TV Shows and Mosquitos

Trip Start Sep 29, 2012
Trip End Jul 01, 2013

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sunday 28th

Here marks the beginning of a very full and chaotically fun week!

At school we have a laugh as our teachers equip us with wily bartering tactics and some verbal daggers to throw in the direction of unsuspecting sly merchants. General advice seems to be that if you can't beat the system, join it. Our teacher’s materials say, 'find fake faults with the product’ and ‘shout loudly: shame on you, son of a shoe!’ …many expressions don’t really translate, but you get the idea.

We have multiple ventures over to the trendy Nile island of zamalek this week, first to sample the Egyptian take on Indian cuisine, celebrating classmate Arthur’s birthday, and later in the week for a meal with our volunteer team, Nassya, where we have a great time getting to know them better. An incredible restaurant with only swathes of cloth for a roof between you and the stars, this place on the cornice is a spread of couches on decking jutting out into the Nile as the lights and boats glimmer away in the dark.

Word travels fast in the expat community of Cairo, and I find out about a TV casting agent who’s looking for foreigners to be extras in Egyptian series and films. Potential hilarity. I get in touch with the guy on my flatmates and my behalf, and sure enough we get called up to go for screen tests at the agency. Located on the top floor of a dingy apartment block, a guy answers the door, (wall of cigarette smoke hits) motions us in, and we’re led through a series of rooms heavily decorated in red and gold, the walls mounted with posters of arab filmstars and tv soaps, and perch ourselves in awkward silence on a leather sofa. A serious-faced guy with fag in mouth says we’ll be called one by one into the screening room.  We’re not sure if we’ll get out the other side alive. The door opens, and having been the one to get us into yet another sticky situation, I decide it’s only fair I go first.
Inside I meet Gamal, a young graduate working in casting as he gets into the field of tv drama. Having been filled in a bit more about what we’d stumbled into, I’m stood in front of a bluescreen and briefly interviewed on camera, face the wall, face the back, etc in English and then in Arabic. This (we work out much later) will be on record for the agency to spool through when looking for extras of a certain description for stuff. Megan and Emily do the same in turn, after which we’re told more about the work that will be offered to us and the pay. In our eagerness to do something exciting it hadn’t occurred to us we might be paid! With no doubt that we fill the ‘foreign-looking’ criteria, work looks likely. A month living in Cairo and it would appear we have an agent.

Back in Maadi later that night we swing by a roof party of some very westernised friends celebrating ‘Halloween’. The only vampires at this party are the mosquitoes who seem to meander their way from far and wide to seek me out wherever I go. I’ve come to learn that my primary function in life is as an active mosquito repellent – or rather, distraction – for all those around me. Bottom of the foot’s always malicious, but for first prize bite it’s a toss-up between the one in my ear or on my lip.
Voting lines close at midnight. Call costs may vary.
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