giovedì 15 marzo 2012

Apolidia, 88, Qasr Al Aini e Telefono pubblico. Un anno di stradedellest


Un attimo fa ho trovato nelle mie tasche disordinate
le chiavi di un albergo
che ho dimenticato di consegnare,
Pietro ritornò trasformato da un solo viaggio
tanto da rivoluzionare l’architettura
della città costruita sugli scheletri,

mentre continui peripli intermittenti
resero l’uomo apolide
nel logico tentativo di sguazzare

il più a lungo possibile nel liquido amniotico
per sentire il corpo rinascere
ed imparare dai suoi errori.

Mentre alcuni ragazzi entravano nella metropolitana puntuale
alla ricerca della morte,
conferendo all’ingresso una forza esagerata,
come di impossibile suicidio,

altri vivevano in comune, segregati tra le montagne,
e con sguardi sbiechi trasformavano un luogo franco
in nevrosi di gruppo, rifugio alternativo per chi,
non trovando posto nel mondo, opponeva apolidia.

Alcuni si affannavano alla ricerca
di un lavoro qualsiasi,
abbandonate antiche velleità creative,
per sacrificare tutto alla dittatura della vita,

altri si immergevano in un lavoro lento,
perenne, immutabile, felicità: compagno e amiche,
sopravvivendo in minuscola sottocultura formata
da due persone, tenute insieme dall’identità di genere
più che da teste simili, che ripetevano punto per punto
le proprie ragioni per opporsi a quei fascisti
che avevano largo spazio negli uffici.

Alcuni trentenni si agitavano
e sospiravano nell’attesa del bambino
che completasse l’opera di rovesciamento
dell’infanzia vissuta a parte,
in perfetta aderenza con lo stile maggioritario,
per risolvere con efficacia l’insopportabile appartenenza ad una minoranza.
Badate, rimaneva la sensazione di aver scelto
una vita diversa dalle altre, apolide,
grazie alla conoscenza completa, specifica, acquisita lentamente.

Altri, più vecchi, raggiungevano cerchi
per passare il loro tempo coccolati
dalle domande incrociate e dalle certezze recitate,
come oratori esperti, per trovare conferme assolute
al lesbismo scoperto in età avanzata,
alle conversioni mistiche incomplete,
all’allontanamento dai piccoli conservatóri del mondo,
alla rinuncia al conformismo della velocità superficiale.

Già anni prima avevano tentato di concludere
questo lungometraggio, ma i protagonisti furono ritrovati
tutti morti poiché, per la prima volta,
realtà e piacere combaciarono per un istante,

ma la donna nuova, muovendosi nel tempo tra ieri e oggi,
ha salvato dalla morte una delle protagoniste di questa storia.
E così la misoginia è scomparsa.

Questo è stato l’inizio del regno delle donne
non importa se sembravano dee o puttane
perché ballavano e ridevano,

e quando la moglie ha confessato la verità
dell’antico assassinio con cacciavite,
la storia dell’apolidia è finita.

Però, continua nella mia testa,
descrivendo il mio tragitto verso l’omicidio
lento di ogni imposizione

tanto da gettare nell’abisso miti estetici fasulli
e scoprire la necessità di una specialità solitaria
poiché per Ande, Tibet e Panshir
qualche giorno non basta

e se nemmeno questo dovesse andare bene
sono pronto a rimanere solo
poiché anche se solo, in assenza di ogni rumore,
sento sempre il sibilo assordante di un acufene.

