Cairo is such a strange, exciting, exhausting, beautiful, adventurous city.
i haven’t seen any place like it.
from being an American, it is vastly different from what I grew up with.
what would be a day to day life for an Egyptian is an adventure for me.
ordering food from street cars, dodging through the hectic traffic, even taking the metro is different here.
men walking up and down the aisles of the metro car, trying to sell random items out of big black bags.
walking to the back of a souk, behind a curtain to buy beer illegally during Ramadan, since it is not allowed during the holy month.
jumping on and off moving buses. riding scooters through the mad traffic and chatting with people on their bikes or through car windows during a jam.
cars honk loudly at each other from all around, making it sound like they are all talking to each other.
the call to prayer rings out for the whole city to hear five times a day. some have beautiful voices that pour out from over the microphone, it almost puts you in a trace. while others sound almost as if they are yelling at you, demanding you. although you still can’t help but be amused by this.
walking through Tahir Square at night, seeing so many people, so many families. men selling cotton candy and lights for children. young boys playing football.
bright colored flaucas drifting up and down the Nile, with music streaming through the air.
nights spent dancing with friends and smoking hashish.
fruit and veggie vendors line streets with fresh food, where the bright colors draw you in to buy way more than you need.
the cool night breeze from the Nile wafts you into calmness, as the scent of shisha and coffee filter into the air.
sidewalks covered with people sitting at plastic tables, smoking shisha, drinking Turkish coffee, and laughing.
the friendships here are different too. people have a stronger bond with their friends and family. they show much more affection. you can see the intimacy in their eyes for each other, which just makes my love for them even stronger.
this city is just something else to me.
is there even such a thing?
a major contradiction…well to a logical person.
is it really that hard to comprehend?
the need to be social, then retreat to a reclusive state?
logic makes No Sense.
how can life be just black and white?
the colors blend together and form a sloppy grey.
the person who described life as black and white wasn’t an artist.
so, if life is black its absent of color, absent of life?
if its white, it is all colors, it is all life?
hmm, maybe they were an artist, distracted by the colors.
another intro/extrovert…distracted by colors.
distracted by life.
distracted by their own contradictions.
they are such a beautiful family.
each night they eat dinner together.
they laugh as they watch tv.
the wife helps her husband eat dinner.
you can see the love in her eyes. her devotion.
you can see her love for him through her consistent dedication.
the side glances they give each other shows young love, even in their age.
the son gets up and changes the channel.
but the parents gaze doesn’t drift.
they bask in each other’s glory.
they are such a beautiful sight.
as i watch…
from my balcony…
into their window.
little kitten on the catwalk tripping in her high heeled shoes
rich old men running after her shouting “i’ll save you”
he’ll take her to his house and walk her through the door
one minute she’s his queen, then he treats her like his whore
then out the door to repeat himself, Captain Save a Hoe
he feeds off her youth, infatuated by her baby eyes and hair bow
she’s back on the streets, no longer stumbling in her heels
the job is much easier now since the drugs forced her to no longer feel
out in the streets, she struts proudly in the night
maybe one day that little kitten will leave the red light
she is finally beautiful
she stares at herself in the mirror.
bags are forming under her eyes, and wrinkles caress her face. crows have left their marks around her eyes.
horrified she cups her face with her hands, and stares at herself through her fingers. in the mirror she sees how stained her fingers are from cigarettes. all the track marks up and down her arms are like highways showing where she’s been. what she has done.
only in her twenties and age is creeping in. she is told that she is beautiful by the rich men who flourish around her like flies. they can tell she’s broken. even with constant compliments on her body, her soul still feels ugly.
she can tell her morals are holding on by a thread. she doesn’t remember her roots. how can these people think she’s so pretty?
growing up ugly she never thought a day like this would come. funny how life reverts itself. now she doesn’t even know who she is. she continues to stare into the mirror, ignoring the tears forming around her eyes. she cups her face again, not daring to look.
“who have i become? i reflect nothing of my inner self.”
after collecting a series of batteries, she starts extracting their juices. she returns to the mirror and stares one last time. “i have become a monster, i want to rid my shame.”
she picks up the bowl of battery acid and pours it on her face.
as the acid burns her face she hysterically laughs. she finally looked how she felt. she lights a cigarette and places it between those stained fingers. she lays it gently between two morphed lips. inhale, exhale.
“i am finally beautiful.”
About the author:
Lenore McRae: born and raised in Waco, TX. Lenore lived in Denver, CO for a few years before settling down in Cairo, Egypt. @lenore_mcrae