For my wife and I, every vacation consists of two main pursuits: seeing interesting sights – and shopping. Our just completed trip to Egypt was loaded with both.
Early in the schedule, we saw the awesome Pyramids, the Sphinx, and the priceless array of artifacts from King Tut’s Tomb. Then came the thing that really turned my wife on – a trip to Cairo’s immense Khan El Khalili Bazaar that dates back to 1382.
I got bored while she bartered with vendors over Egyptian jewelry, clothing, and trinkets, but I spotted a music kiosk and decided to amuse myself. I went to the counter and asked the man if he had any Elvis Presley music. He gave me a look easily interpreted as “Are you kidding me?” Then, he briskly replied, “No Elvis. Only Arabic music.” I found small comfort in the fact that he at least seemed to know who Elvis was.
So, I wandered a bit farther into the market looking for another booth with CDs and tapes, but I couldn’t find one. I didn’t get into the deeper recesses of the maze of narrow streets, and I never found anything like an American flea market. Every tiny store had new Egyptian souvenir stuff – and my wife bought tons of it.
On the cab ride from the Bazaar to the hotel, I recognized an interesting challenge and decided to accept it. If my wife could bring home all her Egyptian stuff, I was determined to bring home some Elvis stuff.
The next day I walked a short distance from the Ramses Hilton to a gift shop called “My Love.” Posted on the open front door was a panel showing two-dozen window decals. Sure enough, there was an Elvis profile. Flushed with success, I went in and showed the cashier what I wanted. She got out a book with decals protected in clear plastic sleeves on each page. However, most sleeves were empty, and I had the sinking feeling I was going to get so close – but not score. Then, near the end of the book, after five or six consecutive empty pages, she came to the Elvis decals.
There were even two versions of the Elvis pose: one in black and one in white. They cost six Egyptians Pounds (about $1.15), so I bought one of each. Later, I showed them to my wife and told her I was going to put one on our good car. She snapped back, “No Way.” Actually, her answer had one more word in it that you can figure out.
The following day I checked out the Ramses Hilton Center adjacent to our hotel. This is a seven-story vertical mall with a movie theater, a video arcade, and a McDonald’s on the top floor. I thought my chances of finding Elvis stuff might be pretty good.
One promising-looking shop had only an Arabic name on the sign, but it turned out to be a winner in my quest. I found a four-inch square metal box, about one inch deep. The lid had a clear plastic insert revealing a picture of Elvis glued inside. The price was fifteen Pounds (about $2.65), so I bought it on the spot. The store’s name translated into “The Good Face” or “The Face of Luck.” The little box had no uniquely Egyptian use, so I will just call it my “Good Luck Elvis Box,” and store a deck of Elvis playing cards in it.
My last success was at a kiosk with the clever name of “Music” (in both English and Arabic). When I asked the guy what he had by Elvis, he knelt down and shuffled through six-deep stacks of cassettes on the very bottom shelf. There must have been a hundred tapes of American music, and he found three by Elvis. They were a set of compilations with the titles “Rock,” “Country,” and “Inspirational.” I chose the latter, paid my fifteen Pounds, and walked away a happy man.
My quest to find Elvis goodies in Egypt had been successfully achieved in just two days. The quest to find the artifacts of another King, Tutankhamun, took eight years.
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