So the deed is done – Kate Middleton is now officially Catherine Mountbatten-Windsor aka Mrs. William Arthur Philip Louis, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn and Baroness of Carrickfergus (one of the oldest cities in NI.) The British Community Association Clubhouse in Maadi was all decked out for the event, with miniature Union Jack flags and napkins, hearts, flowers and UK expats all dressed up to watch the event on large screen TVs placed around the lawn. The Beeb gave most of the airtime to the nuptials, but kept its ticker running, alerting the crowd with updates on Syria (formerly ruled by French mandate as part of the Sykes Picot agreement) Libya (formerly known as Italian North Africa), Bahrain (a former UK protectorate) and Morocco (a former protectorate of France, through a treaty between Germany, Spain and France.) Ok, stepping off that soap box, sorry, it just keeps sneaking in.
Egypt itself was officially declared a republic in 1953, following the 1952 Revolution, which freed the country from its status a protectorate of the British Crown. But remnants of Egypt’s time spent in the Commonwealth can be found throughout Cairo, intermixed with the modernist style of the revolution’s resultant socialist republic. Near the Townhouse Gallery, a sign advertising a theatre and odeon hangs over a space now used for car repairs. In the warrens of the Khan el Khalili, relics of this former life – British porcelain (no Walking Ware or Susie Cooper so far, but the search continues), antique cameras (all the Brownies you could want) and antique radios – are for sale, jumbled along with spices, brightly colored textiles, jewelry, carpets and reproductions of ancient Egyptian artifacts.
In Maadi, you can find exquisite English antiques mixed in with those in a more traditional Egyptian style. Walk Road 15 and you will find two stores, almost immediately next to each other, which both specialize in design and antiques. The first, Yaman Gallery, specializes in mashrabiah (balconies) and doors – recycling the incredibly intricate arabesque doors for use in new homes or repurposed as tables – as well as reformation of masterpieces of special furniture. Its space is one big showroom, the outside wall of an apartment building and several storage spaces underneath the building. The proprietor, Mohamed Bakr, peels up an unassuming metal door, and inside each carrel is a mash-up of classic English furniture – mahogany, maple and marble abound – with the belle époque almost arts and crafts style favored by Egyptians (as described by my untrained eye.) Layers of dust and the smell of old books cover everything, making it all seem like priceless antiques from another era.
Down the street, Theodor’s presents antiques and collectibles through a crisp blue traditional UK/USA boutique storefront. There is a strong effort to merchandise the pottery, porcelain and antique clothing among the antique and beautiful furniture that supports its London esque prices. Sadly, the shop seems to have been closed since March (or there is just a coincidental holiday overlap) and the Western proprietor has not updated communications on it since February, according to Facebook.