21 November 2009

a few days later

A few days later and I'm still thinking about shoes.  There are 5,000 riot police down the street from my apartment, making it impossible to go anywhere (read about it in the new york times!) - the football rivalry between Egypt and Algeria is now playing out on my doorstep, and I have glass stuck in the soles of my shoes from the broken shop windows.  The cat is curled up on one of my ugly green pillows (rococo gone asian, if that's possible), and I'm listening to "Electrocutango".

I wish I was in Alexandria, having a coffee at Pastroudis.

...  But they closed Pastroudis, one of the most famous literary cafes in Egypt (opened by a Greek in 1926), made famous & alive by the characters of Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet.  The manager just died, and an Egyptian chain restaurant bought it out.  No one thought to save it.  Why?  Because no one even knew it was important.  

Can you imagine Starbucks buying out Les Deux Magots in Paris??  This is modern Egypt.  No one knows, no one cares - and I can say this honestly about the things which make up Egypt's artistic and intellectual history.  Egypt has a legacy more immense than any other country in the world -- but the people of Egypt are no longer bearing witness.   



Joli said...

That is sad to hear.

T J Sawyer said...

I spent the better part of an hour looking for Pastoudis today! Wish I had found your post earlier.

Your comment "no one knows, no one cares" is so appropriate. The legacy is amazing but unappreciated locally.

BTW, your link to the NYT now appears broken. I had read one article in the Times about the issue but it seemed very one-sided versus what my friends here in Egypt told me. The more recent report at the Boston Globe (http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2010/01/27/egypt_sets_aside_algeria_row_before_soccer_match/) sounded more consistent with what I heard.

Nonetheless, my two favorite teams remain the Pharaohs and "whoever is playing Algeria."

juju ariel said...

mr. sawyer -
it's true, and it breaks my heart to think that this historic place is gone forever (well, living only now in the pages of literature, where it got most of its life anyway)...

The Egypt/Algeria riots were such a mess, by the end i didn't know who or what to believe.

Hope you're well in alexandria; can be a rough place, especially for those searching for pastroudis!