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.