By SARA SALEH
My 95 year old grandmother has been on my mind a lot lately. She lives in Egypt, and has for a good 94 of those 95 years.
“Civilisation started here,” she used to say to me proudly, pointing at the mighty Pyramids.
“It’s not called ‘mother of the world’ for no reason,” she would say, repeating the common Arabic saying.
And yet here we are, watching as the world calls civilisation ‘crumbled’.
Seeing the footage of the streets of Cairo on Sunrise was extremely disheartening, but hearing Amnesty International’s researcher Diana Tahawy is what really painted the unforgettable picture.
I have never met Diana, but maybe it was the mixture of genuineness and distress in her voice that made me feel instantly connected as she referred to names and places I knew…I could see present-day Cairo through her eyes.
The colourful city of Cairo
These past few weeks, Cairo has been referred to as total chaos, a battle zone, a besieged city – defeated.
But to millions, including my grandmother, it’s home. And to me, one of the most alive and colourful cities I know.
As Diana described the Cairo streets as once bustling, I worried the Cairo I knew would quickly disappear, along with the memories I have of it.
I remember the crowds that swarmed the streets at all times of day – street vendors selling koshary (a local delicious pasta and rice dish), carts filled with watermelon rolling alongside the old jalopies, the street cafes that lined the alleyways filled with people watching popular Egyptian movies and TV shows (they called it the Hollywood of the Middle East).