Sunday, April 27, 2008

An occurence during Cairo night or perhaps morning.

I woke up. It was 3am. I was being to a ride my mosquitoes and alike. I tried to cuddle up in my bed. Right, then left, then centre, then centre-right. Nothing worked. I couldn’t fall back asleep. I closed my eyes and drifted off for awhile, before being abruptly awaken from my light slumber by a shrieky laughter that erupted for few seconds right in front of my door, which was left half-open by a breeze passing through.

I sat up, looked at my watch. 4:03am. The laughter was gone, so was its source. But I was awake, and I felt utterly thirsty – thirsty to the point that this time when I lay down again, my thoughts became pre-occupied with how dire was the need to quench my thirst. Somehow – I still don’t know how – I managed to nap for another 15 mins, during which time I had this passing, light-headed dreamlike imagery in my mind, which gave an impression that I was in some kind of a cell, struggling for water and was unable to get it. This dream or whatever you might call it, has exacerbated even further my need for a liquid. I went out of my room.

4am, Hotel Dahab, Downtown Cairo. Going out of my room, I came across a few acquaintances – foreigners – I have in the hotel – all of them looking as if it was a perfect time of the day to walk around with books in hands and do some intellectually challenging work. One of them addressed me with “Good morning, or good night – not sure which one applies to you because one never knows when you come and go.” It brought a smile to my face and a realization to my mind. Realization that the unpredictability and intensiveness of my working days as well as my hotel-in hotel-out schedule brought much air of mystery and blur around my persona and work.

Further ahead, at the reception of the hostel, I saw another four familiar faces. This time, all locals, Egyptians, some working in the hostel and some of their friends, permanently at the hostel, dwelling on the Internet and entertaining themselves and hostel guests. They all looked shining and fresh, again leaving a somewhat misleading impression that this was a perfectly normal time of the day to be awake, smiling and making noisy and funny conversations.

They invited me to sit with them. I told I had to go get water and then I would join them. Being polite – in terms of social etiquette and politeness in particular, I would rank Egypt among the lowest of all the countries I have heard of or been to – I asked whether they wanted something to drink. They did. I went downstairs, being told in advance that the 24-hour shop was closed – what the heck. In vicinity, there was only one kiosk open, but it wasn’t the few minutes I spent walking towards it, which enchanted me. It was the fact that I saw Cairo, for the first time in eight month, rather empty. Emptiness, serenity, calm – words that appeared to me then. I felt like sitting in the middle of a rather large street, totally devoid of its usual traffic, and meditating. I couldn’t. My physiological needs prevailed – cheers Maslow.

I bought water and Pepsi. I came back and found my Egyptian friends in the same good mood I left them in. I made them even happier with what I bought for them. I then came back to my room, after inquiring at what time the sunrise was supposed to be – around 6am I was told and being on top of the building, 8th floor, would make it a spectacular view.

I finished the Pepsi can in quick gulps. I then started the water bottle but was unable to se its bottom. Now what? I realized I wanted to write about this rather insignificant, banal, daily occurrence that many other perhaps experience throughout their weeks and months in many other parts of the world. A normal thing. Wake up in the middle of night and do something. I nonetheless wanted to write.

I turned on my computer. I discovered very recently a very impressive Web2.0 site, having same objective but thousand-fold better in design, style, quality and functionality than Youtube – Grooveshark. I turned it on, putting few songs into my playlist – “Is It You” by Cassie Ventura (from Step Up 2), “Bleed It Out” by Linkin Park, “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne and started writing. And here I am at the end of what I intended to write.

Have a good night Cairo, or rather good morning! It is impossible to say which. Cairo is a city, which never sleeps, and so are those who live and blend into its ambiance, body, spirit.

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