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End of the Week ...

THURSDAY

That day again started early, and finished late, with thank GOD a little nap in the afternoon, between two writing sessions. I had my old friend Omar Elborolossy at 9.30, who came to the gardens right after dropping his three kids to school (1 boy, 2 girls). Omar has a very successful academy, I think 8 branches now, I wrote this article a few years back. He is also coaching in Heliopolis, among others, Omar Mosaad but also a lot of kids of all ages!

Busy that man is ...

A bit later in the afternoon, I met with one of the most talented artist I ever met, Adham Hafez.

Adham is not only a dancer and a choreographer, but also a company director, has got several Masters from Paris, NY and other lovely places, gives regular conferences in Berlin, Paris and New York, but he is also preparing a 5 year PHD in NY City bless his heart, with a grant as the yearly fee just to enter the Uni is $70,000 ...

Did I mention he also lives on Tahir Square? Yes, right there, I kid you not ...

He came back to Cairo to rehearse his production of 2065 BC, as in Berlin Conference - originally held in 1884 - where the European "shared the world". In this original piece, Adham swapped the "colonialists" by the "colonised", leaving everything else as in the original transcript of the conference ... Slightly controversial,  you might say. 

The evening was the nicest ever, with my Zouzou, Zeina Menshawy, who left a poor sick husband in bed with a terrile flew to come and keep me company. I truly appreciate it Mensh, thanks!!! You are a true friend.

Zouzou, whose family has been stricken by tragedy so many times, is one of the most positive angels I have ever met. She stays smiling at all times when I can hear her heart screaming in agony. I am a better person because I have met you my dear. Truly and utterly.

She first took me next door to the Marriott, in one of the best - if not THE best - Oriental restaurant in Egypt, Abou el Sid, the Zamaleck branch, which is the most typical/warm I ever been to.

We were sitting at that little table, just right the "Ricqles, Alcool de Menthe" yellow sign, in French if you please ... A very old sign indeed ...

Then we went and park her car next to the Nile, and walked all the way to the 6th October Bridge.

The air was perfect, Thursday Night meaning Friday night for the Westerners, so a lot of people in the streets, having a good time, laughing their heads off, kids holding their parents hands, or just running ahead of them, couples calmly walking side by side, hand in hand, a few Christmas decorations as well ... Bref, a normal evening in a normal city in a normal country ...

We then walked all the way back to the Left Bank, situated right next to the Sequoia, the Restaurant we went on the first night with Ramy and Dalal. This is is a café, with little tables - with heater - right on "my" Nile.

We got mint tea, that took a while, first they brought only tea, one instead of two, then brought one mint tea, one normal tea. With a huge smile, Zouzou kept explaining to the waiter(s) that we still didn't get what we ordered. It became so funny, and at some point, we have 4 waiters around us, trying to make things better. And yet failing ... It was truly a great fun time!

When we finally got what we ordered, we just looked at the Nile, shared our stories, our emotions, and by the time we knew it, it was a quarter to midnight!!!

We got back the car from the valet service - as the traffic/parking is quite tough in Cairo, you have those everywhere you go - and tried to get back to the Marriott.

That took a little while. We never left Zamalek which is basically a pretty small island but full of dead end streets, and one ways, and it's truly quite confusing! It took us a few rounding rounds, with us giggling like schoolgirls, and Zouzou finally admitting "Mensh told me to take the driver, but I told him, no, I can do it myself. He was right, next time, I'll listen to my husband."

Said no wife EVA!!!!! As she said those words, I told her "you do realise that is soooo going into my article!!!!" She was like "NOOOO, Fram, PLEEEEEEASE, NOO ..." "Oh yes" I nodded.

And we laughed some more... Till the hotel that we FINALLY found... And still before going to bed, we texted each other, and giggled yet again.

Yes, it's a tough life, evening in Cairo on a Thursday Night, but somebody's ...

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FRIDAY, LAST DAY

A stunning sun was shining all over my last day in Cairo. The Marriott Gardens, AKA my office, welcomed me from 10.30, with first the visit of my dear friend, coach, TV commentator, promoter, Ashraf Hanafi.

He is one of the most famous of coaches in Egypt, and has got the respect of the top players truly... I have the upmost respect/friendship for him, he proved to me times and times again I could trust him.

