Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Time to change again, in Egypt

Just in time for Ramadan :)


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Home made Cotton mattresses

Was having an interesting discussion with some friends the other day about mattresses and I remembered how, Back home, our mattresses used to be home made, believe it or not. The cotton from our cotton trees (in India cotton grows on trees, not bushes/shrubs) was harvested, we kids would sit to seperate the seeds from the fluff. It used to be great fun and then when we had enuff we made our own pillows by stuffing them with pure cotton into saris and bedsheets recycled as pillow cases.

The help would clean larger quantities of cotton which was then tightly packed to make mattresses. Professional guys came around to stitch the mattresses up and also to refresh them every year or so, when they would open out the mattress, refluff up the cotton and "air it" and then add more cotton to make it nice and firm again.

These cotton mattresses were ideal for the hot humid weather we have back home on the Indian coast. Come to think of it, I dont think spring matresses came to India until the late 70's or so.

It seems this still happens in the rural areas of Egypt and happens in parts of the city too.

I did one day come down to our ground floor in Mohandaseen, to find the whole lobby covered in a snowy substance. Thats right, there were a couple of guys refluffing cotton. I have taken a picture of it, but cant find it right now, will upload when I check my other system.

I was told that the person who makes mattresses in Egypt is called a munaggid .

You can buy fresh cotton, at the Khan. The guy is pretty easy to find. With your back to Bab Zuweila start walking towards the main street of the khan. You will see this beautiful sabeel on your right, the cotton guy is right opposite. I have a picture of him too.

I need to get our photos organised into one hard disk so they are easier to find. Will upload the pictures when I find them.

Pickpocketing scheme

I'd heard about this a couple of months ago and it seems to have re-surfaced.

This information is to help you protect yourself.

The scheme operates like this:
The innocent passerby is stopped by an decent looking well-dressed man, who will point to a spot on the victims pant and motion that there is a stain. When the conman pretends to clean the stain for you, he actually creates the stain, by spitting or by something on his handkerchied. Then as he pretends to clean the stain for you, he pockets the victims wallet and disappears, before the victim even realises it is gone.

Normally these people operate in pairs or groups. If you see someone gesturing that you have a stain, just walk away like you don't understand anything they say. They may be armed, so better to avoid direct confrontation.

This modus operandi has been reported by multiple people around the Shooting Club area, so please be aware of your surroundings when you are out. A little bit of common sense, awareness and confident demeanour, should keep you relativey safe.

Take care.

Fruits & Vegetables being Irrigated with Sewage Water?

Or so reports Al Masry

Thousands of farmland acres producing essential crops comprising Egyptians food basket are irrigated with untreated sewage water. Shocking as it is for consumers, small farmers deal with it in a relaxed way claiming it is their only option taking into consideration the high cost of using good-for-irrigation water.

Watch the video interview on Al Masry

So whether you believe it or not, it makes sense to start rinsing your vegetables in a mild solution of Potassium Permanganate to get most of the icky stuff out. (this cost effective treatment was recommended by a friend who works on water purification installations in houses and offices in India)

Superior Scribbler Award

A month or so ago, Bernadette from http://escapadethroughegypt.wordpress.com/ bestowed me with my first online award for this blog, The Superior Scribbler Award.

For details of this award and its beginnings, visit the original post and blog that started it all: The Scholastic Scribe

As with all Bloggy Awards, there are rules that go with the award:
  1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to five most deserving bloggy friends.
  2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
  3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog and link to the original post at The Scholastic Scribe which explains The Award.
  4. Each blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit the original post at The Scholastic Scribe and add his/her name to the Mr Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who wins This Prestigious Honor!
  5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules to his/her blog.

Thanks Bernadette, for considering this blog worthy of the The Superior Scribbler Award. Its good to know that others enjoy my scribblings.

So, here in no particular order are five bloggers that I believe deserve some recognition:

1. Rushina at A Perfect Bite for her awesome recipes and food related writing. She doesn't blog half as often as she writes in print, but its all amazing!

