Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
3 - 9 August 2000
Issue No. 493
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues


Pack of Cards

By Madame Sosostris

* Darlings I did feel like a cat on a red hot tin roof driving to work in my air-condition-less car today. I wonder why we import cars with seats covered in synthetics. Someone should tell them that they are far from suitable for our climate. Having just been to the hairdresser, I was feeling trickles of hair spray coming down my cheeks and into my eyes while my artfully arranged curls sagged pitifully in no time. I could have cried, I tell you. If I had my way, this kind of weather should be simply outlawed. And it does me no good to be told that this is a manifestation of global warming and that it is affecting others as well. Actually, I am not being completely truthful; I must confess that when I reached my cool, cool office, I did derive a certain pleasure out of the plight of fellow-sufferers; I even considered for a moment adopting in the future Texan Police Lieutenant JS Ashabranner's remedy; he took time off duty to affix an ice pack to his head in a desperate attempt to ease sunburn. Temperatures climbed past 40 degrees in North Texas where, like in Cairo, no relief is expected any time soon.

Poor Shirin, a 28-year-old African elephant who is an inmate of the Ankara Zoo at present, had to wait for her keeper in order to be given a refreshing squirt. Fortunately Shirin did not suffer any serious damage, unlike many old people who had to be rushed to hospital as temperatures also soared in Turkey. Young people in Bulgaria went in search of waterfalls for a quick icy shower. They had no problems with their wet clothes which dried as soon as they stepped in the sun: the heat wave there was the greatest experienced in 112 years. Inner city children in Tokyo and Amman put the water from fountains to good use, cooling off before resuming their games. In Cairo colourful umbrellas afforded a meagre momentary protection to pedestrians on their way home while others took refuge in air-conditioned shops and restaurants during their lunch hour.

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* Last Friday I spent a very pleasant night at Movenpick Hotel, sharing in the joy of my good friends Abeer Hassan, and Mohamed Saleh Selim who were celebrating their wedding, the happy conclusion of a romance born during their University years, at the Faculty of Commerce. Mohamed, Abeer and their numerous friends happily danced the night away. After the wedding the couple flew to Sharm Al-Sheikh where they will be spending their honeymoon.

* Yearning for something different? Why not visit the Arabic calligraphy exhibition, lasting until 10 August, at the Palace of Art galleries in Gezira. Inaugurated by Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni and Head of Fine Arts Sector Ahmed Nawwar the exhibition includes works from 72 contemporary calligraphers and 15 veterans and late artists who pioneered the genre.

The display also comprises 29 rare pieces from the collection of the Gezira museum and 80 works discovered in Wikalat Al-Ghouri dating back to the 16th and 19th centuries. The latter collection, by Arab and Turkish calligraphers, is prominently displayed at the entrance of the hall. "King Fouad I's personal mushaf dating back to 1922 was also borrowed from the Islamic Art Museum to be included in the show," explained Mos'ad El-Borsaidi, general curator of the exhibition and one of the participants who created works merging the Arabic scripts with ornamental forms. Renowned for his peculiar style, Mohamed Ibrahim Mahmoud shows striking samples in ruq'a ( cursive ) tulut (a sprawling calligraphic style), naskh (ordinary Arabic script) and Persian. Furthermore I bet that like me, you will attempt to make sense of the interwoven inscriptions painstakingly designed by Kamel El-Iskandarani, Ibrahim El-Masri, Omar El-Nagdi, Atiya Hussein and many others.

* At the Cinema Palace in Garden City, the head of the General Organisation of Culture Palaces Ali Abu Shadi granted awards to the winners in the Fourth Theatre Festival for Amateurs. Present were the Director of the Central Department of Cultural Affairs Mohamed El-Sayed Eid, author Fouad Qandil and Director of the Cultural Ministry's Cultural Societies Department Mahmoud Awadein. The festival was launched four years ago, with the aim of unveiling and discovering hidden theatrical talents and encouraging them with financial awards. Today it is reaching out to a select group of poets, playwrights, dramatists, actors, children literature writers. Winners received prizes for acting, set design, music, fiction poetry, short story writing and children literature.

The festival is held annually in one of Egypt's governorates. It was hosted in Port-Said in 1997, Kafr Al-Dawar in 1998 and in Al-Arish last year.

The General Organisation of Culture Palaces is launching the 10th Concluding Festival of Theatre Clubs inaugurated by its head, Ali Abu Shadi and Menufiya governor, Osman Shahine. Activities are planned until 12 August at the theatre of Shebin Al-Kom culture palace. Twenty four plays will be competing with a double feature in the evenings and workshops held in the mornings. On the sidelines of the festival, six unique theatre happenings will be presented to compete for a special award and another six shows will target people with special needs.

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