Dancing in Cairo Street!!
The young ballerina, Nour Yasser went on a dancing spree across Cairo’s old streets, “she captivates city dwellers and passers-by, drawn to a scene unusual in Egypt’s conservative urban life.” reported the Cairo Scene. “Our project aim was to explore the beauty and diversity of Cairo.” photographers Mohamed Taher and Ahmed Fathy explained.
Egyptians have been dancing in the street for ages, at wedding, sports events, at religious social festivals, and in any occasions. The difference was, there wasn’t the intrusion of a camera.
The Forbidden Fruit
He was as old as his fruit, enigmatic with uncanny smile and like most of villagers, a reluctant businessman. His desire to be left alone was much greater than his need run his business. You could safely say, he wasn’t from the enterprising village camp. Never seen in public, never seen walking in the street, going or praying at the Mosque. He miraculously avoided weddings and funerals a weekly event in the small village of MeetSwaid. You never know if he was married divorced or has a family. In a place where everyone knows everyone else impossible to do, he was a mysterious figure. Abo Morsi was his name, known to most villagers as “el Fakahany” ,the fruit man. He earns this name from running the village fruit store where men go and chat about women, and women went to shop for offseason fruits since Abu El Moursy didn’t believe in expiration dates or fruit seasons, his fruit was always in a self destructive mood. And no matter how rotten they are, he never threw anything away, Shopping at his store was not an adventure, you always know what is at his disposal regardless of the season, all of his fruit look the same; over ripened, dark and dried with sickly appeal, as the flies calmly resting covering the wrinkled skin. The fragrance of the overly ripened fruit was intoxicating; eating his rotten grapes was the closest thing to drinking wine. If you see someone running out of his story with food, they aren’t shoplifting, they just want to get home before expiration date.
Villagers men visited his store under the cover of the dark, where they can have an adult conversation about women and sex, and enjoy the fermented forbidden fruit. He wasn’t judgmental, never argued with customers accept trades and credits, a fisherman bring fish for mango and a carpenter will fix his broken door for grapes. His store was always dark and you navigate yourself based on the fragrance of the fruit. As youngest we loved to hang around the store, watching women and listen to adult conversation. Abu Morsi store was our outlet to adolescent and adulthood, first sexual jokes and first imaginary kiss probable took place at hos store. In the hunting and gathering era, youngster need to go out and come home with first kill, at Abu Morsi era we reach our purity by getting back with first sexual joke or first kiss!
Ahmed Tharwat 1/18/2012.
Eating ” Teen Shooky” at Cairo Street!!
It was a chilly summer night in Cairo, the city that never sleeps was nervously quite, after spending the most of the night walking in the dark allies, , no particular place to go, nobody to speak with, suddenly found myself passing by Tahrir square, that a few month ago, had just witnessed the most significant event in Egyptian history, 18 glorious days toppled a 30-year of dictatorship, where millions of Egyptians went to the streets, took over liberty Square and mad it their own. The echo of their chanting “The people want to topple the regime” still palpable filling the empty square. Standing alone watching the surrounding buildings, for years watching over the famous square keeping its secrete for generation to come. The street lights are tired and blurred, trash freely flying n the air, performing the last dance of the night, with no one to watch or to admire their dance. The sidewalks finally rested after a long day of crowd abuse, stores finally retired their doors are locked closed, cats and dogs running across the street with some purpose. Growing out in Egypt, as a youngster, waking aimlessly in Cairo street was therapeutic, it cleanses my soul. That night, on my last visit, I was alone, having the old city all for myself, trying to lose the sorrows of the day. When you don’t know where you are going you never get lost. I crossed the empty square, I reached the Nile river that breaks into the heart of the city. The fresh air, the reflection of the stars on the river surface, telling story of broken love stories left behind on the river bank –Quorneesh-. A short distance I spotted a street cart tacked away next to a damaged sidewalk, a pile of prickly pear Cactus –Teen Shooky- on the top of the cart, fresh, colorful, and inviting, its piercing sharp pricks seems as if they are protecting themselves from any intruders. The sleepy owner was not in a selling mood, lying down next to the cart, next to his dog both were uninterested and oblivious. I wasn’t sure if he was open or close, in this line of business no closing time. I slowly approached the cart and stood quietly looking at the prickly peers, without uttering a word, or ask of him anything, the man got up and started, peeling the fresh cactus with his bare hands, one by one started coming out of its shill, like a new born. He quietly handed them to me, miraculously avoiding its sharp pricks, then the conversation, with a stranger, I keep eating as many fresh Cactus as his stories lasted. Eventually you realized that you are full and this has to end. I tried in vain telling him “Kefayah” enough, then there is always one last one to peel and one last story to tell. You want to keep the evening alive, but he ran out of stories and my stomach can’t take any more Cactus! I walked away leaving my new friend alone.