Cairo is gearing up for Eid. Last night, as I closed my windows, I heard the familiar sounds of geese disturbed in their sleep, the rooster trying out his pre-dawn lungs and a new sound, the baa-ing of sheep. This is in central Cairo.
Farmers are bringing in their livestock to sell for slaughter during Eid al-Adha, the feast of the sacrifice. The other day, in Gamaliya (Islamic Cairo), a man was whistling a herd of sheep through the main thoroughfare of el-Muiezz. Then I rounded a corner and nearly took out a large cow, one of those mournful Egyptian cows with skinny legs, huge ears and the saddest face that would break your heart.
Walking back from the fruit & veg market, my street has suddenly sprouted several sheep pens with brown shaggy, horned animals milling about, and the sidelanes are like a scene from Animal Farm.
Thursday. It all starts Thursday.
Cairenes, it has to be said, can talk the leg off a donkey. It is actually quite hard to be alone, when you are on your own. Nobody believes you want to sit solo, so the invites to join their table or to walk and talk are constantly forthcoming, which is very welcoming, but at times kind of frustrating.
Last night, up Khan Al-Khalili, the uber-hectic traditional market, I was adopted by Mimo (a funked-up shortening of Mohommad), who steered me through the markets, always talking, in his excellent English. In return, I’m afraid I grilled him. I warned him, but I grilled him. About where to eat, shop, find an apartment and what those bold boys had just said as we passed.
I could have used his translating skills today when I popped out for a late lunch, and the cafe owner charged me what I know to be double the going rate. I queried it, he said, It is laaaamb. It is very expensive. For that price, I must have eaten the arse of the ram with the golden fleece.