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June 15th, 2004 - The Orientalist

About June 15th, 2004

day three 06:23 pm
Cario, which i fell onto three days ago is a city of thiry million people, each of home are going in four diffrent directions at once. When you step out onto the runway at the Cairo airportnobdy lays a leal or reef of flowers around your neck or directs you to a tidy tourist desk, well stacked with brouchers but rathr you are pulled along by a loud current of sweaty infants, saudi buisness men, old women with rinkeld pimpels and young women in veils who will never make eye contact with you. Your swept into a shuttle which brings you to customes where men in military uniforms stamp passports like they were mosquitoes. finally, before you can even look back you are tossed face first into Cairo.

Inshallah is a common Arabic saying for 'God willing', and it is from this saying that cairo opperates. God willing that you will cross the street because there are no crosswalks or street lights, God willing you will find your way home because their are coutless streets but few street signs, God willing the food you bought off the street is well cooked, God willing the train to Aswan will take 12 hours, God willing the musem is still open and God willing yuo will make it across the street.

When i showed up in Cairo on a hot yellow afternoon, I felt like i was in a dream where you forget how to speak and read. I asked the airport shuttle bus driver to let me off at the train station, in the center otown, which he understood as the under the overpass where the man on the donkey is selling mellons. With a giant Mec backpack, a camera bag and a stylish grey side bag I looked like Captine America. Each person i asked for directions to the train station too me in a new direction, i passed a large gang of school kids that cheeard as i passed 'welcome to egypt'. When i did arive at the station i found that I could get a train ticket to Aswane as early as the next day, Aswane of cours is the most southern town in Egypt.

At this point i could direct your attention to serverl events that have happend in the past few days, like the manic late night taxie drive though the back streets of Cairo to the pyramids, or being harrased into buying 15 ponds of 'pure perfume', the orginal asking price was 100 ponds and after gave into his coutless please to buy he showed me a photo of an akwarde and bewilderd looking mohamud ali, which made me feel better since 'the greatest' had been taken in by the same guy. But of all the experiances the most rich was my trip to Coptic Cairo. I took the MEtro to the coptic part of town which is a small walled off area of thin street, a few churches, a single synagaog and tiny homes, most of which are built on top of cripts. It was wall after four and all the churchs were closed and as a result all th tourist had gone home, leaving me and those who live their. What was left was childing kicking soccer balls though empty allyways, old monks with prayer beads and a roster crowing a top a roof top. Away from downtown Cairo with its horns and touts i felt like i was in a village. I met and had a long conversation with an elderly jewish man about jews in Cairo and as we chatted we sat next to on old coptic women who was pealling potoats, when he noticed by dirty hands the women invited me into her house to give them a wash. I also drank some mange juice with a an english speaking prision inspect, he was just watching his fathers shop and as we sat children came running back and forth in front of his shop, a truly feeling of peace.

As for the fact that i am alone i find it difficult but i figure it will end up being rewarding in the long run. I have about two or three conversations a day which consiste of more thenthe how much is that fallaful or I do not need a taxie. INfact i feel trhis budding platonic relainship with my Rough Guide to Egypt guide book. I go where it says to go and when it suggest the haning church for 'an early exampl of coptic architexture" i do not take its suggestion lightl. when i am board i let it tell me about the significance of the music of sufi dancing or the early history of the coptic church. We walk hand in hand though the street of Cairo. Really the challage is learning to enjoy nobody else company but my own, i have not met to many other travlers and the ons that i ahve are part of tour groups and so are not intersted in meeting new people. but in the end 'travaling along can be a most rewarding experiance' or at least that is what my Rough Guide tells me.

I guess i should reveal that i am actuly writtign this letter on the overnight train to Aswane. The first class compartment is like th wide seats of ariplane buisness class dropped in a greay hound bu. The 800 kilomiter trip follows the nile, all the way down but out the window all i can see is darkness and the odd single light from a single house. Anyways the music on my diskman is from the graduate and maybe this is what this trip is about.

The Futurs in Plastics
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