Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dec 13, 2008 3:13 PM
Licking the wound

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on." Ulysses S Grant
It would appear that I have had long enough to pout and stamp my feet. I had hoped that my blog would have come back by now, but alas, the good people at Blogger/Google have decided that I am of little interest to them, and have, as yet, neglected to answer my begging emails.
Just to show a little of my vanity petticoat... in two years of blogging, I have literally ached for the day when I hit the right nerve and opened up to find almost 40 comments! Seems one should be careful for what one wishes. Thank you for the kind words... they helped ease the pain...and those that offered advice, please note that I will be taking up each and every suggestion.
So... where was I? Oh yes... Cairo, Egypt... Hmmmm, let's look out the window, shall we? Gray skies...Christmas Markets, red, drippy nose.... Hey, where in the world is carmen... I mean...LuLu? Seems that the suitcases are a little overloaded for a short trip.....
And why is there an airline ticket in her pocket? Could this photo be a clue? LuLu never seems to do things by halves.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Dec 1, 2008 9:47 AM

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it."Samuel JohnsonThis is the temporary home of LuLu's Bay. Here is what happened:Disrupted sleeping patterns for the past two months have led me to sitting at my computer around the 4am mark. On this particular morning, I decided to do a little 'house-clean', a general tidy up of the computer. There was an old Blog that belonged to a business I once owned."I will get rid of this!" I thought to myself -- so I hit the SIGN IN button at the top of the screen and went directly to SETTINGS page. Scrolled down... hit DELETE and then YES.Suddenly, in front of my eyes, were the words YOU HAVE NO BLOGS. Whattttttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!It took a few minutes to sink in.... NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But it was true. I had just deleted 2 years and over 250 posts with the flick of a finger.A frantic search gave me a screen to request a restoration of said blog. Would this work? Would there actually be a real person that would care enough to grab my blog out of the server trash can and pop it back?After an hour, I crawled back into bed.... "Are you OK?", asked Mr Dear Husband.......This resulted in another hour of great gulping, heaving, snotty filled, salty tears.... I cried like a two year old that had dropped her ice cream in the dirt. Mr Dear Husband was bewildered.Too his credit, he got up and spent the next couple of hours searching for people on the web that had been through this experience, he then created a document to hand to me that gave evidence that people DO get their blogs back --- sometimes --and ALMOST good as new. That is love, coming from someone that still, after 20 years, cannot grasp the concept of how to attach a document to an email.I am bereft. There is no way to explain this to non-bloggers. This blog has been a work of passion and creativity, and in so many ways, my savior. This blog, started during turbulent times, has helped to keep me sane.Now I miss the comments - I didn't realize how much they helped get me through the days - Hey! perhaps I need to go to a celebrity Rehab for comment addiction?I haven't even tried to recreate - although I have saved all the cached pages I could find. So this is it... fingers crossed that someone, somewhere will read my email and give me back LuLu, please?If you have any words of wisdom (or would like to send condolences.. money, alcohol or chocolate will do) I am here :
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 27, 2008 8:44 AM
You call it Mumbai....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
8:00pm last night, I flicked on the news... and was confronted by the unfolding drama happening in Mumbai. Terrifying reports of armed gunman and explosions. Scenes of people running with fear in their eyes.But one thing scared me more than any other - two luxury hotels where the targets of a night of terrorist strikes against civilians - talk of people with US or British passports being singled out.I lived in the Oberoi Hotel at Nariman point for two years. The flashes on the screen show buildings that are as familiar to me as my own hands. Talk of a restaurant, where gunman walked in and started shooting, was the place I ate my dinner at least once a week.There is a large lump in my throat when I see the flames licking out of the windows of the Taj Hotel - a lovely old girl, that deserves more respect. Nights of delicious meals and laughs with friends, turned into horror.There are people who have been barricaded in their hotel rooms for 14 hours now - with no electricity - no communication. Water would be running low (and you do NOT want to drink the tap water). I know those rooms, and was always frightened by the prospect of being trapped in a hotel if there was a fire. A fire in a hotel, is a hoteliers' worst nightmare.I am a little more aware of 5 star hotel security, than other people, having lived in them for many years - and today, it is where I send Mr Dear Husband off to earn a crust...Many times I have passed through the lobby metal detectors - set them off (damn those underwire bras) - only to be waved on. Truth is, if you want to get inside a luxury hotel, the only thing you need is the right outfit - the door man is more likely to stop a scruff (wow, how did I ever get in?).The seige continues...... it is daylight now..... but the world has changed forever --- Again.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 25, 2008 12:05 PM

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand." Woodrow WilsonI love Google. No, really, I do! At any time of the day or night, I can quench my thirst for knowledge. Type in any word, anything at all, and the world just opens up to me. Hear a rumor? Check it out. Want to know where Brittney is at any time.... Google it.Lately I have been able to blend two of my favorite pastimes - Googling & Vision Boards. I have been Mind Mapping or Visioning for about 15 years. It is a brilliant way to get clear about how YOU want your life to be. Write it down. Go all out. Put no restrictions on your dreams. So many of the vision boards that I created 10 years ago are now reality, that I have great faith. Besides, it is fun to play.So now I have another use for Google. Google Images. Spend a couple of hours collecting images off the web that make you happy. Look for anything that gives you a 'feeling' of how you want your life to be. In the same way you create a Vision Board by browsing through magazines, just let your fingers do the walking -- Google things that make you happy, better still, include things in your vision that make the ones you LOVE happy. Give it a try.. Here is a sample of one that I put together....
Energy Follows Intention:Click on the collage to make your very own BlogVision, I used Picasa 2, a free download program from Google. Then create your collage by collecting all your favorite things, click the CREATE tab at the top of the page and 'easy peasy' - done. I want to see some others now...It must be noted, that there are no Pyramids in this collage 'been there, done that'. All fun.PS: Just a thought - this might be a way of squeezing out 'just one more post' for all those bloggers making themselves nuts trying to blog everyday in November.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 24, 2008 2:12 PM
Comfort Food - Italian style

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
This blog has morphed into many things over the past couple of years... everything from a foodie blog, to restaurant reviews, whining expat wife drivel and the occasional funny tidbit to keep the masses entertained.It has been awhile since I have given you any of my culinary skills, based mainly on the fact that I am seriously scared of my gas oven.But there has been a nagging on my tastebuds, that just wouldn't leave well enough alone. A distant Summer memory, that kept whispering 'come on... you know you want to eat another one'.In Italy, we visited a friend that had opened a small hotel in the mountains.. a beautiful piece of green heaven. He is a 5 star chef by trade. We arrived late in the afternoon, sat outside and watched the sun go down, drank a cold beer and when it was time for dinner, we said 'send out whatever you want... we eat everything'. So he did. It was a feast of local produce that went way beyond delicious. But the star was a simple starter that came out of the kitchen, as if by mistake. On a plain white plate, without fanfare or garnish - AranchiniFried Risotto balls... delicious, melt in your mouth fabulosity! Easy to make... unless you do it the hard way. I am a big fan of making my own chicken stock.... popping some in the freezer and when you are ready for your Risotto... perfect. Risotto rice is easy to find in Cairo.. and a little goes a long way. Risotto is a heavy dish, and we usually have it as a side or with a salad. Therefore, making sure there is plenty left over for the next night of Aranchini.Not a big fan of deep fried foods (can't stand the smell in the house afterwards) but these are worth it, if only you try it a couple of times a year. This batch was made with Chicken & Pumpkin Risotto, but you could use any (tomato is good)-- and the local Mozzarella works just fine.If Homer Simpson was Italian... he would be drooling over Aranchini, not doughnuts.If you would like to try, here is a link to Tessa Kiros, Apples for Jam version... she is brilliant and they taste great. But if this link doesn't work - try Google Books.PS: I would tell you where my gorgeous Italian hideaway chef is... but I am planning to buy myself a retirement Palazzo in his neighborhood, and don't want everybody pushing up the real estate prices!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 23, 2008 10:57 PM
Snow shoes & Sand shoes...

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,But I have promises to keep,And miles to go before I sleep,And miles to go before I sleep.Robert FrostToday I actually thought about putting on socks. I said, 'I thought about it...".So I put on one of my Egyptian cotton scarfs. I wound it round my neck, knotted it, and left it on all day. Then I started cooking chicken soup. If I had an open fireplace, I would have fired it up.It has happened. I have become acclimatised to the Egyptian weather.Two weeks ago, Side-Kick-Sam started wearing a jumper to work. It worked for him, he continued to keep the car air-conditioning pumping at a nice even arctic summer temperature. (when I turned blue and had an icicle hanging from my nose, he simply turned it up higher and thought to himself, "that will teach her for keeping me from my beauty sleep, constantly expecting me to drive AND be awake!")One week ago, Miss 7 rummaged through her wardrobe and pulled out her Winter school uniform. We won't mention the fact that her school skirt could now double as a belt, and that all her winter sweaters are now 3/4 quarter length sleeve..... She managed to wear the thick tights until mid-morning break before changing into socks, because, as she said, "I nearly exploded, I was so over-heated". (as a good mother, I did try to warn her, but sometimes the little buggers have to learn it the hard way)So here I am, facing my second Egyptian winter... 'Hot chocolate, anyone?"I STILL cannot fathom that it can be so cold here...
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 18, 2008 11:09 AM
Guerilla Golfer

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it's open to anybody who owns hideous clothing." Dave BarryWhen I vaguely mentioned to a mate that I had been dragged back to the golf course by Mr Dear Husband, she was quick to shoot back, "and were you wearing Pastels?"Those throw away comments that come back to haunt you a year later. What is it with people that have the ability to remember verbatim, every stupid 'foot in mouth' comment I have ever made?She was right. I had once said that I am a little afraid of women bearing Pastel coloured clothing 'en masse'. There is something so blonde, so lithe, so, oh I don't know, so Stepford.. yes I think that was where I was going. None of that means anything except to show my own insecurity.I figure, that with a little help, perhaps an entire choir of Drag Queens on crack cocaine, I too, could do big hair, and a Hollywood smile. I would have that perfect matching pair of Tod's driving loafers and matching handbag. I might even get a ticket to sit in the audience for the filming of Oprah. There I would be, with my picture perfect self, smiling with a tear in my eye, nodding in agreement with everything Ms Oprah says... I see it now.But back to reality. I am not a Pastel Lady golfer... I am more a Camo-Golf Punk... with mis-matched clubs. In fact, on this particular occasion, I was an illicit player, sneaking around the golf course, crouching down whenever a golf cart came near, all for fear of being given a bollocking for playing without my own clubs. I am probably the only person that has done 9 holes at the Fancy-Schmancy Golf Club with three clubs, hunched shoulders and night-vision goggles. And I kicked ass!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 17, 2008 11:10 AM
The Apple...

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
During all my moaning and groaning about consumerism, I omitted to reveal a tiny, weeny secret. I have fallen in love. This is no school-girl crush, this is the real thing. There is nothing like unrequited love to have you waltzing though your day with glassy eyes and butterflies in your stomach. A mere glance in the direction of your new flame can make your heart leap into your mouth. An overwhelming desire to touch and stroke; to hide away from the rest of the world; just you and your amore.
Would you like to meet the object of my desire?

Yes, for all my scornful reproaches, all my scathing dialogues about opulent over consumption mean nothing...I must have these shoes.
I know in my heart of hearts, that in these shoes, I will be the LuLu that I have always known lived deep inside. A sassy (taller) and more confident ME. The world will sit at my feet in glory. Doors will open with a twinkle of my clippy-cloppy heels. Waiters will race to refill my champagne flute after every sip. Those two chocolate bars that I ate last week, will glide effortlessly from my hips to my lips (who needs collagen injections).
During times of stress and upheaval, The Glitter Shoes and I can curl up together; I will regale them with witty anecdotes and they will comfort me with their quiet understanding.
Everybody needs an object to put on a pedestal, (let's not discuss how I was so unceremoniously knocked down from mine yesterday!) -- there needs to be just one thing that gets you through the day -- something totally unrelated to the reality that is YOUR life (let's fact it... who is going to be walking in Downtown Cairo in these babies!).
Just pick one thing.. you will be surprised how happy it makes you.
Now, could someone please send a copy of this blog post to the brilliant Mr Christian Louboutin -- a size 39 eur (maybe a 40 if they are a small fitting), if you please?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 16, 2008 11:13 PM

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
An Open Letter to the Editor of LuLu's Cairo:"Where is your blog post? Typical, just when I find a blog that I like to read on a regular basis, you stop posting. I find that very inconsiderate. Don't you understand that there are people out there that rely on regular blog updates, that their cup of coffee in the morning does not taste the same unless there is something from their favorite blogger to read!I am sure that it is of no consequence to you, and that, should the truth be know, you are a self-absorbed woman with a occasional case of verbal diarrhea. It is cruel and unusual punishment to offer someone a look into your life, and then, just as quickly, to close that window.There is no way that you could understand what it means to someone that has no life of their own. How I celebrate your successes and commiserate your failures. How I have raged along with you during your time in Cairo, and the frustrations that have become as much a part of my life as they are of yours.I think that I am going to remove you from my Google Reader. That is what I will do. If you are not capable of sharing every intimate detail of your life, as you have in the past, then I am not interested.Goodbye & Good Riddance,Signed,A Disgruntled Reader"Hmmmm... what to do? Fancy me having a life away from blogging... what could that mean? The Big-Time Change Train is a-coming closer........ can you hear the whistle blowing?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 12, 2008 7:30 AM
Would you like Fries with that?

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Shortly after my arrival in Egypt, I met a smart and sassy Egyptian lady. Her knowledge of local history knew no bounds and she fielded every question I tossed like Donald Bradman (and if you don't know who he is...come on!) Toward the end of our conversation, she leaned in close to me and in a quiet voice said:
"That huge pile of garbage across the street from your house... it was there before you arrived, it will stay there the whole time you are in Egypt, and it will be there when you leave."
Little did I know at the time, just how profound her words would be, and the impact they would have on my life here.
She was right. Totally correct.
No doubt, I am not alone in arriving in a country and thinking, "Hey, we do that differently where I grew up, let me show them the way". I guess that is where the whole story behind religious missionaries comes about.
A scan over the past year of the trials and tribulations that have made for great blogging fodder, will reveal how many things I have attempted to change.... today, a year on, nothing is different.
But this is going too far. After checking out my ATM of choice, I discovered it was 'out of cash' (how it can be attached to a bank and be out of cash... let's not go there). So we drove around to 'the other' ATM that I tend to use only in a pinch. This one is more exposed and almost always has a long line of men waiting; which amounts to not only feeling conscious of collecting money - but also being watched a little closer than feels comfortable. All went well, jumped back in the car and was about to zoom off... when something caught my eye, an inordinate amount of trash in front of the bank. Side-Kick-Sam was told 'hold it!!" - he is getting used to this now...
Propped up against the tree were bags of paper - paper that had quite obviously just been taken out of the bank and left for someone to eventually collect. If you look carefully (you can click on all my photos to enlarge) you will see that the bag is full of bank slips - lets not think about how much personal information is contained in that bag.
There are days when my eyes refuse to believe what my brain is telling me....and I was worried about my OWN garbage!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 11, 2008 7:36 AM
Not 21 anymore.

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
There is a good chance, that this woman is living deep inside of me:Maybe today is her birthday too? If so, there is no doubt she has one hell of a headache this morning. Right now she is saying things like 'You have got to be shitting me!" as she reads the police report on her antics.Here is the way it works; The girls say, "Hey, let's go for a few drinks for your birthday", and the next thing she remembers -- naked in jail.The bits in between will be pieced together, as ever more gleeful 'friends' replay the evening. Each time the subject comes up there will be another piece of the puzzle fall into place, and another piece of this woman will curl up her toes and think to herself, "I am never going to drink again".I guess, for the most part, we get away with this sort of behavior in our younger days, but something happens over 40, where it is no longer funny to be found in a bar -- naked, soaking wet and drunk as a skunk. Is that discrimination? Would she have ended up in jail if she were a 21 year old university student? No... as I think about it, I think that would have been classified as 'schoolies week' antics... perhaps a wet t-shirt competition.Anywho......... I am stone cold sober...really... hey! I heard that!And, I am the Featured Blog over at WHERE THE BLOG ARE YOU?Head over and say G'DAY!!!!.... lots of great Australian blogs to read.Has anybody seen the Aspirin?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 9, 2008 7:07 AM
Wipers up!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"SQUEEGEE men and bill posters beware - you could soon be fined. In an internal notice, police officers have been encouraged to issue fines of up to $400 for washing car windscreens at intersections or putting up posters on power poles."
This article caught my eye when trolling through the dailies... and a sudden flash back to a day in Sydney when I could have ended up in gaol. Washing your car in Sydney has been a challenge for many years now, in fact, Miss 7 has probably never seen either of her parents wash the car in the driveway. This typical weekend ritual of my childhood has been relegated to the scrap heap after years of severe water restrictions. That has meant we have been left with only two choices - leave it dirty or pay out the cost of a good dinner at the local Thai restaurant to have a team of 'professionals' wash and dry your car.
For many families on a budget, the choice of whether to fill your tank with petrol or clean your car is a 'no-brainer'. But occasionally, there was something important enough to warrant such an extravagance. I remember the smell of my newly detailed car as I collected it after 2 hours - the gleaming wheels and the sparkle of the windows. Gone where all the finger marks from small children and the smell of Mr Dear Husband's last fishing trip.
And I do believe the car was purring... Really, as I drove up the road, there was a definite sound of satisfaction coming from her. And then it happened. I didn't make it past the first set of traffic lights. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, darting through the traffic, with a fixed and determined look on his face, a bucket of muddy water in one hand and a squeegee in the other.
"Oh God NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Please nooooo!" It didn't help. I started frantically waving at him... the veins started to pop out in my neck as I strained to convey how serious I was about him not approaching the car. But it was too late. Quicker than the $50 disappeared out of my wallet and into Mr Car Wash's hands... he started to slop that dirty water all over my windshield. By the time he noticed the woman having a small convulsive fit inside the car, it was too late. Damage done.
I haven't seen many 'squeegee men' here in Cairo - with the car washing system here, a state run entity, there appears to be no need. And sometimes the old adage of 'keep it simple, stupid' really works. If you don't want your car to be cleaned, you just leave your windscreen wipers standing up. Of course there is a catch, when it does actually rain here, many don't realise you can use the 'do not wash my car' things on the front to clear away the water!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 6, 2008 4:30 PM
Things you never knew you needed.

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
There are advantages to living in Egypt. Many, in fact, but the one that is utmost on my mind today is - Not Shopping. Huh? Well doesn't that sound strange. Aside from filling the kitchen with bare essentials, I just don't shop. After a year of this, I have started to notice that my perspective on this subject has changed somewhat. No longer bombarded with BUY ME!! BUY ME!! from the media - I now just don't 'need' to shop anymore. Give, Cairo does not lend itself to the gentle art of Window Shopping, one of my favorite pastimes in Germany. There are the huge tourist markets, with every man and his dog just aching to fleece you out of your hard earned cash, but not the same atmosphere.
And so it was that I clicked on a web site that left me speechless. The link comes from a web site that has been set up by Gywneth Paltrow. I'm not sure why I even signed up to a web site called GOOP... and I am little concerned that young Gywneth might not be getting enough oxygen way up there, when she wears those towering heels that have become her trademark of late. Does she see herself as the new WASP Oprah? Scary thought. In her latest offering, she suggested we peruse some of the web sites she likes to haunt 'when the children are asleep" aaawww ain't that cute! When would that be exactly? Hmmm after or before you come home from prowling every red-carpet event on the planet. (ooohh sounding bitter and twisted there... must watch my sugar intake)
So here a few of the things I didn't know I needed:
Let's start with these little Gems.... what do you think you might use them for?
Of course, with out the stand.... the little 'cleaning beads' would be simply useless, darlink! (wow what was I thinking using a bit of uncooked rice and some white vinegar and water)
And if you are going to go to the trouble of cleaning your decanter (my wine never stays in the bottle long enough to 'breath') - then you must have a Truffle Slicer.
'Woe betide he who gets the smell of garlic on his fingers' -- so must have a garlic slicer...
No meal would be complete without a course of Choco Caviar!

Frankly... the only thing I could find that would be of any use to me was this pair of Pizza Scissors... but since Pizza Hut delivers pre-sliced... .....
If you love these things... here is where you will find them. Go forth and spend...
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 6, 2008 9:32 AM
When I grow up...

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life." George Burns
I wasn't planning on doing any blog posts about the US elections. I had my own opinions and I certainly read plenty of blog posts over the past few weeks, on the subject.
But watching CNN this morning, changed my mind. I heard someone make a comment that made my heart sing.
"Perhaps this will help black children, white children, ALL children begin to think: I too, could be president one day".
With an impressionable 7 year old in the house, we have had several discussions along the lines of 'what do you want to be when you grow up'.
Usually, the answer is something like 'I don't know, I am only 7!'
But I worry about the influence of shows like Hanna Montana, and the likes of Paris Hilton. And what is with B-Bratz dolls? They frighten me. I tried to keep them out of the house by telling Miss 7 that 'they wake up in the middle of the night and shave off your eyebrows'. She just rolled her eyes, laughed and now likes to tell that story to anyone that will listen. To read time and time again that the most often stated career path for young (and not so young) is 'to be famous'. Scary. Where will all that figure in her plans for the future.
If the results of the 2008 US elections does nothing more than influence an upcoming generation to believe they can be more than a picture in a tabloid; I will be a happy mother.
President Obama has a tough road ahead. I wish him well.
PS: Please be aware... if you choose to leave a comment against this post - that there is offensive material displayed. I have chosen to leave the comment because I believe in the right to free speech and democracy, as strongly as I disagree with the views expressed in the comment. Don't say you weren't warned.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 4, 2008 8:44 PM
One Stop Shopping

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Fish is the only food that is considered spoiled once it smells like what it is." P. J O'rourke
Just loving the convenience of shopping in Cairo. Need groceries, no problem, just phone up and they will be delivered. Need take-away food, no problem, hop on the Internet - Lying in your bed with a head cold... your local Pharmacy is only too happy to deliver anything you want - no prescription necessary. Just last week I took the stairs of my building and found a shoemaker/cleaner had set up store on the landing of the 4th floor (still hitting myself in the head for forgetting to take a photo -- but hey! that isn't what you expect to find everyday!) Doctors in Cairo not only do house calls, but they will give you their personal mobile phone numbers in case you need to speak to them.
But somehow that just plain takes all the fun out of it for me. I have never been much of a shopper, but I do love markets and I like to choose my own fruits & Veg. Doing a weekly shop in Sydney kept the pantry pretty much ready to handle any culinary emergency. Cairo is a whole other ball game. Shopping can take the best part of a day. A recent event saw me doing a main course for 10, at home. And being me, I wanted it to be perfect. This involved several days of sourcing 'hard to find' ingredients. There are many mini-supermarkets that cater to the expat community, but the chances of finding everything in the same place, remains slim. And so it is that you drag yourself from one place to another until you have managed to cross off everything from your list.
To date, I have not bought any fish here in Cairo (other than imported & frozen). You only need to take a quick glance at the state of the Nile to never want to eat Nile Perch again. But all over the place are little 'fish franchises' - just ready and willing to take your money. This photo is of one particular one that I pass on the way to school. He mysteriously disappeared during the really hot months of summer, but has returned and was none too pleased about me taking his photo (thank goodness I had Side-Kick-Sam driving with his foot on the accelerator). The weather is mild here now, but I still have to wonder just how well we would feel after a meal from his 'side of the road' baskets.... not to mention the radiation from enormous electrical tower that stands guard.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 3, 2008 8:22 AM
But what does it mean?

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"This is no time to make new enemies."Voltaire, when asked on his deathbed to forswear Satan.
There are signs. Perhaps I really am schizophrenic! At the very least, paranoid. Hopefully, just a healthy neurotic.
One day I will catch up with the international world of telecommunications -- but for the time being, it suits me to sit a little behind the pack with my trusty ol' phone that does nothing except make phone calls. And as 'being on the phone' is not one of my favorite pastimes, that suits me just fine. Mr Dear Husband claims it was watching me NOT answer a ringing telephone, that made him realize 'she is the one'. Frankly, I don't see why I should stop what I am doing, and be at the beck n' call of the world.
It might go a long way toward showing my age, but I remember the pre-mobile phone days, and I loved them. I like the idea of nobody knowing where I am, and am yet to be convinced that mobile phones are a good thing. I miss the days when I would have time to myself in the car. Now it is just an excuse to make our lives busier and more complicated. There have been days when I have hopped in the car for a 15 minute trip, only to discover that by the end, I have been delegated at least a half dozen more tasks to complete. I say, Stop The Insanity.
Ok, maybe mobile phones come in handy if you breakdown in the middle of nowhere. Granted.
Due to the 'stone-age' of my phone, I need to go to one of the Multi-National Telecommunication Giants to buy credit. I don't do this often, but when I do, here is the procedure:
Walk into store (watched by 19 men)
Tell girl at first post my phone number (if I can remember it)
Be provided with a ticket
Wait for ticket to be called to counter X (3 counters - no queue, but still I wait)
Provide phone number again (still can't remember it)
Pay (grin stupidly like I actually understood what he said in Arabic -- then cast a sly glance to the register total)
Leave (trip over own feet, drop handbag upside down on the floor, scramble about trying to gather miscellaneous items as they roll to the four winds...watched by 19 men)
Now I may not be one of the Multi-National Telecommunication Giants biggest customers, but I think they are going too far holding a special number for me.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 2, 2008 8:17 AM
Am I a celebrity yet?

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Privacy and security are those things you give up when you show the world what makes you extraordinary." Margret Cho
October 27, 2008 -- Page 6, New York Post
CELEBRITIES who live in Greenwich Village may want to run out and buy paper shredders. Their garbage is being sifted through by creepy trash-trollers who want to bare their secrets.
One recent victim is Mary-Louise Parker, the sexy star of Showtime's "Weeds," who lives in a luxury apartment building overlooking Washington Square Park.
An anonymous letter was sent to Page Six from someone who claims to have sifted through the actress' refuse and included photocopies of Parker's drug prescription receipts from Bigelow Pharmacy on Sixth Avenue.
They show that last year she shelled out a $20 insurance co-payment for a supply of 30 tablets of a medication that's commonly used to treat low-thyroid function and prevent goiters. It was prescribed by a Manhattan internist............................................
Hmmmm interesting reading, NOT! I live with this every single day (garbage invasion I mean...not a low-thyroid function). It is standard practice in Cairo for your Bowaab to go through your trash bags. You leave them outside your door for collection, he/she takes them away and they are mysteriously delivered to the Zabbaleen (Cairo garbage collectors). Oh yes they do... I see my fellow Cairoeans shaking their well coiffed heads, and shouting at their computers "oh no, please no...!".
Now, this wouldn't be such an issue to me, except that I have become a little paranoid about just exactly WHAT I put into my rubbish bags. There are some 'unmentionables' that should truly never, ever see the light of day again. I have developed a little twitch that comes about just before I throw away something that could be re-used. Will they take it out? Common sense says that they would be looking for anything that could be recycled, but just take a minute and consider all the things that land in your waste basket. Just how much personal information you would be giving away.
It's been a year now, so I guess I should be used to it, but I am not. Sitting up late one evening last week, I heard the rustle as the bag was being collected. On my way to the kitchen, I couldn't resist a peek through the peep-hole. It made my stomach turn over... there they were, fishing about in my garbage without a care in the world. I know there is no malice intended, but it strikes me as less than pleasant. I couldn't watch for fear of seeing them pull out something that would scar my retinas for ever.
Just knowing that there are people in my building that know more about my personal habits than perhaps, even my husband does, is kinda weird.....
Anywho... off for my botox shot now, never know when the paparazzi will show up.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Nov 1, 2008 12:59 PM
Matchbox Girl

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
You just know that there needs to be a change in your life when you find yourself standing in the kitchen doing this:

"And what ARE you doing?" I hear you ask.....
In 20 years of wedded bliss, there has been one thing that can set Mr Dear Husband's blood a boilin' faster than anything else. Used matches returned to the box. Me?...... I don't find it an issue, and as I am the 'candle lighter' in the family, the subject doesn't often come up. Alas, we have had a couple of power cuts recently, and the scuffle to find some candles is nothing compared to trying to find an unlit match in a box, in the dark.
So there I was, standing in the kitchen, sorting all the dead matches from the fresh ones.....for all of, let's say, 4 minutes....before the naughty little red imp that sits on my shoulder whispered in my ear.....
"What the hell are you doing!!!!!!!!!!"
So I stopped. And started to think that life needs a shake up.
Careful what you wish for, because the Big-Time Shake Up Train is a comin'..... faster than I was quite ready for.
PS: Why would Egypt import all their matches from Sweden? Who knew that Sweden was the match capital of the world! LOL
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 29, 2008 7:49 AM
Just call me Anti-Barbie

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"...Clean up complexion, soften eye lines, soften smile line, add color to lips, trim chin, remove neck lines, soften line under ear lobe, add highlights to earrings, add blush to cheek, clean up neck line, remove stray hair, remove hair strands from dress, adjust color and add hair on top of head, add dress on side to create better line... Total: $1,525.00." The invoice for retouching the cover photo of Michelle Pfeiffer, in the December 1990, issue of Esquire magazine, obtained by Harper's. The photo's caption reads, "What Michelle Pfeiffer Needs...Is Absolutely Nothing."
There is a burning light in Miss 7's eyes when she sees some of the mum's at school pick-up. I watch her scan them... taking in their clicky high heels, their swishy skirts and their bouncy, shiny hair. Then she will turn and run her eyes over my jeans and T-shirt, no make-up look and sigh. And it is a sigh that comes from deep inside her soul. "You are not really a 'girly-girl', are you mum! That is a statement - not a question.
But recently I have tried a little harder. I had a facial (in fact I even had another, and it was pretty good). I went back to have my feet scrubbed within an inch of their lives. But the highlight was being talked into getting a shampoo - & blow dry last week.
Now I know that women in the 50's thought nothing of going to the salon once a week for a shampoo and set, but they also wore corsets and put on lipstick before their dear husbands came home from work. I do try to keep up a certain 'look', and make an appointment when it just can't be avoided any longer. With encroaching age, these appointments are becoming more frequent due to the appearance of 'life's natural highlights', springing up -- more and more each week.
And so it was that I entered the Whirling Dervish version of the hairdressing world. No appointment necessary, popped into a chair where my head was doused in warm water and then lathered --- the rather intense massage felt more than a little odd after a year in Cairo. I am careful not to make any skin contact here - even when collecting change -- who knows how it will be interpreted -- so this felt more intimate that was comfortable. At the end of my shampooing I was moved to a chair and given a few minutes to assess my options. Lined up along each wall were the bog standard chair/mirror combo. Each chair filled with a woman and behind her a man, furiously trying to tame her crowning glory.
When it came to my turn, there was little conversation, but within 15 minutes, he had turned my lank locks into something out of the Miss America pageant....Wow! There was one 'hairy' moment (excuse the pun) when I noticed some instruments of torture to my left. If you look carefully, you will see that they are resting on a gas flame attachment. I didn't get to see them in action (thank god) but would have to assume that they light up that giant Bunsen Burner with the tongs resting on top... then the smell of burning hair would follow. Now I know how so many Egyptian women manage to obtain that perpetual Dolly Parton/Miss Universe/man-dressed-as-woman look.
And all for 40le (that is US$7.25).
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 28, 2008 5:52 PM
The Mother of Invention.

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"A good home must be made, not bought." Joyce MaynardFor sometime now, I have been observing the building of a new suburb.... or perhaps it is just the spread of an old one, hard to tell here. Perhaps I pass through this area no more often than every two weeks, but each occasion I note there has been a substantial amount of activity. Those buildings are going up faster than green grass after a summer shower.
Side-Kick-Sam displays his dislike of this particular area by scrunching up his shoulders and driving slower than a geriatric snail. The road through the area is in a poor state of repair, with potholes and mounds of dirt spilling onto the street. Unfortunately, it is also the shortest point between the Huge-French-Mega-Ultra-Hypermarket and where Miss 7 goes to school. And just to make it worse -- it makes the car dusty and dirty.
As each building starts to take shape, you will find a smaller structure magically appear alongside. I have no idea who lives there, but I am impressed by the ingenuity. As soon as the building reaches the point where bricks can be used, these little houses seem to silently grow from a dusty bit of dirt on the side of the road. They often have a clothes line and almost always have a little veranda with a sheltered place to take a nap. They sort of remind me of the play houses we built in the bush as kids... that we would sweep out and decorate.
I have a few theories....Want to hear?
First one, is that the builders make these huts up, as protection from the elements during construction.
Perhaps the builders are brought in from Upper Egypt, and this is a way to save on accommodation.
Or... and this is my favorite;
The bane of my life here in Cairo -- the bowab. Their ability to make me so miserable I want to commit heinous crimes, is almost legendary. From the day we moved into our building, never a day has passed when I haven't felt some kind of insane rage caused by their complete disregard for anything normal.
Where DO bowabs come from, I hear you ask.... well, how about this.... each time a company breaks the soil to start the foundations for a new apartment complex, a new bowab is born. A bit like squatter's rights, if he lives there, he can be on hand to move into the basement room (or the luxury penthouse flat on top of my so-called penthouse) before anybody else has a chance to notice. Then you are set for life. A home in good a neighborhood and a building full of people to fleece (whoops, did I say that out aloud?), I meant assist. I wonder what happens to the bricks when the building is completed. Do they get passed along to the next fledgling bowab?
Mind you, I saw those little houses during the searing heat of Summer -- not sure that life is any kind of picnic. And there was a rain shower today... they don't look too waterproof, either.I like the homemade chair in the photo above..... 'Beverly Hillbillies... Go Granny!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 27, 2008 8:01 PM
Blogger - Over n' Out

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either." Mark Twain
Coming up to my second anniversary of being a 'blogger', and have been thinking a lot about why I keep doing this. My blogging started as an outlet for a little creativity and, more importantly, a way of helping my older daughter to survive her year in Germany as an Au Pair. One of the disadvantages of having a mum that not only likes cooking, but is good at it, is it leaves little scope to learn yourself -- big daughter found out the hard way.
So there I was posting away, chatting about this and that, snapping on my old 'cheap and nasty' digital camera, all the while thinking.. 'hey, this is fun.. maybe this gig could catch on'.
Two years down the path, my life has taken some dramatic twists and turns, and I have enjoyed posting these adventures. I have enjoyed meeting some great bloggers along the way, and my photography skills are greatly improved.
Blogger has helped me see the world through different eyes.
So you can imagine how the blood drained from my face and my mouth hung open when I read about Turkey shutting down access to Fullstop. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Almost a year ago, Turkey closed down access from inside the country to and Then without warning, on 24th October..... blogger got the chop too.
I tried to imagine how I would feel should I sit at my computer one day, and discover that the same thing had happened here in Egypt -- and let's talk straight -- it just might. An overwhelming sense of grief welled up in my throat. There are blogs out there that I read every day. I like knowing what is going on in their lives. Need a good recipe? Search through the blogs, and you will always get the 'real deal'.
Two years ago, I had never even thought about being a blogger, and today, I wouldn't know how NOT to be.
PS: I decided to add this little bit..... One of the reasons that I was so struck by this decision was because I love Turkey - lived there for over 2 years and would go back in a heartbeat -- some of the nicest people ever... treated like family by everyone. These restrictions make me wonder if I could do it now.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 23, 2008 9:38 AM
Back in Black

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Any great truth can -- and eventually will -- be expressed as a cliche -- a cliche is a sure and certain way to dilute an idea. For instance, my grandmother used to say, 'The black cat is always the last one off the fence.' I have no idea what she meant, but at one time, it was undoubtedly true." Solomon Short
Miss 7 wants to be a black cat for Halloween. As an Australian, I don't 'do' Halloween, as such. But like all things American, it has snuck into my world and now I am stuck with it.
After getting over my initial desire to Baa Humbug the whole event, I have been drawn in and will partake of all things ghoulish at the end of October. There was even a sense of relief that 'she who must be obeyed' wanted such a simple costume. It's not like Halloween is a big deal here in Egypt... costume stores are few and far between.
**Black, I thought... well that can't be too hard, seems to be everywhere.
Close to our house is a Mall, a Grand Mall in fact. Not one of my favorite places to hang. The stores don't open until midday, it is dimly lit and ever since a fellow Cairoean mentioned that she came out of it itching once... I always have some weird psychosomatic itching too. But as it caters to the local community, it was the ideal place to start my quest.
Putting off my trip until as late in the day as possible, I charged in. Ok, so perhaps I minced in... The place intimidates me a little, I feel very foreign and watched. Entering, the first of at least 30 scarf stores, I immediately found a long sleeve black top that would do the job... problem was, the girl behind the counter was on the phone... the more I tried to get her attention, the more steadfastly she chose to ignore me. So I did what any self respecting consumer would do -- I took my money else where, leaving the easy find black top behind. Nothing like grabbing a hold of some 'self-righteousness' to give you a bit of courage.
The next scarf store was a little better, the girls certainly tried to help. With my appalling Arabic and their school-girl English, it was transmitted that I needed to head to the 4th or 5th floor to find my black.
Pulling up my big girl knickers, I navigated the scary escalators to the upper levels. Little winding corridors, dark shadows and many men, that just seem to be lurking about....
All over Cairo you see a mix of women, some dressed in conservative clothing, right through to full eyebrow to tiptoe in black. Interestingly, the 'girls in black' are often the most friendly and will speak to me in the supermarket, ask me questions or be quick to help if I am lost. They give nothing away, but offer help.
This was the first time I have been into a store that provides all their clothing. Every type of garment in black - Neck to toe cloaks, gloves, hoods, sleeves and skirts, you name it, they had it. That was only a small part of the collection. There are also the 'fancy-schmancy abaya's' with detailed embroidery and wonderful designs. And I can only say that I came out of that store smiling and feeling really happy. The service was warm and the women kindly laughed at my poor attempts at explaining what I wanted in Arabic. Between the four of us, we managed to find some long black legging, a top, a pair of little gloves and some tights... all suitable for Miss 7. They even asked if I would bring her to the store so they could meet her.
It is a real reality check to have a conversation with someone that only exposes their eyes... where you don't speak the same language, and you can't see their body language.
Maybe they got as much out of our meeting as I did... at the very least, they would have had 'something to dine out on', as my Pa used to say............
** Black = Abaya, hijab, nijab or niqub ... often it can be in brown, blue or all manner of colours, but you don't see them on the streets as much as black... some women just wear a pretty coloured scarf to cover their hair...and from what I understand, it is a very personal choice among Muslim women.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 20, 2008 4:44 PM
In the event of emergency....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"A Hospital is no place to be sick." Samuel Goldwyn
One day I will learn to say NO -- it won't be anytime soon, so get in while the deal is cheap. A fellow Cairoean heard about a course being run here in Maadi, an In Case of Medical Emergency course. Before I knew what had hit me, somehow I had a seat booked on that bus and I was being dragged out of the house at the ungodly hour of 8am.
Moving from one side of the world to the other brings with it a mountain of stuff to organize. By the time your first year has passed, you have probably mastered most of the important stuff, opening the door to the other stuff. Knowing where your closest hospital is, seems to fall into other stuff for me. Doctors, dentists, ER etc are all very important when you are desperate and not quite so interesting when you are feeling hip, slick and cool enough to dance with Justin Timberlake, and show him up.
Touch wood, my adventures in foreign (let's say less sophisticated) medical establishments, have been few and far between. India showed me just what happens when you put a saline drip into the tissue of a 7 year old's arm and leave it over night -- can you say elephantitis? Or the time I managed to slice open my arm in Turkey, requiring a few stitches. It was such a fun experience that I ended up taking the stitches out myself a week later, rather than return to the clinic.
Egypt goes all out to help foreigners. Private hospitals are staffed by doctors with excellent english and at first glance, there appears to be little to concern you. Upon closer inspection, we find a few details that might give you pause to reconsider. For a start, just entering the hospital will have you negotiating an ATM, smack bang in the middle of the foyer. Located just to the left of the Reception and to the right of the prayer room is a window with B A N K in large brass letters. At 10am this morning, there was barely anyone to be seen in the outpatient clinic, but a queue around the block at the Cashier office.
Rule number ONE: Should you be in a life threatening situation, and need to be taken to hospital, make sure you are carrying either 1000le in cash or a valid credit card. Nothing like having your credit card rejected as you bleed out on an operating table.
There were many good points picked up in today's seminar. Having all the relevant contact information in your wallet is a good thing. Nationality is important - worst comes to worst, they will contact your embassy.
Off to have a tattoo put on my forehead, it will read:
I have 1000le in my back pocket
I am Australian
I am allergic to Penicillin
Please call George Clooney
(in that order)
Ps: Don't call 911 if you are in Egypt - the number is 123 - but that won't help - best bet.. get yourself to a hospital.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 18, 2008 7:01 PM
Not is this region...

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
I'm not stealing this comic.... it just reflects my frustration .There are lots of things you can do with the internet... but not if you live in Egypt...itunes........ forget forget itetc etc etc..............I don't want to steal... but you don't leave me many options.Come'on guys... how about us little people trying to keep up with our lives... it is so fun going home every two years and not having a clue what your friends are talking about.Not in this Region.......... ?????PS this is inspired by THIS CHICK just because she is inspiring....
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 16, 2008 9:24 AM
A little colour

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Yes, it is spelt correctly - I am Australian, remember.
I like to flick through the online newspapers in the morning. This photo made me stop and think how much I am missing the seasons here. It is getting cooler, which would be a good thing if, at the same time, they weren't burning off their fields - there is no oxygen in the air. I thought it was just me, but lots of people are complaining that they feel tired. The air-conditioning is off most of the day now - also a good thing, the bill for August arrived yesterday and was about 4 times more expensive. Seems like the more my heart aches to live somewhere where I can see the Autumn colours, the more often I end up in countries where it is either Monsoon or Sand... go figure.
Photo is from here - and I don't want any cheeky comments about me reading the Daily Mail.. how else will I know what is going on in Madonna's life!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 14, 2008 5:03 PM
Ooohhh la la....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Even the vegetables get fresh with you in Cairo.....
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 12, 2008 9:10 AM
Don't get too big for your boots!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit." e e cummings
Occasionally I worry about my own thought processes. Small incidents can spark a 'connect-the-dots' style rampage of ideas and images to flash around my head. Every now and again I can be struck by how one incident can lead to a completely different subject altogether.
A stroll through the Grand Mall last evening with Miss 7 (yep.. she is older) found us squatting in front of a little Pet Store. Cages of little Peach Face and Budgerigars were crammed up against the glass. But they were not the objects of fascination. Underneath the cages were three tiny, fluffy kittens. One Ginger, one tabby & and one white... all playing merry hell with the birds. As quickly as the store keeper would gather them up and try to stuff them back into their own bird cage, they would sneak out and the game would begin all over.
As I watched and laughed at their antics, my head kept repeating over and over; Curiosity Killed the Cat, Curiosity Killed the Cat, Curiosity Killed the Cat............ like some weird meditative chant. What does that mean? And isn't it horrible to think? I managed to avoid telling Miss 7 what was going through my head, my voice silenced by the imagined look of horror that would pass over her face... "Who is going to Kill the kittens...!!"
Statements and phrases from my childhood have shaped me as a woman. The ever ready "Pull up your socks! Quick smart". Then there was the classic "Stop crying or I will give you something to cry about". None of these statements make any sense and none of them are conducive to a healthy mental state.
My father's favorite being "Don't get too big for your boots!" HUH? Where has that led, I hear you ask... Sometimes I know the answer, but choose not to let on.. can't be seen as being a 'smarty-pants'. Or incidents when I have been offered fabulous opportunities, only to find myself consumed with an internal battle... "Don't get too big for your boots!" What a load of shite. I'm not sure that I agree with the philosophy of parenting that demands we tell our children that EVERY THING they do is BRILLIANT...that isn't real life. I have always felt that learning to deal with disappointment and occasional adversity is a good way to find out just how much we have to offer in the world.
There have been moments during my life as a parent when I have caught myself channeling my father... saying things to my children, then suddenly catching myself, as if on slow motion replay. The look of bewilderment and confusion that has passed across their faces. It would seem that as much as we fight against 'becoming our parents', there will still be moments when they sneak up on us.
What phrases shaped your lives?
P.S We didn't take home a kitten... but we did take home sore cheeks from laughing.
PPS And now I have that song stuck on repeat in my head......... and the first person that leaves a comment saying 'I wasn't even born when that song came out...." is getting a knuckle sandwich!!
Curiosity killed the cat,
I'm telling you I know where it's at,
love is everywhere to be found,
open your eyes and look around.
You You You ... Yeah Yeah Yeah ...
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 7, 2008 8:57 AM
What goes around...

