Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
9 - 15 September 1999
Issue No. 446
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues


Pack of Cards

By Madame Sosostris

* Here I am dears, at the end of yet another eventful summer and all ready to launch myself in the new season's festivities with a vengeance. Of course I had to jet here and there in order to refurbish my equipment and buy the few accessories which will make all the difference. I must say that the new bubble skirt looks simply devine on me, and I can't wait to show myself in it to my nearest and dearest. I was thinking that this is exactly the right time of the year to have a garden party, somewhere elegant with umbrellas in the setting sun, with a background of trees and the murmur of a fountain maybe, to lend a romantic touch to my new capeline. And while we are on the topic of gardens, did you see what has been happening to the shores of the Nile recently, courtesy of Cairo's Governor Abdel-Rehim Shehata? They have been simply transformed dears, and do you know how I found out? Simply by flying over Cairo: Looking out of the plane window, I could see great expanses of green on both sides of the Nile which where there had been none just a few months ago. So I inquired upon my arrival, and this is the story that I kept just for you my darlings: Do you remember the unsightly and often rather garish casinos that used to mar the river banks? Over a year ago Shehata vowed to have them removed and free the Nile banks for the public enjoyment free of charge. True to his promise this is exactly what he has done, having the area cleared and planted with trees, shrubs and colourful flower beds. The large gardens thus created, featuring comfortable benches and children playgrounds, now provide the Cairene population with a very pleasant destination for their evening strolls.
garden Nile
Shehata Garden
Nile gardens; New promenade by the Nile; Shehata
photos: Abdel-Hamid Eid

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Ebeid and Qaliubiya Governor Sabri El-Biali
photo: Mohamed Wassim
* Well dears I got my wish soon enough, and though I was not exactly invited to a garden party, I did attend a wonderful celebration in the Suzanne Mubarak Gardens, in Rod Al-Farag. Minister of the Environment Nadia Makram Ebeid was closing the festival of the Friends of the Environment, an event aimed at raising citizens' awareness of environmental problems and which started on 11 August. The finale included a small ceremony, attended by the governors of Cairo and Qaliubiya who, together with the distinguished guests, were given an opportunity to examine the educational bus fuelled with natural gas, presented by the Energy Planning Authority. A clever puppet show was next on offer, conveying in an amusing way the message of nature preservation and was followed by a distribution of booklets on various environmental topics. Finally Ebeid solemnly planted a young tree in Rod Al-Farag Square, to complement the 800 already planted throughout Cairo's suburbs during the festival.

and his young daughter Zeinab

photo: Randa Shaath
* Do you remember my darlings that a couple of months ago my good friend and business tycoon Naguib Sawiris organised a lavish party to celebrate our poet Ahmed Fouad Negm's 70th birthday? Well not to be outdone, albeit a little late, the Press Syndicate decided that more celebration of the same event was in order. After all 70 for some must seem like an important landmark although I myself do not believe that one should start counting before one reaches 90 at least. Anyway, as I was telling you Hamdin Sabahi, head of the syndicate's cultural committee organised a literary evening on the occasion of the belated birthday attended by many of Negm's friends including Amina El-Naqqash of Al-Ahali , Mohamed El-Quddussi of Al-Shaab and Gamal Fahmi, former managing editor of the Nasserist mouthpiece Al-Arabi., among many others. Prominent intellectual and writer Salah Eissa spoke at length on the impact of Negm's poetry in the post 1967 years and how it revitalised an entire generation at a time when they needed renewed hope. Negm who has visited every prison cell in Egypt in his time, dedicated a recitation of his poems of the period to Al-Shaab's editor, Magdi Hussein (who is now himself in prison for libel), which he followed by a rendition of his famous Abdel-Nasser and finally by the poem Nawwara, an ode to his older daughter.

One line
Bahgory's one line portrait
* If like me, you are keeping abreast of the global news, you should have already heard that our very own George Bahgory is now in Paris where the opening of his exhibition Caricatures 99 (which includes some of his one line portraits which appear regularly in the Weekly ) is taking place at the Egyptian Cultural Centre in St Michel, an area famous for its artistic climate. The theme of this exhibition is quite original, my dears. As you may know, George prides himself of drawing his subject from start to finish without ever lifting his pencil from his paper; well this time he has put it in his mind to ask his visitors to guess at the course followed by his hand for each of the carricatures he is exhibiting. I immediately decided that I too wanted to play and when I called George in Paris this is what I received a few minutes later on my fax machine. Now you too can guess at the point where George began his work of art and where exactly he put the full stop.


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