My only maternal uncle is Ahmed Y. AbouYoussef. He used to have lots of hobbies, including fishing, hunting, boating, ...etc. In the hunting area, he used to shoot every available game in Egypt,starting from water fowl (Pintail duck (بلبول), Teal (شرشير), Mallard (خضاري), and other species), quail سمان, coot غر, to Egyptian Wild Cat, Jackal, Egyptian Cobra snakes, Tawny Eagle, and other stuff. Oh my! Those were delicious (the edible birds, I mean! Not the snakes). As for fishing, we have countless times enjoyed a typical Mediterranean style baked Blue Fish (Mias مياس in Arabic) with sliced potatoes. He was once pulled from the sea shore to waist deep water by a large fish (presumably an Amber Jack قنش). In our childhood years, me and my brother lived in the same house with my uncle, grandmother and mother. Our balcony had occasional visitors caught by my uncle. Among those were:
- An Eagle
- A Buzzard
- A litter of Wild Cats, still nursing, and had their eyes shut. Their mother has died and my uncle took them in to save their lives. We used to feed them milk using an eye dropper.
- A Desert Tortoise
- A Hedgehog. This one was hard to keep as well. It ate insects and I spent every break in school just gathering grasshoppers for it. It didn't survive for long though.
- Two Guinea Pigs, which are like earless rabbits. These kept eating, and eating and giving birth to more guinea pigs. These were very demanding to keep, and their box had to be cleaned daily, or even twice a day! It was a challenge constantly buying green vegetables for them to eat and keep them clean.
- A Bee Hive. This was a bee swarm caught in the villa next door. We just caught the swarm in a pillow case, and put it in a bee hive that happend to be in the big balconey. The swarm lived there for years, unattended, but the honey tasted awful! Most probably. due to the pollution in the city, or the variety of flowers in the neighborhood.
- A Fish Tank. This was my brother's passion with small turtles, catfish and different kinds of fish in it.
My grandmother didn't like these "pets" and they were almost always sent (despite our protests) to a friend of my uncle who had a large garden that can accomodate these critters.