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience." George Bernard ShawSometimes life is just a bunch of repeats. Once you arrive at a certain age, you will notice that there are events that seem familiar.
As I switched on the news this morning, I was rushed back to a day 13 years previously. I know exactly where I was and what I was doing.
Having just landed at Bombay Airport,having flown in from Bangkok, I scanned the crowd for Mr Dear Husband. He has always been my 'airport pick up service' of choice. Granted, that when you leave Arrivals at any airport, you are confronted by a sea of faces, all anxiously searching for their loved ones, but on this occasion, there was no familiar face beaming back at me. Just a driver with a sign 'PICK UP FOR LULU'S BAY.....'
In pre-mobile phone times, this gave me a good 45 minutes of fuming time, in the back seat of a car, holding my nose as we drove through 'Sulfur Valley' (if you have been to Mumbai, you will know what I am talking about). Where was Mr Dear Husband, and why did he not pick me up?
The television was turned on and there he was... on the edge of his chair watching a white Ford Bronco, being pursued along a highway. After a long trip, my sense of humor was a little jagged. But within 5 minutes I was as hooked at the rest of the world, and couldn't tear my eyes from the screen...
..........The rest is history. 'If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!' A new 3-Ring Circus was born.
And, that brings us back to the news today.
13 years to the day, whether thought Guilty or Not Guilty, you have to shake your head at the irony.
Hey, it's all in the Karma, baby.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 6, 2008 7:19 PM

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
....I just want to be a naughty, delinquent girl ..... with a giant letter 'C' in her pocket.....

...or perhaps I just have too much time on my hands and an over-active imagination, who likes to amuse herself.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 5, 2008 6:34 PM
Expat Wife Guilt

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"A woman has got to be able to say, and not feel guilty, 'Who am I, and what do I want out of life?' She mustn't feel selfish and neurotic if she wants goals of her own, outside of husband and children." Betty Friedan
Life has always been a roller-coaster. There isn't a self-help book or course that I haven't done. I can quote chapter and verse almost any pop-psychology guru that has ever appeared on Oprah. But there are some subjects they just don't cover. I even became a Life Coach & Therapist because I ended up with so much knowledge on these subjects, it seemed a waste not to use it. Learning to cope with the extremes that face us every single day. I thought 'Hey! you can do this Expat gig again... standing on your head and singing Jingle Bells!!'.
But sometimes, I don't cope, I find myself ripped in two. Before I know it, out pops Gemini Girl -- complete with underwear on the outside of her shiny lycra suit and her name written across her chest.
There is the 'Super-Perfect-Cope-With-Anything-You-Can-Throw-At-Me' woman (and I will do it with an exquisite manicure/pedicure). Give me a few months and I will know everyone by name, find my way to all the best places to buy anything. Turn a so-called 'Fully Furnished' apartment (that would be all the left over stuff that the landlord no longer wants), into a glamorous abode, worthy of a four page spread in Architectural Digest or Martha Stewart Weekly. My life will be scheduled and all will work like clockwork. This side can juggle it all. I have it together.
Then, there is the 'My-Heart-Is-Breaking-And-I-Am-Drowning-In-Compassion' woman. This is when I look into the eyes of those that beg outside of the Metro Supermarket on Rd 9. Don't tell me they are lazy, don't tell me they 'just don't want to work'. I don't have it in me to believe that a woman would make her children beg on the street if there was an alternative. Recently, as I whizzed past in my shiny car, I saw a woman sitting in the dirt on the side of the road, in her lap was a tiny, tiny baby. She patted the baby on the back with little thought, I imagine it is difficult to put energy into anything when your life feels so desperate. I haven't been able to get the picture of that woman out of my head. What did I do? Nothing. Zip. Why didn't I stop the car, ask her what she needs, see if I could help? I notice the people on the street that collect the garbage, I see you even if I look pompously through my over-sized 'Victoria Beckam/Katie Homes' sunglasses.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this, there is ME, real me - and then there is ME, the mother - and then there is ME, the wife.........., the Expat wife.
I won't ever apologize for being an 'Expat Wife'. It is just another word for ME. And I am ME, where ever I am.

Photo taken from the backseat of a air-conditioned car, returning from City Stars, having shopped and eaten lunch, that would be the equivalent of his whole months' wages . Who am I to complain?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 2, 2008 12:26 PM
You got rickrolled

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
It is not often these days that you can read the news online and smile - death, disaster, famine, plague... you name it, we are doing it to each other.
But today I had a huge grin on my face whilst reading BBC news...
And this is why:
There is something about a guy that had ONE SONG -- and 21 years later it is a phenomenon. I have a picture in my head of just how bedazzled he must feel.
Life is wonderful, ain't it!
So let's do it!!................. mind you get the hip wiggle happening....
Were no strangers to love
You know the rules and so do I
A full commitments what I'm thinking of
You wouldn't get this from any other guy
I just wanna tell you how Im feeling
Gotta make you understand
* never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you
If you would like to see Rick win an MTV award, you can click here to vote!!!!!!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 2, 2008 9:26 AM
Wrong Number....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
We do have a land line in our apartment. Without it, there would be no chance of an Internet connection, but it is as useful as tits on a bull. I think I have mentioned before that I have vision of a giant call center, filled with old Sylvester Switchboards manned by Lilly Tomlin look-a-likes...
It usually startles me when the house phone rings.. usually because it tends to be at 2am. And more often than not, it is a wrong number. There will be the obligatory 'alo alo', to which I will try to impress on the caller that they have dialed incorrectly. They NEVER believe me. An there in begins the telephone dance. My house phone is downstairs.. my bed is upstairs... running up and down a flight of stairs, half asleep, in the middle of the night can be detrimental to your health... or detrimental to the health of the person calling should I get my hands around their scrawny necks!
Several times, the calling has continued to the point that I have pulled the phone out of the wall. Gone back to bed and left them dial until they are blue in the face.
On other occasions, there can be a misdialed number on the mobile (or handy if you are German, or cell if you are from the US of A). This can lead to a game of cat and mouse, destined to turn the mildest and meekest in to a snarling, screaming lunatic. Public holidays in Egypt are the worst. Kids are out of school and left with time on their hands -- I say kids, because I want to believe that no right thinking adult would have interest in prank calling someone until their ears bleed.
Today is Eid ul-fitr - so quiet outside - half the city has left for a long weekend at the beach or to visit family. Not me.. I am still here. And my phone is ringing.
As a matter of course, I had a rule of not answering calls where I didn't recognize the caller. But recently one of my volunteer postings has meant my number is out there as a support person. So I have taken to answering the phone with "Hello" rather than "Piss off and stop calling me, you twat!!!". Today the phone rang.. a young male voice asked for 'Achmed'.
"No Achmed here.. wrong number"
And then he called again, and again, and again, and again.......... well you get the picture.
Finally, when I could stand it no longer and was feeling furious at being forced to turn off my phone, I put in a call too Mr Dear Husband's office. Mr DH has access to a large crew of well-educated, and lively locals -- all too willing and able to turn on one of their own. Nothing like being handed the opportunity to curry a little favor with the boss to unite a team -- from any nationality. I handed over the phone number of the offending caller, and within seconds there were squabbles over just WHO was going to have the fun of calling some poor fool, and give him holy hell for annoying the bosses wife.
Putting on his 'most serious' voice, Mr Dear Husband's assistant dialed the prank caller, and before my prank caller could say anything, he was told, in no uncertain terms, that should he call again, his number was going to be handed over to the Tourist Police. Big Time Scary! Don't mess with the Tourist Police in Egypt. With Tourism being the 2nd highest economic earner after Oil, tourists are a protected species.
"But it wasn't my phone!".. HUH? That was his answer... and then he went on to say that he was a busy man and WE should stop bothering HIM. Just where did we get this number? (lets not mention that all numbers are displayed when you phone someone... or that you can't have a SIM card here in Egypt without first registering via your passport and your current address)
There is no logic. Don't try to work it out.
The phone has stopped ringing.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Oct 1, 2008 1:52 PM
A social life

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
It is getting cooler. Each day I notice that my fight against the unrelenting heat of the desert is becoming easier. Some of the activities that were just too hard, are back on the board. One of the simplest things to do in Cairo is jump on a Felucca in the evening. Pack up your esky (that is cool box if you are not Australian), fill it with something good to drink and some nibbles. Wander down to El Corniche, spend 30 seconds haggling over the price per hour (usually around 40le) and off you go.
If you go at around 5pm, you will witness a beautiful sunset. Suddenly all the magic of the Pharaohs will come rushing back and you will remember why it was you wanted to come and live here in the first place.
I made the mistake of saying 'Salamlikum' to the our felucca captain... he was so excited he thought I was trying to take his photo - so every snap of the stunning sunset includes his smiling dial. Awww shucks! LOL
Yesterday's sing-a-long was such a roaring success, let's go for another, shall we!
(for maximum effect, smoke 2 packs of cigarettes before beginning to sing...)
I am sailing, I am sailing,
Home again cross the sea.
I am sailing, stormy waters,
To be near you, to be freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 30, 2008 3:34 PM
Don't touch that dial...

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Miracles: You do not have to look for them. They are there, 24-7, beaming like radio waves all around you. Put up the antenna, turn up the volume - snap... crackle... this just in, every person you talk to is a chance to change the world..." Hugh Elliott
Humming to myself in the kitchen, it suddenly dawned on me that I was missing something that had, up until a year ago, played a big role in my life. Local radio. Listening to the Breakfast Show during the early morning dash between dropping off children at school or childcare, was a crucial part of my day. 30 second news updates, the weather report and most important, the traffic report. It was an accurate gauge on just how far behind the morning schedule I was, if I missed certain segments of the show.
Sitting at my desk, I would listen to my favorite German radio program over the Internet -- it would keep my ear tuned into the language, and because of the time difference, I would get almost no commercials between my 'late-night' music.
Afternoons would see my radio switch to a slightly more high-brow station, where I could listen to current affairs or tips on cleaning your entire house with white vinegar. The question of the day would get my brain ticking over (Mr Dear Husband once rang and answered it correctly.. very proud moment).
Late evening driving home was Quiz Hour.. we loved it when we were in the car together and could compete against each other --- "Am too smarter than you!"
Radio played an important part in my teenage years. I had a huge, old Bakelite radio in my bedroom and every Sunday night I would listen to the 'Top 40 Countdown', then switch over to listen to Father Jim McLaren. He conducted a phone-in radio talk show, that would make my ears burn. Lying quietly in the dark, with the radio turned down so low I would have to strain to hear the words. Complete strangers would call in with all sorts of, what seemed at that tender age, exotic and dramatic problems. Each dilemma would be deftly handled by Father Jim, and I could fall sleep, knowing that the world was a safe place with him around.
There is an English radio program here in Cairo - and I listen in the car. The announcers, with their 'overly' enunciated American accents, grate on my nerves, and a tendency to play the same music over and over, leaves me aching for my 'old' radio days.
Mind you, I did have a giggle when I heard them play Rock The Casbah on the way to Iftar last week.... that just seemed too funny!
I know it has been a while since we have had a sing-a-long, blow out those pipes...............All together now.......
The shareef dont like it
Rockin the casbah
Rock the casbah
The shareef dont like it
Rockin the casbah
Rock the casbah
..............I can't hear yoooooouuuuuuuuuuuuu!!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 29, 2008 7:53 AM
Not pretty...

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
...look away if you are feeling a little squeamish or have just had your lunch.
Many moons ago, A while back, I had a small spin-out about certain 'creatures' that invaded my bag of garbage -- I have since learnt to put out my rubbish in the morning.
Perhaps I have mentioned that Cairo is a touch dusty? No? Oh, well that is odd.. because it is. During the heat of the Summer months, we have not taken full advantage of our balcony. Earlier in the year, this became my favorite spot for people watching. Some of you Old Timers might remember the day I was being cat called by the boys! Now the weather is starting to cool, air-conditioners can be turned down or off and windows thrown open. Spending an hour outside no longer leads to heat stroke.
This would be a joyful occasion in our house, except for one thing, rats. Yes, you read right. They seem to have taken over our spotlessly clean balcony, sending Busy Brenda mad with their nasty little droppings. Now let's get one things straight. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING at all that could be attracting them to our balcony. No food, no plants, no water. Maybe they just like the fact that it is so clean?
Busy Brenda cleans it all up every Thursday, but by Sunday, it has become a health hazard again. There has been rumor and gossip suggesting that the rats are using our clean oasis as a pathway to our neighbor -- who keep two dogs, and it is suspected (but unconfirmed) that they could be leaving dog food out at night. Someone will need to talk to them about this... "Hey, you! Mr Dear Husband... why are you slinking away!!".
Taking matters into my own hands, I have laid out some rat poison.. if it doesn't get the rats, it might get us. Nothing frightens me more than pesticides or poisons from countries where DDT is still being used.
PS: If that hasn't brightened your day -- check out these great photos from a fellow Cairoean. FAR AWAY has managed to take the 'meat' photos that have evaded me for so long. And everybody wonders why they pick up 'mummies curse'... there is no 'curse'.. just scary meat handling processes.
Enjoy your lunch!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 28, 2008 10:20 AM

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important." Bertrand RussellWhat is going on? I can't think of a single thing to write about this week.
Maybe it is time to stop blogging. Might bore you all to sleep. ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...........
"I had a strange dream last night".
Is there any other sentence that can make us switch off faster. Why are 'other people's dreams' so boring? Eye's glaze over.
My dreams have been filled with fear and terror. Murder and being chased. It is making me unsettled. I am spending my nights being hunted.
What would Freud say? Let's check the dream dictionary, shall we?
Gun: A dream of guns of any type is a dream of misfortune as it denotes an injustice will be done to you or a close friend, on which you will have to spend much time, effort, and money to overcome.
I was being shot at... and I think I got hit a couple of times.
Running: A running dream is basically a dream of escaping a certain situation, person, or thing. If you succeed in running away from, or elude a pursuer, then you will be able to change those things in your life that has you 'on the run'.
I managed to do a spectacular backward flip over a paling fence - it was so cool I can remember thinking 'Hey! that was cool' in my dream....
Glass: Broken glass predicts a change in your life in some way, shape, or form, and it may, or may not be, beneficial for you. If the broken glass sparkles in the light then the change will be for the better and, if not, it will be for the worse.
Oh dear... there wasn't much sparkle. I feel change is a'coming... not sure I am going to like it.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 24, 2008 7:00 PM
Stuck between a rock and a......

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"When Solomon said there was a time and a place for everything he had not encountered the problem of parking his automobile." Bob EdwardsEgyptian boawabs have a tough life. They spend more time than the United Nations trying to juggle all their responsibilities. By the time they have completed all the tasks set by the tenants in their building, there will be little time left for anything other than a cup of tea with the security guard.
Lately, I have been observing the antics of the Boawab that works across the street from my house. He is hard working and good friends with Side-Kick-Sam. There have been occasions that I have come out of my building, ready for an adventure, only to find my car sitting alone -- Side-Kick-Sam missing. Boawab Bob races off in search of his mate.... imploring him to race back because 'Madam is waiting'... or perhaps he says something like 'the silly old bag is there again'. I am never quite sure where Side-Kick-Sam goes.
Most afternoons, Bob plays a complicated game of Parking Monopoly. In front of his building is space for about four cars. He likes to save these spaces for the occupants. It is unclear whether he has a choice in the matter. I once spent 10 minutes, delightfully viewing an elderly lady trying to reverse her car into one of Boawab Bob's spots... it was not pretty, and his level of agitation was visible from Space.
In order to keep these spaces safe from the marauding masses, he has to find a way to keep the spots free. It only takes a moment for some renegade to nip in and the poor boawab will then have to answer to a very 'angry madam' when she comes home'...god forbid she should have to walk more than four steps to the front door. There are some interesting techniques. So far, I have yet to see a single one that works.
Personally, I like the 'home-made' variety -- the expensive 'No Parking' signs just seem to be like a red rag to a bull, I have yet to see one that didn't have a car parked beside it.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 21, 2008 9:33 AM
A Grease & Oil Change

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas?" Jean KerrWe expat girls like to defend our lifestyle within an inch of our lives. Many of us have gone from high flying careers to scheduling back-to-back playdates. It is difficult to get a dose of healthy self-esteem when you wake and check your calendar, only to discover a 'manicure'..... 'catch up with xyz for coffee' staring you in the face. And is not like we have a lot of choice in the matter. Yes, of course, we can fill our days with charitable deeds, resulting in a a critical eye being cast over our 'swaning in with our Prada handbags to pat the poor children on the head'. Only about a million miles from reality, but an easy target if you like to read tabloid (yes, Perez Hilton & Daily Mail are on my morning routine).
On this particular day, I laid down my altruistic side and examined my 'who the hell is THAT looking back at me each morning when I am brushing my teeth!" The time had come to do some serious maintenance work. Women of a certain age, know what I am talking about. The day that one nasty little black hair appears in a place it has no bloody right to grow. When the pores on your face are so large, that your kids start asking if they can pot up their sunflower seeds.
Being 'high-maintenance' has never been near the top of my day planner. Procrastination until the eyebrows started to resemble little individual Ewoks..... A facial was in order.
Lulled by the smell of peppermint oil, soft, pan flutes and candles.... White fluffy robes and cardboard flipflops (interesting!), a hand gently guides me towards my treatment room. It was going well. I laid back in anticipation of some pampering and relaxation, forgetting the first rule -- beauty is pain!!!!
There is something about having another woman attack the blackheads on your nose that must be equal if not more painful than giving birth. Trapped between the desire to spring up from the bed, king hit the therapist and run for my life -- or endure, endure & endure... WOULD IT NEVER STOP!! Not a trickle, but a gushing, raging river of hot salty tears poured down the side of my face. It had no effect, such determination (and sharp fingernails) is apparently a pre-requisite for a good beautician.
90 minutes later, having been gouged and pummeled into something 'respectable', I emerged from my torture chamber. clutching my throbbing nose. How could the pursuit of beauty be so painful!
Almost two days later, my skin looks better than it has since my arrival in Pollution Plus City, and my little nose might forgive me one day.
Will I do it again... probably under a general anaesthetic and a magic wand.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 18, 2008 10:46 AM
Things that go *bump* in the night.

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
There was a cold breeze...(AC on the fritz again) the lights flickered....(just a usual day in Maadi) taps suddenly started to gush water and then stopped (water! we have water, quick, take a shower)....there were loud crashes and bangs in the stairwell (the Bowaaba has guests again).....strangers standing at the door (why is it that I never seem to have any cash when the guy calls to collect the gas bill?)
White, sheets drifting down the stairs....
Are you all out of your freakin' minds????
.........Let's clear up the 'toilet bite'. The missing piece was found in Busy Brenda's "needs to be repaired pocket". Mr Dear Husband claims that it was broken off and repaired when we moved in (aren't I the observant one) and stuck on with Egyptian glue... I once tried to use local SuperGlue to repair a toy... so much for 'hold for 10 seconds', 2 hours later that sucker was still not sticking to anything at all. So it would appear that the glue gave up the ghost (excuse the pun).
As for the ghostly figures on the stairs............Most Thursdays I strip the beds. As we are in an apartment, there is no where to hang the sheets except the banisters. I tried hanging them over the balcony once... they were dry in about 37 seconds, but were dirtier than before I washed them. One of my friends (well she likes to call herself that, personally I call her 'the heckler'), sent me a couple of photos yesterday. One was of her Hills Hoist. Traditionally, all Australian homes had a Hills Hoist. On a warm, windy day, you can hang all your laundry out and it is crisp, dry and good smelling in no time at all.
I miss my Hills Hoist, and ya' all need to stop reading so many Stephen King books.
Ps: I would have put the picture on earlier if blogger would have let me!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 17, 2008 1:16 PM
Twilight Zone Moments #14, #15 & #17

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers. Each flower blossoms ten thousand timeEach blossom has ten thousand petals.You might want to see a specialist.One of the the things I have most enjoyed about blogging, is the attention it brings to your everyday life. A good blogger is constantly on the lookout for 'blogging' material. A fellow Cairoeen blogger and I, are often off on adventures together and take great delight in egging each other on if we stumble along one of life's treasures; "Oh, I am SOOOO blogging that!!" she will say. At this point I will push her into a careening Otobees (minibus), which will not stop until she is in Upper Egypt, therefore giving me a chance to get home and blog first... first to blog totally owns it.
Here are a couple of examples from this week:
Twilight Zone Moment #14:

It is an odd day, when you get out of bed, go into the bathroom and discover that someone or something, has taken a bite out of your toilet cistern. No missing piece on the floor... nothing, nada. Don't ask, I truly have no idea whatsoever....not a clue.
Twilight Zone Moment #15:

I can just imagine the table-talk in the market department for this product.
"So, what are we going to call this product?"
"Ummmm no idea!
"We can't call it 'No Idea" that is just plain silly"
"Ok, so let's look at what it is. It has peanuts, and cheese...I think"
"Well now we are getting somewhere. At least we can put those words on the front of the packet. Can someone check the spelling on BabelFish?"
"But we still don't have a name!!"
"Yes, you are right... how about George?"
"George!!! Are you insane? I just see it now, "Oh look honey, I bought this new stuff called 'George' for your dinner...". Don't be ridiculous."
"Well it is getting close to Iftar...we have to finish quickly - how about we just call it STUFF... does that work"
"Yep, all in favor, say Aye!" Chorus of "Aye's!"
Room empties.....last one left, please turn off the lights and lock the door.
Twilight Zone Moment #17
Today I discovered that Side-Kick-Sam has a Bachelor Degree in Commerce. Go figure.....
....And what happened to Twilight Zone Moment #16? I hear you ask.... well, just like the street numbers and the house numbers here in Cairo... is just wasn't there!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 16, 2008 10:46 AM
I was just looking!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
As far as personal safety is concerned, Cairo seems pretty tame. Although I have never been more conscious of 'being female' as I am here, most of the time I am left to my own devices. I like to think that I have developed a 'radar' that helps keep things in line. If I am in a part of town that seems a little shady, or if the hair on the back of my neck goes up.. time to move on.
Sometimes, life can be highly influenced by listening to conversations such as this one:
1st expat wife: "Sorry I am late. Had to stop off at the ATM and grab some cash"
2nd expat wife: "Oh, you go to the ATM machines on your own!! OMG I would never do that!!"
1st expat wife: (looking slightly pale) "Why not?"
2nd expat wife: "Because I heard if you are being watched, they will wait until you have been to the ATM and then steal your purse."
Since my arrival, I have heard a tale or two of robbery or hand-bag snatching here in Maadi, but not so that I have felt I had to be more vigilant than anywhere else.
Then this happens:
Spring out of the car. Bound up the steps to the ATM. I am watched by at least four policemen on street duty (they are on every corner). The ATM has a little awning, a welcome touch during the scorching days of Summer. With no-one around except a man opening his mail nearby, I thrust my card into the machine and prepare to key in my PIN number. It is at this point that I realize - something odd has happened. The man opening his mail nearby, has suddenly become 'the man standing shoulder to shoulder with me under the awning!"
This is an out-of-the-ordinary moment. Rule number one of using ATM's around the world - DON'T STAND TOO DAMN CLOSE. Rule number two of using ATM's around the world - DON'T STAND TOO DAMN CLOSE. He was more than close, he was practically in my pocket, wearing my knickers!
"Yes?", I have turned to look at him....
He smiles.. sort of like that diaper-wearing imbecile in the Deliverance movie. Not a good sign. And he is not moving.
Suddenly I start channeling some sort of freaky American police cartoon person; my hand went up to chest high, palm out -- "Step away!"
He grinned again -- "English?"
"I said Step Away!!, Do it, now, STEP AWAY!!"
Looking like a chastised puppy, he ducked his head, took a step to the right, and moved to the other side of the tiny awning. At least that was something.
Keying in your personal PIN number to an ATM, with a wildly grinning crazy man breathing down your neck -- well, not my idea of fun. As quickly as possible, I snatched my cash, trying to watch 'Mr Grinner' out of the corner of my eye.....oh why, oh why, do I not have eyes in the side of my head like a chicken.....and bolted back to the pretend security of ever waiting Side-Kick-Sam.
In hindsight (from the inside of my bolted apartment) it did occur to me that there was only one possible explanation for what had taken place. Mr Grinner had just received his first EVER ATM card and was attempting to learn how to use it by watching me -- with no malice or sinister intentions at all. What did I teach him? English for "piss off, you are scaring the crap out of me!"
I really should stop eavesdropping at the coffee shop, it is not good for my mental health.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 15, 2008 1:51 PM
Maadi Post Office on Rd 9

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
It couldn't be put off any longer. After various cheers from the side-lines (thanks bloggers) and a clear warning that if I left it too long, my letter/parcel/box might be RETURNED TO SENDER, a strong cup of coffee... off we go!
Internet research showed me pictures of Maadi Post Office on Rd 9. It looked like this, once upon a time:
In the REAL WORLD, it looks like this:
Side-Kick-Sam was at his most anxious. "I will come with you!".
"I'm fine, thanks Side-Kick-Sam, I can do this myself". He looked more than skeptical.
Marching through the front doors, putting on my best I-know-exactly-what-I-am-doing, and-where-I-am-going face. Within 23 seconds, Side-Kick-Sam (who had been hovering outside, wringing his hands) was beside me. Of course I went through the wrong door. Parcel collection is around the side of the building. A little alley way flanked by the stairs to the Metro Station and a lady selling 'greens'... they really did smell wonderful and fresh -- can't imagine what that alley would have been like, had it not been perfumed by about 1/4 tonne of fresh mint.

In every country I have lived, that has ever been colonized by the British, postal and banking services are diabolical. Egypt is no exception. As pleasant as the 'lady in charge of parcels' might be, there was an incredible amount of stamping and paper shuffling. A request for 44le (it had gone up 2le overnight) -- another request for me to give her the correct money, rather than a 50le note... a signature, a passport viewing, a passport number and my treasure was mine.......allllll minnnnnnneeeeee Ya Ha Ha
It was worth it, a box, at great expense from The Godson... contents... Tim Tams, English Breakfast Tea and Vegemite.
Just as I was putting away my ill-gotten gains, the postman knocked on my door.. with another blue form requesting my esteemed presence at Maadi Post Office, Rd 9. Let the games begin!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 14, 2008 11:04 AM
The Postman always rings Twice?

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Accept misfortune as a blessing. Do not wish for perfect health, or a life without problems. What would you talk about?
Except in the case of Cairo, where he meets you on the stairs and tells you that there is something to collect at the post office - and to bring 42le with you. Ok, so first thought - why the HELL didn't he just bring the letter/parcel/box with him, instead of just telling me about it. Second thought, 'I will send Side-Kick-Sam". Didn't work - they wouldn't release my letter/parcel/box to Side-Kick-Sam - apparently it is of national security that I go to the Post Office on Road 9 'in person', clutching my passport. Joy Oh Joy. Would someone please explain why it is that you can have ANYTHING delivered to your door in Cairo - EXCEPT THE F%*KING MAIL!!!!!!! I wouldn't be so antsy about this, it if wasn't for an unfortunate incident in Istanbul many years ago. I spent nearly 6 hours waiting for a parcel to be released, only to discover it was a trade catalogue (no prizes for guessing how much I DIDN'T buy from that company). Will let you know how it pans out... and whoever it was that sent me the parcel is gonna get it!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 8, 2008 10:00 AM
Damned if you do....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
An adventure was needed... a trip out of the leafy enclave of Maadi. Desperate for a new printer (we were told you can't bring printers in shipments... might print money), a trip to City Stars was on the cards. This is the shopping mecca of Cairo. A monument to consumerism.
All went well. An early start guaranteed a swift trip across the city. Mornings in Cairo are now eerily quiet. People sleep late and there is hardly any beeping horns. Traveling through the downtown area was a breeze.
City Stars was 'tumbleweed city'. At 11:00am many of the stores were not open, or just in the process of putting out their signs. I remarked to Mr Dear Husband that it was sort of like being Michael Jackson and having Harrods close down so we could do private shopping. Lunch was at Casper & Gambini's again. They just get it right, and under trying circumstances at the moment. I can't imagine what it is like to having to work in the food service industry during Ramadan. I was thirsty all day, kept licking my lips and thinking about what it would feel like NOT to be able to take a swig out of my Nestle Water whenever I chose. There is still much confusion about our new printer. Could someone please explain why I just paid $40 for a printer in Cairo, that I paid $400 for in Australia? And why the replacement printer cartridges will cost more than the whole printer? Too insane
But it was the trip home that made the day exciting. Traffic...traffic like I have never seen. We loaded into the car at 2:15pm, and from the moment we turned the corner, it was bumper to bumper all the way. A bit like being on the scariest ride at the amusement park. The roads are alive, like a giant squirming creature. Somehow, millions of people manage to leave their place of work at the same time, hit the road and make it home in time for Iftar. Proud to admit that Side-Kick-Sam did an outstanding job. It is beyond me how all those cars can drive so close and so fast, without touching... it is like the drivers have some weird form of ESP. They seem to instinctively know when a black and white taxi will suddenly careen across four lanes to turn right. When an Otobees (mini bus) will make a sudden stop to load up and off load). At one stage, we watched a fully covered woman, carrying two babies, lead an old, blind man across 4 lanes of shooting cars. Brave!
We did consider how terrifying it would be if your car broke down in this melee of madness... not good.. really not good....we had a laugh discussing what a great 'extreme' sport THAT would make! Surprised some enterprising Aussie hasn't thought of it before.
Below is a pic of the astonishing Iftar tents that are set up on the side of the road - this one was near the 6th October Memorial Pyramid. Had I been quicker to grab my camera, you could have seen how long it was, complete with gold-painted chairs, and woven carpets.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 4, 2008 4:19 PM
Cocnut - 19.95kg

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
The food situation is looking up. While Cairo eats at around 6pm each evening, it is still and tranquil (now there is a word I never saw myself writing during my tenure in Egypt). After their break-fast, they like to party with family and friends.. this can continue until the early hours of the morning, thus allowing for a long sleep the next day. Now I have discovered that shopping early in the morning is quite something special. The stores are almost empty, but fully stocked with all manner of good stuff to eat.
I took a few photos today. Barrels of nuts, spices, dried fruit. A whole tray full of coconut (interesting spelling) and a wide array of olives, pickled onions and vegetables (again, interesting spelling). Grab a bag, splash in a few scoops and you have a bargain. Was followed around by 2 very cute little girls. That hasn't happened for awhile, perhaps I was looking less menacing this morning.
Another reason my mood has lifted is the return of my beloved fruit and vegetables. Today I loaded up on all manner of cracking fresh produce. The fridge is full. Washing everything only took me an hour. I have a new method of keeping us healthy. Soak everything for 20 minutes in water with white vinegar and grapefruit seed extract. So far, so good. And the grapefruit seed extract cancels out the vinegar smell.
Side-Kick-Sam has a special mission today. My 'bought and made in Egypt' vacuum cleaner has developed a 'hose' problem. It cracks and has had to be shortened and repaired a number of times in the past 6 months. We are now at the stage where it is only useable if you carry it around with you. S-K-S has been sent off to search the wilds of Cairo for a new hose. Clutching a wad of Egyptian pounds in his hot little hand... this will be interesting. He can't say that his job doesn't include adventure and variety!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 4, 2008 9:31 AM
If you leave me, can I come too?

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Neither have they hearts to stay. Nor wit enough to run away. " Samuel ButlerWhen the eldest child was 4 years old she threatened to runaway. Being an expat brat, she sought out her passport, an old airline ticket and boarding pass.
She packed her little red suitcase and announced "I am running away. Don't try to stop me!"
"OK, I won't. Any idea where we might be able to forward your mail?" (Yes, my children did learn the meaning of sarcasm at an early age)
"I am going to the airport and flying to Oma's house". As we were living in Istanbul at the time, this didn't seem like such a long way.
I offered to call her a taxi, but she said she could find one on the corner. I opened the door and bid her a safe trip. Closed the door.
Our apartment, at the time, had a dark, marble stairwell, with a timed light switch. I watched her through the peephole in the door. About a quarter of a second after she was plunged into 'can't see hand in front of face' black, she started to yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I let her in and we looked into each other's eyes -- it was an unspoken agreement that we never speak of this incident again. Life went on as before.
Fast forward 17 years.................
Yesterday, Miss 6 was marching around the apartment with a rucksack on her back. Packed with everything she would need in case of nuclear war (she is the 'worrier' in the family).
I asked her where she was planning to go. "I will go to Oma's house, of course!" Yet another child defecting to the Out-laws!
In the end, she was bribed with a couple of chapters of 'The Magic Faraway Tree" read aloud, and renewed her contract as my child.
This morning I have glanced with longing at her abandoned backpack, sitting at the top of the stairs. My new water switch has stopped working overnight, so I didn't even get to try it out or give Mr Dear Husband a demonstration.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 3, 2008 4:05 PM
My Own Switch

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean." G.K. Chesterton
Water seems to be a theme this week.
In January, I started to notice that using the water in our apartment had a mind of its own. There were days when taking a shower was a luxury. It went something like this:
Go into bathroom
Take off clothes
Turn on tap
Notice that there is only a dribble of water
Pull up the knob that will allow the water to come out through the shower head rather than the faucet
Notice that there is not enough water pressure to force the water up the pipe, so that everytime you let go of the knob, the water stops running out through the shower head.
Swear a few times, stamp foot, phone harassed husband and give him a blast "It is all YOUR FAULT!!" (usually overheard by a conference room full of suits)
Proceed to take a duck bath under dribble of water, holding onto the knob, desperately hoping the soap suds will wash out of hair.
This was all well and good, until I started to listen to talk on the street. There was mention of 'pumps' and 'people living on the upper floors'. Could it be possible that WE had a pump? Could I have spent 8 months navigating the whole shower scene for nothing. There was a phone call to the landlady. "Oh, of course you have a pump. You just need to speak to the neighbors about it."
Ok, only problem being that said neighbors don't speak a whole lot of English and my Arabic is limited to buying fruit and directing taxis. Through hand and feet, it was established that 'Yes, we do have a pump, and Yes, we do have a switch". Great!! Now all that needs to happen is that I should jump into the shower, soap up, and when the water runs to a trickle, get out of the shower, knock on the door and ask them to turn on the pump! Easy, right? WRONG!!!
All this time, I have been subjected to the bathing habits of my Egyptian neighbors. Don't get me wrong, they are terrific, I like them very much, but it would appear that they only shower at 7:00am or 4:00pm. Not bad, unless you happen to enjoy using the home gym or want to take a shower before heading out for the evening. So, how about this for an idea... could we possibly have our OWN switch? Hmmm... interesting concept.
Today the electrician came.. with the biggest, mother of a switch you have ever seen. He then told me he was going to put it smack bang in the middle of the splashback tiles. The MOST obvious place in the kitchen. Around this point I had a little tantrum... all right, A HUGE tantrum. "NO YOU BLOODY WILL NOT!!!" or words to that effect. Something must have hit home, suddenly he back peddled and mentioned that there was a nice discrete switch that he could use.....................Somewhere around the time he took the biggest, ugliest drill piece I have ever seen and stuck it into the hole filled with LIVE wires....I left the room.
So now, after 8 months of being at the mercy of my good neighbors, I will be able to enjoy a hot, gushing shower at my whimsy. Yaaaahooooooooooooo!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 2, 2008 6:16 PM
Fish out of Water

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
My return to Cairo has not been a smooth slide back into social heaven. There is a lot going on here that will take some adjustment. The world as I knew it (pre-summer) has disappeared, to be replaced by something confusing. A couple of things. What I consider to be basic staples, like electricity & water, have become luxury. Keep your fingers crossed, today, so far so good. The fruit and veg that I am used to, is gone.. and there is nothing to replace it. Just how many times can I be expected to eat tin tomatoes and tin corn?
I have lightly touched on Ramadan. This afternoon I made a serious error. After school I thought to myself "Hmm might just pop into the supermarket and grab XYZ". Why Oh Why! Why didn't you stop me! First mistake was leaving Miss 6 in the car. Not sure how she managed to talk me into it, but I trust Side-Kick-Sam to keep her safe and well -- at least for the 7 minutes it takes me to grab my groceries. But this was not to be. As I slid through the doors, I did notice there were a few more people hovering about than usual. By the time I had snatched up my goods, there were three queues stretching from the cashier to Upper Egypt. I can be a patient soul, but niggling in the back of my head was the picture of Miss 6 sitting in her booster seat... waiting...waiting... waiting... and the worry that she might be able to talk Side-Kick-Sam into releasing her. There is little doubt that given the idea, she would think nothing of hopping out of the car and attempting to track down her wayward mother.
It was an anxious 10 minutes, watching tired and cranky people racing to complete their shopping before Iftar, followed by a maniacal run across the road to the car.. where she sat, serenely reading a book. My imagination had run away with me. On the short trip home, it was agreed between Side-Kick-Sam and myself, that shopping at this time of day for the next 30 days was NOT a good idea.
And then I read something that made me, at first furious, and then very sad. A blog, written by another woman. A woman that has chosen to make her world and life here in Egypt. A woman who has chosen to follow her heart and become Muslim. A woman, who wrote about a visit to a school here in Cairo where she encountered a group of 'Expat' women.
It was scathing, and harsh. Another woman took a large bucket and dumped us, 'US' being a diverse and interesting bunch trying to create a world for our children, all mixed in together. Her interpretation of our behaviour smacked of ignorance. Perhaps the reason she didn't get the job she was applying for was due to her critical judgement of others, rather than her stubborn belief that she was judged on her hijab.
To generalize about Expat Women is as short-sighted as to call all brown-eyed people, stupid. After 20 years of living my life, categorized as an Expat, I know this much to be true -- we each have a story, we each ache to be loved, we each seek out people in our lives that will see us for who we really are.
To have contempt and malice toward a group of people living in a country other than the country of their birth, is just plain racist. Doesn't matter how much you try to justify it -- And this, at one of the most sacred times of the Islamic year.
It made me sad.
Ps: I read this article today - quite well written and pretty much spot on. It is an odd world I live in.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 2, 2008 8:45 AM
Twenty Past Six

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
6:20 - The streets were quiet.
6:20 - Really quiet.
6:20 - There was not a soul to be seen.
6:20 - No honking of horns.
6:20 - No squeaking of old bicycles.
6:20 - No shouting children.
6:20 - The first Iftar, breaking of the Ramadan fast.
6:22 - The power went out AGAIN!!!!!!!
6:52 - Fire crackers started in the street below.
10:34 - LuLu gave up and went to bed with earplugs.
PS: I will use this post to knock off a Meme from Peter - this is the view I see when I wake in the morning.. but usually it has about 70 people, bicycles, kids, trucks, buses, dogs and cats.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Sep 1, 2008 10:59 AM
Let there be light

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Rolling blackouts were mentioned in my last post. In total, I sat in darkness for almost 7 hours. Not fun. No light, no A/C, no working fridge etc. It starts to fray the nerves.
Around 10:30 there was a rumbling sound in the street below. It continued on as the lights flickered back to life and the freezer shuddered.
It would appear that Egypt Electricity was unable to fix the problem so they sent a generator, plugged it into the outlet at the corner and our entire block sprang back to life. Fabulous!
The photo was taken early this morning, if you click on it, you will see that there is someone sleeping in the cabin of the truck. We are still running off this mobile generator over 12 hours later.
Having no electricity made all other problems seem trivial. What a spoilt woman I am.
There is a certain tension in my shoulders, a worry that at any minute they will pull the plug on that truck on the corner and I will be back in the dark again.
Everyday, something new.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Aug 31, 2008 9:39 PM

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right." Hannah Whitall SmithThe storming of the French Hyper-Ultra-Supermarket is becoming legend. The past couple of days, every meet up has included the latest tidbit of information regarding preparations for Ramadan. Will it be tonight? What will the moon do? The shopping required for the most important Iftar of the month must be mammoth. There are stories of people crashing into other people with their shopping trolleys laden sky-high with bags of rice, packets of pasta, bottles of oil and boxes of mangoes.
Businessmen are competing to see who can supply the most amount of Iftar packets and Ramadan Baskets. Lanterns are being hung and there is colorful tent bunting draped over the front of the supermarkets.
Word on the street has it that it is nigh on impossible to get anything done during this month long period of fasting. From sun-up to sun-down, there will be no water, no cigarettes, no coffee, and of course, no food. There is no doubt that people will be short-tempered and irritable. Working hours are cut short or re-arranged to fit in with the eating schedule.
With Side-Kick-Sam being a Coptic Christian and Busy Brenda a Catholic... that leaves me only Sophia the Bowaba to sort. What to do, what to do? There have been times when I have wanted to throttle her. My frustration when trying achieve even the simplest task, thwarted by her ability to 'disappear' when needed. Then again, I have often wanted to carry the heavy buckets of water she uses to clean the stairs, or slap her lazy son on the back of the head when I catch him sipping tea and reading the newspaper -- as his mother washes the morning dust from a street full of parked cars.
I put it to Busy Brenda.. "What should I do?" What is the appropriate course of action from the odd foreign chick.
"Do what your heart tells you to do".
My cheeks flamed hot pink. Of course, not once had I considered that this is a very special and religious time, I had just focused on the obligation and inconvenience that it would cause me.
I will sleep on her answer and see what the morning brings.
PS: I might add that this post has been written no less than four times - each time it has been wiped away by rolling black-outs I have been having for the past five hours - just when I thought it was safe - KAAAZAAM - they got me again. I am pretty sure the first version was better... by the fourth go around I was just about to give up.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Aug 26, 2008 8:52 PM
Funny Bone Found!! Alive!!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
It would not be correct if I didn't share this comment with you. It made me laugh aloud and wish that I had been the one to write it:
"So your house missed you too? Heat, drought and pestilence..."
This from a fellow Cairoean, also struggling to find her footing after the summer.
The wave of 'what am I doing here' seems to be fading, replaced by the laughs I have had today. School is heading back tomorrow, today was spent guiding new parents and students around the school and helping them to find a little bit of 'something familiar'. It was during this day, that I was reminded of just how far I have come. Landing in Cairo has been a huge learning curve, one I believe I managed to ride with style most of the time, (lets not mention the spectacular fall down the stairs). It was in the faces of each new family that I found my footing again.
I took a stroll down Rd 9. Noticed there was a little bit of a wiggle to her walk, heard the "pssst, psssst" from the 14 year old boys too young to even know what they are thinking. I laughed with the shopkeeper who sold me a tea strainer - for all of 1.75le (32cents)... he got it when I said 'last of the big spenders!' And I know that he thought nothing of it.. 'she will come back another day'.
Today the A/C guy didn't turn up, neither did the plumber... and it didn't bother me too much. Today Side-Kick-Sam turned up on time, unlike his slow start to yesterday, causing Mr Dear Husband to be late for a breakfast meeting. When I asked Side-Kick-Sam if he had been on time, he grinned and said 'Yes, of course.... but Mr Dear Husband was late!"... and so he was... the concept that the guy paying the bills is ALLOWED to be late, well let's not go there.
But the most surprising part of today was returning the nuts. Believe me, I was ready to do battle. Visions of me ripping open the packet of moth infested hazelnuts and emptying them on the counter, danced through my head. It just didn't pan out that way. He was gracious to a T. Took one look at my wriggling packet, promptly walked over to the shelf where the other packets were having a regular disco party, took them all off and couldn't give me my 45le back fast enough. As I was leaving the store he apologised about 37 times, and thrust sesame seed bars into my hand.
Oh, and this morning, Mr Dear Husband passed on the muesli... "I think I will just have coffee today".
That man as an uncanny knack for staying out of the line of fire.
I leave you with a photo of my 'summer tipple. I order a lemon juice and a sparkling mineral water and mix the two... pretty much perfect if you can't lay your hands on a Margharita!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Aug 25, 2008 3:49 PM
Nuts, I say!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda

