Well, Mr. Muscato and I arrived safely in Cairo and are settled into one of the many flats offered at extortionate short-term rates, primarily to tourists from the Gulf, that line the Nile on both sides of the island of Zamalek. Egyptian families may have no assets at all and be, especially at the moment, in a more or less permanent financial funk, but many have flats, given or sold for virtually nothing after the revolution of 1952 or in the various spasms of Nasserism, and they have turned into goldmines.
Ours, for example, is an almost untouched example of an Egyptian family apartment of the 1960s, right down to the salvaged Déco parlor suite, Tyrolean-themed dining room, and impossibly lumpy mattresses. On the other hand, it has the view above, so there are consolations. It's actually quite comfortable, especially after we stripped away the layers of antimacassars, doilies, dusty artificial flower arrangements, and other trappings without which no Egyptian home is complete.
We have wrangled with the all powerful bawwab, the live-in doorman/watchman/fixer who tyrannizes Cairene life, we have convinced the daily lady that it is in fact better to work with hot water and Windex than yesterday's damp rag, and we have had a delivery from the local beverage vendor - would you believe a company called Drinkies? - for a case of the excellent local lager, Sakkara Gold, the best beer in the world named after a necropolis.
In short, life is good - and, for those back in the Sultanate reading this - divinely cool. I'm sitting on the balcony right now, watching an old man fishing in the middle of the Nile, the traffic roaring along on the far side, and thinking what I'd like for lunch - in Cairo, everyone delivers. I may never even go downstairs...
Oh, and the title? It's actually what Cairo - el-Qahira in Arabic - means: The Victorious. It's an appropriate name for the most improbable city in the world.