Author Topic: Crate digging in Cairo  (Read 825 times)

Offline JonnyP

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Crate digging in Cairo
« on: May 02, 2017, 07:29:38 PM »
So I got back from a wee trip to visit relatives in Egypt this evening and whilst there took the opportunity to have some vinyl adventuring.  Inspired by a story a few years ago in the Quietus, I tracked down a few of the vinyl stores in Cairo (and some not so impressive antique/junk stores.

I did my usual taxi into Maadi from my brother's spot (Careem - a version of Uber didn't have any nearby cars), set the price in my basic Arabic (mumkin shariah tessa, kham felous? Ishreen kwais? OK, alatul) and got into Maadi rd 9 (where the expats hang out), grabbed a coffee and got the metro into the city centre)  to put this in context, the taxi ride of about 8km cost about R15 whilst the coffee was R25!

The Cairo metro is fantastic and now running again to Tahir Square (Sadat station), 20km in 15 mins or so for 2LE (about R1.50) later I headed for Talaat Harb St looking for a side street on which Sono Cairo can be found. They were the label back in the day for greats like Omm Kolthoum, and had a press as well as a mosque and shop on site.  Although you can still buy a lot of the more famous artists on CD (and cassette!), their NOS vinyl is apparently sold so after a brief discussion with the owners (and a consideration of an 20CD Omm Kholthoum box set), I had a mission to get to Zamalek for a few more recommendations.

To get to Zamalek I would advise those without an understanding of Cairo traffic take a cab.  I, decided to walk....Crossing 5 lanes of Cairene traffic requires 'the Cairo shuffle'.  Ten years ago I got this right so after checking out a few more side streets I crossed at Rameses Square (next to the sadly always closed 'Museum of STDs' which has always intrigued me but looks to have closed many years ago.  This is behind the Egyptian museum which is darn impressive if you can figure out what you are looking at.

I made it to the Corniche and walked across 6th October bridge to Gezira club and onwards to Zamalek (about 25 mins in all to the main artery running through the area).  For those interested in the esoteric, the Rameses Sq starting point was where Aleister Crowley wrote a number of essays and supposedly channeled Ancient Egyptian Gods whilst looking towards what is now the Marriot Hotel.

After picking up another bottle of water from a kiosk I took the road around the tip of the Island passing the grand old villas which are now mainly embassies.  Eventually I found Ion Electronics which sadly was shut on Sundays (and public holidays if they feel like it).  The weekend in Egypt is Friday and Saturday, but not apparently in Zamalek.  A bit of a shame as although they apparently have little vinyl, they do sell and repair grammaphones and valve radios (as well as VHS players and Hoovers according to their signage!).  So a miss there as well.

Grabbed a bite to eat and more water and had a good time finding Mazeeka.  This is in the back of a block of flats above the Metro Supermarket on Mohamed Ismail St.  Anyone trying to find it should take note that there is a second set of stairs behind the main one and those are the ones to take.  I finally found vinyl (as well as more valve radios and junk electronics, as well as half tonne grammaphones with cast iron horns and massive plinths).  Trouble was.......closed as well.

I had a nice wander back to the metro at Tahir Sq via a few antique shops wherein yet more ancient electronics lay, a few dusty old Omm Kholthoum and Cairene Jazz (overpriced sadly) and a quick checking out of some pubs occurred (Pub 28 is still old money and lovely) before getting a nice air conditioned train back to Maadi, a quick browse at a couple of junk stores (worse than charity shop stuff) and a wander up to the ACE (a club that is really more of a pub) to meet up with mates.

So, no decent vinyl finds but a very nice 5hr wander around the most interesting parts of the city.  Next time I'll go on a Tuesday.....
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Offline Aqualung

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Re: Crate digging in Cairo
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2017, 05:58:04 PM »
Cairo traffic scares the sh1t out of me - trying to cross a few busy streets there must count among the most traumatic experiences of my life! And all because I love the pyramids, the Nile, and Agatha Christie...  :thumbs: :nfi:
I love music - analog and digital. Even listening to the Blues makes me happy. During the day I coach and counsel, after hours I indulge in my second passion - listening to vinyl and restoring turntables. Some I keep, some I sell...

Offline JonnyP

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Re: Crate digging in Cairo
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2017, 06:42:06 PM »
Cairo traffic scares the sh1t out of me - trying to cross a few busy streets there must count among the most traumatic experiences of my life! And all because I love the pyramids, the Nile, and Agatha Christie...  :thumbs: :nfi:

It's actually pretty easy, wait until someone else is crossing then mimic their movements 'downtraffic' from them.  If anyone gets hit, it'll be them! Actually, as a foreigner (hwagga) you have an advantage - the driver will be blamed regardless - can't agree with it but can use it.

