The heavy-lidded blog

Posted on August 8, 2006


It has come to my attention, astonishingly, that I actually have to go to work every day. This is some fucked up shit. And I’m so stressed out about not getting enough sleep that even when I do go to sleep, I wake up lots of times to look at the clock so as to worry more accurately about not getting enough sleep. My alarm clock is also totally unreliable. This morning, for example, it emitted a tiny blip while I was putting on my makeup, some 50 minutes after it was supposed to go off. Just a blip – nothing as dignified as a bleep. When it operates normally, it produces such a piercing scream that I am propelled from solid sleep directly to being vertical on my feet, no intermediate steps.
Anyway…I’m rambling sleepily. I wanted to talk about my day yesterday. It was distinguished by a high level of alcohol consumption and burping (otherwise known as a Canada Day). My friend E came to pick me up after work, after many phone deliberations about where to have lunch. We struggled with variables such as:

  1. availability of food
  2. availability of shisha
  3. availability of alcohol
  4. availability of shade
  5. pricing
  6. neighbourhood
  7. sleazy clientele

As well as where exactly Simon Bolivar Square is. In the end, after copious research, we decided to go to Arabesque, which turned out to be too opulent for our tastes (check it out, though, if you want artsy-Ottomany-romance and real white tablecloths– 6 Kasr El Nil St.). Eventually we went to Café Riche.
This is the oldest documented bar in Cairo, established in 1908. Inside the walls are panelled with large photographs of the greats who once dined there. I really liked the décor, actually, except for the fluorescent light. I especially liked the ancient group of white-haired leftists (I presume) in the back. And the Nubian servant outfits of the busboys. I had a small bottle of wine, and the sort of food which E and I concurred wasn’t even mom-like, nor grandmother-like, but…great-aunt-like. Yummyness with just the right amount of grease. I wasn’t even hungry but I ate and made pig-in-the-trough noises. E is constantly warning me to shut up in public because of my (according to her) complete inability to determine the appropriateness of my remarks to strangers and those in the service industry, particularly those with which she wants to maintain a cordial relationship. I myself have found that cuteness and femininity is enough to muddle me through a lot of situations where inappropriate remarks are in issue. Having been lectured and warned, and having warned E in return about the dangers of intoxicated me, we repaired to our usual sketchy ahwa in a side street of downtown.
I will say this; it’s amazing how much nicer Egypt is under the influence. I was disposed to find everyone attractive, not mind the air conditioners dripping on my head, etc. however my bonhomie was soon destroyed by a female at a neighbouring table who sang loudly for about an hour. For real. She fucking sang. I could see her companions grimacing and making volume lowering gestures. I examined E – did she look, even remotely, like some sort of producer who could discover this chick and develop her talent or some shit? Did I? Because there was no other explanation for her persistent loud whine. Maybe it was our sunglasses-on-the-head look.
I did, in fact, make one wholly inappropriate remark. I asked a guy where the bathroom was, and he said there wasn’t one. I asked “Tab into bete3mello fein?” (Where do you go?). He blushed and looked at his feet, muttering “Aywa, mafeesh wa7ed 7areemi ya3nee,” (there isn’t a women’s bathroom.) while this sounds somewhat all right in English it nearly made E have an aneurism. We might have to break up.

Later on I went to La Bodega, where everything was soft lights and rich well dressed attractive young people. I’d forgotten that Egypt had them. More drinking. I went to sleep at 2 a.m. which brings us to the beginning of the post.

Note: Don’t even TRY to tell me that it’s racist to say that Africans smell. Don’t even. I don’t see how an orifice can be racist. They do, and everyone who works here knows it.

Posted in: friends, intoxicants, work