In just over a week we have done trips to Alexandria and Al Arish and Wadi Hitan (with whalebones). We have hardly had a night at home with the highlight being a wonderful dinner in our honour with the Irish Ambassador and his wife – who are very nearly Australian as they have three children in Australia. We have held three parties at the Residence – one for forty five people. We had a dinner theatre invitation for tonight at the British Residence, a dinner with a friend from the US Embassy tomorrow night, and a recital from a classical guitar player followed by a reception on Saturday night – and I have just pulled out of the last three.
I have had a cold for more than ten days – which is really too long, especially as I feel worse today than I have before.
I had a call from Bob this morning telling me he had organised a doctor. He knew very well that I would have refused if he had checked with me first. Now for the real evidence that we are no longer in Australia. The doctor would come to the house at 5.00 pm.
At 3.30 there was another phone call. The doctor was a little earlier in his appointments than he had considered. Could he come between 4.00 pm and 5.00 pm?
At 4.20 there was a ring at the doorbell. Bob opened it to find it was Gamal – our gardener who had knocked off at 3.00 pm because it was Thursday (Friday is the day off in Egypt and most Moslem countries). He had a large and gift wrapped parcel in his hands, which he gave to Bob. It was cold and very hard, but impossible to guess from the shape. He kept telling us that it was a ‘batta balady’ and indicating me.
Seeing our total mystification he charged through the house and to the cleaning cupboard. He pulled it open, dived into its depths, and emerged holding a box with on of those gadgets that tucks in the sides of the toilet to ‘clean and deodorize as you flush’. ‘Batta’ he said, indicating the picture on the front, which showed a fat and happy duck!
He had brought me a frozen duck to make me strong again. ‘Balady’ means local.
He has a small farm on the roof of his apartment – a pigeon house, some goats, chickens and ducks. After dinners I give him plate scrapings, and vegetable trimmings and leftovers that we won’t eat to take home for them.
I was so incredibly touched. He lives a long way out of town, and went home and came all the way back as he had heard me coughing and was worried.
The doctor arrived shortly after Gamal left.
He looked the consultant physician he was in his perfectly fitted pin-striped suit with one button fastened, pure white shirt and yellow tie. He had dark hair silvering at the temples – just enough to say ‘trust me, I’m a doctor’. His English was perfect, his manner professional. I was quickly but thoroughly examined, and diagnosed as having a secondary infection in the lungs. With a lot of pneumonia around he didn’t want it to get any worse so I am on antibiotics.
There was another odd moment when he asked me if I preferred my antibiotics to be ‘front door or back door’. I was prepared to believe that the chemist would deliver (and I know that they do), but thought it was oddly worded.
Then I realized what he meant. The French influence here lives on and he was asking if I would prefer a suppository.
It is hard to imagine that anyone would!