Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ode on a Dilapidated Cairo Taxicab

Not meant to be terribly profound and literary or otherwise "good," just a few musings whilst riding around Cairo in one of its many (in)famous taxis.

Ode on a Dilapidated Cairo Taxicab

Peugeot 504
freshly painted black and white
only 20 years ago
"Tahrir, Sheikh Rihan"

Squeezing through
rattling along
pot-holed Cairene streets
across the world's longest river
over Qasr el Nil bridge
vigilantly guarded by two great lions
as I balance precariously on your broken seat

reupholstered countless times

the most recent being with the new paint job

Your long disused meter displays the last fare it ever charged
60 piasters
a bygone era
when Garden City lived up to its name
when Masr el Gedida lived up to its name

how much have you seen these streets change

but remain familiar

You would know your way around

even if not expertly steered

by the quiet, sullen man

who dolefully puffs on a Cleopatra

breaking silence only to curse the chaos

and pedestrians

and buses

and pickup trucks

and delivery motorcycles


Contemplating vehicle emissions limits

and seatbelt laws

and manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedules

and roadworthiness standards

I smile

Dilapidated Cairene taxicab

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blog re-re-relaunch

Yeah, so this is about the Nth time I've re-launched the blog, and I doubt anyone out there is even reading anymore, but I figure that now that I'm living in Cairo, a) the whole "Bedouin Project" thing will be more applicable and b) I'll have more to write about than I did whilst living in southern Ontarian suburbia.

Reflections on Cairo (part 1 of many)

Cairo has been labeled as being loud, over-crowded, dirty and polluted. And it is all of those things. But to dismiss one of the world's great cities on such grounds is to miss the point entirely. While, for instance, London may throb with energy, Cairo manically pulsates with palpable palpitations felt through the honking of car horns, throngs of bodies, or the swiftly moving Nile. No, it's not a city for everyone, but no city is. It's not a city for the spoiled or the weak of heart. Cairo won't coddle you comfortably or dote on you. If that's what you're looking for, look elsewhere. You don't want Cairo, and Cairo most likely doesn't want you. Cairo is a demanding mistress, but for those who learn to navigate this city, the rewards are great, and made all the more sweet by the knowledge that so many before have come and failed to see beneath the grime that veils (if I can be cheeky) this city.

I end with a recipe I've been working on for a while now:

Driving in Cairo


1 part renewed faith in God
2 parts rally racing
2 parts bumper cars
horn honking and swearing to taste

Beat all ingredients together vigorously until complete anarchy is reached, serve hot.