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EGYPT | Wednesday, 24 November 2010 | Views [700] | Comments [1]

Cairo was closed last week for the Eid Holiday. Eid al-Adha, or as it is known in Pakistan, Bakra Eid. Bakra. The goat.

For the holiday celebrates the intended sacrifice, at God's behest, of Abraham's son Isaac. A sacrifice averted by the substitution, in the final moment, of a ram caught in nearby thickets. These days goat, sheep, cow or camel will do. The animal is slaughtered, if possible at home, and the meat divided between families and donated to the poor.

In any case Cairo was closed. This never quiet city of twenty odd million simply shut down. The shops did not open, the bakeries remained cold, the streets empty. For the first time it was possible to sit at street level and draw - unencumbered by traffic, the air unburdened by its usual fog of dust and smoke and diesel fumes.

In the old city the buildings were shuttered. The bazaars were closed. Those that could left Cairo for Alexandria or Sharm el Sheikh. Those that remained visited family and friends and were visited in turn.

Until evening that is. Then the crowds come out, to walk along the Corniche or take over a Downtown closed to traffic by a combination of traffic barricades and the crush of bodies. Along the Nile the disco ferries tout their wares in a din of competing music. There are popcorn sellers and boys offering single roses wrapped in cellophane to passing couples.

It is like this for five days. Officially the holiday is only three, but Friday is half a holiday anyway and Monday too close to the festivities to merit serious work.

Then it is done. People and traffic return to the streets. The shops reopen. With a lurch and a roar Cairo returns to life.



your words help to remember....

  damonlk Dec 1, 2010 10:27 AM

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