Oddly, many of my acquaintances were also treated badly by naughty 2007 and will be glad to shoo it out of the back door. But life being what it is, things have suddenly started looking up recently, as if a Barry White song has come on in the disco of life after endless Celine Dion. This is due to:
Imagine my joy then when I discovered that journalism rarely involves a desk and instead I am paid to write stuff and roam about Cairo talking to interesting people. A round of applause for life please, ladies and gentlemen, and here’s hoping that I don’t balls things up. Or at least not during the 3-month probation period.
But moving on.
The first wedding was in fact Mauve Bubble’s second wedding. To the same man. She had her English wedding in August, which was full of country dancing in the rain and Dabke. Her second wedding – planned entirely by, and for, the Egyptian side of her family – was on a boat, and featured a belly dancer with two stomachs and a dwarf tannoura dancer – what else could you ask for!
(N.B. As I understand it the word dwarf is offensive, but I am unable to find the correct, EU-approved epithet. Wikipedia’s dwarf entry goes on about Nordic fairy tales.)
The short tannoura dancer was part of a two-man act featuring another, tall (and well fit) tannoura dancer who span round with glasses of water on his head while making quips at the audience. These two were succeeded by the aforementioned belly dancer who, like a starfish, had two stomachs (i.e. layers of fat separated by a belly chain) but, unlike a starfish, refused to stay still. Luckily for the men, she had a huge rack which distracted them from the quivering flesh underneath and, luckily for the rest of us, she changed outfits for her second dance, sparing us the sight of the unbaked dough.
The second wedding was that of Fully P, a regular guest of this blog who married his lovely bride also on a boat, but this time upstream in Zamalek. Fully P was the hardest-working bridegroom ever, and spent the entire evening dancing his one dance move (pogoing) to the many, different varieties of music played. When he wasn’t doing this (and actually sometimes while doing this) he was remonstrating with the DJ, who insisted on playing tracks twice and, when the cake was brought out, decided to launch a house track at brain-exploding volume. Fully P bounced over and had a word and he and the missus were soon cutting the cake to the lovely sounds of the Beatles.
This was also the tallest wedding I have ever been to, with a veritable forest of lady guests who were all seven-foot and made me feel like the tannoura dancer. Another notable event was the presence of a man who when he smiled looked like our beloved President Hosny in that ubiquitous poster of him when he was 55 years old. Then another guest arrived who looked spookily like my former boss and human rights crusader Hafez Abu Seada. Imagine my, and Umm Nakad’s delight, when the two began a conversation at the buffet by the cheeses: a momentous occasion in Egypt’s political history witnessed only by a piece of Boursin.
I am ashamed to say that like the child that I am I made Umm Nakad stand next to them so I could document this important event (and pretend that I was photographing her) but getting them both in the frame would have required her to sit on their laps.
The crowning moment of the night, however, was witnessing this magnificently rolled hairdo a la Victorian lady, sported by a member of the band which played during the zaffa (it was even rolled at the front, making his hair super tall):
Yesterday I saw 7eyna Maysara, and came out wanting to set fire to myself so depressing was it. It’s directed by Khaled Youssef, who co-directed Heya Fawda but 7eyna Maysara confirms that the unctuous sentimentality of that film was all Chahine’s doing.
7eyna Maysara is set in an impoverished informal housing area (I would love to know where the opening shots used during the credits were filmed, if anybody knows) and presents the daily battles and tragedies faced by the film’s main characters. It is full of misery, abandoned babies, street children, violence, theft and injustice i.e. the stuff of daily life. What makes the film so hard-hitting is its realism: while the plot is slightly contrived in places, overall it is hugely (and lamentably) believable. In fact, at the end of the film the director explains that he was unable to present an entirely accurate version of Egyptian society because the reality is just too horrific.
The acting was terrific, the characters humanised (rather than the usual two-dimensional cartoon characters) and even the ending, while it was unsatisfying somehow, resisted lapsing into and-they-all-lived-happily-after.
My only problems with the film were its timing (great swathes of years lapse in one shot while elsewhere a minute seems to last a month) and its treatment of the Islamist terrorist group theme, which was slightly off. Perhaps it’s just Umm Nakad and me who have a bee in our bonnets about this, but comedy torture scenes really irk us.
7eyna Maysara in fact did what Heya Fawda attempted to do, which is show us how badly people suffer when bullies rule the roost.
4. The Egyptian judiciary gives two fingers to litigious morons
Happy new year to you all, and I hope your 2008 is filled with wowzers blazers things.