Open for business

There's a bunch of boys outside my window clapping along to the beat of a drum. They couldn't control themselves - football-mad Egypt just beat Italy in the Under 20s World Cup, which is being hosted in Egypt this month. It wasn't a win; it was a route at 4-2 to the home country.

Australia's here, too. They've played Czech Republic and Costa Rica so far, losing both matches. I watched the Costa Rica match and hid in the corner of the cafe as Australia managed to score an own goal. The TV station must have felt my discomfort as it began the broadcast once again, the minute the match was over. Double the humiliation!

So sympathetic friends have advised I NOT watch the final match in our draw, which is against the favourite, Brazil. The Australian matches are being played in Port Said, about 200km west of Cairo. I was going to make the trek out but have non-football UK friends arriving for a bounce around town on that night.

It's the last weekend before school goes back, so the streets have been full of people revelling in the last of their holidays. The shops are still on post-feast sales with my favourite clothes shop, the ironically-named Expensive, flogging everything for LE40 (about $8).

Post-Ramadan, the koshary shops (the carbohydrate-heavy snack Egypt adores, deemed too simple to eat during festive Ramadan) have reopened, the booze shops have taken down the curtains, and all the pubs and clubs are back in business with a lick of fresh paint: they appear to use the religious month as enforced renovation time. The nights are suddenly cooler and from Saturday, the school runs will clog the streets in the mornings once more.

I have fallen in line with the pending sobriety, trading bright Russian blonde for a deep brunette (it appears Egyptian hairdressers are like Egyptian music - all or nothing, 10 or turned off). I thought that would make me blend in on the streets more, and stop nasty men from making lewd offers, but I'm still too pale skinned, so now the offers have a tinge of delight: foreign...but probably speaks Arabic!

So, after the hot summer and month of Ramadan, Cairo, finally, is back to business.

(Pic: Australia devastated. Getty Images)

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