We all have ho-hum, ordinary days and very productive days and then we have those few amazing and wonderfully busy days. Since my arrival in Egypt I’ve had more days like the latter than ever before. It’s amazingly wonderful how much can happen in one day in the capital city. Here’s an example of one such day:
Fajr prayers, sleep some more, have breakfast and it’s off to the Mogamma to pick up my renewed visa.
Bustling through the crowded building it’s well after lunch before we are done. We stopped for to pray dhrur at a nearby Masjid in El Tahrir. Then ducked into Hardee’s for a quick bite and went and made copies (not exactly action packed but the day improved quickly). On the way back home I decided to explore a little shop in the area and purchase a new leather journal. Feeling in slightly better disposition, we grabbed a cab to Khan-El-Lil in search of a beautiful table table lamp to use on the nightstand and eventually be a souvenir.
We get out of the cab and enter the maze of shops and souks. We wade through cheap plastic items from China, herbs, and carts of rocks and loufas. We find a beautiful lamp literally saying ‘alhamdulilah’. We see the souk’s owner touch up the tin punching, shining the metal, and wiring the lamp right. We give our ‘salams’ and navigate our way out of the labyrinth.
Finding ourselves at a tea shop outside Masjid El Hussain, we stop to refresh. Pray Asr at Al Hassain Masjid
We take the tunnel to Al Azhar Masjid.
It’s our first ever visit to Al Azhar. We walk around the court and find a Qur’an. I try to muddle through several chapters of recitations, my husband helps me through the chapters until the adhan is called for maghreb. We go outside to the wudu stations that are under construction the go to the separate prayer areas. We meet at the exit planning to really go home when a man stops us to tell us about a Tanour (Whirling Dervish) show tonight in Old Cairo. The man was very nice and we’ve both always want to do that but we have to wait another hour.
We were hussling back to the people tunnel, back to the courtyard outside Masjid El Hassain for a quick bite and then returning to Al Azhar to meet the man to for directions to the show. Through Islamic shops, produce market, and wooden cages of animals in piles we go down uneven stairs through a basement-esque hallway, into a small three level performance hall at least 200 years old.
The sound of drums is deafing. We wade through the crowd and find seats in the third row. It’s captivating; the dancing, the whirling skirts of colorful quilts, and the music. Soon the entire audience is cheering and clapping along with the rhythm.
Afterwards we go to a souvenir shop when the same man from earlier, through more mazes of shops and carts, up four fours on uneven stairs to a papyrus shop then rush back down to Al Azhar for isha prayers.
On the way home we stop of a snack of koshary, decide to walk past the Egyptian Museum to the Opera House. My Muhammad buys me a crown of jasmine and a rose. We watch the fireworks and walk home, all the way this time.
Egypt continues to impress me, this was one of those days I will always cherish.