I helped my roommate out a few days ago by mailing her ballot while she was at class. This actually turned into a whole rigmarole because unbeknownst to me the Fast Mail option in the Egyptian Postal system requires not only the address of the recipient but also their phone number plus the sender’s whole address, phone number and signature. So of course I made up a fake phone number for Sudbury Town Hall and forged my roommate’s signature.
After this excercise in minor deviousness I needed some refreshment. We’d previously tried to go to a Thai restaurant in Zamalek only to find it was being refurbished. I decided to check if it was open again and to my great good fortune it was.
I went up a flight of stairs and entered a sunny room that faces out on a small square full of trees. I sat myself by the window, grateful that we were set back some from the main road so the traffic noise wasn’t overpowering and the windows could actually be kept open. School had just let out and children were giggling their way home a little way down the street.
I don’t know what the room was like before but now it’s beautiful. On top of textured layers of white plaster they rolled a light coat of gold paint, giving the walls a lot of depth. Beautiful fabrics were draped everywhere, on each table and on the walls. They’d used little parasol-like umbrellas to cover the accent lights. There were fresh flowers by the bar. They also have an outdoor seating area around the back.
When I first arrived there was only one other group seated so at first I wasn’t sure if they were really open for lunch. This made me feel a little awkward so I decided to play the game of performing each action as gracefully as possible: sitting up straight in my seat, pouring myself a glass of water, glancing around the room. Ultimately this made me feel like I was in a garden of tranquility.
A few minutes after I ordered my barbecued beef salad and lemongrass juice one of the waiters came over bearing a beautiful plate with a fresh spring roll arranged delicately in the center. “Your order take long time. Please, enjoy,” he said, setting the spring roll before me. I felt like the queen of Sheba. After my lunch they whisked the dish away and brought me, again with great ceremony, another plate bearing a tiny coconut crepe rolled into a little cone shape.
I must admit to complete cynicism about my spring roll and my crepe. I just knew they’d bring the bill and there would be charges for these things I’d eaten but not ordered. But, being so happy about sitting in such a soothing environment, I was willing to chip in for some small extra extravagences. So imagine my surprise and delight when it turned out that my little aparatif and dessert were in fact gifts! Most probably they bring these things to everybody, but it really did feel like they’d done it purely to make my whole experience there completely satisfying.
Maybe they were just convinced I was a food critic because I kept scribbling in my notebook the whole time. Whatever the reason, it is a meal I will remember with a smile for a long time to come.