My research trip to Cairo and Egypt allowed me to spending a wonderful and intensive four weeks. Thanks to the support of Pro Helvetia Cairo, and to the Cairo Book Fair that just had opened its doors for me, I got the chance to meet writers, critics, publishers and playwrights from day one; and once again I was astonished by the richness and creativity of the local art scenes.
In the mornings I would sit down in a coffee house, sometimes in a small one on a street corner, sometimes in the – for Downtown standards very quiet – garden of Groppy in Abd Al-Khalik Tharwat, and read for two hours. That gave me a chance to at least partially catch up with the contemporary literature scene. Then I would head for the book-fair or head for a meeting.
Towards the end I spent three nights along the Suez Canal in Port Said and Ismailia visiting the beaches of Fayed, and watching ships pass by (even though for security reasons nowadays it is not that easy to get right to the water and one has to make an effort), beside doing research for a literary project of my own. I got back from Ismailia late at night on a train whose lights in the couch, looking back from Switzerland, I remember as having been blue or at least blueish.