The Mazloom Files

In these dark days, (Muhammad) Mazloom Street is living up to its name. A series of unfortunate and strange events have plagued the street, making locals wonder whether the street is cursed, writes our correspondent.

The War on Fruits and Vegetables

Not content with the daily indignities visited upon the many, someone has decided to close two local institutions: the vegetable stand on the corner of Hoda Shaarawy and Muhammad Mazloom and the fruit stand next to the gas station.

The vegetable stand in particular is a great loss. It wasn’t the best stocked or anything like that, but the fellow who ran it was one of the most pleasant people one is likely to encounter anywhere. One TBE correspondent started frequenting his stand in late 2002 or early 2003, during an earlier residence in Cairo, and has been returning ever since, when he finds himself in this city (about which we’re trying to hold our tongues so as not to say something in anger that we don’t really mean.) To give an idea of its deserved fame, an acquaintance, after a several years absence from Cairo, recently asked us whether it was still there

Sorry to get all sentimental, but it surely is strange when some fixed position in one’s personal spatial understanding of the city disappears, or is evicted. Which is why we reacted in shock upon alighting from Le Bistro last night (see below) to see the stand and the vegetables previously therein piled in a truck, with the vegetable man, a few old men from the neighborhood and some coppers standing around what used to be. Our queries elicited little response from the assembled other than the cryptic statement that, “The problem starts tomorrow,” and due to our semi-inebriated state and the presence of the aforementioned lawmen we moved along without investigating further.

It was only this morning, (somn)ambulating from TBE HQ to the coffee bean store after forgetting to pick up coffee yesterday, that we noticed the fruit stand, which was more like an emporium, had also disappeared. We have fewer fond memories of the fruit stand, since we’ve only started going there in the last year or so, but it had a wide selection, the workers had good jokes and it was quite handsome in a ramshackle way.

The Velvet Plexiglass

Tamurai is sooo 2009. The hottest seat in town is officially Hurriya. The benighted bar on Midan Falaki (about which the best we can say is that although not big fans, we’re glad it exists) has instituted a strict door policy, replete with a bouncer who hand-selects those deemed worthy of entry. What makes it all the more galling for those left out in the cold is that they can easily peer in and see the gathered swellettes and swells enjoying their exclusivity/authenticity as they hopelessly pan the crowd for someone they know who might be able to convince the doorman to let them in.

Despite a rather high JPC (journalists per capita) rate, none of the ensconced could definitively say why Hurriya has gone this route, after decades of attracting the kind of downtown celebrities most famous for always being at Hurriya. Some claimed it was due to noise complaints from the local community board, others that large numbers of chairs had been stolen and/or broken and the owners were too cheap to replace them.

After making his exit, your correspondent, who prefers a certain, more relaxed (and warmer) bar around the corner from Hurriya, far from the Kuffiyeh-cladding crowds, as Thomas Hardy would say, was saddened to see scores of Hurriya rejects stream in, some kitted out with the frappé hairstyle, so called because it looks frothy, like they used one of these on their hair:

When will these injustices end?

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4 Comments

Filed under Cairo Gems, Downtown, Downtown Personages

4 responses to “The Mazloom Files

  1. re. the war on fruits & veg, could this not be just a baladeyya raid? Maybe the carts have been impounded for a bit and will be returned after a fine has been paid.

    • nottooshaabi

      We’re not too sure. That could be the case with the veg cart, as the truck containing it was still there this morning, but the fruit stand was large and quite permanent. We will bring updates as appropriate.

  2. The delightful man who sells veg on the corner of Mazloom and Hoda Shaarawy was certainly there yesterday afternoon and evening… I agree he’s the best stocked and nicest chappy in town.

  3. nottooshaabi

    We spoke to the veg man today, it seems the closure had something to do with licensing, but he has the proper license and is back in business, as Tom pointed out above.

    The fruit stand has not reappeared yet, but we spoke to some of the gentlemen who work there today (intense reporting day for TBE!!!) and they said they hope to be up and running again in two days.

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