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Friday, January 29, 2016

Call Me Ishmael!

Yesterday we had been out to visit a friend who lives just a few hundred yards away, behind our building.  We were returning as the sun was setting, passing along a narrow street lined with high-rise buildings, most with a fairly small footprint.  We have been down the street several times before in previous years.  There are only a few small shops - a barber shop and a laundry are usually busy.

We had just passed the laundry when I heard a loud voice boom out, "Hello!"  "Where you from?"  We were in no hurry, so paused to visit.

Two men were sitting inside a tiny shop smoking shisha.  We walked toward them and I replied, "America!"


"Welcome!  Which state?" replied the one in the red sweatshirt.  "Come have some tea."

"My name is Ishmael. Call me Ishmael."He said with laughter.  He was a driver for the U.S. Air Force, Andrews Air Force base.  (One never knows how much to believe here.)

"I have a Belgian wife,"  he continued.  Just in case I doubted this, he dialed her up on his phone.

"Hello, my darling wife," he said, and introduced us, handing the phone to Linda.

"She spends one week a month here in Egypt," he explained to me as Linda and Grace chatted.

Grace will be coming to Cairo on the 20th of February.  We are invited for barbecued chicken on the roof of the building with Ishmael and Grace on the 22nd.

Ishmael used to be in the travel business when the times were very good.  (There are a lot of folks with that background.)  "After all the 'noise' on the 25th, nobody came."  (He's referring to the 2011 revolution that began on January 25.)

Demonstrating the flexibility that most Egyptians seem to have, Ishmael weathered the travel depression by moving into real estate development.  He owns two buildings, the one he is sitting in and the one next door.  Being a curious individual, I asked, "Are your buildings fully occupied?"

"I have a place for sale in this building!  Would you like to see it?"  (You knew he was going to try to sell us something, didn't you?)  "And, it has a surprising price."

Soon we were on the elevator on our way to the eleventh floor.  Two bedrooms, one bath, about 1100 square feet.  There is only one flat on each floor.  Nice privacy and there are three balconies, each with a pyramids view.

I was ready to move for the quiet, the shorter trip to the supermarket and other shops and, especially,  the view.  However, Linda has pronounced the floor-plan unlivable.  "And the tiny mudbuck! (Kitchen)."

We returned to Ishmael's office on the street.

"How much is the surprising price?" I inquired.

"225,000 Egyptian Pounds, ($28,125)" he noted, as he handed me some sugar for my tea.

Terms include a discount to 220,000 EGP for cash or 125,000 ($15,625) down and two annual payments of 50,000 EGP.

If you are looking for a quiet retirement spot with a view at a good price, get on this now - this place will be going fast.

We expect to give you more news about my new best friend, Ishmael, and Grace after the barbecue on the 22nd.

Here is a view of the building from down the block:

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