I was sitting at Cafe Riche tonight having a properly literary conversation with some friends when in walks Buthaina Kamel, a TV announcer (apparently known for a call-in show about sex? — this is all news to me) and the only female candidate for the presidency of Egypt. She makes quite an impression. She sat two tables over from us and discussed politics with someone. At some point the owner came over to her with a younger male relative: son? nephew? and chatted for a while. I was tempted to take a picture of her, or rather of my friend with Buthaina in the background — didn’t want to interrupt the conversation and appear shallow, but now regret not doing it. Here is what she looks like:
and talks like. We didn’t talk to her. Although, if she’s really running for president, isn’t it her job to talk to people?
Cafe Riche (photos here, not mine), by the way, seems to be having some kind of post-revolution renaissance. The joint was jumping tonight; several tables of young and especially middle-aged muthaqafeen (intellectuals), the odd tourist, a couple of pairs of middle-aged women catching up earnestly over coffee or lemonade. It’s a venerable part of the literary life of Cairo but had declined in recent years into a caricature of itself, or what was sometimes called “a slice of history”; often it was empty, and at some point in the last ten years it was even threatened with destruction. There’s a nice history of the place, with literary allusions including Naguib Sorur’s Protokolat Hukama’ Riche, in Haaretz of all places. Maybe its regained popularity has more to do with renovation than revolution?