If a taxi driver were to drop you off in front of our apartment you would make your way through whatever happened to be on the sidewalk on that day particular day towards a pair of iron/glass gates that are perpetually in the same half-opened position. Each building has a person called a ‘bowab’ who is like the caretaker of the building. Our bowab is a short, plump little lady who knows absolutely no English but would greet you as you passed with a smile and a “hello” in Arabic.
Once inside the lobby you would have a choice. You can take the elevator or the stairs to our apartment on the third floor. Obviously the elevator would take less energy but it is basically a cage on cables that probably hasn’t been inspected for years. It holds only one person with two suitcases and it is not an option for those with even a hint of claustrophobia. The stairs are a workout … the stairwell is usually very hot and the stairs are steep. You wouldn’t hold the railing unless you wanted dusty, dirty hands. The ‘scenery’ on the way up consists of all sorts of old and sometimes bare wires that somehow keep our lights, appliances and air conditioners functioning.
By the time you reach the door of our apartment you would probably be slightly out of breath with a little moisture on you brow. You would also be wondering why the Long’s ever left their neat and tidy Sardis home to live in such conditions.
Well, behind that door is our cool, comfortable spacious Maadi ‘retreat’ that has been converted into our ‘home away from home’ with pictures of our family on the tables, baskets of fruit and other delicious foods on the counter, a full fridge and quilts mounted on the wall. For those who know Cynthia … what else would you expect?