Youssef Hassan Street was illuminated Sunday night by hand-held fireworks and the flashing headlights of every vehicle that passed a wedding party gathered around Fujifilm, which the school overlooks. To me, the scene looked at first like a dark-colored Van Gogh of suits, robes, hijabs and bystanders bespeckled with prom dresses. I’ve gotten used to our crowded street’s nightly noise, but the wedding party was overwhelming.
Affaf said Fujifilm does in-store wedding photos, a service that brings with it large crowds and extraordinary noise volumes every few days.
I was getting nowhere with Hamada on Ahlan’s upcoming pricing overhaul and Affaf was yelling at someone on her Nokia relic (as she had been off and on for three days) when the party arrived.
After I captured the video above (which I had to upload in poor quality for our slow WiFi to even consider getting it online), Affaf told me the landlord was kicking Ahlan/me out of the apartment across the hall from the school. Why? He was offered more money for it by another person.
I was glad to know then that, whenever she glanced at me sideways while yelling on the phone last week, Affaf meant no harm and was actually arguing for me. But leaving that apartment meant a commute to the school was in my future, and likely alone.
Affaf waited to tell me about the situation until she had found a place for me to stay: the swanky flat of her Belgian friend, Monica.
Monica is currently in Belgium and won’t be back until September 11, but was kind enough to grant me the guest bedroom in her apartment a few miles away from the school. It has a rooftop garden complete with friendly little geckos the size of my fingers.
Although it’s even hotter than the first flat, Monica’s has updated fixtures and appliances, a full set of dishes, huge shower, at least four overhead fans plus a standing one, and a refrigerator that closes without gaps in the seal. Best of all: no ants on the ground (though they were in a bag of opened chips I peeked inside today). Quick digression:
Ants in my Underpants
I’ve kept my clothes in travel bags purely to avoid this scenario, but to no avail. The day before I left the school’s (former) apartment, I moved the underpants bag and out scattered a dozen of the infinitesimal ants that I now understand possess every building in Luxor. After smashing all of those, I dumped the bag out to find – I kid you not – a couple more dozen running for their lives. I washed everything before leaving the apartment and in the process created a fun little game I’ll call Egyptian Squash. All you need to play is a bag or item of clothing from a run-down flat in Egypt and socks or shoes. Toss the clothing on the ground, wait for the ants to appear around its edges, and then smash them with your somehow-protected feet!
I’ll remain at Monica’s until Affaf can find a new flat to rent for the school’s use. An Italian girl will be arriving in October to live with me, so that’s Affaf’s definite deadline, but hopefully she finds one before Monica gets back on the 11th.
I took a mini bus (see video above) from the new flat to the school this morning and was surprised by the air of cheerfulness inside its three doors. It was the first time I’ve gone alone anywhere further than 100 feet from the school. Seeing everything in the daytime put in perspective how large the east bank of Luxor is, and I actually enjoyed myself during the 15-minute ride. “Henna law sawahat!” – “I get off here!”