I love this girl, reading “Ivan Ilyich” at the prime corner table in Doma, her plain, blond hair parted dead center, falling in clean sheaves to each side of her face onto her black turtleneck. Her eyebrows are so pale that they must disappear in certain light, sinking beneath her milk bred skin. She is alone and her posture is proud, the book held high to her face, bathed in Vermeer light. The cafe is packed and warmed by the breath of coffee, condensation on the windows behind her, fogging the view of Perry Street into a pleasant scrim, a soft diorama of pedestrian blurs and an occasional bolt of cab yellow.
My macchiato is really good, enough so that I order a second. I never drink macchiatos unless the establishment has that snobbish, curatorial attitude towards its coffee beans and service that make it worthwhile. This four dollar cup is exceptional with its perfect dollop of foam on top of the sharp earthy espresso. I can drink coffee that has been cooking on an office burner all day long or 36oz styrofoam cups from gas stations to slurp in a car with beef jerky, but I also enjoy the self-indulgence of a cup that costs as much as a meal. I stick my nose into my second cup, breath in and exhale to add to the warm, bitter, woolish flavor in the air.
I put my headphones in to drown out the “difference between LA and New York” conversation next to me. A speed metal riff explodes in my ears and I forward to something more languid as I sip my macchiato, scribble in my book and occasionally check on the Vermeer girl by the window. My boots are almost dry and I will have to leave soon.
This shot below was taking on a Friday. Spreading their prayer mats out in the street, these men took over this busy thoroughfare blocking all traffic. Some of the muezzin or calls to prayers that I heard blaring throughout the city were absolutely captivating, these strong voices, a plaintive wail calling out through the din.
Life in Cairo means days spent at the cafe, smoking sheesha and drinking chai. I was welcomed at all of these places and spent hours each day, chatting with the men, sharing cigarettes, laughing at their games.