Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
23 - 29 December 1999
Issue No. 461
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

 
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Pack of Cards

By Madame Sosostris

Sosostris Starting this week, we are heading towards a few days of complete traffic chaos, my sweet sugar plums, and if I were you and could afford it, I would not leave the comfort of my home not even under duress. Madame Sos has fallen on hard times, that's the sad truth of it.

I am sure that like me, by now, you have all your lovely gifts wrapped: the Christmas ones in trditional red and green, the Eid ones in pretty pink and the New Millennium ones -- well, we don't really have a tradition for millennium presents, but I strongly suggest that we use space-age silver. So fashionable, too.


Nabil ShaathMy little five-year-old friend Nabil Shaath came to visit me one day at work. I was lunching on diet biscuits and offered him one, which he politely accepted. It was plain that the frugal pastry stuck unpleasantly to his palate. He stoically endured, however, until it was time to leave. "Can I have another one of your wooden pellets," he asked in earnest, "to show my grandmother how she should never make biscuits?" These days, little Nabil has forgotten his encounter with diet food. His mind is on decorating the tree while looking forward to delicious home-made treats for Christmas and the Eid.


This year both Christmases and Eid will follow one another within days, and this was a golden occasion for hotels to splurge on decorations and organise multi-faith events: In advance of the real celebrations, the Nile Hilton Hotel invited 36 boys and girls from the Coptic Orthodox Association of Child Welfare and the Amir Tadros in Zeitoun to listen to a choir singing Christmas carols and then have dinner in Al-Aroussa Room. They had a surprise visit from Santa, who began his rounds earlier this year just to give them gifts and cookies.


The Semiramis Intercontinental played on a combination of Christmas and Eid decorations which look quite original and attractive, what with the fawanis shining on the Christmas snow and lighting the path before Santa. If you must go out, dears, and especially if you want to entertain your children, then the hotels are worth a visit to see the various original displays, which give the many sweets you are buying right now for Iftar a particularly delicious taste.


It is sometimes difficult to remember in the festive atmosphere that children are still at school and that they probably wish they could stay home to watch the preparations for the various feasts. Music however can help sooth frayed nerves, as those who were lucky enough to attend the programme of Coptic carols presented for the first time at the main hall of the Opera House and featuring the great soprano Nabila Erian found out this week. To console some of the others, Better Life Team the renowned musical troupe headed by Maged Adel, who is an engineer when he is not indulging his musical talents, performed as beautifully as ever at Cairo American College.

Christmas decorations have sometimes become collectors' items. One of my friends was prepared to kill for a new teddy bear to hang on her tree, while another had a special room to store her collection of angels. A dear friend of mine goes for quality rather than quantity: One single highly decorative item is all that he needs to express the Christmassy mood.

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