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Wish I were in Fishawy

not so far off as it happens as I'm writing this from a plush hotel in Heliopolis, Cairo - but it seems a world away from the streets of old Cairo where I was ambling yesterday after the obligatory stop at Fishawy.

staying in one of these huge piles of a hotel tacked onto an enormous shopping center - a wold unto itself where you could live uninterruptedly for months without ever having to venture into the outside world.

an isle of cool luxury numbing you to life beyond when you're not made totally oblivious to it.

people watching here is at least as entertaining as in Fishawy but requires singular detachment and a dark bent of humour if you're going to stomach this show of paunchy self-indulgence and satisfaction for longer than a couple of hours.

I was suffocating - and the 43-degree air outside came as a blessing.

took a cab straight to Maidan Hussein near Fishawy and made a bee-line there - though the owner of the neighbouring café, forever condemned to hosting the overflow from Fishawy, did attempt, by positioning his large frame in the middle of the narrow alley, to force us down onto his own benches.

Stayed a good hour, loosing count of all those delicious coffees and juices, almost ordering a second water-pipe after I'd wiled away the first, occasionally giving in to particularly persistent of friendly hawkers. I just love this cross-section of Cairo, so ideally positioned for a walk, camera-in-hand, along Muizz or Musky streets - or around Al-Azhar on the other side of the main road.

one of the little creature comforts I did enjoy back t the hotel yesterday evening was sipping several glasses of cool, Jardin du Nil local white wine whilst editing the day's photos.

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