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An ancient Egyptian traditional feast that spilled into modern Egypt, with some of it’s hardly understood rituals and food. For the ancients it was a huge formal affair that denoted reincarnation, in modern times it kept evolving until it settled into a family affair where families and friends gather very early in the morning to spend the whole day in the outdoors, communing with nature, enjoying the beginning of Spring.
The food associated with this holiday is a combination of foodstuffs that usually leaves Egyptians who indulge, in a semi comatose state! The most important and popular ingredient is a specially cured type of fish, reminiscent of mackerel, but far more pungent and has the effect of a blowtorch! Add to this spring onions, boiled eggs, besides our staple food of beans and falafel. And that is just for breakfast! It is a full day of gorging yourself on all sorts of food and drink. The most popular of the latter is sugar cane juice. Suffice it to say that it is one of the most popular holidays celebrated by Egyptians in modern times. Although it has emphasis on food, as is the case of most of our traditional feasts, yet this combines the excitement of spending it outdoors enjoying nature and the beautiful weather.
On this one day in the year you will find every single green area within Cairo practically covered by children and adults, all dressed in the most brightly colored clothes you could see, giving the whole scene an aspect of joy, fun, noise, happiness. The zoo, really turns into a zoo, outside the cages, all public gardens are converted into a cacophony of sound. If there was not a band playing there, then radios carried by different families are blaring, their young girls getting up and giving shows of impromptu dancing, to the accompaniment of singing clapping audiences, children dashing about shrieking their heads off in excitement and abandonment. An atmosphere of uninhibited joy.
My plans today were legion, and that, I think, is why everything fell through. After making so many plans, it is Murphy’s law that prevails. Each and every one of them was jinxed and fell through. So instead of being out in the open, in a garden with friends and family, gorging myself on all sorts of foods that are not good for me, here I am, sitting indoors, comfortably in a lazyboy chair, sipping my tea, with soft noise in the background from the television and a lovely breeze wafting in from the balcony with soft chirps of some birds. A very quiet, very relaxed, very peaceful day. Just what I need after all the running around I have been doing since I have temporarily moved to the apartment. Thank God I am going back to the house tomorrow. I miss my pets.
Though I had a few bad moments when I found out that all the plans had fallen through, I took myself to task. If I really needed to have people around I could have called any of my cousins or friends who had all offered to have me join them, but the fact that I did not was interesting. On thinking more about it I discovered that I wanted to test myself. There will be other times when I will be totally on my own, like today, when plans fall through. How will I handle that? Will I be able to cope? Will I find my own company sufficient? Will I shatter into little fragments of loss and depression? An interesting experiment. Even though I have had several calls, all inviting me to DO something by joining the callers, but I have now opted to spend the day on my own. Good test. By the end of the day I shall know what I am capable of, or not capable of. Let’s see if all the reading I have done, of all the beliefs I have become convinced of, have really taken hold and have become convictions by which I can live, namely: if I am comfortable and happy in my own company, I would be sufficient unto myself and can survive anything coming at me from outside. So there goes, let’s see what this day has to throw at me.
21 April 2014

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