A number of Egyptians have taken up various hobbies to combat boredom during the curfew introduced to fight the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.
“I spend hours during the curfew cycling in the empty streets of 6th of October. The streets in this area are empty without a curfew, so imagine them now! I enjoy the fresh air,” 20-year-old Giza resident Rania El-Bahjuri said.
As the pandemic and ensuing restrictions forced many people to change their daily lives, El-Bahjuri began biking more often.
“I cycle as a way to kill the time and as a form of exercise to ensure I don’t gain weight,” she said.
Wafaa El-Bahrawi, for her part, has used the free time to improve her makeup skills.
“Makeup was hobby of mine, even prior to the pandemic; I have my own business centered around it. I have taken advantage of my free time during the curfew to study makeup, and I apply what I learn on my sisters who live with me,” El-Bahrawi, 30, said.
Meanwhile, Ibrahim Abdel-Wahid, 37, has cultivated his cooking skills.
“Cooking has been a hobby of mine for a long time, but due to the nature of my job I did not have enough time to practice it. Now, I have the opportunity to cook meals that I enjoy. It came as a surprise to my wife when she found me making dishes better than her own!” Abdel-Wahid said.
The pandemic and extended curfew, from 8 pm to 4 am, have revived kiting throughout Egypt. As the sun sets and the curfew hours begin, the Egyptian skies fill with colorful kites of various shapes and sizes.
Ahmed Mamdouh, 33, who has worked as a calligrapher for 20 years, found a new source of income due to the renewed interest in kites. He began drawing on kites, decorating an average of 10 kites a day at prices ranging from 30 Egyptian pounds ($1.85) to 150 pounds per kite depending on size and shape.
“People’s requests vary, from sports club logos to names of people and drawings of animals,” Mamdouh said.
The kites have become more than just a toy, as certain neighborhoods have begun launching kite-flying competitions.
“It’s inexpensive to make a kite. All you need is a stick of strong, dry, woven or bamboo firewood, a roll of sturdy thread and some plastic bags,” Mamdouh said.
After coffee shops closed where he lives, Sayed Ali, 18, began looking for ways to break routine. He took advantage of the roof of his house, which is now the only place he can go other than the inside of his house.
“Every day, I go up to the roof and fly my kite. It is decorated with an image of Ahmed Mansi,” Ali said, referring to the Egyptian Armed Forces officer who was killed after a terrorist attack in Sinai.
“When the kite flies high, I feel that Mansi’s soul is also flying,” he said.