Thursday, March 02, 2006


There's nothing quite like the sound of Fairouz's warm and playful ode to the Alexandria beachfront. "Shatt Iskindiriyya" beckons the listless and uninspired, sparking ingenuity, buoyed spirits, renewed focus. There's nothing like the expansiveness that comes with strolling the Corniche, staring at the medley of colours at Anfoushy, the stillness of the water at Midan al-Manshiyya, the crazy waves at Stanley and San Stefano, the remoteness of Mandara, the antique streets of l'Ibrahimiyya, the stench of Bakus, the propriety of Mostafa Kamel.

Alexandria is mint tea in an ahwa on a windswept winter's evening, the magic colours of Abu Qir, the crowds in Zanqet el-Settat, the oasis that is the Mahmoud Said museum in Gianaclis. Alexandria is the incomparable shorbet 'ads at Mohammad Ahmed, fresh-squeezed orange juice from the antique juicer at Tony, and over-sweet cappuccino at the run-down but still charming Elite. Alexandria is watching the sunset from the balcony of Dar al-Ma'aref on Saad Zaghloul street. Alexandria is beauty, Alexandria is life.

For the patient keeper of the Arboreal Annals.

*Painting is Mahmoud Said’s “Storm on the Corniche” (1941).