Giuseppe Acconcia
Tratto da "1,2,3 liberi tutti!". 2007

88, Qasr Al Aini 
I arrived in Cairo by night and a friend came to pick me up at the airport. I lived with him for a few days on Hoda Sharaawy Street, looking for a flat. He showed me how to deal with taxi drivers, how to catch microbuses. With him I tried my first fuul, aubergines, potatoes and sugarcane juice.
Pelle came to Egypt three years ago. He speaks Arabic fluently. He took me into small alleyways and through tangled paths amid the tall buildings of Cairo. Every sentence, gesture, expression of Pelle's looked spontaneous. Everything in the city looked surreal to him. Everything I knew at that time about this infernal city I had learned from him. Above all I could feel the peace in the middle of that mess: how tiny paradises were hidden in that hell of cars that hinder men.
I started looking for a flat with him, too. The first time we went to Agouza, where he used to live. Once there, I felt lost. The place seemed eerie, I didn't have any reference point. I felt alone and far from anything I knew. Pelle asked the Saidi doorkeeper of his building about a certain flat. This old man, dressed in a long dark galabeya, had deep wrinkles due to his old age. He was very kind with me and he showed me the home of the teacher living on Pelle's upper floor. Unfortunately he didn't know the day when the flat would be available. One evening the Saidi offered me a cigarette. I refused but he said, according to Pelle's translation: "None of this in the Saidis' kingdom".
I accepted a cigarette and I smoked it. His semsar (housing agent) friend, Mohammad, who used to sit all day in a cafeteria, took us to old and dilapidated flats. He used to complain about a continuous rise in rents that had reached vertiginous sums within a few months. We were searching in a central area, full of foreigners, especially Sudanese, ready to pay huge amounts, but Mohammad could not believe how a flat for LE500 per month could go for LE1,500 one month later. We visited a yellow building in Abdeen, in the middle of the rubble of near-by buildings and the loudspeakers of a mosque. Here a woman showed us a flat: filthy walls, broken chairs, split-up windows, not bad. Waiting for the keys, we visited the upper floor where 15 Russians used to live. They went out to attend the Orthodox Christmas mass. While they were passing I noticed red hand prints on the staircases' walls: signs of the Eid of Sacrifice.
In one flat, Pelle told me, used to live an Italian girl. When she came back to Egypt from holidays, she found the lock had been replaced; a French guy was living at her place. No sign of her stuff, but she recovered some of it after a trial. The owner tore the contract, saying: "Words matter more than documents". Pelle, viewing my astonished expression, said, "But you could take the Perrin's flat".
I didn't know much about this French girl, only that she had had a serious accident. Disappointed, I decided to try responding to foreigners' announcements. I went to Dokki, where two German guys were living in a skyscraper. Later I visited the flat in 88 Kasr Al Aini Street. I liked that flat from the beginning but I couldn't afford the rent alone. So I had to look for flatmates. That same day, the French girl informed everybody by e-mail that she could not come back: her pelvis was shattered by a microbus while she was crossing the street.
So I visited her small flat. The price was LE1,700. Good light was came through the windows. The building was located at the corner of Mohammed Farid and Mohammed Mahmoud streets. The smell of subsidised bread came up through the staircase. That alley was very dull. The doorkeeper had a inquiring glance, seated on a plastic chair in front of a carpenter's workshop. Here and there a tiny electrician, a grocer, a tailor and a fuul seller came out. A group of old men would play cards outside a garage, near a small gym. There was a tiny cafeteria each side of the street, a laundry service, a mechanic, a juice seller. Cars stopped suddenly; stray dogs and weasels turned around.
I kept open all three possibilities. The teacher's flat fell through because of her uncertainty regarding the date of her departure. I might accept the 88 Kasr Al-Aini flat with the German boy. Finally, I went for the flat of the accident.
But how did I find the Kasr Al Aini flat? And why did I refuse to live in it? Kasr Al-Aini shares the districts of Garden City, Mounira and the popular area of Sayeda Zeinab. It is so crowded that the noise of horns and people's nerves are felt by pedestrians. There is continual coming and going of young foreigners: feasts, music, the attitude of young people looking so impressive to Egyptians when they realize how such joy is unavailable to them. Indeed, while the old doorkeeper of their building questions every person who enters, asking who is he and where is he going, in the Kasr Al-Aini building the coming and going is continuous, day and night, unchecked.
On one January night I was waiting for a woman at the main door of No. 88, while a blond boy stood aside, near a juice seller. Mrs. Mona was looking for new tenants on the third floor. Her home was big and ancient but only foreigners, such as rich Saudi Arabians or Arabs from the Emirates, could afford the LE3,000-3,500 rent. This middle- aged woman with long hair had rarely visited that home, available only for rent. She passed it off as brand-new and stated that a Spanish woman, who had lived there before, used to pay LE3,500 by herself.
In a meeting at the French Institute of Culture of Mounira, near No. 88, I glanced at a girl. She understood that I was looking for a flat and before talking, she handed me a scrap of paper with the number of Mona, the owner of her upper flat where she had been living with a Canadian. The next Sunday at No. 88, Mona arrived by jeep, parked it near a petrol station. I was already there, waiting in a near-by cafeteria with my friend Pelle. The flat was open. We entered.
A woman was cleaning the rooms and an electrician was repairing cables. The flat appeared in the sunlight in its colonial guise, wooded with ancient doors, white windows, a small hall, another one with old sofas and a small balcony, a sitting room with a long wooden table and ancient furniture, two rooms with two beds, another balcony, a bathroom and a half, and a kitchen. It seemed that those walls could talk, tell stories of feasts, dances, meetings. A dim light penetrated from the windows and cleared the colours.
My friend Pelle, called khawaga by the attendant, was speaking in Arabic with Mona, though not about the rent. I was waiting for the arrival of a possible English flatmate. The Englishman, short and blond, arrived after a short delay. He visited the flat, but when he was about to sign the contract, he asked for a private chat with me: "My woman lives upstairs and her flat is so similar to this one that the idea of living here bothers me. I'm sorry, you may think I'm crazy, but I would rather quit."
I did not expect that and said to Mona that everything would start again from the beginning. She gave some extra time. A few minutes later, a German girl arrived. I wrote an announcement on a list on the internet that brings together Cairo's foreigners. The German girl, breathless, visited the flat.
She gave her verdict with a glance: "Everything is false. They painted it but it's old. It's a swindle, have you seen the toilet, the old kitchen? How cold it is!" Pelle, impressed by the words of the German, said: "Look at the shutters, but don't worry!" However, to my eyes that place had a special charm; it looked like it belonged to the past. The German girl would not consider that. Therefore, I asked for extra time to look for a new flatmate. A few evenings later, I returned with a German boy. Mona came over with the keys. The German found the flat amazing and we decided to rent it together. Some evenings later, people continued flowing into No. 88, foreigners with their black bags full of alcoholic drinks. The street was full of the laughter of long-haired girls. During a feast, the German told everyone how he had found the flat and what a bizarre Italian he had met.
"At the first meeting," he was saying, "we were just talking about life in Cairo and my need to learn English. I had visited the flat with him and had decided to take it. However, a day later the Italian called me to retract. When we met, the Italian told me that he had found two cheaper flats. And he left all three possibilities open until the last minute, as every good Egyptian should. The first was on Hoda Sharaawy in the building of a friend. The second in Abdeen, left empty by a woman involved in an accident. In order to compensate for changing his mind, he showed me the small and dark flat in Hoda Sharaawy, a hole where a blond and curly- haired teacher used to live. This flat could be shared for a cheaper price. But I could never accept it, I longed for a romantic and ancient 'colonial' home on the Kasr Al-Aini. I easily found an American and later, during a football match, a Palermitan with whom to share it".
This was my first weak in Cairo as a foreigner. After years, I'd like to swear at Italians who pointed me to the flat I finally chose in Abdeen, at the water pump that had to be turned on, at the rough and mean owner living in the same building, at the doorkeeper who controls night and day the coming and going, at the staircase full of cats, bones, plastics, dirty as a continuation of the alley, at the dust, at the heat that makes the nights so oppressive.

