My first book! – Free on KindleUnlimited right now

kindle image

This is a reblog of the post about my book. For a limited time, it will be free to KindleUnlimited readers if you would like to download it. It is short and an easy read.

I finally did it and my first book, Letters from Cairo by Kerry Duncan is now available as an EBook from Kindle/Amazon from both the UK and US sites as well as other European countries. For a brief moment it was the best selling guide to Cairo when it had only sold 10 copies – I guess no-one wants to go to Cairo… It is a short book and the title says it all, ‘This is a memoir not a travelogue’. There is another book with the same title but it is much more expensive than mine and I bet it’s not as funny! The current price is $4.49 – about the price of a Venti Latte. It is published on Kindle Select so they may reduce the price at times to market the book. It is available on a variety of Amazon sites including Amazon UK.If you don’t have a Kindle you can download it to your PC or other small device with this app – https://www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/kcp-landing-page?ie=UTF8&ref_=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd

It is a poignant, hilarious and revelatory memoir about our expatriate posting to Cairo during the second Gulf War between 2002 and 2004. Some of you may empathize if you have been to third world destinations but the essence is about my battle to deal with illness in a foreign country during a very stressful time. The book is short, despite 10 years of writing, editing and agonizing about writing a memoir. Although I had worked as a research writer in the old country this time gave me an opportunity to hone my writing skills for pleasure. Writing this blog has opened my eyes to the joy of sharing with other writers and photographers. Thank you, all my followers, for giving me the confidence to finally publish. A very special thank you to Ed Mooney, my very first follower, who encouraged me and taught me WordPress etiquette.

This is the link to the book on Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/Letters-Cairo-This-memoir-travelogue-ebook/dp/B015JFY1F0
If you read it (some may be able to borrow it) please give me a review.

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My heart is broken

stripe rip

Mrs. Stripe playing with mum in the dappled autumn sunlight.

Life has been very challenging recently and I hoped that three bad things were enough but not so. Last week we had to have our beloved Mrs. Stripe put to sleep at the veterinarians. I had mentioned previously in a post Mrs.Stripe and the pharmacy that she had severe muscle deterioration in her hind quarters which along with arthritis was causing her pain. On the last visit we shot her up with everything available and it was lovely to see her vibrant spirit emerge when she was pain free. The medication stopped working despite doubling the dosage and she was struggling to breathe through snuffling from an unrelated allergy problem that we could also not treat. Teddy and I talked about what we best, especially given that she was at least 15 years old and a feral street cat. We both agreed that we couldn’t bear to see her in pain and she finally made the decision for us.

I was sitting on the sofa, the night before we took her to the vet, and for the first time in her life she sat on a human’s knee. I looked at her in astonishment but she just settled down like she had always done it. The heat emanating from my knee must have soothed her poor little joints but I had no doubt that she was saying, “Please make the pain stop”. It was a sad day at the vets and almost all staff was in tears both at our sorrow and losing such a special patient. Even in her last days she played with her knitted catnip Spiderman, mewed plaintively for treats and even seemed to smile. She often made us smile see the post Resolution No 1 – wash more.

The house is in mourning and her daughter, Toffee, who is 13 years old, is wandering around the house crying. Zhenny, our other cat, has retreated into closets; occasionally giving us the odd cuddle but mostly biting us. We have euthanized many older pets but Mrs. Stripe was possibly my favorite. I became very mentally unwell when we moved to Egypt and when I caught glimpses of her in the garden it lighten my burden. She is probably half Egyptian Mau but has a bit of European Ginger which gave her fur the most gorgeous Titian highlights. She was exquisite and I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. I had no intention of looking after her until she had an injury. See my original post about our first meeting – Mrs. Stripe. Right to the very end of our posting in Cairo I wasn’t sure if she wanted to come with us – she was essentially a wild animal. One day she just made up her mind to stay in the house and we had to rush to get her neutered and vaccinated for the trip to America.

The veterinarian placed her in a beautiful blue shroud and we have buried in her beloved garden. Like most immigrants from third world countries, she loved her adopted new land and the odd new creatures she observed such as skunks and raccoons. She loved us and we will always love her. RIP Mrs. Stripe.

Mrs. Stripe's shroud on her favorite ottoman

Mrs. Stripe’s shroud on her favorite ottoman

Christmas in Egypt

Happy New Year

Christmas was different in Egypt, for all sorts of reasons. At the time we were there it was close to Ramadan on two consecutive years. Ramadan is celebrated on the ninth month of the Muslim year and their calendar is different from our Roman one. Muslims have to fast from sunrise to sunset. Each country celebrates this religious event in a different way but in Egypt it was party central. As soon as sun set everyone crowded restaurants, ate delicious meals at home and stayed up all hours. We all dreaded the festival because, quite naturally, everyone was a tad grumpy while fasting. They had also eaten too much and slept too little making the driving more chaotic than usual.

Most households light little blue glass Ramadan lanterns which were hung from balconies. As it was approaching Christmas it gave Cairo a festive feel. We lived on the edge of the city at that time, close to the desert, and on a cold winter night you could see the stars so brightly in the sky. It was endlessly fascinating because we were in a different position of the world, as was our view of the constellations. There is a large minority of Coptic Christians who are believed to be the original Christians. They have their own Pope who I had the privilege of seeing at the airport. They celebrate Christianity in a more Orthodox manner and Christmas Day is on January 7th. So we had three festivals one after the other – it was a wonder the country functioned…

One crisp cool night, I remember looking up at the stars and thinking how close we were to the place of Jesus’ birth. Did it look, smell and sound similar? It was as close as I was going to get to the Holy Land as your passport could not have both Israeli and Middle-Eastern stamps on it. My husband had two separate passports to travel on for work. The desert has a magical feel, especially in the winter. It can reach almost freezing but warms up dramatically during the day. You can easily image djinns or genies as the westerners say. Our Egyptian friend who was a strict Muslim still believed in djinns and thought to them with some fear. In general Egyptians were superstitious especially if they were Bedouin and many were.

