Without question, Cairo has a lot to offer. Whether it’s Pharaonic history you seek, or Christian or Islamic history, there are endless outlets. Maybe your interest lies in the sociology of living in a city teeming with 20 million people, or maybe studying the progress of a nation caught between Western and Arab worlds tweaks your noggin’? Whatever your fancy, Cairo most likely has an outlet.
For me, I’m finding the vast array of shopping options truly tickles my fancy. Not just the everyday shopping trips to the Khan or elsewhere, but the ability to have practically anything made to order has changed my life. Truly a blessing and a curse.
The blessing is obvious, it’s great fun, you get to be creative and unique, for the most part the craftsmanship is excellent (though having a bit of flexibility helps smooth over any potential bumps when dealing with Egyptian measurements and such, which can be a bit squigy),and almost everything is well-below what we’d pay back in the U.S. Not to mention we wouldn’t even know where to go to requisition it. The curse lies in my own neurosis. I find if I see a product that I like (furniture, jewelry, lamps, clothing, etc.) my brain often whirs into action thinking how I could alter it. I’m not trying to claim that I can improve everything, but having the option to make my own design feeds my inner demons. And in Cairo, I’d be hard-pressed to find something I couldn’t have made.
This neurotic need to “make” or “design” everything myself had been dormant until I got into the wedding planning. Suddenly I found myself embodying the “Crafty Bride” persona and insisting to anyone who offered to help that I had it all under control: designing and printing and collating and mailing all the Save-the-Date cards, invitations, programs, maps, table cards, name tags, etc.; making beaded bookmarks for all the wedding party; making the groom’s cake and father-in-law’s birthday cake; making 100+ chocolate molded books as favors; and making the sign-in book interspersed with childhood photos of me and Ron. I was a lunatic.
So when I arrived here in Cairo this neurosis had been hibernating for six months, however it emerged with great gusto and I have thoroughly enjoyed feeding its needs (poor Ron). So far, I’ve had made my metallic spice rack (which I’m already close to out-growing), gallibaya’s for our Jedi wanna-bes back home, a malachite necklace, and two marble table tops (which are being “re-warneeshed” to hopefully salvage them from the morons we bought them from). I also have an alabaster chandelier in the works and some wooden wall shelves that should be delivered next week. I have facilitated two iron table bases through the Vocational Training Centre at the Deaf Unit for someone else, however I haven’t partaken of the VTC’s skills myself yet.
But the biggest, and by far, potentially most incriminating piece I’ve had made is the windowsill/wine rack/modular cube/bookcase. Essentially I designed a cat-bench, but tried to make it look less like crazy-cat-lady cat-furniture, and tried to make it something we could use in other houses. One friend also pointed out that it will be a great cappuccino bar in our Tuscan villa. I agree.
The reasoning behind it is that all our windows are almost four feet off the ground, so the felines can’t see out (I know, my Crazy-Cat-Lady lifetime membership card came in the mail already, you don’t have to rub it in). Regardless of the potential ribbing I will receive, I will say that it is thoroughly enjoyed by both Ricky and Chuckles, so it was all worth it. Clifford has never had much of a need to see outside, especially if there’s a lap nearby, so I’m not entirely sure he’s noticed its presence.
Temporarily it's quelled my design-neurosis. For a while at least. Though it never lasts long. Ron and I are both learning that new projects are always germinating where there’s a Crafty Dip Wife present.