Time is funny! Life; experiences, journeys, places, people and things get filtered into sensations, snippets, fragments, memory capsules frozen in time. The capsules have keys. Once unlocked, they transport us back to that time. Details and contours are blurred, but the sensations, the cellular memory, the non-conscious entity are very present. The keys are typically tastes, smells, faces, sensations, sounds or a combination of those.
Alexandria, in my mind, is locked up in the simple pleasures of my childhood: the taste of char grilled corn. Sand on my toes. Sea breeze on my face. Om Kalthoum’s and Abdel Halim’s songs, meeting a childhood friend, my family’s delicious cooking and rice pudding with ice cream and nuts from “Saber” in Ibrahimeyya. When I feel estranged in today’s Alexandria, because it has changed a lot, I try to unlock my memory capsules and touch my childhood. Shapes and faces change, but hearts and souls are eternal.
The sweet memory capsules keep me going for a while. Eventually, reality wins. I realize that what was, is not and cannot be here again. Distractions eventually fail.
I am in a big crowded, polluted, very noisy city. I have to go outside to see the sun because the tall buildings around us block the sun. When I walk, which is the only exercise I get, I dodge cars, scooters, garbage piles, potholes and water dripping from air conditioners and who-knows-what above. Traffic jams around the clock. The stench of car exhaust, garbage and cigarette smoke. The sounds of honking, yelling, traffic, call to prayers, loud music around the clock and other city life stresses. My body yearns for Nature. I want to see greenery. I want to touch grass, sand, bark or even Earth. But I’m surrounded by concrete, asphalt, metal and plastic. Entrapped in airconditioned rooms with TVs and radios blasting mind garbage around the clock. I have to escape.
I make my way to the Mediterranean Sea. I watch sea waves. Play with street cats. Eat char grilled corn. Feel the sea breeze on my face. Close my eyes, breathe deeply and enter my memory capsules. Eventually, I escape to the mother, Nature!
Goodbye Alexandria, with love!
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