This evening I went to Tagammu HQ where I would meet up with Ahmed Talal Shukr. At the same time there was some kind of celebration going on, a strange but interesting gathering with a distinct fifties-eighties atmosphere. Few young people attented the "party". The ones who did, weren't very interested in the speeches of the dinosaurs at the stage. Ahmed, as so many activists of the young generation it seems, wasn't happy at all with the conciliatory course of the Tagammu leadership. "They are too close to the regime", he said, "they aren't doing anything real." We had a really interesting discussion and he promised me to contact his father and uncle, which were communists in the seventies.
Between various conversations, I was interviewed by... ehm I forgot the exact name of the magazine, probably Rose al-Yusef... about my research in Egypt, but I don't think they'll publish it, as it is apparently a "mild" lifestyle magazine and I was ranting about the regime. And I don't know if my ad hoc translator did a good job at expressing my opinions. We'll see (or not).
Then, when I was talking to Hossaim of al-Ahali, something strange happened. An Egyptian woman who spoke English perfectly, even with an American accent (although some would consider this as an imperfection;), forced herself upon the conversation, and started to question me, in a friendly way, about what I was doing there, what kind of research I was doing, whom my Egyptians contacts are, etc. She claimed to be there with a friend, but not knowing anyone else there she started talking to me. When she started asking about my Egyptians contacts, I got the feeling something was not right. Then I got suspicious. I consciously did not divulge any name, in order not to endanger someone. (I know, everything is right here on my blog, but still, it's a matter of principle) I steered the conversation to safer territorities, and then tried to get rid of her.
When, after this "encounter", I conferred with my friends at the party, they said she most probably wasn't a secret agent, but rather a prostitute or a woman looking for a foreign husband, which, for once, comforted me... Still, if she really belonged to one of the latter categories, why did she want to know so many details about my research? I left the party with mixed feelings and a certain awkwardness.