So now it’s March. 9am, and I have Her on the telly, with Joachin Phoenix. Interesting movie. I’m nursing a minor injury — nothing serious — from stepping off on the wrong foot, as it were, and misjudging the steps outside. This is what happens when you have Graves’ Eye disease. Because my eyes are not perfectly aligned any more, I have tremendous issues with depth perception; this was exacerbated by the blinding morning sunlight. I fell forward, but was able to break the fall using a jujitsu technique I learned in my youth, in the judo training that used to be behind the then new pool at the Gezira Sporting Club from an instructor named Mamdouh, who, alas, ended up committing suicide. It’s nothing serious; nothing broken, not the Mamdouh thing of course, just a scrape really, just the Egyptian mango blues.
I am starting to realize that not much time’s left. In two weeks, I will be moving to the new villa, and then that for less than 30 days. I’m not looking forward to returning to the US in April. Someone said to me yesterday people are so lucky in Europe and America, they can move around; here, we’re stuck. I said you can go to Arab countries, though, I said; I said, you should go to Oman, where there is plenty of felouss and the land is beautiful.
Apart from a sense of overly facile possibility in that statement — my interlocutor said to me, ricanant, oh yes and how shall I get there, by camel? — here we talk about Arab lands, Arab countries, Arab people, how could we sell or give any of it away, even the Empty Quarters, how could we not want what we lost, how can we allow ourselves to turn into traitors, how can we ever abandon who we are, here, where the word Arab is not some insult, where this is a piece of the planet that is ours, where we locute the same language, using intonations that unmistakably stamp us as being uninterpolatedly Arab, as we stab each other in the back, here, where we speak it with a celerity that affrangis can never assume, where we all have the same wild dreams of being migrants floating like rats on gimcrack rafts on a troubled, dangerous sea.
In the end, everything in Egypt is about a forceful conversation, spoken in hybrid, often disingenuous Arabic, my wished for language that, if truth be told, I never spoke well — not as well as English, anyway, yet I can still surprise native Alexandrines by speaking in overly authentic, Shmendrik detail of the old San Stefano ceema, now replaced by a glitzy shopping mall afoot a vacant Four Seasons monstrosity.
I have lived in sketchy Florida for nearly 16 years and did not have a single real friend; here I have friends, just not ones from the past, as I thought would be the case, but new ones, from a life that is being lived in the present.
People here all know me now by name. When I go to a restaurant or get on the bus or just walk around في الشارع people greet me. They shake my hand. They pronounce my name the way it is supposed to be pronounced, and even add the honorific Bey as an unsilent but deadly shank. And in their saying it, I exist, again, after 50 years. I am part and parcel now of an Egyptian town, the way it was when everyone in Zamalek knew me by name as a boy, and that was my place, my home, my irreplaceable country.
Well Her just ended with a bit of a lame thud, but it’s one of those super bright movies and Rooney Mara as always looks stunning.
Yesterday I watched the vile piece of shit known as The Donald — you know, the Russian-bought piece of sub-human feces (okay, I am vastly exaggerating , but this is, after all , the Internet) now occupying the White Whorehouse who calls himself “President” — conduct some bogus listening session with various senators about gun control. Why these people agree to even be in the same room with this corrupt pig is beyond me. I didn’t watch long but it may be a real moment if they ban assault weapons. Won’t happen due to the American obsession with metallic penii, their pathetic substitute for the real thing.
I am really losing a lot of weight now. Despite the fall outside (again, nothing serious: but I was glad I had some Listerine left to disinfect the wounds) I was lucky not to crack my wrist; thanks to my wife for leaving me a bottle of vitamin D3, which has strengthened my bones. With my hair much shorter than when I arrived, and with the jowls beginning to melt away, most people who now know me here cannot believe I am 66 — or so they tell me.
One good thing about the weight loss is the moob situation. I was worried that it was some girly hormonal thing, but finally my chest is becoming normal again: it was just fat, and the push ups by the pool have really helped. I look younger, and I walk faster now; it reminds me how I used to walk, when there was a time when no one could overtake me on the streets of Manhattan, and then came the time when everyone did. Well, back to ma démarche américaine. at long last
I’m even IDing myself in the passing reflection of shop windows; in September in Nice 6 months ago, I didn’t recognize that fat old American fuck that was me en passant; welcome back, old man. Nice to see you again.