Orange lanterns

gouna
Alas, the front yard reeks of cow manure

Today is Sham El Nessim, a celebration of the arrival of Spring in Egypt.

In El Gouna, the wind is blowing in hard, and much water is being expended keeping vegetation alive where it ain’t supposed to be.

This is, after all, the desert.

All the Richie Rich mamelukes are cruising about in their fancy foreign cars and custom tricked out tuc-tucs, some with their families in tow, many with no seat belts as the kid hangs out the back without a door or any sort of protective backstop.

And in the parking lot, women in fancy getup are embracing zingy gigolos, while the clock keeps ticking on.

Only 5 days left for me in El Gouna.

Then I return to the US, where everyone seems to be at each other’s throats.

What a nasty scene awaits me.

The suffocating presence of a fake president in a fake democracy who likes to rail against fake news to the delight of fake Americans. Too bad Sham wasn’t just a horse.

I would much rather walk in peace in “my” rented villa garden (see pic above), or swim in the lagoon, or read a good novel.

Five days in this Red Sea bubble, and then the expat journey ends — for now.

Yesterday, I watched the Real Madrid vs Athletico match at Rush in Abu Tig.

An Egyptian couple from Heliopolis (aka Masr el Gadida) came in and sat next to me.  We talked about a few things, including Florida (which I am returning to in a week:  jeez, only a week, oh boy), as they have a place there too.

The guy was as fat as I used to be when I first arrived in El Gouna, in fact maybe even porkier than I was, and he eventually mentioned a few things about his work in the field of IT.

I probed a bit (this after all was my profession) and then it came out that he seems to be more of a turn around specialist for computer companies in Egypt and the US, not someone who actually knows anything about computer programming.

He said he went to “Zamalek School” when he was young, which I had never heard of, and quite honestly don’t think actually exists.

They mentioned the Gezira Sporting Club, and I said I went there probably for the last time in the Fall.

Then they mentioned their boat, and I kidded them a bit, asking okay which one of you is the captain?

The guy replied oh no, neither of us.  We like to relax when going to Tawila island, without having to worry about handling the boat.

That summed up Gouna for me pretty much in terms of a certain class of people who come here.

Let someone else do the heavy lifting.

We’ll just sit back, relax, and take in the view.

The game ended in a tie, and I left, curtly (because in the end the guy’s fatuous phone chatter during the match bugged the shit out of me, or maybe it was the lack of AC, a common situation in most joints here, despite the assomant heat) saying “pleasure” to the couple, knowing I will never return here ever again in my life. This place, by the way, is owned by Moods. Maybe Ahmed (the late son’s owner) should determine if they are running a dance floor establishment or a sports bar, as I could barely hear the commentating over the blaring crap music that was played throughout the match.

I walked down the marina, past yet another stage being set up in Basin 1 for some more noise (aka loud music, the national obsession of Egypt) and searchlight extravaganza.  Not being in the least interested in that sort of touristy nonsense, I went home and went to bed early.

The good news is that the Juventis match is on Wednesday.

I shall watch it at San Siro, downtown in the less effete part of El Gouna, depending on where you hang.

I know the waiters there, and I also know it’s unlikely that the audience watching the game with me on the jumbo screen there will have condos in Florida and boats in the marina and will simply be like me just plain football fans there to watch the game sans façon. I just hope the unpleasant-sounding yet popular Tunisian, Essam Al Shawaly, is not announcing it again. Give me English speaking commentators (except for the insufferable Gordie Ray Hudson), or give me death.

 I’ve just about had it with this privileged lifestyle shit.

Maybe I should just ignore it, go to town to the fakahani, buy an orange, and make an oil lantern with it to celebrate the arrival of Spring.

It is, after all, an ancient Egyptian tradition.

The real Egypt, that is.

And maybe that way I’ll deconstruct my misanthropic Fashel Man envy of the ones with the mega buckeroonies in this place.

But I will say this.

If I had the money to have a markib here, I would study seamanship and captain the damn thing myself.

But where is it, exactly, that I might sail to?

The fabled coast of successful coexistence, no doubt.


leaving america

The beautiful game

vanishing new york

I went to San Siro last night to watch Real vs Juventus.

Sat next to two wonderful German young ladies, both nurses on vacation here in El Gouna.

Everyone was agog at the revelatory grandeur of Cristiano’s bicycle kick score, but I remember Pelé scoring many such goals, so Zizou was not giving full credit when he said it was one of the most beautiful.

People forget a lot of things.

