CAIRO: The Korba festival ended on Friday in a wash of color. Bright confetti and chalk drawings covered the ground and people of all ages ran around with flowers painted on their faces.
The crowd gathered in Heliopolis’ Baghdad Street to listen to the mellow sounds of Wust Al-Balad as the sun set. Korba was an occasion for family fun. With books, food, a flower parade, and music, there was something to entertain everyone.
The afternoon flower parade was the centerpiece of the event. It featured buses and cars with intricate petal patterns all over them driving down Baghdad Street, which was closed off for the entire festival. One can only imagine how long it took to pick and place all of those petals to create the walls of red, and yellow patterns.
Along with the flowers were the usual corporate representatives, featuring such favorites as a ten foot long bottle of Coke.
The event featured a small book fair, mostly with children’s story or coloring books. While the parents browsed the selection, the kids seemed to enjoy climbing on the giant model of a pile of books more than actually reading the real books.
Food and music were the biggest attraction. Despite the cold day, even the weather could not keep small children away from their sweets, as the largest crowds stood around the Movenpick and Sultana ice cream stands, or the Wust Al-Balad stage. Unless you are the most aggressive of crowd pushers, it was impossible to see either the ice cream menu, or the band as they played.
All of the cafes put tables out on the street, so that people could watch the festival and the music while eating. With everyone sitting contentedly or strolling the street, the scene was reminiscent of a spring evening in Paris, or the happier days of Beirut’s Place d’Etoile.
The mood was relaxed and happy at this cultural festival. As some of the only Westerners in the crowd, my friends and I were surprised that we could walk through without attracting a stare or comment, as we do in most parts of Cairo. But everyone seemed to be having too good a time with friends to pay any attention to strangers.
The Facebook groups “Festival El Korba and “Korba, Heliopolis reveal the event’s popularity with the younger, English-speaking set, many of whom live in the neighborhood. The festival group had 800 members. Many posted messages after the festival saying “Amazing is all I can say, and “I think we should close Baghdad Street and keep it only for pedestrians. That would be great.