Amazing co-incidences 101

The taxi driver to the airport in Abu Dhabi was Egyptian, and after going misty-eyed about his homeland, where I was bound, he told me to watch out for the traffic. He’s right, it’s manic. “But people help you cross the street,” I protested.
“Only for money,” he responded. I thought about it. In fact, it had happened only once that I was asked for money in exchange for not being splattered across the road. It was by Mohammad, a dapper gent in his 50s with greying ringlets. He escorted me across the road, pointed me in the right direction to the mosque I was trying to find, and pulled some photographs out of his pocket of when he was young and described by the newspapers as ‘the Egyptian Schwarzenegger’. There he was, buff to the eyeballs, snapped with a volley of incredibly beautiful models with their big hair and liquid eyeliner, everyone in indecently small bikinis or (in Mohammad’s case) mankinis. So we chatted, but as we parted, he asked for a few pounds to get a cool drink. I baulked, as I thought this was a genuine exchange, not a cash scam, but I relented and gave him some money. So, imagine my surprise when, last night as I was trawling the streets for a home, in a city of 20 million people, I ran into Mohammad. He remembered me, thanked me for the drink, and bought me a glass of mint tea, in return. It’s a nice ending.Amazing co-incidences 102.
I know three other people in Cairo. One I rang today on my NEW EGYPTIAN MOBILE! The second, who I met at the airport yesterday and lent me his phone to call my hotel, is an expat who lectures in Islamic art. I ran into him on the same street in Doqqi this morning. I like this street. I have also moved from the Concorde (am missing the blue carpet already) to the Pension Roma, and have a small but perfect room, with polished floor boards and a little balcony that I have opened the doors onto, and set up my desk and fan. It is a fifth of the price of the hotel, cleaner and has free internet. Perhaps it was all just meant to be…

About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad.

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