I love the pyramids but can't stand the hassle of going there.  I've been enough times and can't be bothered any more.  Dashur pyramids are nice and usually not too crowded (red pyramid and collapsed/bent pyramid).  The lessons learnt over 30 or so years between Saqqara to Dashur to Giza pyramids are great to see at least once.
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Offline Aqualung

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Re: Crate digging in Cairo
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2017, 07:08:18 PM »
Ja ja ja.. that's all fine and well: BUT WHO BUILT THE PYRAMIDS?
Jewish slaves, or aliens with 32-bit/384kHz DACs as standard built into their spacecraft dashboards?
I love music - analog and digital. Even listening to the Blues makes me happy. During the day I coach and counsel, after hours I indulge in my second passion - listening to vinyl and restoring turntables. Some I keep, some I sell...

Offline JonnyP

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Re: Crate digging in Cairo
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2017, 08:21:10 PM »
Well the first (Saqqara step) pyramid for Djoser was designed by Imhotep (later deified as the son of Sekhmet and Ptah), and built by an Egyptian workforce.  The same seems to have been the case subsequently as the flooding Nile meant there was a workforce available who were fed and housed and had a definite place in the afterlife for serving the Pharoah.  The pyramid builders city is actually more fascinating to me than the pyramids themselves.

But more likely androgynous aliens with Anubis guards.......m :please:
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Online Kemosabe

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Re: Crate digging in Cairo
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2017, 07:11:09 PM »
Ja ja ja.. that's all fine and well: BUT WHO BUILT THE PYRAMIDS?
Jewish slaves, or aliens with 32-bit/384kHz DACs as standard built into their spacecraft dashboards?
I have it on good authority that aliens enjoy jitter more than the actual music. All the jitter removed by our high end devices is transmitted to collector stations for their enjoyment.
DIY hi-fi: the journey is the destination.

Offline vleisman

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Re: Crate digging in Cairo
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2017, 09:18:47 PM »
Nice read, thanks Jon  :thumbs:

Offline JonnyP

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Re: Crate digging in Cairo
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2018, 09:44:34 PM »
So once again, Cairo is my destination of choice and this time I made sure to go when the shops were open.  After a nice trip on the metro and with the assistance of the new traffic lights on Tahrir Square (and a few other locations) I retraced the record route.  First up was Sono Cairo again who seem to have either started re-pressing Omm Kolthoum records or found some in a back room.  Picked up one still sealed from a massive selection of about thirty of her albums along with 12 cassettes of other Egyptian and Middle Eastern artists (asked the shop owner to give me a selection of stuff over the past century!).  Tapes were R8 each NOS all sealed so if some are not so good, so what?

Next over to Zamalek and after a quick fresh pomegranate juice for cheap (my brother came along for a trip and went for freshly squeezed orange - both were great and R10 a pint each).  Suitably refreshed, next up we’re the vintage stereo (aka dusty gramophones and valve radios) shops with some vinyl.  One clearly had an ex-DJ’s old vinyl along with lots of classical and a pile of old Egyptian (again Madame Kolthoum but this time originals mainly) and a pile of other Sono Cairo LPs as well as some 10” 78s and 7” singles.  Got another Omm as well as a Chaabi LP and I think a Mohamed Fuad LP (all have Arabic writing and generic Sono sleeves but I think that’s what the lady said (I just picked the ones I liked the sound of).  Another shop next door also had a pile of old Arabic stuff but most was not as interesting looking or sounding.

The final stop was Ion Electric Fields which had some hifi kit being repaired and have moved their vinyl.  The owner walked us around to where an American art teacher now runs a second shop selling vinyl and some better hifi kit (still second hand but in full working order - they had a Nak BX300 like mine for tape playback).  Nothing Arabic took my fancy but original issues of ‘Blues for Allah ‘ by the Dead (come on, gotta buy that in Cairo of all places) and Ornette Coleman ‘Free Jazz’ with gatefold and cut out US pressing had to be purchased.

A quick meal and we headed home through the rush hour traffic in a Careem (Uber) - about 20km for about R50 in a nice car rather than the Cairo cabs of old.

A fun day out!
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Offline JonnyP

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Re: Crate digging in Cairo
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2018, 09:50:40 PM »
« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 09:54:49 PM by JonnyP »
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Offline JonnyP

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Re: Crate digging in Cairo
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2018, 09:56:07 PM »
Are you waiting for loneliness to paralyse? Are you waiting for sister midnight to anaesthetise?

Offline Family_Dog

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Re: Crate digging in Cairo
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2018, 10:16:15 PM »
^^ I think I could quite easily lose myself there for a day or three....


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Offline JonnyP

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Re: Crate digging in Cairo
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2018, 10:26:03 PM »
^^ I think I could quite easily lose myself there for a day or three....


-F_D

And that was just one small place!  A few more around
Are you waiting for loneliness to paralyse? Are you waiting for sister midnight to anaesthetise?