Christmas comes to Luxor, with New Shoes for Edward.

Well, we're off to Windy Nook tomorrow, courtesy of Easyjet. It's just not cold enough here to be Christmas time. I mean, it was 27 degrees Centigrade today for heaven's sake!

We called down to the Etap for our last tea and free cake this afternoon and found out that Christmas had indeed arrived:


As we have guests arriving before we actually get back from England, we've had to rope in one of our Luxor friends to look after them till we get here. The lovely Christine (of Tutti Frutti fame) has stepped into the breach, and I'm sure that she'll look after them admirably! Having no shame at all is very useful, we've also roped in one of our Egyptian neighbours (and good friend) Adam Hagagg. I'm sure you'll remember him; he has the little coffeeshop opposite. Our alley is named after his grandfather, Osman.

Adam has agreed to hold the keys for us, just in case anything goes wrong while we're away, and hand them over to Christine when she goes to collect the guests. Isn't it good to have friends?

Talking of friends, some of you know another friend of ours; one Ahmed Badawy, caleche man 'extraordinaire'. He is still suffering from undernourishment, and his chest complaint is getting no better, but we came across his two brothers, Samir and Sayed, and Edward the horse, while we were ambling down to the Etap. This is where the other part of the post title comes from:


Sorry about the picture quality, as usual. I've no idea why they have that misty bit in the middle!





I'll see if there's anything worth Blogging from Windy Nook when I get there.

See ya!

Made inSyria?

I managed to drag Freda out into the cold tonight, to visit the Syrian Market which I reported on the other day.

Thankfully, the giant speakers have been done away with, so we didn't get hearing damage as we went in this time. I took my fancy telescopic camera tripod (a gift from my very kind brother) so that I might be able to get some decent pictures in the poor light. Here they are:


This first one was taken in the far left hand corner from the entrance. (We'd past several stalls before we got here, but they were either too crowded to get a decent look at the goods, or another one of them was a lady's underwear stall with some quite naughty stuff on display!) Made in Syria? I don't think so, unless there's a town in China bearing that name! Lots of the kitchen utensils and fancy goods on display here had Chinese labels on, it was quite disappointing really.

Nearby were some very fancy lady's gowns:

 Carrying on further around the tent, we came across another stall selling sexy lingerie, which I couldn't have photographed because it was chock a block with Egyptian women. I did snap a couple of the outlandish bedspreads, though:


Soon enough, we came upon the lady's nightgowns, to me they look the same as the ones I snapped last April. I shouldn't be surprised if these weren't also of Chinese manufacture. What do you think?

The applique work which we came across next was very nice. Although why the Syrians would produce pharaonic art in applique is a bit of a mystery to me, maybe the Chinese had a hand in it again?

I would say that there were more stalls selling the following beaded stuff than anything else. Some of it is exquisite (and costly) while some looks pretty garish with all the glittery stuff to spoil it. There are wall hangings and table runners, table cloths and cushion covers; all sorts in fact. Many of them were obviously Quranic Texts, but I cannot read Arabic, so cannot help you there!



When we came out of there, we both needed the loo, I think it must be the cold here! So we made our way around to the Winter Palace, where the facilities are always acceptable. Not wanting to be seen as freeloaders, we thought we would treat ourselves to a drink in the Royal Bar while we were there. For about an hour, we had the place to ourselves, four bar staff and a pianist. The service was excellent, we even had a welcome visit from the '1886' manager. (No, he's not an OLD man from the past, he's the manager of the famous '1886' restaurant!)

I love it here in The Royal Bar, look at this picture and see if you can imagine Carter and Caernarvon leaning against there, or tucked away in a corner, "If you can finance just one more seasons digging, my Lord, I'm positive I can come up with a royal tomb which will make all your waiting worthwhile."



Elf 'n' Safety

As you know; we've got no government to speak of here in Egypt. To the Egyptians, that means that they can do whatever they like! 

As I sit here in our livingroom, I can see four building extensions going up without any building permissions or anything, or so it would seem. One the right, looking down Gold Street, there are three buildings having an extra floor stuck on the top of already high buildings. They are all almost next door to each other.

The furthest away one must be a cheap job, as they aren't using any mechanical help. All the sand was carried up ladders in buckets on men's shoulders and tipped into a big pile. Today, there's been about eight men hand batching concrete, carrying it about on their shoulders again, and then shoving it down into the shuttering.

The next nearest one is having a bit of money spent! This is where the post title comes in. Last night, up till about midnight, they were working on the roof. No lights, no safety barriers, nothing! I awoke this morning to find this device had been constructed in the hours of darkness:

You can see what it is straight away, can't you? They've hired a concrete mixer (which is blocking Gold St, by the way) and a petrol driven winch to shoot a small skip full of concrete up onto the roof, where it's tipped into a four-man wheel barrow before being laid where they want it. If you look closely, you can see where they've knocked holes in the balcony wall downstairs through which they've shoved some of the supporting timber, what a cheek?

There are another two projects going on which I cannot see from here, I have to go onto the terrace to see them.
Surely, now that the Egyptians have a chance to change their circumstances through the ballot box, they must stop taking advantage of any and every opportunity to do things the wrong, or the snake, way! If they are going to carry on like this; then they'll just never advance and take their place in the modern law abiding world where starvation isn't always just around the corner!

I sometimes despair!!!!!

Return of the Syrians.

Since about a week ago, they've been building a rather large tent behind the Temple, opposite Sindbad's. At first, I imagined that it would be something to do with the election, or one of the political groups at least, but Madame Farida soon realised that it was going to be a bazaar. And so it was!
 
Yes, the Syrians are among us once again.

 I find it quite unnerving to notice a common factor between some of these young men and my memories of Gypsies, from my childhood. Some have the same wild, romantic (and magnetic) look that I remember in  some of the neckerchiefed swarthy skinned drivers of the bow-topped horse-drawn caravans of a lifetime ago! Maybe that's where the word 'romantic' is derived from 'of the Romany'?. Who knows?  

Anyway, it seems that it will contain the same stalls as last time, although they aren't all there and set up yet. Some of the stuff already on show is quite remarkable; bedspreads like you haven't even imagined!!! I'll get along there in the next few days and take some pictures. (Just an aside: probably the most popular picture on this blog, as far as people finding the Blog via a search which brings them to the particular picture, is that of the fancy ladies (under)wear which I took at the last Syrian Market.)

They'll be there for about the next 18 days or so, so there's plenty of time to go and have a haggle for something which isn't usually available here in Luxor. The biggest problem that I encountered so far is that of getting past the giant speakers at the entrance without my head exploding!


So, there you have it! Anyone who's visiting over the next couple of weeks or so; has a new attraction and an opportunity to buy some stuff in Luxor which actually looks to be of GOOD QUALITY for a change.
But remember what your old Granny used to say: "Don't spend all your money in one shop."

No Sensational Election or Unrest News, Sorry! But a Fabulous Guest at 'Our Luxor'.

