I drive at night reluctantly in Cairo, partly because I have poor night vision and partly because only one light works on my car and that single cyclopean light is wrongly adjusted so that it shines in everyone’s faces and mirrors and makes them flash angrily both red lights from behind or white lights from the front, or sometimes the plucking fruit gesture they make with extended arm sticking out of the car, this Cairene gesture deserves more than this but succinctly it means ‘cut me some slack will you?’ So usually I AM DRIVING ON SIDELIGHTS ONLY like some cave fish groping along half-blindly navigating the dim streets looking for the road where I dropped my daughter off only hours before in scorching daylight. Now the place is quite different, utterly different, a group of three men watch a TV propped on the curb- the only light source around, black wind rustles black leaves, side roads appear at random, or so it seems. Yesterday a man told me he couldn’t get used to not seeing the stars in Cairo, he was from new Zealand, a remote part I would say as not seeing the stars is what happens in any city you live in the world over. At least you can see the moon I said determined as I usually am to stick up for my adopted home. The moon is very yellow in Cairo , decadent, not like the icy silver moon you see in the frozen north. How can the moon vary so? It does. It also seems bigger on occasion, so big that it might break something, the night horizon, or be pregnant.
Of course I could fix my car but you see here in Cairo there is actually a law that says you should turn off your headlights when driving under streetlights. Police cars obey it as do many taxis. Me too. A strange pedestrian-friendly law. A strange law for a strange place.
When I park my car I look up at the sky and strain my eyes looking. There is one star, far off faint. All you need.