Saturday, August 25, 2007


Last night, I fulfilled an 8 month promise. In December, when Mum was here in Cairo visiting, she made me one of my favorite dishes, her prawn curry. Later that day, I was gushing to Kent about how awesome the lunch I'd had was, and I was promptly berated for not inviting him over for a taste. I felt really bad after that, and the guilt over selfishly devouring my mothers divine cooking all on my own made me promise my friend that I would invite him over for mum's curry soon. Mum left soon after, and this promise never materialised. After that I made another promise to Kent that I would get my mom's recipe and make this curry for him myself. January, February, March.....August went by and still, I didn't cook no prawn curry.

Kent was pretty much my first friend in Cairo. We bonded quickly over our love for food, taking pictures of every dish we cooked, random wanderings around Cairo and Supermarket Sweep. He even bonded with my mother, cooked with her and plotted against me all at the same time. When I first met him, he was the one supposed to be bidding me farewell from Cairo, as I was planning on going home after 3 months. It turned out that I ended up staying longer than him, and am bidding farewell to him tonight instead. After 11.5 months of being here, Kent goes back to Canada for a month, and then is moving to Azerbaijan to work for a year, maybe more.

So finally yesterday, the day before he flies off, I made him his prawn curry. It was my first time cooking this particular dish of my mother's so I hope you enjoyed it buddy. Here's to my one and only Number-One-Baladi-Slash-Desified-White-As-Hell-Canadian-Friend-Who-Knows-Every-Word

I'm going to really miss your presence here in Cairo. I hope we meet again, hopefully to intensely devour some food in Singapore someday.

ps. Sup. :)

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Everyone's always amazed I haven't been to Dahab, despite being here for 10 months now. It's one of the most popular destinations in Egypt — beautiful Red Sea waters without the tourist traffic of Sharm. So for my long weekend in July, me and two colleagues decided to catch the bus down finally. It was also my first time in the Sinai, which by the way, I discovered has some incredibe landscape — the entire peninsula is just all huge, rugged mountains, lord knows how the Israelis waged a war here.

The bus down was a little grueling. Scratch that, it was a MIND-PUCK. I think we must've been the local bus service for the entire western coastline of the Sinai — we kept stopping to pick up randoms off the road, and halfway through, our bus was up to its neck with people everywhere, people standing, people leaning into me trying to hold on for dear life. And annoyingly, instead of taking the shortcut straight to Taba and then down to Dahab, the bus went to Sharm first. By the time we got to Sharm, we were just tired of the whole thing. We got off and tried to hail a taxi at the bus station. We finally bargained down a ride for 150 LE to Dahab, which wasn't too bad, considering its an hour and a half ride, and if we had to get back on that bus we'd have to kill ourselves.

So we got into the taxi. About ten minutes down the road, we get to a checkpoint, and the guards tell us this taxi isn't allowed to go beyond that point as it didn't have a permit. For a few minutes, we were just like, what do you mean? How can a TAXI not be allowed to go from Sharm to Dahab? And whaddya know, that demonic bus of ours was very patiently waiting by the checkpoint. Suspicious right? Pissed off, we got out of the taxi, got our bags out of the trunk and proceeded towards the bus when the taxi driver asks us for 20 pounds. Are you joking? You give us a 10minute ride, you dont even take us to our destination, and then you ask for money? We ignored him and got on the bus, but then what happened totally convinced us this was a big conspiracy from bus-to-taxi-people-down. The GUARDS got on the bus and started harrassing us for this 20 LE — when we refused, they asked for one of our passports and promptly got off the bus with it. Eventually, we had to give the money to get the passport back. Bastards.

Despite the bad start, the rest of the trip was pretty awesome. We got a room in Octopus for 40 LE a night. I finally snorkelled in the Blue Hole and Lighthouse Reef, ate at the legendary indian restaurant, Nirvana, which by the way to my ecstatic delight, had the most amazing luchis (poori). That just MADE my entire weekend.

Dahab is all about chilling. The corniche is lined with breezy little outdoor cafes with cushions on the floor to laze about on. You sit with your back to one, cold drink in one hand and stare out at the Red Sea, and Saudi Arabia, which is clearly visible from Dahab. It's interesting, at night, when you stare out at Saudi Arabia, all you see from their coast is one tiny light blinkering out at you. Clearly, the Saudi's are not big on banking on the commercial opportunities a Red Sea coast can provide for a country.....I also realised that this part of the Red Sea is where Moses split it! You know the story, he splits the Red Sea and walks down to the other side with his people, and once they're safe, he releases the water, killing the Pharaoh who was coming after him. How awesome that it was probably here. Or to even imagine it being here. :P

Anyway, the entire trip mainly consisted of lots of sleeping, snorkelling and searching for the coldest drink in Dahab. For a hot, summer destination, this place has a serious lack of ice-smoothies. Everytime i ordered a juice or an ice coffee, they'd come out barely cold. Where are the ice-blenders people?! Food was generally mediocre, except for our dinners at Seabride (amazing seabass) and Nirvana. I was also reading the new Harry Potter book on this trip, albeit the pirated internet version, which was awesome until i ran out of pages to read (I only printed out half the book). Bugger.

Watching Saudi Arabia from Dahab. The moon lights up the Red Sea in this incredible way, the light reflecting off the water lights up the entire coast.
Sitting on one of Dahab's 'taxis' i.e a small pickup truck which you hop onto from the back.
One of Dahab's many cushioned restaurants. The ultimate lazy holiday. I can't remember the number of times we fell asleep sitting on these cushions.
A memorial has been erected at the Blue Hole dive site for the many divers who have died doing dangerous things down there. This is the tomb of a guy whom my ex-housemate Alicia know. Apparently, he was an amazing diver, but clearly even the best diver is no match for the sea and its dangerous depths.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


So I finally moved house! I am now officially a Zamalek resident. To people unfamiliar with Cairo, this should sound totally romantic. I live on a tiny island on the Nile that sits between the two sides of Cairo (Giza and Cairo). In huge contrast to my previous neighbourhoods in Cairo, this one is a bit of a yuppie area, with mostly foreigners, rich Egyptians and a plethora of foreign embassies. I am very proud to announce that I live 100m from Baskin Robbins, across the street from Jo Sushi, and the Nile is a 90 second walk from my building.

It’s interesting to see how simple my needs become. I am currently ecstatic because in this new apartment:
1) I have air conditioning
2) I have a lift (that goes both up and down)
3) I have a television (bonus being it was made in the last century)
4) I have proper couches you can lie down on.

It's definitely about time I lived it up here in Cairo — my friends here can attest to the rough living I’ve done here — nearly a month on someone’s floor, 2 months of climbing 6 flights of steps, and 2 months of sharing a flat with 5 people in a 3-bed. And all without any air-conditioning (you may think I’m a princess, but try spending an evening constantly trickling with sweat, and you’ll be kowtowing to the air-conditioning people just like I am). And yes, currently, what with living in Zamalek, working in Maadi (two of the most foreigner-heavy areas), you could call me a typical expat out of touch with the realities of Cairo — but damnit, I've done my time. Hell, I've LIVED IN Sayeda Zainab (the ghetto). My little white Persian kitty is GREY most of the time. Hmph!

In fact, so far, I have lived in Dokki, Mohandiseen, Sayeda Zainab and now Zamalek. I like the variety, its what keeps life in Cairo interesting. This move was also the easiest, I did the smart thing — borrowed suitcases from a friend, got a lift from another, and had it all hauled up in my beautiful new lift (and I didn’t even have to do any lifting!). How's that for living the bourg-lifestyle, eh? :P