Cairo Everything and everyone was making an improvised symphony. Car horns blared, radio stations sang lively, and the daily chatter swirled, indiscernible, but told the city’s energetic collective story.

I could smell the dryness in the air. Exhaust and sand aren’t exactly a pleasure, but somehow behind the thick layer of crud, I could make out a hint of delicious meat. Maybe it was avian or bovine or who knows. Someone down there was cooking something worth following your nose.

The food palpable in my tongue watered my palate and in anticipation, I swallowed and hoped any salivation would bring me a predicting taste. Nothing but sand, exhaust, and dry air. I licked my lips in hopes the taste was caught in the chapped skin.

My eyes darted through the flow of the city, like a hawk looking for its prey. Through squints and blinks, alas I found the source. A lonely stationary food cart. Motionless in a sea of citizens as a rock in a stream, weathered down by the environment. Street food is a gamble, but all I had to lose was time and hunger.

From the seventh floor, I rushed down to the streets. Pushed doors and chose the cold rails of the stairway over the slow elevator. I pulled myself on them and jumped all possible steps to the ground floor, feeling 10 feet tall instead of five and a half. Bystanders unknowingly walking in my line of sight were shoved as I made my way to my prey. I felt the waded bills in my pocket and readied them for maximum efficiency, held the man’s hand in mine, locked eyes, and invoked my desires as a hungry customer.

اثنين شاورما من فضلك In a quick business deal, my uncounted money was accepted and a savory treat appeared in my hands, only pausing for a quick glance and whiff before being devoured. Soft warm bread wrapped thin slices of crispy lamb meat in a sweet sauce, fulfilling my insatiable palate. Hunger quelled.

In three or four bites, like a lion after a hunt, the entirety of my sustenance was eradicated with extreme prejudice. A warm feeling went down my throat and out my core. Full belly.

The cityscape engulfed me like a waterfall. I became part of the city flow. In unison with everyone, like a school of fish, I danced my way back to my hotel room. Happy heart.

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