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We have a saying in Egypt that every day that passes well is a feast. And yesterday was such a day for me. I have been anticipating the meeting face to face and in person of several of my Facebook friends, and yesterday this happened.
Although we have been meeting on line for some time, yet the whole thing developed over a bet and a joke that caught on and where we all participated and eventually it developed into a plan that was executed yesterday. The joke was about fish, so the food to be consumed was decided upon, the venue then was automatic, because where can we get the best kind of seafood but in Alexandria, so the venue was decided. The timing took a lot of work as two of the group live abroad and we had to work out the timing very carefully to ensure that both will be here. So finally we had the date, the venue and the menu.
The Cairo people took a bit longer in finalizing the timing for the rendezvous before starting on the trip to Alex, and finally it was settled to be my house as it is at the last point before going off to Alex. So I was up, bright and early, anticipating meeting the Cairo team, when finally, just after 9 they started showing up.
Though in any social situation the first few minutes of meeting a new person are awkward, yet in this case, strangely enough, it was not. We had met before, although not in physical form, yet the essential person does come through on line. I was a bit surprised because people keep saying that they are surprised when they finally physically meet a friend from the net, but in this case, these people were essentially the same people I had met online. Their pictures might look slightly different, a different hairstyle or length of hair, slightly heavier or lighter, but the essential person is right there.
We had our coffee, then off we went in just two cars instead of the original four. This way we had more people per car, and it gave us a chance to get to know one another even better on the way. By the time we reached Alex I had bent the ears of my car companions enough, and I think they were relieved to reach our destination.
The weather in Alex was gorgeous. Only in Alex could you get this smell of the sea, with a slight, fresh breeze blowing into the shore, the air crisp and clear, the sun bright and warm. We had a short drive to the assigned restaurant, which was exactly the right venue for us, immediately overlooking the harbor and right next to the ancient fortress. We had a long table and could look down into the harbor with the little colorful rowboats tethered there. By the time the rest of the group arrived we had relaxed enough and started to really enjoy the ambience.
Ordering the food was another round of fun, as each had their own individual tastes and likes and dislikes, but eventually we all had ordered and the food started arriving with the salads and appetizers. Though we had had a bit of a breakfast, yet we were hungry again, and started digging into these very delicious, varied appetizers. I ordered shrimps as these are my weakness, and it seemed they were a weakness with quite a few of us. So when our order arrived there was this huge tray that was set up on props in the middle of the table, right in front of me, piled up with shrimp. Delicious looking, succulent, grilled large shrimps. I was assigned to distribute and promptly did. Two of those who ordered shrimps had already gorged themselves on fish and other salads that when it came to the main course they could either not finish, and in one case not even start on it. So what could we do, our colleague and I had to take up the slack, and managed to polish off the plate. When done, I felt I was turning into a crustacean, with whiskers and pink scaly skin. But I had a very shrimp saturated feeling of satisfaction. To top this meal, we had a home made chocolate cake by another colleague that put us very near to where heaven probably is.
What a wonderful day, one filled with new, interesting, stimulating friends, where minds challenge each other, where questions are asked and answered about subjects that we all care about, where the love for our country unites us all, and where a natural affinity drew us together and brought us closer to cementing a real friendship. All the elements were there, all the circumstances were right to help this group into a cohesive entity. There were no constraints, and despite the variety in age, circumstances, education and background, languages spoken and different countries and towns lived in, yet we all came together as one entity in our love for Egypt, our enjoyment of the company of one another and of the beautiful day we spent together.
We are all looking forward to meeting again, next week, to solidify our friendship, to enjoy each other’s company, to the stimulating conversation and exchanges of ideas and knowledge. Also to great food and hopefully another day of great weather to be enjoyed in the open air.
Thank you dear Facebook friends, who have materialized into wonderful flesh and blood, warm, real friends, and who have given me the gift of a lovely day to remember