New Crystal

These panels of wood and glass were the entrance of one of the oldest traditional coffee houses on the corniche of Mancheya, which was completely demolished some 3 this year. The Arabic text reads “Maqha New Crystal” – or the coffee house of new crystal. It was a traditional Egyptian coffee house. It used to serve visitors of different ages and backgrounds according to the day and time. Between morning and noon always young to middle-aged men waiting to have a cup of tea or coffee before going to work or waiting until they get to accomplish some paperwork. Between noon and evening, was the time for elderly and retired men. The evening is when young couples come to have some quality time, observing the sea and sunset. And almost empty after 10 pm.  Once I was there with a French artist Julien Solé. I met him in the evening time. He was working on a new drawing depicting a scene from the coffee house. All of a sudden, a man in his twenties approached us angrily. He addressed Julien saying “Why are you drawing my fiancée?” We both were surprised. Julien replied in bad Arabic “No I am not drawing her, I am drawing the coffee house and there are people in silhouette”. The man answered back “But my fiancée appears in your drawing, please delete her”. Julien answered again” Come to have a look, you do not even recognize anyone, it is just a shadow”. The man insisted “But I know it is her, delete it immediately”.

About Alexandria’s Third Places