After we left the museum, Sabet brought us to a lovely though bordering on kitschy restaurant where we had some tasty food then to the Citadel and the great Moorish Mosque of Mohammed Ali, built in 1837 and perched atop a hill over looking Cairo. From there we had sweeping views of all of Cairo all the way out to the Pyramids. We had our pictures taken with other tourists who thought it novel to take their pictures with us – both guys and girls and guys wanting to take their pictures with Brad and I. It’s interesting – the sorts of boundaries or lack thereof that different cultures have. It’s not uncommon to see men walking arm in arm down the street or even holding hands – most likely just friends because homosexuality is pretty frowned upon – yet the women can’t do much of anything and here there were men who thought it cool to take a picture with us, just because it seemed.
In any case, the mosque itself was gorgeous in the light of the sun that lowered in the sky. It’s huge columns of alabaster both inside and out glowed in the golden light and a massive dome of lovely filigrees and flowers and abundant decoration inside soared overhead. It’s amazing the structures and artworks created in the name of God – cathedrals and mosques and pyramids and all of it. That desire – the desire towards the sacred – pushes the human mind to create forms and shapes that conjure up a sense of the mystical, the numinous – that other which is without name and which we are so good at naming. It walks hand in hand with our own ego for when we rise to the occasion, eventually, we seem to have a need to name and personify and, at that point, we are placing upon it the terms and conditions of our own minds. The less story we can create about this sense of the other, the more wonder, I think, it is possible to have, the more openness and the more love.
As the mosque closed for the day, we went for coffee at the little coffee/shisha place that Jimmy and I had been to. They tried to overcharge us for coffee. Was it because we were tourists? Or because we had women with us? Even if it was just a couple of bucks, I don’t like being overcharged – conned out of a couple of dollars because of the color of my skin, my nationality, or my respect for women. So we took care of that and there were laughs and apologies.
Upon returning to the hotel, we began to prepare our things for live painting – the party in the conference room which was supposed to start at 11 had a great line up – Govinda, Apparat, Gaudi, and Brad. I had made a drawing on the train of the head of Amenhotep/Akhenaten – I was taken by the shift in facial structure – his elongated nose and stylized facial structure as compared to the other statuary we’d seen – along with some other symbols and designs and Violet said she liked it and maybe we’d incorporate that. So I stretched the canvas and laid out the main elements. I went to check on the conference space but there were talks going on.
One of the other main components of the Great Convergence event was a series of speakers, lecturers, and performance things. I missed all of it. When I ducked my head in for the speaker she was rambling about how the aquifers below the sphinx are honeycomb shaped which had something to do with Tesla coils, the Bosnian pyramids, Stonehenge and other sacred spaces around the world and of course no one will tell you about it because it’s all a big conspiracy but if you really want to know, you’ll have to go find out more yourself…. It sounded like a lot of theories presented to a nodding crowd. Violet calls it a church for the New Age – faith based belief systems that don’t have much basis in facts. I don’t think they are much different than creationists – each telling stories about the way the world was created. But be that as it may, those people had their say as well with all their theories about the pyramids and aliens and geology and conspiracies and it certainly was entertaining.
Anyways, when they had filtered out and the music filtered in, Violet and I went in and painted something wonderful. When there’s a plan for a live painting, I really enjoy it. I also enjoy painting with Violet. So it was a night: painting… dancing… music… friends… How nice! How awesome to have this lovely party here with all of these friends and friends of friends at the Egyptian pyramids. Crazy beautiful awesomeness.
Brad came on at 3 and, tired and ears a bit weary, I headed out to the bar back in the hotel where the bartender was suddenly having to be a bartender. Muslims don’t publicly drink (it is forbidden) and the hotel bar is mostly frequented by the occasional tourist wanting a cocktail or a beer. He wasn’t prepared for the maelstrom of all these (mostly) Americans who really like to drink – liquor, wine, beer, cocktails… I sat down with Luna and ordered a mojito from the drink menu.
The overwhelmed bartender looked bewildered for a moment. “Oh, that is hard,” he said.
I glanced over the cluttered collection of bottles spread out along the bar which opened up to the swimming pool behind it where, previously in the night, a sax player had played lounge music by the unused white baby grand piano on the dias in the middle of the pool. “Ah, no worries,” I said, “Glenfidditch on ice, then.”
“No, no,” he said, “I can do it! It will just take a moment. It’s very busy.” And he did and it wasn’t bad.
“You know,” I said to the kid that Luna was talking with who was sitting cross-legged on the low marble bar and also was the same kid that Australian woman had warned me was a con man. “You know – sitting on the bar is pretty disrespectful. not just in our country but here as well. it’s nice to sorta follow the rules and stuff sometimes…”
“Man,” he sighed with his glittered face and fairy wings, “you’re putting so much negativity out there. I’ve talked with this guy man, we’re bros.”
Uh-huh. “No, really, sitting on the bar is disrespectful.”
“I have intuition, man,” he said and I left it at that.
The Coptic Australian lady was right. Truly he was a con man – even if he was just conning himself into believing his own wacky belief and projections.
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