Last night a friend and I ate dinner at Felfela in downtown Cairo. This landmark restaurant has been serving pigeon (among other dishes) to customers since 1963. President Jimmy Carter autographed a menu here in 1979. Many other famous people have stepped across this threshold.
This was my third visit, but hopefully not my last. The food, the waiters and the ambiance all conspire to make each meal and conversation memorable.
I won’t forget the first meal here in August 2012 with my new Egyptian friend and a Professor from Gaza; nor my second meal with a young Syrian doctor in January. Last night I shared the meal with a new friend from Geneva, Switzerland. She ate pigeon, I tried the Kofta.
Over my right shoulder, there was a beautifully ornate, wooden bird cage.
I thought it was really stunning and just had to have a picture. The waiters stood by quietly watching as I pulled out my camera.
Then it hit me . . . like a ton of bricks. There was a pigeon inside quietly watching me too. Perhaps my friend had just finished devouring its mate.
The pigeon didn’t make a sound and didn’t twitch a muscle, but I knew it was a alive because it blinked.
Family and friends have shown me pictures of Gaza that they found on the Internet or that someone sent to them. “This looks like a resort community,” they say. Beautiful buildings, lush lawns, colorful images of people sitting around at ease and smoking hookah.
“Occupation doesn’t look so bad! What are they complaining about in Gaza?”
Ask the pigeon. It knows all about living in a beautiful home, quietly watching people eating . . . pigeon.
The next time someone sends me a picture postcard of beautiful Gaza, I’m going to send them this birdcage and pigeon. Would they really like to trade places?