« Une ville devient un univers lorsque l’on aime un seul de ses habitants »
Du 28 mai au 2 juin à Marseille, avait lieu les premières Rencontres internationales des Cinémas Arabes, organisées par l’association AFLAM. Une occasion pour moi de me replonger dans l’ambiance Alexandrine le temps d’un film, et de partager ma nostalgie avec mes camarades de là bas.
I saw you on the cinema screen last week and I remembered you. It was for the International Festival of Arab Cinema in Marseille. The movie I went to see was called « Hawi » and speaks about different characters with no apparent links; nevertheless the story shows us and shows them that they are all in fact caught up in the same adventures, with a different face for each one.
I just went there in order to feel and experience your mood again. But I certainly wasn’t prepared to see my colleagues on the screen! Alex is like a little village, where you can always find someone that you know. This is the magic thing about you: I hate you, I love you, but I still feel you inside me! I would like to write the new « Justine », more than 60 years later. But I can’t. Because there is not only one Justine in Alexandria. And all the characters are so complicated that it was impossible for me to totally understand them. But as in the movie « Hawi », we were all linked together.
Because in Alex, you never exist alone, you’re always part of a group, a community and I feel that you can’t survive without it. However, at the same time it is also getting on your nerves! ! So what more could I say about Alexandria now? Perhaps I can just talk about what I miss.
I miss sitting in the café baladi, playin taoula (backgammon) and drinking « shay bel nenaa » (tea with mint).
I miss discovering the people in the taxi whether strange or funny, who I was proud to tell I lived there.
I miss going from Montaza to the corniche at sunset and watching the sea, thinking about Marseille on the other side.
I miss trying to speak Arabic and seeing this very special smile on people’s faces when I did.
I miss sitting and staying among the people, just enjoying the mood of the moment, watching their reactions, while they were chatting although I didn’t understand the lyrics, but just the feelings.
I miss the smell of chicha when I pass in front of the cafés, and the voices of the old men chatting loudly together passionately.
I miss drinking Nescafé with my colleagues while speaking about the political news or the holidays plans.
I miss sitting in « Spitfire » (the well known bar in Mansheya) and listening to an old Egyptian sailor or a French artist telling me about their stories or what books I should be reading.
I miss eating the special « Chocolate molton cake » of Brew and Chew, in Fouad street with my friends, speaking about life, gossip, boys and diamonds.
I miss going to Siwa and enjoying the « nothingness » of the desert after the hustle and bustle of the city. I also miss the melancholia of the winter evenings, waiting for that time to pass.
And finally, I miss Massar egbari‘s concerts!
I miss enjoying every moment of my life there as an experience, even the worst ones.
I miss the feeling of learning something from life everyday, feeling that I’m stronger than the day before and that I am beginning to understand the city and how it works.
I changed a lot staying with you, and I now understand everyday more than the day before, why.
Dear Alex, you are as exhausting as you are charming. This is your paradox. And I miss it.
Have a nice summer.