Well, the electioneering on the second day of voting didn't provide any sensational news, what can I say? The Freedom and Justice Party were the biggest winners, apparently. So we'll wait and see what happens next.

In the meantime (or should I say, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch," just for us oldies?) we've been carrying on as normal;. Cleaning, shopping, cooking, eating and of course cleaning! Mr Rashad the cleaner hasn't been too conscientious lately, which has left me to struggle on with the stairs by myself most of the time. Mind you, I'll not complain too much, as we are saving his wages at a time when it all counts! In saying that, I must admit that bookings are coming in, even though they are slower than we would have hoped for at this time of year. We aren't having to turn so many away as usual, so that's also a good thing. I hate to have to disappoint people.

Our current guest is a very famous person! (Although I'd never heard of him before.) When his first enquiry came; Freda 'Googled' him, as his name is quite unusual. 'Souhail Kaspar', ring any bells? He's a darbuka virtuoso! (I've heard the name of the drum pronounced darabuka, in the same way as Karnak is pronounced Karanak by the Egyptians.) Here's one, that I didn't make earlier:


Of course this is probably just a tourist version, I should imagine that it wouldn't stand up to the hammering that Souhail gives them when he gets going!  Have a look at him in action here: Souhail Kaspar solo!

You can see a little wickedness in his eye on the video; it's even more evident in real life! He's a super bloke, and we've been ever so pleased to have him here as our guest these past few days, along with his companion.  She has been visiting a world famous Ghawazee dancer here, only a few streets away, would you believe? Here he is, I did ask him if it was OK to 'Blog' him, and after haggling him down from £300 to $300 to 300LE to a 'thank you'; he agreed!  

They're leaving tomorrow, to further their research in another part of Egypt, but I do hope that they'll be back again on their next visit to the 'New Egypt'.

It's Polling Day!

I'm sure that you've read elsewhere about staying indoors and off the streets during the voting here in Egypt. Well, as the old saying goes in places like Windy Nook 'Shy bairns get nowt'! (Another colloquialism, meaning that if you don't push yourself forward, you'll never get anything, or anywhere.) So off we went, two intrepid reporters, but disguised as ordinary ex-pats; no flashy cameras or microphones for us, just a sharp lookout for anything out of the ordinary. (We were mindful of the 'spies' and TV folk who were reported as being arrested and misused in Cairo.)

But, as we always knew anyway, Luxor isn't Cairo; it's like a different country as far as that sort of thing goes! We jumped the Arabiya on Sharia Karnak, as usual when heading to the southern extremities of Luxor like New Hospital Street and those other foreign places. Strategically placed at junctions and the like were little men shoving leaflets into the hands of those sitting next to the 'bus door, obviously political activists. (You can tell, 'cause they remind you of the same sort of anoraks  [colloquialism: 'anorak'.....one who is obsessed with some passtime or hobby which normal people consider to be unutterably boring] which do similar thankless tasks the world over) The traffic got slower and slower as we wended our way along Ahmed Orabi Street. (Also know as Coffee Street)   

When we got to the end, at Salah El Din Square, we could see the reason why! Voters.....everywhere! There were very long and wide queues all the way along the right hand side of the square, outside the school. Firstly, we saw the men, but as we actually rounded the corner proper, we saw the queue of women. There seemed to be a lot more women waiting than men. There were policemen on the gates to the school, not letting people in (or so it seemed), or maybe they were only letting so many in at a time. On the other side of the Square there stood a really lovely armoured troop carrier, sand coloured and looking brand new! They don't like you taking pictures though. Like most of the army equipment here; it seems as though the new stuff goes to Cairo and is eventually cascaded down to the provinces when it is as ancient as the monuments and in worse condition! Most of the army vehicles which I've come across in the near desert of the West Bank have had smooth tyres, no lights (or only one or two scattered about) and almost non-existent exhaust systems. That's before you look under the bonnet (hood) and find that the big chunky Toyota Landcruiser has a tiny Daihatsu engine floating about inside and that it now has only two wheel drive!.   

The voting is apparently taking place over two days here, as at the last election there were a great many people who didn't get to vote because the polling stations closed while they were still queuing outside. (I remember this also happening in England, another little sign that our 'betters' are trying to turn Great Britain into yet another third world 'basket-case' country which will end up looking to our European 'conquerors' for salvation!)

Note to Myself: Stop going off on personal rants while trying to inform your readers of the current situation in Luxor!!!

Eventually, we made it through the crush without knocking anyone over, and headed out along Salah El Din Street, towards the Iberotel. The school on the left here was also being used as a polling station. I think it's a girl's senior school? Here, the queues were thoroughly mixed, men and women together! But also spilling out all over the road on the other side of the dual carriageway.

There are more policemen about than I've noticed in years! And very smart too, their uniforms looking new, to me. Traffic horrendous everywhere, or so it seemed.

We took a break in Tutti Frutti's and had some well deserved tea, well, Freda had a coffee, as she doesn't care about the expense! It was quite busy in there this morning, mainly ex-pats and longer term regular visitors, but wide ranging and interesting conversation. On leaving, we turned right and made our way along to Medina Street. During the last elections here, the police virtually closed the top end of Medina Street as there is a polling station just farther up and the crowds were very big, and restless. Today, however, I don't think I saw a policeman there at all! We ambled down Medina, picking up bits of shopping as we went, the small bread buns in what we call the 'Little Baker' looked lovely, so we got a pound's worth along with two pieces of their lovely cake. We cut through to TV Street, coming out just a bit further down that Khair Zaman and managed to get on a 'bus in a couple of minutes.

Lo and behold! At the bottom of TV St,. the police had erected barriers across the road and the driver couldn't turn right! Looking along to the right; it soon became perfectly clear why they had done this; you couldn't get moved for queuing voters, they certainly seem to be taking their new found responsibilities seriously. That's got to be a good sign!

Off we went, along Salah El Din Street again. This time we both noticed earnest looking young men near the polling station with laptop computers on the bonnets of cars (for our American readers: hoods of cars). We decided that they must have been conducting 'exit polls' or something.

After battling his way along the Corniche and past the Winter Palace, the driver turned up Sharia Mahatta (Station St) and then cut along a back lane onto Kelopatra (Cleopatra) Street before finding his normal route again, near the railway crossing on Mustafa Kamel Street and eventually dropping us off outside our little alley. By this time, of course, I was gagging for more tea!

So boys and girls, what do you think? I think that today's conclusion is..........that Egyptian elections (at least here in the civilised part of Egypt) are proving to be of no consequence to visitors who might be wandering around the town centre. The crowds which we witnessed were no more threatening than the usual crowds of shoppers in any busy shopping mall or high street. Certainly far less intimidating than the crowds which British people are used coming across after the end of football matches.

It;s probably time for a little snooze now. It's a hard life here on the 'front line' of civil unrest and lawlessness, you know?

Speak soon. 

Succumbed to Temptation!

