Thursday, September 13, 2012
Round about Cairo (27 Oct 2008)
It's my first full day in Cairo. Let me start by saying that my friend Alane, who once told me that Athens was a "dirty city," has obviously never been to Cairo. Cairo doesn't have the profusion of graffiti that Athens did, and both have, I think, an equal share of crumbling buildings, but the accumulated grime that coats everything is amazing to me. The balcony of our room looks out toward a building that seems brown at first glance, but upon closer inspection, is actually red. And there's enough garbage on the street to put other middle eastern countries that I may have inhabited to shame (no offense to the continuing inhabitants of that country, but they know as well as I do that when instructions on how to get to the cold store involve, "turn right at the garbage pile," and movies previews stress not littering rather than not pirating, you know you've got a problem...just apparently not as much of a problem as Cairo). We thought that the logical place to start was in Khan Al Khalili (the souq or bazaar here), but I have to say, I was a little disappointed. I've visited a number of souqs now, and maybe I was just too early to get the full effect, but actually, the persistence of the shopkeepers at that hour (10-12-ish) was already enough to make me grind my teeth a little.