Beyond the tourist trap of Khan Al Khalili, a famous bazaar district filled with rowdy shopkeepers and unimpressed street cats, the backstreets are numbered with winding maze-like alleyways from which foreigners tend to steer clear. The narrow, broken down roads, dishevelled looking characters and smells that I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to inhale may not seem so welcoming at first sight, but with the aid of a helpful young chap by the name of … you guessed it…Mohamed, the end-all be-all name for all Egyptian men that walk this earth, put on his tour guide hat and led us throughout the back alleys where people’s livelihoods are gained. Now I know it’s never a good idea to follow that random local guy who promises to show you cool things, I had my pepper spray ready and a play-by-play escape plan set up telepathically with Ali. I hoped that Ali’s confused look he gave me after I winked and made a number of hand motions meant that he understood the plan. Having my blue-eyed, blond-haired (like white blond, the type that Arab moms drool over for their sons or nephews) didn’t help the situation. But we were lucky. The random guy turned out to be a history student with a kind heart and a good sense of direction. He spent two hours showing us where the real hard work is done, meeting super kind artisans, carpenters, the works. All away from the fame and glam of the marketplace. We ended off our adventure by breaking bread with truly talented and humble locals who form the under-appreciated and unnoticed backbone of Cairo's economy. b.