Now then, those of you who know me will realise that I'm not a man given to weakness in the face of temptation! I studiously ignore the clamourings of the lady in the Luxor Post Office, who is eager for my body. I disdain the sultry, half hidden, eyes which sometimes beckon at me from behind the full veils of young women in the streets. I even refuse the odd cigarette proffered by one addict or another (not very often, mind, but that's another story!) and I always refuse the reefers and opium offered by various of my neighbours!

That's the sort of guy I am! (Just setting the scene for you, you know?)

There's a new lady in town (we'll call her Ann2, to protect the innocent) and we've become quite good friends through emailing and finally meeting her last week when she moved into the Etap while she searched for a flat to rent, long term. She's now found somewhere, and is ensconced there as happy as Larry, or should that be Carrie? Anyway, she suggested that the three of us should go out for lunch together on Sunday. I'm so sorry to disappoint you Dear Reader, but I did succumb to the temptation to go to the famous Tutti Frutti for their well recommended Sunday dinner. As it happened, I was right to give in, it was absolutely lovely!

Lovely, tender, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding! Along with roast and mashed potatoes, carrots and peas, and cauliflower and cabbage, all with a jug of tasty gravy. Scrumptious! My natural sense of decorum and good manners stopped me from pigging out with the gorgeous apple and cinnamon pie for pudding. So at least I did manage to withstand some temptation, didn't I?

How do our guests feel about the 'troubles' and 'hassle' they find in Luxor?

Well, I'm going to stick my neck out again here! From talking to our guests each morning at breakfast; it would seem that they just DON'T find it, as they don't even mention them/it.

Not that I'm one for 'blowing my own trumpet', but I've decided to start and publish the 'Our Luxor' reviews on here, just to let you see some tourist reactions, if any, to the supposed 'hard time' so many people report on, regarding their stays in Luxor.

This one is our latest review on FlipKey (it should appear on our TripAdvisor advert shortly) and is from a lovely American/German couple from Portland in Oregon.

Deanna
Portland, OR

Fantastic!

Left on 11/25/2011 for a stay in November 2011
In our trip to Egypt we stayed in everything from 4- & 5-star hotels to a tent in the desert. And "Our Luxor" was far and away the most comfortable and best-designed (for the comfort, convenience and delight of the guest) of any of them. Edward and Freda have literally thought of everything a traveler could possibly want, and put it in lodgings that make you feel like a pasha. Breakfast on their terrace looking over to the West Luxor mountains is unbeatable, both for the view and the fresh fruit (different every day), fresh lemonade, made-to-order eggs, etc. Freda also makes a great packed breakfast for early departures. And she will even launder your desert-weary clothing for you! She & Edward will give you fascinating insight into the workings of Luxor, which you won't get on the regular "tourist circuit." We would recommend Our Luxor for any travelers with just one caveat - no elevator (but which did not bother us at all, and we're no spring chickens).


See? No mention of anything untoward. I know that the review is only meant to be for the 'Our Luxor Guest Apartment', nevertheless, I'm sure that if Luxor had been particularly unkind to our guests they would have said something about it?

Our latest guests left on Friday, after only three nights here. But.....they had previously been staying (since Saturday) right next to Tahrir Square in Cairo, where (and when) there have been unspeakable horrors reported in the worlds press! When I asked the lady about their experience there; she told me that, at first, they had been naturally apprehensive, but even though their hotel was keeping its doors locked, they went about their sightseeing etc. just about as they had planned. But steering clear of the crowds of demonstrators! She hadn't even been aware of the widely reported tear-gassing of a demonstration in Luxor while they were here! (Mind you, I wouldn't have known about it either, if I hadn't heard it third or fourth hand.)

No-one seems to want to believe that these political problems, and the people who are involved in them, are not concerned with foreign tourists. In fact, I don't suppose that the thought of visitors or tourists even enters their heads!!! Let's face it, while you were on the Aldermaston Marches, 'Banning the Bomb', or protesting with Otis Ferry on behalf of the fox hunters in London, or along with the massed 'Anti-capitalists' at a G8 Summit: did foreign tourists ever figure very highly in your mind? Of course not! But if someone had accidentally found themselves in among your crowd and had fallen or been knocked over or whatever; you would have done your best to help them. Just like our Egyptian hosts, anyone with an ounce of humanity would help a stranger in difficulty. After all, most protesters just see themselves as human beings wanting a fair crack of the whip, either for themselves or for someone else!

Let's stop the scaremongering, eh?

Current Situation/Trouble/Unrest in Luxor Nov. 2011

Hi, I've been noticing that people are being directed to my Blog because they're searching for the above. Well, it so happens that I too am searching for the same things as I go about my daily wanderings around our little town!

Other foreigners who live here do the same. After all, we do live here, and we really need to know if there is any significant threat of danger to ourselves and/or our families and friends, and that's before we even take into account our possible, or potential, guests and visitors!

So, there we are, wandering around the places where we would expect tourists and other visitors to normally also wander around, during the day (now that it's more comfortable, temperature wise) and in the evenings too. The most offensive thing we've found so far is that the caleches are parking right outside some of the hotels and causing a very bad smell, through the horses standing there for hours on end and pooing and weeing with no prospect of it being washed away. Phewww!

Mind you; there was a demonstration the other night. Apparently it centred upon the Police Headquarters in the farther reaches of Madina Street, in the more southerly part of town, at 10.30pm ish (or so I'm told). Of course, the security forces (no idea whether it was the Army or the Police or what) took fright and set off some tear gas canisters in order to give the impression that they were actually taking control of the situation. One or two restaurants in the Little Britain area were reported to have closed their doors in case the drifting  tear gas disturbed their diners. I cannot imagine there being all that many people dining at that time of night, but you never know, do you? Likewise, I cannot imagine many tourists being out and about in that area at after 10 at night anyway! I certainly wouldn't expect any guests of ours to be up there at that sort of time in the winter.

So, where does that leave us? Under normal circumstances, we can expect up to 190,000 visitors per month in Luxor at this time of year, that's well over 6000 per day. I just wonder what proportion of them (given normal numbers) might have seen this demonstration, or might have been in one of the restaurants at 10 o'clock at night, or wandering the streets in that area in the cold and dark?

