Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Kind Word, Two Kind Words...

Worried today, I'm afraid, watching the news out of Cairo.  It's not good, and it's hard to see how it's going to get better. 

In this mood, one needs a good solid dose of Dalida. 

Here the great Parisienne reminds us that she is in fact a daughter of the Nile, a little girl from Shubra (which is kind of like being from the Lower East Side, back when that didn't mean annoying and hipsterish).  The song is "Helwa Ya Baladi," - "My Sweet Land," more or less.  The opening lyric translates as "A kind word, two kind words/For my country/a sweet song, two sweet songs/For my country."  It's the sort of song that makes exiles and expatriates sadly nostalgic, recalling a past that, really, never was.

The politics of it all are complicated, and largely unpleasant.  Religion, in multiple forms, comes into play, and that never simplifies things.  What last year seemed as if it could be a revolution full of possibilities has soured; there are still possibilities, but few of them inviting.  I once imagined a quiet retirement there (well, as quiet as one gets in Cairo; it is after all a combination of Manhattan and Calcutta, on steroids), and now that seems to be one possibility that's fading.

I was talking about this recently when out with a group, about how hard it is to see a place you've loved drifting off, out of your grasp, the way a once-close friend can do sometimes when things go wrong.  One friend looked at me, long and hard, and I remembered he is Persian, his father an ambassador and his mother a great lady in a world that disappeared.  "Get used to it," he said.

And I suppose I will, some day, somehow.  In the meantime - helwa, ya baladi...


  1. Beautiful sentiments, and my favourite Dalida song to accompany them. Not all needs to be doomy for Egypt - don't forget Lebanon and Tunisia have bounced back in living memory - and as nations go, Egypt too has survived much worse. Let's hope for a little sense to prevail... Jx