The backpackers and the hag

We are in weekend now! The Egyptian weekend (and the weekend in other parts of the Islamic world) is on Friday and Saturday since church on Sunday isn’t so popular. Tonight I’m going to an electronic music festival, so no doubt there will be a post about that: I imagine glow in the dark hijabs.

When I was walking back to my apartment today after class and our “cultural exchange”, I  witnessed an interesting scene upon entering my street from the main square.

As soon as you turn left from Medan Messaha (or Messaha Square in English) there is a little kiosk and a flower shop, or rather, a flower kiosk. This kiosk by all accounts appears to be open 24 hours, and with good reason since many love emergencies happen in the wee hours of the morning or the late hours of the night. As I was passing by the flower shop, I saw three backpackers, probably European. They all had a very “natural” look and were laden with ridiculously huge backpacks, making them even more conspicuous than their mere colonizer-ish appearance. They were talking to a woman seated on a stool resting against the wall of the flower kiosk, and I swear this woman popped right out of a fairy tale. I know that she must be a lovely lady with a beautiful family and precious children, but she had the exact appearance of the hag that tricks Snow White into eating the poisoned apple, except for she was about three times as heavy and was wearing an abaya not a cloak. I wished to join their party just as an observer of the strange scene taking place: three clueless foreigners taking up with the ilk of the flower shop folk, but I walked on. I have a feeling the backpackers had left a trail of breadcrumbs or something of the sort. Probably as soon as I left, she fed them poisoned hibiscus flower tea and then stole their kidneys. Or took them to her house and fed them to be nice with the added benefit of fattening them up.

As I passed, I felt somewhat superior since, having lived here all of less than two weeks, I am obviously much better attuned to life here and almost fluent in the language and knowledgeable of every Egyptian custom. My confidence was brought down to size quickly, however, when on the way up the stairs to my apartment I almost went insane when a cat scratching its way down the stairwell came close to clawing my legs as it rushed past me. I think my heart exploded from the fright as well as the abundance of caffeine I’ve consumed today. I’m taking the cat as a sign from God that I shouldn’t drink so much caffeine.

If I’m still alive after the electronic music festival tonight I will write about it.

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