Alexandria - the city of memories
“If more of the city survived it would haunt you less, but the imagination is left to dream, and the dream for some becomes palpable, sensual and ‘real’
The city half-imagined (yet wholly real), begins and ends in us, roots lodged in our memory”
Lawrence Durrell - Balthazar (1958), second part of the Alexandria Quartet
I'm currently visiting my hometown, one of the greatest cosmopolitans city that ever existed, a place that once was the center of the universe, home of the greatest ancient university, Alexandria.
Durrell's quote remains perfectly valid, the city Cavafy wrote about exists only in our imagination, it's still magical but not fully real.
That's the facade of the S.Mark's buildings, built circa 1836.
It really illustrates the contrast and dichotomy of the Alexandrian culture and recent history: The building is a masterpiece in every possible way (except maintenance), when you step inside, you'll find yourself in a little "ahwa" (Arabic for coffee shop).
The city - by the great Alexandrian poet C.P. Cavafy :
You said: “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore,
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried like something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”
You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You’ll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You’ll always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere:
there’s no ship for you, there’s no road.
Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.