Dead or Alive
Perhaps I left it on the plane, or it is in the pocket of the stunning linen jacket that seems to have mysteriously disappeared between Germany & Egypt. A short wick, and a myriad of annoyances. At the moment I feel like a walking ATM machine. Ramadan is approaching, prices are skyrocketing and locals are getting ready for all the extra expenses they are about to incur. Air conditioning unit in guest bedroom - not working, which means that the guest will have to sleep in the bath... would that be OK? Oh, and we won't need the bath, because we don't seem to have any water pressure to take a shower (who knew there was a pump that needed to be replaced?).
Side-Kick Sam has put in for a substantial raise in salary, seems the past summer he spent ferrying cashed-up tourists around the desert, was not as lucrative as hoped. We figured this might be the case when he requested to come back to work earlier than we needed him.
Fruit & Veg is appalling. Pretty great if you can live off mango, otherwise, slim pickings all round. I suppose we could try a few family favorites. Wonder how fried chicken and mashed mango would taste? Or perhaps we could do Mango Lasagne! The heat has put a serious dent in the usual abundance of choice. Miss 6 has had almost 6 weeks of European supermarkets and is looking less than happy about 'the mother' refusing to pay US$5.00 for a box of broken RITZ crackers. "But I love them!!" The prospect of conjuring up edible school lunches, looms overhead.
With an eye to staying healthy, I have been actively trying to buy more organic products. Whether or not they are 'real' organic is yet to be seen, but it makes me feel better. I picked up all the products to make a batch of muesli. Rolled oats, grains, sultanas etc. Thank goodness I have been a lazy slob this week and didn't start. This afternoon I happened to notice that one of the packages of nuts had managed to shuffle itself across the kitchen counter and was in the process of ordering a pizza. Never a good sign. And of course it just had to be the bag of whole hazelnuts that I paid $10 for.
I am going to take all those little pets back to the store tomorrow and try my luck at getting a refund - Egyptian shopkeepers, on the whole, do not like to give refunds. Don't fancy my chances.
Mr Dear Husband keeps telling me to focus on the positive. So I will.
Tomorrow I will hand him his bowl of muesli with a cheery smile, "there you go darling, enjoy your 'protein-enriched' breakfast!"
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Aug 22, 2008 11:56 AM
Walk the Plank

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
I am yet to truly land here in Cairo, Ok, so it is not just a rumor that I have only left the apartment once since last Tuesday....Somehow it all feels too hard. The downside to being holed up inside my cave is a distinct lack of blog material. Without exposure to the madness that is Maadi, I need to find another source. So here it is, I will regale you with a few funny moments from the summer (may as well milk it for all its worth considering how much it cost!).
Here we go:
Summer with the Out-Laws........ 20 years ago, breakfast in the garden was like a scene out of GI Jane (if only I could have Demi Moore's body!). All available hands on deck. Trays and baskets were loaded up with the Villeroy & Boch, coffee was poured into thermos and a 500m cable connected to the telephone. All were transported down three flights of stairs, through the cellar, up another flight of stairs, across the garden to the little terrace where an army would erect table and chairs. Crisp, linen tablecloths were laid, flowers in crystal vase... silverware...I can see you think I am exaggerating... I am not....I have other family members that will back me up. At the end of the meal, the entire show would be reversed until the matinee performance for lunch. In summer, this would happen three times a day... it kept me fit, but made me long for home where I could eat my toast on the sofa.
Now days, the Out-Laws are older and, much to my relief, several years ago, invested in a new terrace built on the first floor with easy access to the main living areas. At the first sign of sun after the dark days of Winter, they haul out the table and chairs and proceed to live on their terrace 98% of the time. All meals, all afternoon occasions and Sunday papers.
This year there was something different to look at from the breakfast table. Flapping in the wind surrounding the house are various patriotic flags, installed during the Football World Cup. House after house proudly displaying their colors. Except one. To the left is a flag that does not represent Germany, but rather Johnny Depp.. And it is driving my Out-Laws nuts. Each day, over their Brotchen und Kaffee they are confronted by the 'Death Head' (so says the mother Out-Law). I can see her point.
When the occasion arose, I couldn't help but ask the owner of the Skull & Crossbones just WHY he was flying the pirate flag. His response, "By the time we went out to buy a German Flag, they were all sold out, and this was the only flag they had left!". So simple, of course you could confuse a Pirate flag for the German flag... WHAT? lol Never a dull moment.
P.S... just to make it worse, the owner of the offending flag happens to be an Out-Law relative... revenge is a dish best served cold?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Aug 20, 2008 5:51 PM
Summer Recap 2008

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Summer afternoon - Summer afternoon... the two most beautiful words in the English language." Henry JamesJust spent a couple of hours looking at the photos from the Summer... WOW! we had fun. I am a lucky duck to be able to experience so much of the world... and without a doubt the days of lazy, simple lunches and refreshing swims in the lake that were the highlight for me... spending time together as a family, lovely. Rather than drive you mad with boring long 'slide night' style stories, I have decided to do a list of highlights (let's see what you can pick) and you can have fun finding the matching picture:
A stunning Chateau in Corconne, France, leaving a token for our hosts.
Village of Saint-Hippolyte-du-fort, a graffiti artist that was lost.
Charming Uzès for lunch - and a visit to the most delicious sweet shop EVER.
Fresh Goat's cheese and melons, direct from the french roadside.
Our secret lake, swimming each afternoon - followed by a glass of wine at the makeshift cafe.
Hiking up the mountain to the Chapel and then down again - Who's idea was that?
The cafe where I discovered I am a poor shot using a french toilet - oops!
Pont du Gard, windy, hot with icy cold feet. Clever, those Romans.
Le Mistral in Tourettes, Provence - the most beautiful pool in the world.
Popped in to meet the new Brangelina twins.
Rubbing shoulders with the Rich & Infamous on the Cote d'Azur.
Followed in the wake of no less than FIVE Ferrari's in Monte Carlo, Darlink!
Italy, glorious Italy... in Monaco they grow Billionaires, in Genoa they grow Tomatoes.
An extraordinary 7-Course Italian banquet in Pallavicino - watched by foxes and squirrels.
Shoe shopping and snacking in Milan.. and a visit to speak with a higher power.
Panini with George Clooney at his little shack on Lake Como.
Avoiding the Tunnel and taking to the Hills for the climb into Switzerland.
Fanning ourselves in Karlsruhe, Pyramids, palaces & 'Can I keep him?'
Riesling on the Rhine, visiting Miss Loreley.
Walks in the forest and a scrumptious lunch.
Not bad!! LOL Click on the Collage for a better view.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Aug 20, 2008 3:20 PM
Dragging my feet

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Sometimes the universe just does whatever you ask it to do... literally.
The nice, easy flight home from Germany turned into a 12 hour, overnight horror, and all because I have been 'not-so-silently' lamenting my return to Egypt. It was a clear case of 'careful what you wish for!'.
Normally, the flight from Cologne to Cairo is a swift 4 hours, take off at 9pm, landing in the wee hours, just in time to catch a few hours sleep and start off fresh the next day. On Monday night, things seemed odd right from the get go. First there was the moment of terror at check-in. Much to my delight, TuiFly had offered me an extra 10 kilo luggage allowance (that is 20 kilo for us because of Miss 6)... Yaaahoooo! 20 extra kilo of goodies. But on check-In I was told that the offer was no longer valid.... GULP!!! Bit bloody late now, as I was standing with nigh on 60 kilo of packed suitcases. There was some wrangling and much shoving of confirmed flight offer (thank god I thought to print it out) until finally the poor man just had enough of me and relented. A flood of relief, a wave goodbye to the Out-Laws... and it we were Duty Free bound.
Around boarding time we shuffled over to the gate, but found nothing but tumbleweeds blowing through the terminal... HUH? Where did everybody go? By now, the 2 bottles of wine that I had picked up in Duty Free were starting to get heavy. The flat-screen flight info revealed there had been a change of gate... OK... I can do that... off we went. Again, there was nobody around except a lone Passport Control Officer. It took a moment for me to understand what he was saying, to the point where he finally leaned forward and said 'BELIEVE ME!'... apparently the flight was delayed an hour.... by the time we got to the desk to pick up our COMPLIMENTARY FOOD AND DRINK vouchers, it was delayed by TWO hours... and just about the time I cashed in my voucher for a large beer... we were up to THREE HOURS. Hmmm... Gonna be a long night.
And it was. All in all we were on the road for 12 hours, falling into bed as dawn was breaking here in Cairo, only to be woken less than 3 hours later by the caterwauling of the kids on the stairs that visit with the Bowaaba. Same ol' same ol'.
Somewhere I need to find the place where I can pull it together again. Pick up a routine and put on my Big Girl Knickers. This is it, Home for now.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Aug 16, 2008 1:52 AM
Send in the Clouds...

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Pretty sure I will miss clouds more than anything. We have had a real mixed bag of weather this week and I am loving it. Today I walked with Miss 6 to the weekly market and she commented "Why can't we just live here?". Hmmm tough question.On the market there were luscious little baskets of summer berries, we shared a punnet of raspberries on the way home (ok so I got one...only) without even thinking about washing them first. We chatted with the stall holders and wandered home without a care.There is a sudden appreciation for all things green again, and good German bread. Just how many meals can I fit in before Monday that contain (shhhh not too loud) pork? As I type I can hear the man next door trimming his garden hedge. Such order! And I have been taking an evening constitutional, mostly alone, without the usual stares and whispers that would accompany such an unusual activity at home. Miss 6 and I snuck off to the movies this week and used public transport... really love public transport, so relaxing. All clean and shiny.There are about a million photos, but I will waiting until I have a chance to sort them back in Maadi, so you are stuck with my words. The suitcase is still not packed.... Just three more mornings of being woken by the 8:00am church bells...
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Aug 11, 2008 8:36 PM
Eyes turn homeward bound...

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
.... The summer is coming to an end. Thoughts turn to home and the return to school. Last minute shopping, worries about just HOW I am going to fit all those goodies into my 30 kilo luggage allowance. It has been full of adventure and waaaaaaaaaaayyyy too much good food and drink..... back on the treadmill it seems. Real posts will resume at some stage next week. There will be a few hours of 'catch up' on all my blog mates -- just what HAVE you all been doing?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jul 26, 2008 7:38 PM
Travelling South

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Why do birds fly south for the winter? Because it is too far to walk!
In the past 10 days I have travelled from one of the Northern most points in Europe all the way down South. There have been adventures and fun in between (too much to update on this expensive connection... ) but here are a few highlights:
Wind + Kite = Fantastic healthy day outdoors
NorthSea = Rollmops + Jevers (beer) + windmills + low tide mud walks
StrandKorb + Good book + warm day = napping

Long drive South = cranky Frenchmen + worst hotel room in the world
Long drive South = Abundance of FABULOUS wine + Cheese + Sunflowers
Little French Village = Bonjour! + lazy after lunch naps + swims in crystal clear lakes
A short crab-like movement to the East = Cicadas, Lavender & tiny winding roads
The winding roads are giving me an ulcer... seems that even my lessons with Side Kick Sam could not prepare me for the French.
All in all........ Holiday = Napping, Eating, drinking, and not much else.... Note to self... remember to do something active at least once per day or might end up with gout!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jul 11, 2008 12:44 PM
Oh, Mr Darcy!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
What is all the wet stuff falling out of the sky?
So the first couple of showers were fun, but today we went out and bought all-weather jackets to take on the first part of the European adventure. If it is cold and raining here in Cologne, then we will be taking plenty of bracing walks during our week on the North Sea. My Mother-in-law tells me it will be good for us... I suppose a few lungfuls of fresh air after the dust of Cairo, can't hurt. At this rate, I will be returning to Egypt with webbed feet.
I am loving the sound of the church bells, the flowers in every garden, and THE BREAD...did I mention the BREAD!!! It is so quiet at night as to be un-nerving, and there are more flies and mosquitoes here than Cairo. Walking is the new craze, walking everywhere. We are grilling on the terrace and breakfasting on the terrace and basically doing nothing much.

Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jul 9, 2008 2:15 PM
Oh, The Green!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be." Robert FulghumIt's the oddest thing, jumping on a plane and sitting for four hours, then being tipped out into an alien world.My Father in law asked us why were so quiet on our first walk through the local park, it was difficult to explain. After eight months of desert, camels and sand (and even before that it was Winter during my last trip to Germany), the world is a whole different colour. Intense shades of green. Huge trees and what feels like overgrown foilage. Even the weeds seem bizarre in their impertinence. Who knew that we would discover a whole new association for Green, just by living in a country where it is a luxury item.
That photo is of a Cherry Tree we passed on our walk. With huge, juicy cherries just waiting to be gorged upon.. shame the tree was in the garden of the local priest.. that could cause some screwy karma.

Next, it was time for the holiday promise. Cairo does not lend itself to bike riding for small children. There are places you can go, but just opening the front door and letting Miss 6 loose has never been an option. Despite an over-night flight, she barely gave the grandparents a glance before she was racing outside to "learn". I suspect Mr Dear Husband will be super fit by the time Miss Wobbles is ready for the Tour de France.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jul 6, 2008 9:50 PM

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language." Mark Twain
A moment of stunned silence... 28 men, women and children sitting in a darkened stadium with their mouths open in disbelief. Huh?
Several weeks ago, word was passed around that the Disney train was coming to town. The organizer of the gang was quickly marshaled into arranging tickets, money was gathered (and let's be straight, we are talking Disney USA prices, NOT Egyptian Production prices), and a trusty driver sent off to the wilds of Ma'adi, known as Fast Food Alley, to purchase the golden tickets.
Big day arrives.. convoy of SUV's set off toward Nasr City, Cairo Stadium. Children, giddy with excitement, a train ride from the carpark to the door. Copious amounts of freshly minted Disney Merchandise stacked up and gleaming like diamonds. Parents digging deep into their pockets to purchase 'A dose of Red Food Colouring #144B" guaranteed to turn the mildest six year old into a tyrannical nightmare. Plastic dolls that whirl and hiss - T-shirts and fairy floss.
Entering the VIP door.. the tribe of expats trooped into their section, smack bang in front of the stage, en masse we were a formidable force. Lights are lowered, a hush settled across the crowd, of which we 28 were probably about 60% of an almost empty stadium.
The light show starts - the smoke machine - the music............ and the in Arabic! What? Confusion flooded the group like an overflowing pot of boiled rice.
Arabic? How could that be? In all our cleverness, not a one of us had thought to ask what language the show would be conducted in. The assumption of people secure in their insular world.
We did see the funny side of it - of course it would be in Arabic... Had we booked tickets in London we would have had a right to feel cheated, but here in Egypt...well there you are.
Whether Arabic, Chinese or Russian, we still enjoyed the show and certainly tried to make up for the lack of audience by shouting and cheering fit to bust.
Ever noticed that Mickey Mouse sounds the same whatever language he speaks?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jul 5, 2008 12:40 AM
Climbing Backwards

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
There was something around her eyes this morning. A weariness that brought a light flush to my own cheeks.
It was four days overdue, but as soon as the doorbell sqwarked I knew it would be her. Her money has been sitting on the table by the door since the first of the month. What was the point of making arrangements if she couldn't be bothered to keep them! Pride, I thought, or sheer bloody mindedness. Why does she not come to collect her money? What was she expecting, that I climb the stairs to hand it too her?
My litany of complaints was compiled and my wrath at all the small intrustions that mark out daily life here, ready for her, but as soon as our eyes met they flew out of my head and I was overwhelmed by a desire to comfort her. To hold her hand, to look her in the eye and somehow find the right way of letting her know that I understood. Her life is hard, the expectations of something better, long since abandoned. Resignation is poison to the soul.
Who am I to make it worse. It is Bowaaba payday.
It would appear I have struggled with my climb up the ladder of compassion here in Cairo. Unlike other countries that I have called home, there has been a distance between how I see myself in the world and how I am conducting myself. Rarely a day is passed without an 'in my face' reminder that I am considered spoilt, rich, stupid... and, among less pleasant names... a woman of loose morals, just by the virtue of being born into another culture. And with this cloud hovering above my head, I have become less caring. Just irritated and complaining.
What could I offer..... today it was nothing more than a smile without expectation... a touch of her hand as I passed her the money. Did she notice? Probably not.......
"Shukran, Sophia" I said, and closed the door.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jul 3, 2008 1:09 PM
Jack and Jill....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
If you have been with me for a while, then you will remember this post about my scary elevator experience. If you take the time to link back, you will see that there are stairs leading DOWN from aforementioned scary elevator... what you can't see are that there are ten of them... all stone, hard cold marble.
Last Tuesday night, Jill (that would be me) went out to celebrate a birthday... a gracious home cooked dinner... with delightful company and a glass or two of champagne. In honor of this occasion, Jill (still me) decided to put on a pair of heels with her flowing white linen trousers... an extraordinary occurrence here in Cairo, the streets just don't lend themselves to Manolo's or Jimmy choo's (well they wouldn't if I had any).
At a respectable time (11:30pm), young Jill (yep.. ) jumped into her pumpkin and made her way back to the palace (ok, so someone is screwing with the fairy tales), clutching a bowl of Bread & Butter Pudding - a gift for the Prince (Mr Dear Husband) who had been unable to attend the festivities due to his royal duties. Jill (surely, you get it by now) managed to negotiate the scary elevator without so much as a scratch from the poisoned thorn bush (now, I am just getting silly) - stood at the top of the stairs, with B&B Pud in hand, thrust other hand into handbag to get the Magic Beans (mmm... maybe the housekeys), caught the heel of her glass slipper on the hem of her ballgown and without a hand to save herself, plunged headfirst down the stairs....landing in a tangled heap at the bottom with Bread & Butter Pudding on her head and Snow White (Busy Brenda) peering anxiously down upon her.
It was not pretty - Jill has bruises EVERYWHERE - big, black, blue, green ones. And swollen ankles and sore feet and a nice egg on the back of her head, which will not be helped by 'vinegar and brown paper'.
Send sympathy in any form you find appropriate... she needs it... In fact, Jill received plenty of love and affection from the local Egyptian women, when she dared to venture (hobble) out for supplies yesterday - due mainly to the whacking great visible bruise on her arm. As I am unable to explain in Arabic that I fell down the stairs... it would be interesting to learn just what they think happened to me?
Wanna look? And this is just the baby bruise..... still can't believe I managed to escape without a mark on my face (that would have messed with my supermodel career) or a broken bone.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jun 29, 2008 6:48 PM
The Hermit

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"All power corrupts, but we need the electricity." unknownSummer has arrived... there is no doubt.
Recently, the power cuts had begun to make me feel a little nuts. No sooner did I jump online to write my blog post or put the kettle on for a cuppa and KAZAAAAM!!!! everything would suddenly fall silent and dark. Dark? in the middle of the day? The heat is becoming more intense, so I have taken a leaf out of the locals' book and closed some of the shutters on the outside. It keeps the temperature down to bearable.
We made some enquiries. Ok, so I did a mass SMS out to everyone I know that lives in Ma'adi and asked if they TOO were experiencing power cuts twice a day. The response back was instantaneous and a resolute NO. So what did that mean? Were we being targeted by the 'power cut gremlins". Was someone, somewhere, pulling the plug on us in a bizarre experiment to see how long it would take for me to become a gibbering idiot (too late - two kids and one husband later, been there, done that, got the T-Shirt).
More extreme action was required. A chat to the company HR guru revealed a little secret (well, perhaps not a secret, but I sure didn't know) - According to Egyptian Government, law, regulations etc, any official complaint to the Electricity Department requires an immediate response (ok, so within 48 hours - but that IS immediate for Egypt) and an explanation. This little nugget of information had me doing the Happy Dance - not sure it was going to help, but I sure do love 'accountability'.
Well, all that took place just over 2 weeks ago, and last night I realized that we hadn't had a power cut since. Well, ok, perhaps a little one now and again, but nothing like it was.
What does this mean? The word on the street here is that Ma'adi is part of a so-called Golden Circle - immune to Summer power cuts that the rest of Cairo endures. Reason, of course, would be the abundance of embassies and expats that call these dusty streets home. I don't know if this is true, just rumor..... Did someone suddenly widen the map to include our building?
Whatever the truth is, I am happy to have power 99% of the time, again. I can resume my days of avoiding the 'egg-frying on my head' heat, hiding out in my airconditioned cave. Thanks Egypt Electricity Co.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jun 26, 2008 7:51 AM
"Don't give a damn about my reputation!!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
No more more books, no more..... oh nuts, how does it go again?
OK, let's try this........ all together now, SCHOOOOOOOOOOOOLS OUT FOR THE SUMMER!!
And frankly, about time. Because its not about the kids, oh no, it is all about the parents. The constant, GO! GO! GO! Cairo has turned out to be a social whirlpool for children. School aside, there are numerous extra-curricular activities that must be monitored. Then there are play dates and return play dates (these are the ones you have to host). There are 'gatherings' at the pool after school and weekends away. The occasional bit of homework. Turning up for school functions, assembly, and let's not forget International week (all that cooking!).
I am exhausted. Just keeping track of life has created a full time job for me. Without my diary, all would be lost.
But something went astray. Recently I have noticed that Miss 6 doesn't want me to read to her anymore at bedtime. Our days of lying on the grass and watching the clouds are a distant memory. Pre-Cairo days meant racing home from work and trying to have dinner on the table at a reasonable hour. This usually included a glass of crisp white and little Miss 6 on a chair helping me. She would chat about her day and I would laugh, a great way to decompress. There were trips in the car, me driving, us singing things like "Don't give a damn about my reputation!!!" from the Shrek CD (very amusing from the mouth of a 4 year old). We had a little Saturday ritual that included a visit to the little local Thai Restaurant for a bowl of noodles - just the 2 of us, then we would go to the library and select a pile of new adventures for the week... then the grocery shopping, her with a list of her own, me distracting her from 'the aisle of danger' (need I explain?). At the time it was just a normal day.
The Summers of my childhood were long and hot. Trips with my grandparents were the highlight. Towing the caravan, we three girls squabbling in the back seat - the constant bickering about who was going to sit in the middle. Setting up camp, raising the annexe, making the beds.. then setting off to find the park and any other kids that might be up for a game of French Cricket or a roll down the sand dunes. A whole summer spent doing 'nothing much'. Always an avid reader, I could spend hours curled up on my camp stretcher with my nose in a book... nobody telling me to do anything. My grandmother would manage to produce meals from the tiny two burner gas stove in the van, and regardless of what landed on the plate, we would be crowing her praises and licking our plates. It wasn't until many years after her early death that I learnt she wasn't much of a cook, and in fact, despised cooking full stop. The evenings were all about a visit to the shower block, flip flops on our feet, scrubbing the dirt and sweat of a busy day from our hair... baby doll PJ's..... clean scrubbed faces. Card games or dominos before bed. Drifting off to the squeaks of the van and sound of them chatting comfortably with each other....
Expat life has offered us many wonderful opportunities, but we seem to have misplaced the family connection. My children have had a blessed and rich life... I wonder what they will remember from their Summer Holidays
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jun 25, 2008 1:46 PM
The Messy Drawer

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Isn't 'drawer' a great word. A nightmare for a trainee speller - painful for a trainee English speaker. As soon as I write the word 'drawer', I am transported back to a time of fine Irish linen hankies and china teacups, of peacock feathers and elephant foot umbrella stands.
No matter where I live, I always have a Messy Drawer. Usually it is the 4th drawer down in the kitchen, under cutlery, cooking utensils, tea towels and the drawer with the clingwrap and baking paper.
At the moment it has expanded to both drawers of my desk.... 3 drawers in the kitchen and 2 drawers in my bedroom dresser. Disgraceful. They mock me each time I am searching for something. There is a certain chaotic pleasure in riffling through, searching in vain for a pencil sharpener or AA batteries. A piece of string or a roll of sticky tape.
Once, many years ago, I managed to finally sort through everything and with a righteous smug look on my face, went on holiday. A phone call informed us that our apartment had been burgled - the evil thieves taking delight in my organized drawers, making sure they tipped each and everyone of them out on to the floor. Mr Dear Husband gave me a serious stare when my reaction to the news went something like, "Oh no, but I have just finally sorted the Messy Drawer!!". He spends a lot of time walking away from our conversations with a confused look on his face, rubbing his head.
The summer is approaching and there is a masse exodus of expats leaving Cairo. As the holiday makers from Europe descend to enjoy their '8 Days all inclusive" annual vacation, we are running from the heat and the dirt. Many are leaving for good - moving onto new pastures, where the expat cycle will begin anew. Each time a little wiser and a little sadder.
The streets of Ma'adi are quieter, there are less children around to play 'kick the can' in front of my house. There are fewer and fewer school buses, tooting out their morning song. The A/C is running day and night now, warding off the blasting heat of the desert. I haven't seen rain since January.....
I am wondering if I will miss Egypt while I am on the summer gypsy trail......
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jun 16, 2008 2:42 PM
The Soundtrack to my life.

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Ok, so pretty sure that I have plagiarized that title from somewhere - and I am sure that one of you will tell are all so helpful!Nothing is ever the way I think it will be in Egypt. Just when I become complacent and ready to sit on my front porch and knit (hmm now there is a thought), this place rises up and tips me clean out of my rocking chair, where I land gracefully on my arse.
Let's see, a couple of days on the Mediterranean Sea. That sounds good. Travel down by car, spend a few days sipping cocktails by the pool, jump some first class seats on the train and head back before real life notices that we are missing.
Just getting out of Cairo is a whole story in itself, the one true joy being the glimpses of the Giza Girls through the houses. The road does an almost complete circle of Pyramids before hitting the highway north. Even after six months I still find myself awestruck. In some areas there are quite run down houses that have the Pyramids, quite literally, in their back garden. What a view for your next Barbeque!
Then there are the sights and sounds of Cairo traffic to contend with. Like these 2 sloe-eyed camels, being escorted to their new home. At first I thought they were amazing to be sitting so still in the midst of chaos, that is, until I noticed how they were tied down. Still, a small miracle that anyone could even get them into the back of the ute.
Alexandria Corniche is amazing. Winding along the coastline, blue, green sea, fresh air and fluffy clouds floating across a clear sky. So far removed from Chaotic Cairo.
So if I tell you something, you have to promise not to laugh... we did NO sight-seeing. Hey, I saw that smirk. Just lazed around the pool, ate, swam and relaxed. I figure the Pyramids waited 5,000 years for me to visit... the Alexandria Library will wait a few months more.
But Egypt decided that we had not been touristy enough and sent us a curly one. We booked the train to travel back to Cairo. How bad could it be?
Honestly, nothing that a couple of bottles of industrial quality cleaning liquid and a whole lot of elbow grease, couldn't cure. First Class was just plain grubby. Who knows how long its been since anybody gave the soft furnishings a shampoo or the wiped over the tray tables. I must be getting more German as I get older, quite sure that I would never have wanted to clean a train 10 years ago.
Like the trains in Europe, there was a man walking up and down selling tea/coffee/juice etc... He had a worn, hangdog face. But he smiled at his guests and it was clear that he wanted to do his job well. I wondered if he just rode the train back and forth, making cups of tea and pushing his cart... how many hours a day did he travel backwards and forwards. And did he ever get off and look at the beautiful water? For my liking, he took his job just past the line - I watched him opening the little packets of coffee and sugar with his teeth, not quite my idea of good clean service. I didn't want a coffee, anyway.
But the thing that really made me lose my guru-like decorum was the door behind me. We had a choice of DOOR CLOSED, which was good for 30 seconds, but then the momentum of the train took over and it started to rattle like a banshee......or.......DOOR OPEN, where we were treated to the delightful scent of the train restroom. Don't ask me what it was like... I was NEVER going near it. And let me tell you, Egyptians do not like to sit still, they like to walk about and chat, check out the rest of the train to see if there is anybody they know. They wander back and forth for no reason at all - sometimes closing the door and sometimes leaving it open. Whichever way, each time someone walked past, it became our job to readjust the door in their wake.
After an hour I ripped the iPod out of Mr Dear Husbands ears and stuffed it in my own. Amazing what a good loud dose of Fleetwood Mac (the rumors album, of course), some good, old Cold Chisel and a little Bernard Fanning can do to sooth the savage expat wife. Suddenly, nothing bothered me anymore, and I am closer to understanding just why it is that people spend most of their days plugged into their pocket music.... life is just better with background music.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jun 12, 2008 8:07 AM
My Secret Stash

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
This morning Mr Dear Husband was looking for the sugar. I could hear him opening and closing cupboards and drawers in the kitchen... squeeeeaakkk, bang!.............squeeeeaakkk, bang!.............
Then it went quiet, really quiet.
When I looked up from my cup of tea I found my husband standing in the doorway with his hands on his hips, and a quizzical frown.
"Would you like to explain yourself?"
Now, it is not often that Mr Dear Husband puts me on the spot. He has a 'long marriage' policy of not ever asking questions that he doesn't want to hear the answer to.
At first I was startled, what could he possibly be talking about? The guilty teenage girl that lives inside me started running through all the discoveries he might have made. Sneaky pack of cigarettes? Nope... An illicit bottle of moonshine... I don't think so. The man has the nose of a bloodhound when it comes to finding hidden chocolate, so I KNOW that he would have long ago stumbled upon any that I had managed to smuggle past him.
He crooked his finger at me. Please tell me, who crooks their finger anymore! With trepidation, head tucked as far down into my shoulders as possible, I followed him around the corner.
"What exactly were you thinking?", complete with hand on the hip and a waggle of his head.
There are days when the only thing that makes an Aussie girl happy, living far from home, will be a big bowl of WeetBix (original Australian Brand) and some Vegemite toast. It didn't take me long to learn that in Cairo, if you see something you want, buy them all... next week they will be gone, not to return for many months.
Perhaps this time I went a little overboard. Mr Dear Husband still doesn't know that I drove around to all the 'M' supermarkets in Ma'adi until I had collected every last box. Could that be grounds for divorce? Or just more proof positive that I should have been committed, long ago.

Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jun 10, 2008 7:47 AM
Look Mum, No Hands!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
No Workplace, Health and Safety here!
Like an oyster clinging to a rock.... with a drill in his hands... at dusk (I lightened the picture so you could see).
How he got there, I don't know, but suspect he crawled over the other A/C compressor that is on that ledge.
No Insurance, no safety net, no safety harness, no medic on hand if he falls.
All went well.... this time.....
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jun 8, 2008 7:27 AM
The Visionary

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"The visionary lies to himself, the liar only to others." Friedrich NietzscheFor the past few weeks, I have been watching a house being built. This is no ordinary house. Each time I speed past on my way 'to somewhere else', a little more has been achieved.So far as I can see, it is only accessible if you scramble over the embankment of a 6 lane highway, taking care not to connect with any of the erratic antics of Egyptian drivers.I see great potential. Lots of room for a tennis court and a swimming pool. No neighbors squabbles to spoil your sweet dreams. Running out of milk might be an issue, I don't see any corner stores at the end of the street.....I don't even see a street!Perhaps the man (or woman) building this house has a crystal ball and knows that in 3 years time this house will be the center piece of a luxury estate. Or not....Many expats locate their dream homes by using the Internet. A quick Google search and the choice is unlimited.Let's see, if this house came up, what would it say:************************Luxury HomeLocated close to transportRoom for a Pool and Tennis CourtRoom for large landscaped gardens (shall we mention that a Cactus Garden would be the way to go?)Situated a comfortable drive from Downtown Cairo
Quiet neighborhoodViews to the horizon*************************I'm thinking I might pass........PS: You are sooooooo going to want to click on the photo to appreciate the full impact of this house.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jun 2, 2008 10:44 AM
The Cable Guy

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
When he is not making me crazy, Mr Dear Husband can be quite the comedian.
After a re-sort of the whole house, it was decided that a TV should go upstairs, preferably in front of the treadmill, theory being that I would then use the aforementioned treadmill more often ... yeah right hahaha.
So a quick call to the satellite boys and they magically appeared on our doorstep. Of all the tradesmen that have been through this house in the past few weeks, these two seem to be waiting outside the door in case I need them.
Upon inspection of the outlet on the wall behind the TV, it was discovered that it was just a piece of plastic.. yep, that's right, there was nothing behind it. No cable, no conduit, not even a hole. Some klugscheisser during the renovation had decided to cut corners, and we are left with a completely useless hole in the wall with a decorative cover. After considerable discussion, it was decided that the easiest way to solve the problem was to circumnavigate and run a cable on the outside of the house. This seemed OK in theory.
A few minutes later, Mr Dear Husband casually said:
"You know how when you shoot someone, the exit wound is bigger than the entry wound?"
Well, can't say I have ever given it much thought, and start running through the list of things I have done to annoy him lately just in case he has plans for my early demise.
"uh ha..." I figured that wouldn't give too much away.
"Well come and take a look at the hole the cable guys just drilled into your wall." ....suddenly it is MY wall?
Yep, you guessed it, a neat little hole in the wall, discreetly behind a sofa (won't be moving that sofa in a hurry), and massive meteor-size crater on the other side. The 'other side' just happens to sit square in the middle of the charming little seating arrangement on our balcony.
"Ahhh... a perfect ending to another day with tradesmen".
What scared me the most is how little I cared... either I am beginning to develop immunity or the vodka on my cornflakes is helping a lot.
Now, if somebody could just come up with a way for me to simultaneously blog and jog at the same time...........
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jun 1, 2008 10:11 AM
I smell goood... do do dodododo

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
...alright !! alright !!.....
Remember the days of school excursions in primary school? Packing your lunch box with care and the excitement the night before. A change in routine... climbing on the bus, that anxious moment before you found a seat next to someone that you liked -- not too far up the back of the bus and certainly not down near the driver or the teachers!
Cairo has a lot to offer to 'the little wife'. For a few dollars you can jump aboard many adventure buses and discover something new. I picked a 'good smell' place. A trip to the Nefertari factory. Nefertari produce 100% Natural Hand Made Body Care Products. Hehehe... I sounded a bit like an infomercial then, didn't I? "So, would you like a set of steak knives with that?"
I was impressed with the quality of the products, but I was more impressed with the woman that started the whole shebang from her home kitchen - a real-life, Egyptian Anita Roddick Body Shop style enterprise.
Dr Mona Erian is a passionate and committed woman. There is a definite sense that she will not allow any nonsense and has high expectations from her staff. The factory is spotlessly clean in a country where that is nigh impossible, and Dr Mona is quick to point out the lengths she will go to produce products of the highest caliber. I found her comment about products 'Made in Egypt' to be very telling. She wants people to be excited about this rather than dubious, to the point that her labels state 'Proudly Made In Egypt".
What's more, I learnt many, many things. We were allowed to inspect the process of producing Frankincense. It takes 40 kilos of gum (that is the resin from a particular tree), it is then allowed to burn and the soot is gathered. We were shown how they make the pure soap. Nefertari employs 3 women that I saw to hand grate the soap after the first cooking process, to ensure that it is as pure as possible. There were drying racks filled with rose petals, almonds, orange peel etc... all need to be treated to reduce the possibility of contaminants. Pollution, pesticides and human waste are all the enemy of Dr Mona. We were sternly warned to avoid open bags of dried herbs at the markets due to the high pesticide levels used in farming here in Egypt (among other less savory things).
The day trip was exceptionally interesting and we couldn't have been made more welcome, lovely mint tea and a very generous 'goodie' bag was graciously offered at the end of the tour. Thanks Dr Mona.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 31, 2008 9:58 AM
Tinker, Tailor.....Rock, Paper, Scissors

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
There have been some significant hitches in my calm, cool demeanor of late. The source of my distress coming from problems in our apartment. They have now gone past the point where they would make a 'funny' blog post and are bordering on Rambo-style' outrage. Mr Dear Husband has a permanent look of dismay on his face when he crosses the threshold after hard day at the Salt Mines (well, maybe not that hard) and I am pretty sure that the sound of his phone ringing brings him out in a cold sweat... oh, no! it is THE WIFE again.
In an attempt to put my life train back on its tracks, I decided to do a little home decorating. My favorite armchair was beginning to look her age, the sheer curtains in the windows flap sadly waiting for someone to rip them down and allow them the life of leisure they so rightly believe they deserve.
I called Mohammad (Yes, another one) the Upholsterer. My history with him has been a bright spot in an otherwise frustrating selection of tradesmen. Early on, upon inspection of my new 'partially-furnished' home, I discovered all my sofa's were a delightful PINK...I am sooooooooo not a pink girl. Mohammed to the rescue and Pink was replaced with beautifully fitted slip covers in my chosen hue. Not only is Mohammed good at his job, he is on time and pleasant to deal with. So it was that he arrived, on time at 11:30am to do the measure up. Right on time.
We wandered and discussed various window treatments. Between his Arabic and a little English, and my English and a little Arabic, we managed to sort out all my requirements. Ahhhh....
Mr Dear Husband had reminded me that it was 'polite' to offer tea to my tailor. Ok, I thought, I can do that. I even had some lovely organic dried dates in the house. All was going well until I realized I had no sugar. Hmm big problem... I did manage to muster up some brown sugar, so snuck that into his tea... hoping he wouldn't notice the difference. There is a good chance he did notice, when I offered him a second cup, his face twisted into an odd grimace.
Then he asked for a pair of scissors. Scissors in any language is the universal hand movement of moving two fingers up and down. Before I knew what was happening, he started to cut out the pattern for my chair... and he cut...and he cut... and suddenly at 12:50 he downed my kitchen scissors (which I might add, are none too sharp)... "I am going to the Mosque". Oh, right-O... well, what else was I going to say.
Well of course he was, it was Friday and the stereo version of the call to prayer is heard through every window of my apartment. There I stood, fabric strewn over every surface, wondering when I had actually been 'asked' if he could use my home as a cutting factory.
He did eventually return about an hour later. Finished up the job, wrapped it all very carefully together and promised that he would return..... one day.
Lucky me was left with clearing up the debris of almost 4 hours of his presence. Beam me up Scotty!!!!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 28, 2008 4:05 PM
The Veggie Guys

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Competition is fierce. Make no mistake.... once you enter a Fruit & Vegetable store on Road 9, it is like you have sold your soul to the Devil for a bunch of bananas and a kilo of onions.
On my initial stroll down the main street of Ma'adi, I just happened to pick up a few things at this one particular store. Young Mohammad was the archangel that charmed me into buying more of everything than I really needed (only to discover that the heat means F&V does not last long). He seduced miss 6 with a bag of 'goodies' each time we visited, a few strawberries and a banana. He delivered exactly at the time he promised, always with a smile.
Then he was gone.. replaced by a suspiciously similar copy of himself... another Mohammad that claimed to be Mohammad # 1's twin brother. Oh well, I thought... whatever rings your bell. He claimed that he was visiting from Upper Egypt (which is down from Cairo.. go figure, nothing makes any sense here anyway). He managed to select the right quality and all was going well.
Then he too disappeared....?
Upon my next visit, a much larger Achmet introduced himself and said that now he would be my guide to the magical world of cabbages and beetroot. Again... ok, whatever....
But it was not to go well... because Mohammed #1 returned from the mysterious Upper Egypt (lord knows what happened to the twin -- who I now know was his brother, but not his twin). As soon as I was within spitting distance of the cherry tomatoes, it started:
"I thought you were my customer!!"
"Huh?", granted I am not to switched on early in the day, but I had no idea what he was talking about.
"I have been away, but you are my customer, so you can't let Achmet serve you anymore." I do believe his bottom lip was starting to quiver.
Who knew that once you sold your soul ... it stayed with the same angel....
At this point I noticed that Achmet was sulking in the corner and wouldn't make eye contact with me. He looked like a puppy that had just had his nose rubbed in it. In a clumsy attempt to relieve the discomfort, I decided this would the right time to correct a mistake from the previous week:"Hey Achmet , out of the four lemons you gave me last week, 3 were rotten inside....what are you going to do about it?"
Like a man walking to the gallows, he hauled himself out of the corner, "Yes madam, I will give you three more", and so he did, but without once meeting my enquiring gaze.
So now I am back with the original Mohammed..... none the wiser as to the intrigue and obvious cultural mistake I made by allowing someone else to 'pick my peaches', so to speak. ;)
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 27, 2008 9:37 AM
New Family Member

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Ode to Joy... I hear it in my dreams. Somehow, when they were matching babies with mummy's & daddy's, they forgot to tick a box. We ended up with a small girl that is quite musical, so musical in fact that she has already mastered a year of keyboard. Not quite sure how this is possible considering that her father sings under the shower and the neighbors call the RSPCA because they think a cat is being strangled, and that her mother loves to dance, but ends up looking like her knickers have been invaded by a colony of African stinging ants.
With our move to Cairo, came the task of locating a new piano teacher. Admittedly, this did not factor high on my list of priorities, so lessons have only just started. After an initial screaming fit, where Miss 6 declared us all nuts if we thought she was going to be playing on that huge piano, she has settled in and now pounds the ivories with gusto. This, in turn, created a new problem... we don't have a piano, just a little keyboard. Miss 6 and her piano teacher gave me a grave look and I was 'told' to 'do something about it'. And right smart at that.
Hence, we meet the latest member of our clan, Mustafa, the piano rental man. One phone call was all it took. Within 3 days, he had managed to locate a suitable instrument and promised delivery. Now considering that we live on the 5th floor, and the dreaded elevator is about the size of a shoebox, you can imagine my slight skepticism. But, true to his word, Mustafa rang the doorbell promptly on time, followed closely behind by a two heaving, wheezing red-face men -- carrying a piano up 5 flights of stairs! It is beautiful, and French too boot! Mustafa claims it must be about 90 years old. The keys are real ivory (ok so I don't approve of Ivory, but it is here now), the wood has a soft, warm glow. This piano belongs somewhere gracious, where people are sipping tea and eating cucumber sandwiches. I really don't think that vegemite on toast and a cuppa are going to cut it.
When the huffing, puffing men left, Mustafa set to work. Tinkering and tuning... and then he played a little. It even sounds rich. He claims he is entirely self taught and can't read music. I could have listened to him play for hours. Hopefully he will treat us again when he returns in 3 months to tune it.
Miss 6 was so excited this morning that she couldn't wait to play.... Our Egyptian neighbors like to stay up late and sleep long in the morning... Hope the noise doesn't wake them ;)
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 27, 2008 8:22 AM
The Pyramid Project - Closed

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Sniff....sniff...sniff.... (yep I am wiping my nose on my sleeve) It is all over.Pretty poor turn-out.. BIG THANKS TO THOSE THAT CONTRIBUTED.... but if we take in that about 100 people a day are reading this blog.... well? what is your excuse? hmmm come-on, I am waiting (yes, that IS my foot tapping).So here it is: The final Pyramid collage as promised. If I missed you, feel free to toss a brick at me (hey, it is your computer...) and I will adjust.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 26, 2008 11:18 AM
The big squeeze

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
To date, I have been blessed with good health. It is easy to take good health for granted, especially when you live in a country where you trust the medical facilities and speak the language. There is the safety of a visit to your local GP with any worries, and his kind words to sooth your fears away. Safe in the knowledge that should you need an ambulance, a shiny, flashing wagon will be dispatched to your door in a matter of moments. The high standard of cleanliness and education is a wonderful gift.
It doesn't work like this in all countries. After having briefly experiencing the available medical facilities in both Turkey and Egypt, I was not in a hurry to try out the ones here in Egypt. But recently I had cause to enquire about the possibility of having a mammogram. Just a nagging feeling that wouldn't be wiped away. Often best to check these things out, rather than let them sit and brew.
So what to do? Well, I just dropped it into casual conversation (yep, just like that) to a friend. Just mentioned it. Asked if she had any idea how one would go about such a thing here in Cairo. To her credit, she set to work and within 24 hours had managed to do a full report back, I suspect she even inspected the fingernails of the radiographer!
And then I left it... yes, that's right, I didn't make an appointment. Oh! don't misunderstand, I had all the excuses in the world... tummy upset, then tonsillitis, then Miss 6 was ill.... bugs in the house... name it, I had a way of avoiding. But my friend was persistent, to the point that she called from HER holiday and made the appointment for me.
So off we went. There is no way to truly describe how much I didn't want to do this. Not even the prospect of an indulgent pedicure as a reward could tame my butterflies.
But I went (well, couldn't look like a big sook now, could I!) - put on my Big Girl Pants and acted cool as a cucumber. As soon as we walked into the crowded waiting room, filled with MEN in all shapes and sizes, and all staring at the foreign chicks, I could feel the sweat dripping down the inside of my shirt and the tremor in my hands.
"Why are there so many men here?"
"Because they do other types of ultrasounds and diagnostics here too."
"Right-O", but it made me long for the quiet, plush, pale pink, female dominated, waiting room of my Aussie OBGYN. I announced myself at the counter and was handed a form to complete. Then I was asked for 800LE. Hello?
"So I have to pay before I go in?"
"Does that mean I will get my money back if I don't like it?"
To his credit, he laughed.
In reality, the whole thing was very professional. The equipment was the same as they use in other countries, the nurses were just as blasé about squashing my boobs between two sheets of metal. Then came the ultra sound (just to make sure). We had requested a female doctor, but in waltzed a male doctor. It wasn't until about half way through the examination that it occurred to me that this guy could be some complete stranger that just grabbed a white coat and was now coating me in a thick layer of gel. But it turned out all was in perfect working order - nothing, nada, nix. Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...............
So why do I feel like I dodged a bullet?
Upon reflection, I suspect I would have left this until the summer when I was in Germany, and that is not a good thing in these cases. I wonder how many other expat women out there are 'putting it off' until they go home? Go get it checked, no matter WHERE you are.
PS: When I arrived home, this bean stalk that Miss 6 had planted was on the kitchen bench... suddenly sprouted from a pod she was given.... a perfect message.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 15, 2008 10:57 AM
Can we talk?

