12 December 2009

the cavafy house, alexandria

I took this video in the Cavafy House in Alexandria last month.  The sound in the background is the afternoon prayer.  The house is on Rue Lespius downtown.  Old Alexandria...  This, I believe, is one of his best poems.

The City
You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried as though it were something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I happen to look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you. You will walk
the same streets, grow old in the same neighborhoods,
will turn gray in these same houses.
You will always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there is no ship for you, there is no road.
As you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere else in the world.

It has been established in related circles that Constantin P. Cavafy was one of the greatest Greek poets who ever lived, and we were lucky enough to have him narrate a bit of his 20th century for us...  When I read this poem I always think about Cairo and Alexandria, about Egypt, and how I came here to study - not to study - but to be a part of this country which still seems so important to me.  I couldn't tell you why, exactly, because I don't care about the things that most people talk about when they talk about Egypt.  I suppose it's best described by the feeling one can get by a corner in a room with a table, an ashtray, a candle.  A river that goes on forever...  Or an image from a book, a woman waiting by the shores of the Mediterranean, eating an apple and reading a newspaper, or a secret message that was once written on a page that's been torn out. 

...  How can you explain to someone over a coffee that this is Egypt?  Not even the tall minarets or the highways or the look in a poor man's eye, no.  Egypt is a fantasy corrupted by 4,000 years of human tragedy.  Which is why, even in the dirt, I will always call this place home.

11 December 2009

waiting for you, just waiting... can't you see i'm waiting for you?

Still waiting on my shoes... I've been reluctant to post because I have no recent pictures from the milongas and no shoes to speak of.  There was a great milonga on Saturday at Bian Caffé - all of the dancers in Cairo were there, which was nice, because it seems like the community is coming together rather than dividing itself into different "tango camps."  (Sometimes I speak too soon) 

I just got some great music and tango videos from various places in Berlin and Sharm el-Sheikh from Bassem Youssef, but what I'm really going crazy over right now is an opera recording by Erika Köth, who, I swear, is the best opera singer I've ever heard.  Normally I find Die Zauberflöte a bit trite and painful to listen to (and opera in general, actually), but I have been addicted to this recording ever since a friend brought it from Germany for me.  I would post a photo, but my life is too horrifyingly busy right now to do a nice set-up... I'll have to post on it later. 

Cross your fingers, my shoes are coming Tuesday.