November 22. The Egyptian museum.

Beans for breakfast, sugary tea, and bread. I enjoy being the only foreigner here and take my time before I say goodbye to the friendly staff and walk around in Cairo. At first I try to use the tourist map but its scale and German street names only complicate things. Just walk around, just breath the air the millions breath here. Randomly enter a teahouse and sit down for a moment, smiling at the men as they indulge in their narguilas or clamorously play their cards. Veiled women pass by on the street, merchants shout, cars claxon their way through traffic. What is the fingerprint of a city?

I get back on the tourist track and have my bag checked at the Egyptian museum. I am granted student discount and walk in happily. There are some 160,000 items in the museum according to a man that offers me his services as a guide. No thanks, I kind of just wanna feel the stones and vases and marbels and pottery and tombs without explanatory interference. And I see some amazing objects there that make me go wow. Tutanchamon’s tomb and all the gold, beautiful figurines readily put in a vitrine with a sign “Gods” above it, chariots with fixed axes and golden embellishments, steles with mysterious texts on them, flint knives, sfinx models, jewellery with feldspar, sapphire, opal, jade, emerald, amethyst and what have you, royal scepters, flails, chunks of marble, statues of Ramses both ans human and as God standing 30 feet tall, mummies with and without golden masks, 4000 year old diapers, and on and on. I enjoy the museum a lot. Outside I see a very conservative woman, or rather I merely get a glimpse of her dark brown eyes as she is completely covered in a black burka. Then I am distracted by two Russian women, or admittedly, their almost uncovered behinds. They were just walking there, taking pictures of each other and attracting the attention of many men. Quite a contrast, I tell you, and it would have been nice to catch both of them in a photo but that doesn’t work out.

After the museum I look for the bus station for an overnight ride to Gaza. There is no such thing and I have to come back tomorrow. I manage to call my friend Mohamed and we spend the evening together. Tomorrow I’ll try to enter the Gaza strip, document what I see, and do something good.

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Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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