2 Jun 2005


If you walk in Mohamed Mazhar street you can't help but notice this lovely building on your right over looking the nile. It is not an old villa or a fancy embassy house, yet a solid building full of dignity and pride. Very different from the other houses in the neighbourhood. For me, this building has been always one of my favourites in the area. Whenever I walk up and down the street, I have to take a look and ask the bawab if there is an apartment for rent. I would love to rent in this particular building when I settle down this November, plus maybe a couple of other places, but this one in specific remains on the top of my list. What's unique about this building? Hurumah.

An apartment building with a hurumah. Yes. What I consider the hurumah of a building, is this small garden that welcomes you before entering the actual building. It is usually a passage made out of huge tiles or small spanish stones velvety cutting through a garden that stands on its two sides. Usually a sorta of beautiful wild garden. This little inside garden is embraced by the building, which takes a slight curve cosseting the little garden between its amorous balconies, and watching over the little garden. I always imagined this building in the 1920's when house-wives would just sit in the balcony knitting, chatting over a cup of tea while watching their kids playing in this garden. The bawab sitting on his comfy white dikka, with his super clean white jalabiya, one leg up, drinking his tea and semi watching the kids playing. I hardly would imagine these kids wearing jeans or lousy tshirts, slippers, but even when playing downstairs would wear classical outfit. A shirt, pants or shorts, socks, and sandals. Playing quietly in the garden. Maybe everyone will have a little portion of the garden where the kids would plant mint, flowers, smuggle the fruit seeds under the bed and rush in the morning to plant them with a sweet fancy of growing a mango tree or palm tree. Overwhelmed with sadness when his flower droop. Or just maybe ride the tricycle back and forth in the corridor.

Apart from the kids part, my grandmother used to tell me that these Hurumah part of the buildings were put for good use weddings. She remembers that a large table would be situated there with all sort of food during for the bawabs, gardeners, workers or almost anyone working in the area to stop and share in the celebration. Sweet actually. Global sharing. Unlike today where only the well-fed people are the ones invited to fancy wedding dinner.


Blogger Mohamed said...

I would love to rent an apartment in one of those buildings in the corridor between Gezira club, the Nile and the Marriott. Someone was offering an apartment for sale there for $1M, ouch.

6/02/2005 10:18:00 am  
Blogger haal said...

Which street are you talking about?

6/02/2005 10:23:00 am  
Blogger Mohamed said...

The one infront of the main gate of GSC (starting from Le Pacha).

6/02/2005 10:37:00 am  
Blogger haal said...

Ah, al-gezira street now known as abd al-wahab street. Ok! :)

6/02/2005 10:41:00 am  
Anonymous Mae said...

I sure know which building you are talking about. It is the slightly curved old one... Love that one for sure. One of the rarest in Zamalek, but would find plenty of them in GCity. Good taste.

6/02/2005 11:01:00 am  
Blogger Mohamed said...

Isn't there a similar one (with the entrance) infront of the British school, behind Beano's? Does sound like a cosy place to live.

6/02/2005 11:12:00 am  
Blogger ألِف said...

I believe it's the duty of those who appreciate such beauty to point it out to their acquaintances and teach their children to see it. Only then it can be preserved.
For a long time now Egyptians have gone by in the streets looking only where their feet would land next, and for practical reasons. Looking upwards and contemplating building would right away label you as a khawaga tourist.

6/04/2005 04:10:00 pm  
Blogger ألِف said...

by 'hurumah' do you mean 'hurmah' حُرْمَة?

6/04/2005 04:12:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

yes, I meant hurumah, hurm, privacy protected area...that is why women are called Hurumah. Not a bad implication as much as protection because it is valuable..same with the al-haram al makii.

Anyways, yes, we are not taught to appreciate art and architecture. I intend to teach my kids that for sure if I have any. I actually buy any books I found speaking of old turath kinda thing, from rugs, antiques, windows, old building... I want them to see how great egypt was(is hopefully).

It is fine to be practical, but it is also wonderful to know where u come from. I feel that we never learnt to appreciate our culture and always look forward to be khawaga. Like when I was young, I was totally convinced and tried to convince everyone else that I was 1)japanese and then later when I realized i didnt look anything like them, I decided to be 2)italian. ANd used to sing this lebanese/italian song 'vola vola' as if I was italian. Haga ay kalam te'ref. Now, I am canadian french but egyptian to give it the mystic part. Hagah more te'rif

6/04/2005 04:30:00 pm  
Blogger ألِف said...

Hahhaa...lucky you.
My brother gets Azhar students talking to him in Malayu in Book fairs; a bunch of kids followed us to our door step on bikes one day and when we got out of the car said: "Hey! A Japanese family"; I got people insisting to talk to me in Hebrew in Nueba', and speaking of Japanese, a man told to my father's friend after my father left them: "This Japanese friend of yours speaks Arabic so well!"

6/04/2005 07:48:00 pm  
Anonymous haal said...

Funny! How japanese you look! :) Huw maw kung fung hao

6/04/2005 08:10:00 pm  

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