You don’t even have to ask
FOLLOW THE READER
MOUNT NASURA, WA NOthank you ( la shukran in Arabic), whether conveyed with abrupt annoyance or exasperated resignation, is like water off a duck’s back when it comes to the hustlers of Egypt.
Hussein, our guide in Cairo, tells us the hustlers are in the ‘‘monkey business’’ of selling cheap imported souvenirs, like the ‘‘papyrus’’ made from banana leaf.
‘‘Think of me as your bodyguard,’’ says Hussein, as he leads us on a dash around Khan el-Khalili bazaar where many outstretched hands display all manner of wares and we hear assorted amusing sales pitches such as: ‘‘I don’t know what you want, but I’m sure I have it.’’
Further down the Nile, our guide, Sighid, briefs us like a coach about to send us into a rugby scrum. ‘‘Do not make eye contact, pause to look, or show interest, or the hustlers will mob you.’’
At the temples we visit, we try all kinds of deterrents to be left alone, but nothing works — one hustler stretches a tablecloth across a narrow alley, blocking our escape.
At Esna Loch, we are a cornered audience on our cruise boat. We are almost hit by rolled-up carpets being flung from the wharf.
Peering over the railing, we see that four decks below, two lads have tied their skiff to our boat and are throwing up garments, hoping to attract customers.
Up and down the bundles fly, and then the the real bartering begins in earnest.
In Luxor, craftsmen make expensive souvenirs from onyx. I buy a stunning vase after haggling a good price. Back home, I decide to stop and smell the roses, only to find my vase sitting in a puddle. It leaks. Send your 400-word contribution to our Follow the Reader column: travel@theaustralian. com.au. Published columnists will receive a $100 voucher for Colorado shoes. Colorado (now stocked by Williams stores) specialises in men’s and women’s lifestyle footwear. More: colorado.com.au; williamsshoes.com.au.