The map of the San Stefano mall in Alexandria Egypt is incomprehensible and does not seem to include the cinema. We ask a few people who wave us in the general direction of up the escalator eventually find it on the top floor.
We stand at the ticket booth and are ignored for a few minutes by three employees who are busy chatting with each other until one of them acknowledges our existence.
“Three tickets to Pete’s Dragon,” says Richard with a bit of an indistinct accent. He seems to think speaking english with an accent helps non-english people understand him.
She waves us in the general direction of the opposite ticket booth. We dutifully head over and Rich repeats his question with a slightly heavier accent.
She waves us to the lady beside her. We shuffle over to the next window and Rich repeats the request for the third time.
Finally we get our tickets. The cost for three of us is 150 LE, which is about 5 pounds each.
“3-D glasses?” asks Rich, miming the action of putting on glasses. She waves us in the direction of the ticket taker.
“3-D glasses?” Rich asked the ticket taker and he waves us towards the concession stand. We get our glasses and popcorn after standing for a few more minutes, again politely waiting for acknowledgment from the bored employees. The popcorn is only 10 LE, about a quid. It is flavoured with an abundance of salt and no butter.
“Where is theatre 9?” he asks. Another general wave in a direction, accompanied by a shrug of the shoulders.
Just as I am internally lamenting the state of customer service in this mall, a hunched round man with a remarkable resemblance to Gru from Despicable Me escorts us to the theatre, carries my popcorn for me and leads us by flashlight to our seat, all the while speaking gently in Arabic.
Appeased by this show of customer service I attempt patience as we sit in the theatre for 10 minutes after the movie was scheduled to start, listening to Arabic music, then another 10 minutes of silence. Eventually the previews start, a few decibels more than comfortable, among them previews for Martyr and Blair Witch.
I find myself channeling my dad by stuffing kleenex in my ears while Rich and I cover Oscar’s eyes and he crams his fists in his ears. The A/C is set to sub-arctic and I alternate between wrapping my scarf around my arms to quell my goosebumps and around my head to muffle the volume of the movie. The speakers occasionally let out a pained sound as if they are protesting being set to max too long.
Oh yeah, and the movie sucked.