Al-Ahram Weekly Online   7 - 13 August 2008
Issue No. 909
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Snap shots

By Injy El-Kashef

IF YOU are a North Coast holidaymaker, the spot I am about to describe will instantly flash in your mind: that strip of land crossing the sea after you make a right where the road directions indicate Sidi Kreir, studded with the parked cars of entire families so fully engrossed in their fishing rods that not one individual has ever turned to so much as glance at you driving by. Sounds familiar? Well that's where I spent many a fine July afternoon this summer, discovering, along with my son, the unparalleled joy of spending hour after patient hour busy with little hooks, tiny shrimps and very long nylon lines. Fishing, it turned out, is an entirely different affair than anything we had previously attempted.

While shopping for our summer vacation, the family was surprised to see me loading two collapsible canes in the trolley (the three-metre ones are better than the larger version), followed by all sorts of fishing paraphernalia: big hooks, small hooks (the smallest proved to be the best) glowing plastic worms, sinkers, floaters, and around 40 metres of line. Being the oldest and wisest of our party, my father beamed to see the preparations unfold, aware, as he later disclosed, that this would develop into a life- long passion. Before we headed on our first venture out to the "fishing strip", my son had already invited all his friends to a fish banquet on the morrow. And yet, although we returned empty-handed, we both glowed with the satisfied grin of accomplishment. We discovered that tying the knot around the hook, loading the hook with bait, throwing the line and holding the cane are necessary rites that spice up the hours, while it is in the wait that lay the real secret. It is a wait without impatience or frustration, one that defies the intrinsic meaning of the word; it is waiting without waiting -- that is the magic of fishing, its gripping power and its unrivalled charm. Fishing, I discovered, was never really about fish.

I took a friend of mine once. While I prepared the cane, she paced up and down, turned on the car stereo, fiddled with things in the glove compartment, then returned to my side noting, with visible irritation that my "patience is extremely annoying, you know that?". Her exasperation grew so real after she held the cane for 15 minutes that I couldn't help but laugh heartedly at her knitted brow, and eventually put her out of her misery by calling it a day far sooner than I had planned.

The following times I made sure to go solely in the company of my son and his friends, who all line up before the water, alternating the cane for a fair and equal chance, relishing every minute of the sheer possibility that we may go home with a catch, and still not regreting a second of the experience the many times we returned empty-handed.

Try something different this summer; release your soul and liberate your mind.

photo: Injy El-Kashef

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