Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Home Sweet Cairo
Cairo: a necessary evil to tourists, a city of bureaucrats, ancient sights and slightly less old taxis, appalling traffic, and toxic air. Home to more than 15 million people, most Muslim but plenty Christian. Horns honk, the call to prayer wails, and engines roar throughout the night. If Upper Egypt is south, Cairo must be Egypt's bottom. The butt of Africa. Spewing forth a filthy, stinking concentrate, equal parts madness and desperation.
But oh how it grows on you.
I have my routine. I wander the colonial-era streets of Zamalek, among the crumbling mansions, and I go to work in Dokki, newer city of the masses, a tan city. An overwhelmingly tan city. The first day I was in Cairo in 1999, I was terrified of the traffic. The next time, in 2001, a taxi driver grabbed my leg. Last time, I was propositioned repeatedly and flashed once.
But somehow, I love Cairo.