As it happens, tourist numbers are still very low (although they have been slowly improving bit by bit) so I suspect that the actual number of visitors (even very slightly affected by this show of dissatisfaction and/or the over zealous response of the security forces) might have amounted to 15 or so? (A rather generous estimate in my opinion.) Of all the demonstrations which I have seen, (there's only been a half dozen or so) during the revolution and since, none of them have been anything other than overwhelmingly peaceful, even good natured! As I stood by, watching, I was getting smiles along with waved sticks and swords, combined with "Welcome to Luxor! Welcome to Free Egypt"

Which brings us to TripAdvisor and the Luxor Forum! I know that several of my faithful readers are also fans of this forum, and rightly so as it can often give first rate advice and info regarding our adopted home town. Nevertheless, there is a hard core of posters who will just not accept that those of us living here can be objective or, indeed even tell the truth, about what is going on here. Personally, I don't think that the latest demonstration was at all newsworthy! Although ex-pats are often to be found in that area, either shopping, dining or drinking, very few tourists (and even fewer first-timers) are likely to be there later than 8.30 or 9 in the evening. So of what interest would it really be to them, apart from causing them to possibly feel apprehensive about the safety of their up-coming holiday? In the actual event; it would have been of no consequence whatsoever to probably 99% of tourists, and even to the remaining 1% who could have possibly been it the area; they were in no danger at all, and would surely have been assured of such by the restaurateurs etc. As they say, 'One swallow doesn't make a summer'; likewise 'One badly handled demonstration doesn't make a no-go area for tourism'! Unless, of course, you're one of the 'Luxor lovers' who come up with inane statements like "Take off your rose-tinted specs, and see the deterioration of law and order, look at the videos of the violence etc in the demonstrations. It won't stop ME going, but the first timers really need to know what's going on." (Immediately translated by the potential first timer as "You'll be killed if you go to Luxor! You need to find somewhere else.") Don't these people think before they post their ill-advised rubbish? Not only are they consequently adding to depriving a whole region (Upper Egypt) of the means to make a living (yes, including the likes of me, for my sins) but they are also depriving thousands of eager tourists of the holiday of a lifetime!

Nearly forgot, I haven't really mentioned the "Lawlessness" have I?   Well: relatively speaking (relative to before the revolution, that is) Luxor is becoming a less 'crime-free' town. I cannot (neither would I) deny it! Before the revolution, crime was almost unheard of, as the consequences of getting caught would not be worth it, and would have been quite astonishing to Western sensibilities! Nevertheless, there was the 'odd' common robbery from tourists. I don't have any figures, but I have only heard of a very small number, even in the rumor-mill which is known as Luxor.

Since the revolution there has been a spate of bag-snatchings from tourist and ex-pat women; I believe about 8 or something in the past few months. I only know of one such incident from the 'horse's mouth', so to speak. (The lady in question isn't like a horse, but actually very attractive!) Along with another lady, she was exiting a very well known, ex-pat frequented, eating and drinking establishment and looking for a taxi, at after 1.00 o'clock in the morning, when two young men on a motor bike came past, turned around, and came past again, this second time snatching her bag and dragging her to the ground. Luckily she only suffered relatively minor grazing and bruising, but also the loss of ALL her money, her fancy telephone and a newly purchased bottle of vodka! It was (and they are) absolutely appalling! But, then again, would many of the 190,000 tourists be out drinking at that time of night, and with no return transport arranged?

I'm not, for one minute, advocating that we should only go about in groups, and during daylight or that we shouldn't be able to walk around the streets of Luxor in complete safety, day or night. But the fact remains that you wouldn't do it at home, and most newbies wouldn't think of doing it here either. Yes, times have changed, but comparatively speaking; Luxor is still one of the safest holiday destinations available as far as the tourist goes.

Luxor the rumour-mill! After the beginning of the revolution, there were all sorts of rumours going about. Gangs of newly-released violent prisoners were supposedly roaming around at night and just taking whatever they wanted, they were 'armed and dangerous!' So, our unofficial 'Neighbourhood Watch' was duly set up! Several of our neighbours armed themselves with stout staves and 'fighting sticks' (one or two even produced old scimitars) and would patrol the main street all night, till the danger abated. They even blocked the road with the street's rubbish skips (dumpsters for our American readers). Every person or vehicle which came down our main street was stopped, and ID cards produced before they were allowed to proceed. I suppose it must have been a bit like the road block where that poor Canadian man was shot last week, except that my neighbours didn't have guns to wave about. Anyway, even though the rumours didn't abate, the nightly watch dwindled out after a week or so, and we're all still here, alive and kicking!

It's not all rosy for the Egyptians though! There is a criminal element here (as there is everywhere) and they generally know whom to target. It's not tourists (thank heaven)  but people who are known to carry, or keep, large amounts of cash or jewellery. Sadly, a jeweller was shot and killed in his small shop near the Temple a few months ago, I'm sure that 400,000le was mentioned as the haul. Another jeweller was shot and injured in the leg near to the Emilio Hotel and robbed of his briefcase (full of money, no doubt) just a few weeks ago, again very late at night after closing up his shop. The Egyptians are getting scared of this criminal element. Although we have several VERY wealthy neighbours, they are not stupid enough to (or bent enough to HAVE to) keep their fortunes in the house, they are honest businessmen. However, there are a significant number of wealthy Egyptians who (for one reason or another) do keep their cash in their houses, and the criminals know who they are, through familial connections or whatever! Some of these people are so fearful of the bandits that they have actually armed themselves with guns, and sometimes shoot them off at night, just to warn the burglars that they are ready for them! We can  hear the odd shot or two, late in the evening. Again though, this is hardly likely to impact on any tourist. The worst that a tourist might come up against is the bag-snatchers, or some other opportunist thief who might see a big expensive camera or suchlike, or possibly the note changing slight-of-hand caper. In short; nothing any different from elsewhere in the world, but probably a lot less of it!

So that's about it, I think. Nowhere is 'entirely safe' from either criminals or political unrest, but I truly believe that you are more likely to be knocked down and killed in your own street than you are to be either deliberately or accidentally killed here in Luxor.

My view, therefore, of the 'Current Situation in Luxor' is that it is certainly safe enough for us to stay here without undue concern, and that ordinary tourists are still very welcome, and not in any significantly more danger than they were pre-revolution.

Well that's that off my chest, it must be time for a cuppa!!!!

More Culture at The Winter Palace.

As many of you will know; public loos in Egypt leave a lot to be desired (generally speaking, of course!). Here in Luxor, there aren't all that many of them anyway. There are some in the Tourist Souk; behind the Oum Kolthoum coffeeshop, where the gaffer tries to get you to go in, even when you just want to walk past. (I think he still yearns after working in a bazaar!) And the ones near the beginning of the Egyptian Souk have been commandeered by the Chez Omar Restaurant for cleaning their vegetables etc. Apart from these, I cannot think of any more near the town centre. Although I'm quite sure that there must be some in the outlying 'foreign parts' like Karnak or Awamaya.

Over the years, we've got to know a few of the hotel workers who keep the toilets clean. This especially applies to me as opposed to Freda, because I'm a soft touch! The man who constantly goes around the Winter Palace, dusting as he goes, used to work in the New Winter Palace tower block, where we first came across him 15 years or so ago. Ever since, every time I go into the gents (even for a minute) he's there when I come to wash my hands, turning on the tap, handing me a towel. He must have a Mr Edward radar!

Anyway, we had cause to make use of their facilities the other night, while having a hike from the Etap to the Omar Market on Madina Street. Fortunately, the doorman didn't try to manhandle Freda back out of the main door, and we made it into the main corridor which leads along to the Victoria Lounge and the bar etc. in which are the two entrances to the Ladies and the Gents, just next to the elevators. We were quite surprised to come across this sign, and the following one of easels with black and white pictures and 'impressionist' type paintings.

