Jacinto in Cairo

10 October 2006


At 3am the masharati walks through the street banging a drum, waking people to eat sahur, the early meal, and drink lots of water before going back to bed, because the day will be long. At 3pm you start to feel the distraction and anticipation: everyone's looking just ahead to iftar, breaking the fast. By 5.45pm, the sun has set and the streets are silent and deserted. After dark the party begins, sweets and sheesha and music.

We went to a concert in a plaza in Hussayn (above), the epicenter of Ramadan night life. People come from all over Egypt, it seems, for the festivities there. Firecrackers explode, music blasts, cheap toys get bought and tossed aside later. Late at night, exhausted, some people even manage to fall asleep right there amidst all the excitement.

Some facts: At sunset, people often break their fast with dates, fresh or dried, plain or soaked in milk. You say, "Kol sena wa entu Tayibeen [May you be good every year]" or you respond, "Wa enta Tayib [And may you be good]." Muslims often try to read or hear the whole Qur'an over the course of the month. And you eat lots and lots of good food and delicious sweets (baklawa and basbusa, yum). Below we've got pomegranates, fresh dates, and persimmons.

The streets are decked out with lights and lanterns, now electric and made in China. Here's some shots of our neighborhood, which wouldn't win any Christmas decoration awards, but...


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