Last night, I meandered in search of a good burger around the two marinas where I live .
Earlier in the day, I had gone to Bestway to buy some things I had needed — shampoo, detergent, sugar, Turkish coffee, a coffee maker, trash bags, bottled water, Listerine, a toothbrush, toothpaste and TP.
Initially I concluded that things were pretty expensive here at this supermarket, but then I realized I was still tired from the difficult flight in from Istanbul, and was converting LEs to dollars at the 2013 rate, when I was in Gouna last.
Adjusting my math, I realized that purchasing necessities is not that expensive after all.
The wind was really picking up and I was worried about the change of venue announced for the premiere of GFF.
I knew I would have to take a “tuxi” to the Berlin Technical College to pick up my press badge for the festival. I only had a vague idea where this place was, other than it was on the way from Abut Tig to Downtown, and also did not know what times the badges would actually be ready. (Note: the next day, when I went to the German college at 2PM in 95F heat, they were not. To be continued.)
Despite having registered some time ago to cover GFF, had not received followup emails from the festival organizers other than the one I got after inquiring where to send the “head shot” they would use for my press badge.
This was unusual.
In my experience at the Tribeca Film Festival, you would normally gets tons of communication from the press office, as well as many solicitations from the flacks promoting various movies to set up interviews with so-called “creative” people attending the festival — implying I suppose that everyone else, to one degree or another, was just a plodder without imagination.
It was thanks to an email sent to me by a friend of mine who lives here that I only learned last night that the Marina Theater I had scoped out several days ago would not be ready in time for the opening screening of Sheikh Jackson.
Gouna residents were all sent news of this last-minute change in venue; but not, apparently, film critics covering the event. At least not me.
So now I had to somehow find out where this Berlin college is (I understood it was somewhere by the Gouna Library), and if they were not ready with my badge when I arrived, that I would have to return more than once.
Apart from constantly having to have 15 LEs in hand to pay for all these tuxi rides, there was the issue of the heat. If I had to keep doing this all day in 35 degree heat, I might really have problems at some point; not to mention that tuxis have no suspension to speak of and the roads are not smooth. If you have back problems, as I do, you will pay the price for overusing tuxis to get around.
So, last night, walking about the two marinas in search of a decent burger joint, I noticed there were a lot more young Egyptians around. This was because of the Thursday bank holiday, or maybe it was some other official 3-day Egyptian holiday that had turned these coming days into a long holiday weekend.
I noticed that Egyptians like to walk three or four abreast, sometimes more. I noticed, too, that quite a few of them did not give inch, when I approached them, say in one of the narrow winding alleyways between the buildings facing the marinas, and walked straight at me, almost as if there were playing chicken. I gave way time and time again to them, as I was not in the mood for problems.
The wind was picking up, and I stopped again by Bestway to pick a couple of bottles of water and the place was absolute chaos.
It was filled with hyper young Egyptians, shouting almost to each about where to find milk or other items, and darting about almost at random in the very narrow aisles of the supermarket.
Nobody paid the slightest attention to me as I tried to pay for the water, and in fact a few youths cut in front of me — talking to the cashier in rapid fire Arabic — but I said nothing. My goal while here is to avoid any sort of confrontation with anyone about anything, and let such things slide.
Walking back home, the wind was getting even stronger, and there were now searchlights from a sort of inverted rays of the sun ray arrangement behind the boats and small yachts bobbing in the marina.
Most of the tables outside the big hotels and restaurants were taken by Egyptian families or groups of friends, all talking in a very animated fashion about commonplace subjects — I do understand Arabic, and easily picked the snatches of conversation that drifted by me in the night air.
This of course a typical Egyptian trait; but I was beginning to notice certain distinctions as between what sort of clientele the various outside restaurants drew.
In the New Marina, especially, you see that certain restaurant catered to a much more Westernized crowd, who were rather quieter and had bottles of beer at their tables.
Most if not all of the women at these restaurants were wearing any sort of head covering, and some lf the young women, with their raven back hair, and Coptic features, were strikingly beautiful.
