Hunting bikes in Cairo

I had been living in Cairo for a couple of months when I caught wind of a mechanic who specialised in classic British bikes. His name was Zein Hussein and after a bit of sleuthing, an address was procured for his garage. One free afternoon a friend and I took a taxi to a working class suburb called Saiyeda Zeinab to track down Mr Hussein and see what kind of bikes he had.

Like many taxi rides in Cairo, the driver didn’t know exactly where he was going but after a few enquiries shouted out the window to passersby and a bit of vague gesturing on our behalf we settled on a direction and took off. A short time later we spotted the Brookes Animal Hospital which was our cue to leave the cab and continue on foot. We entered a narrow street that smelled of manure and looked around for the garage. We found Zein’s place just around the corner, a small tiled garage barely big enough for a couple of bikes and assorted hardware.

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No strangers in the land of Egypt

The Torah (the first five holy books of the Jewish faith) encourages Jews to take care of strangers, reminding them that they too were once strangers in the land of Egypt. Since biblical times, Jews have lived in Egypt, making the Egyptian Jewish community one of the oldest in the world. Today, millennia after the arrival of Jews, the community is a fraction of it its former size. While there once tens of thousands living in vibrant communities, today a bare handful remain. They steadfastly hold on to their heritage and tradition, both as Jews and Egyptians.

Every major festival, the community gathers together to celebrate their faith, and as the Torah prescribes, at every festival they welcome strangers; whether they are foreign Jews visiting or living in Egypt, or diplomats and other well-wishers of other faiths. During the recent Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish new year, I attended a service at the Adly Street synagogue in downtown Cairo.

Continue reading at the Daily News Egypt.

Keeping busy in Cairo

I have been keeping busy with work and Arabic class at the moment, not leaving much time for extra writing. However I have a few stories coming up for publication which I’ll post links to here as they go up.

For now a couple more pics from the recent protests.

More tk

Violent clashes continued for a third day in Cairo on Thursday between Central Security Forces (CSF) protecting the United States embassy in Garden City and protesters enraged by an anti-Islamic film. Elsewhere across the Middle East, similar protests were held, including in Yemen, where the US embassy was stormed on Thursday, and in Libya, where the US ambassador was killed on Tuesday night.

Several hundred protesters continued skirmishes throughout Thursday on Omar Moqam and Abd Al-Qadr Hamza streets between Tahrir Square and the US embassy.

Protesters hurled rocks and the occasional Molotov cocktail, at one point setting a police vehicle ablaze, while CSF forces replied with tear gas and charges with armoured trucks to force the crowds back.

Continue reading at Daily News Egypt.

Another night in Cairo

The boys were showing off as they wove through traffic on their bicycles. As they pulled up next to me I caught their attention by raising my camera, as if to say “hey, do that again.” They happily obliged and rode in front of me holding hands and waving.

Ahead the traffic slowed but the boys didn’t notice. Too late they split apart, one boy weaving between two cars, the other trying to slow his bike by dragging his feet. He wobbled as he approached the slowing traffic and then, as he passed it, slipped. His bike and his leg went under a battered white hatchback. Its back wheel unceremoniously crumpled them both with a thud. The boy yelled and the car stopped. A man got out yelling. The boy hobbled up onto on leg and started yelling back. A crowd of men quickly gathered, all yelling.

My driver quickly pulled a U-turn and drove away, afraid of me being inculpated. I don’t know what happened to the boy or the driver.

I replied the scene in a loop in my mind for days afterwards.

Uploaded a few more photos recently. More TK

A new president, what now?

Egypt has a new president and it is its first democratically elected one at that. But what does this mean for the country?

The country held its breath yesterday ahead of the announcement that Mohamed Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, had been declared the winner of a closely contested runoff presidential election.  The sigh of relief that followed might have been less audible than the cheering and chanting coming from Tahrir but there was a real sense of relief and feeling that a turning point may have been reached.

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Cairobserver launch

[NB: this one’s from the cutting room floor but thought I might as well chuck it up because it’s about a good website.]

Cairobserver, a newish website about Cairo’s urban planning, moved from the digital back to the print age at a launch at Rawabet Space in Downtown last night month.

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