Villa kitty

Egyptian cat


Here’s my news…from El Gouna, Egypt .


Saturday was supposed to be the big day when the real estate was to come over at 10am  to where I have rented since mid Sept, inspect the premises, and fork over my apt rental deposit.

It didn’t quite turn out that way.

But all matters regarding this rental would be settled by Monday morning.


I took one last look at the place I have lived in for the last 3 months.

To think that I have slept on a cold stone floor in front of this TV for 3 months.


Then I took one last walk in Abu Tig marina, and saw a Christmas tree; alas, they are not celebrating Xmas in Nazareth this year, due to the Jerusalem thingie.


I arrived in my new villa via tuc tuc, and had some initial problems with recalcitrant doors, but sorted that out after calling the villa real estate agent, who came by promptly and solved the problem by kicking the door in.  


My bad lieutenant S5 went on the blink, so I could not call or receive mobile calls for a day and half, till I fixed that particular issue on Sunday, but this was only a temporary respite, so I am buying a new (cheap) cell phone only on Tuesday for 18 dollars.


The worst part was — as expected — no Internet connection.  I went both on Saturday morning and Sunday to the Orange shop… I will spare you the gory details.  I ended up having Internet service sporadically, until the S5 died, so this is still a to-do issue. For some reason my Chromebook Plus does not like the WIFI router in this villa.

On Saturday afternoon, I finally kicked back and sat by the pool.  I soaked up the sun, far away from it all, at last.

The winter desert sun warmed my arthritic knees, hobbled by months of sleeping that stone cold floor in hateful Abu Tig marina, I realized, suddenly, how content I felt.  I was actually happy, especially when I noticed various wild birds dip their beaks into the pool and look at me with mild curiosity.


In the evening, a few friends came over, and admired the magnificence of my new digs.

We watched Real Madrid win the FIFA World Cup, and during the match, one of my friends arranged from my wife to be greeted at Cairo International by a service called Ahlan (which means hello).  The Ahlan VIP service includes having a trustworthy professional waiting inside by the international arrivals gate with a sign that has her name on it, escort her through passport control, and make sure she gets to the domestic departure gate without a hitch — where I will be waiting — and we will board the  plane that will take us to Hurghada.


Last night, I was visited by two very beautiful cats in the latter part of the evening, whom I am sure my cat-loving wife will end up adopting, especially the shy young female who was being pursued by some ardent bewhiskered tom cat.


Then I went to sleep but was awoken by the sound of skeeters buzzing, and sure enough, I’d been bit quite a bit.

So I tried to put together the skeeter net gizmo I bought via the miracle of the Internet from a UK camping outfitter.  It’s actually a Pyramid Mosinet pop up bed net.

This did the job, even though my way of putting it together in the dark was a total hack, and in the morning, I set up the ingenious contraption up in the big double bed on the top floor, so now it looks like the dead wife Scottish shroud in Braveheart. Never was 70 quid or so better spent.


On Monday morning, the little female kitty came back in the morning and I gave her water but had no food for her.  I bought her some on Monday, as my wife loves cats, and i think she will like this one in particular.


Stay tuned!


leaving america




This must be the place

This is where I shall soon be transformed into Dr. Relaxo

Finally, the day to move my suitcases to the new villa arrived.

At noon, the real estate agent showed up promptly, as previously agreed.  The zatouna (meaning small olive, Egyptian slang for something small and ridiculous) apartment where I have lived during the last 3 months was particularly cold and damp last night, and I had woken up with a slight sore throat.

But I had already packed, and spent a lot of time doing laundry (sheets and towels) and cleaning up, during the nightly noise hour, so that when the apartment real estate agent (as opposed to the villa one) shows up tomorrow at 10am, everything will be spick and span and ready to go — meaning I get my nice hefty dollar deposit back, no problemo.

This is where my wife will probably sit and stitch for hours

So I hauled my valises into the car, and we drove to the other end of El Gouna.

What a difference!

No noise, no cars, no vans, no buses, no tourists walking around talking loudly, no workmen banging away doing demo work in nearby flats, no nothing.

Just blue sky, blue water (the villa is on the water), and birds.

the little building on the left is used for storage — the white villa next door is empty

I checked that everything inside the villa was in order, including the TV.  It was, and this time tomorrow, well more around 7pm, I shall be kicking back watching Real Madrid beat Gremio in the world cup final.


I also double checked the bus situation.

