Gilded Serpent presents...
FLASH FROM CAIRO-
by Fred Glick
Now for those
of you reading this from the Bay area, or even New York City,
that may not sound so exciting, but when you live on the edge
of a vast desert AND you were out of town for the years
only previous rainfall, its a big deal.
Cairo is a
wonderful city, but it is brown. Theres no denying it,
the city is brown. The buildings are painted light brown, and
with time (well, not really so much time) they develop a generous
patina of, yes, a darker brown. Ive heard tell of parks,
but I havent ever actually seen one. And there are a few
trees, even on my downtown street, but they too have a distinctly
think lush green fields. Think Egypt, think brown, think sand.
Not that this
one rain is going to make the desert bloom. Nor the streets.
But it did manage to wash a bit of the grime out of the air,
off the buildings, off the beleaguered trees.
More than anything
though, its the novelty of it. Like a snow storm in Southern
California, it catches people unawares and at one oclock
in the morning, cars were moving down my street at five miles
per hour, afraid of the rain. People were scurrying across from
one overhang to the next with their heads wrapped in plastic
bags. And a few young couples were out splashing through the
As for myself,
I didnt even recognise the sound of it. I thought, those
damn cats must REALLY be going through the garbage tonight. But
once I saw what it was, I rushed to the front balcony to watch,
and smell, the rain coming down.
rare poetry, my dictionary defines exotic as having the
charm of the unfamiliar; strikingly and intriguingly unusual
Rain in the
call to prayer, bustling souqs and the constant reminders that
everything, from the continuing supply of water to the arrival
of the taxi at my destination, is at the pleasure of Allah. These
are not the exotic, they are the noise outside my window everyday,
the place I buy my vegetables, a common refrain to the discussion
of an event that has yet to occur: inshalla.
But a well-stocked
supermarket, orderly traffic, gardens, these are striking to
me, intriguing. My family wonders why I spend so much time at
the supermarket when I come for a visit; why when I first arrive
in the US I dont want to drive; why I carry plants back
with me in my luggage.
to carry the exotic home with us, so we can enjoy it everyday.
But like the hothouse flower, or the tarragon on my Cairo
balcony, it is only with great care and trickery that we
make the exotic take root where it does not belong. More
often than not, we fail; but when we succeed, the exotic
becomes a little less so.
the rain is gone. There are a few wet gutters, a puddle here
and there, but the whole event was an aberration. Unusual, unfamiliar,
and yes, even beautiful.
(c) 2000 by