I thought I’d start the new year of posting with a rather inspirational set of books. These aren’t just your plain run of the mill thin lined paper put together with staples and bounded with a tacky front cover. These beauties, courtesy of my husband, came all the way from the Fabriano shop in Rome. Paper nerds will know that Fabriano are a traditional company based in Italy, specialising in premium quality paper since 1264. They make the best paper you can buy, combine them together and wrap it up in impressively designed covers. This set of seven A5 sized books come in a range of sexy colours aka known as the Bouquet notebooks.
It’s like buying a piece of art…
Each book contains different thickness of paper and ranging from 80-100 gr. These beauts are so damn good looking, I don’t actually want to write in them. They’re just too good for that. No, these mini delights deserve pride of place on your bookshelf, or neatly arrange on your writing table.
No this isn’t an automated message, but the real deal.
Excuse me for my leave of absence. It was a combination of laziness and bad habit that caused me to stay away. I’m breaking that habit right now.
Coming up from me will be more design inspired posts and the craziness that is mother Cairo. Fasten your seat-belts my fellow readers, this could get bumpy (oh wait i forgot, taxis here don’t actually have seat-belts..)
Summer is now upon us. It comes when you least expect it, managing to catch me out before I can prepare, even though I’ve been living here for the past three years.
The whole rituale begins; Make sure you have stock piled your water supply, have a wardrobe full of adequate cotton clothing, a mountain of suncream, spray bottles filled with water dotted around the house, copious amounts of fresh watermelon juice and a full tray of ice cubes ready to hand. All these things help make your summer in Cairo bearable, especially as temperatures can reach 40 degrees.
When I’m out and about though, I like to prepare by visiting one of the numerous kiosks dotted along each street corner. They’re usually a small make shift shack of metal pieced together with a rickety roof on top. I’m amazed at how they manage to stay up, but they do, and in summer they’re a god send.
Imagine that its noon and you’re walking the dusty streets, the sun high above, causes you to squint regardless of your sunglasses. You’ve been walking for the past hour and by now your pace has dramatically slowed and your shirt clings to you, wet with stale sweat. You seek shelter under the nearest tree along a busy road, its orange flowers out in full bloom. Its cooler in the shade, and soon enough the sweat cools you down. You run your finger along dry cracked lips which you quickly try to moisten with a parched tongue. This only makes it worse.
You must have lost a litre in water but all you feel like is a sugary drink that in the long run will cause tooth decay and diabetes. But you don’t care, you’re not thinking long term, but living for the here and now. You walk up to the fridge housing the drinks, amazed at the ingenuity of a single wire attached from the lampost, and used to power the kiosk fridge. Legal? You dont care. All you want right now is to wrap your lips around a cold beverage.
Open the fridge and touch each bottle carefully selecting the one that is chilled to perfection. crack the bottle open with the cap opener attached to the side of the fridge and savour the moment as the cold liquor runs down your throat and cools you down.
Brilliant and inspiring. If theres one thing you watch today, then make it this. Thank me later
Have you heard about the CIFF? No? well neither had I. It’s meant to be a crucial event in Cairo showcasing the latest independent films from all over the globe. But the organisers had not publicised it well at all and the website was a disorganized mess.
I wanted to go to watch the screening of the film ‘Moozlum’ directed by Qasim Bashir which was showing today (Friday). The story follows the life of a young Muslim boy named Tariq who has been raised with Islamic values. His life changes though when he enters college and the events of 9/11 happen. The only problem was that the publicists of both the festival and the film advertised the timings but did not indicate where the venue was. Now how do they expect anyone to attend?!
After scouring the Moozlum Face Book page I found the directions to the venue and made my way to the Opera House, in downtown. Only when I arrived did they inform me that the showing had been changed to tomorrow (what in the last hour?). And that to view the film I would need a special pass, which I had to obtain from a certain place (where who knows) and pay for it. Those who had turned up knew nothing about the pass apart from a few who were able to read the booklet in Arabic. How ridiculous is that!? It shows the lack of organisation that went into planning the event.
A journalist had arrived to view Moozlum, but as it wasn’t showing he decided to watch a Dutch film named ‘Joy’. He let me in using his press pass and I entered a small deserted room. A few rows of metal chairs were laid out across the room and a compact white screen hung from the wall of the stage.
I sat down waiting for the film to start and in the mean time three actresses staring in the film walked in. Soon after the lights dimmed and the movie began. Five minutes into the film was an unnecessary sex scene which just sullied it. How is this meant to be an independent artistic film if all they shove in there is sex just to sell it. Surely the content and story itself will sell the movie, not the run of the mill sex. That’s something that should be left to the generic Hollywood films. I just walked out of there and didn’t look back.
(Yesterday inside a taxi)
I love the fact that everywhere you go in Egypt you hear the Quran. Right now I can hear the hypnotic melodious sound of the Adhan (call to prayer) calling out into the hustle and bustle of the streets. People are frantically rushing to get home before dark.
The taxi driver has switched the radio over from the wailing Arabic pop music to the Adhan. Even amongst all this traffic and chaos it still seems to be peaceful, almost as though time has frozen. Indeed the cars have ceased their frantic beeping…. well actually they’ve commenced again.
The Adhan has finished and the romanticism is over. I’m on my way to the mall, City Stars to meet a friend and now im stuck in traffic at the peak of rush hour. The sun is slowly starting to set and the city is slowly being covered by a veil of darkness. When I came out of my Arabic class the sky had dramatically changed in one and a half hours and it looked like there was a sandstorm brewing. Not wanting to be caught up in it I quickly hailed a white taxi (I don’t use the black ones as you have to spend ages bartering the price and in return you get a slow bumpy journey praying the car makes it to your destination. After all that, you are left with the lingering smell of eau du petroleum) and off I went…
It was a fascinating taxi journey where I got to practise my Arabic and at times pretend i didn’t know what the response was. Frequently I chose to ignore the conversation when all i felt like doing was examining the scenery from my window. Thats the good thing here you can just go silent and then they stop talking to you, having got the hint (doesnt always work mind you). The driver didn’t believe I was married as apparently I look young (wrinkles when will you show your ugly faces?).
I love the mini buses here. They’re so shabby, its chic.
After being let loose in the paint shop and going crazy with desire for the juicy tubes of oil paints, I decided that it would only be fair to paint my first painting in over ten years. I decided upon doing the classic subject of fruit, signifying status and wealth. I looked in the fridge and could only find two different coloured apples and a half eaten melon. Of course that wouldn’t do so off I went to the local supermarket to seek my fortune. Yet all i could find was some unripe or bruised bannanas and grapes that looked like they had seen better days. Not wanting to spoil my moment, I bought them, and once home arranged them on the table ready with pencil in hand.
First I roughly drew them on my canvas pad until it roughly resembled what was infront of me. I cracked open the tubes and celebrated with my first brush stroke. It felt good. After a while I got tired and feeling a little bit dizzy from the turpentine (used to clean the brushes) and decided to call it a day. Later in the evening the props having looked excidenly good all day got polished off in 5 minutes. The painting is still unfinished…