Sunday, March 16, 2014


The only people who see the whole picture,' he murmured, 'are the ones who step out of the frame.
Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist and essayist in The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999)

Thirteen years ago a friend invited me to join her on a visit to a jewelry shop that was somewhat hidden away in a residential area of Cairo's chic Zamalek island. With no intention of buying anything I went along just for the adventure of seeing someplace new. Entering the shop, the man with the umbrella captured my attention immediately.

Surrounded by busy people all in motion, he stands still and stares out of the picture. He is strong and seems to challenge those looking at him. He is the calm centre of a whirling vortex of life.

As my friend and I walked around the shop peering at all the beautiful creations in the glass cases, my eyes kept coming back to the man and the Cairo streetscape that seemed so familiar. I was captivated. And so the man came home with me and has been with me ever since.

He holds the distinction of being the first artwork to be hung in my little abode having been finally framed after all this time. I feel like I could walk into the painting and be back in Cairo again, and equally I feel like he could easily step out of the picture and over the frame and join me for tea in my living room. He's most welcome.

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