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mate of society in Egypt. "Society is backbiting. Everybody talks about everybody else, and says the worst things she can Society consists of bugs and minions. If a big bug appears on the verandah of the K.S.C. and bows to any one, all the minions do the same; they never see any one with their own eyes."
The unexclusive class who are always asking you to dinner at a restaurant, and, when the time comes to pay, borrow the price of the dinner and fifty piastres from you, are also to be found in Cairo; fifty piastres make half a sovereign.
I could have seen more of the residents than many tourists if I had been willing to give up my afternoons to tea; but I much prefered seeing the men at their offices instead of their homes, because they were generally able to give up as much time as I wanted for arriving at any particular piece of information ; and that is the reason why I took out introductions to them. But here and there the official was an old friend, and one could not get out of accepting hospitalities. It was just as it had been in Japan, and other far-off places. The English people spent as much time as they could with each other, and tried to forget the surroundings of what, to them, was exile. I seldom met other tourists at their houses, except at the General's and the Consul-General's, who entertained a good deal.
Queer Things About Cairo Society
HERE are two links between residents and tourists.
Every now and then some Englishman in the Egyptian Civil Service marries the daughter of a well-off tourist "doing” Egypt; and there are a certain number of people, whose health does not allow them to face an English winter, who go to Egypt so often that they almost count as residents. From one of them, a wealthy old lady with an acid tongue, I learned a good deal about Cairo Society. The mud with which she bespattered its morals did not interest me-it was about people whom I did not know, and it might not have been true. But, when she confined herself to epigrammatic generalities, and the prices of living, I made a note of what she said.
" The Cairo resident,” she informed me, "regards tourists as mosquitoes, and beneath contempt. A certain number of tourists try to get to know the residents, for no reason that I can imagine ; but I know why a certain number of residents try to get to know the tourists, and that is because they always try to know the people who give good dinners. The tourists who know all the residents generally have some reason for coming out."
I do not think that she meant by this that they had committed any crime. I imagined that she was not accusing them of anything worse than having a married daughter in Cairo, or a son in the Army stationed there.
“What about the people of title, who are made so much of, when they go to India or Australia ?" I asked.
I asked. “People of high titles," she said, “look awfully well on a visitors' list,
but they practically do very little in our society. They are generally travelling more or less incog., and using Cairo as a stepping-stone to the Blue Nile. Generally, too, they have their private suites when they are here."
As she was the only visitor I knew who took a house in Cairo, I ventured to ask her something about prices. “Rents are enormous,” she said. “This house is rated at $750 a year, and quite a small flat in a good position costs £250—a friend of mine in the Standard Life Insurance Building pays $750 a year for his flat. But I don't find housekeeping here dearer than it is in England. My head Arab gets £4 a month. All clothing is very dear. A piastre, that is twopence-halfpenny, only goes as far as a penny does in England. But when I first knew Alexandria they reckoned there in small piastres—that is a penny-farthingand then a small piastre went as far as a penny in England. Groceries are fairly cheap-some actually cheaper than in England. Cold storage has done an immense deal for usthe native meat was so bad. I reckon that it costs me twenty piastres, a little over four shillings a head, a day to feed each person in my house. Beside the head Arab I have a cook and his boy, an English 'useful maid,' a gardener, and a coachman. My chauffeur comes from the garage."
"Do your servants give you much trouble ?" I asked. "Trouble ?" she answered. "Not so much as they give other people. I go out and scream at them twice a week, and call them sons of everything ; so they are terrified at me. But they are an awful nuisance ! far worse than they are in England. We have an eternal puzzle as to whether Egyptian or Berberine servants are the worst."
It was not very easy to find out what cheapness meant in her mind. While she said that she could live cheaper in Cairo than in England, she said that no one could live in Cairo on less than a thousand a year, and that a youngster could not marry on less than seven hundred.
“ What can a single man live on?" I asked.
“ He can just get along on twenty pounds a month-if he is economical he can manage his board and lodging, not
including wine, on ten pounds a month, but you are always having to pay for something in Egypt.”
“Do the residents entertain much among themselves ? ” I asked. “Yes, a good deal. The English do it in rather a hole-and-corner way, but the Jews and other wealthy foreigners entertain on a great scale. Their dinners are superb as well as their plate. But then they make Egypt a home," she added. “ They live in it generation after generation, and between you and me, though they entertain so grandly, they just pig it when they are left to themselves. I hear a good deal about them from the man who dresses my hair. He says that their toilet tables are covered with silver, but their baths are covered with dust. They have any kind of breakfast, served on dirty tablecloths, in houses where the dinner-parties are princely.”
She showed an inclination to wander off into stories about the imprudences of American women with their dragomans and donkey-boys. I shall not reproduce them here, and I would not allow myself to believe them. At the same time, it is well to warn ladies of all nationalities that they cannot be too careful in keeping Arabs at their distance, because the Arab is always on the lookout for taking liberties, and has a vile way of talking about it afterwards.
From what I have written above it will be seen that those who mean to winter in Cairo will have to rely for society upon the other tourists, and that the military are to be found a good deal at the entertainments of the wealthier tourists. People with plenty of money and pretty wives or daughters can spend their days in a perpetual round of Society. For if in the morning there are no entertainments going on, there is plenty of riding, and saying good-morning to a large circle of friends in the hotel, or on the sunny pavement between the Continental and Thomas Cook & Sons'. And if shopping in town is rather limited, and prices are rather unlimited, there is always plenty of fun to be had out of bargaining in the bazars. In the afternoon there is always something on at the Sports Club, which gathers the people you want to meet. If there is no race-meeting there are polo and