[An abandoned 1940s cinema in Abbaseya]
Buildings are not disposable, most of the time at least. Except many of Cairo’s new buildings in the center and periphery of the city, particularly the new breed of “villas” which are not villas nor apartment buildings but an ambiguous third kind, seem…
Referring to Koubry Abbass as a bridge, undermines the social function that it provides. Depending on the time and day the scene changes drastically. In the early morning, a young man is jogging, and two energetic ladies are walking with rosaries in their hands. In the mean time a few school buses pass leaving a trail of exhaust spoiling the morning fresh air. At Noon, Abbass is a naughty young fellow. High school boys thrive on verbally harassing ladies. Kids run around showing off mobile phones and pausing for a picture. In the hot summers, they might be tempted to take a dip in the Nile. Thursday night, is the peak time for the romantic couples to walk hand in hand, steal a kiss, and whisper enthusiastically. On Friday evenings , Abbass becomes an official promenade for families , a strategic spot for amateur fishermen, and a place to hang out with friends no matter what age you are. Abbass invites you to sip tea, to savor grilled corn, to entertain on termess and munch popcorn. The snacks demand change upon weather season and the mood of the scene.
It is a place of mixed emotions, where Caireans come to meditate and celebrate. No scene is more apologetic than a man staring down at the Nile deep in thought. But then the meditation is interrupted when the wedding zaffa drums along with cheerful and loud music. The crowd then disappears at the Rodah shore for a felouka ride, dancing the night along the river.
The 2m wide pavement is an interchangeable route where man and auto unite. When the road is jammed, motorcycles beep their way through the pedestrians. The car parks with its doors opened complementing the two plastic chairs with a seating for the rest of the family. The blaring speakers provide a piercing DG adding on to the street music.
A cafe, a terrace, a loveseat, a park, a circus -but not a bridge - is how I think of Abbass when I am walking my way home.