Wednesday, 29 September 2010

David Myers: City of The Dead

The City of the Dead is produced by David Myers, a part-time photographer who lives in Maryland and works in Washington DC.

The City of the Dead is a four mile long cemetery (a necropolis would be a better word to describe it) which extends from the northern to southern part of Cairo. It's called el-arafa by Egyptians, and is an area of tombs and mausoleums where people live and works amongst the dead. Its foundation dates back to the Arab conquest of Egypt in 642 AD, and has grown with time until it reached the equivalent of a fully functioning residential suburb of Cairo.

I watched this short photo essay, and it brought back childhood memories when, once a year during the Eid festival, I had to accompany my father to pay respects to our ancestors and forebears who were interred in our family's mausoleum. I still recall it being as large as a couple of basketball courts, with two house-like structures sheltering a number of mausoleums, made of marble or alabaster, and intricately carved with verses of the Qur'an. It is under one of those that my father rests, alongside his forebears. The marble gateway to the mausoleums is carved with the name of my grandfather...which is like mine.

This brought back the smell of dust to my nostrils...the Egyptian dust that is tamped down by hosing it with water...the green-grey color of the palm tree leaves...and much more.

I've been to many Islamic countries and heard the adan in all of them...but few of them come  close to beauty and purity of the Egyptian adan. Perhaps I am biased....