the hours

February 15, 2009 § Leave a comment

a-church

one of the churches of coptic cairo.  most of coptic cairo, the ancient christian churches of cairo, remind me of my favorite pages in a book called the grammer of the ornament that i carried around with me for a year.

window-3

luminescent inside of the church.

lada-1

this is a lada.  i am in love with this car.  it looks badass and plush. perhaps from yugoslavia.  not that i would drive in this city.  today i was in a cab and had to hold my breath to not warn the cabdriver that he was about to run over someone.  not that he did.  of course not.

green-car

cute.  like a skittle.  that you find on the ground and look around to see if anyone is looking and then slip it into your mouth.  i could totally steal this car.

red-truck-11

cairo is one of the purest experiences of post modernism and hybridity i have had.  and of serge la touche’s description of the economy of the shipwrecked.  pick up trucks as folk art in the third world.  the middle aged hijabi getting in the passenger door.  and the ancient coptic churches in the background. it is all a strange mismatched world.  nothing stays in its proper place.  i feel like at any moment the ground could shift and buildings could disappear or new ones could emerge.  and everyone would just deal with it.

like this afternoon i was walking down the stairs of the apt building and a worker had set up a large ladder and tools and cement on the fourth floor stairs.  so i had to slip between the ladder and the wall.  without slipping on the water or the cement.  and then a couple of hours later i returned and the ladder and cement had moved to another floor.  and he invited me to walk under the ladder.  and up the stairs.

and i said ‘excuse me’ to him.

like the way that pro-palestinian activists and bloggers disappear here in cairo.  supposedly they harm the ‘egyptian economy’.  like diaa gad.  “Gad was seated at his computer working on his blog. His mother had just laid out lunch and his older sister was behind him studying for medical school. His phone rang, he walked outside, so as not to disturb his sister, and was jumped by four officers.”

like here is the new blog by philip rizk after the egyptian state shut down his old one: tabula gaza.

I was held for four days- blindfolded, handcuffed almost at all times. The psychological pressure was intense though at no point was I physically harmed. At the time of my arrest I was protesting the siege on Gaza. This is a criticism aimed primarily at Israel but also at other countries that support this siege including Egypt which keeps its borders sealed except for rare exceptions. My four days of imprisonment are nothing compared to the months and years of siege on Gaza, which is nothing else than forced imprisonment. The Gaza Strip is a different form of concentration camp. No Palestinian- whether students, the sick, businessmen and women- can travel beyond its borders and Israel permits only a very very few internationals to enter. These- mainly journalists and NGO workers like I used to be- remind me of zoo visitors that take pictures and talk about the terrible conditions of the animals in their cages but then leave, in the meantime Gaza remains the same. According to the UN 85% of Gazans are reliant on food aid, again like animals in a zoo they are fed and kept alive, but barely. Leaked reports from the Red Cross recently reported high percentages of malnutrition of children especially in the refugee camps- 70% of Gazans are refugees from 1948. The purpose of our protest march was and continues to be to raise awareness of the ongoing siege on Gaza building on the momentum of protest during the Israeli military onslaught on Gaza at the start of this year.

just finished reading the hours.  by michael cunningham.  gorgeous.  and the way that cunningham describes virginia woolf’s love of london, why she loves london, i could empathize.  because of my new found love of cairo.

it was also full of something not unlike what virginia wants from london, from life; it was full of a love complex and ravenous, ancient, neither his nor that…the elusive brightness that shines from the edges of certain dreams; the brightness which, when we awaken, is already fading from our minds, and which we rise in the hope of finding, perhaps today, this new day in which anything might happen, anything at all.

i was sitting outside this afternoon waiting for my teacher and stared at the light on the side of a dirty creme building. the color of vanilla, lemons, and thick panes of century-old glass.

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