Rummaging Around Nooks and Crannies in Azbakia Book Market, Cairo
Take the Metro to Ataba—a sprawling neighborhood of chaotic markets, where you can even buy the proverbial kitchen sink—and you first emerge into Sour El Azbakia Book Market. Rows of whitewashed wooden shacks with battered mashrabia paneling, the market is an Aladdin’s Cave for culture vultures. Books of all shapes and sizes tumble from groaning shelves. Leather and gilt-bound Qurans jostle for space with HTML 4 Dummies, and Magic’s First Gymkhana does battle with The Bourne Identity. Burrow a little deeper, and you’ll turn up seventy-year-old National Geographics, satirical Egyptian comics, and faded vintage film posters. Seek out the most wizened old man with the most wizard-like beard, and if he doesn’t have an ancient alchemical tome, he’ll at least have a genuine, framed photo of King Farouk. The air here is thick with the dust of time, and the hope that tired old print will once more see the light of day.