6th October City

Crossing the Kasr el Nil Bridge that spans the Nile in central Cairo at eleven o’clock at night is like walking down 42nd Street in New York at rush hour, only more crowded. Cairo is the real city that never sleeps, and never more so than the current month of Ramadan, when Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and smoking from dawn to dusk and then pass the nighttime hours eating, smoking the shisha water pipe, and relaxing with friends and family. The streets are thronged: families having picnics on tiny patches of grass beside roaring four-lane roads; older men in serious conversation, smoking and playing backgammon in sidewalk cafes; groups of adolescent boys roaming around looking for adventure; and courting couples sitting chastely on park benches or standing together on bridges, whispering to each other and watching the lights of Cairo reflected on the water. [click to continue…]