is an evolution of the use of candles in certain Ancient Egyptian religious ceremonies which was adopted by Coptic Christians and then by Muslims. The story I've heard most often is that the use of the fanoos during Ramadan was popularized during the Fatamid period when the Chaliphe ordered the streets of Cairo be lit at night by lanterns.
Traditionally fawanees are made of tin and coloured glass (see pic above) by artisans all over the country, often using recycled scrap metal. Unfortunately recent years have seen an influx of cheap, mass-produced plastic lanterns from China. These often bear very little resemblance to the traditional fanoos, can play music (either traditional Egyptian Ramadan folk songs or the latest hits) and are completely lacking the soul and calender of the traditional models.
The aforementioned Ramadan folk songs are another sign of the month, this first one is traditionally associated with the fanoos. Entitled "Wahawey ya Wahawey" it celebrates both Ramadan and the fanoos.
This second is a called "Ahlan Ramadan" or "Welcome Ramadan"
So, Ramadan Kareem to you all!!
All images on this page were found via Google Images. No copyright infringement intended.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
|The re-enactors prepare for battle!|
|The Merchant House and Shop in the Abbey Cottages.|
|FalafelandChips with a BowandArrow!|
|Ye Olde Medieval Advertising!|
| I Don't Think I Need to Explain Why I Took This One!|
|A Selection of Helmets|
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Just a quick note to let you all know that I'm currently in the capital and so far everything's been great!! Met up with the Irish Alexandrian a couple of times to take in some of the sights.
Looking forward to heading to another capital city on Monday, Cardiff this time. Look out Wales FalafelandChips is on the way!!!
More detalis of my trip so far willl be posted once I'm back in Cairo and will include:
- Report and pictures of the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival.
- Report and pictures of Tewkesbury Abbey.
- Report and pictures of The Tower of London.
- Report and pictures of Cardiff.
- Anything else I can think of!!
Friday, July 2, 2010
Despite the fact that the Arabic alphabet has 28 characters to the English alphabet's 26, there is no equivalent to the letter 'P' only 'B'. This has lead Egyptians to come up with a unique way of differentiating between the two to help with spelling, there's B khafifa ('light' B) and B tekila ('heavy' B).
Now if you guessed that the 'light' B is 'P' and the 'heavy' B is B,well sorry you're wrong! For years I was convinced that was the right way round, because to me as a native English speaker it made more sense, and the I had to remember that it was the opposite of what made sense. The only reason I've managed to find so far for the naming is that P is light as its 'hump' is at the top, while the hump of the 'b' is at the bottom making it heavy.Get it?
So tomorrow I'm off to change my Egybtian bounds into Pritish pounds and sign things with a plue ben!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
So, to all my fellow teachers I wish you a summer free of planning, grading, meetings and other people's children and plenty of lie-ins, we've earned them!
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Since 2005 one street (Baghdad St.) in the Korba area of Heliopolis has been closed to traffic on a Friday to become a place where people can enjoy a stroll around through the street with shops and coffee shops spreading out onto the pavement to display their wares and entice you to spend. There's the chance to leave your mark by drawing on the roads and pavements in chalk and for several days afterwards it makes driving down that street a little bit more colourful.
This year the theme of the festival was Music the Language of Peace and featured various artists from around the world (don't ask who, I arrived late and missed the line-up!) the star attraction of the evening though was Egyptian jazz musician Yehia Khalil. The atmosphere was loud (this is Egypt after all) and electric with plenty to see and do and other music styles available further down the street if the music at the main street wasn't to your taste.
So if you're ever in Cairo and the Korba festival is on, I highly recommend you hop in a taxi and go have fun at the Heliopolis street party.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
The first World Cup was hosted, and won, by Uruguay in 1930 and since then has been played every for years except in 1942 and 46 when it was stopped due to WWII (which was just as well really, can you imagine if England had lost to Germany on penalties then?!).
This year the tournament is being hosted by South Africa, the first time an African country has ever hosted the event and they've done a stellar job so far. The opening ceremony was a tribute to the whole continent and was a colourful and varied as the land itself.
Since Egypt (once again) didn't qualify, I will be supporting England and Spain. England out of patriotism and because they need all the help they can get and Spain because they stand a pretty good chance of winning (at least that's what the 'experts' say).
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I'm typing this by candle-light as my neighbourhood has just plunged into darkness; an auspicious start for my blogging alter-ego! It's quite a romantic setting I suppose, although I do wish the unpredictable Egyptian electricians had found a way of having the country's air-conditioners wired so that they were never affected by these power cuts! BTW the unpredictability of Egyptian electricians, plumbers etc. is a topic for another day. It would be fairly long!
After that -slightly random- ramble allow me to introduce myself; my name, as you may have guessed, is falafel (no, really). I'm a British-Egyptian girl in my mid-twenties, born in England (Cheltenham), raised and currently living in Cairo. I graduated from the faculty of Pharmacy in June of 07 and by September had realized that none of the career paths available in the field appealed to me at all; so in October I applied for a position as a co-teacher at an international school, started the same day and haven't looked back! In fact before the lightswent out I was looking up MA courses in education in the UK, suffice to say, I'm in it for the long haul!
That's all for now,I'm sure it will be easier to get to know me as you read my blogs; whether they be in the form of a ramble, a rant or a fangirl 'squee!'