About two km outside the resort of El-Gouna an "Oasis" dinner is set up in the middle of the desert. it's not a real oasis, like Fayoum or Siwa, but it has two camels you can ride, a sad looking donkey and a large tent covered with rugs, puzzled with low tables and large cushions. The restaurants, in this case Sultan Bey, provide the buffet. A stage in the middle, the entertainment. Another area invites you to sit with brothers in abayas to smoke shisha and have tea from the fire.
Truth be told, being outside while the wind wracks at the walls, seeing the sky through the roof and smelling the grill barbecuing kofta, chicken and fish, is calming and welcome.
The deejay is spinning some weird version of house music arab style with the same annoying thump of electronic disco as the bad house music in the local bar. Emad is our coordinator and we find we have common ground around the music. Not just that it sucks, no one likes it really, but it is taking precedence over what in our conjoined minds is the "real" arabic music. Emad loves music and is working on his own skills on the drums. I am an active listener. Music can keep me busy for hours and that is a problem.
I cruise You Tube for Arab violin players, oud solos, zither virtuosos, I get lost the same way people get lost on facebook or looking at celebrity news. The recordings are often poor quality, but i stick to it, with all the scratches and blips, something magical happens inside my body when the voice of Abdel Karem Shaar cracks the air.
Emad dreams that he could participate in some kind of preservation of the acoustic style Arab playing and singing. His dream is hitting walls all over. I tell him of some places in the States, not too many, who are archiving the old works, how some musicians are learning the patterns and the improvs and how some are blending the works with new stuff.
We commiserate and celebrate this music.
So today while writing, I was trying to erase my brain. It kept going back to a piece of news about a bicyclist who was killed by a bus at my corner. A bus i see everyday; maybe I've seen the cyclist too. The incident played in my brain while I was working on my story and occasionally, i checked news sites to get more information about it. I ghoulishly recognized the local businesses, my street.
I put on Abdel and sat back. Dak Bab al Byt soared through the room. I attached to it and before the end of the song, i was back into writing: entertainment, medicine, inspiration.
That is what my music does. I hope we can save it.
Causes Elmaz Abinader Supports