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Right-e-OOOOO, homesick crisis averted... fairy god-son has been returned home, tubes removed and a large 'punk-like' scar across his tiny head, all well! Big daughter sent me an email...good girl!
So what shall we talk about?
What would you like to hear? More adventures in Cairo? My Arabic conversation course is almost complete, so I will have more time to go and play. There are still many, many place that I haven't found time to visit. Shall I take you with me? What about the daily coming's and going's as viewed from my perch on the balcony? Do you like those stories?
There are a few characters you haven't met. There is the Fruit & Veg guy. He is begging me to write him up... Or what about Missy that runs the shop on the corner, she has cheeky eyes and makes me speak to her in Arabic (even when I don't want to). Come to think of it, there are loads of locals you haven't met yet.
What's more, I haven't even started on my neighbors. They are the most interesting of all and warrant, at the very least, a few words. (considering I had one of them standing on my doorstep this week at 7am, screaming!... ohhhh not a good way to start the day).
Many of you have been commenting on the shopping tips, I am sure I could rustle up a few more of those. Plenty of places to eat and shop in Cairo.
But for now, I am taking a couple of days R & R (again!! I hear you say!...yep, its a tough job but somebody has to do it) and zipping down to the beach. Time to empty the Cairo smog out of the lungs and suck up a few days of clean dessert and sea air.
I will bring you back a story....

PS: Keep those pyramid project photos rolling in... tell your friends, get your granny involved, tell the kids... I will close it off and publish the collage next week. Oh, and I will not be using the Polaroid affect photos on the blog anymore, your wish is my command and I heard that the blog was really slow in loading. Thanks for letting me know.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 14, 2008 11:44 AM
A long way from Home

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Why am I not posting?Because I am homesick. People I love and care about are having a tough time and I may as well be on the moon. There is water behind my eyes and a pain in my chest... I miss them. I miss my big daughter. I miss my family. I miss my mates.And I really want to have a cuddle with this little guy: This is Master Blaster D... he is my godson.. and he is the bravest little man around. He has just had surgery on his head. Somehow I don't think I could manage to pull off a 'mummy' bandage and look so cute. So little and he has been through so much already. M-B-D has very cool parents... somewhere up there, the gods did a grand job of helping him land in the right spot. MDD gave me the chance to finally become a 'fairy god-mother'.Travel is exciting. There are lots of perks to being an expat, but the huge downside is no longer being able to jump in the car and grab that person you love and give them a hug.Today, I just want to give them all a hug........ sniff sniff....(yep, I DID just wipe my nose on my sleeve....)
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 11, 2008 11:04 AM
A dress in every colour

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Mr Dear Husband decided he would like a few new shirts. The amount of chlorine in the water here is harsh on clothing. Clothes wear out very fast and lose their colour.
If you want to buy material to take to the tailor, then a visit to the Wekalat Al-Balah (often referred to as 'the boulac'), a whole neighborhood dedicated to the humble fabric is a must. Personally, I love markets like this, where the true 'free-trade' theory works wonders. Having so many stores so close together, keeps the prices low and allows for bargaining. After just one visit with Miss 6 (the blonde) to purchase some fabric for a dress, we were welcomed back like long lost family. There are bolts of fabric everywhere. As a foreigner it is almost overwhelming. I have now been there four times, and still have not been able to choose curtain material because I am spoilt for choice.
First port of call for shirt fabric was a visit to Danny DeVito... ok so maybe he isn't Mr DeVito, but he sure does look like him. He stands behind the counter and sends his assistant scrambling around the tiny stall, pulling out bolt after bolt of striped cotton. Sometimes Danny and I do not have the same taste in clothing. He spent several minutes trying to convince me that the dark blue fabric in front of him was a sure fire winner - and was almost offended when I took so long to realize that he was, in fact, wearing said material! One of the most interesting sights are the underwear carts. One would have to wonder what goes on behind closed doors here... and by the looks of the displays, I don't think I would be interested in buying the display stock. Buying underwear for women in Cairo is a problem. There is the choice of 'red-light district' style or the 'big-bloomer style' worn by that huge great aunt that smells like moth balls. And most of it is sold on carts in the middle of the street, hardly conducive to correct fitting. Not quite the same when you have to fit yourself with a bra in a busy street, watched by about 30 staring men......On the other hand, should you need a party frock, this is the place to go. For 400Le (US$75) you can have the Oscars dress of your dreams. Every imaginable style and colour, made to measure in just a couple of days. Just pick one... I was rather partial to the spider woman frock myself ;)
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 9, 2008 2:12 PM
Harry Potter goes to Cairo

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
A conversation that took place in the car, yesterday:
Expat Wife #1: "My husband needed to do a blood test for his work permit."
Expat Wife #2: "Really, where did he go to have the test?"
Expat Wife #1: "He went to the Ministry of Health."
Expat Wife #2: "I can just imagine what that was like, all dark and smokey offices."
Expat Wife #1: "Oh no, there is no smoking in the Ministry of Health!"
.....sitting in the front of the car, is yours truly....and unwisely decides to add her two cents, for what it's worth....
LuLu (actually Expat Wife #3): "Well in the Ministry of Magic, they don't allow magic either.."
Some days I just crack myself up, don't say you weren't warned that I would start bombarding you with more of my 'humor'....hahahahahaah!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 8, 2008 10:23 AM
All Good Fun...

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
.........until someone loses an eye!
Let's have a look at some of the Pyramid Project entries, shall we? And for those of you who put this mission into the "when I get around to it' pile... GET GOING!! You have got to work with me here, people... left to my own devices I will quickly find more things that I can whine about... and then I will try to be funny (and some of you are just not 'feeling' my sense of humor)... save yourselves!
First cab off the rank was Oreneta. That girl just jumps into life with gusto (well she might be an over achiever too.. )

Not to be outdone, the blogger that we all love (because he comments even when he has a real life going on and lots of things to do)
Fruits of my Mind...

And special thanks to Stepping Stones for introducing me to this new toy Windows Live Writer -- very cool!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 7, 2008 9:25 PM
Lulu’s Bay Staff Meeting

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
There is a good chance that when Warren Buffet arranges a meeting, people turn up on time and ready to tango. But then Warren Buffet doesn’t live in Cairo.I had a few points of business to discuss with various parties, let me introduce you first:There is me.. and Mr. Dear Hubby (but he gets eaten by a giant tomato in the first 12 minutes, nah, just kidding)There is the Bowaba (you have heard about her before)Then we have the Bowaba’s son (whom I silently, ok so not so silently, refer to as Beanie Boy)Then we have Side-Kick Sam (Yep, you know all about him).Supporting role is held by Busy BrendaAnd then we have a newbie on the scene; the Gas oven repair man.Are you with me? It goes like this:Beanie boy traps Mr. Dear Husband as he is doing his morning sprint to work. This involves Side-Kick Sam slowing down to 40 k/ph, flicking open the passenger door whilst simultaneously talking on his mobile phone and tooting at small children trying to cross the street to get to school…but I digress.Beanie boy asks Mr. Dear Husband for the monthly payment that we dish out in the ‘thus far’ failed hope that he might actually do something to earn it. It would appear that Mr. Dear Husband is already in full work, blackberry loaded, mode, so without thinking about what he is about to unleash, he says “So what exactly am I paying you for?”Now, we know that Cairo is not a quiet place….hic…. but you could have heard the undiscovered mummies rolling around in their sarcophaguses (?) with indignation. Without missing a beat, Beanie boy has a snappy comeback just ready for this occasion should it ever arise With a raise of one eyebrow, he snuggles his large head deeper into his shoulders… “So are you saying, you are NOT going to pay up?”Well that was just too much for Mr. Dear Husband, with perfect executive efficiency, bounces back with this little gem:“Well its best you go and speak to Madam about that”, and then he was off, diving through the car window and half way up the El Corniche before another word could be uttered. And so once again, my life became complicated because someone else was quicker to delegate, than I was.Meetings were arranged. It was decided that we would cut Beanie boy out of the picture all together, and just go straight to the top. The Bowaba was invited to come and speak with ‘Madam’, but between 2-6pm, when I could avail myself of the translating services provided by Busy Brenda. Not complicated… but then the Bowaba didn’t show! Oh well, I thought; let’s just see how this pans out. Then last night, as I am returning in the dark, I run smack bang into the ‘B & BB team’. They have been cutting the (and I use this word loosely, very loosely) lawn. A determined show of solidarity in the face of the alien enemy. Again I suggest a meeting – and at 2pm the next day.As a side-order to this, there is the problem of the fancy-schmancy oven that likes to let the pilot light go out and continue pumping gas into the house. A service man was arranged, and with my usual optimism, he was told also to come between 2-6pm.Well today all hell broke loose – the Bowaba finally squawks the door bell (I have told you about the squawking), a mere two days and 3 hours later than we first arranged, and with hands and feet it is explained that she should come to me for payment each month. The best I could do was to tell her that Mr. Dear Husband NEVER has any money. There was a certain amount of lip pursing when I mentioned that I actually expected that some work be done in exchange… Huh! Who am I kidding; you could see it in her eyes… “Oh will you just shut up and SHOW ME THE MONEY!!” (Thanks Tom Cruise).In the middle of these negotiations, the Gas Oven Repair man arrives. I spend another 15 minutes, fruitlessly trying to explain the problem. It went something like this:Me: “When I open the oven to check something baking, and turn the temperature down, the flame goes out and the gas continues to pump out (effectively turning my house into the equivalent of the Hindenburg)”Gas Man: “Well, just relight it then.”Gee whizz, that is simple, why didn’t I think of that (and perhaps starting punching myself in the head just for fun).Me: “It would seem that you are missing the point. If I am not in the room, then I don’t know that the flame has gone out, so I can’t relight it.”Gas Man: “Hmm I see, perhaps its best if you don’t open the oven door when you are cooking, and you won’t have a problem”.I don't think I need to describe the look on my face as I tried to work out the logic behind that senario.Meanwhile, Busy Brenda has finished showing the bowaba how ‘Madam’ would like the dreaded lift cleaned, and returns to the kitchen.Me: “Ok, Brenda, please explain to Gas Man that if my house blows up because of the oven, I will be coming to live at his house, and I will be bringing my eight children with me!!!”This cracks Busy Brenda up and she is now slumped in the corner, laughing so hard that she can’t breathe.Gas Man: ..with a note of desperation in his voice…. “Perhaps Madam could try to check the oven each time she opens and closes it to make sure the pilot light is still on?”Madam surrenders to her superior enemy… thrusts 30Le into his hand and pushes him out the door, followed in no time flat by the STILL laughing Busy Brenda…So here we stand…Bowaba: 1 point (she is richer and life will go on the way it did before the weird foreign chick moved in)Beanie Boy: 1 point (I am not a farmer)Gas Man: 1 point (very happy that his home address is not listed on his business card)Brenda: 1 point (but only because she is going to have a massive case of the hiccups if she ever stops laughing)Mr. Dear Husband: 1 point (well, as far as he is concerned, his part of the problem was completed upon delegation)Me: 0 points – oven still doesn’t work, nothing is getting cleaned...and suddenly my wallet is lighter.PS Finding Pyramids is way more fun! Keep them rolling, they are fabulous!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 6, 2008 9:10 AM
The Pyramid Project - A new meme

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Ladies and Jellybeans,I had so much fun finding all those new blogs with the Kitchen Window Meme, I have decided to play again. This is the mission should you be willing to accept (this post will self destruct in 15 seconds....ok not really, but I had you going for a moment, didn't I?):When anyone thinks of Egypt, almost without exception, the first image to pop into your head will be this:........ Take a photo of a Pyramid, be as imaginative as possible. Perhaps there is a pyramid monument in your home town, maybe you have a model on your bookshelf from the backpacking trip you did in 1986 (Yes, the one where you had a mad summer fling). Maybe there is stack of cans at your local supermarket shaped like a pyramid.
There are lots of very good cooks out there that come past and read my blog..... how about a pyramid cake? Come on, use up some of those creative juices, look at the world differently for a few days to see if you can spot one. Feel free to use your children (lord knows I do), put them on high alert -- chances are they will spot a pyramid in your environment before you do.
NO CLIPPING PHOTOS OFF THE INTERNET...whoops did I just shout at you? LOL yep I guess I did...well that would be because I recently found several naughty bloggers have been nicking my photos without asking, and that is just not kosher.
When you have located your 'pyramid' - post it on your blog and link back to me - or send me an email so that I can find your photo, or just email me the photo with a link to your blog. Then, I will put together a collage of photos and a blogroll so we can all take a look, like we did with the kitchen windows HERE (thanks again to Ann at Redacted Recipes, now I know how to make the collage too)
But most important, try to have fun!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 5, 2008 4:02 PM
All quiet.......

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
There is an odd stillness. A yellow light cast through the windows. The awnings are shaking. Air is thick, thick enough to take a bite out of it.
It is quiet - there are no children on the streets calling out 'Hallo!' or 'I love you'. No beeping horns.
An eerie stillness that has me aching for my child to be returned home from school on her bus.
A sandstorm is coming............. already I can taste the dust in the air. Surfaces are wiped clean and within minute you could write your name on them.
There is an anxiety that seems to travel in with the dust... expectation of a wild weather that in other parts of the world would bring a storm of rain, thunder and lightening.
But here it is, finally my first real sandstorm in Egypt. And someone just told me it might last for 3 or 4 days!
P.s Exactly 2 hours after I took this photo the dust and sand were GONE! Leaving behind a trail of dirty feet from the fine sand that was now all over the floors that were washed just 2 hours ago. Grrrrr - - but it sure was exciting there for minute ;)
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 5, 2008 10:02 AM
I like to watch....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
... take that dirty smirk off your dial! I mean, watch the street below my apartment. There is always something going on, always noise and confusion.
The trees in front of the house are starting to green up a little, so it is getting more difficult, but here are a few of the things that have kept me away from such wonderful things like, well like cooking.. or cleaning.. or actually writing anything worth reading:
You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to disssssssscccccuuuuuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free......... (hop in anytime... anytime now... oh come on guys... don't leave me hanging out here alone!
Every morning this poor tortured bus driver has to negotiate out small street to collect a kid that needs an education... nobody cares that it is a nightmare to turn that big-arse-mother of a bus ... so they park on the corner to make his life just a little more miserable............
Betcha didn't know that a couple of local boys are almost as cool as The Fonz himself! - They meet up in front of my house... they show off their new loud speakers, their designer jeans and their new toys. This week one of them had a really BIG new toy -- a motorcycle! They tyre kicked for awhile, chatted about things like, "How will we ride with helmets, it will mess up our hair!" (gotta love the metrosexual Egyptian man). Problem solved... we will just ride without one in a city where the chance of being killed by traffic is higher than rubbing raw meat all over your body and jumping butt-naked into a tank full of Great White sharks.

And now we come to the part of the show where you get to make some noise. Just so you really experience the joy of a celebration in your building, I want you to instruct your children (if you don't have children - ask your husband or wife) to do the loudest war cry or tarzan yell they can... over and over and over again. So that it is authentic, you will need to make sure they continue to do it right through until midnight. And then start again the next day. The Egyptians sure do know how to party.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
May 1, 2008 5:53 PM
Kitchen Closed

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Harry Vaughan
Once upon a time there was a wild woman that could cook up a storm. Cauldrons of bubbling soup, pans of sizzling sauces and batches of cookies would tumble out of her kitchen. Food addicts, disguised as family and friends, would stand salivating at her door, in the hope that she would toss a few tasty morsels in their direction.Then she moved to Egypt.For many months I have had no desire to cook at all. It takes a while to adjust to a new kitchen; it needs to be broken in gently. The subtle nature of her idiosyncrasies needs to be learnt.This new kitchen, she and I are not making friends quickly.It looked promising at the start. Brand spanking new and sparkling, but upon closer inspection I discovered several dirty little secrets that I am going to share.There is a lovely marble bench top – that is at least 5cm (2 inches) too high, making me feel a little short, and who wants to start out a baking session standing on a stool because you can’t reach the dough. An inferiority complex just waiting to happenAll the cupboards are too high. Unless I stand on a step ladder I can’t haul out any ingredients in a hurry.The stove is a classic case of ‘all show and no substance’ – gleaming and huge, but with a tricky pilot light in the oven that blows out if you talk too loud.And this kitchen bites back. Here is a list of my injuries so far:Scalded fingers – you have two choices when you turn on the tap – volcano hot or North Pole cold.First time I used the oven, the pilot light blew out and I lost half my eyebrows when I tried to relight it with my head in the oven.Then there was the day I used a metal pot to do a roast, carefully removing it to the bench to cool – turned away for a moment – turned back and grabbed the handle of the pot, all 1000 degrees of it… that was a wake up moment.Spent all day baking raisin sweet rolls, working the dough and letting it rise over and over – popped them in the oven and WHAM – 10 minutes later the bottom of my sweet rolls were black, the top was uncooked and I dropped the whole lot on the kitchen floor.Then there is the lovely little light electrocution from the Kitchen Aid if I don’t wear rubber sole shoes when I touch it.Baking a couple of sheets of cookies has become a full-body workout. I burn calories while they bake – squatting down every 30 seconds to check when the sheet will need to be turned so they don’t burn on one side and remain raw on the other.All in all it doesn’t seem to matter anyway. I have surrendered. Did I mention that you can have ANYTHING delivered here in Cairo?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 30, 2008 9:52 PM
Sailing by Otobees

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Not much water in Egypt.
Not sure I would want to dip my big toe in the Nile River.
So how DO the locals learn to sail?
Well, they take the bus (otobees), of course!
Lesson Number One: ALL ABOARD.......................
...Ok, so maybe not everyone at once... I said 'NOT everyone at once!!"
Lesson Number Two: Full Steam Ahead
Ok, so we are making headway, Full Steam Ahead..... excellent, picking up a nice tail wind.
(don't mind those that are feeling a little seasick - they can just puke over the side, preferably not INTO the wind and preferably DOWNWIND.)
Lesson Number Three: Port and Starboard
Now we are picking up the pace... might be a good time for some of you to move to the Port side... that is the left... yes, that left --- NO! THE OTHER LEFT...I mean your left, yes, those of you who are facing into the wind... no, not those of you who are hanging over the side by your toes, what do you think this is, a windsurfer?
Lesson Number Four: Abandon Ship COME ABOUT, COME ABOUT! Give-way vessel.... oh lordy, this is more difficult than I thought it would be. As for you lot that still haven't understood the difference between port and starboard.... here is a new term for you...........MAN OVERBOARD.p.s Side-Kick Sam had the time of his life chasing this bus so that I could take the photos - heaven knows what he thinks I am going to do with them.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 29, 2008 3:06 PM
Scary Movie XXII

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
10:30amAll is quiet.Loud sounds coming from outside our front door, it is officially the weekend.Whirring and hissing sounds.When I open the door, I am confronted by a cloud of fine, white dust, that swarmed toward me like The Fog (check out John Carpenter).Stuffing a cloth over my face, I poke my head around the corner and look toward the landing in front of the dreaded elevator.In the middle of the cloud was a small man with an angle grinder. Sanding the marble floor. The noise was unbearable.“What are you doing!!!!!” he, of course, didn’t understand a word, but seemed to register that I was not a happy camperA few minutes later the Boawaaba knocks on the door and tries to explain that he is cleaning the marble tiles and that it will take just 5 minutes.5 minutes later the noise ceases, all is quiet again.I tiptoe out to inspect the work…. It looks worse that BEFORE!!!And I have no-one to blame but myself – it was me that suggested that someone should clean the elevator and the landing… of course why would you get a bucket of hot, soapy water and a scrubbing brush when you can attack it with a power tool?Ok…….. got your singing voices ready… I caaan’t heeeeaarrr yooooouuuuuuuuu….
Ooooohhhh I'm just walkin' the dog, just walking the dog,
If you don't know how to do it,
I'll show you how to walk the dawwwwwgg10:30pmAll is quiet.The countdown to bedtime.A clunking outside the door… a rattle, the rattle of a chain…..And again…A peek through the peephole.“Holy, Moly! There is a huge dog out there, chained to our landing!”Mr Dear Husband looks suspicious. A few minutes before I had been trying to wrestle the remote control from his iron grasp so I could ‘flitch’ over to something brainless and inane, rather than sit through another minute of Sport Round-Up Weekly.“I’m not joking”Mr Dear Husband hauled himself off the sofa, making sure to keep a fast grip on the remote; in fact, he was holding it high above his head just to be safe (ok, so I am a sneaky little person, now you know)A look through the hole in the door confirmed my claim.We carefully opened the door to be confronted by Cujo’s big brother (check out Stephen King).Hmmm, well, this was new. There was no way of knowing where he came from or why he was chained to our landing. There was no way of knowing if he was going to make a snack of the small child that was now held prisoner in the apartment, along with her not-so-brave parents. And there was nobody around to ask.Seems like every time I open the door it is a new adventure.We went to bed, frankly, what other choice did we have?By next morning he was gone.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 25, 2008 2:55 PM
The Circle of Thirty

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Somewhere, someplace, I heard that human beings only have the capacity to maintain up to 30 'relationships' - this was attached to the old part of the brain, stemming from when we were cavemen... and the tribes were never bigger than 30 members.I often think that today's technology should make it easier to stay in touch with more people, but it doesn't. Being an expat involves the creation of almost instant relationship - and then you move on and it starts all over again.Some of those relationships continue, but many just fade away.When I was just learning how to be a world traveler, I would write letters, hundreds and hundreds of letters. Sometimes as many as 30 or 40 a month. I loved to receive them and to receive them you have to write them.Over the years and with the introduction of email, my letter writing has dried up (cue the tumbleweeds blowing down the dusty main street). I should send more emails, but I don’t.It’s not like I have stayed in any one place for longer than a few years at best. So each time I have filled up my quota of 30 tribe members, found new soul mates, a couple to laugh with and a couple to cry with. Then I moved on. To make room for the next batch, some good men were lost along the way. The ones that you thought you would always have around. Distance and life in general begin to fill up the gaps that were left.This is the cycle.Meet someone.Think, “Well she/he seems like an interesting person”Take the first tentative step and invite for coffeeThen lunchThen perhaps a dinner party at home (wow! this is just like dating)Tell the ‘getting to know me’ storiesListen to their ‘stories’And from there it will either take off and fly or fade away.Become almost inseparable for 2 years. Big tears at the airport, and by the time you are hitting the 2nd movie on the plane, the pain has stopped and the cycle is ready to start again.Personally, anyone that laughs at my deplorable sense of humor is pretty much a sure bet to enter the ‘Circle of Thirty’….… but better yet, someone gave me a jar of vegemite yesterday – this is Australian Gold if you are living overseas without a supply – so it would appear I am open to bribery, and can be bought fairly cheaply at that!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 24, 2008 4:06 PM
Workin' hard or Hardly workin'

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda

Hmmm seems I have been a little remiss in my blogging of late. In response to those that sent emails asking where my daily posts are hiding......
IT'S HOT!!!!!!!!!
.... really, really hot. Someone told me it was 48 degrees yesterday, and boy, didn't I feel it.
Try conjugating verbs in Arabic in that sort of heat.
The last 15 minutes of a 2 hour class went something like this:
Me: It's hot
The Others: We know
Me: It's really hot
The Others: We know!
Me: It's super hot!
The Others: WE KNOW!!
Me: I don't wanna conjugate verbs anymore... (cue, my pouting face)
The Others: (remain silent but start shooting those looks)
Me: I am bored with learning Arabic today.
The Others: (still silent, but being less discreet about shooting those 'we are getting annoyed' looks)
Me: No-one speaks Arabic with me here in Egypt, anyway.
The Others: (close ranks and start planning my early demise)
Me: Will this class never end!
The Others: (push forward a reluctant representative)
"No one is forcing you to stay here, you know!"
Me: Oh, yes, right... hmmm
It did occur to me that listening to my complaining about the heat was worse than the heat itself... don't have to hit me over the head with a brick, no sireeee! I am a student of human body language, can read those subtle little hints from a block away.
Hahahahahaah... hic!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 21, 2008 10:38 AM
World Food Crisis

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Many of you will remember a ways back, my rather cheeky post about the cost of a kilo of strawberries (and if you don’t, then you weren’t paying attention and are all on after-blog detention).Well, something odd has happened. Suddenly, even we, affluent ex-pats are starting to feel the food price squeeze. For the first time since I managed to go shopping alone here, I had that disorientating feeling that happens when you get to the register, scan your groceries and realize you are going to have to take a second job to pay for them.Today I walked out of Fruit & Vegetable shop with a couple of little bags, my wallet considerably lighter. Now it could be that I have been living here just long enough to lose all perspective about the cost of a normal load of shopping.Let’s examine this, shall we?In the bag:1 Pineapple2 Avocados1 kilo of Lebanese applesI small piece of fresh ginger1 small bunch of green asparagusTotal cost of goods = 87EGP (US$16.00)I had a look online to see what the same bag of goods would cost elsewhere in the world.In the USA = 148EGP (US$27.39)In the UK = 110EGP (10.14GBP)All well and good, I hear you say…. But let’s just consider for a moment the difference in earning power here in Egypt against the UK & USA……In a country where banquet waiters in 5 Star hotels can earn as little as 300EGP per month, where a driver for an expat family earns (which is considered a high paying position) about 1500EGP – not too many people would be buying up the items I did.When was the last time you spent a third of your monthly wages on a pineapple?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 20, 2008 4:16 PM
"Houston, we have a problem"

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
It is not often you hear the doorbell squawk (in case you haven't got it yet... my bell doesn't ring it squawks), open up and find a giant satellite dish with little feet sticking out the bottom. Huh?
After almost four months here in the Land of the Pharaohs, I gave in and arranged for some television to be hooked up. If you have the right phone number, finding the right person is a breeze. Less than 12 hours after making the appointment, there it was. Personally, I hadn't noticed the lack of TV, in fact, hadn't noticed that the one German TV channel we could actually watch, had been missing since my return from Snowy German, which was also the day of the last sandstorm. This was pointed out by the Dear Husband, and my ears were alerted to the fact that there might be an ulterior motive... Yep, the European football season is getting underway.
So now I have a new Satellite dish on my roof. Now there is one more giant flower in the garden of dishes. I asked my neighbour across the street to take the photo for me.
Suddenly have some 30 German Channels, various English channels and a vast variety of Arabic language programs. Channel surfing is back. In fact, I am pretty sure I enjoy flicking through all the channels more than actually watching anything.
Now, can someone please tell me why Oprah is so big in the Middle East? And as for Dr Phil, let's not go there!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 17, 2008 7:17 PM
The cost of a Day.

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Some days, I just don’t wannaaaaaaaaaaaaa.Some days, I just want life to be the way I want it to be. No surprises, snags or glitches.Some days, I just want to sit around with my feet on the coffee table and watch a whole season of some inane TV show on DVD.Some days, I just can’t be bothered to replace the toilet roll when it runs out, so I leave it for the next person.Some days, I drink diet coke when I know I should be eating an apple.Some days, I let Miss 6 sit and play with her computer game much longer than she should, because she is quiet and leaving me alone.Some days, I eyeball the fridge/freezer full of healthy choices and order take-out.Some days, I look at my high-brow book and decide to read trashy, tabloid websites instead.Some days, I open the door to the spare room and think about finishing the unpacking. Then I close the door again.Some days, I consider going to a museum, and end up at the mall buying a fake Tommy Hilfiger handbag.And just when it appears there is no hope of me ever going down the path of being a responsible, cultured adult ever again, something happened.A traffic jam. At the end of the traffic jam was an overturned truck. On top of the truck, in full view of Miss 6 and neatly placed, was a dead body.I told her he was sleeping.Now I regret having spent a frivolous day doing nothing of any value to the world.Life is but a silk thread, the fragility of it sometimes gets lost in the mundane.Tomorrow I will jump into the day, with my big girl knickers on…….
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 15, 2008 2:03 PM
Expect the Unexpected

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
It is 9:30pm. The phone rings.“Hello?”It is The Dear Husband calling from the car.“Hello, did you know that Side-Kick Sam has a brother? And that he is driving me home from work?”Well of course I didn’t know… I was already scrubbing my feet in preparation for bed.“And did you know that his brother looks about 12 years old? Do you think he even knows how to drive?”Hmmm that was a tricky one. Hang on….. DID YOU SAY 12 YEARS OLD!!Ever the helpful wife, I suggested he offer the lad a telephone book to sit on so that he could at least see over the dashboard. He did not find this amusing.The Dear Husband eventually made it home, thanks to a lot of traffic causing Junior Side-Kick Sam to slow down to Warp Speed One, but no wiser as to why Side-Kick Sam had suddenly disappeared. There was a mumbled “big problem at home”, which didn’t really shed much light on the mystery.Fade to black………..….morning has brok-en... like the first mooooorrrning….blackbirds have spooookeeenn, like the first dawn….There were errands to run this morning. After waiting as long as I could on the off chance that the stores I needed might possibly be open before noon, I jumped into the car. Original Side-Kick Sam was back at his post. Flooded with relief, I asked in my very best school girl Arabic:“So Side-Kick Sam, everything OK at home?”“No Madam, my brother was crossing the road last night, and got into an accident with a car. He have to do to hospital.”I make the appropriate tut-tut noises and then ask him how his brother is doing today?“He not good. And my wife, she have a baby ten minutes ago.”Right, I say……….WHAT? Did you just say your wife had a baby 10 minutes ago!!”“Yes Madam.”Now this is when it gets interesting. A tumble of thoughts crossed through my head:A. Why is he driving me around doing my shopping if his wife just had a baby, because lord knows I have always kept my Dear Husband handcuffed to the delivery room bedside so that he TOO can enjoy the MIRACLE of natural child birth with no drugs.B. If his brother is really bad, shouldn’t he be at the hospital doing a bedside vigil?C. The selfish part of me that thinks…”Yikes, how am I going to juggle all those extra children I am watching today and school pick ups this afternoon if I don’t have a car!!”So I said nothing for a few minutes. We picked up the bread, I bought my husband some white socks as ordered…whoops did I say that allowed…sorry…I mean, requested. Then as we were heading back home, I asked Side-Kick Sam the burning question:“Don’t you think you should be with your wife today, if she just gave birth?”“No Madam, it is OK, my mother and her mother are with her today. Tonight my other brother will pick up Mr Dear Husband from work and I will be with my wife.”Ok, sigh of relief, problem solved (well for me, anyway).So, just who is brave enough to tell Mr Dear Husband that Junior Side-Kick Sam will be waiting for him, ready for another ulcer-inducing ride home?Not me…….PS: If anyone has any complaints about my singing during this blog post…please send it in writing to my address in Egypt… I will be sure to get it – NOT! Baaaahaahahahahah!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 14, 2008 10:15 AM
The Saddest Donkey in All of Cairo

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Look at him.Look how he hangs his head.Each afternoon, on the way to school, I see him. He pulls a heavy cart, loaded with fruit. Usually it is oranges and bananas, but we are heading into watermelon season and the load is getting heavier each day.He suffers, you can see it in his tail. He endures, of this there is no doubt, a life that dishes out beatings, hunger and thirst. He is a worker.There are many donkeys in Cairo. Often you see them pulling carts through heavy traffic, being whipped to catch up with the shiny BMW town cars that zoom past. Sometimes you see them left on the side of the road, an undignified place to be abandoned after death.I don’t know where he goes at night, or how far he pulls the cart each day.Does he dream of lush green, clover filled meadows? Of trickling streams of fresh, cool water? Does he know the pleasure of being brushed and brushed until his coat shines, of being nuzzled and comforted?I think not.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 13, 2008 12:33 PM
Butterflies in my belly

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"That's the secret to life... replace one worry with another...." Charles M. Shultz
When it comes to confrontation, I am not your girl. I will break out in a cold sweat at the mere thought of having to return some faulty item to a store. If there is someone talking on their mobile phone in the middle of a movie cinema, I just start hoping someone else tells them to be quiet.A tension has developed in my home. Two events were starting to cross paths. One was childcare and the other was cleaning.One of the big trade-offs when we have the opportunity to live in an entirely new environment or country, is the lack of a support network. The working spouse is away from home a lot, leaving the ‘Chief Domestic Engineer’ handling the logistics to ensure a decent quality of family life.Cairo has less than flowing traffic. A trip downtown from Maadi will take over an hour and the return trip more like one and a half hours. Stores and businesses don’t even consider opening until well after 11am, this leaves a window of just on 3 hours (inclusive of travel time) to do anything at all. To this point, I have not ventured as far afield as I would have liked because of the time restrictions of meeting Miss 6 at the end of the school day.Not having a well-known neighbor, a sister or an aunty around the corner that can spring into action should I be running late, means that I have needed to be extra vigilant about time. The same can be said for spontaneous decisions to go for dinner etc.Glorious Gloria was starting to slip up with the cleaning. The attention to detail in our early days together, was lacking. As her workdays are the same as my Arabic class days, I often returned home to find her long gone, with many tasks left unfinished. No chance of her being around in the afternoons, and I was beginning to suspect that she was working somewhere else that required her to leave my house earlier each week.Having anyone at all to help out with the housework is a bonus in my mind. In Sydney, I was able to do a manic super clean on Saturday mornings, drafting in any living being that happened to make the mistake of being home at the time. Miss 6 was dusting skirting boards with her little socked feet at the age of two. But Cairo, as I have mentioned before, is not a city to be messed with. Cleaning needs to be done daily, left unheeded, it will lead to such a build up, so quickly, that you will be drinking half a cup of Sahara sand in your tea each morning.So enter stage left, Busy Brenda. Upon learning that she was available to work afternoons, with loads of references and experience with children, I started to see how my life could become a little easier. To have someone that could step in and make sure that Miss 6 was OK should I run late, was a huge relief.But first, there was Glorious Gloria. My stomach was so upset with worry, that I awoke at 4am this morning and spent several hours wandering around the house wringing my hands. Here I was, yet again, faced with either making Gloria unhappy, or myself. To keep her on and continue as things were, meant that not only was I only getting half the hours from her that we had agreed upon three months ago and there was her planned trip back to her home country for at least three weeks, which would yet again leave me to handle the load. Busy Brenda won hands down.There was nothing for it. Someone had to tell Gloria… and that someone was me.It was short sharp and rather scary. To ease my conscience, there was an envelope with a months pay and a short reference (well, she was always on time). Not the norm here, so I am told, but it went a long way towards making ME feel better, I don’t know about Gloria.It would appear, that for me, dealing with domestic staff is more difficult than in the corporate world. There is an immediate bond having someone look into the most personal part of your life i.e. your bathroom, your bedroom. Let’s just hope that we are second-time lucky.Now, perhaps my stomach will settle down.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 12, 2008 12:18 PM
Man! I feel like a Woman

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Each individual woman's body demands to be accepted on its own terms." Gloria SteinemSince moving to Cairo, it has become my habit to flick through the daily newspaper sites in the morning, in a bid to keep up with the rest of the world. Not always the full-blown intellectual ones, either. I have developed an addiction to tabloid celerity blogs, that sometimes burn holes in my retinas because the stories are so bad.Today, there was a painting that caught my eye. A large nude by Lucian Freud, the 85 year old British artist. The painting is expected to go under the hammer this week and there is talk of it reaching the highest price ever, for a living artist.Included in many of the articles about this event, were photos of the actual artist’s muse. Now 51 years old, she went on with her life, and as is the way of the world, will not share in the spoils of the multi million pound price tag.The reason for my more than casual interest, was firstly; it is a nude of a large, voluptuous woman, in direct contrast to all the other news stories on that webpage that featured stick thin ‘celebrities’ complaining about their lives. Second, at the bottom of the page were the ‘comments to the editor’. Without exception, all of them related negatively to the woman and her size, rather than making comment about the artist.One would assume that the Rembrandt period is not about to come back into fashion.The painting is to my eyes, more extraordinary with each viewing. He managed to capture something so feminine, so comforting. I love the contrast (or lack thereof) of the over-stuffed sofa and the woman. A relief from the bony angst-ridden female form that, is today so politically correct.It got me thinking about the Egyptian women that I have met here. Unlike my other overseas postings, I find myself mixing predominantly more with other ex-pat wives here than with Egyptian born. The ones I have had the good fortune to spend time with, have been mainly through my husbands’ workplace. They are young, slim, exquisitely groomed, and well educated. And all unmarried. There is a college not far from my apartment, where at the right time of day, you will see gaggles of students chatting on the street at the end of class. Tall, slim and elegantly dressed young things, covered from ankle to wrist, but managing to look more flirty than if they were wearing a mini-skirt and a boobtube (if you don’t know what a boobtube is... you weren’t born in the 70’s)In contrast, there are the married women that I see. From my perch, they appear to go from one extreme to another. Hand in hand with their husbands, they tend to become round fairly quickly, preferring the ‘not-so-flattering’ but 'cover up for all sins' Galabeya - - a long sleeve A-line dress, that falls from the neck to the feet.If the delicious smells that emanate from behind the closed doors of my building on a Thursday night are any indication, the traditional Egyptian family would send followers of the ‘South Beach Diet’, screaming for mercy. Deep fried foods, rich meat dishes and lots of carbs.Perhaps these beautiful Egyptian women know something that we ‘slaves to celebrity fashion’ westerners are yet to understand. Perhaps men DO want a woman that feels like a woman.
Photo from Here.... yet again, not found on the streets of Cairo
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 11, 2008 3:11 PM
Do you really live in Cairo?

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
It is the weekend. A warm summer day, Do you…A. Sit with all your windows open to catch the summer breeze, serene in your favorite chair listening to the dulcet tones of children playing in the garden, the neighbour mowing his lawn, the chirping of small birds wafting through your home.
B. Race around like a lunatic, closing all the windows because the noise from the street, the beeping cars, the bowaab shouting up and down the stairwell, the annoying whirring from the neighbors’ defect air-conditioning unit is driving you insane.You come home from doing the grocery shopping. Do you…A. Open you vegetable crisper and pop in the fresh, organic fruit, ready for that healthy salad you will prepare later.
B. Spend the next 45 minutes scrubbing every piece of fruit and veg within an inch of its life, drying it and storing it. Then spend the next 30 minutes washing and drying all your cans (in case some fool decides to drink their diet coke straight from the can), then wrestle into submission, the 38 plastic bags that they have given you to carry your purchases.You do your laundry. Do you…A. Smile with contentment as your fluffy, pure-snow white towels and sheets are folded, crisp from drying in the warm summer breeze that blows through your garden.
B. Start cursing like a sailor as soon as you notice that the towels are now an odd shade of gray, and the sheets are going to have to be re-washed, because silly you thought it would be ‘just fine’ to hang them over the balcony to dry, and they are now covered in a fine crust of dried, soot like dust.Your kitchen rubbish bin needs emptying. Do you….A. Spend the next 15 minutes carefully sorting your garbage into 5 separate containers – raw food scraps for the compost heap, cans and bottles to go to the recycling bins, newspapers and cardboard, plastic etc. This will then be collected by the appropriate truck on the same day each week.
B. Grab the black bin liner out of the bin, tie a knot in the top and leave it outside your door to be picked up by the boawaab, when he feels like it. The boawaab will then spend the next 30 minutes sorting through your rubbish in case there is something in there that he can sell or use for himself i.e. that old coffee mug with a huge chip that kept cutting your lip…the next day you will find him sitting on the front step of your building enjoying a steaming cup of tea, using his new treasure.You go to collect your mail. Do you…..A. Listen for the squeaky pedal of the postman’s bike, hear the clatter as he puts your post through the slot, then wander down your little path to the white picket fence with the shiny clean mailbox.
B. Sometimes find your mail on the floor of the foyer of your building or left on top of your mailbox because the slot on the box is too small to put a standard size envelope in. Not that it would matter, because in 3 months, nobody has been able to locate the bloody key to the box anyway. Or find the postman standing at your front door with said letter in hand and awaiting his tip for merely doing what he employed to do, and think yourself lucky that you don’t get a lot of letters or you would have to sell off one of the children to pay for your mail delivery.It’s time to pay your monthly utility bills. Do you….A. Sit at your computer with the bills that were delivered via mail, pay your bills via internet banking, and 5 minutes later tick off that small task for another month.
B. Hear the doorbell squawk at the most inconvenient time possible, usually at the exact time you have a screaming hungry child hanging off your arm, the washing machine has just flooded and the soup has boiled over. When you answer the door you will be greeted by a man holding a brick size wad of Egyptian pounds. He will hand you a small slip of paper with incomprehensible squiggles on it, and announce that he is ‘here to collect the gas’. He will patiently inform you that your gas bill is yet again this month three Egyptian pounds (US$0.55). At this stage you will start scrambling around your apartment looking for some change, checking coat pockets and breaking open the child’s piggy bank…because you KNOW that he will not leave until he gets his money. This pantomime will be repeated at random times, when the electricity man comes to call.
Somedays it is just better to stay in bed................
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 9, 2008 11:55 AM
Sweet-talk, Street-Talk

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Electricity is actually made up of extremely tiny particles called electrons, that you cannot see with the naked eye unless you have been drinking." Dave BarryForgot to tell you what happened to the Pharmacy around the corner!Here is the word on the street…..Apparently they were having some electrical work done on the shop. As the electrician was working, the fuse box started to spark. In response to the sparking and fear that it would catch fire, the electrician threw a BUCKET OF WATER into the fuse box……..HE DID WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!See… I can hear you all from my Cairo desk. Yep, that is what he did. Result? Dumbass Electrician + electrical fire + water = Black hole where business once stood.Now the shop is shielded by some lovely tent material, there are many men sitting outside when I pass…basically doing nothing except whispering under their breath when I pass “Habibi….habibi etc etc”. Lately, I have become a little sassy with regard to the ‘sweet-talk, street-talk’. I no longer scuttle down the road on my way to various places – I storm. And in reality, I can give as good as I get. To relieve the pressure that builds when I am constantly a target, I have taken to doing the old ‘what’s good for the goose….”. When the flirting and snide comments fly, I whip out my “Just show me your credit card” response and stalk off, as if strutting down 5th Avenue. Sometimes the odd shopkeeper gets a little flirty. “Oh Madam, you are such a good customer – so good looking, so lovely….”Yeah right…now I fire back.“Hey, don’t get flirty with me… just give me good quality fruit & veg and I am going to keep returning….and if you try to sneak some rotten tomatoes past me, watch out!”Or yesterday:“Hey, who do you think you are, talking to me like that! I am a married woman. Stop that right now!” ….. and he did.In the end, it is all about having a little courage. Not allowing naughty boys to ruin my day with their stupid comments. Familiarity breeds contempt. All in a days shopping.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 8, 2008 9:11 AM
Lulu's Bay Escape Hatch

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Righto! So some of you knew where I was... and your prize is:
A blind date with a Cairo black & white Taxi driver... complete with a bowl of Koshari for two.Ta daaaaaaaaa!!!For the rest of you, who like me didn't have a clue that there was such a wonderous world outside of Cairo, I will introduce you to Ain Sukhna.First and most important. If you have Google Earth, turn your globe so you are hovering over Egypt (if you don't know where that is.. it is the top right-hand corner of Africa) - run a search on Ain Sukhna. Now with a little luck you will find my pin Lulu's Bay Escape Hatch. Then you will be able to see that other than this little patch of green there is nothing else until you reach Cairo (and not much green there either)This was my first stay at Ain Sukhna. There was a day visit when it was still cool enough to snuggle into our winter woolly jumpers and sit on the beach. It was lovely and I have wanted to come back ever since. Ideal with the kidlets, shallow water and lots of pristine, green grass -- the grass is so great that I kept thinking I was walking on carpet.It is like a little piece of heaven and only an easy drive down the toll way from Cairo. An hour is all it takes. The water is clear and clean. The beach is a lovely stroll up and down, collecting shells. A lagoon pool, a decent seafood restaurant on the beach with tables outside..... we have the makings of a love affair.In all the research I did before heading over, not once did I read about Ain Sukhna. The rest and sleep did me the world of good and I am back firing on all cylinders again. The drive is a bit like watching a theatre performance, where someone keeps running back and forth with the same backdrop scenery. At each end there are Toll Collection Stations that appear to be designed by the descendents of the Pyramid builders. Mammoth structures with hieroglyphics -- all to collect the 5 pounds you pay each way (that is US$0.91 or Euro 0.58 or 46 pence). There are several 'roadhouses' -- most seem to be abandoned... or have never opened at all. A couple of petrol stations that also have tumbleweed blowing through the petrol pumps. After miles and miles of nothing but sand and rock, they just spring up! There are plans to expand the Ain Sukhna region, so my guess would be that this is the start of the infrastructure that will be needed to meet the demands to come. Otherwise the road to Ain Sukhna is a vast and unending desert. Each time we drove through I considered what it would be like to find myself suddenly alone in this wild place.. and I was afraid, very afraid.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 7, 2008 8:40 AM
Where's Wally?

