Cairo the victory city, from a guide’s point of view who made the 2011 Egyptian revolution (Tahir Square)

Ahmed (name of fantasy) maintains Cairo is in a very deep depression due to the black years after the 2011 Revolution. It’s disgraceful. It’s Muslim Brotherhood party and Morsi’s leadership fault, he says to me (he always talk to me, my wife is not considered even after I explain she is a post-doc, and I explain what a postdoc, and a PhD, are…). We are spending two nights as honey moon at Cairo and our tourist guide, Ahmed, is particularly happy to talk Italian. He actually haven’t worked in the last two years, and didn’t visit the places he used to work in as a guide (Pyramids and the Musuem for instance). Nor he made much more than watching Italian television (poor man, even though he believes it is better than the Spanish one!). He looks enthusiastic. He was an active man during the Tahir Square movements and unrest, wishing for a new Egypt. He considers himself a lefty man, but now many friends of his unfriended him over facebook, even harshly, because he turned to believe that patriotism is necessary and good. Nasser is the common hero and lighthouse: the “enlighten socialism” is still strong and not overcome. But what is the political present is a matter of clash of opinions. What is sure, Cairo looks bad and hyper-militarized.

President Al Sisi is good to him, he has a vision. There is democracy now in Egypt. In fact Al Sisi got both Presidency and Parliament, he explains. Moreover, Muslim Brotherhood was declared illegal. He barely uses nasty words to define the Muslim Brotherhood, but he doesn’t lose his coolness and politeness. The passage from free elections with Morsi winning and the necessity to come back to military regime is skipped, in his long monologues.

Democracy is better to be in army’s hands. They might have some limits, sometimes they are shortsighted, or close-minded. How they can have a vision under these circumstances is not discussed. Nor the issue of Mubarak is touched.

Ahmed explains carefully and professionally the monuments, but pyramids were built by salary people. These workers were paid with food and shelters, and sometimes they got free of charge prostitutes. All. Permanent and fixed-term (usually peasants) personnel. I think this argument is connected with his declaration that Israel is the cancer of the whole region. Maybe a malignant or benign one, but still a cancer, he maintains. I may even agree to some extent that Israel made and makes mistakes, but I wouldn’t sustain such a term. But it’s hard to filling oneself in his tornado goodwill to explain the Cairo city.

Passing alongside the Italian embassy he says that if he had to go to Italy he has rather to claim a visa in Greek or German embassies, otherwise he would get angry to labor the issue. We don’t get why, nor we can’t understand why he doesn’t realize this is offensive to us. I guess this is because he believes to have the right, as a tourist, to have a women dressed with burka (While he hadn’t this right if he worked there, being paid by the “guesting” country). Aren’t you guested anyway if you are a tourist, or you pay the right to do what you want if you are paying? I confess that according to the fact that I’m having (more or less) my way of life here in Egypt, I can see his point. However I strongly believe that burka should be forbidden in western countries (in public spaces, of course). More simply, perhaps his disappointment is connected to his three love stories with Italian girls that went into rust. Who knows…

In any case it is weird to listen that he cares about his woman dressing. Few hours before he was cautious to explain that in Islam women are suggested, and not obliged, to dress a veil. Women are expected, not men. So why a man pays so much attention? This contradiction is fine but the day after the dromedary’s episode at the pyramids complex is much funnier.

To be continued…


(This pic is a touristic postcard style; the reality is pretty different. For truth you’ll have to wait few days, please)


My marriage: 100% melancholia free?

I am planning my, our, wedding. It will be on Saturday 11th in Valsolda, at the border with Italian Switzerland, very close to Lago di Como and Bellagio. I may be bitter and nipping like people from Florence can be in explaining why I am marrying the woman I love. I may say that nowadays people don’t marry because they can live together skipping the costs and legal annoyances (especially whether the couple splits…). Since we are living in different countries and we are in science industry, perhaps this is the only occasion to stay unite somehow and in our life to have a permanent condition. To me, marriage goes beyond, but I’m not bothering the few readers in this point. I would like to speak out some fears and hopes through a movie based on a wedding party.

In the wonderful tale Melancholia, very well played, Lars von Trier cites classical images (i.e. Flemish canvas and pre-Raphaelite icons) and uses the Nordic light as an ancestral pre-Christian symbols and fears. The first capitol is the main wedding party, where few characters are eligible to redemption and the main bride is utterly disgusting in her behavior, and even more in her attitude. To be happy is compulsory; to cheat the fall in oblivion, and by doing so worsening it, a doom. Melancholia as a version of nowadays disease of depression (this is parallel to nymphomania as a perspective to sex addition) is the triumph of darkness to lightness, death to life. A Catholic version of a disappointing marriage can be imagined easily by me. The Italian Comedy can be very very harsh, a tribute to impoliteness filled with a plenty of unveiled hypocrisy (which is the gateway to meta-hypocrisy) and filthy and unlucky acts. But always somehow all resolves with laughs. Comedy, comic tales, are a sort of purification from sins. Catholic redemption is easy and assured like the sunrise after a storm. The Protestant proscenium is more likely an endless slope toward the hell. Once the whiteness is contaminated, fate is done. As a little imperceptible fall starts, it can only increase in a quickened pace, like a snowball.

Melencolia I (B. 74; M., HOLL. 75) *engraving  *24 x 18.8 cm *1514

Nonetheless I may have some reasons of concern for my, our, wedding, as something very Italian, or very Nordic, may happen. An example above all is my brother who I haven’t seen since December 26th 2010 and who neither spent time to say by free of charge email: “Hey, I’m not joining”. Somebody else is really and officially depressed. Other already opened a front of quarrels due to invitations… other casus belli could be listed and may trigger funny situations.

But we have a motto that resemble our mood, which is opposite to the doom (wow, a palindrome!):

E di sùbito parve giorno a giorno

Essere aggiunto, come quei che puote

Avesse il ciel d’un altro sole addorno

[And at once it seemed that day was added to

The day, as if He who has the power to do so

Had decked the heavens with another sun.]

Dante Alighieri, Paradiso, I 61-63 (The Divine… Comedy, what else?)

No planet will move the dance of the death. The shiny sun of my Viviana will donate me warmth, salvation, happiness. Love in one word, by the Love that moves the sun and the other stars [l’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle]. Yes, it will be a 100% melancholia free marriage…