Snippets for today
It looks like Ann Boleyn, after the beheading.
I hear a susurration of giggling from behind a guard box in Zamalek as I walked to the supermarket. There were a group of seven women sitting on the ground enjoying a joke among the mud and broken edges of the pavement. From the propped brooms behind them I gathered they were street sweepers. One comment was obviously ribald and aimed at the guard, as he looked at me and went bright red.
Outside many of the doors is a simple wooden chair. Many are occupied – always by men. In one place as I approached a dark man in dramatic black robes hitched his chair over his arm and moved down one shop front to join his neighbour. When I reached them they were reaching for a third chair and the smell of coffee was fragrant in the air. They smiled and greeted me, and as I responded in Arabic I was smiling. He asked why and mimed the smile when I didn't understand. I pointed out that he had three chairs and there were only two people. He asked "how could I ask another friend without another chair".
In the pharmacy window near my house is a brand of condoms called Camel Sensitive. My mind is still boggling.
Among the spices in the supermarket is Crutched Nutmeg.
What is it about the sights and sounds and people of a country that is not your own? I wouldn't dream of taking photographs of people in Australia – or not those I don't know. Here I am enchanted by the faces – especially the older ones. I have also found, to my amazement, that many women are letting me photograph them. With the digital camera I can even show them the photograph I have taken.
There was a furniture cart standing near a tiny market. The base was brightly painted in patchwork patterns – red, orange and green with black and white, but faded to a tint in the silvered wood. The horse was somewhere else. The cart was piled with new chairs – gold painted with stiffly padded seats and red and gold flocked upholstery. At the top the last one lay on its back with the padded back facing up. On top of it a skinny tabby cat had found a secure place in the sun. It had classical Egyptian features (well, Egyptian cat features) with a
long slim face and elongated head and beautiful green eyes.
It washed with long slow licks and barely flicked me a glance when I took its photograph.