Thursday, March 22, 2007

City of a Thousand Alleys

It never ceases to amaze me how Cairo is a city entirely turned in on itself. Almost everything here, and especially those things worth seeing, are tucked into alleys and hidden corners, and there is barely an inch of real estate that has not been multiplied into a whole constellation of uses: three-room hotels crammed into the same floor as a cleaner and a two-bit travel agency. Three or four cafes in the bottom floor of a crumbling apartment block, no less than a foot apart. God - or Allah - only knows how they don't compete each other out of business.

At the same time half of Cairo seems to be non-gainfully employed. I don't know how so many people just chill on the streets drinking tea and smoking. They must do something. Perhaps it's just the good old Third World "I'm being paid to watch this building...yep, building ain't going anywhere." Certainly there are a lot of bawabs, doormen, around, and a lot of them run little side business running errands and selling liquor or hash.

I'm leaving for Luxor tonight, so there will be pictures and stories when I return on Sunday. I was at the train station today, which was quite an experience. The Cairo train station is...something else.

On a weirder note, I got propositioned or hit on by no less than three men today. Very peculiar.

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