I found some sort charburger joint in the New Marina, but did not like the chaotic vibe there or the menu prices or the idea of sitting alone in a restaurant as groups of young men, many of them smokers, milled about in the shadows.
I resigned myself to having eaten little that day I would drink my bottles of water, and go to sleep, readying myself for what would surely be a trying day in the morrow.
As it turned out, I did find a small burger joint not too far from my flat.
So I went in and ordered a plain burger and fries to go, The wind was really picking up, and I had trouble closing the door behind me as the front entrance of this burger joint was quite rickety, and in fact was swaying with each strong gust.
There was just one young Egyptian couple there, and they were finishing what appeared to have been a large platter of chicken.
Time passed, maybe twenty minutes, and the couple said something to the very young waiter behind the counter in rapid Arabic that I did not understand.
Another ten minutes went by, as I saw the cook in the back busily working on my order, and then finally the young waiter at the counter went to the back and came back with an order wrapped in a box.
I got up to pay, but the waiter shook his head, without smiling, and pointed to the Egyptian couple.
So what had happened is that the couple had ordered some food to go, which the cook began working on immediately, despite the fact that I had ordered first, in effect, my order had been put aside because I looked like a dumb tourist.
Again, I let this go.
Eventually my order was ready — after half an hour of waiting — and it 85 LE (around 4 dollars) for the burger and small takeout container of fries, which was actually half empty. I declined the gross offer to have mayonnaise with my fries, but asked for extra catsup, and left.
It wasn’t that bad; I enjoyed the meagre helping of fries, ate maybe half the burger, and threw the rest of it in the garbage. At least I had eaten something that night.
The first sign of trouble came at 10pm.
I was watching channel 1 on TV, which is the Gouna station, learning more about the place and the people who live in it.
Suddenly a fairly loud bass beat started thumping from what sounded like right outside my balcony. It stopped right away, so I ignored it, and got ready for a good night’s sleep in preparation for GFF.
A few minutes later, it came back. This time is was louder. Then it went away again. Then it came back yet again, each time louder still. My worst nightmare had come true. There was disco club right across from my building, which I hadn’t noticed before, as it was closed earlier in the week. I had specifically told the rental agent that I wanted peace and quiet at night. I supposed I was not clear enough, or that something had gotten lost in translation.
I would have thought the term “peace and quiet” in my email was fairly unambiguous.
By midnight the approaching massive diesel train sound — tathunk tathunk tathunk — had been joined by vaguely Anglo-Euro techno singing, which was incomprehensible, backed by synthesized repetitive music that were loud and insistent — very 80s era ,gay influenced, driving dance club music, with bass beats probably set at around 120 bpm; waves and waves of purely synthetic sound that was meant no doubt to deliver some sort of orgiastic frenzy.
For the first time since arriving, I began to think of booking the next flight out of this About Ghreib Marina vibebeat hell, where I was now a prisoner of dawsha — which means noise in Arabic.
How was i going to sleep? The sound of this thumping metronomic techno music was now so loud that the windows of my flat were rattling.
It was a form of torture, to say nothing of complete disregard by the club owners for those who actually lived around About Tig marina. I thought of calling the police, but decided not to.
Eventually I came up with a solution of sorts.
I found that if I barricaded myself in the living room, that is to say, if I drew the heavy curtains across the balcony windows, put towels under the bedroom door (the bedroom is where the music was loudest), moved the mattress in the bedroom to the floor on the living room, turned up the whooshing AC to the max, and set the TV volume on 8 to an Egyptian channel that was airing a continuous stream of boring American movies from 10 and 20 years ago, that I could, up to a point, aurally neutralize the delightful groovebeats from outside that now literally sounded like there was some sort of riot going on in the street.
There is a lot of dowsha in this world. It can come from anywhere, from the ones who like to give threatening speeches, from the ones who say they have all the answers, from the ones who talk without having anything t say.
I had escaped from America to get away from all kinds of noise.
I would find a solution in the coming weeks to groovebeat hell.
I drifted off to sleep in my cocooned fortress, and when I awoke at 7, the dawsha was gone.