This blog is turning into a social diary

Posted on July 12, 2006


Home, exhausted, and coated with dirt. Pretty much the usual condition for Cairenes. Went to the opera today to watch a jazz performance by Ahmed Rabie and co. with my friend E and some friends of hers I hadn’t met before. The thing is, I hate jazz. But I always agree to go to jazz performances thinking I’m all cosmopolitan and shit and then once I’m there realize that, in fact, it’s some unappetizing noise. I don’t actually see the point in most instrumental music, but a friend of theirs was playing lead guitar so we were there to support.
Of course, it didn’t start at no 9 o’clock. So we just sat there in the damp night air, waiting, sweating from pores we didn’t know we had. They have both cushions and seats, and E wanted to sit on the cushions because she is so tiny that her behind is merely symbolic – it serves no real seating purpose. It’s a handicap, skinniness is. Eventually we heard that they were waiting till after evening prayers, as Egypt has now gotten so religious that they pause performances while the call to prayer is on. Then one solitary dude came out and strummed an organ for a while, and then everyone else came on. Then they paused again for the actual prayer. They very rarely actually broadcast the prayer itself, so we were particularly irked. I heard later from the guitarist guy that it was the decision of the head of the band, for no special reason, not because of opera policy.
Afterwards we went for a shisha and food and whatever at Café Vivant (great place by the way) – but I had eaten at Sequoia, probably my favourite place in Cairo. I want to be one of those quaint rocks they use as paperweights there, I love it so much. This group of E’s friends are mostly artists and performers, and strident secularists. Not too many people in Egypt today are actually a-religious. They were really cool (not all up their own asses as artists are elsewhere in the world), and we had some great conversations. I hadn’t realized I even remembered that much Arabic, actually. Maybe the hilarity was because my zip was undone?
Extra note- check out the unprepossessing Five Bells in Zamalek. Magical is not too much to call it. It’s all leafy and airy and candle-lit – and the food is great.