Perhaps you can see the names of the Photographer and Artist on the board, if you click to enlarge the picture. The camera bloke was Rudolf Lehnert and the painter; Mathias Buss. Anyway, as I'm well known as a bit of a Philistine; I preferred the photographs, but we spent 10 minutes or so having a look at the exhibition. Very pleasant!

Look out Asda!

Well. I knew it wouldn't be too long before Sir Terry Leahy's underlings set their sights on the lucrative market which is Luxor!

 
The new shop is opposite the Lotus Hotel, just on the left as you enter "Little Britain Street". As far as I know, there were no planning problems or protests against the shopping giant opening up their newest branch.

It's amazing what we come across on our little wanderings around the town! When we came away from here, we just happened to mosey on down the next street, known as St Joseph Street by dint of the St Joseph Hotel being on the corner. As many of you will already know, this is my favourite street for restaurants.

It starts off with the Tudor Rose, then The Oasis, followed by Tutti Fruitti, A Taste of India and Pizza Roma.

We were very surprised to see the lights on as we approached Tutti Fruitti, as it was almost 9 o'clock and she's usually all locked up by around 7! Never mind, we couldn't pass the door without popping in, could we? I'm so glad we did! Christine was trying out late opening with a different menu. Last night she had made one of her Arabic dishes. (She's been cooking Arabic style for many years before she came to live here in Luxor, and has a good nose and taste for the different, more aromatic, spices and not just the usual chilli and garlic which tends to go into a lot of the unimaginative Egyptian foods.) It was called Chicken Masrousa (or something near enough to that! lol) It was with rice (which as you also know Dear Reader, should only be served with sugar and milk) so I wasn't really fussed on trying it. However, as I've learned over the years that it's no use trying to turn back the tide of the persuasive charms of two women, I did decide to try some. I'm so glad that I did! It was lovely, the spices were light and subtle, not an assault on my delicate taste buds; a whole new experience for yours truly. Even the rice was tolerable! I think I may become a convert to 'foreign muck', after all these years. (It's OK really, 'cause it wasn't PASTA.)

What I was very sad to learn, was that Tutti Fruitti had had two poor reviews on TripAdvisor, which had dropped the cafe down from third to sixth place! It must very difficult to maintain the same high standard day after day after day, when there are so few customers about and staff can become disheartened and just drop the ball now and then. I feel sorry for Christine, and for Irish Lorraine who must feel so bad to have let her down! 

But never mind, worse things happen at sea! I'm sure that the good food and usual good service will soon have Tutti Fruitti back up among the leaders.

My mistake!

Yes, here was I thinking they were just a bunch of daft old ex-pat hippies who were congregated at the Temple yesterday! How wrong can one person be? It turns out that they were actually seriously spiritual people, seeking the Archangel Metatron (apparently the Guardian Angel of Africa) and the Lord Serapis Bey.
Of course, we had no idea of any of this until we came across some people last night wearing T shirts with the logo ' www.angels.za.com' and looked them up on the net; now we know: They are 'The Angel Connection'

Day 12, 11/11/2011
Arrive Luxor. Breakfast and check-out from cruise ship. Transfer to visit Luxor Temple which is a large Ancient Egyptian temple complex located on the east bank of the River Nile in the city today known as Luxor (ancient Thebes). Margi will facilitae a meditation and channeling with Lord Serapis Bey.
Known in the Egyptian language as ipet resyt, or "the southern harem", the temple was dedicated to the Theban Triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu and was built during the New Kingdom, the focus of the annual Opet Festival, in which a cult statue of Amun was paraded down the Nile from nearby Karnak Temple (ipet-isut) to stay there for a while, with his consort Mut, in a celebration of fertility – whence its name.
Transfer to and check-in to The Stiegenberger  Nile Palace Hotel. Lunch at hotel, afternoon at leisure. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

The above text and picture are lifted directly from Margi's website (www.angels.za.com). The tour info goes on to tell us about the hot air balloon trip they are doing this morning.
As we were up (05.40??????) in time to see the balloons this morning, I got this snap:

Now, I know it's not very good, but I took it because I wanted you to see the full moon still there in the sky, which I'm positve would have made the flight all the more special, even auspicious possibly, for these particular passengers.

I'm delighted that all that mystery is now cleared up! It's so good to know that this special group have the wellfare of Egypt on their agenda, don't you think?

Remembrance?

Hi Readers, yes it is Remembrance Day 2011. That makes it 11/11/11 in the shortened form.

Apparently, this confluence of 'ones' is somehow significant to some people, and even more so at 11 minutes past 11 o'clock on the 11th day of the 11th month in the 11th year of the second millennium. More of which a little later.

Since as long ago as I can remember, Remembrance Day has had significance for me. All those men (and of course women) who were killed while defending the very idea of freedom from an oppressive ideology. When I was a 'youth' I started to sing with the local chapel choir. It was decided that I should join the 'bass'  line, and I was put between two old codgers, Billy Dance and Billy Watson. Billy Dance used to point to the notes as we sang them, he was a common man and an extraordinary gentleman!  Bill Watson took his singing more seriously, and he would often sing the bass solos when they came up. He was instrumental in impressing upon me the magnitude of what actually happened in the First, or Great, War. He had been there for some of the famous battles, like the morning when 24,000 'Tommys' were killed in the trenches at Passchendaele (I forget now). If he closed his eyes; he was back there, among his dead and dying friends, the filth and blood, the screaming of men in pieces! He had his left bicep blown off and caught 'a touch' of gas at the same time. If I live to be a hundred; I'll never forget the look of such deep sadness on his face when he eventually decided that he could no longer sing the solo parts in the Easter Cantata, because his voice had 'cracked' on one of the higher notes. Both he and Billy Dance are still missed by those that knew them, we'll not see their like again!
I really feel that I owe it to him (and all his comrades who gave their lives or part of themselves for our freedom in one conflict or another) to remember them on this one special day. (By the way, I think it's iniquitous to have changed it to 'Remembrance Sunday!)

Yesterday, I found myself humming away for most of the day, and it's only this morning that I've made the connection with the song. It was Maddy Prior and it went "And it's tie a yellow handkerchief in remembrance of me, wear it around your neck me boy in flash company". Funny eh?

Well, back to the present day here in Luxor! We had been told (by a visiting friend who somehow knows more about what's going on here than we do!) that there was something special happening at Luxor Temple this morning at 11 o'clock. So Madame Farida duly dispatched your roving reporter to check it out!

As I approached the Temple from the town side, I was a bit taken aback at the number of coaches and mini-buses in the coach park Evidently the cruiseboats must be getting busier, Alhamdulillah! (A Luxor, and general Arabic, colloquialism; a bit like Hallelujah or Praise be to God for whatever he brings to us.) I had a squint over the wall by the entrance and everything looked just about normal; tour groups being ushered around by clipboard waving guides etc.

