Tag Archives: aladdin

Jasmine’s Journey to Shubra

Destination: Shubra

The high from her rebellious escape soon wears off as Jasmine becomes stuck in traffic on the way to the city. Sitting on the highway, her tummy rumbles and the possible hour and a half of lurching before her doesn’t bode well for the meal situation. She had wanted room to run and prance and frolick, but now she can barely slam her high heeled snake skin boots to the gas for a split second before she has to switch to the brakes again. What will it take to be free?

After an hour of alternating between creeping and sprinting, Jasmine realizes it might be better to explore this city of hers on foot, the way many Cairenes do. This new idea is intimately related with the fact she totaled her father’s car in a bizarre car accident that left her completely unharmed, and a troupe of mimes in either a state of ecstasy or extreme pain. She bribed all the necessary people and walked away from the smoking, semi-silent mess unscathed, but confused. Where was she?

As she gazes around, cars whizzing by, she only sees an endless horizon of mosques, billboards, more highways, and brown buildings. Is this the people’s Cairo? Carless and clueless, she loiters on the side of the highway like an orphan child until a white taxi pulls up and announces itself: “Taxi?” Having never traveled by herself before, Jasmine is puzzled. What does this common person want? The taxi driver says again, more insistently, “Taxi??”

Finally, she understands and accepts this knave’s services, entering the back of the car and saying she wants to go to “somewhere common, where the people are.” The taxi driver is confused by this. Is this some kind of game? Is it a trick? Is she threatening him? Insulting him?

But no, she really is just that oblivious. Her stomach still growling, she states again that she just wants to go where “normal people live; a people place.” After repeating the word people a few times, the taxi driver finally gets an idea. He’s going to take her to the peopleyiest place all, the place where the popolo congregate, and the public gathers, a place where the common folk thrive and your average Mohammad tells jokes to his grandkids.

“Shubra it is” he says….and off they go.

(to be continued….)

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Aladdin Dreams

Not nearly enough zippers on those pants

Meanwhile, a young man named Aladdin saunters down the street in Shubra, past rows of fruit hawkers, underwear kiosks, and junk food stands. Unemployed and illiterate, Aladdin does not even have enough money to cover his chest that bursts with man muscles, and he is forced to wear embarrassingly low cut shirts. He tries to compensate with an extra shellac of hair gel and tight jeans covered in zippers, but alas, he is still unmistakably “lower class.”

An orphan without brothers or sisters, Aladdin’s one real friend is a street ferret named Abu, who he only sees for about 15 minutes at 4 am on weekdays. Needless to say, the young man’s social skills are quite poor, his concept of the outside world limited to what gossip he catches on the metro as he walks up and down selling teaspoons or packets of gum.

Occasionally he gets into trouble with the local authorities, due in large part to his suspiciously unwholesome appearance and Abu’s reputation for stealing the mangoes and pomegranates piled outside of juice stores. But he avoids any serious beatings. Scraping by on wafer cookies and bean sandwiches, he dreams of one day moving out to New Cairo, away from all the chaos and unbridled humanity of Shubra, getting married, and living in a villa with the woman of his dreams, or any woman at all.

Despite his rough upbringing and lack of parents, a home, education, or any real hope of a future, Aladdin is a good soul. He has never knocked an old man down while boarding the metro and can always spare an extra guinea or two for the invalid in need. Somehow he understands that it is the little kindnesses that matter, and that even though the entire world and everyone suffering in it is eventually going to burn, we can make the time we have more pleasant by being civil with one another.

He walks to the metro on this day, like every other day, loaded down with the day’s merchandise. Yet unbeknownst to him, an unadvisedly hopeful product of the Egyptian elite is stuck in traffic on the way to Shubra at this very moment, and the stars have fated that they cross paths……

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