A reminder of better days

The noun kasfa in Arabic means humiliation, which is what the latest episodes of the Konafa Head presidency are doing for America.

My nuclear button is bigger than yours… Bannon has nothing to do with my presidency… Manafort suing the JD… Nimrata (the US’s first Sikh UN ambassador) threatening to cut off aid to the PA… Pakistan insulted Donnie will crack like an egg… meeting with the Ruskies was treasonous… .

The hits just keep on coming, which is excellent news. I look forward to more of the same until it becomes obvious to one and all what a second-rate farce of a country the US has become, and the Imperial musical chairs realign.

On a less irrelevant plane, for the fulminations of global ego maniacs mean nothing here in El Gouna, Egypt, where the living is delightfully slow, I am pleased to report that my wife — known to me as The Zouz, but as Erin Hanem to everyone else — decided not to iksif (a verb form of kasfa) my good friend Mourad at the Gouna Tennis Club yesterday. She graciously allowed him to win two sets in a closely fought best-of-three match, no doubt taking pity on the poor lad’s massive knee brace.

Today, the Zouz resumes her 11am lessons with Mourid, the fab tennis pro at El Gouna Tennis Club, when I believe she will be resuming work on her backhand top spin. (Update:  this has been cancelled. We’re going for a morning walk to Abydos instead, and staying close to home the rest of the day.)

All kidding aside, I was surprised at how well Mourad played, despite his knee brace, and I can see that he is physically in better shape than I, despite being considerably older.  Clearly there is much work to be done on my part in terms of getting in shape in order to achieve Gouna Level fitness.

Zouz in whites
Mourad with brace
Zouz returning a weak second serve

After tennis, Mourad drove us to the marina, where we finally able to secure a table and tuck into a Spaghetti Bolognese lunch at 7th Star, a meal that was incredibly enhanced by the smell of other patrons sucking on coffin nails all around us. Luckily the Messiah’s birthday will be celebrated on Jan 7 (this is the land of the Coptic Orthodox calendar, after all), so after that, Star should be relatively empty, and maybe Zouz and I will be less subjected to passive smoking when lunching there.

After the spag bog episode, we waited almost an hour for the Marina Line bus to take us back Downtown, but it never came, so we tucxied it back to West Golf and took in some rays by the pool, a beautiful experience marred only by the sound of loud baladi music emanating from one of the multi family dwellings that abound around the lagoon. It really does appear, after 4 months here, that Egyptians simply cannot tolerate the sound of silence, even in the most idyllic of settings, by day or night.

Which brings me to my final point.

El Gouna
Dawn in West Golf

Our villa has many positive aspects, including being in a part of El Gouna where new construction is at a relative minimum.  However, the West Golf area has disadvantages, as does the villa itself:

  1. It has several gates that provide access to the main road to Cairo or Hurghada, leading to much pass-through traffic, especially on holidays. With the main gate so near, the road outside the house is the convenient shortcut to the rest of El Gouna, leading to excessive traffic;
  2. It has a mix of standalone villas and apartments, which tend to attract the baladi crowd the way those fly trap pots do in front of the tuc-tuc stand in Abu Tig marina
  3. It is far from the sea, which is kind of the point of being in a coastal resort, innit?
  4. It’s right next to the private airport;
  5. None of the beds have built-in namoussiyas (moz nets);
  6. The two adjoining living rooms are impractical.  One large, square (as opposed to the current shotgun layout), den-like space, allowing larger, more comfortable sofas and plush chairs, all facing a 50″ flatscreen HD TV would have been a far superior floor plan;
  7. There’s no defensive audio system into which you can plug a smartphone or chromebook and chill and/or zone out the zibala.
  8. The gardening watering system is not automated; it is tedious to have someone come over every morning around 9am and spend a hour watering the plants.
  9. This villa cries for roof solar panels, to heat the pool and house in winter, without it costing a fortune.
  10. The pool needs a filtering system. It is annoying to have some guy show up every other day (I had to tell him not come every day of the week) to clean the pool, a service I am paying for, despite the water being too cold to swim in due to lack of solar heating system.

My lease here expires in mid March, and my Egyptian visa in mid April.  I’m going to enjoy the next few weeks with the Zouz, but after she leaves I’m going to attempt to find  a small, affordable villa that is nearer the sea, is not co-located on a street with apartment buildings, and which ideally has a minimum of infernal drive-by traffic (a ban on tuc-tucs and motorcycles would be ideal!).


Such a place would be even more attractive if all the gardeners, street cleaners, garbage pickup men, and pool guys were non-smoking mutes. An army of Harpos would mean that I wouldn’t be subjected to the sound of these saeedi workmen (they’re all sa’idis here, for some reason) having loud conversations, as they perform their slave labor between 7 and 10am — just as I’m trying to have a quiet morning Turkish coffee by the pool. like a proper basha — or have to pick up their butts from the driveway entrance.

Moreover, there ought to be a law in such a Nirvana neighborhood that all outside music be banned between 10PM and 10AM, and that all children, especially those who speak primarily Arabish, should, if push comes to shove, be seen — but never, under any circumstances, heard.

It won’t be easy, but I’ll give it a shot.


leaving america