It’s the tiresome little shits with the shot memories who like to google every assertion you make, as a sort of supplemental artificial intelligence Viagra. Looking for chinks in the armor, I suppose. Confused as to the difference between enunciate and annunciate, they punch their smartphones in renunciation, while talking emptily about how cobots will save the day.

Me, I’m going to be back in the US in 9 days. I will visit my Mum in New York, then go on to rejoin my wife in Florida. Unfortunately, right around the time the orange shithead returns to Mar-a-Bribo with the Japanese PM, Kow Tow Shinzo.

The time for being in Egypt’s El Bahr El Ahmar is almost over. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw another dinosaur or two before leaving, but that is a’adee, as the melancholic bus drivers continue to complain in Upper Egypt dialect about their worn down faux leather shoes.

It’s difficult to describe exactly how toxic the US seems from afar.

A sea of red, when all I want is Mediterranean blue.

A vile piece of garbage ensconced in the White House, and everywhere the cabal of right-wing front door bangers refuse to loosen their death grip on the throats of the American body politic.

But they will lose in November, and they will lose again in 2020.

Before that, there will much damage, perhaps irreversible.

I have been reading Jeremiah Moss’s Vanishing New York this week. I’m enjoying the stories that Moss researched about the city I have lived in most of my life.

It is as if he is yearning to return to a version of The City that he never actually knew.

I don’t want to sound like some sort of Captain Obvious Father Time crank this morning, but the truth is often you cannot go back.

Usually there is no do over. They will say, be a champion both on and off the pitch; set an example to your children. Shopworn cliches are in abundance.

But despite all the daily sturm and drang around the world, I sense there is a gathering feeling in America to limit the harm that the cheap pimps and arm-chair generalissimos are inflicting.

There is a growing revulsion, a growing disgust, as so-called strong men strut about like drag queens on some sort of ugly fascist parade.

The real drag queens do it for camp.

These spanky boys actually take themselves seriously, perhaps not realizing or caring what absurd martinets they really are. This, as American suckers continue to be taken in by the grand manipulation, which they think resonates, that it is somehow authentic as to who they are, at some absurdly primitive level.

Once in a while, someone like Cristiano will rise high above all others and show the world how the beautiful game should be played.

G-O-A-L!

But for the rest of us, what is our goal in life?

Think about it for a minute, if you’re an expat, or soon to be ex expat. Or even if you go to sleep every night with a packed bag at the ready by your bedside suitcase eyes.

What is your real goal in life right now?

Why do you even exist?

Where is your elusive beautiful game?

 

leaving america

 

Everybody knows

Tou’le monde sait le bateau coule
Tou’le monde sait le capitaine a menti

There were just so many people I had to meet, but now it’s winding down.

So many conversations, so much this and that, so much frick and frack, so many people who had vanished from your life and then you by chance meet others who also knew them.

They will tell you, she became a ballerina, and lives in America now.

And you again picture the smiling little girl with the pigtails and a checked tablier in the petit lycée in Zamalek with the biggest smile you had ever seen, and you think, is that really what happened to her, or is she just, to quote Cohen, a shiny artifact of the past?

How many others did you look for?  How many ghosts have you haunted?  How many invisible demons did you do battle with? How many old chums were you so glad to meet who turned out to be worthless pretenders?

I am going back to the US in 10 days.

The grifter jig is pretty much up for the toxic orange pig and his scammy pals.

It’s only going to get much worse from now on.

Tonight there is a big football match: Real Madrid vs Juventis.  8:45PM,

I will be sitting with ordinary people cheering a team for no other reason than the love of the beautiful game, even as I hear the lamentations of the children in Gaza being mowed down by Israeli snipers, not too far away from here.

The 15 meter boats now must all be registered, and you cannot go past the nearby Red Sea islands toward Sharm.

There’s war in the mountains, and blood in the sand.

Yesterday I went to Mood’s again, and watched one of the Sawiris regal yachts go out for a spin. The little people said nothing as the masters of this particular universe floated by on a breath of mostly inherited money and privilege.

Then someone said they are all nouveau riche here, baladi vulgarians with no real class who think Trump and his ilk are great. Empty suits who all decamped to London for cover when things went south a few years ago but then came back bigger and more lavish than ever with their private planes and discreet mistresses and sordid down-low affairs.

I have nothing in common with them.

Nothing at all.

I am just a guy, with no illusions any more about anything. All I want to be able to do is to write the truth about what I see around me. At least one honest sentence a day, is what Hemingway preached.  Tough order, but doable.

 

leaving america