Caroline and I were out hunting for flats the other day. We tried the questioning-the-doormen method I mentioned before with a fair amount of success, although as often as not they directed us to a simsar (real estate agent) to show us flats in their buildings.
One of the women showed us a beautiful (and out of our budget) flat in a fairly upscale building on a road Caroline and I both like. Then she took us to another place which I at first thought was a much more run-down and still-uncleaned flat. It turned out to be her office, but when you walk in there is a large living-room-like area with a TV in it and the actual office is in the back so we didn’t know.
The very first thing we all noticed upon entering the living room was an enormous larger-than-life image of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed. I mean it was HUGE. It covered the whole wall to our right and was framed by curtains, as though it were a floor-to-ceiling window. At first we thought it was a fresco but Loreli walked up and noticed it was actually a hand-painted rug. We all looked at each other and remained very quiet.
This has to be one of the more absurd things I’ve seen on our flat-hunt. None of us could figure out why a simsar on a quiet street in a small district of Cairo would have an epically-scaled and meticulously crafted rug commemorating Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed.
The best part was when we went into the actual office room where the computer was and I noticed Loreli edging over to look at something on the side table. I don’t remember exactly which it was, but there in the ashtray was a postcard or a large box of matches bearing the exact same image of Di and Dodi.
As we passed the giant painted rug on the way out, I overheard Caroline in a hushed tone of reverential awe telling the simsar how lovely the portrait was. “Dee hilwa, kwais ‘awee!” she said. This is one of those rare occasions where I felt it was unfortunate that I understood what she was saying because I nearly snorted aloud trying to hold in my laughter.
The simsar beamed with pride.