The locusts were hungry, but we got there first
The photographer from upstairs calls me in panic. Swarms of red locusts, she says, are flying everywhere and knocking at her window. Moments later, she knocks at my door, borrows a lighter, and rushes out. I haven't seen her since, but rumours spread of people burning tyres on 6 October roads, a tactic I think we should reserve for scaring Israelis, not locusts. But the photographer has just got back from Arafat's funeral in Ramallah and is very emotional right now. So I am not saying anything.
The Agriculture Ministry tells us not to worry about the locusts, for they have an underdeveloped respiratory system, the poor little creatures. This is exactly the kind of thing that gets you to leave your home in the heart of Africa and fly non-stop to Cairo. Nothing like the fresh air we have here. I've repeatedly mentioned that environmentalists are mucking around with our capital's ecosystem, but no one listens. Now, look what you've done, clean air mongers!
The locusts are crazy though. Coming to downtown Cairo to knock on windows! You're supposed to be out in the fields eating crops and causing national havoc, not casing Talaat Harb Square. What do you expect us to do? Offer you fuul sandwiches? Go away, and this time look where you're going! You're supposed to cause rural mayhem, not urban havoc. Doesn't anyone tell you anything? I thought locusts should have a sixth sense or magnetic instincts to navigate with. They can't be just waking up in the middle of the jungle and thinking, "OK, let's fly 2,000 miles, in any direction."
And what's with the funny outfit? Red! You're supposed to blend in with the environment. Grass is green, not red, hello! Next time, dress up for the occasion. Red! What were you thinking? The world is not all made up of red wine and pepperoni pizza.
I feel sorry for our e-government. Just as it has its hands full with the black cloud, it gets the red locusts. Black cloud, red locusts. Add yellow fever and a touch of exchange rate blues and you get a work of art, a Van Gogh of misfortune.
Earlier that same day, the Brunette wakes up screaming as millions (her estimate) of scrawny creatures circle her tiny mansion in the Eastern Desert. To calm her down, the Intellectual and I are taking her out, to a wedding, but we don't know that yet.
If you want to eat at Bua Khao, the Thai restaurant at the Movenpick Hotel complex near the Pyramids, your timing has to be perfect -- ours isn't. By the time we arrive, the wedding across the glass dividing the restaurant from a festivity hall has begun. We have to order fast, for the restaurant closes at 10.30pm and it's already 9.45pm. We catch the songs from the wedding, the menu from the waiter, run to the door to get a glimpse of the wedding, walk back inside to admire the jewellery-studded Asian artefacts, and discuss our day, almost simultaneously.
The Intellectual orders his beef with green curry and coconut sauce hot, because whenever he orders medium in Cairo he gets mild. Wise, yet wrong this time. The stew is hotter than Ruby pumping iron. He takes a bite, screams, shovels steamed rice in his mouth, gulps water, eats again, and loves it. The Brunette gets fried chicken and a very interesting vegetable and rice plate, which she says has original Asian ingredients. The Designer, a quite and methodical eater, is enjoying his seafood soup, which is filled with sophisticated creatures, some locust-like. I get the sizzling beef and vegetable platter and proceed through it with the caution of an arsonist. For dessert, I strongly recommend the fried ice-cream.
Bua Khao, (02) 385 2666, Movenpick Resort, Cairo-Pyramids, open 6pm to 10.30pm, offers reliable Thai cuisine in a lovely dining room with lively neighbours. Alcohol available. Dinner for four, LE400.
By Nabil Shawkat