No this isn’t an automated message, but the real deal.
Excuse me for my leave of absence. It was a combination of laziness and bad habit that caused me to stay away. I’m breaking that habit right now.
Coming up from me will be more design inspired posts and the craziness that is mother Cairo. Fasten your seat-belts my fellow readers, this could get bumpy (oh wait i forgot, taxis here don’t actually have seat-belts..)
Summer is now upon us. It comes when you least expect it, managing to catch me out before I can prepare, even though I’ve been living here for the past three years.
The whole rituale begins; Make sure you have stock piled your water supply, have a wardrobe full of adequate cotton clothing, a mountain of suncream, spray bottles filled with water dotted around the house, copious amounts of fresh watermelon juice and a full tray of ice cubes ready to hand. All these things help make your summer in Cairo bearable, especially as temperatures can reach 40 degrees.
When I’m out and about though, I like to prepare by visiting one of the numerous kiosks dotted along each street corner. They’re usually a small make shift shack of metal pieced together with a rickety roof on top. I’m amazed at how they manage to stay up, but they do, and in summer they’re a god send.
Imagine that its noon and you’re walking the dusty streets, the sun high above, causes you to squint regardless of your sunglasses. You’ve been walking for the past hour and by now your pace has dramatically slowed and your shirt clings to you, wet with stale sweat. You seek shelter under the nearest tree along a busy road, its orange flowers out in full bloom. Its cooler in the shade, and soon enough the sweat cools you down. You run your finger along dry cracked lips which you quickly try to moisten with a parched tongue. This only makes it worse.
You must have lost a litre in water but all you feel like is a sugary drink that in the long run will cause tooth decay and diabetes. But you don’t care, you’re not thinking long term, but living for the here and now. You walk up to the fridge housing the drinks, amazed at the ingenuity of a single wire attached from the lampost, and used to power the kiosk fridge. Legal? You dont care. All you want right now is to wrap your lips around a cold beverage.
Open the fridge and touch each bottle carefully selecting the one that is chilled to perfection. crack the bottle open with the cap opener attached to the side of the fridge and savour the moment as the cold liquor runs down your throat and cools you down.
Recently we decided to purchase a new camera and were debating the merits of an SLR over a smaller camera e.g a Leica. Then I came across a blog post by Eric Kim on the merits of using a smaller camera. It’s given me something to think about, and I would recommend it if your having trouble just like me, in deciding.
Shopping in the beast that is Carrefour yesterday, I was reminded of the genius photographer Andreas Gursky who did a whole series of pictures set in a discount store in the U.S. I admire the composition of the shots and the colourful nature, along with the serious message of over consumption. It makes you view your surroundings in a totally different way.
Check out this site for more of his wonderful work
There’s been a few earthquake tremors lately, and apparently there was a tiny one today, but I was washing the dishes at the time and didn’t feel a thing. I wonder if it’s a sign of things to come?
Walking around Cairo I can’t help but notice the abundance of classic cars dotted around the city. Old Fiats that look at though they’re past retirement age still continue to dominate the roads, confusing me into thinking we’re living in the 1950’s. One thing that stands out though is the scores of classic VW Beetles. Everywhere I go I see them parked up on the main road, in alleyways, in driveways, being driven erratically or lovingly and in dire need of a wash. Some have punctured tires, numerous scrapes and bumps or badly rusted where the paint has peeled off, further adding to it’s charm. I see a multitude of colours from bright yellow, sun yellow, maroon, silver, blue, white, turquoise and dusty black.
I’m now officially obsessed about this classic curvaceous car.
Spring is a time when Egypt is totally transformed from an area of brown dust to a burst of colours. Dirty streets are lined with exotic trees, their branches flowing with blossom-pink, red, purple, green, orange, yellow, all competing with each other. They are the makeup added to a dull canvas.
The spring breeze gently blows away the layers of dust and grime that colonised all stationary objects during the winter months. The luminous colour of a retro Volkswagon beetle basks in the sun, oozing sex appeal. An idle dog sleeps under the shade of a car, half stirring when a small family of four stroll past. Two friends sit on worn plastic chairs deep in conversation about the upcoming elections due in May. As the day moves on, one friend decides to make tea in the tiny faded hut, its roof made from sticks intertwined to form a giant sombrero. A cart burdened with woven baskets sits vacant under the shade of a tree, its deep basket used as a bed by a jaded street cat.
Slowly though as the season comes to an end, so to do the flowers. The intense colours are steadily fading, the edges shrivelling and turning brown. The bottom of a tree is covered in a carpet of pink, momentarily disturbed as a speeding car cruises past. Soon the trees will be naked, only green leaves to cover the bare branches. Soon the dust will settle once again, and soon the streets will go back to the dull tinge of brown.
“Live in this world as (if you are) a wayfarer or a stranger”
(Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him)
The American boy, now a young man in his early 20’s, at the prime of his life, decides to embark on a journey, to travel across the world. He has never stepped foot outside his home town, and the prospect of leaving his state is daunting for him. He didn’t own a passport until two weeks ago when it arrived through the post, freshly printed and the crisp pages still possessing the lingering smell of wet ink. It was to him, the smell of hope and excitement, of unfamiliar places he had yet to discover. The pages blank, ready for him to fill with his adventures and life changing experiences.
A young female, recently graduated wearily lies down on her bed, her flowery bedspread engulfing her petite frame. She craves for some independence in her life, and hoped she would achieve this at university, but living at home meant she didn’t quite gain the experience she had dreamed of. Unlike her friends, she didn’t know how it felt to cook for one, how to read the mundane bills that came through the door and how to solve real problems. Her parents did all that for her. A graduate, she felt she would be prepared for the real world, but she suddenly realised that she wasn’t. She had not even travelled far beyond her campus walls. How could she be independent if she hadn’t been introduced to the world, the one outside her front door?
A recently divorced father of three sits dejected in his compact one bedroom flat situated on a dismal road in East London. His family meant everything to him, but now that he had lost custody of them, he was numb. What were his interests apart from playing hide and seek and pulling funny faces which made his children laugh uncontrollably?
He had never travelled before, preferring Butlins or day trips to Margate to entertain the children. All throughout the holiday he would lie on a lounger and try to get a tan from the sun that was quickly disappearing behind a dirty cloud. Now he yearned for real interests, his own interests. He longed to climb the highest mountain and go scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef. To mingle with shoppers in an over crowded market in Delhi and to seek solitude in a Buddhist temple on the hills of Nepal. As he let his mind wander over his dreams, outside the sky had slowly blackened. The heavy clouds suddenly burst, releasing their burden and bringing fresh rain down onto the empty streets.
We travel to broaden our horizons and our minds as we are introduced to many different lands, cultures, food and way of thinking. We might get ripped off by the pushy taxi driver at the airport and charged too much for a hotel room with two single beds pushed together in the pretence of being a double, but that’s what travelling is all about. You make these silly mistakes, all in the hope that it’ll help you to grow as a person. Most of the times though you come back with lighter pockets, a lost passport and a journal full of amusing stories.
To view pictures of my travels click here or visit the ‘photography’ page at the top of the blog
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”