by Katra Ziyad
In "Old Thousand and One Stories" there is a description of Cairo: "He who hath not seen Cairo hath not seen the world: her soil is gold, her Nile is a marvel; her women are like the black-eyed hours of Paradise; her houses are palaces; and her air is soft, more odorous than aloes-wood, rejoicing the heart. And how can Cairo be otherwise when she is the Mother of the World?”
Of course, as most huge cities of the world, Cairo's air is not so soft these days, but it is improving. There are palaces still, the soil still produces lush vegetation, and the river Nile never ceases to inspire me. The women are wondrous, with beauty as mysterious and charming as the old thousand and one stories. Cairo is older now, yet she remains a city cloaked in excitement and mystery, dark secrets and bright celebrations. She is a city that often mixes the many cultures of the world with the many ages of the world.
I have walked her alleyways, her living cemeteries, her markets and I have explored her poor underbelly, as well as her grand and sparkling avenues. All the while I feared no evil, because there was none. Mostly only gracious Egyptians who seem, more often than not excited by the sight of a stranger, curious, just like their beloved cats. I am welcomed, enchanted and it is beyond my understanding how anyone cannot fall desperately in love with this city and its people.
I know I shall never completely know Cairo. It is too deep, too full of adventures. I suspect even the Egyptians themselves may never fully know this sprawling city of operas and pyramids, glass towers and medieval tunnels, ancient churches and modern cell phones. But what little I do know is that those who never visit Cairo, will never know the world.
Katra can be found on instagram under @katraziyad