The first was while I popped into a hotel to pick up a friend, and we found ourselves embroiled an engagement zaffa in the foyer, sort of like a formal annoucement where the engaged couple walk down an aisle lined by friends and the traditional noisy, clashing band with handheld drums and wailing mizmars, a long horn, going full roar, with a bit of dancing and LOTS of camera phone action.
The second was an engagement knees-up at the cool After Eight jazz club in Downtown, one of my favourite bars, but also one of Cairo’s smokiest. So we toasted the couple, danced to the house DJ’s bizarre music – which flipped from Supertramp to Arab pop to 50s rock-and-roll in three songs – and fell out onto the street gasping for fresh air after a few hours.
The third was a Libyan wedding. A seven-day affair, the bride was from a very, very rich family who decided to go the traditional Egyptian street wedding for one of the nights, where you erect a tent in the street and family and friends pour in to see the bride and groom on their white love seat and have a bit of a boogie.The couple were heralded by two men on fiery Arabian horses whose riders rode straight into the waiting crowd and through the long corridor archway of twinkling lights churning up the carefully created sawdust designed ‘welcome mat’ out the front of the tent. Inside, there was a brightly painted cart serving sham homous (the hot, spicy tomatoey, lemony drink with whole chick peas in it) rugs on the floor and round tables with white tablecloths and seats tied with sashes.
There was no belly dancer, the bride, in a blue gown, was up on the tables dancing, much to the crowd’s delight. Perhaps because a lot of their workers live there, the family chose to erect the colourful wedding tent in a very poor part of the suburb of Giza, near the Pyramids. It also coincided with the public holiday for the Prophet’s Birthday, so naturally, every man and his dog who lived in the area wanted to get into the tent.
I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say there were 200 people in the tent with another 100 trying to get in, mostly small boys lifting the sides of the tents to ooze through to ogle the rich guests dancing. The crush was incredible. My escort for the evening kept muttering disgustedly (and bad-temperedly), “These people don’t know not to come if they’re invited!” But the family diderect the tent in their backyard.
The fourth wedding event, the wedding of Mokhtar and Samira, was my favourite, so I’ll save for their own blog. Till then...