A KHAWAGA'S TALE: The Kiwis are in town

Peter A. Carrigan
6 Min Read

On Friday night, Cairo’s New Zealand community, a couple of pussy cats (see photo) and various hangers-on, convened at the Cairo Rugby Club under the patronage of HE Rene Wilson, New Zealand’s ambassador in Cairo, to officially launch an emergency plan in the advent of an evacuation.

The New Zealand Embassy asked five responsible members of their community to act as Wardens, who, in the case of an emergency evacuation, contact other New Zealanders on their phone tree to relay detailed plans.

Too bad then, if you are an Aussie like me.

The three most likely emergency scenarios that would require an evacuation would be: a) an Israel air strike on the Aswan Dam, b) a magnitude 6.9 earthquake and c) an outbreak of Cholera.

So, if you are a Kiwi in Cairo you’re sorted. You will be saved. You are the chosen few who will walk two-by-two onto the tarmac and be evacuated aboard one of those big funny military planes that you enter through the rear end.

But what if you’re not a Kiwi and you only have 10 hours to get out of Dodge before the Nile tidal wave sweeps you, Maadi and all the litter away? Then buddy, you have to look after yourself.

You will know if there is a pending air strike, declaration of war or epidemic because the Americans will have left during the night.

So get prepared and put together a few essential items that you should have for an emergency evacuation.

. Cash – US dollars or euros – small denominations. One carton of cigarettes – a cigarette is the best item to trade, bribe or say thank you. Passport copies – kept in various places. Condoms – excellent for keeping matches dry. Hip flask of whisky – it will be very welcome on the cold wet Mediterranean crossing. Box of Snickers chocolate bars – chocolate makes you happy

You will need an escape route too. The problem with Cairo, of course, is that it is inland, with desert on three sides and a maze of channels and farmland between you and the sea.

The Sinai route would be out of the question because if the Suez tunnel wasn’t shut it would be jammed with cars. The train to Alexandria is too slow and the road too dangerous.

If the Cairo airport closed, you would have to speed to Hurghada to catch a flight, but that is a good five-hour drive. In short, you could well be high and dry without your embassy’s help so you better register with them today.

The Kiwi kinship has led to the formation of a social organization called Kiwis in Cairo Society (KICS). A small community of around 100, but they all seem to know one another. Not unlike back in New Zealand, where it isn’t six degrees of separation, but more like two, among the mere three million residents of the volcanic isles.

It was an authentic Down Under party. Excellent wine, cheese and pineapple on toothpicks and plenty of rugby talk. Which I might add, the Christchurch Crusaders won the Super 14s again, defeating a determined and talented Waratahs side that are based in Sydney.

Maalesh, the Aussies may have lost the match, but Robbie Deans, the Crusader’s coach, is moving to Australia. I guess he heard about the Aussie Claret.

But the thing that really made Friday night a classic Down Under event was the meat tray raffle. The meat tray is an institution in neighborhood pubs on a Friday afternoon.

It is run by amateur sporting clubs, who ask a butcher shop to sponsor their team shirts and provide regular trays of chops, steaks and sausages.

The meat tray is then taken around the pub and drinkers are culturally obliged to buy a couple of tickets for a dollar or two, to raise money for the club.

A common sight is to see an inebriated office worker staggering home, proud as punch, with a parcel of lamb chops and snags for the misses under his arm.

So it was on Friday night, when Justine Cotter was spotted slipping out of the Rugby Club with an attractive assortment of veal chops and other carnivorous delicacies, as she had the “lucky meat tray raffle ticket, which was organized by her best friend.

Of course, part of the meat tray culture is the raffle draw. It appears above board, but all and sundry understand the winner is more often than not associated with the club.

Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say no more!

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