Recent comedy breaks in the misery:
1. While in Mahalla we had to keep an extremely low profile because of the habit of the Mahalla police station to suck journalists into its bowels. Foreign-looking journalists were prevented from entering Mahalla on Friday in any case, at police checkpoints. It didn’t help that 1. I look and sound foreign and 2. Wael Abbas, high profile blogger and jailer of torturers was in our party.
Even Jennifer Rush, the 80s singer we endured on the way to Mahalla on Sharshar’s “Old is Gold” hits tape seemed to know something we didn’t when she bellowed out I’m heading for somethingggggggggg.
Luck was on our side that day. We thought it was game over at the police checkpoint when a policeman asked for our IDs. We were sure that he would notice the foreigner and Mr Abbas in the back. In a moment of pure cinema, just as he was about to look at my ID his superior came bounding over and admonished him for checking IDs without an officer being present. The officer politely told us that we could proceed.
The many activists and journalists who were detained – illegally - at checkpoints outside Mahalla for hours were not so lucky.
Once in Mahalla we consumed beverages in a coffee shop and then walked at high-speed back to the car. Rounding a corner, we went past a police car full of plain-clothes policeman just as two youths walked past, one of whom shouted out at top volume “DAH WAEL ABBAS!” [IT’S WAEL ABBAS!]
2. Being an aficionado of all things Lebanese, Sharshar was particularly excited when it was announced that bearded Beiruty crooner and Oud maestro Marcel Khalife is coming to Cairo. He proceeded immediately to the Tagamoa party headquarters to buy tickets, and found that they had all sold out.
Not to be defeated he searched, assiduously, for tickets, and found that he could get some from a friend of his, Nagy. Nagy told him that he had got the tickets from the black market. The ticket tout had wanted 250 le for them, to which Nagy said “mesh keteer schwaya, 250 geneeh?” [isn’t 250 le a bit much?] to which the tout responded “ya basha deih Marcel Khalifa, deih gamda geddan! Mozza!” [mate, you’re talking about Marcel Khalifa, she’s really fit].