Saturday, 9 February 2008

2008 : Africa Cup of Nations

As I confessed last time, I'm not an avid sports person at all. Not even a spectator.

But with Egypt's recent win against Ghana in the semi finals of the 2008 Africa Cup and the celebrations that erupted all over the city 2 nights ago. I could remain ignorant no longer and had to brush up before the finals tomorrow. Because Football is all that this country is talking about right now.

Football is to Egypt what Cricket is to India. An insider tip in Cairo is that the best time to travel around the city is before the midday prayers on Friday, during Iftaar time in Ramadan and during a televised football match (when Egypt is playing another country or Al Ahli is playing Zamalek) This is when traffic on Cairo's otherwise congested roads is almost non-existent. The city looks like a ghost town.

Al Ahli and Zamalek are local clubs. More often than not it is the Al Ahli club that wins, but that doesn't distract the Zamalek loyalists. Matches between these 2 clubs are so fierce, that they are almost always officiated by foreign referees.

Coming to the Africa cup, its been held almost every alternate year since 1957 (making it older than the corresponding European championship). This year is the 26th edition. Winning this tournament is a big deal because the winner gets to represent the Confederation of African Football at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup which is a prelude to the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Egypt has been a semi finalist 12 times thus far, but reached the finals just 50% of the time. So when Egypt won the semi finals against Ivory Coast (their co-finalist in 2006 Africa Cup of Nations) on the night of the 7th, the city turned 4-5 times noisier than usual. To those who have been in Cairo and thought it wasn't possible to get any noisier, I humbly invite you to be here during the finals and witness it for yourself.

Egypt is the nation that has won this cup the most number of times (5 of the 6 times that it has been in the finals) The other semi finals this year were between Ghana (host nation) and Cameroon - both 4 time winners of this cup.

The finals tomorrow will be between Egypt and Cameroon and the whole city is gearing up towards it. Flags are being sold on every street corner and major road (you might as well buy something patriotic when you are stuck in 3 hour traffic jams) Absenteeism will be at its highest tomorrow. If Egypt wins tomorrow, I don't even want to hazard a guess as to how long the celebrations will continue.

So if you are around during the finals, get home before the scoring starts and stay in no matter what the outcome because there will tons of people on the road post the match either celebrating or taking out their frustrations. Because whatever you may have heard: "It's not just a game!"

Published on

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Kim is a Bonafide Cairene

.........According to the Daily News Egypt article by Peter Carrigan.

Peter writes a weekly column for the Daily News Egypt called "A Khwaga's Tale"

This week the extremely interesting topic he undertakes is a checklist to help you recognise if you are a Cairene.

& Kim's whazzupegypt blog has been mentioned in the article as having a "Hip Name"
although there's an extra "t" in the name, which is sad Kim because that could have been huge potential for more eyeballs.

The article in its entirety can be read here

Thanks Peter, glad you like the blog & its name.

A KHAWAGA' STALE: You know you’re a Cairene when…

By Peter A. Carrigan
First Published: February 3, 2008

You know you are a Cairene when you leave the airport and sign your name as Donald Duck in that book administered by a lonesome policeman, who records your vehicle registration and destination.

I mean really, what is that register of vehicles leaving Cairo Airport all about? There must be hundreds of those dusty journals back at police HQ dating back to Agatha Christie. I wonder if she was the first to write down Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse.

So, are you a Cairene? Following is the Khawaga’s Tale’s check list to whether or not you can consider yourself truly immersed in Cairene culture.

You know you are a Cairene when you don’t care for haggling with taxis and just take the airport limousine service. Your bawwab pays for your ride when you arrive home and your luggage is brimming with pork products.

You know you are a Cairene when your phone rings in the cinema. You have a friend in Maadi who you’ve been meaning to call and you’re unsure whether Palestine is a State or a state of mind.

You have a delivery menu from your neighbourhood fuul and ta’amiyya spot. You have sushi home delivered for dinner parties and your morning coffee is also delivered on weekends, when you answer the door in your pyjamas.

You know you are a Cairene when you have eight random phone numbers of black & white taxis saved in your phone. You don’t know who Ahmed, Mustafa or Jane is, but you also have their phone numbers. And you have left a phone in a taxi, restaurant or on a felucca.

You are always busy when invited to Maadi for lunch or a genteel afternoon tea. You have attended more leaving parties than you have friends and you’ve been to Aswan, Luxor, Siwa and Dahab, but prefer Moon Beach.

You know you are a Cairene when you say you support Al-Ahly after realizing the Club is based in Zamalek, but feel you should be supporting Zamalek because that is where you live.

You always nod with authority when asked if you have read Max Rodenbeck, Robert Fisk or Noel Barber. You have two or three Arabic language books on your bookshelf, but spend most of your time weighing up whether or not to have both Showtime and Orbit.

You make an effort to go to historic Cairo and Khan Al-Khalili when you have visitors, but send your visitors off to the Pyramids by themselves.

You know you’re a Cairene when you have kissed a diplomat, fallen in love, fallen pregnant because there is something in the water here and fallen out at After 8.

You have a wallet full of unused bar tickets from the Canadian Club, BCA, Rugby Club and the British Embassy’s Phoenix club.

Reading Al-Ahram Weekly makes your head hurt, though you have heard it is more entertaining in French.

You know you are a Cairene because you wear shades inside, you think it is rude to be on time and you’ve finally realized that IBM is not a computer brand. You’ve stopped flicking the wing mirror in after parking as you’ve also realized that you never use it and you need constant noise to get to sleep.

You pine for the African Cup of Nations. You can’t remember that sailor’s name from Alexandria’s Spitfire bar and you have finally realized that you could never leave your cat and couldn’t afford quarantine anyway.

You write a blog with a hip name like; whatzzupegypt.blogspot, for expatriates.

You have started a cottage industry and gotten lost in the Mogamma.

You know you are a Cairene when you are wearing your blue jeans inside your knee high boots. You have one blow heater which you carry from room to room during January and you are wondering whether or not to join the exodus to Dubai.

Though, you realize you have been in Cairo too long because you remember your home country through rose tinted glasses; where politicians were honest, the streets clean and the service brilliant.

You have a thousand and one taxi stories. Your weekend starts on Wednesday night and you’ll never get used to going to work on Sundays. Your apartment has the ugliest chandelier in Cairo and your maid must have drunk that second bottle of gin!

And of course, you know you are a Cairene, because you never miss reading Khawaga’s Tale every Monday in Daily News Egypt.


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