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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dead Pharoahs 18/10




In Kenya leaving the house at 5 pm can be considered wasting the day, at that time if you're a foreigner there's nowhere to go except a club, in Egypt its not so. 24 hour economies are amazing, we arrived at old Cairo about 6 pm. This is the  site of the first city of Cairo a fort built to protect its inhabitants from desert marauders, its surrounded by huge, medieval walls, walls with murder holes and wrought iron gates. The streets were obviously not meant for driving, paved and jigsawed together as they are and the mosques here all look amazing. They have lights flashing yellow, purple, red changing the colours of the walls. It looks mystical and religious as they flash the night away. After this we went back home. One of my Italian flatmates was leaving Egypt the next day and so she wanted to go out to celebrate her last night, we were in the house till around 11 pm. At that time our other flatmate arrived home, she didn't want to go out and was having an early night which  here actually means coming home at 11 pm.

We left and as happens in most countries we decided to go in search of alcohol. Forget mututho laws in Kenya just walk into a dingy down town joint and you'll be served your brandy, in Egypt you look for this place called Drinkees. Drinkees is such a customer oriented service that if you call and let them know you want some alcohol then tell them where you are they'll give you directions to exactly where you can find alcohol. If that makes it sound easy to find alcohol that sentence is deception writ. Well we went in search and drove round and round Cairo, Cairo is huge, Nairobi is a dwarf town in comparison. At around 1 am we found a likely spot for alcohol. There was a guy there with a couple of horses, this guy makes his money by hiring them out for a ride and there he was at this random time looking for fares, all his ten or so horses lined up ready for a ride(he wasn't the alcohol seller just another curious sight). We finally found a shop where there was alcohol we tried for vodka, tequila{one of the party dudes was a Mexican} but there was nothing nearly that strong,in the end all we got was a couple of beers which we carried to the club.

I promise I’ll get better with the names of these places with time but for now I can't remember what the club was called just that it was out of the way, we stood around in the parking lot emptying a can of beer each into our throats. This taste was just like the flash flood Egypt experiences, you are thankful for the moisture but it's really just a beginning point, you need a dam lot of beer to be anywhere near what you're used to. We went into the club and just like most of Egypt there was a drought of women. I have no idea where the women go in this place, definitely not the same places I go too, something am going to have to change. There were a couple of people there already partying. There were these lounge chairs where the Viagra guy was already chilling. There was shisha to be had, and shisha here is a phenome deserving of another post, it makes sense that they don't need alcohol.


A couple of minutes into the revelry a horse is led onto the stage and it performs{mind out of the gutter please} I mean it dances, it dances round and round with its jockey sitting on it, its oddly hypnotic looking like a snake charmer as the horse gets on its knees and then laboriously rises before falling back down, moving its head this way and that, cantering and jumping all in time to the beat. The thing about this club is that this was not the surprise animal of the day, no that honour goes to a lion. Yes a lion, well a cub. A guy in the club had this thing that looked like a dog till I gave it a closer look and saw a mane. He was carrying it around in his arms showing it to everyone who cared to see. It looked tired and tamed, maybe it was just drugged and dragged to the club. In my mind I was glad to be sober because otherwise... well there is no otherwise. When confronted by a lion all I have is my word(as my cousin would say after watching scarface and being dared to do something he considered too scary.)

We left this club and went to the spot. There's this hotel called the Armada, that name was really familiar to me and it wasn't till we left and I saw that the hotel was in the shape of a ship moored on the Nile{the Nile is everywhere here, its as unremarkable as a road to locals while every time I see it all I want to do is stare.} This is a posh hotel. The name says it's posh, the location says its posh, the ATM machine welcoming you into the hotel says its posh. Even the spicy food in there would be posh. One of the guys we were with had booked us the top floor of this star awarded hotel, connections, and we got to go there and have a private party.

This was by no means a free party but when we entered there were wine glasses on the table for each of us and.... bottles of mineral water. We sat down and took over this place. A guy had his ipod and convinced the DJ to let him play music off it. The musical mix was eclectic to say the least, jumping from eminem to pitbull to nicki minaj to frank sinatra to fallout boy and the guys who sang losing my religion. There was an Indian dude with us who couldn't get enough of this, him and my Egyptian pal were on the floor the whole time, crooning with frank, crumping to nicki, air guitaring to fallout boy and raging with em. The thing about the people I was partying with was their international experience, a lot of the Egyptians here had spent a couple of years in America and this had changed them, sinatra isn't that common a music choice in most parts of the world, the Indian wasn't your typical Indian, he had been around too, dude could dance and he was the one who came up to me and said
“flashing them dead presidents huh.”
“you know am not black American right? Anyway here it would be dead Pharaohs.”

I ordered a shisha because when you come to Egypt have one, have one every day. You can find it at the local cafĂ©’s for twenty American cents, and when it hits, it hits. There’s no head rush like an Egyptian shisha head-rush. They keep laughing at how weak I am when I can't stand up immediately and I tell them if being weak feels this good I never want to be strong. I lost my head, it's somewhere out there wondering. That's how it feels, the smoke rushes straight to your brain taking you on such a head trip you have to take off your shoes and belt.

We left the club at around four thirty, my flatmate got to see Cairo one last time as we drove around the streets, this part of the journey was tinged with a certain sadness, she kept looking off into the distance, playing with her phone instead of being there with us as if already preparing to detach herself from all these people she had met on her trip.  She was looking forward to italy but at the same time she had to say goodbye to egypt, all her friends, all the sights, all the memories. She looked away from me and sniffled just a little. I had no idea what to do or what to say. Bitter goodbyes and sweet memories had her in their grip and until they let her go there was nothing I could do. When  you travel you get so homesick and then it's time to go back home, but when you're in a place you may never see again it's like you're losing home all over and this time  you know its terminal. Sure there's facebook but that's just morphine when what you really need is a cure. "the worst thing about being a traveller is this part, the goodbyes no even worse it changes you and soon all you can relate to is other travellers because they are different in some way.” she said as she looked out of the window as her home passed by her one last time.

On the bright side now I'll have a room to myself.