At the moment, he's got about 200 kids in three different sites, Sky, Platinium New Cairo and New Elegance Club in Tanta.

Right after Friday Prayer, Tarek Momen came from the Gezira Club where he trains daily on his way to the Train Station to go to Alexandria to my office, yes, of COURSE, the Gardens!

We share common views about what happened, why the Worlds were cancelled. It was quite therapeutic for us both I feel to be able to express our emotions and let it out of our systems. Thanks for that my friend!

At 1.45, Karim Abdel Gawad picked me up to take me to an area of Cairo I had never been to, the 6th October City. It was built at the same time as New Cairo, I think about 12 years ago. So it's all brand new, and I'm told that Shabana has a pizzeria called Gigi minutes from where Karim's parents, Samy and Sagda's flat is situated.

Tarek warned me about Sagda's cooking. He was soooo right! It is nasty, from begining to end!!!! Delicious, varied, I LOVED IT! I have been sooo spoiled yet again, and chatting with Samy, Sagda, Esraa their daughter, and occasionally Karim when his mouth wasn't full - bless him he is like me he likes his food he does - was extremely interesting.

A superb moment that was, once again, Shoukran everybody, and I have been wearing the Nefertiti necklace ever since ...

I was back at the hotel by 5 and was supposed to go out. I had two options, but both meant going out late and I had to wake up at 5.30 for a 6.30 limo pick up ...

So I cancelled the plans and stayed at the hotel. I just worked and finished the second part of my "Never been that busy" and just walked for a while in the Gardens, listened to the Arabic music in the restaurant, and went back to my room, packed and rested ...

What wasn't my surprise when I found a tweet from Amr Fekri, who work for BBC Arabic, when I woke up! He actually had finished his work around 1.30 and had waited all night just to be able to see me and ride along to the airport!!!!

I mean, COME ON!!!! That was one of the most touching gesture anybody had ever done - that wasn't romantically motivated, I mean! Adorable Fekri ...

Of course the Limo that Efficient Mona from the Fed had booked didn't turn up, and at 6.40, she was on the phone sorting it out, of course she was. Precious doesn't start to describe this amazing lady. Egypt is LUCKY to have her, BELIEVE ME.

Once we finally got the Limo, Fekri and I chatted about Egypt, about the Worlds of course, about religion, Paris - that he never travelled to - squash, many many things. It was a great pleasure/honour to have him all the way to the airport.

Merci, merci, merci.

LE MOT DE LA FIN - TO CONCLUDE

This has been a very emotional journey to say the least.

I am first and foremost extremely grateful to the Federation, in particular Assem Khalifa, and dear Mohamed Menshawy who invited me for the whole duration of the original tournament. They insisted for me to stay in the Marriott. And I loved it I must say.

Like I mentioned, the Marriott is superb, highly secure, great breakfast at the hotel, so many food/shops outlets within the hotel itself, fantastic for the players really, perfect choice in every way, not to mention minutes walk from the Ahly Club where the competition was supposed to be held for both event cancelled (Juniors and Teams) - which I never managed to see, my bad as we had to make choices, only 24h per day!!!!

Meeting the Sports Minister Mr Khaled Abdel Aziz and talking with him for an hour will have to stay the highlight of the trip - journalistically wise.

From a personal point of view, the first talkshow with Ossama Kamal was the most challenging/fascinating, although I'm grateful of course to Captain Shobair's show and Sprint from Nile TV for having me!

And no, I am not blind or that blond. I see the tensions in Egyptian politics, I know that there are people that do not get on at all, like everywhere else. And yet, at this point in time, I managed to keep a good relationship with all sides. "Pourvu que ça dure", "so far soo good".

One thing I was able to reflect is the discrepancy with which my personality/work seem to be received! I'm the same person at all times, I do the same job, with the same passion and determination, and yet, some people really do not enjoy my presence/style/coverage, while others make me feel on top of the world!

I guess the lesson I've learned here is that you just have to be yourself really because being appreciated or not is simply out of your hands ...

In a funny way, I have to be grateful the event was cancelled!!! It allowed me to just spend the most fabulous week in Egypt ever. I had the time to do things, and to meet people, and to spend time in my beloved Egypt with amazing Egyptians I appreciate so much, and some I even love truly. They know who they are.

Merci à tous, and I'll see you soon again in Cairo Inshallah.


Nile, Mon Amour....

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