Giuseppe Acconcia
Al Ahram, agosto 2010

Telefono pubblico
Per le strade sembravano scomparsi. Di certo diminuiti. Ma scomparsi poiché, quasi sempre, se ancora in funzione, non accettavano monete. Rifiutare un cellulare. Comunicare dal telefono pubblico. Usare le monete. Impossibile. Guardavo la cabina. Luogo triste, anonimo. Telefoni rotti. Non funzionavano con le monete. Nessuno. Andavo più avanti, giravo in fondo poi la piazza, lungo il marciapiede, nel piccolo caffè all’angolo. Disperavo dell’errore di non aver quell’oggetto che permetteva a tutti di svegliarsi, di chiamare, di fotografare. Fissavo il telefono pubblico. Solo, mai frequentato, una luce, una scritta, un buco per le monete in alto, una fessura per le tessere in basso, una cornetta spesso penzolante. Non c’era la cabina, non importava, se avesse piovuto, un piccolo archetto di plastica avrebbe protetto. Restai lì qualche ora. Giunse una vecchia. Un po’ trasandata, un cappello sgangherato, mani doppie, unghie grosse, ricci biondi ma sbiaditi fuori, bianca, bianchissima, strati di vestiti e cappotti. Prese la cornetta la sbattè sul telefono. La sbattè di nuovo. Lo colpì da un lato, lo colpì dall’altro. Aspettava. Prese di nuovo la cornetta, premette ogni pulsante. Colpì il buco, colpì la fessura. Aspettava. Frugava nel foro in basso. Niente monete. Ritentò. Alcuni guardavano il telefono schifati, sembravano pensare che quell’azione fosse una sorta di lavoro compiuto dalla donna. Come se quest’ultima passasse tutta la sua giornata colpendo telefoni, tentando di trovare quelle monete lasciate o incastrate nel ricevitore per arrotondare gli spiccioli raccolti in altri luoghi. La donna andò via, sconsolata, lasciava tra gli sguardi di accusa la cornetta penzolare. Restai fermo, ormai nessuna possibilità di telefonare sembrava possibile. Giunse un’altra donna. Questa volta vestita meglio ma folle. La sua follia si avvertiva dalle mani, dal modo intermittente in cui le muoveva, i capelli ben sistemati, grassa al punto giusto, un vestitino attillato, sgualcito da qualche giorno. Con fare circospetto la vecchia prese un ferretto dalla borsa che teneva in mano. Lo guardò, lo lucidò. Lo infilò nel buco per le monete. Spingeva, spingeva, spingeva. Cercava in ogni modo di far entrare quell’uncino nella fessura. Una volta dentro rovistava a destra e sinistra, lo infilava più che poteva. Questa volta le persone non sembravano attratte dall’azione poiché era meno evidente, meno rumorosa, professionale. La vecchia sentì qualcosa. Contenta diede l’ultima spinta al ferretto, quella decisiva. Si sentì nello stesso momento una moneta cadere nel foro in basso. Lei la prese senza curarsi della placca di metallo protettiva. Aveva guadagnato pochi centesimi ma il volto era felice.
Quel telefono mi spaventava, non lo frequentava più nessuno. Me ne stupivo, non avrei dovuto. Pensavo a quanto fosse facile per gli altri premere un pulsante e chiamare chi volevano, quando volevano. Quel telefono pubblico serviva ora solo a vecchie donne senza un soldo o a barboni per dormire, se fossero state cabine. Fu così che decisi di comprare un cellulare.

Giuseppe Acconcia
Tratto da Un inverno di due giorni e altri racconti. 2007
Fara editore, Giudizio universale
La Casa Orca

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