Tag Archives: fairy tales

Dear Diary: I flew today

Dear Diary,

I found myself somewhere new today. It was in Cairo I think, since everyone there still spoke Arabic and no one was wearing shorts or kissing in the street. I also saw some young men holding hands, another indication I was in the Middle East.

We entered what someone said was an old house but I think it was actually a castle since it was big and musty and had a windy staircase with uneven steps. There were a lot of locked doors too, as well as nooks and crannies, so it was definitely a castle.

The big feasting hall/courtyard was filled with chairs and dim light, and at the front was a kind of wooden plateau that was smaller than natural plateaus. There weren’t any chairs on the wooden plateau, probably because it is well known that wood does not go well with wood.

I gathered we were supposed to sit down, but it was hard to find a place because of all the chairs. Someone then thought it would be a good idea to sit on the chairs themselves so that’s what we did. I had a bad feeling about this idea, and was especially nervous since the guy in front of us kept peering behind him out of the corner of his eye. Every single time he saw us, he was surprised that there were people sitting on the chairs, despite his own chair sitting hypocrisy. I suggested that we move somewhere out of the way of the chairs but no one listened to me.

All of the sudden, the lights in the courtyard dimmed and music began from the front of the room, where the plateau was still lit up. Something had definitely gone wrong…how were we supposed to be able to see and talk to each other through the darkness over the music? Were we in a no-holds-barred modern protestant church service? But then musicians wearing white and carrying drums took the plateau (possibly the ghosts of the castle musicians) and I lost all consciousness of time and space.

The next thing I knew, I was smiling as we were exiting the building, the faint din of clapping still ringing in my ear. To my great surprise, I found I was carrying my camera and that the button on it was still warm. I turned it on to gather clues as to what had transpired and found I had taken tons of horrible pictures and videos of what may have been beautiful things. The ghosts on the stage had twirled and played the drums, floating and rocking back and forth, and then others took the stage that wore fantastic costumes of all colors, the most important part of it being a Christmas tree skirt that flew straight out from the dancers’ waists. And the dancers became a swirling mass of colors that was always striving upwards with their hands and with their bodies. It’s not clear why…maybe they were trying to communicate with a higher being, and that being was someone who lived upstairs that loved jazzercise in the mornings and they were politely pleading with them to stop.

If the quality of the video had been just a little better, maybe I would be able to remember what I felt when I was watching the dancers twirl and twirl and twirl, their faces bordering on rapture but still conscious of the audience, the movement of their skirts mesmerizing every eye. But I can’t, so from what I can gather, blobs took the plateau and bounced across it in a rhythmic but imprecise manner. Though it sounds unlikely, apparently this was what we expected since everyone was happy afterwards.

I was getting into a taxi when I remembered something and shut the door instead. I stepped away and started spinning around gradually faster until I slowly became airborne, the exhaust fumes from the traffic on the highway pushing me higher and higher. I called down, “Smell you later!” as the polluted air pushed me home.  It had only the faintest traces of teargas.

By the way, this was at a Tanoura performance, the Egyptian version of a dervish dance/ritual that is closely associated with Sufism, or mystical Islam. Sufism focuses on seeing the face of God or achieving unity with God.

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A rabbit goes home

When I was in first grade, I wrote a short story about a bunny named Snow that had fur that was white as snow. The story was a paragraph long and recounts the emotional journey of a young girl who loses and then finds her bunny: she was sad and the she was happy. Today, the story has a slightly different ending: Snow’s fur is stolen and he is cooked in a stew, devoured by the people who once loved him.

After our “Cultural Exchange” today, I went rabbit hunting with a fellow who hosts meat nights, when we eat different kinds of meats like camel or in this circumstance, rabbit. The hunting process turned out to be fairly simple, taking place in the old Bab al-Louq market downtown. Unlike forests where one must watch out for witches and outlaws, the main danger at this market is inhaling the noxious fumes emanating from various stalls and patches of earth, smells frightening in their strength and physical proximity to food. The market’s ceilings are bizarrely high since it used to have two stories, and a deep feeling of faded grandeur pervades the place. It feels a place half-forgotten with characters that defy being swept away by time, sticking around year after year in the dimness as the place becomes more dilapidated and the smells multiply on top of one another like flies on the vegetables. The venue is available for weddings and bar-mitzvahs, if you’re interested.

We entered the cavernous market with the goal of getting us a rabbit, and find one we did at a certain butcher stall. To the left of the front counter was a tall narrow cage with different levels, the top one holding all of our furry rabbit friends. After we asked for a kilo of rabbit meat (we as in the fellow I was with), an eight year old climbed up the side of the cage, reached in, and grabbed a fluffy white bunny. It was at this point that I remembered the short story I had written so many years ago, and stopped to ponder how it was my life had led me to this point. “Capitalism,” I concluded. But then things got interesting, kind of. The boy took the bunny to the back of the stall, a long knife in his hand. To make an obvious story shorter, moments later the white fur was streaked with blood, and a few minutes after that we left the market carrying a little over a kilo of chopped up rabbit meat neatly packaged in a Styrofoam container.

Later that evening we ate a rabbit stew that was actually quite tasty, though I have to admit one of the reasons I liked it was because it reminded me of the meal Sam cooked for Frodo when they were on their way to Mordor, except for they had two rabbits that Gollum had caught for them, and we just had the one that an 8 year old had killed and skinned for us.

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