"Ya doctoor Yasir! Zere is no electric," said a voice. My eyes adjusted to a short, very dark dude - Mohamed from faculty housing. So we spent an hour outside on the street, me sweating, Mohamed telling me how he'd worked for the the university since he was fourteen.
Lights came on after about 1/2 an hour, and I was ushered into an elevator, and taken up to the 14th floor to our new home in Cairo.
"Zis is very unusual doctoor Yasir," said the other housing officer who gave me a tour of the place as I staggered around (no sleep for 24 hours - can't sleep on planes). "Zamalek is full of embassies. Special area. Lights go off only in poor areas. Very unusual."
Zamalek, my new neighbourhood, is on an island in the middle of the Nile. It's supposed to be the greenest part of the city, and quite posh.
In the past, it's been home to the city's aristocrats, princesses, businessmen, etc. There are stories about nazi sympathizers, as well as wealthy jews living around here.
More thoughts on the place as I discover it. Been walking around a fair bit (it's pretty small - smaller than Toronto's downtown core).
My street is quite interesting - the Cuban embassy used to be in my building, the Libyans are right beside us.
And pre-wwII, the Deutsches Archaelogisches Institut used to be about 5 doors down. It closed during the war. The villa was bought by a Jewish businessman, who later leased it to a former queen of Egypt.
Then, it was sold to the Canadian government, and turned into the ambassador's residence.
Don't have a cell phone or an internet connection at home yet. Things take time here.
Here's an article that helped me figure this place out. Here's another.
All pictures in this post copyright Yasir Khan 2007.