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Faluka On The Nile

Oil on masonite, 12x16, ©1994
In the collection of Mr. Naseer Tahir

Faluka On The Nile

Egypt is a melting pot of races and cultures. It is possible to see a woman in a mini skirt, another covered from head to toe, a Caucasian Greek, a Negroid Nubian, a brown Arab, a tanned native Egyptian all mingling on the crowded streets of downtown Cairo.

The hot sun raises a musty smell out of the gutter that mixes with the fine dust from the nearby desert. The exhaust from the passing diesel trucks blends with the breath of donkeys pulling the garbage carts, uniting the odors of ancient life with the present.

The sounds completely fill the senses. A street vendor calls out, holding his wares high above his head. Two women dressed in black. raise their voices as they wave their arms passionately at each other; their cloth bags, filled with the morning's shopping, seem to be the only things restraining them. A motorcycle, then a steel wheeled cart clatters down the street. A ten year old beggar holds out his hand calling to the passersby. Over the din of the street, the faithful are called to prayer from the many Mosques.

A few blocks west is the Nile with its feluka boats sailing upstream with the wind or floating down stream with the current. The river gently filters out the sights and sounds of the city. The squawks of the sea gulls overhead draws your attention to the hot sun.

To the north is the delta, the richest farm land in the world. Small patches of black earth surrounded by irrigation ditches worked by hand. Modern agriculture is only now surpassing the production of that ancient green wedge of land.

To the south the river is lined with thin strips of growth. You can almost feel the plants straining to reach the river. The hot silence of the golden grain fields is broken by the scary sound of the scurrying rats aroused by the passing of a young girl on her way to fetch water. The Nile valley is good to every thing. To man and beast alike.

Then there is there desert. Silent. Hot. Vast.

Sand, let's talk about sand. Fine sand that is hard to walk in, the type of sand that you can't keep out of your shoes. Course sand that you can run on if you watch out for the smooth rocks that threaten to turn your ankle. Sand with a crust from last year's rains; Like a March snow drift that can almost be walked on, but brakes away with every steep. Sand that drifts; You can watch it move if you take the time. Sand that isn't yet; Massive cliffs of rock waiting far the wind to reduce them to rubble.

Egypt a land of contrast with its reddish sand, blue water, green land and people of every color.

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