Sat 30 Oct
Kamal believes he is going to Saudi tomorrow. He is keen to see us before he goes. We have agreed to meet him at our house at 10:30pm; we should be back from futuur by then. We rendezvous as planned and head off to a shisha bar a few blocks away.
Smoking tobacco through a water pipe is popular in these parts. I have seen it many times before in Egypt and I guess the tradition goes back hundreds of years. This particular bar however seems to have acquired a character of its own. It is run by Ethiopians and they have gone for something different. Through the entrance there are two large rooms. There are low tables, some with sofas either side and others with an assortment of cushions, stools, and modified camel saddles. Adorned over most of the soft furnishings are young men holding hands, chatting and relaxed. On the wood-effect Formica-panelled walls are posters of former Miss Ethiopia. In the corner is a TV showing music videos. From the ceiling hangs a small mirror ball, though I cannot see any spotlights angled towards it. The floor is sprinkled with sawdust. There are jugs of drinking water already on the tables.
The serving staff are all men. There are no women customers apart from the one we brought with us, but this is OK, it is a well known fact that gender rules do not apply to khawajas. We order two water-pipes and some glasses of fresh squeezed lemon juice.