saw the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting during the
day and excessive NON-fasting at night. In some ways it is a shame
to see the end of the month; the breaking of the fast comes at
sunset, currently around 5pm and by then all Muslims are in their
houses ready for the feasting. I say it's a shame to see it end
because although the traffic is chaos leading up till 5pm, afterwards
the roads are completely clear and it is much easier to get around
. . . unfortunately there is nothing open to get to!
was a big holiday and now everything will probably be closed until
the new year; of course it is not like this every year since Ramadan
is a moveable feast based on lunar months, the next Ramadan begins
mid-November next year. During this time there is a lot of piety-
Muslims believe their good deeds are given ten-times the weight
than any other time of the year. The city beggars take opportunity
of this time and are more likely to ask people for money. Recently
I was asked by a beggar in the street for some money, and as usual
I gave something- in fact I was rather generous. He looked at
the money and asked for some more. I explained to him that it
is not good to be greedy, he should accept the gift and be happy.
He replied with a smile on his face: "Don't tell me how to
do my job!" I gave him more because of his sheer audacity.
restrain from doing anything that could be seen as bad or corrupt
during the month of Ramadan. I have a friend and fellow worker
who was unwittingly invited to indulge in the 'pleasures of the
flesh' by a lady of questionable morals, but she quickly added
"After Ramadan has finished of course!" Ramadan affected
me in ways I wasn't expecting this year. I'm still trying to flush
out my kidney stones with cheap Egyptian beer (remember, as the
doctor ordered! Details given in the last Cairo Update). I went
to the only supermarket I know which sells the stuff and I was
surprised to see that all the alcoholic beverages shelves were
empty. I guessed that there might have been a sudden demand for
it at the beginning of Ramadan and so I decided to return a few
days later when the stocks were back again. When I returned I
saw that the alcoholic drinks shelves were laden with soft drinks;
then it occurred to me that maybe there are no alcoholic drinks
sold during Ramadan . . . and I didn't have the foresight to get
stocked up beforehand. Ahhhhhh!
asked the guy on the checkout if there was any beer available.
He looked at me, looked around me suspiciously then called the
manager over to his checkout. "The foreigner wants some beer"
he said in a quiet voice. The manager also looked around me then
"What do you want?" in a hushed tone.
"Four bottles of Sakara" I replied. The manager quietly
told an assistant to fetch the bottles from the stock room. I
paid for the bottles then waited for them to arrive. The assistant
walked from the store room looking around him all the time, the
bottles were in two unmarked carrier bags, I guess to conceal
their identity and also not to implicate where they came from.
I wanted to tell everyone that I didn't actually like the beer
and that I was only taking it for medicinal purposes, but I reckon
I wouldn't have been believed anyway.
drank through the four bottles in four days, then I had to go
through the process again to get more. I discovered that I had
to ask the right people to get the beer- some flatly refused and
said there was no beer in the store. I decided to get at least
one week's worth of bottles each time. They usually came concealed
in boxes with Mineral Water written on the outside. Near the end
of Ramadan their caution and careful handling of the situation
started to rub off on me. I noticed other shop assistants eyeing
me up and down too. Man, I almost started to feel guilty about
buying the stuff! Yesterday I went into the supermarket and saw
that beer was being openly sold once again. Hurray! All three
shelves, about a meter long were stocked with alcoholic drinks;
and this is the only selection I know of in Cairo!
a family we had a relaxing time over Christmas. On the 23rd we
had a party at our place with fellow workers. There were about
20 altogether. This was a great time, we laughed our heads off
throughout the evening- and not a drop of alcohol was consumed!
We ended with an impromptu candle-lit carol service in our living
spent Christmas day as a family by ourselves, then visited friends
late in the afternoon. It was my intention on Christmas morning
to go into the girls room and wake them up by playing the guitar.
For once in the year I wanted to be the one waking them up and
not vice versa- unfortunately they still beat me to it! They had
been awake from before 6am and were patiently waiting for us to
get out of bed! We opened our stocking presents first, then opened
the main presents after we had breakfast and dressed ourselves.
We had bought the children lots of presents with money sent from
the UK and they had a great day playing with their new toys. As
we expected, Lydia found great amusement playing with the empty
boxes and wrapping paper. We finished the day by visiting friends
and watching a video- all three girls fell asleep on the floor
and so had to be carried back!
have a full programme at the beginning of January to coincide
with the Orthodox Christmas, which is the date that most of the
Christians in Egypt celebrate Christmas. Actually, the majority
religion here buy a lot of Christmas decorations and even Christmas
trees. I've noticed this a few times and often wondered why. A
toy shop owner explained to me that to them Christmas and new
year are seen as the same festival, and they associate Santa Clause,
reindeer, trees, flashing lights and presents with the 1st of
January. Later on in January I will discuss with someone about
professionally recording my children's presentations on video.
There has always been a big demand to use my material with similar
workers with the Egyptian churches and it appears that this may
be the easiest way to do it.
new year everyone!
NEW family photos on our web site: www.theFells.net
Here are some photos of the girls on Christmas day. Hannah is
showing off her jewellery, Esther is smothering her new doll and
Lydia is trying out her crawling mat which makes animal noises
(but she just ends up walking
on it now!)
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