No 'different' groups to be seen here! I carried on along the back of the Temple, peering between the columns etc. here and there, but to no avail. From the 'Plaza' end of the coachpark, you can see the coaches (and a fair number of caleches too) in this pic:


As I made my way around the back of the 'Public Stage', where all the revolutionary gatherings have been taking place this year, I did notice that it was suffering from the usual Egyptian problem of neglect! It's actually showing signs of falling to pieces, how strange?

It wasn't until I got right around to the Corniche side of the Temple, that I saw them, inside the hypostyle hall, at the back side. I would estimate about 100 people gathered? Judge for yourselves:

I thought that I recognised at least one of the people gathered as an 'airy fairy' friend of ours, who happens to be a Reiki Master too, so I got our my mini binoculars to get a better look. The silly lady just wouldn't turn around so that I could see her face! Never mind though, it was a revelation to observe all these ageing hippies etc. at a closer range.

Looking closely, you can make out a number of them in a prayerful (or praising) attitude, I can almost here the collective "Ommmmmm" which this sort of scene prompts me to imagine! I felt a bit conspicuous, standing on the Corniche with my elbows on the Temple railing. watching the proceedings, but I endured it for you, Dear Reader!

As the gathering started to break up, it became apparent that there had been a number who were sitting on the ground, in the middle of the group. I was intrigued by the strange headdresses of some of those congregated there, and by the fact that many of them had had their shoes off? Some ladies were wandering among the crowd, hugging and kissing anyone who would let them, of course the few Egyptians who were there were all for that! The tourists seemed to be bemused by it all as their guides tried to shoo them along to the next point of interest.

I've no idea what they were looking for, or what experience they craved or found, here in the ancient Temple of Luxor (the hippies, I mean) but I hope that they at least remembered that their freedom to congregate and to hold their own beliefs (however strange) was hard won for them by men and women who were prepared to give their all.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


 
Abbeville Communal Cemetery (Courtesy of WW1Cemeteries.com)


Have a nice weekend, everyone.

It's a Legend! (Oh, well Legend 2 anyway)

We bought our first 'Kirby' American vacuum cleaner system about 20 or so years ago. Apart from the fact that the salesman was the son of Freda's cousin and we were his first 'customer', the mattress cleaning trick sold the product! Once you've seen the filth that a Kirby vacuum lifts out of your mattress (and after you've been sick) then you just buy one, it's as simple as that.
Of course at £1000 including the finance, it was a lot of money but because I was running coaches at the time I could buy it through the business. It was a whiz at cleaning the coach seats etc. even though it was a bit bulky to handle in the confined space.
The man used to come and service it once a year, and fit a new belt. Other than that, it's been very little trouble. While our latest model (which drives itself !!!) stays at our house in England, we have the old one here in Luxor, where the bags don't last very long because the dust is soooo fine.

In all those years, I've never tried out the carpet washing facility. Well, I have now, and I have to say that the washing proved to be as effective as the vacuuming!  It's a bit of a clart on to change the bits and bobs about, so while I was on a roll, I thought I'd just keep going!  After doing the outside doormat from downstairs, I carried on and did our doormat from upstairs and a rag rug which lives on the terrace. There they all are in the picture, the downstairs mat looks cleaner now than it did when it was new!
We actually brought the Kirby to Luxor when we first moved here, one: because we wanted our very expensive carpet in the guest apartment to last as long as possible, and two: because we wanted to be SURE that our guest' mattresses were clean. It has behaved very well up till now, but there is a problem developing  with (I think) wear on the belt drive shaft. As I think it's also the main shaft of the motor; it could be rather expensive to fix, so we'll just have to wait and see.
I don't think they have an agent in Luxor, but you never know?

Etap Progress.

Hi, I just thought that you might like to see the new entrance for the El Luxor Hotel. They aren't using it yet, but by the looks of the progress; it may be in use quite soon.
,

Maybe I should have gone around during the day and been able to get a better picture, but that would be unusual, wouldn't it? If you click on the picture you'll get a bigger view, click again on 'Show Original', and then back onto the picture and it will  come up very big. (I hope.)

It really does look nice, but there seems to be no seating area for those sad people who like to sit with a cuppa and watch the new people arriving! A big mistake in my opinion. Anyway, we'll see soon enough, I suppose.

See you later, Alligator! 

The Lotus Eaters.

I remember this as the title of a television programme, many moons ago, but never really knew (or cared)what it actually meant. Nevertheless, I know now, as we foreigners who enjoy the inordinate excesses of life here in the exotic climes of Luxor, could well be described as people who are 'given to indolent enjoyment'!

As you might expect; we Westerners who enjoy life here are always on the lookout for new ways to indulge our insatiable appetite for pleasure, and I've just found a brand new one!!!!! Don't let on to anyone else and I'll tell you about it. Hush now!

It started a few days ago while I was looking on the Luxor4U forum pages on the laptop. Someone was asking (perfectly innocently) what tins of food people kept in their cupboards, and someone replied "tinned lentils." I'd never heard of tinned lentils before, and became intrigued. Eventually it was explained that the tinned lentils were actually cooked, and not those which I was more accustomed to as being in packets.

Anyway, Freda is an expert in making lentil soup. (Or more correctly; lentil soups, as her English variety differs entirely from her Egyptian one, and the same flavour is never exactly replicated from one batch to another in either country.) Whichever way it comes; I'll eat it! I love it! We had some last week and there was a bit left over, which I had the following day at lunchtime. As I scraped it out of the large pan, it occurred to me that it might be just as nice cold as it is when it's hot.

At about the same time, Freda happened to mention that she could just fancy some 'Sardine and Tomato' spread; and the idea struck me like a blow from a quarter hammer (Colloquialism: quarter hammer = a long shafted, two handed hammer with a head weighing 28 pounds [being a quarter hundredweight] or 12.72 kilos, and formerly in common use in shipbulding and engineering):  LENTIL SPREAD!

As Freda made some more soup yesterday; today has been the first opportunity to try it out and I've got to say that it isn't half bad! I thought that it would go better on sliced bread rather than on the local bread rolls, and in hindsight,I think that was the right decision; plenty of butter and a generous spreading of the new wonder spread. Delicious! (Look out Shippams and John West, here we come.)


As you can see from the places where I stabbed the knife in in order to load it for spreading, it's quite firm. This wouldn't be possible with tinned stuff from Heinz or Baxters, it just has to be lovingly home made. I'm not sure whether to have some more spread or whether to heat it up for teatime, what do you think?

Another of my secret little indulgences is to read back copies of Private Eye! We tried having them posted to us, but they never arrived! I suspect that, being satirical, they were deemed to be anti-establishment or something and were confiscated by customs or someone in Cairo. Now we get them in bulk, about six months at a time. (I cannot reveal how we get them in, for obvious reasons!) Anyway, I was perusing one the other day when I was shocked to the marrow to come across the following picture:

Now, I don't expect you young'uns to recognise this iconic American worthy, indeed, I had almost forgotten about him myself. Private Eye were implying that he might be the son of that jug-eared TV newsreader chap; Andrew Marr, but I (and I suspect a great number of 'my g-g-generation') know full well who he is. He is the all American boy with 'no worries': Alfred E Newman, made famous by his appearance and exploits in the 'Mad' magazine from DC Comics, since 1952. (I'd bet he'd like my new spread.)