2. Judy for Under the Date Palms She blogs sporadically, but is always interesting to read.

3. Surya at Howdy Neighbour, she's one tech savvy woman, now blogging for the Mobile Industry Review too.

4. Akshay at Trivial Matters who takes the most mind blowing pictures and visits the most interesting places and photoblogs them all. He has just moved to Blind Boys .org but the old blog deserves its share of recognition for the many eyars of work and pictures on it.

5. Deepti at Things That Bang writes from her heart and carries her readers along with the emotions.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Service Apartments in Cairo

This is an idea long overdue in Cairo. I have had many friends and newbies ask for just such an option, but I did not know if one existed so far (leave me a comment, if you know of any others) The Hilton Suites does offer this, but as far as I know they are 2 bedroom suites and slightly on the higher side to rent out. (It works out cheaper to rent an apartment for long stays)

A service apartment offers the convenience of a hotel (someone else does the cleaning, changes sheets, picks up your mail etc) and a home (you can cook your own food, order home delivery from restaurants that aren't a part of the hotel et al)

You can stay for as little as a day to long stays like a year or 2. Saves you the hassle of having to handle the plumbing and electric connections which could save a large chunk of time, especially in Cairo.

The StayBridge Suites have just opened in City Stars and hopefully will emerge as a more reasonable option than the Hilton Suites.

They have 56 double bedrooms, 84 single bedrooms, 140 suites. And this is what I really appreciate: 80 non smoking rooms! So you dont have to breathe the all permeating, all intrusive stale cigarette smoke from previous occupants.

They promise a weekly Friday Barbeque for the residents. There is a laundromat on the premises where residents can do their own laundry. There is also a minimal fitness centre on the premises and for an extra charge guests can use the Health club at the Intercontinental Hotel next door. They also promise to provide free wifi in all the rooms.

Ok, I just did a dummy search on the site and turns out it isnt that cheap after all. The starting price for a single studio looks like 180$ per night + 13.44% tax + 12% service charge. And the average rate seems to be about 250$ per night + taxes. I don't remember even the 4 seasons being that expensive. hmmmm. Lets see how long they can command these prices. . .

Solar Cities eco-tour

Solar Cities eco-tour, when someone mentioned this on an online forum. I was like "What? Are you sure this is happening in Egypt? in Cairo? People in this city are harnessing solar energy? Are we talking about the same Cairo?"

She gave this site for reference: http://solarcities.blogspot.com and I was completely wowed just reading about the concept.

One of the founders was inspired by an "inner city eco-tourism" opportunity he got on a trip to Johannesburg in 2002. Global nomads T.H. Culhane and Sybille Culhane are now working on the Solar C3.I.T.I.E.S. mission: "Connecting Community Catalysts Integrating Technologies for Industrial Ecology Systems"

They brought solar power to some of the neediest neighbourhoods in Cairo and it has made a difference in the lives of the residents.

To read more about this story and sign up for your own tour, visit the blog http://solarcities.blogspot.com/ I know I hope to do this the next time I'm in Cairo.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Not carrying a valid driving licence in Arabic, could land you in jail

If you plan to drive in Cairo, then make sure that you always carry a valid drivers licence in Arabic while at the wheel.

A new law has been passed / or is currently being strictly implemented, I'm not sure which.

But a non-Egyptian friend found this out the hard way when she got a call saying that her Egyptian husband had been jailed for a traffic offense. Her first reaction was that : someone had been badly hurt as a result of her husband's driving, but it seems that the infraction was a minor one: He was not carrying the international translation paper for his licence (grey coloured one with your photo in it)

He was later released when the right papers were produced, but it was a rude shock for the entire family which has never seen the inside of a jail before.

Please, if you plan to drive in Egypt, do carry all the necessary documents including a translation if you have an IDL issued in any language other than Arabic.

Stay safe, drive safe.

Someone else brought to my attention that if you are an Egyptian Resident or an Egyptian, then you need to have an Egyptian Driving License. An IDL from another (your own home) country is useless, if you are a resident here.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Croc takes a mid-air stroll on Egypt Air flight

From Sydney Morning Herald

To think of all the paperwork we had to do before our cat could fly with us. . . .

And what about the hand baggage screening machines where they stop passengers from carrying drinking water? Did they think this was a crocodile leather bag or something? Wasnt it emitting heat to show it was alive, or is a croc a cold blooded animal?
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