The Egyptian museum that's a stone's throw away from my balcony is a place I've still never visited. Nor have I been to the pyramids, where every taxi driver wants to take me "for a very good price." I'm a bad tourist. Instead I keep walking down the same broad streets of the neighborhood where I live. The girl at the baker's, the laundry opposite my building, the man where I buy bottles of water -they all know me and say "salaam" when I walk past.
Yet I still can't say that I know the streets around my apartment. I keep discovering new things. Just recently, for instance, I happened to notice that there's a restaurant around the corner from me. You have to know it's there, since the roll-down shutters outside are so old and sagging that they can never be opened again. The entrance to the restaurant is hidden in an alley, but inside it's spacious and people sit at little tables until deep into the night. It seems lots of television actors go there, but I don't recognize them.
In the streets themselves there are little shops that appear as soon as it gets dark, where sports clothing, DVDs and perfumes are sold. They pop out of recesses that I walk past during the day without ever noticing them, and on the hoods of parked cars printed T-shirts and other kinds of clothing are displayed for sale.
Yesterday I discovered another bar nearby. All you can see from the outside is an old door with the words 'Karoll Bar' written over it in small letters. The room itself is narrow and dimly lit with some Christmas lights. Sitting in the back are heavily made-up women smoking cigarettes. The lady who came to sit next to me had a rose in her hand. Her name was "fan" at least that's what I think, because after I told her my name she pointed to the crooked propeller in the ceiling and then to herself.
The pyramids and the Egyptian museum can wait. They won't go away.