One Christmas party I met an Algerian lady who was very pretty with brown eyes and blonde hair. Her brown eyes came from her French Algerian mother but her blonde hair came from her blonde, blue eyed Berber farther. Apparently it is quite common – Vikings, I assume? I would have loved to have visited Algeria and Berber villages but it was just too dangerous especially in the middle of the Gulf War. Most of the expats left Cairo desperately at Christmas time to have some normality at home but we had nowhere to go and the flights were expensive. It was really quite nice spending the holidays in such an exotic place.

One more opportunity to market my book –Letters from Cairo by Kerry Duncan.

The Baladi Dogs in the Jeep

Poochy and Puppy
Well, I slept well last night and am almost back to my usual self. Above are our beloved Baladi dogs, Poochy and Puppy, that we looked after in Egypt. The word Baladi means local in Arabic and usually it is used to refer to the ubiquitous yet delicious flat breads sold on every corner. The expats, most of whom had never come across feral street dogs, referred to them as Baladi dogs. They all look much the same – skinny, sandy, short coated dogs about the size of a labrador. Normally, they are naturally cautious of humans and behave like a coyote would, especially when it comes to howling at night. Poochy, the mother dog, had been looked after by a Western expat from puppyhood until he left, so she didn’t know whether to behave like a pet or a coyote. She used to run to me for cuddles and I remember she put her paws on the shoulders of my clean white dress which was then covered in camel poop and goodness knows what else. “Poochy!!!”, I yelled, to no avail…

Just before a trip back to the UK we decided to take them to a Westernized animal boarding kennel where Poochy could recover from being neutered and they would be safe together for a couple of weeks. As soon as she was neutered by Dr. Farouk and safe to move we took her and the puppy across the Nile to the pyramid side of Cairo where the boarding kennel was. There was a new bridge but we got hopelessly lost so I made my husband stop the Jeep at a snack shack just before the flyover and ask for directions. Despite the impression you may get in my book, most Egyptians, especially Bedouins, are incredibly hospitable and the owner insisted that his son go in the car with us, onto the bridge and then he would get out (on an interstate) and walk back. Nothing we could do could persuade him otherwise.

The son jumped in the front with my husband and then glanced back to the back where Poochy and Puppy were whining inconsolably, throwing up and generally smelling awful. He looked at us in horror and incredulity – who would have Baladi dogs in their car? After he got out (and was paid handsomely) we knew that he would have ran back to his Dad and said, “They have Baladi dogs in the Jeep!” We just knew that his Dad would have said, “Don’t be ridiculous – they must have been Pharaoh Hounds! Rich people like that don’t keep street dogs”. It was a terrible journey but we all survived it and yet again had something to laugh about in Cairo.

Just another teaser to tempt you to buy the book – flagrant advertising!
This is the link to the book on Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/Letters-Cairo-This-memoir-travelogue-ebook/dp/B015JFY1F0
If you read it (some may be able to borrow it) please give me a review.

Egyptian Puppies

Poochy's Puppies I had the great privilege of guest blogging on Jumbled Writer’s blog. It is entitled ‘The day the war started in Cairo’ and is a memoir from living in Cairo during the second Gulf War. One day I will complete the final version of my book, ‘Letters from Cairo’… Click on the link to read more and find out about the puppies.
http://www.jumbledwriter.com/2015/05/08/guest-post-the-day-the-war-started-in-cairo-by-postcards-from-kerry/

Christmas Cats

cats santaaction cats 2014 These are our three Egyptian street cats that we rescued from Cairo between 2002 and 2004. We had no intention of bringing any animals to our next posting which turned out to be Houston but they were impossible to rehome and we had bonded. Mrs. Stripe was first, the mama of Toffee who was next and finally Zhenny who I brought home to die from the cat shelter. Truly feral cats like these normally only live a few years in the wild but their ages range from 11 to 13. That means they are both geriatric and amazing. We struggled to adapt to looking after the equivalent of wild raccoons that would hiss, spit and bite at the first opportunity but they all had injuries or illnesses. On one memorable occasion in 2003, the Sudanese manager of the cat shelter, my husband and I were trying to capture Mrs. Stripe who was trapped in our bedroom with a sore paw. I swear that she was running across the ceiling a la Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. We gave up in defeat, me sobbing and she disappeared off into the garden. The next day she came back, her paw healed with the adrenaline, and two little kittens. I could hear her saying, “This is why I couldn’t go to the vet”. Just before we immigrated here in 2004, all three were neutered, vaccinated and ready to go. It was a horribly traumatic time trying to get three wild animals in cages but when we got to Houston via KLM, they were sitting waiting for us. We asked my husband’s company to provide a truck because the cages were so big but they sent a Limo driver with a peaked hat and a stretch limousine. I will never forget the look of delight on their faces when they were put in the limo with their new mum and dad. Click on this video link to see them having fun today on Christmas Day 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UcF4G3KJWk