Heads and/or Shoulders in Cairo
[The following exchange is taken from mindbleed, the blogging home of Dumb North African. It begins with the eighth in a series of comments on his post hez ya wez.]
So may I assume that you left your diaspora and are back to Egypt for good? Though I think that Egypt is the biggest diaspora for Egyptians!
comment by M — Saturday 9.09.2006 #
No, not back in Egypt yet, but it’s inevitable. Egypt - and going back - is like dandruff. If you don’t look hard enough, you’ll forget about it, but it’s still there. And there’s no long-term cure, just “shampoo.”
‘And there’s no long-term cure, just “shampoo.”’
damn. i’m a big sucker for mil akher-isms and this is a good one. i’d written a longer comment but it got a bitt too long and i realised this was actually your blog not mine so i thought i’d better take it and just post it on my own blog. as we say, el wa7ed mabye3rafsh el kheir byeegi menin. 3ammatan eshta, i expect to be using your phrase at parties, with relatives and/or in taxi cabs law mafeesh mane3. merci moqadaman.
Please feel free to post long unreasonable comments because they compensate for my blog’ recent lack of substantial content.
eshta. even though my blog could do with the same.
so what i was going go to say was that the whole ‘no long term cure, just shampoo’ thing reminded me of something my friend H once said. we were driving (on the 15th May bridge coming from midan libnan, exiting onto gezira, heading for kasr el nil bridge and downtown) and he had just smoked up and was talking about how pleasant he felt and how hash just made cairo so much better. he continued with the claim that living in cairo provides a totally legitimate excuse for ta7sheesh, and that ta7sheesh actually makes life here better. he added that it wasn’t the escapism or the numbing effect (which it typically doesn’t really have, the numbness is more a pharmaceuticals [kemya] thing) but more the way hash helps you play with the city and with its crap, how it helps make you pateint, appreciative and unfazed(sp?) all at the same time, ultimately granting you access to it’s good stuff (vibes, details, etc.). he then said that if you live in cairo and you want to do it right and really get into the marrow of things and find harmony, ‘yat7ashesh yatmasheeha 3ebada w baraka’ (either get high or tap into the spiritual thing). he pointed out that within our extended shella in cairo, those who were most at peace were either stoners or they systematically nourished their spirits through religious practice. interestingly, just as kemya makes for a sort of rejectionary, darker, more grim relationship with the city while hash keeps things generally jolly and a tad more lucid, there seem to be two similarly different sorts of religiosity. the first, the kemya kind is dark, resentful of this life, slapping religion onto life like petrol on a tree stump, seemingly looking to death and the afterlife as a sort of getting back at the shit hand one’s dealt in this life. it’s adherents seem to jar with the world and with other people who aren’t like them and they don’t come off as being particularly concerned with beauty. the other sort of religiosity is a funkier more mystical sort that sees this life as being littered with tricks and mysteries and providence and pockets of grace and much to nourish the spirit. this kind of religiosity is also big in cairo, it’s like the religiosity of laid back people who are religious because they have faith that actually engages and enriches and does not sedate them or demonise life. This is the religiosity that H was talking about–that old-cairo, moulid, azhar lectures, saintly strangers vibe that’s so rich and there for the taking here. him, he swings between that and the hash and doesn’t seem too bothered by it. it just occured to me that two other spiritually charged cities, marrakech in morocco and varanasi in india, also have a formidable hash-smoking culture. our other friend K, who at one time knew his psychoactives like the best of them and is now sudying to become a priest, once said that drugs are to spiritual practice what masturbation is to sex. i really liked that. in his defense i’ll presume he was talking about abrahamic religions, as i think he’d agree that traditional indigenous spiritual systems seem to know how to work the drug thing properly.
so… this is to say my friend H said that in cairo hash-smoking and/or spiritual practice are the way to go–they are his example of shampoo, if i understood you correctly. ramadan kareem.
You REALLY should post that on your blog. Better yet, tell H to start up his own blog.
Familiar ideas, but it’s nice seeing them described so well. And yes, ’shampoo’ was the executive summary of all of that. Ramadan kareem to you too.
thanks for your compliment, i will post. H wouldn’t blog. he lives in america now. he’s happy but wants to come back. ciao.