That's enough of the secret habits of the Luxor ex-pat society made public for one day, or you'll all want to be moving here and spoil it! Now I'd better get back to my cleaning, as we have new guests arriving shortly.



Meet the Gang!

I thought that I should maybe introduce you to some of our neighbours. Then you won't get such a shock when you actually see them in the flesh on your visit to Our Luxor.

Firstly there's a picture of our street sign, it's high up on the left of the picture. It's different from the other Luxor street signs in that it's an old fashioned one. When they came to take down the old signs, Adam hid ours away. (The street is named after his grandfather Osman) and then, after they had erected all the new signs, ours came out of hiding to be displayed in a position of some prominence. 

To the right of the street sign, you can see the small minaret, with the loudspeaker attached, which is on the top of our little local Mosque. This is the view which greets you as you approach from the Railway Station.
Coming up from the River (passing the Emilio Hotel on your left) you come across our Mosque on your right, and the road 'dog-legs' right and then left. This next picture was taken from the middle of the 'dog-leg'. 

Out of shot, to the right of the above picture, sits Mr Mohamed (also known as Bhageery). At 82, he is our oldest neighbour, a lifelong bachelor and 'English Speaking Antiquities Guide' who,has lived in the same house since his birth. In this next photo, Bhageery's front door is at the far end of the cul-de-sac. The young man on the right of the pic is Michael, who has the watch and clock shop on the corner. He is caught here trying to stop one of the local buses to get some change from the driver, see the note in his hand?
    

I caught Mr Bhageery off-guard, he doesn't like his picture taken!

 
I wish I could bend like that now, at 60, never mind at 82!

Don't be concerned if this ugly mug looks familiar, he's featured on here before! He was wanting baksheesh for the picture, but I got him anyway. It's Mohamed the Scrap-man, shot in front of his emporium where he has everything but the kitchen sink!

Next up is young Michael, a Christian boy who rents the small corner shop from Adam, where he sells and repairs watches and clocks. He's well liked among the neighbours, so much so that Adam has just agreed to grant him a new lease on the shop.

Directly behind Michael's shop is Adams Coffeeshop. He's been investing in some new tables and chairs recently, and the old place looks all the better for them, he's even put some kilm pictures on the walls!

Left to right are Ishmael (standing) who is a cousin of Adam, then Radwan, also a cousin and also an English speaking tour guide, then Adam himself, and on the extreme right, Ahmed who is Adam's younger brother
 who usually lives with his family in Hurghada, but who has brought them here while there is no work there.

Looking back from Adam's I took a quick one of Abdu's shop. He's not here today as it's Friday (the Holy Day for Muslims) and he stays in his home town of Qus, about 30 kilometres away. He sell all sorts of nick-knacks, from satellite dishes to plastic gearwheels for food processors to gas taps and screwdrivers!
That's all I have for the moment, I'll try to remember to catch some more of the local characters on another day. Don't forget to click on the pictures if you want them to appear larger. Then you click on 'Show Original' and on the picture again to make them full screen. Bye for now!

Asylum?

Dear Reader, we are in difficult times here in Luxor! But you are already aware of that, aren't you? Not only Luxor, but Egypt in general! What, with the religious persecution in various parts of the land, supposedly government-backed thuggery, even though the dreaded Secret Police are no longer here. The Army supposedly siding with Islamist groups to cause division between the two major religions, where it would not otherwise be apparent.
It's no wonder that Egyptians might be seeking asylum in another country.

But that's NOT what I'm on about! I'm talking about Luxor actually BEING an asylum: a lunatic asylum!

Bob62 (of Gloucester and TripAdvisor fame) was asking me just the other day if all our water problems were finally sorted out. Like a fool, I said that I thought they were, me and my big mouth! Do you really want the saga of the water meter? Probably not, unless you're that bored that you are contemplating suicide! Never mind, I need to get it off my chest, so here we go!

Do you remember these two? No, it’s not ‘Stinker’ Murdoch and Arthur Askey in disguise, it’s Uncle Mohamed and Mr Aboudi. When Mr Aboudi once mistakenly thought that I had questioned his integrity, his indignant response was “I am Aboudi!” It was rather embarrassing, and his integrity is, of course, beyond question!


Nevertheless, when we bought our property from him over six years ago, the water and electricity meters weren't part of the deal. Being as green as grass, I just imagined that they were part and parcel of buying the flats. NO not in Egypt! Since then, he has been trying to get me to cough up extra money for these two items, but eventually, his kindly and generous nature got the better of him and he finally agreed to transfer them to us at no cost. Alhamdulillah! This was a good few weeks ago, before Ramadan. Mr Aboudi had to go personally to the Luxor Water and Waste Water Company to do his side of things before we went to do our bit. He kept putting off because it was too hot, and then because it was Ramadan, and latterly because we were having a bit of an Indian Summer, which I reported on a while ago.

Never mind, Uncle Mohamed came ringing at our doorbell last week with the completed paperwork from the Aboudi end of the business. All that remained to do was for Freda and I to go along to the Company (Opposite the Sonesta St George Hotel) and get signed up, plus, of course, part with some more money! We would need an interpreter, as well, so decided to ask our neighbour, Adam Haggag, who has the coffeeshop opposite.

Adam has proved to be a good friend, and indispensable on many occasions. His wife sometimes cooks a real Egyptian meal for us, he helps us with tradesmen, and he also sometimes arranges a mini-bus for our guests’ outings to the various sites, at a price which is less expensive than the tour operators which we have previously recommended. He’s also our eyes and ears for what’s afoot in the neighbourhood, he notices all the strangers round about, and points out those whom he thinks might be from the dreaded West Bank, and therefore may be trouble!



We arranged to meet him at 9 o’clock this morning, when we would get the ‘bus together and sort out this last bit of officialdom. He wasn’t there! I shouted up to his bedroom window; no response. I telephoned his mobile and the window above burst open. “Have a seat with Michael, I’ll be down in a minute” (Michael is the Christian boy who has the watch shop on the corner.) Adam appeared at 9.30.

After several buses had gone past full of bodies or going in the wrong direction, we eventually got the Awamaya bus which dropped us off exactly opposite the Luxor Company for Water and Waste Water. Of course, we went in the wrong entrance, and had to be ushered along the street a little, to the entrance to the public office. We didn't have to wait too long before we were seen to by a very pleasant and seemingly efficient chap in blue jeans and an impressive set of whiskers. (Freda saw me eyeing up the beard, and told me in no uncertain terms that no, I couldn't’t have one!) His little office was at one end of a 35 ft long waiting room, with a full length counter with glass partition. When he had done his ‘bit’, he directed us right to the farthest end of the stone counter, as he shouted for his colleague to attend to us. He then appeared behind said counter, telling the new man what to do. We got a few more bits of paper and were then sent along to the other end of the counter, where our first chap again told a young man what needed to be done. Here, we were handed a bill! Several water payments had not been made and these had to be out of the way before we could proceed further. We were directed to the cashier’s window, where the friendly cashier took our money. “Is that it, Adam?” I innocently asked.

You know the answer! “No Mr Edward, we have to go to another office near the Kebash Road, and we will need to pay more money, only about 200 pounds, mumkin.” (possibly) I didn't have 200le, so we stopped off at home and while Freda went upstairs to find some more cash, Adam and I had some tea and a smoke in the street. We decided that Freda needn't trail around with us, as she had signed her life away at the first office, and wouldn't be required to again. Adam and I walked.

We found the office a couple of blocks behind the two churches on Sharia Karnak. It was a dismal place, in a small yard with a couple of trees and stacks of old cast iron pipes and man-hole covers lying around, as were several ‘workers’ with bare feet, either eating or smoking. We were pointed to a door, and went in. Three filthy desks, piled high with folders, used tea glasses, water meters and other detritus. Every piece of paper had to be weighed down, as the ceiling fan was rather strong. The gaffer’s desk had some plastic flowers stuck in the end of a small armature from an electric motor, a nice touch, I thought! I dearly wanted to take a picture of the inside of this place, ‘A picture paints a thousand words’ springs to mind, but the camera batteries are flat, and I wasn’t sure how much we would be left with after today’s expenditure, so couldn't buy any. Suffice it to say that it was like a cross between a pig sty and a scrap yard!

After some concerned looks in my direction, the three men, who seemed to be the office’s permanent fixtures, decided that they should dispatch someone to read the water meter at home. I waited, while Adam took the man on the bus, there and back, only about 40 minutes or so. In the meantime, another customer arrived and the gaffer and he had quite a shouting match! The man turned to me with a torrent of Arabic, in a pleading manner. Apparently, he had mistaken me for a plain clothes policeman! It all ended well though, as he made his way home with a new water meter under his arm.

When Adam and his new meter-reading friend returned, there was obviously some problem, which Adam seemed reluctant to translate. “Mr Edward, today you say it is OK for you to have the water meter for the building in your name, but what if you change your mind tomorrow? What about Dr Al Malach?” (Our first floor, surgeon, neighbour.) This was one of the desk jockeys, speaking through a falafel sandwich! But, after managing to convince them that I was actually sane, we were dispatched off to the first office again, to pay some more money. (Our two bus journeys back towards Awamaya made it 12, so far, today.)

We felt quite at home, with the bearded man shouting the length of the building again while dealing with an elderly Egyptian couple. The wife kept presenting her hands with the palms up-over, like Jewish women do in films, to express frustration. The bearded one was trying to explain something by speaking s-l-o-w-l-y, which I think was getting the woman’s back up a bit! (Colloquialism: Getting one’s ‘back up’; getting annoyed.)There were three others coming and going, in a generally dis-satisfied manner as well.

The beard got around to us after a short while, and took our paperwork hither and thither before giving it back to me and pointing out that I now had to pay a further 218.60le to the cashier. The cashier’s window was firmly closed! It transpired that all these other people were also waiting to pay the cashier, who just happened to be at the bank. They telephoned him. “He’ll return after fifteen minutes.”

The cashier’s window opened after about another 45 minutes of sitting in an overly hot waiting room, on uncomfortable chairs and without even a sip of tea! Adam jumped up to be first at the window, naturally, I suppose, as he’s Egyptian. But I manage to pull him back out of the way (to much protesting) to let the others (who had been waiting longer) get seen to first. The elderly gentleman was waving a fifty pound note about, looking for change. Adam gave me a look, as I went into my wallet, “You might need it yourself!” I relented. When it came to our turn, I handed over five fifty pound notes, expecting 31 pounds change with a few coins. The cashier just handed one of the notes back. “Faqua” (Change) he exclaimed. “Lay” (Why) I retorted. “Mish faqua” came his reply.

This is where I lost it, I’m afraid to say. “We've all been waiting here for over an hour while you've been to the BANK, why haven’t you any change?” “Didn't you think that you might have customers this afternoon?” I was shouting by now, and all the office doors opened and the room was filling up with all sizes and types of Egyptians trying to calm the situation and apologising for the stupidity of their working practices and for keeping me waiting etc etc. The poor old couple, who hadn’t had a chance to escape before the volcano erupted, obviously didn't matter, as they wouldn't have dreamt of complaining.

Adam, knowing that I was wasting my breath, had snatched the fifty and gone outside to search among the (dead) shops for change. He was back in a few minutes, by which time the bearded one was almost prostrate on the floor in his bid to placate me. Anyway, that part of the job got done and we ended up with another set of receipts and other papers which we had to present at the second office in order to complete the transaction. Adam, bless him, had the foresight to make sure that the other office would still be open before we trailed down there again.”Oh yes, they are open until 10 o’clock.”

Sixteen bus journeys and five hours after we started, we arrived at the office behind the churches on Sharia Karnak at 2 o’clock , to find that they were now closed until 3!

We’ll go back tomorrow.

Now then, you may think I'm being rather too harsh in saying that I'm living in a lunatic asylum! But look at this country: A government which seems to believe that it's a GOOD THING to have a system whereby to get anything official accomplished, a member of the public should spend a whole day filling in forms and traipsing from one place to another and then stand in queues at each place while the staff please themselves about what they do and when they do it (if anything) and then wonder why no-one bothers to get building permission or apply for licences for this that or the other? Then look at the members of the public who seem perfectly willing to be herded about like cattle, without a murmur of complaint! Egypt will never get anywhere near having a decently fed and housed population as long as this shambles is allowed to continue in the civil service!
It's all lunacy!







There's nowt so queer as folk!

I'm constantly amazed at some of the words and phrases which some people type into their search boxes. Below is yet another selection of searches which have brought people like you, Dear Reader, to peruse my Blog. I'm sure that it has been quite a shock to a good number of them, lol.
I mean, how would you feel if you'd typed in "How to paint water", and then were directed to a crazy man's Blog about struggling with Egyptian workmen and 'Egypt Time' etc. I know I'd feel that the computer had let me down, again!!!!

                                               
walkway information desk                                                                             
hindi song, english, gone is the summer the sumer hs gone away                      
how to paint water                                                                                      
bedroom computer mixing paint                                                                    
queer bags                                                                                                  
dark street 3d                                                                                             
Nescafe Cupboard                                                                                      
Horror breaking windows and walls
famous painting of a bride meeting her groom                                                
luxor pinhole glasses
luxo decorating man's
pictures of dead jasmine plant                                                    
how to get blessing in Luxor                                                                         
Display unit for salad                                                                  
queer as folk wallpaper bed                                                                          
+oldluxo decorating man's apartment santa clauses                                           
luxor saidi region map                                                                                  
golden name tag to hotel staff                                                                      
walls of Judah                                                                            
camel eyebrows



I'd better leave it at that, 'cause we've got some visitors due soon and I'm not dressed yet. (It's only 11.48 in the morning!)
I'll be back.