29 July, 2011

It's all about the Display

Friday morning and off to church.  We live right near an Anglican Church that has services in several languages throughout the week, including an English one on Fridays and Sundays.  But since Sunday=Monday here, it makes more sense to partake on Friday.

The church is in a bit of a compound type area with a few fellas manning the gate.  The church building itself is shaped like a pineapple!  Once inside, I wondered if I had the time wrong - I didn't see anybody through the front door.  But rounding the corner, there were about 50 chairs set up in a smaller side part and a few people getting seated.  I helped myself to a bulletin and then encountered the pastor who apologized for there being no greeters there today.  The theme continued as we found there that there was also no one there to play music and also no one there to make the coffee and juice afterward.  Summer in Cairo - everybody is gone!

Despite the mini number of attendees (maybe 30 people) I somehow manage to be in a row hip to hip with my neighbors.  I started off in a row by myself (and I was there 5 minutes late) and then a girl about my age sat a few seats down from me shortly after.  But then about 40 minutes into the service an Egyptian family came in and sat in our row so I had to scoot right into the other girl's lap.  The family had a brand new baby who mostly hung out in a basket that they put on a nearby piano plus two beautiful little girls with long, dark, curly hair.  I caught the littler one (who was squished up against my other side) peeking up at me throughout the service and we kept exchanging shy smiles.  So cute!

Anyway the service was great and it felt comforting to participate in something so familiar while being very much in the minority in this far away land.  Afterward I chatted with my left hip girl as well as the pastor and a few others.  It was someone's last day so that had thought to bring cookies, and the pastor had heard in advance there would be no coffee team so he had at least brought some juice.  We chatted for a bit on the patio outside and I met people from the UK and the US.  They go out for lunch every week so sometime I might join them.  They were advising my on Egypt's most famous dish - Koshari.  Apparently there is some disagreement on who makes the best around here so I will have to try it at several places.  When we went out to eat yesterday one of our table mates ordered it and it kind of looked like one of those "cleaning out the fridge day" meals.  Macaroni, spaghetti, rice, lentils, chick peas, and red sauce.  Apparently you eat this one meal and you are satisfied for the whole day.  As a girl with impressive food consumption capabilities I will have to be the judge of that!

The afternoon and was spent lazing about for a bit at home - it is TOO DARN HOT.  Forget what I said before, I am officially uncomfortable!  Then we walked about for a little bit in Zamalek - something we really haven't done that much of.  We discovered a new grocery store a block away that has pretty much everything we need.  It is in a small building and you don't think there is much to it, but a guy there gestures to a set of stairs and so we find there is a second level.  Another guy is following us around and when we finally pick an item off the shelf we realize the reason is that he intends to carry our groceries for us.  He eagerly comes forward with a basket and takes the obviously way-too-heavy-for-us-to-manage packet of raisins from us.  We have no idea what the procedure is for tipping the grocery carrier (who is employed by the store) so in the end we just pay for our groceries and duck shyly away.  The store, like everywhere else around here, offers delivery too.  So a person can go out to shop even if they have no cash on them at the time; have someone else carry your stuff around the store; tell the guy at the register that you are going to stop at the bank and head home; and then they will take your groceries to your house for whatever time you request. Incredible!  We have life way too hard in Canada!

The evening we keep exploring around and I have been noticing that around here they are Masters of Display. The way the fruit is arranged at the stands, the candy in the shops, even the goats hanging from the ceiling. It is all so orderly and attractive (well obviously not so much attractive the meat...)

We stopped at a nut shop whose slogan is "Add Delectation to Life".  What a fantastic idea, we could all use a touch more delectation.  We also stopped at a cupcake shop which I have to say far exceeds any that I visited in Victoria or Edmonton.  We tried NINE kinds and will have to return to try more of the intriguing flavours like yam, chestnut, and mango.  Another trip to cupcake heaven?  Sure!

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