When I was in Alexandria last summer, I had a little time to kill and stopped in at the local coffee house. In Egypt there is a coffee shop on every corner. Sometimes in the middle of the block, too, and even right next to another one. They’re all different and yet similar, open to the street, often old, with feral cats prowling underfoot and ceiling fans slowly turning overhead. Men drink tea, smoke water pipes, play table games, and talk or read the newspaper. Some cafes are tiny holes in the wall; others are large and sprawling. Often they fill whole alleyways, especially at night. Like most Arabic world coffeehouses they serve strong Turkish coffee and tea. Called qahwas or ahwas (from the Arabic word for coffee, قهوة qahwah), the shops are an Egyptian institution. Women can be seen in the more modern places but for most traditional local places, you’ll find only men.