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
When to going gets tough......... the whinging, whining and complaining go on holiday!
Where am I?
Hawaii? Tahiti? Fiji? Bora Bora?

Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Apr 2, 2008 1:51 PM
Bedouin Babe

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Home is where you hang your hat………….hmmm not sure about that at the moment.There is a mist floating around my head right now. A sort of dull, sticky fog that clouds my thoughts and makes life seem like a day spent in a glue factory.I am stuck in No-man’s Land.A week in Germany, then a return to Egypt… a couple of days where Miss 6 was not well, so I was required to curb my wandering ways and stay home. Suddenly I don’t know where I belong anymore. Snow and sandstorms are all mixed up together.New friends are beginning to marble in with old friends… connections from past are blending with the new life I lead. There was some time spent unpacking my treasures. The kitchen was given a full 5 hour Oprah style makeover. Somehow everything looks right, but not right.What was new and exotic a mere 3 months ago, has become routine. I don’t notice the temperamental elevator anymore. I now skip over the flood of water that descends through the stairwell once a week. No longer am I concerned about being run over and killed when I cross the street – I just hop through the traffic like everyone else. Black feet 20 minutes after washing the floors…not a problem! I just wash my feet every single night before retiring to bed.There is only one thing that is bothering me at the moment – electric shocks. I get them everywhere. Should there be a glancing brush of the steel drum inside my washing machine, my nose hair will stand up and sing. The keyboard of my iMac is lovely modern design, but typing without my rubber soled shoes can lead to a feeling in my fingertips similar to that of typing on a small cactus. Even the handles on the kitchen cabinets should be approached with extreme caution. Nothing is earthed here… not even me. A few of my on the pic to enlarge.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 30, 2008 12:34 PM
There is no place like home...

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda

"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space." Douglas Adams
Cue music….. Tchaikovsky ……. Waltz of the flowers………..Snow flakes lay in white drifts in a forest filled with the delicious sound of laughing children. Red noses and flushed cheeks. Lungs filled up with crisp clean air………And then I was back…..The usual vague jetlag that comes from flying through the night, and then sitting up talking to the Dear Husband. A lazy day spent contemplating the odious task of unpacking the winter clothes.Just at the point where I was eyeing off the cozy sofa in front of the television…………THUD!!!! THUMP!!!!!!! THUD!!!! THUMP!!!!!!!At first I thought it was the Dear Husband attacking the colony of empty packing boxes that have taken over squatting rights in our ‘so-called’ spare room. It was loud enough to distract me as I reached for the remote control (how did we ever live without a remote control?). It was loud enough to drag my sledding battered body to the window and open the shutters. Let’s be honest here…. What I saw gave me such a fright that all thoughts of butterflies and snow drops were banished in a second.Huge clouds of billowing black smoke were coming from the building next door. A plume of toxic waste. One glance at the Dear Husband’s face and all thoughts of an afternoon nap were over. Legs into action, I flew up the stairs to grab Miss 6, passports and a pair of clean knickers (ok, so perhaps I am not so level headed in a panic).From the vantage point of our balcony, we could see there was a crowd forming on the corner.“Well, if everyone is standing around watching, that must mean it is not too bad”, says the naïve girl, still clutching a pair of white cottontails in her hot little hand.“Did you learn nothing from our time in Sri Lanka?” spits an exasperated not so Dear Husband.He is right – in Sri Lanka there was always the problem of suicide bombers. And when the bombs went off, people ran toward the explosion, rather than away. Something I was never able to fathom. Rest assured, if there is a loud noise anywhere near me... you won't see me for dust!The Dear Husband was dispatched to do a reconnaissance.Upon his return it was reported that the little pharmacy on the corner was now nothing but a black hole in the wall. In the blink of an eye, gone were the deodorant lined shelves, and it the extra large cans of insect repellant.Much to our surprise, the fire brigade was on the job within minutes of the explosion - - once they could drive the trucks through the crowd of spectators. Super efficient firefighters with their Ferrari red fire engines from Italy. The blaze was quickly brought under control, much to the relief of everybody in the building, I imagine… and me.I very much hope that there was nobody in the chemist.There is nothing like returning home. Never a dull day.

Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 25, 2008 8:13 PM
White Out

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
There are two reasons why this post is called White Out - first - I left my camera battery charger in Cairo so there will be no photos (I could just kick myself) and second because it is snowing fit to bust here in Germany.It has been years since I have seen so much snow in this area. Miss 6 landed at Bonn-Cologne airport 6am on Saturday morning and proclaimed herself the next messiah... 'I just wished and wished that it would snow .. and look mum... it is!!' and so it was. Not bad for us with our winter coats but a bit miserable for those passengers returning from their holiday on the beach in shorts and tshirts.Another two days spend eating ourselves into a stupor, and talking crap with the brother-in-law.... then this morning we woke up to a winter wonderland again. The room was dark because snow had filled up the little attic windows. The street was quiet.Drop everything we cried... off we went with our sled and trudged through the forest until we found a suitable hill where there was only a 65% chance of hitting a tree at high speed and knocking ourselves silly. The hurtle down the mountain is cool... the grinding, burning pain in my calf muscles on the trip back up is less than fun. There were snowball fights and at least one person that ended up with snow down the back of her jumper (revenge is a dish best served cold...grr). At the end of it all there waited a cold bitburger pils and a jager schnitzel... so no complaints.And still the snow flakes smack against the window. What a treat. Miss 6 is in heaven.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 21, 2008 10:23 PM
Nile at Sunset

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Egypt is a cruel mistress. Just when I thought I could get away without a backward glance she pulls out all the stops and provides one of the most beautiful evenings since my arrival.
Sitting in a restaurant with good food and good company, feluccas glancing across the water, the sun set to a full moon. Tonight I fly to Germany for a week to see the family. A temperature change from 33 degrees to 3 degrees... no fun, but happy for a break. Maybe I will post while I am away - - and maybe not. Happy Easter to all............

Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 19, 2008 10:05 PM
Drats! Foiled again...

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
I wanted one of these:In the back dark and dusty recesses of my mind, I have been thinking about this burger for well over a week. Another blogger here in Cairo wrote about it and I have been salivating at the mere thought. As tonight is the start of a long weekend and the Easter holidays - not to mention 'the prophet’s birthday', it seemed a fitting time to give in and just do it. To offset my weakness, I have spent the afternoon, finally, unpacking a few more of those pesky boxes that were delivered. Good chance that I have reduced the pile to double, rather than, triple digits.After looking up the number, contemplating the wonderful world of Home Delivery and spending a few minutes choosing my victim, finger on the keypad of my mobile phone........... DARKNESS!!! Complete and utter darkness. I could not see my hand in front of my face. My first experience of a Cairo Air-conditioning black-out. The sun came out today and by mid afternoon it was a slightly uncomfortable 30 degrees. It would appear that everybody came home and switched on their A/C at the same time.For me, it was a sign from the Gods. No burgers for you, Missy!By the time the lights came back, dinner was well underway on the gas stove. I know I shouldn't feel resentful, but I do. Pasta with tomato sauce did not quell my aching desire. I really wanted that burger! P.s. In the background of the second photo is that wretched garlic pot I have been dragging around since 1987. It is like a dog that lived next door to my grandparents. Almost every photo of us as children seems to include that little black dog. It had a sixth sense and could hear the sound of a camera click from a mile away. Now I have a stupid garlic pot in every photo I take!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 19, 2008 7:03 AM
Sheriff of Nothing

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
I am an expert. Bone fide.How do I know this? Well it could have something to do with the fact that I have had a constant stream of people emailing me asking me questions. Questions about life in Cairo.Many months ago, my Dear Husband came out of his office and laid a piece of paper on the table. On the paper were the names of several cities around the world. All of them had a job for him... if he wanted it. None of them were Paris or Bora Bora.We chose Cairo.I started to research. Basically, I am the Google Queen. Give me a question, I will find you an answer. I Googled until my fingers bled. I Googled until the only colours I saw around me were blue, red, yellow and green. I gathered and I Googled until I could recite the top 10 hits for the words CAIRO EGYPT EXPAT WIFE.Armed with a computer full of bookmarks, I landed in this place, boots on and ready to kick heads.Three months on, I have gathered more information. I ask and I listen. I take notes. I learn the names of the people that bake my bread and supply my secret pork supply. Want to know where to find souvenirs at ‘resident’ prices? Here is your girl.This morning someone called and asked if I knew where to buy chocolate Easter Eggs. In 10 minutes I had a full report to rival Price Waterhouse.Yet, something is very wrong with this picture.What has been learnt is not real life. It is not real for the woman that was sitting in outside my house, slumped against a parked car today, her babe sleeping in her arms. It is not real for the sweet faced man that so graciously directs my driver when I go to the supermarket, in the vain hope that he will pick up a pound of two. It is not real for the two little street imps that pester me each time I go to the ATM.The world that I know here is so superficial. It is like Uncle Walt just picked me up and dropped me in the middle of ‘CairoWorld the Ride’. With steely determination, there has been a constant striving toward the creation of a life ‘just as I knew it’. No integration, no change.It makes me happy to help out other people, but it has brought up a huge issue that will need to be dealt with sooner rather than later. Time to get dirty and to learn about the real life I live….. not the life I think it should be.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 18, 2008 3:06 PM
Diary of a functioning alcoholic

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
During the past three months I have been thinking about alcohol consumption more often than ever before. It is the classic 'you want what you can't have' story. Australia is the 'cheeky little chardonnay’ capital of the world. No sooner does the clock strike 5 and it is time to crack an ice cold beer or uncork a bottle of white. A glass while preparing the evening meal, a glass with the evening meal, a glass after the evening meal…. There was nothing nicer than a leisurely Sunday lunch with friends – and a bottle of wine. It’s sociable.Long gone are the days when I would hit the pub after work. Long gone are Tequila shots or Long Island Ice Teas. The binge and the missing memory the next day I can well live without.Moving to a country where drinking is not socially acceptable changes everything. No longer is it standard to be on a first name basis with the licensee of the local liquor store. Gone is the clink of green glass upon green glass when I open the fridge door. I miss it. But I am discovering something that there was always lurking around in the dark recesses of my unexamined life. I was probably drinking too much.It doesn’t take an expert to realize that drinking local Egyptian wine can not possibly be a good thing. After trying a couple of times, I just gave up. Don’t misunderstand. I have had a couple of evenings, compliments of friends who seem to have a good supply of the imported stuff, and enjoyed every sip. Our liquor cabinet is heavily overstocked, we buy up our full limit at the airport duty free - but as neither of us are spirit drinkers it just stays stocked.
I have read, and don’t quote me on this, it says in the Koran that the reason that Muslims should not partake of liquor is because the mess they create is left for those that don’t drink, to clean up. That pretty much sums it up.This article online really made me start thinking about this: Diary of a Functioning Alcoholic – the sheer quantity of liquor being consumed left me feeling ill. How do they function? And what’s more important is why they feel the need to consume to the point of throwing up or passing out. Why are more and more women taking up drinking as their ‘drug of choice’?There are legendary stories of Ex-pat wives and their drinking. It is not a subject that anyone likes to discuss, but has often been a subject at the cinema. If you haven’t seen the movie Wah Wah, then you are missing a great example, partly biographical from director Richard E Grant. Then there was White Mischief ... and didn't that end well. Those of us in the Middle East are slightly more protect just by the nature of the posting. If it is not easily available…..For now I am happy with my ever growing collection of herbal tea. And enjoying the clear head that emerges from under my pillow in the morning.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 18, 2008 12:06 PM
First Quarter Misconceptions - Part I

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
With three months under my belt it is time to tie up a few loose ends.Some of the pre-conceived ideas that I had about life in Egypt:I would need to be covered from head to toe all the time.Not really. Dress modestly, cover shoulders and nothing too low cut. I personally just find it easier to drape a scarf around my neck – feel a bit like Linus out of the Charlie Brown and the Peanuts cartoon strip. It certainly depends on what part of town you are in. Groups of tourists come up from the resort areas in shorts and bikini tops... not such a great idea.Men will stare at you everywhere.Yep they sure will – be they 104 or 14…. They will stare. And not just the men.It’s always hot in Egypt.Not true. For the entire month of January I thought I had frostbite every night. It is now the middle of March and I am still in jeans and a jumper at night. It even rained fit to bust there for a while. The heat will come later.The traffic is Cairo is insane.Yes, no debate there either.Cairo is dusty.Yep, right again… and not just dusty… it is insidious. You will clean off the coffee table, go to the kitchen to put away the pledge and the dust will be back before you turn on the kettle.Everyone gets ‘Mummies’ Tummy’.Not so far… fingers crossed.There would be nowhere to shop.Did I mention City Stars – or The Huge Ultra French Mega Market? Basically anything you need, you can find… except for some bizarre reason, Egyptian cotton. If you want it, you can find it. Just keep asking everyone you meet until the secret is revealed.
There won't be a decent place to get my hair done.
Quite sure there are many places... just haven't built up enough courage to do it yet, so am now looking a little like the hairier cousin of Cousin IT. I figure at some stage due to the high chlorine level in the water I will either end up bald or blonde.
Nobody will understand me.
If only I could speak Arabic as well as many Egyptians speak English.
Part II.... Things I miss
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 17, 2008 10:47 AM
Yellow Belly

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Cowardice asks: Is it safe? Expediency asks: Is it politic? But Conscience asks: Is it right?" William Punshon
To arrive at my home and be greeted by a flood of soapy water coursing out of my building does not make for a happy girl. It is the Boawaab’s job to clean the internal staircase and entrance areas. This happens once a week, with great gusto. Armed with a gushing hose, a large bottle of heavy duty, cancer-inducing cleaning solvent.Don’t think for a minute that you will be leaving the building anytime soon. Water will begin to rush past your door like a quiet day at Niagara Falls. There will be a chorus of shouting and yelling – a ‘modern day’ communication system between she who holds the hose and she who controls the tap.A steady progression from top to bottom will ensue – the water being pushed down, down, down, until it fills the 15cm deep entrance foyer. If we had known that there would be a moat to enter the building, we would have brought the pet dragon with us to Cairo!Now, usually this little weekly adventure leaves me trapped inside my apartment for an hour or so, unless I am willing to walk through ankle-deep water to escape. On this occasion, I happened to arrive at the wrong end of the water. So I waited in the street.I watched the traffic pass, I watched Boawaab Bob pet the cats. I noticed a few flowers starting to emerge from their winter sleep, and I watched the school children pass on their way home. It should be noted that all foreigners are recognizable to the local children from about 2 blocks away. We stand out like sore thumbs. It is our uncovered heads and our imported clothes. Or perhaps it is just some silent signal that we emit.After a while I grew weary of the constant stares and found a quiet place behind a tree. From this vantage point I could observe without being observed. A group of unruly boys meandered up the road, their backpacks tossed carelessly over their shoulders. They cat-called, kicked stones and playfully bumped against each other. I was distracted for a moment and when I looked back, the mood had changed. They found a smaller boy.My heart started to race a bit faster when they pushed him up against a car. Something was not right. The bigger boys crowded in around him and began to say things, none of which I could understand. Universal code….. smaller boy being bullied.Had this event taken place on the quiet suburban streets of Sydney, I would not have hesitated to jump in boots first and rescue the victim. There would have been much grabbing of ‘scruffs of necks’ and loud ‘mother-style’ ticking off. But this is not what happened. I did nothing, I watched, too concerned for my own safety to do anything.Eventually they left the small boy alone and swaggered on down the street. He picked himself up off the ground, dusted off his ragged pants and set off in the opposite direction. He was crying. He looked very small and very sad. He was miserable.Why did I not react?Because life is different here. Pubescent boys can be intimidating in a world where they are raised to believe they are superior to women. They show no mercy. They embolden each other. This is a society where western women are thought of as whores…. Little better than the soft-porn stars screened on cable television. This does not empower us to interject.Perhaps when I have been here longer I will know how to handle such a situation, but for today, I feel like a failure - - I let the little boy down, I did nothing.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 16, 2008 9:41 AM
Violence in the Suburban Kitchen

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity." SocratesIt started out sweet and simple . Whip up a delicious dessert the day before. All was going smoothly. The ingredients had been located and were stacked neatly in the pantry.Step One:Open two jars of sour black cherries.This is when it went pear-shaped. Jars purchased in Cairo seem to have a mind all of their own. They are not for the faint of heart. I tried everything, including:Running the jar under hot waterBanging on the lid with the back of a knifeTurning the jar upside down and hitting the bottom with the palm of my hand (that hurt!)Wrapping a teacloth around it and turning the lid with all my might (frankly, this just turned my face an unattractive beetroot red)Putting it between my knees (now I have a bruise on the inside of each knee)Asking Miss Six to open it (she just sighed, gave it a try and walked away)Tried opening it in a different room (Ok, so I was getting desperate)Threatened the jarBlackmailed the jar (I was planning to boil and eat the contents - didn't give me much leverage)Was tempted to throw it out the windowFinally, I stabbed it. Right through the heart with a sharp knife.The jar lid gave up its oyster like grip on the cherries and died................I won. I did a victory dance. I whooped n' hollered.Let's not mention the fact that after so much angst, I then forgot to serve the cherry dessert the next day.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 14, 2008 8:56 AM
Teabags & Terrible Twos

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Yesterday, I saw a small child throwing a powerful, screaming fit in our building.
As I walked past, I smiled to myself.
Why? Because I understood what the child was saying - in Arabic.
"I DON'T WANT TO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
I might actually be making some progress here.

Many people warned me to stock up on my pantry items if I see something I use all the time. So far the only thing to go missing are the only cheese slices that Miss 6 will eat. But last week the unthinkable happened. I ran out of my Twinnings English Breakfast teabags. So far I have been to 4 different supermarkets, but they seem to have just vanished from the shelves. In desperation I purchased a different brand (quite unsatisfactory), and while I was looking, found these unusual teabags.
So what is the deal? Don't they think we have enough dust here in Cairo already?
Sorry about the bleary photo - people kept tripping over me as I was crouched down on the floor trying to take the picture...
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 12, 2008 11:18 AM
Casper & Gambini’s - City Stars Mall

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
The theme for this week seems to be heading down a very western path. It is like I needed a dose of some familiar sights and tastes. The blinkers were on and the wild, exotic side of Cairo just faded out for a few days. Gone where the donkeys with their ramshackle carts. Gone were the glimpses of the Giza pyramids between the office buildings. Gone was Koshari.Replaced by City Stars -- a mass of sprawling commercialism. A temple to the almighty dollar. Inside of City Stars is Casper & Gambini’s, an upmarket cafe that proved to be more than I was expecting.There was not much enthusiasm in my step as we headed toward this snappy looking establishment. I have been sorely let-down of late in my attempts to find just a great coffee & a sandwich style lunch. Usually the service is very slow, and the food has been less that appetizing, my last two meals were barely touched. It is still beyond me how anyone can mess up a salad, but it happens. Sometimes it is the bread, nasty, gluey tasting. Or the cheese can be just scary.But this time I was a happy camper. The service was quick and efficient. The staff were friendly. Remind me to tell you why I have developed a disturbing annoyance for the local non-friendly supermarket staff.There is something for everyone on the menu. My salad was delicious. The drinks were cold. My Chai Iced Tea came in a cocktail shaker with a whole cinnamon stick and a star anis, very pretty. The restaurant is clean and the staff obviously takes a lot of pride in their work.It was a winner.
As for these two..... Some people are just begging to have their photo taken. They sat in this position behind us for the duration of our lunch. I don't believe they uttered a single word to each other, but stared at their mobile phones as if the answers to all the questions in the universe were contained within. Now it is not for me to judge, or to spread malicious gossip and rumor.....I am sure they are of excellent character.
But would YOU buy a used car from them?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 11, 2008 11:27 AM
Three reasons you will hate me....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
.....this week.Reason #1:I went shopping this week and picked up a complete season of evening wear for 1,400LE - that is $280.00 Australian - or Euro 166.00 (I don't know how to make the funny euro squiggle... lets just wing it) or 20,984.02 ALL Albanian Leke .... Yes, I DO have a reader in Albania! Keeping in mind that many of the designer label clothes you find in Europe are produced in Egypt, and the fact that there is currently a 70% OFF sale (that got your attention, didn't it!)Reason # 2:If you are a pork product lover living in a non-pork loving country, then my fridge just became Nirvana (and no, not the Nirvana attached to that crazy nutcase Courtney Love). The Dear Husband went a little overboard and came back with 28 kilos of luggage from Germany on the weekend - most of it caused by smoked meat and sausages. Lets get real, we are a family of three...might need to do a little entertaining. He is nothing if not obedient - when I said "get some meat"... he did.Reason #3:The upside of being an expat wife in Egypt is the stamp in my passport that DOES NOT permit me to work. Therefore, I am off to an Indian restaurant with all the girls from my Arabic Level one class for lunch. I will be driven there by the ever-nifty Side-kick Sam, and I will return home later to my apartment with the clean floors, thanks to the extraordinary Gloria. I am concerned that my affection for the wonderfully capable Gloria is beginning to surpass all other relationships in my life -- not healthy?No matter how much blog post material I pinch from the street life outside my door, there are days when I have to pinch myself just to make sure I am awake. My life is good. I am grateful.Come to think of it... A fridge full of fatty pork and new clothes, was there EVER a recipe for disaster more potent than that. Might need to leave off on the big ham feast until after the St Patrick's Day Ball on the weekend.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 11, 2008 8:26 AM

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
serendipitynoungood luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveriesIt is always good to walk a different way to work, or to school, on the off chance that you might just discover something magical. Riding in the car here is often both frightening and exhilerating. To distract myself, I seem to have developed a keen sense of the absurd. Things just pop out and I often find myself laughing aloud (much to the confusion of Side-Kick Sam). Here are a few examples:
Why have one rearvision mirror when you can have six! No need for you to wait for the building to be complete before setting up a sweet shop? A lick of paint, a couple of rolls of fabric and you are good to go. Workplace Health & Safety does not seem high on the adgenda, a customr could be taking their life in their hands just to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Sitting quietly in the back seat when I happen to look up and catch Side-Kick Sam playing chicken with a street tram! - Who even knew there were trams in Cairo. This one looks like it just stepped right out of a Humphrey Bogart movie. "Just put your lips together and blow"...
And then there are the days when you come home, looking for refuge from the world to discover that the foyer of your building has been turned into a mattress restuffing factory... hmmm didn't see that one coming. Complete with naughty Egyptian boys making lewd comments as I clambered over them to the lift. Never a dull day.

** as usual, click on the photos for a better view
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 10, 2008 10:33 AM
Meet Bowaab Bob

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting." Mark Twain
At 3am this morning, some people in my street arrived home. In a western country you could anticipate that there might be a little alcohol-induced noise that would accompany such an event. A few minutes fumbling around to find keys, a door slam... finished. In Cairo, that is not the case. It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that other people might be sleeping, so before bidding each other a hasty ‘good night, sleep well’, they stand around in the street and spend at least 30 minutes discussing the state of the economic situation in Upper Mongolia… or something like that. To add insult to injury, they do this with loud, booming voices. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I got up to close the shutters and the window. It was then that I noticed Bowaab Bob, at his post, and it occurred to me that it must be time to introduce him.Bowaabs are everywhere in Cairo. They hold the key to a happy life in your building, should you be blessed with one that likes you (mine loathes me, for reasons I can not reveal at this time). They know everyone and probably know more about us than is comfortable. For less than US$100 a month, they are responsible for the care and cleaning of the communal areas in the building. They will shop for you, carry your bags, clear your rubbish, or clean your car.Bowaab Bob first came to my attention one day, when I was looking for Side-Kick Sam. As I scanned up and down the street in search of the car, Bowaab Bob raced toward me and pointed out the car, that was tucked in behind another. He then sprinted ahead with the intention of rousing the sleeping Sam. Sam likes to sleep in the car.Since then I have noticed the two of them with their heads together on several occasions. I wonder what they talk about so intently. Could it go something like this:Bob: “So what have you got on today?”Sam: “Oh you know, the usual. Probably a trip to the supermarket, then SHE will leave me waiting outside Ms K’s house in Rd 20 for 2 hours, even though SHE always says SHE will be back in 10 minutes.”Bob: “That must be so frustrating for you, it really interrupts your sleeping time.”Sam: “What about you? Anything interesting?”Bob: “Well, there will be that quick sweep of the front steps that I always do just as my boss arrives home – make sure he notices that I am doing my job.”Sam: “Righto, better hop, here SHE comes again.”Bowaab Bob has a few little tics that I have noticed. When he thinks nobody is looking, he plays with a couple of the street cats. They seem to know he is a soft touch. One of the them spends a lot of time sitting at his feet. Bob also sleeps in front of the door of the building, in a chair. Can’t imagine that it is very comfortable, but I did see him, at 3am this morning, quietly tucking himself in with a little blanket. One would assume that he is sleeping in front of the door for security reasons. Would the blanket tangle around his legs if he need to jump up and protect the residents from alien invaders?**Names have been changed to protect the innocent – the cat is really called Carol***The photo has nothing to do with this story... just an alternate way of getting around....what you can't see are how many people are actually IN the car...even the locals thought it was a bit odd. Click on it to see the whole picture, and get a load of those Turbo Jets on the back of the taxi!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 9, 2008 6:41 AM
Beam me up, Scotty!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Cairo is a treasure chest of cultural adventure. In a single free day, it is possible to visit the Pyramids & the Spinx... those ones that I daydreamed about, over picture books in my schooldays (Yes daughter, they DID have cars when I was a child!). A side trip to the Egyptian Museum, a shock of vibrant colour from the Khan Ali-Kalili, a slow, dreamy, drift down the Nile a Felucca. There would still be time to tour the Citadel and Coptic Cairo (provided you had a Captain Kirk style transporter, what with the traffic here...)So what did I choose on my day off?A full, proper British Cinderella Pantomine, of course. Complete with "Ohhh yes you will, Ohhh no you won't", Ugly step-sisters and a princess in a sparkly dress. There was even free chocolate at interval.Miss 6 was in heaven. Does it get better at that age than men in dresses and fairy god-mothers on a full blown sugar rush?

Bet you didn't know that was coming.....hahahahaha.....and where were the ugly step-sisters when I need a photo of the incredible hulk!!!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 8, 2008 12:59 PM
On the Stairs

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Friday is officially Sunday in Cairo. At exactly 10:30am the walls began to shudder with the screaming from some type of power tool.Normally this would not be an issue, but for the first time since my arrival I had managed to sleep through until almost 10am, and was still slopping about in my glamorous silk PJ’s (ok… you got me, I was wearing dear husband’s t-shirt), and on my first cup of tea.After the incident during the week, my thoughts went immediately to ‘they who live upstairs’. Could they be upping the ante? Does a power tool outbid a sledgehammer? I started a slow burn....... Pulled on some clothes, grabbed my keys and set off in search of the offending noise, again.One flight up I found two men with their heads down the elevator shaft, not something you see everyday and not something you EVER want your children to learn is at all possible. They were obviously doing some major repairs, and after once being caught in this lift, I am all for repairing it. As a matter of fact, I have had no issues with the lift since the time I got stuck… interesting the effect it has when a wild-eyed Australian girl stumbles out of the black hole, hyperventilating, and shouts at the top of her voice “GET THE @%#%^^% LIFT FIXED!!!’.On the way back down I found the two little old ladies that live below us. I had met them once before. In the days when I wouldn’t get into the lift, I was taking the stairs and found them celebrating the fact that they had managed to change the light bulb on the landing between their apartments. They were so exciting; they even offered to do some handy work for me! Considering I am at least (well would like to think so) half their age, this seemed a little odd. Somewhere I heard that the one directly below us was German… could that be possible? What would a German lady be doing living in this building? The information gave me a conversation point, so when we met again, I asked her “Do you speak German?”There was much excitement – suddenly we could communicate. I was formally introduced to her neighbor – Madame Fatima, who spoke enough English for me to understand her – there was ‘the German lady’ who speaks a combination of German, Arabic & French. There was me, speaking German, English and a few Arabic words (a very few)... It was, without doubt, the most bizarre conversation I have ever had. They peppered me with questions about our origins, but were most interested in the fair-haired Miss Six, who they see flitting about. I was desperate to ask how Ms German Lady ended up in Cairo, but will save it for another day, sure there is a fascinating story there – or at the very least, another blog post.But in the end, we were all smiling, we all seemed to understand, and we have shifted our relationship to a new level.Who needs the United Nations translation earphones?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 6, 2008 9:15 AM
Out of the Red Haze into the Pink

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Or should that be a 'Green' Haze......Having spent the past two days in a state of 'irrationally pissed-off', I am starting to think there might actually be some truth about the whole ex-pat wife graph. Seems the 'honeymoon' stage took a big dive for about 48 hours.On the upside, it is STILL quiet in my building.The weather here is perfect. All the windows are open, we will just pretend the smog is not there, and a soft breeze is drifting through the apartment, carrying with it a fine layer of black dust that was only removed yesterday.I took the plunge, went to the butcher (I really tried hard NOT to look at his fingernails) and bought some local veal yesterday, which I then pot roasted. It was delicious, matched only by the sautéed red cabbage....shame there was nobody around to eat it other than Miss 6. It is a fact of life that the 'working' spouse on an overseas assignment will be spending more time with their office desk than with the trailing spouse. It is a case of 'get used to it or get out of it'. Without an ability to find a life of our own, it can be quite lonely for the one at home.My early efforts have paid off, and I now have a network of other women that are all too happy to listen to my outraged whining (as was the case yesterday). We have set up a system of 'just drop by' that helps to fill in the long hours when the workers are off overseas or just working late, again.These women provide the solemn nodding when one of us is upset. They understand when we are just having a bad day, and celebrate when the bad day passes. They relate stories of their adventures and pass on any helpful tidbit of information that might just make life smoother.They hold your hand when you head off for your first ever pedicure in this foreign country... so in true stereotypical expat style, that is where I am going right now.Chances are that something wonderful will happen along the way and I will have a fresh 'blogging moment' ready for tomorrow.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 5, 2008 8:20 AM

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"To reprove small faults within due vehemence, is as absurd as if a man should take a great hammer to kill a fly on his friend's forehead." Author UnknownThe day before yesterday I yelled at a 10 year old boy. Not your usual ‘scold the children’ style yelling, but a full blown, I HAVE HAD ENOUGH, slobbering, spitting, red eyes bulging, vein popping kind of yelling.Got your attention?It went like this. About 8pm. All is quiet and peaceful. Miss 6 has been feed and watered and tucked up in bed. The candles are lit and I am doing my evening ritual i.e. putting out the rubbish, making lunches for tomorrow, packing the dishwasher, wiping benches, putting away the multitude of miscellaneous items that the rest of the family seem to think have little legs that will walk them back to the drawers and cupboards from whence they came.Suddenly, the walls start to shake. Not just a little, but A LOT! The glasses were rattling in the cupboards and I begin to worry that the two pictures I have managed to hang so far, might fall off the wall.A steady, grinding thump, sounding very much like someone was trying to knock through the three feet thick walls of the building. This continued for about 15 minutes, without a break.We live on the top two floors of the building, and it appeared that the lovely family that inhabit the apartment opposite ours, were not at home, I started to get confused. Where was this noise coming from? We are the only non-Egyptians in our building; most of the other residents seem to have lived here since the fall of the Pashas. They are quiet and greet us with genteel elegance should we pass, but otherwise, keep very much to themselves.At about the 15 minute mark it became all too much. I pulled on a jacket and found some shoes, grabbed my house keys and set off to find out where the noise was originating.Although we ‘officially’ live on the top floors of the building, there is another apartment that belongs to… yep, and you guessed it, the Baawab. As I climbed the stairs the ear-shattering thumping became louder. Turned the corner of the last set of steps and I could not believe my eyes. Sitting on the marble landing, with a large heavy duty sledgehammer was a boy, very intently hammering with all his might onto the floor! It was a sledgehammer.Somewhere around here is when the yelling started. I can not imagine how frightening it must be to have a strange foreign woman yelling at you, in a language you can’t possibly understand (although it has happened to me in several countries). He looked up with huge eyes, hammer frozen in mid-strike.My eyes switched from him to the adult woman that was sitting on the sofa just through the door, my yelling became louder when I realized that the whole time he had been permitted to proceed with his mini destruction of our building – WITH ADULT SUPERVISION!Just to add emphasis to my rampage I managed to pull out the Arabic word for enough… I think they got the point.It has been incredibly peaceful the past 24 hours – I had the first night of unbroken sleep in 2 months. And all I had to do to get it, was terrorize a small boy.The picture of the incredible hulk is from THIS WEBSITE (obviously I didn't take a photo of him on the streets of Cairo)
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 4, 2008 9:48 AM
A few Odds and Ends

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
There is never a day here, when I am not either snapping a couple of photos, or wishing I had my camera out as we wizz past something so incredible that words alone will not describe.
Here are a few that have no story of any great interest attached. I simply like them:
These bottles of glitter reminded me of the little bottles of milk we were given at school many years ago - only these ones look like they are ready to be shipped off to the Wizard of Oz!
Lunch at Trianon, the salad bowls are made out of deep fried pastry - a very healthy and delicious lunch.. so long as you can resist eating the bowl. I ate the bowl.
How could you not be a happy camper if you had one of these rainbow feather dusters to assist you with your daily chores. If you consider that the fine gray dust here lands about 10 seconds after you have wiped the table - a feather duster is a 'must have' item.
This street door was just part of the tangle of buildings on a side street. On closer inspection it is beautifully carved and has such an intricate design. The history of the door and the carved pillar to the right of the picture are probably lost. Just imagine what you would pay for such a piece if it ever made its way to Sotherbys. To put a little smile on your face for the rest of the day, I leave you with a picture that I snapped out of a car window. I had intended to write some funny post, but nothing has come up... the photo just makes me laugh everytime I look at it. Then again, maybe this is another example of my weird Australian sense of humor.

Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 3, 2008 2:20 PM
Come walk with me....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
While the weather remains glorious in Cairo, I am taking full advantage and trying to walk as often as possible – this leaves Side-Kick Sam at a loose end, but he doesn’t seem to mind.More often than not, I walk to my Arabic class. Come along, I will show you the way:If you actually make it out of the lift, and are early enough, you will find our baawaba and her son sitting on the front step. He will have a cigarette, she will be doing most of the work. She is about 103 years old, and has warmed to me now that I am at least able to greet her in Arabic. The two of them will wish me a ‘Good Day… God willing….’.A short trip to the corner finds us at a star intersection. It is at this point that I became confused on my first time alone and got lost. How tragic is it to be lost within spitting distance of your own front door! On the same corner each morning, we will find ‘The newspaper guy’. He will be sitting in the exact same spot each morning, on the curb, between two cars. He will often have a friend to keep him company. We are not yet on greeting terms, so I usually slide a quick glance to the left and he stares blatantly at the odd foreign girl strolling past.Then we have a whole block when not much happens. The street is flanked on each side by imposing villas On the right, a carefully manicured, impossibly green hedge surrounds a large consular villa. On the left is an abandoned mansion or palace, inhabited only by a pack of wild dogs. The pack has grown since I arrived and they eye me with suspicion as I pass.At the end of this block I will cross the path of ‘the drivers’. Several of them must be waiting for people to come down from their apartments, and they gather to chat about local events – well so I assume, as I still understand very little Arabic. Their chatter will fall silent as I pass, and they too, will ogle me with a slightly leery sneer. Before I have reached them, I will have passed to the other side of the street. I will walk past with my best “don’t mess with me’ face. They say nothing – well I suppose it is possible they fall about laughing once I am out of range…..Then we hit the one main road that must be negotiated. This is not fun, a certain tightness in my belly signals that I find this part a little stressful. Making your way across any busy intersection in Cairo is a challenge, but made more so because of the taxis. Just when I think I have a break in the traffic, a taxi will slow down and stop right in front, tooting his horn for all he is worth, on the off chance you are blind and can’t see him, or that you are so stupid you don’t KNOW you really DO want a taxi. The taxi dance can continue for as long as 10 minutes. Then, if the gods deign to smile upon us, there will be a break in the traffic. No time for hesitation – once you take the first step you are committed. Often cars will just slow down to give you enough time to hop across – other times they will flash their headlights; this means ‘I am not stopping, move it or I WILL run you over’. From where you stand, there is no room for negotiation.Ok, are you still with me? You can breath a little easier now, we are almost there.There is sanctuary on the other side of that road. A leafy stretch, marked only by security guard huts outside the villas. About half way up this street we are going to find my favorite bunch of guards. They will be sitting together with little glasses of tea, listening to Mozart… yes, can’t you hear it? Not Egyptian pop music, like in all the taxis, but wafting out of the glass hut will be classical music. Their machine guns will be propped against the edge of the table, sometimes they will be chatting with the other guards or the baawabs, or just staring off into outer space. I am too shy to ask if I can take their picture and a little concerned that it might be too familiar and lead to problems further down the road.One more cross street and we have completed our journey. Each time I take this trip, I discover something new. Less than 5 ‘New York’ blocks and there is so much life crammed into every nook and cranny.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Mar 2, 2008 1:23 PM
Get me Brangelina's PA! STAT!!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
What an odd sensation. Today I couldn’t think of anything to write about. Does this mean that the honeymoon period here in Cairo, is over? Where is my sense of adventure? What comes after the Honeymoon period?Perhaps it is to do with the sheer volume of domestic drudge that arrived in the 112 boxes last week. Not on holiday anymore – just real life. Tired and cross, The Dear Husband and I snapped at each other for a couple of hours yesterday in a vain attempt to bring some order back to our world. In total we managed to unpack exactly 6 boxes. That leaves 107 boxes now stashed in the spare room (which was supposed to be the guest room, so I guess you are all flat out of luck now!)There are several conversations that tumble about in my head during this period of a move:First, how in the hell does Angelina Jolie manage to be in a different country, every week, with a different child, and STILL look so glamorous? Who packs and unpacks for her? When does she find time to send birthday cards, book children into school, plan life?Second, what exactly WAS I thinking when I bought that heavy wooden chest in Sri Lanka or those 30 tiny little, dust gathering boxes in India? Who did I think would be packing and unpacking these things for the next 30 odd years?Some things just make me laugh. I have a garlic pot that I bought in Munich in 1989. So far it has travelled from Germany to Turkey to India to Sri Lanka to Australia and now to Egypt. What will happen in 500 years when some archeologist discovers my garlic pot, will he know that it has done more air miles than Richard Quest? And really, what is the point of dragging a cheap, old bit of pottery around the world?Lots of questions today – not many answers.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 28, 2008 3:07 PM
Boxed In & Boxed Out

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Those of you that have been with me for a while will remember THESE BOXESWell now they are here. Three months of living out of a suitcase have finally come to an end.The scary bit is, that I have just become used to the idea of empty spaces. They are easy to keep clean and tidy. The apartment here in Ma'adi has become a small refuge from the hustle and bustle on the street. I like the wide open spaces.Now we have the same that I photographed boxes that I photographed all those months ago..... and I am wondering what could possibly be in them, because I haven't missed anything at all! In fact, I am contemplating just leaving them in their neat little packages in the spare room until our next move.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 28, 2008 11:57 AM
Tentmaker Alley

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions." Augusten Burroughs
There is no doubt, given a choice, I will always choose a dark & dirty street market over an Ultra sparkle mega mall, every time.So when someone asked if I wanted to tag along on a visit to the Tentmakers, well just try and stop me.
Not an easy place for tourists to find, so I am told. A long walk from the more accessible parts of the khan-al-khalil bazaar, that you find in all the guides. Go to the massive 10th-century gate of Bab Zuwayla, in old Cairo, cross the small square in front of the gate and you are at the beginning of one of the oldest thoroughfares in Cairo - Shari Khayyamiya. Khayma means "tent" in Arabic and here, in the Street of the Tentmakers, the ancient craft of making huge tent pavilions, or suradeq, out of appliqued cloth patterns has been carried on for hundreds of years.
I felt like I was stepping into a Harry Potter book. One of the last covered medieval streets left in Cairo. Dark and unchanged for hundred’s of years. The merchants in this street were incredibly warm and friendly. They even suffered through me using all my hard earned Arabic. The tents are incredible – there are rolls and rolls of brightly coloured canvas – walls plastered with hand appliquéd bed covers and cushions. A craft passed from father to son, there are but a few hundred of these craftsmen left now.
Four of the group decided to stock up on canvas bags – great for the beach or camping. Price: 17LE (US$3.00) – with much waving of hands, sighing and tutting, it was agreed that 15LE (US$2.70) was a more acceptable price per bag… everybody was happy.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 27, 2008 9:45 AM
Meet Side-Kick Sam

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Telling the future by looking at the past assumes that conditions remain constant. This is like driving a car by looking in the rearview mirror. Herb BrodyThere is no point in discussing the traffic in Cairo. Everyone knows that it is extreme, unless you hit the road very early on a Friday morning.My coping mechanism has been to put my head down and send a lot of sms's from the back seat. If I look, I am lost. My foot starts pumping the brake, an involuntary twitch starts, a sort of ducking motion as if I am in a 3D movie theatre wearing those silly glasses. Many cars have no side mirrors because they simply don't use them. Look ahead - Go forth.My trusty driver 'Side-Kick Sam' (as he has become known in my head) and I, have a gentleman's agreement - he gets me where I need to go, alive, and I don't grab for the wheel... too often. He is a good guy. He gives me no grief, and saves me from the 'rubbish bins on wheels' that pass for local taxis.The whole concept of 'having a driver' is odd for me. I am an independent woman. I pride myself on my ability to adapt to strange lands and different cultures. Taking Side-Kick Sam with me everywhere I go has certain drawbacks... no 'Britney' style drive-thru when I want an illicit burger. No playing my Paolo Nutini CD as loud as I want and as many times as I want (and we won't mention my singing along). Spontaneous, spur of the moment decisions just don't happen when you need to ensure that Side-Kick Sam knows when and where to pick up.But, last night I tried a little 'spur of the moment'. Decided to call in and have a glass of wine with a friend. Said friend drives herself here in Ma'adi, venturing outside the confines of this enclave only to collect her husband from work in the evening -- but even this is a short hop up the autostrade. In order for her to have a glass of wine with me, it was decided that Side-Kick Sam should be sent forth to do the collection. Aren't we clever!Husband returns, slightly pale."So how did you get on with Side-Kick Sam?"Husband loosens tie and beelines for the fridge and a cold beer."Interesting driving style....?" he mumbles.On further investigation, it appears that Side-Kick Sam had decided to show off his superior driving skills, turning a quick trip into an extreme sport by constantly switching off his headlights every second street and turning friend's husband into a nervous wreck.Why would he do that?Because........"It saves the battery, madam!"
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 26, 2008 10:43 AM
No Spring Chicken

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Sitting in my usual spot on the balcony -- 5th floor -- my cat perch. The sun is warm on my face and there is a slight breeze. A bubble of street noise rises up to greet me. Like an approaching swarm of bees, I hear the local children approach on their way home from school. As the hum increases to a roar, I look over to see a whole sea of naughty school boys, all looking up at me!Then it begins, one after they other they start to whistle. Pursing their lips and doing their best cat call impressions, their sharp, brown eyes darting up and down from beneath their camel eyelashes.Such impertinence! Such cheek!I take a deep breath and stretch to the very top of my 165cm's, and wave them away - grand sweeping 'Don't mess with me' gestures. In my very best Arabic 'Bass!!! (enough/stop)' But nothing happens... not only do they take no notice at all, but they simply don't react. Am I suddenly invisible?I squint to take a better look. It is then that I notice that I am not the object of their 10 year old boyish hearts, but the new parrot that now resides on the balcony adjacent to mine.Talk about thinking you are something special. Haaaaahaaaahaahahahahaah.....
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 25, 2008 4:39 PM
Redistributing the wealth….

