Sun 3 Apr
No lessons this week so I have a lie-in, for a change, and a bit of a lazy morning. I go into town and take another conversation class with the Army. It goes well. Everyone is so open and charming and well, err, human; it's hard to imagine what these guys do in their "day job".
I call in at the Acropole hotel and check out possibilities for a birthday meal. We discuss menus, prices and numbers. I expect six people, some vegetarians. George, the owner, is happy to do it though I get the impression he doesn't normally cater for non-residents.
I track down Midhat and get the phone number of the guy at the sailing club who's always offered to sign me in (I'd lost this when my phone was stolen). I also invite Midhat to the birthday meal.
I meet MJG as planned at the "Lovers' Tree" in the thick of Arabi souq and we walk through town to the sailing club. She's not been before. Today there's a strong wind – so it's pleasantly cooler to sit on the waterfront - but there's not so much going on either. We enjoy a lazy few hours chatting but I'm not happy. She's supposed to be taking me to the cinema that evening and has done nothing about it.
Later, as we walk back to Arabi she hangs her handbag around her head – band across her forehead. Oh my! How embarrassing – am I really going out with a 12 year old?
For fun, and still thinking about a birthday meal, we look in on one or two upmarket eateries. "Parliament Mall" had a glassy brassy cocktail bar, but we had to ask if prices were in Pounds or Dinars – either-way they were at a funny exchange rate from the world we knew. A mango juice here is equivalent to US$5 rather than the 20¢ we'd pay at college or the bus station – they obviously didn't want riff-raff like us in there.
At the bus station I order a sort of Egyptian savoury pancake with tuna topping. MJG is not interested in eating. I'm about to ask "Well what do you want then?" but stop myself in time – I think I know the answer.