Saturday, September 25, 2010


«..fiery yearnings their own phantom-futures make, and deem it present. So, after all these fearful, fainting trances, the verdict be, the golden haven was not gained - - yet, in bold quest thereof, better to sink in boundless deeps, than float on vulgar shoals; and give me, ye gods, an utter wreck, if wreck I do.» 
Herman Melville

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

things that make mornings worth getting up for

the nutella jar says 'saba7 el kheyr' on its lid.
I'll smile and say 'saba7 el ful ya eshta'...

The teal fan with beautiful matfeyya golden blades that sherine got from souq el gum3a, the name starts to ring with the romance of an old city in ruins, every shard telling a story.
It gathers its strength with a hesitant sputter, like you've woken it up from a deep slumber, and it is quickly obliging, quickly before you spot that moment of hesitation. Deep inside i know one day, it may try and fail to oblige, but that makes the split second of suspense a reward every morning. Sputter spark starts the day with a breeze of tarawa.

the morning breeze as of late. ever so subtle. a sigh of fresh air.

the cab ride on my mornings of late. There's no name for where i work realy. For 'us' it is 'near darb'. for the rest of cairo, well, you try it. I call it el '7erafeyeen'. it sounds cairo-esque, basically it is where it is, but there seems to be no consensus behind the name but me, my imagination and my poor vacant memory that concedes to anything we tell it,it must have remembered hearing.

And so i try different things. Most often it's 'masr el adima' because i've learnt it pays to be as vague as possible. i think they see me waving them down in degla and they think 'dee akher-ha samia allouba aw greco...'

so sometimes i try 'kum ghuraab' el fakhareen.. 'el fustat', 'am-ib'el'3aas'! And sometimes, only a few very special special times i said 'batn el baqar'. I love it. I love the way the words roll of my lips. I love the image of the cow's fat rippling belly i get every time. I feel like my voice changes as i say it, it comes from my throat keda. I also feel like after i say it i should wipe my nose and mouth with the back of my right or left hand.
that my left eye should twitch. when the driver goes 'eyh?!' i should go 'aywaaa batn el baqar.. eeyhh fe 7aga?!' (and i stop for a few menacing seconds 3and 'eyh', my features contorted in warning, my hands slowly hovering closer adn closer to that none existant matwa in my pocket), his own contorted features relax, every new wrinkle folding back into the clearness of his face.. 'erkaby erkaby...'

in truth, i say it meekly and when they say 'eyh' i say, ' err, masr el adima' ? smile.

One driver told me to stop saying 'Kum Ghuraaab' that it was misleading. 
It was with much difficulty that i did. My first 'job' working with kids, involved interacting with a mahmoud moukhtar who did art with working children. and he got them to paint the houses that make my neighbourhood, and that frame the kubry i take to come to work everyday. The project was called Kum GHurab. and it was about getting the kids engaged in making kum ghuraab something they were proud of.

I tried to explain this to the can driver but he could barely lift his eyes off the road for a second to take the colors in as we passed the kubry, and in the context of a long discussion where he was trying to understand where EXACTLY my office was and help me with the key words that would land me a cab driver and not tafesh one, he kept insisting..
'huwwa esmuh kubry el 3aasher.. khaleeky bas fe kubry el 3aasher..'

as we make the last left turn that opens masr el adima into the quarter of creativity our very colorful office is tucked into, i get almost the same sentence.. 'tesada2ey ba2a enny 3umry ma geyt henna abl keda...' or sometimes it's a bit like 'tesada2ey ba2a enny sawa2 taaaaksi.. we 3umrey mageyt henna abl keda'. The latter is my favorite because the first part of the sentence takes a bit of a stretch and the second happens quickly..
'tesADA2EY ba2a enny sawa2 TAAKSEY..we3umreymagetyhennablkeda..'

it makes the twenty pounds (and not the 6 pounds it would cost if i took the nearest metro station) worth it to feel enny wasa3t khayalhum el qaaherey walaw leshebr.
i'm sure somehow, somehow, finding a little creativity quarter in the city, makes it that much easier to breathe.

and maybe one day and several summer trips later (in the winter i HAVE to start taking the metro), i will be able to wave a cab down and say 'el shughl!'
or maybe there will be more consensus 3ala el 7erafeyeen :)

صباح النور عليكم وصباحٌ آخر على كل الناس

Monday, September 20, 2010

deeds cannot dream what dreams can do..

[as freedom is a breakfastfood]


as freedom is a breakfastfood
or truth can live with right and wrong
or molehills are from mountains made
—long enough and just so long
will being pay the rent of seem
and genius please the talentgang
and water most encourage flame

as hatracks into peachtrees grow
or hopes dance best on bald mens hair
and every finger is a toe
and any courage is a fear
—long enough and just so long
will the impure think all things pure
and hornets wail by children stung

or as the seeing are the blind
and robins never welcome spring
nor flatfolk prove their world is round
nor dingsters die at break of dong
and common’s rare and millstones float
—long enough and just so long
tomorrow will not be too late

worms are the words but joy’s the voice
down shall go which and up come who
breasts will be breasts thighs will be thighs
deeds cannot dream what dreams can do
—time is a tree(this life one leaf)
but love is the sky and i am for you
just so long and long enough

because i cannot remember..

because i cannot remember what it feels like to write it straight out without first channeling it through my mind. and because there is nothing i yearn to do as deeply and profoundly...

for years it felt like i outgrew this space, whereas i think i just grew so suddenly i could no longer keep track of how far my proportions stretched.

i think i still fit.