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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

An Old Business in the Neighborhood, Remodeled

Right next door to the new green grocer described below are a series of shops.  The Golden Eagle papyrus shop, a crystal shop and a perfume shop.

These are the traditional souvenir shops of Cairo.  If you are on a tour, your bus will stop at a perfume shop and you will learn the history of perfume.  You will have tea, of course.  Then the salesman will explain how perfumes originated in ancient Egypt and how the great French perfume factories actually buy the essence of fragrance from Egypt and then add extraordinary markups.  Luckily, you can purchase those same fragrances here at a great discount!

Unfortunately, a few months ago, one tourist who heard that spiel left the glowing ember of his cigarette in a wastebasket.  The store burned.

Now there is something to be frightened of in Egypt.  We are on the eighth floor, there is a tire repair shop on the ground floor and our bawab frequently has an open fire nearby to stay warm on those 56 degree nights.  Fortunately, these apartment buildings are constructed of brick and concrete with very little wood or other flammable material inside.  You never really hear of an apartment fire that engulfs a significant part of a building.

The perfume store fire was confined to the store - but totaled the shop and contents.  We have been watching the remodeling since we arrived in early January.  We were invited to come in on Sunday and see the new shop.  We met the owner, Mohamed, and spent some time (with tea, of course) in this, one of several sales and demonstration rooms.
It is not unusual for these stores to be called a museum or factory, as in, "then we will stop at a factory where you can learn about perfume manufacturing..."

Here you can see a closer view of some of the perfume bottles.  These are probably some of the better souvenirs of Egypt, being unique to the country.

If you have been on a tour of Egypt and stopped at a papyrus or perfume shop between the Great Pyramids at Giza and the step pyramid at Saqarra,  chances are pretty good that you stopped here.

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