I stumbled upon this mosque while walking through the city and could do nothing but admire its beauty from across the busy street. The sunlight that cut the minaret in half made even this simplest of mosques seem a powerful and proud representant of the Islam. The Islamic crescent at the top, the small bulb underneath and the two balconies around the tower made for an instantly recognizable shape that I found quite marvellous. I knew why this struck so much more of a chord than a church would do, as I live in a secular country where churches are much more common and where I had grown accustomed to them. I wondered whether the mosque would grow less beautiful every time I saw it. Or every time I saw a more beautiful mosque. If I saw the most beautiful mosques from all over the world, what would the mosque above still mean? Would I still look up to it? Probably not, as Beauty is said to be fleeting. But is this the case for absolutely everything? Is there not one thing in the world where Beauty is not fleeting, whether it be literature, art, architecture, or something else? And would it not be one of the most noble pursuits in life to try and create something that is of eternal Beauty?
As I was mesmerized by these thoughts, a plastic bag flew against my head. I grumbled and pushed it away with a quick stroke. Here I was, contemplating on Beauty in the midst of a dirty city. Because Alexandria has a problem with garbage. These pictures were taken in the wealthier and thus supposedly cleaner part of the city, close to where I live.
Frankly, for a clean and vain Westerner such as me, this is a sign of a less civilized country. The government, whenever Egypt has one, should set up a thorough and efficient waste management system and should place garbage bins, as they are virtually non-existent right now. Every once in a while I see one or two garbage containers, but if I’m not wearing my smell mask, holding my rat repellent stick and wearing my radioactive suit, I prefer to stay away from those. A good waste collection system would not only make the city a clean place, but would also create jobs, make the city a healthier place to live in and show the Egyptians the joys of a clean city, perhaps sparking a mentality change.
Because there sits the true problem. While I try to hold on to my little Alexandria library ticket as long as possible before guiltily throwing it on the floor in the hope no one has seen, Egyptians have no problem throwing pretty much everything on the ground in plain view. How much better would the city not be if it were cleaner? Suppose one could walk along the Corniche and see the white foam of the Mediterranean Sea instead of white skimmed milk cartons smashing against the rocks? It is something to aim for, although deep within me, I find pleasure in not being restricted by implicit garbage rules and in being able to simply throw my can out of the taxi window. Hehe.