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Saturday, 10 May 2008

El Korba Festival


The rest of this post relates to 2008 carnival.

The El Korba Festival was held on 9th May in an area of Heliopolis called 'El Korba'. It was a street festival with live music, various stalls selling different things including food from around the world, parade etc.. Apparently it has been running for a few years now. Here is a link to a blog about last year's one: El Korba 2007

I didn't learn about it until a day or two earlier so had no time to make arrangements with anyone to join me. On the day itself I was making my business calls til around 230pm and was thinking 'can I be bothered' (Helipolis is the opposite side of Cairo from me and I thought it would be a very long journey). But anyway, about 4pm I decided to put my best 'going out' top on :D and caught the microbus to Giza where I had an errand I could run if I chose. Anyway, had only just caught the microbus when a friend called to say he might possibly be there for a while so I decided to go for it.

Went up to Ramses Station / Mubarak Metro. I had spotted the entrance to the mythical tram on one of my last voyages up to City Stars so I decided to try it. A tram was waiting to leave and I said I wanted Roxy, Heliopolis so the conductor said it was the right tram. It took 15 minutes to get there and cost all of 25piastras :D Somewhat rickety and ramshackle, but at that price who cares!

Got off at Roxy (called that because .... there's a Roxy cinema there!) and eventually plucked up the courage to ask someone where El Korba was - about 10 minute walk away.

I got there about 545 - 6ish at the start of a Pink Floyd The Wall set which was GREAT! LOVED IT.

Reminded me of - ahem cough - years ago when I saw Pink Floyd do it live at Earls Court the night after my degree finals finished - though of course they didn't have all the effects here!

About half way through the set everything stopped while a woman made an impassioned plea for everyone to find her little daughter who was either called Hamsa or was 5 - wasn't quite sure! So everyone was looking around - then Hamsa was spotted riding the shoulders of a male some way back from the crowd and everyone was cheering etc - heart warming - all say ahhhh.

After they finished, there was a parade of dancers from different countries and different sorts of Egyptian dances - I managed to see some of it but it was very crowded. I particularly enjoyed a bunch of traditional Egyptian musicians who seemed vaguely familiar and I think they may be the same musicians who play the Makan Centre regularly.

Then I went to say hello to a friend who was there for a short time, before wandering off to find a cold drink somewhere.

It was very crowded but not frighteningly so, everyone was in such a happy mood and once again it brought home to me how lack of alcohol really improves these occasions.

There was a puppet show of Um Kalthoum and an orchestra which was excellent - they were playing some of her songs along with it.

Lastly, I saw a band called The Classic Band who had different guest singers and were doing various covers. The band included 2 female guitarists including a hijab wearer for those who think Egyptian women do nothing but stay home in the kitchen. A young lad of about 3 years old - if that - I'm not much good at guessing how old people under 8 are - stood on the front of the stage facing the crowd giving it some welly through the whole of the set - definately got the makings of a future lead singer [Big Grin]

I also spotted some friends of another friend who I had never met in person before but recognized from the friends Facebook, so I went and introduced myself and basically hung with them until time for me to leave.

Now, this was a big, mixed crowd. I did NOT experience 1 SINGLE MOMENT OF HARASSMENT - nothing that could even have been twisted into harassment by anyone keen to find it. There was the normal buffetting that goes on in big crowds but ZERO bum touching, boob touching or anything else. I barely warranted a second glance off anyone. I don't recall even getting 1 'welcome'.

A group of men with very bizarre moustaches (who later turned out to be part of the parade) drew far more attention.

So an excellent evening and I'm so glad I went. I could so easily have drifted into nothingness again!

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