Hamra Literary Time Warp

Then…

“…the shoe mender, with his roll or thick leather and his portable cobbler’s kit; the brazier, who retinned brass kitchen utensils; the knife sharpener, who ambled down the street with his large wheel, singing his trade tune.  The streets vibrated with such songs. The plant seller chanted while riding a donkey and balancing heaps of flowers on his saddle. The goatherd drove his black goats through the now fashionable neighborhoods, his call rising above the fait clanging of the bells that swung from their necks…. in what were called the Hamra fields stood an old mosque. From the minaret, illuminated at night by candles, the muezzin sounded the call to prayer five times a day, his voice fading into its own echo. Not far from the mosque, mulberry trees stretched into the fields by the hundreds.”      A World I Loved | Wadad Makdisi Cortas

 And now…

“Multi-colored mobile phones ringing, a mosque, a church, two battered Mercedes 200s narrowly missing each other. A female face surrounded by a headscarf above an ankle length billowing coat walked past a cafe where a waiter was dressed in a tuxedo. People walked slowly on the pavement; no one was in a hurry. The street was sprinkled with shops selling lingerie and perfume and jewelry… Signs in English, in French, in Arabic. Hollywood Boulevard-style stars engraved with the word "Hamra” were dotted along the uneven pavement. On the corner stood a building peppered with bullet holes, a giant sponge about to collapse at the feet of the million-dollar apartment complex next door. The scent of a woman’s perfume as she walked past briefly overpowered the petrol fumes. She wore figure hugging black trousers and had the shiny, glossy hair of a shampoo commercial. She glided down the pavement, past the flower shops, in between mini-markets that sold nuts and sweets, past the man selling lottery tickets… freshly squeezed orange juice mixing in a glass container outside an open-fronted store; a French fry shop with any flavoring; Hardee’s, Ben and Jerry’s, and a policeman who was trying to stop drivers from triple and quadruple parking between the Pizza Hut and the university.“      Bliss Street | Kris Kenway