Saturday, 29 January 2011
Cairo, present days
I’ve been watching, compulsively, the live coverage on Al Jazeera. A long time ago I lived in Cairo for three years, three formative years. I taught in a language school (everyone accepted that in many of the classes there’d be an undercover policeman, keeping an eye on his fellow students, keeping an eye on me). The Egyptian people were welcoming, generous, inventive, open, interested, fun-loving. I hardly slept. (My first poetry pamphlet I Letrasetted there and had copied and stapled by a back-street Armenian printer.) Now, on my computer screen, so many of the details are familiar: faces, clothes (it’s winter now in Egypt too), the gimcrack modern buildings and the gorgeous run-down old ones, the litter in the streets, the sheer press of people, people everywhere. (A discussion one day on the meaning of the English word ‘alone’, me claiming it was possible to be content, even happy when alone and they seeing only the meaning ‘lonely’.) Of course I worry that the outcome of the current events will be hijacked by hard-line religious or ideological factions, but in as much as it is possible to trust such an abstract entity as ‘the people’, I do trust the Egyptian people, whom I’ve known as enormously resourceful and fair-minded, and wish them every success.