Thursday, April 30, 2009

St George

According to The Rough Guide to Egypt, a guide that I used for this trip, ' the Monastery of St George is now the seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.' It is the only round church in Egypt because it is built atop one of the old Roman gateway towers. Mari Girgis is the Arabic name for St George. Somewhere in one of these buildings are found the relics of St george, the saint who was tortured by the Romans by being wrapped in chains. The feast of St George is a very big Coptic celebration in Egypt and it falls on April 23. This area, because it receives money from the Greek church is well preserved, even it's cemetery is in a much better shape than the previous cemetery that we visited.

It was the most delightful of days, it was cool and quiet in this courtyard. We met a few visitors from South of here, Egyptians who is visiting Cairo from the South. They were the sweetest people, so unlike the Cairenes. We can still hear but softly the call to prayer coming from outside the walls. Inside these walls, one cannot tell that is is part of Cairo, it may be somewhere in Europe.

There was a funeral party outside the church walls, we saw the cortege leave and people crying as they got into their cars to follow.

Part of the old Roman wall wraps around here. This was part of the old Roman Empire.

I love the Arabic writings and motifs, it is so unusual and delightful. I've become partial to it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Books I'm reading at the moment

I've been rather depressed lately. Maybe I watched too much PeterSchiff's videos on Youtube. These are depressing and uncertain times, whether Peter Schiff is right or not. So I needed to read some inspiring books; to read stories of go getter's who has lived or is living inspired or inspiring lives. While Lonely Planet is not my favorite guide book, I used mostly Let's Go, the Tony and Maureen Wheeler story is very inspiring. They have recently sold Lonely Planet to a British company. It is a story of an unconventional life and extreme hard work. The new parent company of Lonely Planet has put out a magazine which I have purchased and liked.

Life is hard, said M Scott Peck in 'The road less travelled'. It was hard for Josephine Baker even though she found fame and fortune in France. We live in a better age now because we can be much more informed on how to handle our finances, we should be, we owe it to ourselves. I've read somewhere that we can make our lives into an example or a warning. I don't know if the Josephine Baker's life story is a warning or an example, maybe both.

I didn't get much from this book. I've never read her and don't know much about her and still don't.

I bought this at a flea market for $2, it's Ok. The moral of the story is, 'just do it'. I needed to connect with people who has done it. Whatever happens, life has a way of turning out alright.

This brings me to another story, 'The ladies of Grey Gardens'. Talk about living an authentic life and a life of originality, truth is stranger than fiction.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

People in Coptic Cairo

The children just left their classroom and were going into one of the churches. They are the sweetest children.
It is very clear we are in Africa, North Africa, to be exact.

This is the oldest part of Cairo and this door is so old. It is an interesting door.

We came out into the streets and saw a funeral. The place is so full of regular life. Looking at these pictures again has made me feel for them, pray for them. It is so amazing that a five day trip has allowed me to collect so many stories and so many pictures. I'm not even done yet. This is the most my money has gotten me. It reminds of the book, 'The four hour work week' where the author wrote, to go to South America or to Asia where for little money one can have many incredible experiences.

Ben Ezra Synagogue

Security is very tight going into the Synagogue and no pictures are allowed. The Jewish population in Egypt is negligible and this is about the only thing left of Jewish presence in Egypt. It is fully restored and looked like new. It is a very sentimental place because of the small Jewish presence. There are lots of stories floating around about the site, one of them, supposedly this was the site where Pharoah's daughter fished out Moses from the Nile. This could be the place where the Holy Family stayed when they fled from Herod's fatal intension.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Earth day 2009

To celebrate Earth Day 2009, our little enclave of Mar Vista organised a Green Garden Showcase. Some 20 to 25 homes joined in the effort to showcase how they changed their yards to reduced water consumption. It was an incredible lovely day, sunny and breezy and there was a lot of interest. We have to change our ideas about gardening. Gone are the days when we can imitate the lush gardens of the East coast or those gorgeous English gardens which we lust after especially after a trip across the pond. I am one of those guilty ones. I did try to switch off my sprinklers once but my gardener protested. He'll be out of a job if my lawn dies. Now my sprinklers are on 3 times a week and for the briefest time. I do try to save on water consumption some other way like taking baths instead of showers. I turn off the tap most of the time rather have them running. I try to stretch the time between laundry days, it's easier in Winter than in Summer. I haven't washed my car in months, in fact, I don't wash my car anymore. I do my part.
This was one of the most colorful garden on the tour. It was just one block from my house. The Ice plants were so magnificent.

By the use of mulching, succulents and native plants, home owners were able to reduce their water consumption. It is a well known fact that the greatest water use in homes is the watering of yards.

This was the back yard of one of the homes. They have raised beds of vegetables and flowers.

Swiss chard, anyone?

This home owner just stopped watering her lawn and let the grass die. She then paved over the front yard and where there's no paving, she used mulch.

This is an interesting idea, no front lawn but the front yard still looked pretty with outdoor furniture.

Her back yard, anything that requires watering just died and what ever remained lives and thrives without water. It is really pretty.

Another home, demonstrating composting.

The use of drought tolerant plants like this trailing Rosemary.

They gave away free plants at one of the homes and I took away this scented Geranium. It will join my small collection of scented Geraniums.

My not so drought tolerant garden. These English roses are water hogs. I don't water them too much. They look magnificent in Spring but not in Summer.
It was an interesting day.