Monday, November 17, 2008

Invisible people

Al-Ahram Weekly

Forty-five tribes have populated Egypt's deserts for millennia and yet their existence remains a mystery to the country's urban masses. The Characters of Egypt Festival aims to showcase their ways of life.

There were people in every corner. The office tent was packed, cheers and loud clapping emanated from the main tent, accompanying vaguely familiar tunes. Circles of guests, cosily arranged around large cushions, dotted the vast grounds while a large bonfire attracted caffeine addicts awaiting the next round of ginger-spiced beverages. Footsteps were audible to and from the kitchen, bathrooms, kids corner, audio-visual conference centre and museum -- all housed in beautiful white tents -- while buses, jeeps and sedans constantly loading and unloading guests rendered the 6km off-road stretch connecting Fustat to the Marsa Alam highway almost in need of a traffic coordinator. This event is big. Bigger than I thought, I mused to myself as I quietly assumed the role of social butterfly once Yassine had run off to see if the camels were still awake, each of us attempting, his own way, to imbibe the floating energy before selecting a spot to settle down.

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