Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Chaotic Cairo

Total chaotic masterpiece! Cairo defies any description by mortal man. As it levitates between smoggy corruption and intellectual inquiry, Cairo offers ice-cream flavors of diverse living. Once, as I was searching for one of the new wave publishing houses for an interview with a fairly new author, the taxi stopped in front of a dark, ominous building in the heart of Cairo. Honking, dust, debris blowing along the streets, multiple languages cancelling one another out in the loudness of the atmosphere - that's Cairo. But I was lost. As I emerged from the taxi, the driver asked if I wanted him to wait. "Of course!" After all, I wanted some assurance that my escape from the uninviting building would be a fast jump into the waiting car. Slowly, I climbed the damp, broken cement staircase into a darkened and dirtied dungeon-like lobby. A man runs up the stairs past me and voices something in Arabic. Then I realize he wants me to walk the stairs up to the next floor instead of taking the primitive elevator in front of me. The twisted staircase narrowed as I emerged on the third floor where the publishing company was located. The rooms were like coffins, only smaller. Shelves of paper and books stacked along the walls from floor to ceiling. Smudged windows prevented any possiblity of meeting the outdoors. As I observed the immediate atmosphere, I realized that in the very small space surrounding me, a wealth of intellectuality was slowly embracing the wary visitor - me! Authors, journalists, artists, playrights, musicians. The crappy ambiance was suddenly alive with robust intelligence and activity. Cairo is so crazy - so unpredictable. Unlike any other place in the universe, Cairo defines itself. I will go back very soon.

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