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
…or a fool and her money are soon parted.Tipping is a big deal for me. By nature, Australians do not tip. It is a fairly recent action picked up from our apparent love of all things American. In Australia, the waiters are not paid ‘below the poverty line’ wages, that need to be supplemented by the 10-15% tip.Most Australians tip well if they receive good service – as simple as that.Here in Cairo it is a whole different ballgame. Let’s start with a few simple statistics lifted off the internet:Egypt:Population: Over 80 millionPopulation living below the poverty line – 20%Australia:Population: Over 20 millionPopulation living below the poverty line – N/A(information from the CIA WorldFact Book, and I only picked Australia because that is my country of birth)So here is the way I look at it. There is no doubt that we have more income than many people here in Cairo. It is a fact -- the guy that will pack my groceries today earns less than I will spend on groceries this week. The man that stops the traffic to allow my car to park will earn less than we will spend on lunch at the nifty little café.Interesting to note, our driver gets quite cross when I try to offer the man that just ‘cleaned’ the windscreen with his dirty rag, a pound (that is US 18 cents). And from what I have seen, Egyptians don’t buy little packets of tissues from the woman dragging around 3 or 4 small, bedraggled children in front of the Trademark Coffee Shoppe with free Wi-Fi. I haven’t quite nailed down just how the system works, but a comment from a well-to-do Egyptian lady trying to prove her point helped pull things together:“That pile of garbage was in the street before you came. It will stay there while you are here, and it will be there long after you leave. What is the point of upsetting everybody and having them all dislike you, when you can’t change a thing”As it stands today, we are currently paying a Baawaaba, a driver and a cleaner. We contribute to the incomes of the men that deliver the water, the fruit & veg, the meat, the beer, and basically anyone else that happens to knock on the door. And that is OK by me. I get the feeling that if the tables were turned, they would look out for me too.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 23, 2008 12:54 PM
English for Runaways II

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Getting those fish to sit still while they are being smocked must be difficult. Visions of fish in little frocks with embroidery and lace.......... "I will have the smocked turkey instead...."
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 21, 2008 4:47 PM
An Oops!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
All my fault - I was so busy reading and laughing at Martinis for Two that I forgot to add her to the blog list - so she missed out on being in the collage... sorry!!!So go visit and make her feel better...... MARTINIS FOR TWO
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 21, 2008 9:43 AM
Like Day and Night

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"I regard golf as an expensive way of playing marbles." G. K. ChestertonLife in Cairo runs from one extreme to the other. One afternoon I am invited to visit the new area of Kattamaya and 'lunch' at the Country Club. The next I am at the marble pits, filling my lungs with dust.A short 15 minute drive out of Cairo (from Ma'adi) is the designer McMansion suburb built around the Golf Course. Huge mansions sit side by side behind stone and wrought iron fences. Crystal blue swimming pools glisten in the distance. Trees are green, unlike those in Ma'adi, where they wear a coating of fine gray dust. It is a world of SUV's and designer sunglasses. I am sure I could hear the sound of a game of tennis and the clink of champagne glasses. It is a little bit of 'perfect life' in the middle of chaos - that only those lucky enough to possess enough money or a contract with a foreign passport can enter. Lunch was lovely, a pleasant respite - we could have been anywhere in the world. If you click on the photo, you will see a huge pool just below the grass area - that is not part of the club, but a private pool belonging to a mansion the size of a small hotel.Then it was back to madness the next day. Not sure what it is that makes me want to explore, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to check out the marble area in Wadi Degla. I can't even say I wasn't warned. But nothing can prepare you for the enslaught on the senses as I stepped out of the brand new luxury SUV with my designer sunglasses... aha, so there was my first mistake!Marble is everywhere in Cairo. All the bathrooms, huge expanses of marble flooring in every apartment. Foyers and even the outside of buildings are covered in marble. The reason for the visit to the marble area was to see if we could locate a marble tabletop at a reasonable price, rather than the over-inflated 'you are a foreigner' price that was being offered in town. Of course a quick glance at the car and the clothing meant that the price tripled in the blink of an eye. My arabic skills are not ready for the graceful art of haggling, just yet. Everything needed to be translated through the driver (like having a driver doesn't automatically sing PUT THE PRICE UP!)- so there is no way to know what is really being said. In the end, the cost of the table would have been about $20 less than buying it in the nice, clean store in town, avoiding the possibility that I might end up in an Iron Lung.I couldn't resist having a little snoop around while negotiations were taking place. I was very aware of being female, being a foreigner and NOT being covered. Caused a stir when I wandered out onto the road (if you could call it that) and snapped pics of this truck hauling giant blocks.Certainly easier than when they were building the pyramids!PS: The lines across the top of the truck photo are electricity cables - they fill the sky in this area - dust and radiation - it is like the end of the world.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 21, 2008 9:43 AM
Kitchen Window Collage

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
The very clever Ann at redacted recipes offered to put together a collage of the views we have collected on this journey - and believe me when I say, it is dangerous to offer anything around me, I will take you up on the offer and put you to work quick smart! A brillant job - don't feel sad if your photo didn't make it, depending on how it grows, we can do a 'part II' somewhere down the track. I love this - click on the photo (as usual) to see the photos properly. Putting them together really brings home the different places we all live and blog. Thanks Ann.

Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 20, 2008 7:34 AM
Cairo Calling

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Be to her virtues very kind. Be to her faults a little blind." Matthew Prior
Just ask questions, even if it drives everyone around you a little nuts, ask anyway. Being curious by nature is either a curse or a gift. I am yet to decide which.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with an Egyptian lady, a bottomless well of information. No matter what I asked, she knew something about it. If there were any grey areas, she would find someone else to answer my questions. We were discussing the 'calling to prayer' from the Mosques in Cairo. I was interested to know who did the calling, was it the same person each time, what training was required etc. Out of this she revealed something that quite startled me.
In the past, in days before Wi-Fi, boombox and ghetto blasters (see I am showing my age here) the call to prayer was done from the very top of the minaret. The pre-requisite to this postion was that the applicant had to be blind. Yes, blind!
From the top of the minaret, I imagine, you would have a clear view into the homes and lives of those living around the mosque. In order to safe guard the virtues of the female members of the household, a solution was needed. If the person doing the calling couldn't see, then there was no risk. As I have mentioned in other posts, Egypt keeps surprising me with its ability to create employment for everyone. No matter if you can hear or see.
The call to prayer may be louder now, and sometimes too loud if the mosque happens to have a wealthy benefactor that can supply bigger speakers, but the romantic past still lingers.
If you would like to hear the sounds of Cairo Calling CLICK HERE
If you would like to read more about equal opportunity employment in Cairo CLICK HERE
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 18, 2008 10:17 PM
In case you missed it....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
The Egyptians are so organised, they have a sign for everything:

Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 18, 2008 8:13 AM
Apparently, I need a therapist!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"The best cure for worry, depression, melancholy, brooding, is to go deliberately forth and try to lift with one's sympathy the gloom of somebody else." Arnold Bennett
One of the things that I have done to integrate myself into this crazy new life, is sign up for EVERYTHING. I just jumped in and started Arabic, put out my hand and introduced myself to as many people that didn't run screaming when they saw me heading their way. In fact, I signed up for so many things that I a beginning to lose track.
Yesterday I spent the day in a course for Newcomers to Egypt. Jam packed with information, excellent speakers, some that have been here for over 10 years and one that has been here since 1974. It was a chance to meet some new folk and perhaps pick up something I have missed while trawling through the internet.
A particularly interesting part, was a short talk by a clinical psychologist about the various stages that can come up during our tenure here. Later in the evening I was flicking through the reading material that was supplied and there was a list of 'symptoms' that relate to Culture Shock. It was noted by the psychologist that should we have 4 or more of these symptoms, that we really should be seeking out the help of a professional, a health professional.
I read out the list to my Dear Husband. And then we lost the plot... both of us fell about laughing until we thought we would bust.
When Dear Husband could finally control himself, he stated:
"But you have ALL of those... and whats more, you had them all BEFORE you came to Cairo!!!"
.......... I think he might be right.
(Except I don't have anything against Egyptians... just anybody in general when I am in a bad mood)
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 17, 2008 10:39 PM
Kitchen Window Update

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Who knew that my being a sticky-beak would grow to become something with a name? A meme, an Event even! So far we have 30 views, and I am loving it. I salute those that said they have a dreadful view -- then posted it anyway. I am filled with longing for the snow capped mountains that several bloggers have in their view. One blogger has a spectacular view of New York - wow. Many people have expressed dismay at the 'white-out' and have suggested we runs this again in a few months, then they can show off their real garden.On a personal level, I have enjoyed the opportunity to find some new blogs, with lots of new reading material and some that have delicious pictures of their latest creation.If there are people that I have missed out, and they aren't listed on the blogroll, please let me know.It is just fantastic having another whole community out there, full of new mates to play with!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 15, 2008 8:05 PM
10 things I like about Egypt…. So far

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
This is a take from a blog I enjoy reading - Charlotte's Web. A gifted writer, it is with the idea that she might read my posts, that I am conscious of my punctuation and spelling (would help if spellcheck worked in blogger!). I discovered her blog when I was feeling homesick for Germany at some stage last year. They do say that 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'. Whoever, THEY might be....10 things I like about Egypt…. So far.Home Delivery:You can have everything delivered here. And I mean, EVERYTHING. A phone call will bring someone with a bunch of fresh parsley should you discover you are out, just as you are making dinner. Take-away food is the click of a mouse or a phone call. It even extends to McDonalds. I find that a little scary. Should one so desire, one could stay in the comfort of their air-conditioned apartment and never leave.Social:Cairo has provided me with a variety of opportunities to meet new people. Miss Six made a ‘new bestest friend’ on her very first day at school *eyes up toward the heavens – thank you!*. With our apartment still being a large space with little furniture, it has been fun to see how the kids have managed to provide their own entertainment. A sheet, pillows and some boxes were quickly converted into a fort – and they had loads of fun. Who needs a playstation?Cairo is alive:Now the weather is getting warmer, I have been sitting on the balcony, in the sun, waiting for the school bus. An endless stream of people and vehicles pass by. Most of the time, from my cat perch above, I am able to observe without being seen. Should anyone chance to look up and catch me being a voyeur, it is usually met with a quick grin and a wave. I could easily drift off to sleep with the sun on my face, lulled by the squeaky bicycle delivery men passing by.The local school children:The local children have started back at school and it would appear that our street is a direct route. They pass by in the morning when we are waiting for the minibus to collect Miss Six. The girls glance shyly under their beautiful black lashes at us… giggle and clap their hands to their mouths. Miss Six is a blonde and attracts more than her fair share of attention. The boys are bolder and dare each other to say something to us, often a simple ‘Hello’, proving their grasp of English… and there is much merriment when we answer them back.Koshari:There is a possibility this dish might contain some kind of addictive substance. Since my first encounter I can not stop craving it. Koshari is one of the signature dishes in Egypt. Layers of macaroni pasta, rice, lentils, fried onions and a light tomato sauce - sounds bizarre in a 'non-carb obsessed' way, but quite delicious - My first tasting was at Abu Tarek (Downtown) one of the most famous local restaurants serving excellent koshari. Due to its local fame, some tourists have found their way here, but most of the customers are local. It is unpretentious, extremely cheap, and serves what many claim is the best koshari in town. For as little as 10LE ($2) you can eat very well.Scarves:It is not as easy as one might think to find Egyptian cotton in Egypt… in fact it is nigh on impossible. I have located some sheets at a government department store, but am told that most of the cotton is shipped overseas. What are available in abundance are beautiful soft cotton scarves in a rainbow of colours. A little store around the corner from my house has a large basket full and sells them for 20LE – they are perfect for wrapping around your neck and brighten up my day. Besides, it is still cold here!Strawberries:Every few days I have been buying a box of strawberries, washing them, trimming them and putting them on a plate. Within five minutes the plate is stripped bare. They are delicious. The children adore them and it makes me feel like they are eating well. Oh, and just to rub salt into the wound – about $1 a kilo.Shopping with Miss Six:We spent a month in Germany before coming here. Miss Six was being bombarded by an onslaught of television advertising angled toward children. It became unbearable to go shopping with her. In recent weeks I am noticing that the incessant 'I want, I want', has stopped. She enjoys our visits to the Fruit and Veggie man, and is presented each week with a little bag of fruit as a present. This seems to satisfy her ‘I want’ phase.Hugging Police:On every corner, on every roundabout, basically everywhere, there are police in Cairo. Usually found in pairs, usually looking like they just fell out of bed. Upon casual observation, they appear to be on a continual 'lovefest', greeting each other with hugs and kisses, arms wrapped around each other. When I mentioned this to one of our local drivers, his response was "oh yes madam, they are very happy, they would be very happy to shoot me!" I didn't know if he was joking....Persistence:I heard people talking about this when I first arrived. But now I am beginning to see it for myself. On the main shopping strip is a man that sells giant scampi out of a basket filled with ice. He asks me each and every time I walk past if I want to buy some. A few weeks ago I would say nothing, just scuttle past as quickly as possible, but now I am getting bolder and stride down the street with a cheery 'La’ Shukran' (no thanks). But each time, he still asks.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 14, 2008 10:40 PM
Start 'em young

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
There are times when life sends you picture postcards. Just a scene that makes you pause and breath out.
I stood entranced watching this tiny little boy, working diligently at cleaning up a puddle of water with a broom three times his size.
Undeterred, he laboured away, a tiny Xerox copy of someone important in his life.
He provided a remindered that it dosen't matter what I do in life, I just need to put my heart and soul into it, and satisfaction will follow.
Of course, it helps if you are wearing a very cool hat and a leather jacket.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 13, 2008 9:11 PM
I Heart U

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin." H. L. MenckenOn pretty much every roundabout in Maadi, there are at least one or two florists. Flowers seem to be big business here and the more gaudy the arrangement, the happier everyone seems.Contrary to the information gathered before arriving, flowers are not as cheap as I had heard. Large white lilies are about 20LE a stem… how do I know this? Because on my very first shopping expedition I decided to buy a bunch. I certainly asked ‘How much?’ before selecting and I am still sure that he answered, ’20 pound’…. Unfortunately by the time he had done a rather showy arrangement using miles of ribbon and a small nation of cellophane the arrangement ended up costing 160LE (that is $40 for 8 flowers). Being fresh off the boat, who was I to argue? He must have seen the ‘green-ness’’ radiating off me.So it is that I have not ventured back to the flower world since. Until today. I was attracted by the swags of red material, love hearts and pink teddy bears that have infested every store. It would appear that Egyptians are a romantic race, and St Valentine’s Day is a large, ostentatious event.
The florist must be expecting a rush. They have a selection of arrangements just ready and waiting to be presented to the keeper of your heart. You can see the prices in the photos; if you consider that many people earn as little as 300 LE per month (and many earn less), would you consider spending 3/4's of your entire wages for a month on flowers?
The last photo is of the arrangement that captured my heart -- every girl wants flowers accompanied by a teddy bear who has been stabbed through the heart with a giant pin so that he stays in place.Who knew that the humble carnation could produce such glory?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 12, 2008 12:19 PM
Say Cheese!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality." Clifton FadimanThere is no doubt that I am certainly getting the hang of this ‘shopping’ gig, here in Cairo. My Fruit & Veg man now knows better than to try to slip some of yesterday’s strawberries in the bottom of the bag. He will also supply me with boxes of bottled water. Meat is ordered online and delivered the same day, sealed, vacuum packed, frozen. Most of the meat comes from Australia. Groceries can be gathered from the French Multi-Mega-Ultra-Market, with little fuss. The only catch with going there is that I have to drag the bags up to our apartment myself, rather than somebody else doing it for a one pound tip. This becomes a chore when the lift seems to have a sixth sense— everytime I am lugging 30 kilo of pasta, rice & canned goods, it stops working. There is no point me complaining, the lift works perfectly for everybody else. It is a bit like going to the doctor with a sick child, as soon as you set foot in that waiting room, the aforementioned, lame duck child will spring to life with roses blooming in her cheeks, eyes shining bright and a spring in her step. Leaving you, looking like a fresh candidate for the Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome support group.After a month, my eyes have stopped searching desperately for ‘all things familiar’ – the staples are covered. This leaves me free to begin the adventure of discovering the new things that Cairo can introduce into our weekly meals.Cheese, has been something of an issue. Initial purchases were slightly disappointing in terms of taste or texture. Egyptian Edam is nothing at all like Dutch Edam. It’s more like a ‘left out in the sun on the back seat of the car’ texture Edam. Feta gives in abundance. Cream cheese is very popular, good quality and in every conceivable variety. A bag of Mozzarella balls proved an excellent addition to some sliced tomatoes. A crumbly aged Cheddar – let’s not go there.So it was time to become daring. The box looked good. Lots of pictures of healthy, happy goats scampering in green fields. The words ‘Fromage Demi Cheve’, promising. There was also the word Thym... It was good, salty and creamy, just the thing to smear on the fresh baguette that also comes from the French Multi-Mega-Ultra-Market.Obviously it’s time to take some French lessons when Arabic has been mastered. For some reason I found it really funny when I read the box and discovered this was a half goat, half cow milk cheese… sure didn’t see any cows in the picture on the box.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 11, 2008 12:34 PM
I'm not a Farmer

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Nothing is quite what it seems here in Egypt:Earlier in the week, The Dear Husband suggested to the Baawaab that he could perhaps pick up the rubbish from the front garden. The front garden consists of one Jacaranda tree, a couple of shrubs and a string of barbed wire.This morning there was a small exchange between the Baawaab (doorman) and The Dear Husband, who was going out the door on his way to work:Baawaab (who is attempting to drown the barbed wire with a hose): Good Morning!The Dear Husband: Good Morning!Baawaab: I’m not a farmer, you know!The Dear Husband: What?Baawaab: I’m not a farmer; I don’t know anything about farming.At this stage, The dear husband is looking totally bewildered.The Dear Husband: Right, Ok, thanks for letting me know.The Dear Husband jumps in his car and zooms off to work, leaving the Baawaab to continue his quest to drown the garden.I smell a request for more money coming.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 10, 2008 2:36 PM
Down The Rabbit Hole - Part II

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"My wife is always trying to get rid of me. The other day she told me to put the garbage out. I said to her I already did. She told me to go and keep an eye on it." Rodney DangerfieldIt has taken me a while to complete this post because I want to show the respect that I felt when we were taken through a very special part of Cairo known as ‘Garbage City’.This district is called Zabaleen (garbage collectors in Arabic), hence, ‘Garbage City’. There are approximately 17,000 garbage collectors or zabaleen that live in this district, and their families. They collect, sort and recycle the garbage that is produced by Cairo’s bulging population.It took me a while before I noticed that there were no garbage bins on the streets here. No wheelie bins at all for anybody that lives in our building. We were instructed to bag up our garbage and give it to the baawaab (doorman) for disposal. With so many new things to absorb, wondering where the bag of rubbish was going did not feature high on the list.The Zabaleen start work early in the morning, covering every nook and cranny of Cairo. They collect the garbage, then returning back to Mokattam. The garbage will be dumped and then sorted.One of the reasons that we needed a ‘special’ driver to take us to Mokattam (the hill area behind Zabaleen) was because this is a Coptic Christian community. Our driver told us that no Muslim driver would bring us to this place. I will admit to being a little worried when he first drove down the dark alley ways – and the sheer volume of rubbish is overwhelming.It is everywhere, cardboard stacked – bags of rags one atop another – many of the buildings have the bags of sorted rubbish on the roof. As you drive through the narrow laneways, you catch glimpses through shadowy doorways, where there are even more piles of sorted goods.I’ve never felt comfortable taking so called ‘happy snaps’ of people who are struggling to survive. I am acutely aware of my good fortune – my excessive water consumption, that my food is fresh and refrigerated. I could not stop thinking about how fresh and clean my sheets are when I climb into my bed at night, so there are not many photos… I simply can not bring myself to go down the path of ‘oh look how happy they are, and they have so little’ formula that is all too often heard from tour bus windows. I felt a surge of 'mothering instinct' when we noticed these little boys playing on a swing contraption -- if you look carefully, you can see that they have balanced the entire piece of metal on a couple of precarious rock piles.From nothing, an outcast community has created an extraordinary enterprise. Without the benefit of huge municipal garbage dumps and burning facilities, all the waste from this huge city is gathered and recycled. Even food scraps are used to feed the pigs (when I heard this I decided that I wasn’t so excited about eating pork products in Cairo, anymore.)Obviously there is an odor about the area, and, I imagine that in summer it must be an almost overwhelming one. Cairo has some 18 million people, and just about all their rubbish ends up here.The people of Zabaleen have essentially collected the rubbish of Cairo, at no cost over many years, making their living from recycling the rubbish. Today, there is even a small industry of women who have become something of a cultural phenomenon because of some of their handicrafts using discarded material, and the proceeds helps to secure the education of their children. I have been told there is a store where tourists can purchase these handicrafts, but I didn’t see it. With an almost 80% recycling rate in Cairo, these incredible people are managing to produce results that most 'so called' modern Western cities could not begin to replicate.But our driver and tour guide had other reasons for bringing us to this place – not to show us ‘Garbage City”, but because it is the only way to get to the Cave Church of St Simon……… be continued …….Down the Rabbit Hole Part III still to come…..* All photos can be better viewed if you double click on them.** If you would like to read more about the endangered future of the Zabaleen, CLICK HERE.*** If you missed the first part of this post - Click Here
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 8, 2008 3:18 PM
The God Mother

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda

"I'm a godmother, that's a great thing to be, a godmother. She calls me god for short, that's cute, I taught her that." Ellen DeGeneresCompletely off topic (but then, did I ever have a topic?) I have been asked to be a God Mother. At first I went down the path of, "Well sure, why not!" - Not only was I there, the day he made a decision to be born before I left for Egypt - a mere 3 months TOO EARLY, but his mum and I have been mates for an astounding 25 years.Once, in a Semillon sauvignon blanc, haze, I asked her why she put up with me for so long - I am annoying and forgetful and can be a complete pain (how do I know this... people have told me) - her reply was simple and perfect."What you don't get Lynda, is that I don't keep score."Well it seems she was telling the truth.Now she is a mother. We chatted on the phone today and it was mentioned that I could put some words together for the naming ceremony next Sunday. There will be a stand-in for me (I requested Julia Roberts, but she was busy), Cairo to Sydney for the weekend would be a bit tight.So here I sit, wondering what on earth I could offer up. Unfortunately I have a little tic, when I am nervous my mind seems to shoot off in all sorts of inappropriate directions.Suddenly visions of horse heads in cots are dancing through my head. I start channeling Marlon Brando... big cigars and black tie.Or there is the whole “fairy god mother” version - the short little apple round one from Disney's Cinderella... I suppose I could supply the rats, plenty of them here, and I have seen some decent sized pumpkins at the Souk. On second thoughts, perhaps I am more like the one played by Jennifer Saunders in the Shrek movies... she is more my style, pushy, sneaky and quite capable of turning you into a frog if you don't get her a 'deep-fried Mars Bar' fast enough.The honor of being a god mother was granted, 'because you will be able to tell him WHO is mother was, should anything ever happen to me". That put a bit of a damper on the frivolities, let me tell you. What would I tell him? Would I tell him about the time we got very tipsy on a tiny island off Thailand, and wandered back to our hut along a cliff, trailed by a group of puppies? At any moment I was convinced I was about to fall into the boiling sea below, while she was more concerned about convincing the puppies that they should NOT follow us, but go back to their mother!We managed to survive, and the next morning my friend woke up early. She was sitting outside our thatched beach hut, when a Buddhist monk with an umbrella walked past. He was all alone, and he went gently through the world. Not sure if this had an impact, but this same girl is now a Buddhist.There are so many stories, 25 years covers a lot of fun, heartbreak and learning.………..... I have always loved this poem by Kahil Gibran.Your children are not your children.They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.They come through you but not from you,And though they are with you yet they belong not to you......You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.Perhaps the only true gift I can offer this child is the gift of my memories.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 8, 2008 12:03 AM
Passionate Beepers

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
12:30 am --- BEEP BEEP beepbeepbeep BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP beepbeepbeep BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP beepbeepbeep BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP beepbeepbeep BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP beepbeepbeep BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP beepbeepbeep BEEP BEEP ....I would hazard a guess, that Egypt just won that football match that my neighbours have been screeching, shouting, clapping, screaming and bellowing at for the past 90 minutes.10 points for enthusiasim0 points for consideration to those of us that have a belly ache from over eating yesterday and are trying to sleep!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 7, 2008 1:31 PM
Miss Greedy

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
The new meme (who knew it had a name) about the kitchen window view is humming along. Lots of people are tossing up great pictures. Now we need to see some 'not so great views' or I will be all alone.
As stated by Oreneta - "it has all the joy of being a peeping Tom with none of the guilt." Nicely put.
I had nothing planned for today. Well, not until later this afternoon, anyway. A little coffee, a bit of a poke about the house... a lazy morning. Well, come on! I can't always be riding camels and swimming the Nile.
I did make a short foray out for some weekend supplies. One of the local ex-pat support centre's runs a great little market stall on Thursday and Sunday. Cook's Day Off. It works a treat. A group of vendors gather and sell homemade meals - these can keep the family humming away for the whole weekend. A huge variety from Thai to American Tollhouse cookies, and all for a very reasonable price. So far, I have tried the Indian food and an Egyptian dish. Today I picked up some Thai food and a white bean salad. By the time I arrived home, it was lunch time... well I will just have a little......I haven't been hungry lately, bit tired of my own cooking...
......I just ate the WHOLE portion of Chilli Chicken and half the white bean salad. It was delicious. I am terribly ashamed of my greediness... this is my confession... hehehehe... boy was it yummy!
Now all I need to do is dispose of the evidence before the rest of the family arrives home!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 6, 2008 9:52 AM
Out My Kitchen Window

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
This seems to be such a great idea - I loved being able to look out 'other people's' windows. I put a link list on my sidebar, so don't forget to let me know that you have posted and I will add your page. So far, EVERYBODY has a nicer view that ME!sniff...sniff...
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 5, 2008 8:10 PM
Doing the Dishes

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
As this blog seems to have picked up a few new readers (Lulu is doing the happy dance!) and as they seem to come from all over the world, I thought it might be nice to start a little chain. Show me what you look at when you are doing the dishes, or cooking the dinner.My window is quite high and the view is a disaster. Cairoeons seem to forget there is an 'outside' of the building. Apartments here are often designed with the kitchen shut off from the main living areas, so that the maid is kept away from the guests. My kitchen is not like that, but the window offers little inspiration.What is the view from your kitchen window?Don't forget to leave a comment so we can whip over and have a peek!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 5, 2008 2:50 PM
Ladies Who Lunch...Darlink!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
After tripping over my grumpy self the past couple of days, it was clear that an excursion was needed. I snaffled up another pampered expat wife (we are the ones with rats... remember) and we headed out of Ma'adi toward the Nile.
There has been much talk about a bookstore in Zamalek, Diwan. An egyptian styled 'Borders' if you will. Due to the nature of the traffic in Cairo, all trips need to be planned with precision timing, otherwise small children will be left abandoned on the steps of the school, while frantic mothers grind their teeth and will the traffic to part so they can be on time.
We set off at 9:30am, and found the bookstore quite quickly. It is lovely and true to the rumours did indeed house a little coffee shop. There was something for everyone. Lots of children's books, even in German. It was decided that for next Christmas we would be returning and buying up their collection of fabric gift bags, instead of wrapping paper -- they retailed for 8 - 10 LE (about Aus$2) and were stunning. Sure beats messing about with sticky tape.
A celebration seemed in order. Just up the road is the Marriott Hotel - a converted palace from 1862. An enormous collection of restaurants, rooms and shops. There are 2 towers on each side that are not overly sympathetic to the original structure, and the whole place is painted 'baby poo brown'. But they do have a lovely garden, with a large cafe, so we picked up a salad and pretended to be 'ladies who lunch'... whoops.... I forgot, we ARE ladies who lunch!

Belly full, minus the crisp, cold glass of chardy, that would have gone down a treat; a quick tour of the hotel revealed a conference in full swing. Perhaps it is just my warped Australian sense of humor.. but I thought it was funny! Check out the sign.....Did they pick this hotel because of its colour?

Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 4, 2008 6:19 PM
English for Runaways

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Right. The day did NOT get better. I had only just gathered my wits after the rat incident and was about to set off to my Arabic class, when it seemed that the lock on my front door had become stuck fast -- and I was on the wrong side of the door. I decided to just walk to class as planned and on the way I phoned dear hubby.... it was not pretty. Poor thing was still shivering from my tantrum this morning, so basically there was nothing he could say that would help soothe the savage beast, other than 'Go to class, I will have it fixed before you get back'. And he did, god bless his little cotton socks.
Just as I was considering hitting the bottle of Bombay Sapphire again, I heard a bit of a racket outside on the street. A group of local boys had started up a game of soccer, with the ball that I had found on my top balcony the day before. I had left it on the stairs, in the hopes that it would go to a good home. The sun was shining, it is about 20 degrees, I sat on one of the balcony chairs to watch the boys drive the cars mad. The beeping horns didn't seem to distract them from scoring goal after noisy goal. Suddenly I realised I had been sitting with my face in the sun for 15 minutes, and I felt better. As the Dalai Lama says "This too, shall pass". How right he is.
On the up side, the local paper that was delivered to our doormat today, provided a brilliant clipping for my collection of bastardized English. Could you please show me the way to the 'path room'?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 4, 2008 7:22 AM

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Everything is funny as long as it is happening to Somebody Else." Will Rogers
Well, there you have it. My first Egyptian meltdown, and I was doing so well. After following all the advice I would probably give everybody else, my calendar is filled with activities. Arabic is humming along. Miss 6 is settled into school. Whenever anybody asked, I had a snappy little ‘oh it is great here, I love it’, ready to toss back.But….and isn’t there always a but; yesterday I started to feel a bit grumpy. The persistent nagging cough has been knocking me about. We had a great weekend, culminating in a real Aussie BBQ with a terrific family (also German/Australian) on Saturday night; technically, all should be right with the world.It started when the elevator was, yet again, not working. Seems that whenever the baawaab (doorman) has use for a lift, it springs to life, but for me… no go.But the real cause of my internal churning came from the rats. We have a duplex apartment, with wrap-around balconies on both levels. It was noted on first inspection that there appeared to be a rat’s nest somewhere above the upstairs balcony. How did I know, I hear you ask? Rats like to leave behind a little trail of ‘nuggets’ similar to Hansel & Gretel… god forbid they can’t find their way back to the nest.Then 2 days ago there was an incident on the front door mat… the bag of rubbish that I had put out for the baawaab to take away (well I suppose he has to do something for the 100LE he gets each month) had been ransacked and the evidence strewn for all the world to see. There could be only one culprit – Rats!The rubbish disposal system is a little confusing. It is expected that we put our rubbish out on a daily basis (god forbid we should get rats in the house!) for the baawaab to collect at 4am. Why 4am? Because that is when he gets up to go to the Mosque.Unfortunately the little blighters have cracked the code and know they have an easy run between 10pm and 4am to sit down to a gourmet dinner.But then it happened again this morning… cooked pasta and broccoli all over the front doormat. Suddenly I was stamping about the apartment like an angry little troll. Rubber gloves were snapped on, steaming hot water was being sloshed about, copious amounts of heavy duty caustic cleaning fluid was flying through the air. Down on my hands and knees I scrubbed every inch of the entrance to our home, the whole time muttering really bad words about rats and doormen and Cairo, basically anything else that happened to pop into the red haze.The scrubbing appears to have had a calming affect. The child and husband bolted as soon as they could get past the bucket of soap suds, glancing back only to make sure I didn’t actually have steam puffing out of my ears.Can’t say I wasn’t warned. Everyone told me it would be the ‘little stuff’ that would finally crush the ‘little miss sunshine’ exterior.They were right!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 3, 2008 2:28 PM
Ava - Super Princess

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Darling Ava,It feels like a moment ago we let our pink balloons fly free, and yet a year has passed. The disbelief still lingers. We miss you.xxI believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge myth is more potent than history dreams are more powerful than facts hope always triumphs over experience laughter is the cure for grief love is stronger than death. Robert Fulghum This beautiful picture is part of the SuperPrincess series from - bella and boo $5 of every sale will go to the Mater Childen's Hospital in Brisbane, which cared for Ava.Click here:To see beautiful photos of Ava and read Sheye's wordsIf you would like to light a candle for Ava, click here.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 3, 2008 2:28 PM
Clean Air…. At last!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the hell she is." Ellen DeGeneres
Finally a Saturday dawns where there is no rain, no flooding, no dust storms, not freezing… just blue sky and about 18-20 degrees. Perfect for a walk. My treadmill is still in the container we shipped from Sydney, and the container is now taking an extended holiday in Alexandria. We expect that any day now, it will be released and our belongings will find their rightful place with us in Maadi. Without the treadmill, and with the weather being less than perfect, it has been a sedate month all round. Not a good thing for the waistline, seeing as January follows December and in December I was eating my way through Germany. Might be time to join a Gym.
But back to the walk. We headed out of Maadi, an easy 15 minute drive to Wadi Degla Desert Park. It is quite astounding that within 5 minutes of easy walking we felt like we were a million miles from the hustle and bustle. Other than a few other walkers, we were totally alone in a huge desert valley.Best of all, the air is clean. Really clean. There was a stiff breeze blowing, and the hacking cough that has been ever-present was mysteriously gone.Apparently you can camp overnight after getting permission from ‘the minister’ (we weren’t able to find out which minister), but a good 2 hour hike through the valley, with occasional forays up the sides to get a better perspective was enough for us to start feeling a little healthier.
The photos don't do it justice, the area has a quiet beauty, all of its own. It seems to command respect and perhaps that is why it is so clean. The park has the same rules as any other national park - 'take nothing out - leave nothing behind'.Wadi Degla Desert Park doesn’t seem to make it onto the tourist maps very often, which is a good thing for us, but would be a worthwhile side tour for people who just want to get ‘away from it’ for a couple of hours.It should be noted that there is literally nothing there, other than desert, so take a couple of water bottles with you and perhaps some energy bars if you plan to visit.
Oh, and go to the toilet before you leave home.
If you are interested in reading a bit more about this park, here is a link to an excellent article that talks about the history and the wildlife - also touches on the encroaching industry in the area:
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 2, 2008 4:33 PM
Would you be cut out for the expat life?

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda you be cut out for the expat life? The article is aimed at people choosing to retire to a foreign country - but it helped to get the juices flowing.After reading the article above I started thinking about what this odd life is all about. It seems I am destined to repeat things in life – a second chance or just a redo because I was so crap the first time.My children are born 14 years apart – that makes it like having two only children. But it has given me a chance t rethink my parenting techniques and perhaps be a better mother.After a few years back on home turf, I suddenly find myself back in the thick of this world where everything is new and strange, where I am expected to ‘find my way’. Cairo is superior to any other expat posting I have experienced to date. There is enormous support available. But there are all sorts of questions floating around my head:Why would you uproot your entire family to move to a completely foreign city?How do women cope with the sudden loss of income or job/prestige?How do you raise healthy, secure children in this expat life?
There are things like education – connection to family – who are you?
We were in Thailand on holiday and our eldest daughter was talking to an American swimming in the pool. She was about 7 years old at the time. He commented on her odd accent and asked her where she came from?
"Well, my dad is German and my mum is Australian. We live in India...but I think I might be Turkish!!"
We were obviously shocked at her response, never thinking that she had no real sense of her own nationality.
How to deal with children that have maids/drivers/cooks/nannies at their beck and call?Then there is the ‘office wives ’ minefield?
How do you keep the marriage healthy?
Dealing with the grief when great friends 'move on'?In the end, why do we do it? Is it really about money? Is it running away? Is it adventure?
I would really love to hear from all those people that have commented and all the ones that have been reading but not saying 'hello' (yes, I know you are out there).... I will put together a post with all the information and stories I gather.... maybe it will help make sense of it all for me and for other people out there doing the 'expat dance".
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Feb 2, 2008 1:02 AM
Sand, Smells & Gas

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
There has been a major glitch in communications if you happen to live on the African continent, as I do. Some time on Thursday someone noticed that the cable that connects us to Italy was becoming corroded (I don’t know this to be true, but that is how it looked in my head)… and suddenly all internet connection between Africa and the rest of the world – disappeared. As I was underway for most of the day, I didn’t notice until later in the afternoon. Just one night without any contact certainly brought home just how reliant I have become on instant information, instant connection.The internet has been restored, but is sloooooooowwwwww and irritating – how quickly did I jump from NO INTERNET to CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT.Anyway, while I am still gathering my thoughts on Down The Rabbit Hole – Part II, here are a few more random observations from Cairo.Why are all the cars so clean?This bothered me for several weeks. For such a dusty city, I rarely saw a car that was not gleaming. As school began and I was out on the street earlier each morning, I noted the buckets and old cloths that seem to be everywhere… and in each street, one or two men cleaning the parked cars. Some people also arrange for their baawwaab (doorman) to do this task or there seems there is a government department here where you can sign up for an annual subscription, giving them the time of day that you want to have your car cleaned - Hey Presto! When you are ready to drive to work it will be done. It makes perfect sense when you consider the damage that is done by the blowing desert sand. Speaking of sand….Cairo brings the desert to you!The weather is a hot topic here… well most of the time. It has been really cold the past month… turn on the electric blanket cold. With houses designed to keep the heat out, it is difficult to find a cozy corner. There is also talk of the March sandstorms – one friend declaring to me that she wears swimming goggles during this period (this I gotta see)…. Same mate and I were having coffee when the light outside turned yellow and she said ‘there is a sandstorm coming’. Quite early this year. And sure enough the wind picked up and it was truly unpleasant to walk out side. The balcony outside our living area had been swept that morning… by later that day; a small portion of the Sahara Desert was neatly deposited at our feet. We are on the 5th floor………see, everything can be home delivered here.Back to the Mega Super French Hypermarket.After just a few visits, it appears that this market is going to continue to provide a rich source of anecdotes for my blog. On my last visit I was searching for SuperGlue – it is the little stuff that reminds you that you are ‘not in Kansas, anymore’. In desperation I went into the aisle with the Car Care products. There was a crowd of about 15 people gathered around one particular section. Ever the sticky beak, I couldn’t help but edge forward to see what they were all looking at. Dangling from the rear vision mirror Car Deodorants! What? But there was certainly heavy debate on which was better, which would last longer, which smelt the best…. And there was an extensive choice. Since then I have noticed just how many of these are jiggling about, stinking up the world. Hardly a car goes past that doesn’t have one… and Taxi’s often have several…In my kitchen is a drawer that explodes everytime I walk past... it is full of plastic shopping bags. I have gone from being the poster child for canvas shopping bags to harbouring a breeding colony....On the same trip I had close encounters with 3 different women all in full Abaya. The first one simply walked up to me and shoved a bottle of hair remover into my hand, pointing at the bottom label… where I assume there should have been a price – but there wasn’t, so all I could do was say “I don’t know?” It was sort of funny to see someone with only their eyes showing, roll those eyes, as if to say “stupid good for nothing foreigner!” Then again, perhaps she was suggesting I should do something about my hairy upper lip? The second encounter caught me off guard. I was peering intently at tins of tomato paste, and suddenly found myself looking into the most piercing blue, crystal clear eyes…. All surrounded by black. In fact, there were two sets of them and when they spoke it was without a doubt, Russian. But that was just the warm up for the next aisle where another woman in full Abaya spoke sharply to her husband about the lack of a certain brand of mayonnaise…….in a loud American accent. HUH? Who knew? Cairo is full of surprises.Excellent debt collection here in Cairo.A knock on the door announced the man collecting for the gas bill. The companies just employ someone to go from door to door with the invoices and they collect the cash each month. Each of them is holding a large wad of bills, and with Cairo being so safe, there appears no threat of him being mugged. So far we have had someone knock on the door asking for Gas, Electricity and the internet bills to be paid. It was a bit hairy the first time because I don’t understand what they wanted, so they just left the bill and said something like ‘come back next month’. (well I assume that is what he said… perhaps he said “halfwit idjit female….”The gas bill for the month was 3 L.E = 60cents……….. read it and weep!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 29, 2008 3:11 AM
Entrepreneurs Unite!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Most people that know me in real life, know that I am an eBay zealot. Discovered during my days at home with a new baby (and too many free hours on my hands), I progressed from 'just looking' to selling off anything that wasn't nailed down, in the space of a couple of months.
Any toys that were left lying around the house would be quickly put away by the offending child by the casual mention 'hmmm, wonder what I would get for THAT on eBay'. In fact, there have been occasions when I considered putting the children themselves up for sale. *wink wink*
In the frantic schedule before our departure to Cairo, I managed to sell off most of our furniture and anything else that we didn't think would fit into the container. Sometimes eBay would surprise me and I would discover something I considered to be junk had just gone nuts, many people snapping in their bids. All good fun. So, it was with a heavy heart that I left my little enterprise behind, knowing that Egypt & eBay wouldn't be an option.
So imagine my surprise when I checked the mail this afternoon and discovered this flyer in the box. Not sure that eBay would approve - but I love a good sale. And I appreciate that someone has obviously gone to a lot of trouble.
*FYI .eg is the suffix at the end of websites originating in Egypt - similar to (Britain) or (Australia)
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 29, 2008 3:11 AM
Down the rabbit hole - Part I

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
It has taken me a few days to start this post because I want to show the respect that I felt when we were taken through a very special part of Cairo known as ‘Garbage City’.One of the drivers that took us around when we first arrived was assigned to us last Friday. He has taken a bit of a shine and told us that he ‘had a surprise’. Not sure how I feel about surprises in countries like this. But first we had plans to meet up with some other families at Al-Azhar Park. A perfect little piece of paradise in the middle of a crazy city.“The creation of the 30 hectare Al-Azhar Park by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, came when his highness the Aga Khan decided to donate a park to the citizens of Cairo in 1984, out of the Islamic belief that we are all trustees of God’s creation and therefore must seek to leave the world a better place than it was before us."We arrived early on Friday morning, setting out from Maadi about 9am. The high stone walls of the Citadel stretch up to greet you as you roll toward the gates. A 5LE entrance fee (about US$1) and you suddenly fall down the rabbit hole. Laid out before you, are perfectly landscaped gardens. Not a scrap of litter to be seen. Soft music tinkles in time to the gently bubbling fountains. We headed right up the centre toward the main building – and then switching right because at the top of the hill is a children’s playground to rival any European or Australian one that I have ever seen.“Before work started, Al Darassa was a municipal rubbish dump. The builders had to clear a 500-year-old accumulation of fill and debris, the equivalent of more than 80,000 truckloads of material which built up here over the centuries.” From the other side of the park, there is a lookout with a view over Old Cairo, a sharp contrast from the marble pathways and trimmed hedges. The houses seem to just go on and on, until they disappear into the smog. Earlier that day, the driver had tried to tell us that it was fog... but we weren't buying it and the constant coughing and sore throat since our arrival, seems to sway the truth in our favour. We stopped for a coffee at the elegant cafe - service was slow, and the 35LE minimum charge per adult gave us a giggle – one coffee was 8LE… we figured that with the speed of the services and the prices, that we might just be able to hit the target before sundown. Toward noon the crowds started to arrive – like buses being emptied. The serenity started to dissipate and it was time to move on…….The contrast between Al-Azhar park and our next destination could not have been more defined.TO BE CONTINUED.......................
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 26, 2008 6:52 PM
Who packed the Ark?

