Postcard from... Cairo


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The Independent Online

The Greek Club occupies the first floor of a colonial era building close to Tahrir Square. In summer, young patrons fill out its foliaged terrace drinking cheap, cold Egyptian Stella and in winter are joined by elderly clients who dance to piano music.

A few days ago, I went for a leaving party. It had been a long time since my last visit, perhaps because the place makes me nostalgic. In 2011 and 2012, when leftist intellectuals used to talk about “the revolution” in the present tense, you could walk in almost any night and see familiar faces: artists and activists, journalists and film-makers, people who knew each other from the tear-gas scented clashes with police. You didn’t have to arrange to meet like-minded people there, most nights you could just go. These days, less so. In a city like Cairo, people are always leaving and arriving, but of late it seems the goings have outnumbered the comings: perhaps for a Masters in London or a job in New York, for those who are able to find  a way out. “I’m tired,” one recent emigre said, “I just  need a break.”

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Sisi insists that in the new Egypt there is to be no more protesting and little criticism, just hard work and discipline. And that doesn’t sit well with the Greek Club clientele.