In her CairoScene debut, Lara El Sergany wonders if we've been looking at Egypt the wrong way all along.
With the never-ending traffic that can make it much too easy to break your fast, it can get hard to love this topsy turvy country the way Gedo and Teta once did. This doesn’t mean the beauty they saw in Egypt has disappeared for good; we may just be looking for the wrong kind of beauty.
For one thing, the streets of Egypt have a sort of warmth that envelops you into its arms; and I’m not talking about the kind that makes you want to strip down to your tighty whities and worn out socks. This kind is the warmth of colours, smells, shapes, and scribbles on walls that turn any five-minute walk into a story exciting enough to not end with the disappointment of the phrase: “you just had to be there.” And if you really want to add visuals to your story, these narrow streets and crumbling pavements will give any amateur phone-tographer the time of their lives. Of all the Instagram feeds of all the lands, it’s hard to find one that matches the shades of authenticity, culture, and irregularity of an Egyptian photographer’s account - even with all 50 thousand filters added.
Speaking of warmth, nothing will ever warm your heart as much as the kind words you hear from your local Fakahani, or the street’s garbage man when you pass by them- or better yet, give them a pound or two to make up for all the damage you’d done the weekend before. Like dropping a coin in a vintage Zoltar machine, the second your eyes meet theirs, nothing but a sea of well wishes and prayers hits your ears that would make even the most stone-faced beast of a man shed an obscured tear or two. Forget about cleansing your aura, a daily dose of those hard-hitting words will serve as balm to your soul and a nice warm kick-starter to the old rusty heart.
In a place harbouring a population of way over 80 million inhabitants (and counting) of all shapes and sizes, it’s near impossible to live here and not find a scene that suits your liking. Fancy a good night out in a decent club with banging tunes? You got it. Want to lay low, satisfy your caffeine craving and hang out in a chilled out coffee shop? No problem. Even if you need to go full speed oriental and spend the day at Al-Hussein or have some quality shisha and tea at Khan el Khalili’s El Feshawy, all you need is a trusty buddy with a trusty car and patience sturdy enough to handle the traffic jams and non-existing parking spots.
We know it’s no rolling hills of greenery or hair whipping winds of fresh air in here, but at the end of the day, it’s the place we all call home. Just like Fifi Abdo’s Instagram feed, you don’t know what you’re looking at, you’re not sure why you’re still here, but for some misshapen reason, you know you love it.