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
It began a sticky, foggy day. Driving along the road to Kattemaya was like stepping back into an old photo album. A sepia haze covered everything, so thick that to pull a breath was like being underwater. Little did we know, we soon would be. Our plans for the day – A visit to the Wadi Degla Desert Park seemed a bit of a wash out. So we headed further afield, hitting the road toward the Red Sea. A slight mishap when the driver hit a bucket on the AutoStrada at about 100 km/per hour, but he managed to pull to the side of the rushing traffic without too many hairy moments. Super Husband jumped out of the car and then over the guardrail to fetch a piece of wire (there is always something lying around in Cairo)… fished out the bucket and off we went.
Then it started. First a few spots on the windshield… then a few more and suddenly a torrent of water, reminiscent of the monsoon rains in India, hit the car. Within 3 minutes there were great rivers of water across the road. Cars left and right were struggling to drive in the wet, one would have to assume that what was happening in Cairo was the equivalent of a snow blizzard in Sydney.Some cars had windscreen wipers – others didn’t, and some, we suspect didn’t know where to turn them on. Cars started stalling, dropping off like fouled apples from a tree. Cars were being washed across the road as other bigger trucks barreled through, the now, sea of water. At our exit on the Autostrada we saw that there was a sea of cars and trucks that appeared to turned into a lake and we were really happy that we didn't have to find our way through that mess.The driver told us he had never seen it rain so hard in Cairo during his lifetime. The man sitting on the top of the truck above should get an award - as if sitting on the top of all that rubbish and travelling through Cairo isn't bad enough, it was pouring as well. Cairo never ceases to remind me, daily, of how cushy my life is. We saw a street sweeper; frantically scooping up buckets of water off the street and into his garbage bins… what he was planning to do with the water later is beyond my comprehension. And when my dear hubby passed by that corner an hour later, this same man was still scooping. He gets my AWARD OF THE WEEK for True dedication to the cause!A quick visit to the mighty mega mall revealed that Egyptians could learn a thing or two about roof building, the mall was flooded. Water pouring into shops, just newly opened, causing such distress for the owners.By the time we made it back to Maadi, it was like we suddenly lived in Venice… with no drains in the gutters, the streets were awash. The sun came out again just as we arrived home and for the first time I saw how green the trees really are here.We must have used the phrase ‘Wow, this is an adventure’ so many times since landing in Egypt that Miss 6 now interprets it to mean - “Hold on baby, we are about to hit a speed bump!”
There was so much excitement about the rain today (without a doubt, every blogger from Cairo will mention it) that I still haven't had time to write up the trip from yesterday, the throat is a little better today, so tomorrow I will finish yesterdays post - does that make sense?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 26, 2008 1:22 AM
A Big Girl Now

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in." Graham Greene
Hmmm... quite a reaction to my last little post. A lovely friend of mine calls blogging 'my therapy'. Perhaps she was right all along. I was quite startled by the odd flood of memories that came rushing back after the 'Jack in the Box' episode, but am old enough and wise enough today to know that the little girl within no longer rules my destiny. She is simply along for the ride.Most important is to thank all those people that either commented or sent me an email. I am lucky I have so many caring people around me. Rest assured that all is well. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my blog would head in this direction. Might be time to get back to the kitchen before I am flat out on the couch telling you about my dream last night!Today has been a rich day, full of new adventures and many new stories to tell... but I am too tired to do them justice now. It appears that I have picked up a bug somewhere and I can feel myself staring down the barrel of a couple of days surrounded by tissues, lemon & honey tea and a pair of flannel PJ's. And wouldn't you know it; my outlook calendar is full of arranged appointments next week. Seems my trepidation at meeting all those new girls was remiss and they have just scooped me up. I am now 'one of the gang.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 24, 2008 10:11 PM
Jack in the Box

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
It was quiet.. too quiet. I had just heard via the ex-pat grapevine that the water is going to be turned off in our area for the next 36 hours... oh what fun. The bathtubs were being filled, the pots and the pans.... an order for a large box of drinking water was on its way. Where was Miss 6?............ SHE NEARLY GAVE ME A HEART ATTACK WHEN SHE JUMPED OUT!I hugged her, we laughed and I ran to grab the camera for a repeat performance......One of my earliest memories -- being at my nanna's house, waiting for my mum and dad to collect me. It was getting dark. I saw the car pull up... but they just sat there, talking. I crept up the driveway and hid behind the giant palm tree beside the car. After they finished talking the doors opened... they got out ------- SURPRISE!!! I yelled... ..........they were angry... terribly angry and I was soundly scolded for scaring them.My mother's eyes were red.... she had been crying........I didn't ever scare my parents again. Shortly after this they separated, my mother moved away, I was left with my father... .... ... I was 6.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 24, 2008 12:12 PM
Barbie, Ken and the French Colony

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda

I'm not quite sure how to handle this. Miss 6 likes to have a few minutes to play with her dolls before she goes to bed. Lately I have been finding Barbie and Ken in 'compromising' postitions... what are they up to? What you can't see in this picture are the 'others' that are standing in the background watching, or should I say glaring.
We are travelling light these days, still waiting for the container to arrive, so these four Barbies have now travelled from Sydney to Abu Dhabi to Cairo to Cologne and back to Cairo. They appear to have become very good friends... Ken and his harem.
Left to their own devices, children can create a whole world out of a couple of dolls, a roll on hand luggage and a couple of sticks.
We are taking bets that there will be a powerstuggle when the Polly Pocket gang arrive, because they have a car... MARIAAAAAAAAAAAAAA........
Speaking of harems.... Miss 6 took this picture this morning from the car window. I tried to explain that she should put the blind up (not that we need the blind down - she just likes playing with it)...but Miss 6 has developed 'parental advice deafness' recently. When I looked at the picture later I couldn't help but wonder if this is how women in the Middle East (and some here) see the world from their Abaya? Vagabondblogger should note that there is a blue and white VW bus in this picture
One of the things I love most about Europe are the blue & white enamel number plates on the houses. In fact I love them so much that when we bought a house in Australia, we sent the in-laws on a mission to find number '30' at a flea market somewhere.. not an easy task, but after discovering that it would cost us about 80 Euro to have one made.....well, you get the idea. Full credit to the 'oldies', they did eventually manage to track down number '30' and then shipped it off to Australia for us. So you can imagine how happy I was to find that most of the house numbers and many of the street signs here in Maadi are from the same blue & white enamel. There are many small details left from the French colony days here in Cairo. The guard rails along the Nile river, the lamp posts, and of course the interior decorating style of many furnished apartments. I was amazed the first time I saw half of Chateau de Versailles installed into a 150 sq mtr living area.
The number plate on the front of our building is in a poor state of repair (as is the front of the building) and the street sign for our street just happens to be sitting on our front fence.... we are awfully tempted to 'souvenir' it, but there is a watchman across the street with beady little eyes -- besides we are a bit concerned that one of us might end up in an Egyptian prison, and I don't believe that would be a good thing.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 23, 2008 12:30 PM
No Parking

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
The rain has stopped here in Cairo, but this morning we woke to a real 'pea soup' fog. There was an eerie light on the road past the school. The driver has now learnt to slow down if I start scrambling about in my handbag to grab my camera, whilst frantically trying to get the window down. He is still confused as to why and of what exactly I am taking a photo, but seems to tolerate my foibles with an unusual level of patience. I haven't done any touch ups on the picture - click on it to see it full size. It was tempting to call this blog post 'Hell's Carpark'. Evergreen forests have always been my landscape of choice. Thick baltic pines, their needles carpeting the forest floor, making perfect nests for mushrooms and toadstools to flourish. But somewhere I am discovering that the harshness of a desert, so different from the sand dunes I was expecting, is revealing something beautiful too.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 22, 2008 9:56 PM
Degla Desert Dingos

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda

Flanked on one side by the Wadi Degla Desert, it looks quite desolate. Currently they are digging a huge trench that runs along the length of the road that leads to the school. The backhoes create dust storms that drive the 'drivers' mad...... the sand settles everywhere. I wonder if they will fill it with water and turn it into a moat. Apparently it is a protected nature park, and offers an opportunity to walk or jog.. many people use it for biking -- there are special trails.
For the past couple of days I have notice a few dogs at the end of the road. They look a little like Australian Dingos - only slightly larger. They have long tails that curl up --- it gives them a 'happy to see you' look. Just before the road turns to the left and heads back to town is an obvious dumping spot... rubbish blows across the road. In the middle of the rubbish are three puppies.. two brown and one black... they look so sweet and possess the same curly little tails as their parents. I would like to ask the driver to stop so I can pet them... but I haven't had a rabies shot and don't plan to in the near future.
I took this photo yesterday as I was leaving the school that Miss 6 attends. They seem to own this part of the desert... the air was different and they were alert to the change that was coming...later in the day it started to rain... it is still raining. I have yet to see a single umbrella on the street. The dust and the water have mixed to form mud puddles everywhere... and I just noticed that there are no drains in the gutters... well why would there be, its not like it ever rains here.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 22, 2008 11:56 AM
25 things I never get tired of.....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
I read this post over at Life Begins @ 30 -- a couple of days ago, it has been stuck in my head ever since.Last night I decided to write MY list... and it was lovely to visit things that make me happy for no particular reason.Many of them have nothing to do with wealth or success... most are about home and family. Some of them surprised me."25 things I never get tired of." ---- in no particular orderTurning off the light in the kitchen, after dinner, when all the benches are cleaned and the dishwasher is on.Hearing my daughter upstairs playing alone…. Singing softly to herselfMy Birkenstock house shoes…mmmmWhen my husband absent-mindedly strokes my hairLooking in the fridge when I arrive back at my in-laws house in GermanyThe smell as the first rain drops hit the ground – anywhere in the worldThe colour of the sky in Winter, in SydneyFeeding other people – they look so happyWatching the sparks fly off my eldest daughter when she races through the door with some exciting news.Picking up where we left off, when my girlfriends ringChristmas and all the trimmings – the candles, the cookies, the red and the greenLaughing until my cheeks acheGoing for long, brisk walks, after lunch, with my Father-in-lawTurning on the lamps and lighting the candles for a cosy night at home.The sound of snow crunching under my bootsWatching Lindenstraße over the netPutting $10 in the salvation army tin whenever I passPraise of any description…Watching my friends throw their heads back and laugh at something I have saidWhenever anyone comments on my blog. Still can’t believe that anybody actually reads itA vase of white tulips on the tableHutschenreuther “Zwiebel Muster” Dinner ServiceRed KitchenAid mixerGoing to the movies on my own, in the middle of the dayDriving my own car, phone switched off, favorite CD’s on rotation
**I would have numbered them if Blogger had allowed... it is driving me crazy this week... Blogger has just introduced Arabic, Hebrew & Hindi... and because I post from Egypt I often have the navigation bar at the top in Arabic.. which means right to left... and guessing what it says. Grrrr... a minor irritation.**
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 21, 2008 11:57 PM
Channeling Bill Clinton

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death." Harold WilsonSomewhere in the world it is after 5 o'clock.... because here in Cairo it is only 3:54pm and I am having my first Gin & Tonic. A sort of private celebration. All by myself.I often wonder how celebrities cope with all that attention. How do they steel themselves to meet 100 new people that seem to know more about them, than they know about themselves. What must it be like to overhear people discussing your weight/choice of clothing/toenails/bad hair days? Ok, so perhaps I am being a little dramatic. But learning to cope as a 'trailing spouse' is not the easiest thing for anybody with an ounce of shyness."Take the bull by the horns!", you say to yourself. "They are all just like you!" --- yeah right... none of it helps. In the end, you just pull on your best pair of 'arse-kicking boots' and jump on in. Put out your hand and start channeling Bill Clinton (or should that be Hilary?). Smile, ask open ended questions, listen carefully to try to gauge where the person you are talking too sees themselves on the totem pole of ex-pat society. Look for where they might be feeling anxious about meeting you.It was OK... they all seem really nice. Same drama as every other country I have lived in... cleaners, drivers, nannies.. shopping... booze....................more booze..............................actually not enough booze that is drinkable here in Egypt, so the best part of my coffee morning was learning that in the USA, there is a company that produces suitcases with special compartments for packing bottles of wine when travelling...... I gotta get me one a those!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 21, 2008 12:44 PM
I wish I was six...

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda

When you are six, and you have to go to a new school -- You cry and hold on to your mum for about 10 minutes and then you are sucked up into the melee.By lunchtime you have a new best friend. You don't care what she does for a living, whether she gets a manicure, if she drives an SUV or if she shops at a thrift store. There is no glancing at her shoes to see if they are polished or at her sunglasses, looking for the double C's or the double G's.There is no needless anticipation - will she invite me to coffee or not. No butterflies the next time you meet up... just race up and throw your arms around her and wrestle her to the ground, before bolting away, shouting "you're IT!!!".Today is my first 'coffee morning' as THE NEW GIRL. Does it show?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 20, 2008 4:02 PM
Abou El Sid, Maadi

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Before shipping out to Cairo, I spent hours pouring over travel blogs trying to work out what to put into the container, what sort of food would be available, what could I buy.All those fears have been put well and truly to bed now that I have been here 3 weeks. In fact, I am starting to realise why the local expat community centre put so much influence on 'keeping fit' and 'eating healthy'. Dining out is excellent.After our trip to the Museum, we needed sustenance. Not wanting to go back to the river restaurants until the weather warms up a bit, we headed inland to Maadi and the Abou El Sid restaurant.Like a little courtyard of paradise. Surrounded by warm sandy yellow walls and leafy green hedges is a sunken room with cosy seating arrangements. I can imagine that it is really pretty at night with all the lambs lit and the music playing. There is an indoor section, also quite dramatic and gorgeous. Now we are all big fans of the little glasses of tea, filled with fresh mint leaves and too much sugar.We ordered a 'Abou El Sids Appetizer tray' - Tahini - Bessara - Vine leaves - Yoghurt cucumber & mint dip - Taameya ( like falafel only more delicious) and a Koshari to share. It was perfect for a light (yeah right) Sunday lunch. We are still suffering from 'eyes bigger than belly' syndrome!Living here could be a hazard to my waistline.... even this restaurant does home delivery.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 20, 2008 10:21 AM
Saturday is the new Sunday

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world." Edmond de Goncourt
There is a certain adjustment to be made when suddenly the weekend is shifted from Sat/Sun to Fri/Sat. The usual winding down that happens on Friday night comes earlier - it makes TGIF sound ridiculous. Saturday in Sydney is a busy day full of sport or shopping, catching up with all the things that we weren’t able to fit in during the working week.Our Sundays ran either to a leisurely lunch or an outing – either cultural or just plain fun. When the world gets tipped upside down, there seems to be an innate scrambling to capture the ‘old’ routine. And so it was as we set off to the Egyptian Museum yesterday.Originally we had planned a trip to the Red Sea, but due to work commitments (his, obviously not mine) and the continuing cold weather, we decided to go and dip our toe in the world of the Pharaohs. We had been told to ‘go early’ – but it was still very busy.It is massive. Chaotic and extraordinary. And makes every Egyptian exhibition that I have ever seen look like a farce.We opted to go it alone and avoid the guides. For this first visit, we just wanted to get our bearings. Huge cavernous rooms with what appears at first to be no rhyme or reason. Jumbles of sarcophagi (is that the plural?) against burial masks, aside carved granite tomb guards. It is like nothing I have ever seen before. Many of the exhibits are housed in handmade wooden display cases, the few notes and descriptions are written in French, sometimes Arabic… rarely English.
We laughed watching a man chasing 2 very naughty women around the Museum in a brave attempt to get them to clean the cases that the tourists were NOT looking at right that moment.Off the main halls are smaller rooms filled with divinities and tools – jewellery, even toys that were found inside tombs. We like these rooms the most because the guides seem to stick to the main halls. It is noisy, like a meeting of the United Nations; we saw groups from China, Spain, Germany and at least 5 or 6 other languages being shouted over each other. The tour buses keep disgorging their cargo. Some of the groups were obvious ‘grey nomads’, extremely interested and taking notes, but in contrast were the groups that looked like they had just come from 10 days in Sharm el-Sheikh, suntanned and wearing all their beach gear at once – well seriously, whoever thought it could be so cold here in Egypt – a vague, glazed over look, wondering when they could get back on the bus and be finished with this bit of the tour…. but I suppose I should have something to tell the folks back home...
Tutankhamen is the obvious draw card and because Miss 6 is learning about him in school we took the plunge into the special room where he is displayed. Shuffling past being elbowed by Russian tourists wasn't quite the right atmosphere, but he is still glorious. The Museum is quite strict about the whole ‘photo taking’ deal. Quite frustrating, but I did manage to be naughty and sneak just one photo – couldn’t resist. That is Horus, suckling Isis…Two hours was all we could do with Miss 6 in tow. We will go back and try to do it section by section, and do a little research before hand. An added bonus is that we (all 3) learnt the Arabic number system. Every display case has the numbers written on the right in Arabic and on the left in cardinal. At least 15 minutes was spent toward the end testing each other rather than looking at the exhibits. Suddenly we were just in a rambling building full of stuff, rather like being at IKEA, god forbid.
I wonder if anyone noticed that we spent more time looking at the numbers than what was in the glass case?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 19, 2008 8:34 PM
Amy, Karl and Co.

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Just wanted to share a few observations from this week. Completely random -- ready for the ride?Odd Shopping items:When I was little, I heard a story about a man that couldn't read. He would go shopping and come home with plastic wrap instead of spaghetti - a can of beetroot instead of a can of baked beans. It was the greatest incentive to learn to read, ever. Sometimes, in foreign places I think about this book when I am shopping and can't read the label. Today I finally mastered the Arabic numbers, so at least I know how much the tin will cost, even if I don't know what is in it.What sort of message are you sending to your kids when you bring home this toothpaste? It took all the courage I have, but I did venture into the meat department - oh how I ache for my favorite, clean and clinical butcher in Sydney. What shocked me was the price of lamb, the same as in Sydney, and Australian lamb is world famous. There was buffalo and ostrich, the cuts are fairly basic. Think I will steer clear of the mince or sausages for now.The Ultra Mega French Hypermarket does do something that I find terrific. At the end of each cash register is a man packing groceries. From what I have observed, each of these yellow jumpsuited men appears to be deaf. They laugh and sign to each other and are generally really pleasant. That would make Egypt far and away an equal opportunity employer....I suppose if you have been using this shampoo, the children will be distracted by your wonderful aroma and might confuse you with a bowl of Spaghetti Marina: If you build it, they will come:All over Cairo there are rows and rows of apartment buildings, seemingly ready and waiting for people to move in. Many of them appear in the middle of nowhere -- a whole row of them, like a mirage rising out of the desert. Now and again there might be one occupied apartment in the building, the odd-man-out amid a sea of empty window frames. This lot caught my eye because they have already put in a mosque at the end of the street in anticipation. If Amy Winehouse can become a fashion icon...Sitting in the back of the car as given me a brilliant chance to observe local fashions. On the streets there are young Muslim women, they are covered from neck to toe, but in a generally tight fitting, lycra sort of way. Long trousers, jeans and long skirts - topped off with interesting long sleeve tops. Often they wear a sort of long glove as well. Their head scarves are wound and knotted, often contrasting nicely with the rest of their ensemble. It did occur to me that if Karl Lagerfeld could pronounce Amy Winehouse a 'fashion icon', I wonder how long it will be before someone picks up on the sub-culture and drags the head scarf through to the Paris Runways.Go with the Flow:Laugh of the week for me was watching a young policeman at a roundabout. An almost impossible task of directing the chaotic traffic, but he seemed intent on doing it well. Roundabouts are like the holding pens at the Rodeo. Instead of an orderly 'give way to the left' and 'first on the roundabout has right of way' --- basically it runs, as many cars as possible on the roundabout at the same time - don't stick to your lane. We were paused for a few minutes while other traffic was being waved through. Suddenly, enmasse, the waiting drivers decided that they had been held up long enough and started to surge forward. The look on the policeman's face was priceless -- utter disbelief that he was being so blatantly disobeyed. The drivers were like a bunch of naughty children, one snatches a cookie, they all do. That sort of tied up the whole theory behind Cairo traffic survival.... go with the flow, stay with the herd
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 17, 2008 2:01 PM
German bread and shhhh......pork

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside." Mark TwainAfter the end of WWII, there was a major influx of Europeans that chose to immigrate to Australia. Many had left behind family and friends for a life in a harsh landscape, nothing at all to connect them to the only life they had ever know.
Many went on to become successful business owners, Italian coffee shops flourished in Melbourne, the Pizza became a part of the Australian culture. Germans moved in land and planted vines that would later become the foundation for a flourishing wine industry. The Greeks became the kings of fresh fruit and vegetables and so on....
The one thing they all had in common was food. The food of their childhood, the familiar food. Newcomers to Australia did not have an easy time of it right through until the late 70's. The words "Daggo" and "Wog" were tossed around the school playground. Anyone turning up with smelly cheese or salami on their dark bread sandwich at lunch time was an easy target. We so called 'Aussie Born' kids with our tasteless white wonderbread with Vegemite or Anchovette fish paste, the occasional cold roast lamb if it happened to be Monday (always roast lamb and three veg for Sunday lunch) - didn't we think we were so special.
It took me a long time to understand how people far from home can crave a smell or taste so badly they will do anything to have it again. The early European immigrants to Australia changed the way we eat today, introducing us to pasta, garlic and smoked meats, then later the Asian influence brought in a whole new dimension. Ginger, lemongrass and chilli have become standards in Australian kitchens. It has grown to be a rich and full flavoured cuisine.
And that brings me to WHY I am doing a Happy Dance today. Cairo is not a difficult city to find most of your basic household groceries. The only issues so far have been bread and **** going into whisper mode***** pork........... I was given some tips, so I set off today, map in hand and managed to locate a Deli, his father owns a Pig Farm and he has an Italian business partner - and there I found Speck (smoked bacon), and ham. There is a delivery of fresh pork on Thursdays. He really only caters to the expatriate market. The quality seems very good. I felt a little emotional. I picked out a few things to try and had a nice chat with the Deli owner. Then struck off to find the German Baker that I had been hearing about. As I walked in I thought I would cry. Could it be true? Real German bread and baked goods. Talk about hitting the Jackpot.
It is a day like this that can make or break a 'trailing spouse', a sense of having achieved something momentous. It gave me such a burst of confidence that I strode off down the street feeling ten feet tall for the first time since I arrived. Oh, and I have signed up to start Arabic classes next week... I am on a roll.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 17, 2008 10:37 AM
Maadi Music

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"No matter how much the cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens." Abraham Lincoln
Taken at about 5:15pm. Sometimes it sounds melodic, sometimes I don't hear it at all, sometimes it plays softly in the background, and other times it interrupts my thoughts and makes me cross.
The past three years spent living on the edge of a national park makes for a huge adjustment when landing in Cairo. I miss the sound of the birds. Whether it is the Kookaburra's laughing in chorus at 5am or the call to mosque, both dive down into my dreams and shake me awake. A moment of irritation, and then the wave comes to collect me and I am gone again.
All of those sounds are pleasant compared to the shuddering rattle that continues to emanate from the infamous private elevator or the churning blare of the trucks that seem to have their air horns on permanent loud speaker. Yesterday I discovered that one of the sounds that seems to penetrate more than others is the gas man. He rides around the streets on his bicycle, a gas cylinder strapped to the rear tyre, all the while banging it with a stick. I would have to assume that the cylinder is empty to achieve such an ear-splitting noise.
Often I think I can hear a baby crying, but it is the frantic love-making of the local cats - of which there are many. One particular 'bad boy' often sits on the front fence. He's a power packed ginger tom, with no ears. I can't even begin to think about what might have conspired for him to lose his ears. He shows no fear when I walk by, just glares at me with his amber eyes, as if I have interrupted an important meeting. We have discovered a little rat nest above a corner of the top balcony..... might need to keep Mr Ginger No Ears on payroll. Off to buy a couple of tins of Tuna.
Hope you appreciate this little video, on my super fast broadband it took 40 minutes to upload to blogger. If there is a quicker easier way, please let me know.
Original video source
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 14, 2008 10:33 AM
White Knuckle Ride

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"We're not lost. We're locationally challenged." John M. Ford
What should qualify as an extreme sport at the next Olympics, Cairo Driving. Communication with drivers aside, travelling by car is a lesson in endurance. Only nerves of steel will prevail.
Miss 6 started school yesterday. The school is located less than 15 minutes, sedate drive from our apartment. At 8am, the streets are virtually empty and the traffic flows. Being the 'first day', I was slightly anxious about being on time to collect her in the afternoon, so ordered a car and driver a full 45 minutes before collection time. No problem, driver on time, off we go.
I started to worry about 30 seconds into the trip when he pulled to the side and started asking where the school was. My Arabic is non-existent at the moment, but even I could twig to what was going on --- He had no idea where we were going.
There is an odd reality switch that happens when you go from driving a car everyday as I did in Sydney, to sitting in the back being driven around a complicated and chaotic city like Cairo. No longer do you take note of landmarks or watch out where the turn offs are to particular roads. Just hop in and zone out. Things went from bad to worse when I realised that we were on a highway zooming out of Cairo... I recognised this road and it certainly had no relationship to where we were supposed to be heading. My anguished protests were met with waves of the hand and 'its OK".......
Finally in desperation I called the dear hubby's office and asked if someone could please explain to the driver that he was going in the wrong direction (and at great haste) and that I needed to be at the school at 2:30pm.... and WOULD HE PLEASE TURN THE HELL AROUND. I am no shrinking violet, and could take on a herd of buffalo with one hand tied behind my back, but dealing with Egyptian mentality is different. There is no point yelling, that is just considered rude and makes the person being yelled out feel even more justified in holding their position... even if they are wrong and know it. There is only one path... a win-win policy must prevail. No loss of face.
Suddenly,I was possessed by my overwhelming 'mother lion' hormones. In my sweetest voice I managed to convince the driver to turn around and head back to where we started. He did this, at a mere 120km per hour!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! An almost unheard of tempo for Cairo streets. I started to think about the ineffectual ambulances that I had seen trapped.... not good. Regardless of my whimpering in the back seat, he would occasionally pull over to ask a taxi driver (never a good idea), a man with a donkey and a cart, the local security force (they seem to have a constant glazed look)... basically just stopping in the middle of the Autobahn for a quick chat. We managed to find our way back to our starting point and from there the guidance of the angels took over. With a flick of my wrist I managed to direct him to the school, only 5 minutes late. The 13min trip had turned into a 50min ride of blind terror. Oh, how I miss driving around Sydney.
As if my 'geisterbahn' trip was not enough, today I finally got stuck in the lift. Our luxury apartment on the 5th floor comes complete with its own elevator. Now doesn't that sound glamorous? Just wait.... firstly, the only reason that it is exclusively for the use of the people on the top floor is because the people on floors 1,2,3 and 4 didn't chip in and therefore it was built with no exit doorways on those floors. In the past couple of days it has developed a loud knocking sound, loud enough to encourage me to seek out more exercise and take the stairs. The lift is used mainly by the family that take care of the cleaning and maintenance in the building (well that is what they are supposed to do.....) and apparently they live under the roof above our second floor. The Grand Dame of the family must be about 100 years old. So the lift is used all day long.
This morning I was a bit dozy and hopped in without thinking.... pushed the button - there is only a button for 5 - held my breath and up we went.... no clunking sound, I think to myself. Great, made it. Push the door... nothing happens... push again... still nothing. A mass exodus of blood from my head to my feet and I start to see spots. Ok, girlie... pull yourself together. After what seemed like an hour but was a mere second I pushed the button to go back down... the door opened and I jumped out. Who needs a stairmaster?
There must be a trick to it... a short time later I heard it back in business.... maybe they are just messing with the new kid on the block.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 13, 2008 12:05 PM
Freezing in Zamalek

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water". W.C. FieldsWho would have thunk it! The jury is still out on whether I am an ill-educated twirp or Egypt's best kept secret is that it is so cold here in January that a visit without thermals is insane. The mornings have been very cool, down to 2 degrees, but yesterday there was a wind whipping through the city that gave it a chill factor of about minus 5 degrees. The upside of this was the clear blue sky and the decidedly cleaner air. We ventured down to Zamalek for lunch. This is the suburb located in the middle of the Nile. The traffic jam going in and out is extreme and would drive me mad, but I suspect the area would appeal to those that love Sydney's inner west. There are many old villas, many in a poor state of repair, side by side with embassy buildings and apartments.
Lunch was at Sequoia. The dear hubby went there at night before Xmas and had been raving about it ever since. From what I can gather it is a trendy place to 'see and be seen', right on Nile. Everything is in white and there is a sort of tent like structure. The attention to detail is lovely... but they missed a big point with us. When dear hubby was there, they had the sides of the tent that look out over the water closed (they are see through) and with the outdoor heaters it was warm and cosy. White slipcovers and rough wooden furniture make this a comforting and eclectic spot unlike anything else I have seen in Cairo so far. They also offer shisha. This seems to have become a very trendy past time for young up and coming Cairoeons. This smell is not unpleasant and it comes in many flavours. The young man that was sitting beside us was puffing away and it smelt like sweet apple. I have heard that it is worse for the lungs than cigarettes.. but figure if you grow up with the smog in Cairo, that perhaps you develop some kind of immunity.
What we didn't understand was their very strict policy of keeping the sides open until 5pm.. regardless of the fact that few customers that had decided to brave it were losing extremities quicker than Reinhold Messner. Had we been wearing our thermals and winter coats and beanies, it would have been bearable.... I did wonder if the waiters were wearing woollen thermals under their 'all in white' uniforms. White is a wonderful choice for a waiter, but it needs to be spotless....hmmmm someone send them a box of Napisan Oxi action! And we did wonder what it was the waiter was trying to whisper in dear hubby's ear after we asked for the bill, something about tips... tips? what is that? It must be incredibly frustrating for people in the service industry in this city. On each bill there is the usual 12% tax and then there is a 10% service charge. This is how the business pays for its staff, none of this goes to the waiter that smiled and waited on your every whim. If you want to reward them, then add another 10%.On the upside, the food was fabulous and as usual we completely over ordered. Hot & cold mezze, grilled haloumi, calamari and a chicken tawuk (bbq chicken on a skewer) all excellent and there would have been enough of each serve for 4 people. Might just add here that we DIDN'T have any dinner last night because we were still so full.
The view from Sequoia across the mudflats (tide was out) is interesting. There always seems to be something happening. Not exactly Sydney Harbour, but it has a charm all of its very own. Across from Sequoia is a Ferry wharf... note to self, must find out how to take a ferry ride on the Nile, it is too cold yet to go out on a felucca, that is something I am really looking forward to doing. The view must be nice at night. Cairo is lit up like a Christmas tree most of the time - when you fly in from Europe, the lights of Cairo start 20 minutes before you land.

I have become quite interested in finding out about Cairo's preservation laws - there are many buildings here that are so stunning, and I understand that they can not be pulled down to make way for new high rise buildings. This leaves developers with the loophole of waiting until a building literally falls down...... then they can bring in the bulldozers. Shame really.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 4:57 PM
Pot Cake

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Not THAT sort of Pot cake... a real cake! The temptation of a gorgeous new oven and time on my hands finally got the better of me today. I just couldn't help myself. Only problem was a distinct lack of baking equipment. At the moment, all of my stuff is still in a ship somewhere between Italy (yep, I am still trying to work that detour out.. Australia to Egypt via Italy), and that includes my beautiful bright red KitchenAid.Where there is a will there is a way. I had butter, sugar & flour. There were some packets of baking powder and vanilla sugar that I brought with me from Germany - not hard to see where my allegiances lie. There was the jar of cinnamon that I tossed into the trolley during our major shop at the French UltraMarket. I still had an apple... And I had a couple of pots that seemed about the right size to bake a cake. Not for lack of looking, I haven't been able to locate a wooden spoon yet, so a silver dessert spoon did the trick. A little baking paper...Apple Cinnamon Pot Cake1/2 cup soft butter1 cup of sugar1 pkt of Vanilla Sugar (or a tsp of liquid vanilla)2 eggs1 1/4 cups plain flour1 tsp baking powder1 tsp cinnamon1 apple, cored peeled and finely slicedPreheat oven to 180 degrees - grease, flour and line your pot (make sure it doesn't have a plastic handle!)Beat butter and sugar until smooth - add vanilla and cinnamon. Beat in one egg after the other then add the flour and baking powder - mix well. Fold in your sliced apple.Bake for 45-50 minutes - check occasionally.Feeling rather chuffed right about now...
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
If I knew then.....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
It is all a matter of perspective.
During the decision making process, the 'should we or shouldn't we' phase before we came to Egypt, the same sentence was muttered many times: "Well I survived India, how bad could it be?"
A few days ago I was strolling through the streets of affluent Maadi with dear hubby and commented on how lovely it was here. Suddenly we both started to laugh so hard that the security men in the buildings around us woke up to complain. 10 - 15 years ago, expat life in so called 'hardship postings' was decidedly more difficult that today. The Internet has changed everything. Cable TV, and cheap airfares.
15 years ago I would write 20 or 30 letters a month to keep in touch with family and friends. Now we chat through emails, skype and MSN. There is virtually nothing to tell on home visits because everybody gets a blow-by-blow description each day. We have boxes and boxes of slides that haven't seen the light of day for eons. Digital photography means that mere minutes after taking a snap, it can be seen by Oma & Opa a world away. Cable TV and faster Internet cables ensure that we are up to date with local and world events -- we don't even have to miss our favorite TV shows anymore. Upon return to Australia after so many years, I picked up a copy of the local women's magazine and was shocked to realise that most of the so called 'celebrities' were foreign to me... young actors that were burning through the celluloid were strangers.
I love to travel, but I like learning to live among another culture even more. Oh, don't get me wrong... I like my creature comforts as much as the next girl, but there is so much to be had from finding your way around a city where you can't read the street signs.
I have managed to do enough research to understand that Cairo will bring its own set of challenges, but am now savvy enough to know it can be 'so much worse'. The 'company' that dear hubby works for, has been brilliant and I have been overwhelmed by their care and kindness in ensuring that we 'as a family' are made as comfortable as possible. This in direct contrast to many earlier experiences in our expats lives. There is nothing to complain about. Perhaps if this was my first foray I would be more unsettled....

There was a giant shop at the local French ULTRA ULTRA HUGE supermarket. After 5 five hours dear hubby was grinding his teeth and showing the whites of his eyes, but as the pantry was empty in the new apartment and there were no cleaning products to speak of, a necessary evil. I am pretty sure I will never get him back there again. The shop took longer than anticipated because I wanted to buy as many local products as possible. Can't see the point of paying those inflated imported goods. The quality of the Egyptian goods has been grand - even located a line of Organic products. Where the Egyptian products win on price, they fall down badly on 'environmentally friendly'. Just back from almost a month in Germany, it is mind boggling to see an ocean of plastic bags, polystyrene trays and plastic wrap. Pure chlorine bleach has been illegal for so long I had forgotten what it was. Even the fresh milk comes in a snappy plastic bottle that will be discovered in 5000 years and end up in a museum. So now the cupboards are full, boxes of drinking water delivered to the house, beer too. I tried some local wine when I first came and think I might steer clear. A big bonus for dear hubby were the perfect white eggs that haven't been available in Australia for many years. Not important unless you are a fanatical German Easter Egg blower... brown coloured eggs have never cut the mustard with him.
On my first visit to this mammoth mall, we queued behind an obviously Muslim family.. with about 5 children and a tiny wife in eyebrows to toes black... they were buying Christmas decorations. It made me smile and I commented to dear hubby that if we squinted our eyes a bit would could have been standing in Kmart in Auburn (this is where the largest Mosque in Sydney is located and therefore the largest Islamic community). Who needs to travel.
At least they don't spit beetle nut juice on my feet here.......
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Pharaonic Visit

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda

"What our ancestors would really be thinking, if they were alive today, is: 'Why is it so dark in here?" Terry Pratchett
Back in the dark ages when I was a child, I could spend hours in the Library looking at encyclopedias. I often wonder how the children of today will develop without the aid of these amazing books filled with a treasure chest of discovery. I suppose today they are well replaced by cable television and the Internet, but for me, there was nothing that would stretch my imagination further than flipping through my chosen volume and drifting off to some exotic, foreign country to wander the ruins of Pompeii or experience the majesty of Ancient Egypt.
Still even this could not distract from the first close up encounter with these 5,000 year old structures. There was a grabbing sensation in my throat as I caught my first glimpse through the crowd of buildings (and Vagabondblogger should note that there was a car park full of VW's on the right and I thought of you!) - right in front of your eyes they stand. It is the knowledge of when they were built and the tools that were available at the time that makes them all the more fabulous.
Pre-conceived ideas can easily distort a visit to something that you have long dreamed about. Somewhere along the line I was pretty sure that at visit to the Great Pyramids of Giza would entail a two day bus ride in blistering heat. So you can imagine my surprise when it turned out that it was actually a 15 minute air conditioned ride in a BMW! And as it is Winter here in Egypt, there was no heat but rather a jacket was required. It would appear that every photo I have ever seen of the Great Pyramid of Giza is taken with from the City side - do a one 180 and the view is entirely different.
It is not until I was standing right up close that I could grasp the sheer size of the stones and what they must weigh. They are worn now, but to imagine them standing in, what was then, the middle of the desert must have been an awe-inspiring sight... their white smooth sides. It was early in the morning on a Friday, and we were almost alone. Alone, that is, if we don't include the police/security on camels and the constant hawkers with their postcards. I was not at all interested in riding a camel.
At one stage I wanted to take a picture of miss 6 standing next the corner of the Great Pyramid, when a policeman came up and took the camera from me. There were a few seconds of minor panic before I realised that he was posing us so that we could take the standard pic of us holding the top of the pyramid in the background. We figure that it is 'his' corner and his uniform would be enough to fend off any contenders that might want to muscle in on his territory. The photos were really great, and we were impressed by his ingenious 'small business venture' and wondered if the local police take turns or if this 'corner' is passed down from generation to generation.
In the area we live there are police or security on almost every corner. Mainly due to the many Embassy residences that are here. So far I have found them to be really pleasant and yesterday one of them helped me out when I took a wrong turn (there are many roundabouts here and I am still orientating myself). It is comforting to know they are there, but people tell me that Cairo has a very low crime rate and break-ins are virtually unheard of.

The Sphinx was a little like seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time... not as big as I was expecting. It is still fabulous and on closer inspection it appears to be one piece of stone... could that be possible? Might be time to stop fooling around and start doing a little research about the glorious history of this country. I managed to take a photo of my dear husband rubbing noses with the sphinx, but he asked me not to put it on the blog... lol We visited in Mid December, arrived at about 8am on a Friday. There were no crowds and after 2 hours we had had enough for a first viewing. At the exit gate there was quite a que forming - so I can only suggest an early start is the way to go.
We did a tour of the Old Coptic area after the Pyramids. This is where the chapel of St George is located, and the famous Hanging Church. By this stage Miss 6 was starting to lag behind, but we were guided beautifully by our driver, Atef. He led us to a tiny chapel where a nun almost as old as the Pyramids was sitting on a bench. Our normally shy child went right up to the tiny little lady and took her hand. The nun blessed her and kissed her. It was so dramatic I could hardly believe my eyes. It seemed crass to take a photo, but I wish I had. I will need to do another tour to really take in the whole area. The surrounding chapels and churches are set in grounds that are quite and calming to walk through.

