Reflections from a Cairo cab

AmericanPaki

I wait for less than a minute before a white taxi pulls up by my side. ‘Masr al-Gedīdah min fadlak,’ I tell the driver, sliding into the sun-warmed leather seat. I roll down the window, swig a thick gulp of air swollen with heat and smog, and sit in anticipation of the eight mile jaunt from the ex-pat haven of Zamalek to the buzzing district of Heliopolis.

I’m in Cairo on a work project, and I brace myself for the daily commute in the notorious Cairene traffic. We begin well. To my right sprawls the Opera House with its seven theatres built in the late 1980s. The city’s former nineteenth century opera house, which staged the first ever performance of Verdi’s Aida, was entirely destroyed in a fire. I imagine the ghostly soprano voices resonating within its former grandeur – the building was intended to be an enduring symbol…

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