Adam Lichtenheld
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March 28, 2009 @ 2:11 PM | Permalink

Long Thursday night walk home, and the pressure was building up, the kind you're desperate to unload over the bridge, watch it hit the chilly waters of the Nile and float away to the Sea. I was looking over the side when a little kid tugged on my sleeve and tried to sell me Kleenex. I gave him a pound and told him to go away, turning back to weave through the Cairo traffic, barely avoiding the horse-and-carriages and their unnecessarily loud music. Back at home I took refuge in the shower, cleansing my body and trying to cleanse my conscience, hot needles slicing through my skin and letting my mind wander, and wander.

In the middle of shaving I got the call: "Horreya, 45 minutes." My clothes were barely on before I was out the door and in a cab, trying to ask the driver if he thought another sandstorm was brewing. Once downtown and in my adopted sanctuary, I gathered around familiar company and basha was quick to put a Stella and termes in front of me. I tried to ignore the dude who told me he'd put me in an Egyptian movie for 70 pounds a day, or about the equivolent of 16 U.S. cents per hour. A little while later I got another call; the night's locale would be a yuppy club on the shores of the river. I guess, but in 20 minutes they'd start charging cover. Fawzy had us there in 10.

Though my t-shirt was acceptable, "Shim-shimak, oostaz". Your sandals, sir. It's against the door policy. I started to laugh ("they're Ugandan, man; we're all friends here"), then realized they wouldn't compromise. But neither would I. A friend came from downstairs with a jacket hiding something; in the hotel lobby, I changed into tennis shoes and walked through the club entrance, giving the head bouncer a sarcastic smile the entire time. Checkmate. Once downstairs I gave the shoeless man his merchandise back and slid my feet into the comfort of my own, sliding around the bar to the awful techno beat rattling the mirrored walls, trying hard to avoid the sketchy Europeans in the corner. Two hours later would see me exit the venue, sandals on, having not spent a dime yet proven my worth as an unyielding force on the dance floor. The night still young, Osama, Fawzy and I headed to a cafe and celebrated our victory.


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