Monday, 5 July 2010

A New Cairo

The land of hot tea, crowded streets and fine fabrics,
Welcome once again to Egypt,

It’s timeless here,
While years pass, very little about this place changes,

The endless sound of horns still echo off the soaring concrete walls as traffic moves at death defying rates,
Nothing works when you need it to, yet a solution is always offered at a ‘fair price’
And a fine layer of sand and dust coats everything, after a few days here this includes the lungs,

I’ve never experienced Cairo this way before,
Staying downtown in a hotel,
It’s an Egypt removed, quantified.

Take in what you want, then retreat to the comforts of an air conditioned hotel room, relax for a few by the pool, before doing it all again.
I admit my life in Maadi was cushy, yet this takes it to a new level.
It’s easy to imagine how the Egypt experienced by the tourist and the Egypt experienced by those who live here are vastly different.

The perception of the hotel lobby, jammed with the high society Egyptians, smoking over priced shisha and sipping western tea is the most some people encounter before stepping on their tour bus and being whisked off the sights.

While I will be the first to admit there are some welcome changes with this Egypt (ie. the air conditioned room and the comfy bed), I miss the way things used to be,

Shisha down some dark back alley with shopkeepers and regulars,
Conversations about everything and nothing,
And believe it or not the frustration of shoulder to shoulder street traffic,

God keeps some fire inside my heart for Egypt and it mystifies me, yet I love it.
This love and hate relationship that Cairo and I share only grows deeper with every visit, impart due to some good friends.

Enter the Khan,
The narrow alley ways lined with shops, trinkets and crap that I so dearly love,
It’s where I’ve made some fast friends,
Granted the relationships were born out of them trying to swindle me and me trying to swindle them, however, thankfully they’ve grown into something deeper.

A phone called to one of these friends sparked a game of hide and go seek amidst the maze of back alleys before a reunion,

Just like old times I find myself sitting in a familiar shop, with good friends, sipping sweet hot tea and trying to convince some American tourist that they look great in some knock-off Ray-bans…it’s a beautiful thing.

Tonight is about catching up, introducing my father, and watching Africas final team fight for the chance at a World Cup win,

Football (soccer) truly has broken barriers within this little community of shop keepers and locals,
To see these men who typically spit on black Africans, now cheer for the Black Stars is remarkable.

Penalty shots has everyone in this little café on their feet,
A heartbreaking loss, God help the Uruguayan tourist around tonight.

Grace, Peace and Blessings,

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