Thursday, February 09, 2006
Cairo Day One—Surprises Galore
Hello from Cairo!
Our first day in Cairo was very productive. We arrived in the middle
of the night and went straight to the Canadian Hostel where we have a
reservation. It’s very nice and clean with private rooms, gracious
people, a funky lounge and internet. Not bad for $6.50 per person per
This morning we walked out the door into a hamsin –a sand storm from
the desert which covers everything in dust. Nevertheless we went to
our favorite neighborhood, “Garden City” to look for a flat. I had
three guava mango juices and an apple shisha, and we were on our way.
Because of the soccer game finals it was not easy at all to find a
place. We trudged around all day just to hear “oh – there was an empty
apartment here, but somebody just came and took it” over and over.
Finally at the end of the day we found something gorgeous. It
overlooks some king’s tomb (they explained to me that he lives there
but he’s dead). It very luxurious and clean and beautiful. If it were
up to me I’d get rid of all the furniture, but it will have to do for
the month. Ein Sh’alla we can move in tomorrow.
So now that I had an apartment the next thing was to get a drum. I
never bring a drum to Egypt. I made an appointment to meet with
Henkish, a great Egypian tabla player who has a store on the strip of
music stores on Mohammed Ally street. On the way to Henkish I stopped
by my friends at the Gwaret El Fan store where I received some shocking
Surprise # 1 – 25 Raquy Dumbeks
First some background. Mid East Manufacturing wants to make a “Raquy” dumbek and asked me about having them made in Egypt. They told me they wanted to start with just 25 of them and see how they sell. So I called Gwaret El Fan, the company who made me a few Raquy dumbeks
last year, and asked them how much it would be do make 25 of them and
how soon they could make them. They told me a price and a time, and then
I told them that the agent from Mid East Manufacturing would get in
touch with them. Then I gave Mid East Manufacturing the phone number
of Gwaret El Fan and left it up to the to agree on something between
themselves without me in the middle. A few days later I heard from Mid
East Manufacturing that they contacted Gwaret El Fan, but that price
for those drums was too high for them, so they wanted to try to
manufacture the Raquy Dumbeks in the US instead.
Anyway today on my way to meet Henkish, I went in to the store to say
hi to Gwaret El Fan. The guy greeted me warmly.
Gwaret Guy - Your 25 drums with your custom design and your name
written on all of them are ready.
Raquy - But I never ordered the drums!
Gwaret Guy – Yes, you did - you called and told me to make 25 of them
Raquy – No – I just asked you the price – the guys from Mid East
manufacturing called you after and told you it was too expensive
Gwaret Guy – No nobody called. Only you.
Raquy – But they weren’t for me – I can’t take 25 drums – they were for
Mid East Manufacturing, but they don’t want them.
Gwaret – Well, I thought you wanted them so I made them and their
waiting for you in storage.
etc etc etc
So, now I have to figure out what to do. There are 25 custom designed
Raquy Dumbeks here waiting for me. Shit.
Then we met wth Henkish who was very sweet. He’s anxious to do a
concert together, so I hope we’ll work something out. I found an ugly
small drum that sounds amazing and bought it.
Henkish in his Store
Now for Surprise # 2 – We’re Famous!
About five different people today said they saw us on Egyptian
television on the Samir Sabry show recently! The best was when some guy at the kosheri restaurant recognized Rami and me and everyone in the restaurant stood in line for me to sign my autograph. It was so much fun, I wrote out each person’s full name in Arabic (it took a while).
Signing Autographs at the Kosheri Restaurant
So tomorrow, ein shalla, we will move into our apartment, pick up
Rami’s grandfathers old car, and start organizing our concerts.