Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Grand Opening!

Last Thursday, I was able to attend the "grand opening" of the Aboudi Bookstore across the street from Luxor Temple. Until last year, Taher Aboudi was located in the "shopping mall" on the ground floor of a building just south of the temple. But the plan for downtown Luxor, especially in the vicinity of any of the antiquities, called for the destruction of this building. So Taher acquired space next to the MacDonald's behind the temple and created a modern storefront with clean lines and a wonderful display of merchandise. He had delayed this grand opening until everything was just right.

It was quite the party! A good time was had by all despite the cancellation of the appearance of the guest of honor, Dr. Zahi Hawass. Speeches were made, ribbons were cut and delicious food (and drink) was distributed. Here are a few pictures of the party:
The new Aboudi Bookstore


...and Drink!

A proud Taher Aboudi

Jaap van Dijk with some of Zahi's books

Aboudi bookstores over the years

Yarko with his Zahi look-alike photo

The lovely staff

End of a fine party!
Congratulations, Taher!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Call to Action...

There had been a call to action today (Police Day, a national holiday) in Egypt--a call to make it "a day of revolution against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment". A video was produced to promote this event. Even if you can't read Arabic, the footage is quite moving:

Take it to the light...

Over the Coptic Christmas holiday weekend, one of our shopping expeditions was to our friend Badr's shop in El-Souk--variously known as "Aladdin's Hule" or the "Old Arkhashom Shop" or simply "the brothers'". This is the way their business card describes what awaits the visitor once he/she has crossed the threshold: "Enter the paradise for collectors and amateurs of Finest Egyptian and Bedouin Carpets, Silk carpets Needle work, Cotton and Copper Wares." And that's not the half of it! If you're lucky, Badr or another member of the family will take you to the back room and open a treasure chest of bedouin and other jewelry. I have indulged more than once over the years! That same room holds the kilims. (This is where I was introduced to the process of selecting and bargaining for these textiles when I was in the market for one for my room at CH back in 2006. My post "Carpet-Bagging It" describes that process.)

But there is so much more in this "warren of wonders"--from the sublime to the slightly ridiculous. A couple of samples:

But this day, three of us were on a mission--to find just the right carpets (not kilims). So we ascended to the upper floor where the carpet room is located and settled in for some "hard work". Of course, the process becomes even more time-consuming when three people are shopping for carpets at the same time. But Badr et al are always up for the challenge, and piles of carpets were soon unrolled on the floor. Some were considered "No's" almost immediately, but others were left out as the narrowing-down process unfolded. The upstairs room is equipped with adjustable lighting. But there's no substitute for daylight when it comes to final decision-making. So, to the accompaniment of the phrase "Take them to the light!", we got several of them down the stairs and out onto the sidewalk:
After some serious head-scratching and viewing from all angles, decisions were made and the carpets were lugged back upstairs. Then the critical business of pricing went forward. One which was purchased (if it had not been, I would have bought it!) is pictured below:
With at least five carpets acquired, we had to pile into a LARGE taxi to get the spoils back to the house. A very satisfying experience, even for those of us who didn't buy.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Strolling in the (Tourist) Souk

Over our long weekend (Friday was our Coptic Christmas holiday) a few of us spent some time wandering through the tourist souk here in Luxor. It's always an adventure as we are importuned at every turn to buy! buy! buy! Luckily, over the years we have mastered the art of refusing without rudeness (unless the salesmen get really aggressive!). Sometimes a hand on the heart and a simple "La, shokran" (No, thanks) suffices.

Others of our group were actually shopping for stuff so I had the opportunity to stand back and observe--and snap some photos of the scene. Here they are, along with a few from past seasons. This first is the "new" entrance to "El-Souk":
And here's one of the side entrances, before they completed all the refurbishment:
Some shops:
"Believe it"... or not
Aladdin's lamps?

There are plenty of places to "add a little spice to your life":

The global financial crisis is affecting the merchants in Luxor too. The sign which reads "Prace que la crise" should actually be "Parce que la crise" and means "because of the crisis", which explains all the "small money" signs in this window:
We spent quite a bit of time in this next shop, and some spent a bit of money here too! I guess you could label these shots as "Genuine Fakes"!

This is a shot I took on one of the side streets. For some reason, the merchant did not want his wares photographed, so I only have this one to share:
And as the sun sinks slowly in the west, we leave the souk for another day... :
I just uncovered some photos I took in the people's souk a couple of years ago. I'll share those in another post. I think you'll be intrigued by the differences.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Au revoir, Ozzie!

As of last Friday afternoon, Ozzie has gone to live with his new person. It's a strange feeling not to have him cuddling and tearing around like a bat out of hell! But he's living nearby, so I can visit... These are a few of the photos I took in the couple of days before he departed.

Here's looking at you, kid!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy New Year! Meilleurs Voeux! Feliz Ano Novo!

Once more couldn't decide which card to post, so here they both are!
This photo was taken at the Convento de Christo in Tomar, Portugal.
This photo was also taken in Portugal, in the lovely town of Castelo de Vide (Alentejo).