Spring in Cairo lasts briefly. Just a few days back, I saw the Palash trees decked up like brides in bold red flowers. In fact, they painted the Nile nearly red as a long row of blooming Palash trees line the corniche. This week, however, most of these bold beauties were gone, and the sidewalks were scattered with ruby coloured large flowers. I picked a few of them while getting Akash from the kindergarten and mused over the fleeting spring days. The feel of the large waxy petals in my hands made me realise that this too will be gone by next week and so, I decided to capture the essence of Cairo spring while it lasted.
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Cairo spring for the city’s wealthy
The idea turned out to be a brilliant one since it took me all over the Gezira island where we live and Zamalek being the embassy (and expat) area was full of lovingly planted flowering trees. Walking down the shady lanes filled with beautiful mansions brought about a deep sense of longing for my own city of Kolkata in West Bengal, India, which has its fair share of grand crumbling buildings. Obvious remnants of a colonial past and erstwhile wealth, these buildings have seen better days. Despite their faded glory, their aura still remains immensely charming and when framed against a blue sky, blooming spring flowers and trotting horse carriages, they create stunning images.
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You do not need money to enjoy a Cairo spring day
Maybe it is the spring fever or the gladness that Cairo’s bitterly cold, sandy winter is finally over, I took my season exploration out of Gezira island. The old city of Cairo in Egypt being quite expansive, I stuck to the Al-Azhar park area with photo walks down the residential lanes. Tarek took me to the narrow winding lanes, which he knew like the back of his hand and they turned out to hidden gems for awesome street photo moments. Being a congested area of the city’s teeming ‘have-nots’ Cairo spring does not change the landscape much, though the balmy weather makes the days more pleasant. So, while garbage piles grow higher in front of really old exquisite historical monuments, men with donkey carts sell colourful seasonal vegetables in a sing-song voice.
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Cairo spring in the area of the have-nots
The Old city wall throws deep shadows on strings of glittering flyers used for wedding parties and children play in temporary small carnivals. Bent old men crank up the speed of small metallic merry go rounds by hand and swings fly higher as children squeal with joy. Old women smile as we walk by and shopkeepers offer us tea, as we take their photos. From every corner, small hole in the wall bakeries toss out loads of freshly baked local goodness called Aish Baladi and cyclist salesboys balancing enormous bamboo trays of bread on their heads whistle merrily. Curious veiled women peep from windows while drying the pungent garlic and they seem less offended when we take their pictures. That’s how spring affects people I guess and it is called the season of revival for a reason. It is beautiful to see that there are few soul-soothing joy which is available to the rich and poor alike and you do not need to have money to enjoy the loveliness of Cairo spring.
P.S – This blog post is part of the weekly series called the Cairo Chronicles. Every week, Maverickbird will take on a new theme, emotion, and beauty of an expat life in the exciting, maddening city of Cairo.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE