Cairo Time and Tram Lines

Time for Mahfouz is a constant theme, in the opening chapter of Midaq Alley we hear hara-1Kirsha argue in favour of the instillation of a radio leaving the poet without a venue to recite his stories, “everything has changed” insisted Kirsha.

The tram lines seen here along Sharia Port Said are, like the coffee shop poets, a thing of the past, the trams would rumble over the junction coming from Sayyida Zeinab often with small boys hanging from the last carriage.

In the name of progress and to help alleviate Cairo’s ever increasing traffic chaos they were ripped up to make way for more cars and buses.

 

 

 

From my El-Hara project.

El-Hara was a project inspired by the works of Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, shot sometime ago on a couple of crusty old Nikons and pockets full of TriX.

I was lucky enough to meet Mahfouz and the project has been exhibited in a few countries, I will post some more from the series in due course.

Prints Available to Purchase

Cairo Cops

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Eating my breakfast several floors up I watched the two policemen going about their business of guarding the tourists flocking to be fleeced in the Khan El Khalili bazaar, personally I have always felt a policeman should cut an imposing figure, but this pair were holding hands and gazing into each others eyes as though Cupids gold tipped arrow had only just pierced the constabulary tunic.

I finished my hearty boiled egg and jam roll, had a second cup of tea then wandered down to my room to pick up my camera, I feel photography should never be rushed, like law enforcement, when I returned to the restaurant the couple were still absorbed in each other, the square below was quite noisy as usual but I swear I heard the guttural strains of an Egyptian love song.

I had more than enough time to compose my shot and rattle off a couple of frames.

 

From my El-Hara project.

El-Hara was a project inspired by the works of Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, shot sometime ago on a couple of crusty old Nikons and pockets full of TriX.

I was lucky enough to meet Mahfouz and the project has been exhibited in a few countries, I will post some more from the series in due course.

Prints Available to Purchase

Cairo Hara Tea Boy

My friend Gomer had some business to attend to and asked if I wanted to tag along, we set off along a side street from Darb al Ahmar and meandered through the alleys, we climbed a low wall and threaded our way carefully through a smoldering rubbish tip, I wasn’t sure what Gomer’s business was but it didn’t seem like a meeting with his bank manager.

In fact our destination soon became clear as we entered a car repair workshop, the alley didn’t seem wide enough to get a car along it, I sat in a corner on an oil drum with a carpet thrown over it, there was a sheep tethered in the other corner, Gomer’s friend shouted along the alley for some tea.

The tea boy’s face looked kind and gentle and seemed out of place in the harsh depressing surroundings.

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El-Hara was a project inspired by the works of Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, shot sometime ago on a couple of crusty old Nikons and pockets full of TriX.

I was lucky enough to meet Mahfouz and the project has been exhibited in a few countries, I will post some more from the series in due course.

Revolt in Syria Eye-Witness To The Uprising By Stephen Starr

Revolt in Syria Eye-Witness To The Uprising By Stephen Starr

Syria is once again the focus of the worlds media, a bloody conflict that has raged for two and a half years, the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime has been splashed over the front pages of every newspaper from Abu Dhabi to Aberdeen, expert analysis on every channel.
So now we all know Syria, we all know the awful atrocities committed by both side, the evil dictator and bearded Jihadi nutters, neither side gaining much in the way of sympathy.
I don’t see the Syria I lived in for ten years and I hear little understanding of the roots of the crisis.
So perhaps its time to recommend some enlightened reading on the subject.
Stephen Starr is a good friend and has written probably one of the most important books on Syria, he lived and worked in Damascus for the best part of five years and the book reflects his understanding of Syrian society during the beginning of the revolution, not written from a squeaky leather chair in academia but from the streets of Damascus.
Am in good company when I recommend it:

Noam Chomsky: “This searching inquiry is painful reading, but urgent for those who hope to understand what lies behind the shocking events in Syria, what the prospects might be, and what outsiders can and cannot do to mitigate the immense suffering as a country so rich in history and promise careens towards disaster”

Syria expert Patrick Seale: “Stephen Starr’s four year stay in Syria as a sharp-eyed freelance journalist has given him unusual assets an uncommon knowledge of daily life in Damascus”

“Revolt in Syria is a must read for anyone interested in the causes and course of the Syrian uprising. Stephen Starr plums the religious and class divisions of Syria with a keen eye for personal anecdote and broad truths. What is more, he entertains as he instructs; his prose is lively and his conversations are filled with insight and startling revelations” – Joshua Landis.

Fergal Keane, BBC: “Stephen Starr had a unique vantage point as Syria’s revolution unfolded. Written with insight and verve his book is essential reading for anybody interested in Syria”

Robin Yassin-Kassab: “Starr’s analysis is precise and well-informed – he offers useful summaries and contextualisations of Syria’s class cleavages, the fears and hopes of its ethnic and sectarian minorities, and the urban rural divide – but the book’s foremost strengths are its eyewitness reporting and the space given to ordinary Syrians, in all their variety, to speak. This account, therefore, has the texture and the drama of a genuine inside view.”

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Stephen Starr now covering the region from Istanbul