It’s a cinch. The bus stop is a five-minute walk away, but no buses go by the house. The first bus leaves Downtown Gouna at 9am and arrives where the villa is at 9:15. There is a siesta hour between 3 and 5 PM. Then service resumes till midnight.  Cost of a monthly ticket is 145 LE, or around 6 dollars.

6 dollars.

To get to the tennis club, all my wife would have to do is transfer to the Marina line at the Downtown bus station , and that bus will drop her off right in front of the tennis club.  Easy peasy, no problemo, and no need for bicycles or cars or tuc tucs.  However. the villa real estate agent gave me the private number of a tuc tuc driver whom my wife and  I can call whenever I need immediate transportation.

Gated entrance to our beautiful new villa

I can’t wait to move in tomorrow.  Because it faces South, the nice warm sun bathes the terrace and the house itself with a warmth that makes my creaky old knees want to cry after spending so many nights sleeping on a stone floor in a damp cold flat in Abu Tig.

I look forward to basking in the sun with my beloved wife and just enjoying life…. as it should be.

Unfortunately, I have to wait till Saturday Dec 29 before she arrives, but the days will go by fast, now that I am about to leave Abu Tig mania, and decompress to the max in what I have been looking for all my life, a nice villa by the sea in a quiet, out-of-the-way place.


leaving america



The Joker


mass invitation

Flyer image owned by this author; and is used with permission by

One of the cool things about Gouna is that there is a cadre of people who live here who not only have a historical memory of Egypt across the sweep of time, but also remember me as a young lad.

Earlier today, I chanced to spend time at 7th Star in Abu Tig marina with someone named Mourad whom I have known most of my life.

I brought up the subject of an amplifier I once owned, and Mourad recalled that it was a Watkins, which jogged my memory of the time when I bought it.

Now time in Gouna is serious business.

After all, the movie Photocopy won El-Gouna’s Golden Star Award for Best Arabic Feature Narrative Film  a few months ago. at GFF.

And it is Gouna where Omar Sharif moved to in his dotage, staying at a hotel just down the street from where I’m currently living. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s by then, and could not remember the magnificent movies he was in that continue to play on Egyptian TV to this day.

Fifty-one years ago, I was a teenager who spent the summer of 1966 in Swinging London. Mourad and I had decided to form a band, and I was determined to buy an electric guitar and amplifier.

I remember taking the tube to Charing Cross Road, and getting off at the Tottenham Court Road stop.

I headed to the famous Selmer shop that used to be there, where many well-known rock guitarists from the era bought their gear.

I was going to buy a Vox amp, because that is what the Beatles used, but in the end, I went for a second hand Watkins Joker, because it was a more sophisticated piece of musical machinery, but also because it was cheaper than a brand new Vox.

I returned to Egypt in late August, and by September, the late Amr Mansoor, Mourad and I began practising in a small alcove by the dining room in the flat by the Nile that  my parents rented in Zamalek. Not long after that, Ashraf Salmawi and Tarek Nour joined the band.

It went on to become one of the biggest rock groups in Egypt of the period. The name of this band was The Mass, an anagram derived from our first names. 

Alas, I was not to enjoy the success of the rock group that I founded with Mourad, for my parents had decided to emigrate from Nasser’s Egypt, and by February 1967, we were in New York, and would never again live as a family in Egypt.

I generally do not like to dwell on diaspora nostalgia, but it irks me that I was probably the only songwriter of the group, and thus the Mass remained to the very end a band that did covers, never originals, even as as I wrote dozens of songs in New York during that period, most mediocre, a few not.

I can say today without rancor that for many years I wrongly felt that I had been robbed of the sort of young adulthood that I expected to have, had we remained in Egypt.

But that’s not what happened.

The good news is that more half a century later, I once again hooked up with Mourad and Tarek in the resort town of El Gouna, Egypt.

Gouna Egypt

Not something that I would have envisioned when I found myself suddenly stuck like in some sick joke in the Deep South of the United States, sixteen years ago, with no apparent way to escape the hell of living in massively xenophobic Florida.

Well, those days are now over, and on Saturday, I will finally be leaving noisy (by night) Abu Tig marina, and moving to a beautiful villa on a lagoon that leads to the nearby Red Sea. If things go well, I shall again rent in October of 2018, and this time I shall bring my guitar.

Who knows?  

Perhaps one day a reconstituted The Mass shall play a song or two on some Saturday night at Dawar el Omda in downtown Gouna, and for just one moment, it could become 1966 again, almost, but not quite, and for that one moment, it might seem to be as if I had never left my beloved Egypt.

Unlikely to happen, but isn’t it grand to think that it might?

leaving america