Then we were hungry. I read many, many blogs from Cairo before arriving and I was craving the one food that everybody seems to talk about the most. We asked our driver to take us some place where we could eat this and went on to a place downtown that sells Koshari, the local stable meal. 5 EGP (about 1$) for a portion of macaroni, spaghetti, rice, lentils, fried onions and tomato sauce all mixed in together. Sounds odd but it was really tasty and I can't wait to eat it again. I plan to have a go at making it at home myself, so you can look forward to the photos if I get it right... although at about $2 for a huge portion, why would you mess with perfection.
I took about a million photos (my husband says I don't exaggerate, I accelerate!) on this day, this time of year the sky is a deep blue in the early morning and the light is wonderful. I am looking forward to having a few printed and framed for our house.
I will leave you with a night time view over the Nile - I was trying to capture the fireworks, but was distracted by 'shiny things'... must be the Magpie in me!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
End of 2007 Roundup...late

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
" Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at de sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground."Zora NealeOk, Ok so I am a little late. To be expected when one is a jet-setting 'Weltbummler'... not sure how glamorous that sounds, but have you BEEN on a TUIfly short hop from Koln to Cairo surrounded by 17 screaming 2 year olds. We won't mention the one that lost its breakfast across the aisle two hours into the flight...hmmm I guess I did.Christmas in Germany was a lovely as ever, even without a single snow flake. Miss 6 was desperate for snow and spent hours gazing longingly out of the window with the faint hope that she would spot a sudden blizzard. Alas.... There was a complete overdose on Weihnachtsmarkt. From Bonn to Karlsruhe, they never cease to bring out the dreamy little girl in me, that is the one that sits side by side with the older chick with the ever expanding waistline. But who could resist the delicious smells that dance past. I think my favourite this year was a Thuringer Bratwurst on the most perfect warm crisp roll - thanks to my brother-in-law for introducing me to this.Christmas itself was like an army manoeuvre. An extreme level of organisation required to ensure that we will be eating from morning until midnight for 3 days straight. Thank goodness for the long walks after lunch.And now I am home. In my new home. A cavernous apartment, awash with echoes. The container from Australia has been delayed and at the moment it feels like we are living in a basketball stadium. The songs from the mosque are drifting into the wallpaper of life. The fine layer of dust that seems to mysteriously appear about 30 seconds after I wipe it away, could prove to be a challenge.Shopping in Cairo is effortless, and exciting. Huge malls with large retailers mean that I have been able to stock up the kitchen and gather the cleaning tools that are needed. Most of the Egyptian products I have tried have been really good and make for enormous savings when compared with imported brands.My favourite so far has been the Fruit & Veg man in Road 9. A large box of goods + 2 boxes of water was about the same as I was paying for a kilo of cherries out of season in Australia. And all of it home delivered for the cost of a few cents tip.Egyptian locals are very friendly. There is always that slight wariness of the experienced 'trailing spouse' whenever we set up home in a new land. The first couple of months spent scouting out the local area. Where the best place is to locate groceries, electrical plugs, white socks etc, so easy in your home country where you can just jump in the car and head off to the local stores. Personally I enjoy this challenge and always have. I love shopping in foreign supermarkets in a foreign language, to the point that a great deal of my purchase power went toward the Asian grocers in Sydney.In the background I have the TV on softly listening to the German news on ZDF (the only watchable channel we have at the moment) the horns of the cars are beeping in the street outside and my little miss 6 is upstairs singing to herself. Life is good.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Rush Hour

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence." Edith SitwellBefore I head off to Germany for the festive season, I thought I would leave you with some of the Cairo music that wafts through the 12 floor apartment we are in at the moment. Each evening between 6pm and 7pm there is a frenetic increase in the noise level from the street below. Most days there is the added charm of people driving along tooting out melodies on their horn. It is my theory that one starts and before you know it, you have a whole chorus chiming in.On a less reassuring note is the frenzied battle of the ambulance driver trying to negotiate through this incredible tangle of cars. The lights flash and the horns blare, he has a loud speaker that permeates right through the double glazed windows. I would love to know what he is shouting. I have played little games making up his script for the night. It goes something like this:"Hey buddy, move it!"Driver in front shrugs turns up the radio and lights another cigarette."Yes you.. do you see any other cars sitting right in front of a screaming ambulance!!"Driver in front frowns at the annoying noise behind him, making it difficult to talk to his wife on the mobile phone he is holding to his ear."RIGHT NOW - MOVE IT!!! Don't make me have to get out of this here ambulance and come jab you with a needle"Driver starts to notice that not only is there a increasingly annoying sound behind, but also pretty flashing lights... could this be a party? Thinks to himself, "Better pull over to the side so the carnival can get through."But as seems to be the way of this wildly gesticulating city, eventually the ambulance driver makes his way through and all is well with the world again.... cue the Toyota Sonata in B minor.
I am hoping to get in some serious cooking over the next few weeks, and hopefully snaffle a few new recipes from my mother-in-law. All is not lost - the photos to make your mouth water will return.
Original video source
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
LuLu gets her groove back

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda

"Art is making something out of nothing and selling it." Frank ZappaIt has taken almost 10 days for my head to settle into Cairo time. The jet lag slapped me about like an angry Chinese fisher woman with a dead fish. Then the obligatory 'airline' cough cold came to visit and that segwayed nicely into 2 days of migraine. If it actually rained more than 3 times a year in Cairo I could say 'it never rains it pours', but that would be just silly.This manifestation of bodily aches and pains has kept me restricted to light duties. I already know the room service menu by heart and can comfortably flick through the cable channels, landing on my exact choice, and yes, I do realise how sad that sounds.Yesterday was different. I managed to escape for a good shopping session. Before I head off to Germany for the festive season, I have arranged to have slip covers made for the sofas in our new apartment - pink is a lovely colour... just not my cup of tea. So we were professionally led to the local fabric wholesale area. It was fantastic. Bustling, but not so crowded as to be uncomfortable. Whole streets of shops selling nothing but material for curtains, upholstery and basically anything you can imagine. Just to add to the atmosphere, there are rows of barrows hawking bras 'n knickers, socks, pyjamas and one extremely photogenic old soul who persistently tried to tell me that I really DID need to buy the scarves he was selling. Surprisingly, there are large displays of 'naughty knickers' and rather risque little outfits for sale. As a western woman, I would be hard pressed to rock up and purchase any of them, so am leaning toward the concept that underneath those thick coats and scarves are some pretty racy little numbers! Surely they wouldn't be around if there was no demand?The fabrics were beautiful. Too many choices. I found the vendors to be less 'pushy' than in the similar areas I have experienced in Istanbul and Mumbai. A gentler style of negotiation which allowed me to let down my defences and relax.There is still a nagging worry that I might be offending people tramping about in my clumsy Australian boots - even though Mani (my favourite driver) tells me that 'foreigners can do whatever they like'. I have tried to be as conscious as possible, avoiding eye contact and dressing appropriately, and as I haven't really ventured outside the confines of my pampered life, have yet to experience any kind of negative behaviour to date. Without a doubt, the 'old-timers' will get a chuckle from this... never mind, I have been a newbie many times and will learn as I go along.There was also a visit to the school that Miss 6 will be attending in January 2008. Very impressive overall, and her little eyes danced from one exciting activity to another during our hour long guided tour. The most astounding part for me was just how this school has been carved out of nothing. A glance out of the window shows the edge of Cairo, next stop Sinai. It brings the fact that Cairo sits on the edge of a massive desert, home with a big thud. It is that desert that seems to have such a huge effect on the morning haze.
In contrast, today is a particularly beautiful, clear day. The view from the bedroom window over the Nile is crisp and not at all like I imagined Cairo would be like. The other thing that has caught me off guard is the smell. Or more like the lack thereof. Compared to our other overseas posting or even just visits to some Asian cities, Cairo is not unpleasant at all. I wonder what would happen here if they started introducing the EU carbon emission standards?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Distant Encounter

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
We were driving home this afternoon and just happened to glimpse something through the jungle of bill boards. A Pyramid! At last. Almost a week of heavy air has meant that they have been shrouded in a thick fog.
We raced home as fast as possible and took 47 photos (thank you digital technology). It is quite extraordinary to see something that I have been so aware of through books and movies - I believe I even did a school project in the the 3rd grade.
It worries me that I will become complacent before I have had a chance to explore. There is a distinct difference between being a tourist and being an ex-pat. I'm not sure that I ever lost that sense of breathlessness when travelling over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, nor the gaping mouth when standing in front of the Sydney Opera House at dusk with a glass of champagne. But it was mentioned to me at a dinner last Thursday night, that if I "didn't go to the Pyramids now, I would never go". I am sure that is not the case.
Media has made the sudden view of a great monument perhaps less of an impact than in our grandparents day, but not less awe inspiring. To stand on the balcony of a beautiful hotel and look out across a churning city toward these monolithic structures leaves nothing to chance... you are gobsmacked.

So far I have found the city to be exciting. Full of contrasts and contradictions. It has taken less than a week to learn to relax and allow the driver to negotiate his way through the chaos. I have actually started to relax so much that I have been able to take a few photos - actually take in where I am and where I am going.
There have been several funny moments, usually not intentional, so perhaps it is my weird Australian humour. One of the drivers pointed out 'The City of the Dead'. It is in a valley beside a busy road - this is the valley where the stones were cut for the Pyramids. When I didn't quite understand what he meant, he went further saying "they are the tombs - for the dead people".
Of course, what else, but could somebody please explain why it is that the tombs are all wired up with satellite dishes?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
A small aside....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
My mate over at An American In Deutschland had this book quiz on her blog, and I took it. Laughed so hard when it came up......... when you read this post I wrote a few days back you will see why. Pure twilight zone!
You're Watership Down!by Richard AdamsThough many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you'reactually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink theirassumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where theybuild their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'dbe recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.Take the Book Quizat the Blue Pyramid.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"If the English language made any sense, a catastrophe would be an apostrophe with fur." Doug LarsonThere is a reason why people take long cruises around the world when they retire - NO JETLAG. I could use the excuse that I am not as young as I used to be, but that is hard to pull off when Miss 6 years old is putting herself to bed at 3:30 in the afternoon for the third day in a row. It is a rush of dizziness that just can not be fought.Arrival in Cairo went well. The Greeter at the airport ushered us through with great haste to an excited, puppy-like husband. A swift trip from the airport to the hotel in the luxurious 7-series BMW helped to ease the way. I was eternally grateful that my husband had NOT brought the hotel Rolls Royce! That would have been too much. Hugs all round.Later in the afternoon we decided to go and take a look at our new apartment (anything to keep my eyes open) and took one of the hotel sedans. There was a communication problem and when we emerged from the house, the car was no where to be seen. Now under normal circumstances I would be OK with this, but as I was carrying a 6 year old bag of cement, that had passed out in the car and I was wearing heels ------ this was not good. The husband looked most distressed, certainly not what he had planned for our first foray into the wilds of Cairo. There was nothing for it but to hoof it off to the end of the street and catch a local taxi.40 year old Fiats, cobbled together with wire, string, sticky tape and the occasional prayer to the 'big guy'... what a contrast to the smooth ride from earlier in the day. Nothing like a tap on the shoulder to remind you that you are 'not so special!" Smoking has become a bit of a social no-no in Australia, but I doubt that I will be able to avoid it here in Cairo... music blaring, ciggie in hand... the taxi driver did not so much drive, but rather held psychic conversations with the other drivers on the road. There appear to be no rules yet the traffic flows. I did see red lights, I can only assume that they are here for decoration - everyone seems to ignore them. I ventured out today for a little outing and took this picture on way. I give full credit to anyone that tackles the English language and as I have no Arabic, I don't have a leg to stand on. One of my favourite parts of travelling in weird and wonderful places has always been the incredible use of the English language on signage and on menus. Cairo looks like it could be a great addition to my collection.Disclaimer: I obviously understand that some people may take offence to this photo. None is intended.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
T'was the night before....CAIRO

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"We begin to see that the completion of an important project has every right to be dignified by a natural grieving process. Something that required the best of you has ended. You will miss it." Anne Wilson SchaefThere is nothing left to do. What an odd sensation.Today has been about reflection and gratitude. Thinking about how supported one is in the world. What it means to move away from all that is familiar and comfortable.To love. To believe that you are enough. To know that you are loved.To see that you are surrounded by extraordinary beings, who want nothing more than to see you happy.When it comes down to the wire, it is ALL about allowing it in...Good-bye Sydney, for now.Thank you (you know who you are) - I am truly blessed, and today I know it.No Picture.... who could have a picture for this.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Flat Pack, Flat Chat

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men." George Eliot
At 4am this morning I was standing in my kitchen wondering just how I would get through the next few hours. In my head I had a very set picture of how the house would be before the packers arrived. It was a flawless plan. Each room sorted for the men to come rolling through, packing tape guns drawn and ready. My luggage would be sitting neatly out of the way (nothing like taking your eye off the ball and having all your clothes end up in a container at sea for a month. My insurance forms correctly filled - serial numbers noted - and basically nothing for me to do other than stand and watch.
Not exactly how things went. A sudden rush of lunch and dinner invitations had me scrambling to have the pantry empty on time due to my love of a glass of wine and a chat. As the week has progressed, the tightness in my chest and the upset anxious belly ache was getting worse. I knew what I had to do.... it just wasn't happening. My usual perfectionist self was flailing about like a budgie in a snowstorm.
So back we come to 4am... A couple hours of sleep had me up and calm. No children underfoot. In the quiet place that comes before the kookaburras wake up, I managed to finish about 95% of what was necessary. Then the 'boys' arrived... and it was a whirlwind of activity, punctuated by the occasional 'smoko'. My anxiety levels dropped as each neatly labeled white box was stacked up. Rooms mysteriously cleared themselves of family clutter to reveal, not the occasional dust bunny, but rather entire colonies. The theme to Watership Down danced through my head... "Bright Eyes, burning like fire....."
There is relief listening to the cheery banter of the three men from the packing company as they competently assemble box after box. The grinding sound of their tape guns echoing across the valley, alerting to all that we are on the move (ok so maybe it is the bloody huge container parked in front of the house that might have given it away).
It all works out in the end, my tummy has settled and I am beginning to dream of what life will be like in 4 days when I finally land in the land of the Pharaohs.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Shipping Out

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money." Susan HellerWise words indeed! Although I am 80% finished with the process of clearing out the house of any unwanted clutter, it still looks the same. Did we really live with so any other things and not notice? Recently I have been trying to tap into a past reincarnation as a humble Buddhist monk, travelling the road with nothing but a bowl, in the vain hope that it will help me to let go of the material world and therefore stop a certain train of thought that goes something like this:*Lynda is standing in front of the linen cupboard. In her hands, she holds a pile of beautifully embroidered cloth napkins. Embroidered by nuns in India, no less! On the scales is the glaring fact that they have not been used a single time in the past 15 years (seriously, if you have time to wash and iron cloth napkins - you need to get out more). But who could part with something so beautiful, if only for the joy they give me when I open the cupboard and see them sitting there with their dear little cross-stitch flowers, so pristine) - And here you have the problem, another 15 minutes of precious time spent in contemplation. To Pack or not to Pack?*There have been some wonderful treasures unearthed - who needs the pyramids when the bottom drawer in the kitchen is filled with such glory! A packet of letters written by my grandfather from around the late 80's. In exchange for letters from my life in Germany during those years, he would dispense advice and anecdotes that had me wallowing in homesickness. Each aerogramme carefully typed to cover every square millimeter of the page. My pa was nothing if not frugal - a slip of the sharp knife when I opened them could easily result in the loss of half a paragraph. He passed away about 7 years ago now - I often miss him and hear his 'pretend cranky' and gruffness in my head. I like to think that I inherited his sense of humor and wonder if he really knew just how the light in his eyes when he looked at me was the reason I began to believe in myself as I grew to be a woman.When I was 18 I spent a year living with him. Sunday morning I would be woken by the crash of an aria, he would be sitting in the sunny spot near the window, reading the paper and listening to his favourite Opera. I don't think I need to explain how well this went down with an 18 year old that had spent the night at a Midnight Oil pub gig... sliding through the door well past 'pumpkin hour'. I never doubted that he knew exactly what he was doing ;)He would have hated this piece of music that I have been speed-dialing on YouTube this week. Sara Bareilles. Enjoy- I am off to decide if I should pack the kitchen sink.....PopoutPS: I have been advised that the idea of starting a new blog for Cairo is not so hot - so we will just continue to play at LuLu's Bay. For those of you that have wished me luck - thanks - I think I just might need it!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
The Curse of the Live Mummy

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Denial ain't just a river in Egypt" Mark TwainIt has been brought to my attention that my blog hasn't been updated for a month. Egad! But really I think I have an excuse - I am moving from one side of the world to the other. We are packing up our lives and shifting to Cairo, Egypt. The past 4 weeks has been a world wind of sorting, packing, booking, arguing, arranging and generally trying to make everybody in the family happy. With only a couple of weeks before I finally board a plane, the sheer logistics of such a big shift are weighing heavily on my little shoulders.When The Dear Husband went over to Egypt for a quick visit, Little Miss 6 asked him to bring her back 'A Mummie..." Dear Husband replied "But you already have a Mummy".... "Yes" she said, "But not a DEAD one!"
So, Not only have I not had the time to cook (we have had a lot of quick pasta and salad) but it has forced me to sort through 10 years of kitchen paraphernalia, deciding whether it should come or go to its new home at the local charity shop.
Some of the items had nobody to blame but themselves - space age plastic wobbly muffin pan... ridiculous, what was I thinking! NASA might be able to put man on the moon, but would he be able to bake a half decent raspberry and white chocolate muffin for afternoon tea when the Martians come to visit - I think not.
Assorted platters... lovely gifts, but who really needs 12 of them. The pizza stone, I suppose it would have helped if I had read the instructions before tossing the packaging... never did work out how to stop the dough from sticking. Novelty coffee cups, lovely champagne flutes with 2000 embossed in gold - well if we were going to have to endure Y2K, the least we could do was drink champagne from proper glasses.
And the struggle goes on. I haven't even started on the second drawer down, with all its little baking shapes, lemon zesters and chinese soup spoons.
The plan is to start another blog when I get settled in Cairo, relating my adventures and maintain LuLu's Bay for food related stories only. Can't wait!
Oh and because I haven't been cooking much of late, I don't have any food shots to share, so you can have THE KOOKA KISS instead. Sitting at my kitchen table on Sunday afternoon I heard some scuffling outside, and it sounded like it was coming from the garage. On investigation I found these two fools, having a little battle of wills. They were so intent on their struggle that they completely ignored me while I snapped a few pics. It was just like watching the kidlets fighting "You started it, you let go you let go first... no you..." Finally one of them must have registered just how close I was and abandoned his position, they flew away. If Kookaburra's are the messenger birds... what was this about?
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Companion Cooking

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Never eat more than you can lift". Miss Piggy
Naughty, naughty girl! I am usually very fussy about where I buy my meat. I have a couple of trusted butchers that will supply just about anything I ask for, and are happy to oblige when I ask for European style cuts - so long as I give them fair notice. But yesterday I was dashing through the local supermarket (well come on, a girl has to buy loo paper now and again) and there was a pork roast waving at me from under his little pink stage lights and plastic wrap. Not sure why, but before I knew it, he had jumped into the basket and was merrily on his way home with me.
It didn't quite hit me until I opened the fridge today, there he sat, stilling grinning away on his fat little haunch.
Now one of the problems when you like to cook and like to source good ingredients is that the people around you become complacent and expect that it will be on tap. Now and again when I feel like my hard work and effort are being taken for granted I am sorely tempted to buy a cheap and nasty tin of spaghetti and serve it to them on toast!
But back to the pork leg. What to do? What to do? Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about 'companion cooking', that is, knowing what flavours will sit well with what. Her reaction was rather cynical (in my opinion) and with a lot of throat clearing and scoffing she declared "It's easy for you because you think about food all the time - the rest of us wouldn't have a clue!" So I started asking around and it seems she is right. Most of my friends cook the recipes they learnt from their mothers or culled from good ol' Women's Weekly Cookbooks, without so much as a thought as to WHY someone would put tomato + garlic + basil together.
In my head, the flavours of the world are easily broken down. I do understand that there are delicate levels, under-notes and tickle taste bud sensations that work to cut the 'wheat from the chaff' in cooking circles, but here are a few of the combinations that are easy to do and almost certainly guarantee success every time:
Tomato + Garlic + Basil = Italian
Garlic + white wine + cream + Tarragon = French
Honey + Orange + Turmeric + cumin = Moroccan
Red Onion + Lemon + Parsley + yogurt = TurkishWell you get the idea *feel free to add any combinations you might have*.
So back to the Roast Pork Leg. I just couldn't stand to look at this sad, flaccid pink buttock anymore - So it was scored fairly deeply through the skin and fat and I filled the cuts with a paste to give him some class. It was delicious - served with roast potatoes, asparagus and some fresh made apple sauce.
Roast Pork Leg
You could use any of a combination of flavours - this was what I had in the cupboard.
In a small pot:
A good splash of olive oil
1 onion finely chopped - saute until clear
2 cloves of roughly chopped garlic - again allow to saute
2 finely chopped apples (I used granny smiths)
allow to cook until the apples start to break down
good heaped tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1/4 cup of honey
keep stirring until it becomes thick and paste like
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of dried sage (when I have extra fresh sage I hang it up to dry then store it away - it crumbles very nicely and is excellent with pork)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
pepper & salt to taste
Just keep cooking until you have a sort of messy paste. In the meantime, turn on your oven to 180degrees - add another slosh of olive oil to your baking dish - put the dish in the oven to heat up - when you are ready, remove the HOT dish and put your meat in SKIN SIDE DOWN FIRST - then turn the roast to seal on all sides. Finally turn it skin side up and start patting on the paste with a wooden spoon, carefully pushing it in between the cuts you made earlier.
Put it back in the oven for about 1 hour 45 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. It make the whole house smell fantastic. This is going to turn even the saddest piece of meat into something special.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Cooking up some Paolo Nutini....Yum!

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. Bob MarleyOk so it has been a long time since I have fallen hard for a musician... but 2 weeks ago I heard Paolo Nutini for the first time and have listened to nothing since. Reminds me of when I was hip, slick & cool. When going to 3 gigs in Sydney on a weekend was normal. When Midnight Oil were at the local pub, when Chrissie Amphlett was the queen of 'beer barns' in her fishnet underage school uniform.There was something about music that touched our souls. An entire afternoon spent sitting on the floor of my best friend's bedroom listening to Fleetwood Mac, Rumors, until we knew every word, every delicate inflection that Stevie could produce. A magical 13th birthday playing Bat out of Hell over an over and over, forever linked to the first REAL kiss ordained by a spinning coke bottle. The glorious night that the first in the gang managed to snaffle up a driver's licence, off we sailed down to the beach with The Cure roaring in our ears. Music and memory are forever part of the human condition. What music was playing in the background, your first time.....was it a car radio?"Slow down, lie down, remember its just you and me......" Last request - Paulo NutiniUnsure of what it is, but suddenly I feel more like ME than I have in a long time.... It's easy to forget how fun it can be listening to the same song on rotation, until the other members of the family threaten to send me to my room. That shy little smile that turns my insides into a jumping castle for my kidneys - "Hey babe, pass me a southern and coke!" What's your poison?PopoutThanks Megan!
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Spaghetti Ice

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” Sophia LorenThis one is for David from BOOK THE COOK because you asked.Sorry it took so long, life has been a bit nuts and the cooking/writing/cleaning the skirting boards has become but a dim memory. I made the mistake of mentioning Spaghetti Ice to my almost 6 year old and she nagged and nagged until I finally pulled it together. This IS blatant daylight robbery - stolen from the Ice-cream parlours of Germany that mysteriously take down the brown paper from their windows on the exact day that summer hits. I can still remember the first time I ordered this, it was so simple that I fell in love and have ordered it ever since. I don't sway in the direction of overly sweet desserts, so this just hits the spot.You will need:A potato ricer (preferably one that only has holes in the bottom)A tub of the best quality vanilla bean ice cream you can affordA punnet of fresh, ripe strawberries or raspberriesA block of good quality white chocolate.First - turn your berries into puree - slice them up, sprinkle a little icing sugar and let them sit for a few minutes until the juice starts to run - then mash them through a fine sieve, taking care to wipe the precious sauce off the bottom of the sieve.Take a large scoop of ice cream - push it through the ricer directly into the individual bowls. Drizzle over a few spoons of the puree - finely grate the white chocolate on the top - Serve.Spaghetti ice - complete with sauce and Parmesan!! LOL cheeky, but always fun. I am sure that there are a million variations that could be assembled - but sometimes the search for that elusive 'first time' experience is what counts.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
What's a soup kitchen? (Paris Hilton)

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
As I was preparing dinner last night I was having a giggle to myself. The recipe I was using came from a charming blog I found by a Thai-American girl living in Munich, Germany. It seems with these days of global communication, there is no limit to where we can pick up information. More and more I have begun to use other bloggers as a rich source of well tested recipes.
They are often more correct about how a recipe will work than 'celebrity chefs'. I could write about the time I spent an entire afternoon make a blood plum tart out of a book by a highly respected Australian chef, only to have my family come in and turn up their nose saying it was too sour and they didn't want to eat it. In a fit of temper I picked up the entire tart and tossed it in the garbage, slamming the lid down. Disasters in the kitchen are nothing new.
I have certainly learnt more about cooking by the times things haven't worked as when they have gone perfectly. I should note that exactly one week later I listed that very expensive cookbook on ebay and sold it for a profit. So there was some satisfaction to be had.
But getting back to last nights' dinner. It was the delicious and cleansing Tom Yum Goong. An intense lemongrass soup, beautifully balanced out with lime juice and chilli. I always order it when ever we are in a Thai restaurant, but have never been brave enough to try it at home. Let me say this - IT IS SO SIMPLE! I spent most of the meal feeling rather chuffed with myself. So thanks must go to An American Expat In Deutschland - thanks Christina. It was her recipe I used and if you follow the instructions you will be doing the happy dance just like me.
Here is the link for the recipe: Tom Yum Goong (Thai Lemongrass Soup)
Here were a few things that worked for me:
I didn't have any chilli paste in soybean oil - so substituted about a half teaspoon of dried red chilli flakes bashed in the mortar & pestle with a little oil until it was smooth.
I bought about 250g of shelled, uncooked green prawns (tails on) for the soup - mine were deveined by my fishmonger - and they are better that way. I calculated about 4 prawns per person (we ate it as a starter).
My personal taste would have reduced the white sugar by about a tablespoon.
I didn't have any oyster mushrooms so I used some tiny button mushrooms, peeled and trimmed - cut in half if they were too big.
All in all the soup was fabulous - it makes you feel really healthy, the chilli clears your head and lime/lemongrass is good for the soul. If you are not keen on seafood, you could use a bit of thin sliced chicken.
Thanks Christina :)
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Cookie Monster

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
Number one, I absolutely love making chocolate chip cookies. I mean, it's fun. It's exciting. Beyond the fact that I love making them, I love eating them. Debbi Fields
I'm not quite sure when the word 'Cookie' entered the Australian Vernacular. I do know that as a child, we most certainly always referred to them as biscuits, following in the wake of our proper British heritage, or perhaps not so proper if you were deported to Australia as a convict for stealing bread.
My own childhood didn't include many home baked items unless of course you include the delightful Peanutty Choc Drops that my Nanna made (I have mentioned her culinary skills before here) - with their loathsome, nasty raw peanuts, skin on. Such a waste of a perfectly good biscuit. My father on the other hand was partial to bulk buying biscuits in the vain hope that his 3 daughters would learn to restrain themselves from the consumption of a 2 kilo box in a frenzied snack attack after school. Ha! who was he kidding! No sooner was the lid off the box before the choc-chips or the monte carlos were history... all of them. Most of us have a particular childhood favourite, irresistible even as an adult.
This recipe relieves part of the guilt - I can con myself into believing that the oatmeal contained within makes them healthy. Whether you call them cookies or biscuits - they always taste great and last for ages in an airtight container.
ChocChip Oatmeal Cookies
140g unsalted, soft butter
225g light brown sugar
1 egg
a few drops of vanilla extract
110g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
225g rolled oats (not the fast cooking type)
170g dark chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy
Add the egg & the vanilla, beat until smooth
Sift in the flour & baking powder - fold in lightly
Pour in the oats and the chocolate chips - stir to combine
Line a baking tray with non-stick paper. Using a heaped teaspoon, roll the mixture in the balls, leaving space between for spreading - press down with the back of a fork.
Cook for 15-20 minutes until golden brown - allow to cool for a few minutes on the sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Organic Treasure Chest

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
In the wintertime, in the snow country, citrus fruit was so rare, and if you got one, it was better than ambrosia. James E. Jones
Sitting in my kitchen is an enormous basket of goodies. A gift of organic citrus, oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons, limes & Japanese cumquat. Its like a giant treasure chest with endless possibility.
Almost as soon as the they arrived, the Japanese Cumquats were stabbed with toothpicks and tossed into the Rumtopf, where they were promptly drowned in vodka. By Christmas time they will be perfect, just the thing to pop into some little jars and give as gifts - that is, if there are actually any left by then. The cumquat's sit and soak up the vodka, creating a delicious after dinner drink (or after breakfast if you are that way inclined). A little of the liquor in a glass and a whole fruit each - divine. My German Mother-In-Law does this with the little, tiny figs that you get over there. A fabulous way to end a meal, slurp down the shot and then bite into the fig.
In my folder full of RECIPES TO COOK, was a Chocolate Orange Sticks that kept bubbling up to the surface, only I am a little reluctant to use such a large amount of peel if I don't know that it is free of chemicals. Having an abundance of citrus seemed like just the right opportunity to do a little recipe testing. I could have used the grapefruit for this too, but decided to save them for something else. If I had some I would like to use some blood orange peel too... that would be pretty.
Chocolate Orange Sticks
2 or 3 large thick-skinned organic oranges
1 cup of water
1 cup of caster sugar
1 tbl of corn syrup
150g dark chocolate

Most of the work is in the preparation of the oranges. Quarter the oranges and then use your thumb to pull the flesh of the orange from the skin, remove as much of the pith as possible, it tends to leave a bitter taste. Take each quarter and trim the pointy bits at each end. Lay the quartered piece of skin, pith side down, and with a small, pointy sharp knife, cut into strips about 1cm wide.
Take a pot of cold water - toss the strips into the water and bring it to the boil - drain the strips and then repeat this process twice more. Meanwhile, in another pot place your water, corn syrup and sugar - slowly bring to a simmer but do not boil. Place the drained strips into the sugar syrup and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until they start to go translucent. The syrup should have reduce quite a lot. Be sure not to let it boil, you don't want your syrup to turn brown. Remove from the syrup onto a rack and allow them to dry out overnight.
Melt the chocolate over simmering water; place several strips of orange peel in the melted chocolate at the one time, remove from the chocolate with two forks or tongs, shake off the excess chocolate. Place on baking paper or foil and stand until the chocolate has set. If it is humid, pop them in the lower part of the fridge until set.
These make terrific gifts to take to dinner, they are very morish and this should make enough for about 6 people ---- or just one person if you are very naughty.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Oh! to be Four again....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
There is something totally magical about being invited to the birthday of a little girl. The excitement is contagious. It makes a woman want to put on her shiny shoes and party frock. I stopped short of the frilly socks... didn't want to outshine the birthday girl.
Turning four is really a milestone birthday. No longer can you be accused of being a Toddler - the words 'oh she is going through the Terrible Two's" are far behind you, and the adventure of preschool is unfolding before your very eyes. But this was no typical birthday. It was stepping back in time. A gorgeous, sunny, end-of-winter Sydney day. A leisurely drive up the coast - not too far... just far enough to make believe that the weekend will go on forever.
Excited little people in sparkly tiaras and silver sequined shoes - matched only by the brightness of little eyes that spy brightly coloured parcels.
"Is that for me????"
An ice cold glass of 'grown-up grape juice', the BBQ smoke wafting across, pate & crackers. Tripping over the dog, dodging yo-yo's and playing 'pin the tail on the donkey'......
"Hey that ISN'T the donkey!!"
Promising not to blow out THE candles and eating more cake than the kids.
As the sun started to fall lower on the horizon and 'going home time' noises woke sleepy grandparents, a sigh of contentment. Every day should be Sunday.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Pyjama Day

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda

'There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it.' Mary Wilson Little
I did something so totally out of character today that I feel like I have dropped into an episode of 'Twilight Zone'. I haven't showered and I am still in the sweats I pulled on for modesty this morning when preparing to tip Miss 5 & 3/4's out the door to school. I did brush my teeth. I have surfed the web - written a blog post - read other people's blog posts. There was an interesting session browsing eBay. I answered a couple of emails - sent the big daughter a recipe for perfect Roast Chicken. I ate a turkish bread toasted with pasta sauce and mushrooms. Threw some mince into a pot and then vaguely tossed some other things in so that it would 'look' like something edible. I drank tea. And the whole time I thought about 'what I SHOULD be doing'. There was also the underlying anxiety of wondering what I would say on the off chance that someone 'drop by for tea'.
What does it mean to be a valuable member of society? Why do I have no real understanding of what is going to happen at the APEC Conference at the end of the month... so far all I get is that there will be a lot of traffic problems (so much so that we have the Friday as a Public Holiday) and there is much talk of demonstrations. Demonstrations? Who is demonstrating? Why and what for? You see, I have lost touch with the world. There was a time when all I could think about was the NEXT BIG CAUSE. The adrenaline rush of a the chase - rounding up people - writing the flyers - filling my diary with endless meetings that more often than not ended up at the pub. Today I am reduced to not showering and still in my PJ's in the middle of the day.
A day in the cave... could that be it? Winter hibernation....
No, I think not. For many of us it is the constant drive to 'do' rather than the lightness of 'being' that pushes us to exhaustion. Perhaps it is the connection with Sunday Lunch, the ache to find some quiet and soft place. A recent conversation with a new mother exposed the madness we equate with being an active member of society... there she was barely out of the labour ward and racing off to chair a committee. Can that be good? In many Asian society's, women retire to their beds for up to 90 days after giving birth, with relatives and friends filling them up with healthy food and allowing them to the time to recover, to bond with their new borns. After today I am wondering if it wouldn't be a good thing to introduce a national "Stay in your PJ's day" - a mental health day.
It is now 6pm ------- almost the legitimate time to be slothing about in my pyjama's without the fear of discovery. Thank goodness.... I think tomorrow will be a little more active. But then again........
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Twice Cooked Duck

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
"Always behave like a duck - keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath." Jacob BraudeSunday lunch is a dying art. There is nothing more pleasant than a lazy Sunday morning, sipping coffee and reading the paper. The only thing that makes it more exciting is the prospect of a spectacular Sunday Lunch. A good lunch often needs to be started the night before - marinating meat or preparing a stock. But I like to pop something delicious in the oven early and allow the delicious smell start to waft through the house, beckoning all to rest down and enjoy a little time, time is that elusive gift that we so frantically deny ourselves now days. I have always told my children they are welcome home for Sunday lunch - it is the 'entourage' they bring with them that might become a challenge! Time to sit and laugh - to chat about life - to reminisce - to brag and most important of all, enjoy the company of people you love.Although this might seem like a lot of work, it is simple once on the go and totally delicious. The meat is soft and tender, and perfectly complimented by the crispy, decadent skin. Thanks go out to Jules Clancy at The Stone Soup for her inspiration and melt in the mouth blog.Twice-Cooked Duck8 duck legs (marylands - thigh & leg - skin on), trim the 'parson's nose' & any great lumps of fat3 cloves garlic, finely chopped1 bunch thyme4 small white onions, halved and finely sliced1/4C chicken stock or waterPreheat oven to 200C.Pick the leaves from half the bunch of thyme and combine with chopped garlic.Rub over duck legs, season with salt and pepper and then place in a baking tray just large enough to hold the duck in a single layer.Scatter over the remaining thyme sprigs, onion and stock. Cover with a tight fitting lid or foil and place in the oven.Reduce temp to 180C and cook for 2 1/2 hours, turning every 20mins or so.When duck is very tender, remove the duck legs to a baking tray and rest them skin side up on a rack. Return to the oven - crank it up to 235-250 degrees for approx. 20 minutes or until the legs are crisp and browned. While you are waiting for the browning, drain off as much of the pure duck fat from the baking tray as possible, into a clean jar. This can be stored in the fridge for use when doing some pan-fried potatoes etc.Divide duck and onion between plates and serve hot, with Red Cabbage (you can prepare this recipe on the stove top if you can't fit it in the oven - just keep an extra eye on it in case it catches on the bottom of the pot) & creamy mash. We also did a big bowl of apple sauce - just because we like it. It goes beautifully with the duck.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Chicken with Lemon & Red Peppercorn Spice Rub

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
“I want there to be no peasant in my kingdom so poor that he cannot have a chicken in his pot every Sunday”I have been off travelling and working the past couple of months - sorry for the lack of cooking, but I am back and ready for another full blast kitchen caper.Looking for something different to do for Sunday lunch. A lazy, sleepy sort of morning, where everything just happens by itself. The sun streaming through my windows (which are covered in small fingerprints, suspiciously size 5 & 3/4).I have noticed a new trend in the gourmet shelves at the local deli - spice rubs. A friend had mention to me that she picked up a few at a local market and thought they were great.So here is my version of a Spice Rub!Chicken with Lemon & Red Peppercorn Spice RubYou Need:4 x Chicken Maryland pieces (whole thighs & legs)700 gm new potatoes or kipflersSea Salt2 tsp lemon zest4 sprigs of fresh tarragon2 tsp of Red Peppercorns*1/2 tsp of smoked paprika powder4 small onions or shallots2 cloves of garlic1 sprig of rosemary4 tbs olive oilsalt & pepper to taste.What to do:With your chicken piece, cut through between the thigh & the leg - trim the extra fat, remove the parsons nose (I just love saying 'Parson's Nose'... reminds me of my sister when she was little, she would sit at the Sunday Night dinner table - just aching until she was given this piece of the chicken..... and the incredible delight I got in telling her she was eating the chooks bum! LOL)Scrub your potatoes, and pop them into a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes - remove and drainIn your mortar & pestle - the lemon zest, 1 sprig of the tarragon, peppercorns, salt & paprika - grind until you have a fine paste with all ingredients combined. Rub the spices all over each piece of chicken and set aside for 15 minutes.In the meantime, preheat your oven to 200 degrees. In a large baking pan, put a little olive oil, the potatoes (skin on, halve if they are big), the onions (peeled & quartered), the garlic (crushed in its skin) and the sprig of rosemary. Place the chicken pieces on top, then drizzle with the rest of the olive oil.Bake for 1 hour - turning the chicken once or twice, and basting with the baking juices.5 minutes before the end of the hour, turn the chicken so the skin is face up - put the whole dish under the grill on the highest temperature.To Serve, sprinkle the remaining tarragon leaves over the dish and with a large green salad.* It should be noted that if you can't find red peppercorn, you can do like I did and pick them out of a 'mixed pepper' assortment.NB: Please note that sometimes my pictures will be different to the recipe and this time is no different. I happened to have a sweet potato on hand - but would not advise that it is suitable for this dish - it ended up mushy. I also didn't have any new potatoes so I used peeled roasting potatoes. This dish would be much better with the skin on.All in all, this was an easy dish to prepare - and everyone, including Miss 5 & 3/4's loved the chicken. The flavour of the red peppercorns is quite delicate.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Cherry Clafoutis

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda

Sometimes, on a cold winter night - only pudding will do. This one always impresses, but is so simple to make.
If fresh cherries aren't available, I use a jar of sour cherries well drained of their liquid. It's traditional to leave the stones in the cherries as they add a bitter, slightly almond flavour to the clafoutis - but make sure you tell everyone who eats it! I have made this with a tin of peaches or apricots and it is just as good.
Cherry ClafoutisHeat oven to 190°C.Place about 500 grams of cherries in a buttered, shallow, heat proof serving dish.In a bowl, whisk 2 eggs lightly.Add 1/4 cup caster sugar and 1/2 cup self-raising flour and stir gently until smooth.Gradually stir in 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup cream, and 1 tablespoon kirsch or brandy until mixture is smooth.Pour mixture gently over cherries.Bake at 190 C for about 25 minutes, until the top is risen and golden brown. Serve warm with thick cream. I like to time this so that it is cooked just as I am serving the main course - then it can cool - the batter sets and the flavour is better than when steaming hot.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
Time to clean the fridge

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
I've seen this appear from a few other food bloggers - interesting, I think the inside of a fridge says a lot about who you are, and how you live. This morning I was hauling out the milk for my coffee and thought "wow that is looking scary, might be time for a big clean out!"Some of the things that are in my fridge:Top Shelf, Left: Jam, butter, cheese and today there is a packet of crumpetsDown, Left: Pumpkin soup from last night, organic strawberry jam, greek yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, pesto dip, 1/4 cabbage (I guess it didn't fit in the veg compartment) and 2 bottles of some weird chinese health drinks that I bought - but they taste so awful that I can't bring myself to drink them.Down, Left: Poached pears, a big hunk of Parmesan, more cheese, and the leftover yoghurt dip from the Moroccan lamb.Down, Left: Stewed rhubarb & pears, beer, ham, artichoke hearts, flax seed oil, fish sauce & cherry tomatoes.Bottom Left: Full of vegetables - but only because I did the veg shopping yesterday.Top Shelf, Right: Bottles of remedies from the natropath, fresh ginger, half an orange, avocado, some pats of butter, tomato sauce packets & one of those little longlife milks (I don't need them, I don't' want them but I always take them with me anyway if they are on offer.)Down, Right: Mayo, honey, capers,Dijon mustard, cream, someones juice, and the rest of an Easter egg (ok so I really need to clean out the fridge!)Down, Right: Sour cherries, some unknown ranch dressing that has been there for years, oyster sauce, juice, tomato sauce, ice tea, cornichons.Down Right: milk, milk, tonic, waterAhhhhh I feel like I have just finished a cathartic session with the therapist - all is revealed.
SO WHAT IS IN YOUR FRIDGE??? Expose yourself.
Add starShareShare with noteEmailAdd tags
Jan 11, 2008 11:21 AM
What doesn't kill us.....

from LuLu's Bay by Lynda
I love Flea Markets, Church Fetes, Garage Sales and Second Hand Stores. I can happily trawl through any of them for hours on end. It is like hunting for treasure. Apparently it is a genetic anomaly passed down from my paternal grandfather. Hidden away in my memory bank, is the smell of the local tip and the excitement that having a bit of a scavenge could bring to a grown man and his little grand-daughter. Rubbish dumps have changed, no longer is there any fun to be had. Recycling and Large trash pickup has put paid to that...not to mention Ebay - whatever DID we do with all that stuff before Ebay?
So now I am confined to places where other seekers of 'old stuff' hang out. These days I search mainly for old cookbooks and Kitchenalia (isn't THAT a great word). The cook book fetish began with the inheritance of several volumes dating back to the early 1930-1950's, from an aunt that lived in Cologne. I also snaffled one from my mother-in-law, written in really old German text - it takes me forever to transcribe a recipe.
Recently, I was at a Church Bazaar. It was later in the morning than I would normally like to arrive, this one had slipped past my radar and it took a call from a girlfriend to get me showered and dressed and on my way. She had managed to track down one of my beloved TimeLife series and wanted to know if I already had it - big tip - if you are looking for a series, tell everyone you know, one of them will eventually stumble over it - it is incredible what people can find in exchange for homebaked goods or a dinner invitation. By the time I approached the cookbook section, the boxes and shelves had already been picked clean. Oh well, but just as I was about to give up, there on the top shelf with little fanfare was something special. There is something so exciting about approaching the cashier with your 'find' clutched in your sweaty little paw- hoping they will utter the desired "that will be $1.00 please" - Eureka!! Hahahahaha.
On this occasion my discovery was going to yield something that I had never seen before. A copy of the Country Womens Association of NSW - The Coronation Cookery Book. First published in June 1937, 4th Edition published Feb. 1945. And the best thing of all, it was in remarkable condition for its age (people often say the same thing about me!)
The foreword to the book, written in 1945, by Margaret Wakehurst, and states "the problems of the housewife have become much more difficult, though still not nearly as great as those problems the housewives in Great Britain have to face."

The recipes were developed and written around the start of WWII - almost without fail, the word 'Lard' appears at some stage. Makes you wonder when the word 'cholesterol' entered the English language, hmmm?
Some of the most enjoyable parts of this little volume include chapters on Kitchen Medicines. I can only say, that what didn't kill you, made you stronger! What about this little gem:
Now, practically every kitchen has its supply of fresh eggs, in fact, no home should ever be without them, for in every case of poisoning, including phosphorus, it is safe to give white of egg. Poisons coagulate the albumen in the stomach so that by giving the patient more and more albumen (i.e. the white of egg), it keeps the poison in suspension while medical aid is sought for such further treatment as lavage (ie stomach wash-out) or emetic or antidote.
So as I understand it, it is not bad enough that your five year old has just drunk the phosphorus that you store under the kitchen sink - you THEN have to force them to drink raw egg white. Not sure about you, but there would be a lot of kicking and screaming in this house.
I am also quite fascinated by the chapter Method of Tanning Sheepskins, or the idea stated here: "Everyone cannot afford an ice chest, but everyone can have a drip safe" - which then goes on to describe in some detail just how to do it. I will be the only person with a place to set my pannacotta's when the Y2K bug finally hits! This book is an extraordinary window into a time when life was not as easy as we have it today - imagine people complaining about 'ration books' rather than interest rates.... we are so blessed.