What’s in a street name? A Cairo guidebook explains

Updated 26 September 2018
0

What’s in a street name? A Cairo guidebook explains

  • This guidebook is anything but ordinary
  • A visit to Cairo is a trip through the ages

BEIRUT: Cairo, sometimes called the City of a Thousand Minarets or Mother of the World, has grown into a megalopolis unlike any other. A visit to Cairo is a trip through the ages — from the immutable pyramids to the humongous medieval open mall in Khan Al-Khalili and right up to the 19th century under the rule of Ismail Pasha, the khedive of Egypt and Sudan. He stressed the importance of urban planning and transformed Downtown Cairo into a bastion of fashion and elegance known as “Paris on the Nile.”
This “Field Guide to the Street Names of Central Cairo,” by Humphrey Davies and Lesley Lababidi, may seem like a typical guidebook, yet it is anything but ordinary. The authors’ singular passion for Cairo provided them with the inspiration and resilience to uncover the truth behind the frequent renaming of the city streets and the plethora or absence of street signs.
“Street signs are missing, or damaged, or concealed behind storefronts. More remarkably, signs bearing different names sometimes appear on the same street. This may be due partly to the fact that signs can be ordered by private citizens from specialized hardware stores,” write Humphrey and Lababidi.
Tourists will, without a doubt, find this handbook terribly useful as they roam through Central Cairo across the picturesque Zamalek, Garden City or Munira. However, this guide has been written especially for the true, unconditional lovers of Cairo.
Not everyone loves this city, and not anyone can love this city. To love Cairo is to see the unseen. To love Cairo is to grasp that intangible and elusive quality of time, where the past drifts into the present and the present lingers in the past.
In the ever-changing light of the day, between past, present and future, this multi-layered city gives you a glimpse of eternity. This precious little book rekindles memories and brings to life the forgotten streets, lanes, alleys and passageways of Central Cairo.


What We Are Reading Today: The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax

Updated 17 June 2019
0

What We Are Reading Today: The Dreamt Land by Mark Arax

  • The Dreamt Land weaves reportage, history, and memoir to confront the “golden state” myth in riveting fashion

California-style agriculture has created one of the most unequal societies on earth because extensive irrigation requires large corporations with deep pockets, says Mark Arax, author of The Dreamt Land.

The Dreamt Land weaves reportage, history, and memoir to confront the “golden state” myth in riveting fashion. 

“Arax is persistent and tough as he treks from desert to delta, mountain to valley. What he finds is hard earned, awe-inspiring, tragic and revelatory. In the end, his compassion for the land becomes an elegy to the dream that created California and now threatens to undo it,” said a review in goodreads.com. “It is a beautifully written book and one that lots of people ought to be required to read,” the review said.

Critic Gary Krist says in a review for The New York Times: “Granted, there are times when The Dreamt Land feels overstuffed and chaotically organized, as if Arax decided to include every relevant newspaper feature he’s ever proposed to an editor. But I suspect that few other journalists could have written a book as personal and authoritative.”