Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – CVIII. My Years at 12A Rue Khantaret Ghamra – Strolling Through The Streets of Cairo (4 of 5)

There were numerous street vendors who supplied food or beverage. The most typical regarding food was the koshari purveyor. On the plates provided, the “clientele” consumed standing up rice, black lentils, fried onions, and a tomato sauce. For drink, it was the a’ressous (tamarind). This merchant carried two containers, one for the tamarind, and one for water. The water was to rinse the glass before serving the next customer.

I don’t need to tell you that I never purchased koshari or drank a’ressous from street merchants.

And then there were the buskers. Sword and fire swallower, trained monkeys, acrobats, and mechanical piano. They put on their act and passed the hat. The one I loved the most was the aragoz (puppet show), if he was good, I put some coins in the hat.

Some of these guys catered to gamblers. Two that I remember are el talat war’at (the three cards) and the three cups and the dice. In the first, you put down your bet and you’re shown three cards, you choose one and the man urges you to keep an eye on it; he then puts the cards face down and move them around rapidly, you’re then asked to point at one card, if it is the one you picked, you win an amount equivalent to your bet, if not, you lose your bet.

In this “casino” as in all others, the house always wins. The man on occasion will let the gambler win, specially if there is a big crowd around, but ultimately, gambling does not pay – at least for the gambler.

In the second, you have 3 cups and one dice. You’re asked to place the dice under one cup and closely watch that cup; the man then moves the cups rapidly; where is the dice? Sometimes you win, mostly you lose for this (like the first one) is a con game.

You’ve heard the stories of the poor little boy playing football (soccer) in the street with his friends; he shows exceptional talent, is noticed, and eventually becomes a star. Egypt has such stories, except that the kids are not even playing with a real ball, they can’t afford one. Instead, they use a kora shorab; it’s an old sock inside of which has been placed another old sock, and again another one, until it approximates the size of a small ball; the whole thing is then sewn together. Voila, you have a kora (ball) shorab (sock)!

As you walk through Cairo, sooner or later, you will come across a fight. It could be an innocuous scuffle with the combatants easily separated, or it could be a vicious one with the pieces of the galabiyas flying in the air. There are always Good Samaritans who take it upon themselves to break the fight; but here again it could get problematic. The peacemaker can get hit and finds himself involved in the fight!

Fights often happened in cafes. You have a group of men discussing a given subject; a difference in opinion may be taken in stride – or it may not. You can then have a fight with tables and chairs flying in the air. If you’re there at that time, get out quickly!

Half of the fights were about children. “Your son accused my wife of being a whore!” “Your daughter told my son that I am a pimp!”

Here again there were campaigns asking the people to use their common sense. They were reminded that these were children, sometimes as young as 7 or 8. They listened to the wisdom broadcast on the radio. and agreed with it. Egyptians do have common sense, but they get carried away by their emotions.

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