Tonight, I watched home movies.

Specifically, my father’s home movies of Egypt, which he took while working there (he does a lot of international schtuff.) James has been looking for shots of the desert for a project he’s working on, and Dad, following 18 months in Cairo, said “Desert? Sure!” While home movies are generally a Bataan death march of boredom, these were great, mostly of ruins and the magnificently slummy downtown Cairo–sort’ve reality TV meets Nat’l Geographic. (Given my father’s somewhat eccentric camera work, there was a little Blair Witch Project thrown in.) I thought it would be a great basis for a drinking game. “Okay, take a shot every time he has to renegotiate the price of the tour with the tour guide…take a shot every time money changes hands…take a shot every time he says “Great heiroglyphics!…(To be fair, they really WERE great heiroglyphics–the temple of Sebek was amazing, they went down a whole wall with the whole Set-vs-Horus myth on it, with Set as a chained hippopotamus–just amazing stuff)…take a shot every time you pan past a security guard on a camel with an AK-47…take a shot every time they wind up in a ruin that can only be reached by bribing the security guards…take a shot for every use of the word “rubble”…take a shot for every cynical observation such as “They say this was a canal. It runs uphill. The Nile’s way down there. Maybe it’s one of those mystical UFO things.” Well, you’d be pretty hammered by the end of it, but they were fun.

It would also appear that the popular statement that the stones of the pyramids are so well fitted you can’t fit a knife blade between them is inaccurate, as I saw plenty of places where one could fit several adult water buffalo, and not just the spots that had been dynamited out by the Turks. Possibly they meant some other pyramid somewhere.

The ruins were great, and oddly familiar from all the shows on Egypt I’ve watched over the years. The shots of Cairo, on t’other hand, were bizarrely alien–it was definitely the bits they don’t put in the travel brochures. The camera drove by a landfill, in the middle of the street, where everyone casually tossed trash–a mountain two or three stories high. No street lights. No lanes. Intersections functioned by who had the loudest horn/biggest cajones. Everything on the road, including donkey carts, buses with people hanging on the outside, pedestrians roaming along the freeway, often in traffic, strays dogs, stray cats…wild. Open air markets full of chickens, goats, butcher’s shops, guys on bikes carrying sheets of bread on their heads…just wild. The narration was equally bizarre. “That’s the railroad track…people usually just throw their trash in there. It’s usually on fire. Oh, look, there’s some smoldering now…”

Then we had a great meal, went for a swim in a very toasty pool, and left feeling positively decadent. And that was good.

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