In the day, the German tourists are quiet, as if they know five writers are squirreled away in nearby rooms working on pieces and trying impossibly to not turn some connection on to the rest of the world. I disconnect the ethernet cord, turn away from the remote, shut down the facebook and email and look out the window at the pool, the golf course with constant pivot irrigators snapping away, pushing the desert into a green lawn. Beyond are more arched buildings, the color of the earth, mimicking Hassan Fathy's architecture and his sustainable model. We can pretend we are in Egypt. Really.
This is the territory of young Egyptian men. They are never the visitors, but they run every from the front desk, to the bar, to the pool, waiting staff, housekeeping, accounting, lifting wooden gates to allow cars in, sitting in various spots throughout the resort. They are dressed in suits, they have impeccable English, some also speak German. Egyptian women are rarely seen in any positions in the hotel. A young man named Mohamed brings me Ahwa Arabia as soon as the bar opens at 9 a.m., another sits in the Bwaab chair telling me about his hungry children. I know what to do.
Another, Emad cleans our rooms. He brings me bowls of fruit from the management and says "you are a very important person." While he swabs the cool tile floor, I descend to sit by the pool where there are chaises and tables where i sit to do my work. I am positioned at the east end of the pool and have a view of everyone swimming, tanning, lounging while i write the chapter on the beginning of an affair. I am struck by the quiet. Many pools with cafes where you can swim, sit and order, usually blast innocuous hybrid music. But at this pool, the lapping of water and the giggles of a boy named Axel are the only sounds.
I survey the edges of the pool where people are lounging and make a satisfying discovery: everyone is reading. Not magazines or newspapers, not Ipads or Kindle. They are reading books--precisely novels. Chaise after chaise, in positions of recline and lying flat, to the side and sitting up, this group of tourists are engrossed in their books, on paper, with binding. After the screen built in the seat on the airplane, after the ipads that had photos of books on them, I had my doubts that i would ever see a crowd of people happily engaged in books. One person was not reading, only one. He was playing with Axel.
Perched on the wooden chair, my iced tea beside my pad, an energy spurts through the ink. I am not a dying writer, the old generations. Reading is happening, which is cool because I'm a writer.
We have been talking about balance among ourselves and how we achieve it. Walking, exercise, tai chi. So someone proposes we go to town to Peanuts for Latin night. I am not big on dancing in smoky clubs. Generally I am a house party person, but the connection to my fellow writers has become strong, I want to be with them on this adventure.
We dress in our boho best and taxi to a nearby hotel for a very inferior dinner. When we arrive at Peanuts, tables are mostly empty, the dj is behind the bar, peanuts of course are in baskets around the space. One table full of party people, very young, are shouting to house music. They have a line up of empty and full glasses. We find a table good for viewing the room and wait. The girls at the party table are very thin, they have long hair, short dresses that are breezy. They dance around leading a pile of young men after them. They cannot find the beat, but they have watched enough television to know to flip their hair over, to run their hands down the sides of their partners. The boys, whoever they are, cannot find the beat even in house music.
When a familiar song comes, my friends hit the dance floor, trying to make a space around the new formed out of whack conga line. Sevi and Lauri give up, Tiziana stays of the floor dancing a combination of her tai chi moves and a rhythmic bop. We admire her flow, her assertion into the space. She talks to people, whirls around, acquires partners, lets them go. When she returns to the table, she signals a huddle, points to the party table with her eyes. "They are Russian, new money. They preceded their parents who are coming in a few days." One of the boys is awkwardly imitating Michael Jackson.
Latin music never comes and we feel a little cheated. How can we get some music we wonder. Finally the dj feels our need and sets on some oldies which would never thrill me, but i needed to shoot out some energy, get my body shaken from airplanes and chairs. We play on the floor, the whites of our outfits glowing under the black light. One of the Russian girls climbs on the bar, imitates Beyonce, totally devoid of any sense of the music, she is snaking her body up and down imaginary poles, throws her hair irreplaceable style down and up. Almost everyone in the room backs away and watches. Sevi and Lauri return to our table, stand, and stare at the girl. They look concerned, troubled. Then i remember they both have daughters. I wonder if they worry at girls on the table or are satisfied that their daughters wouldn't do such a thing?
We leave to survey the yachts in the harbor, walk the path of footlights from one hotel to the other. We catch a couple of shuttles back to the hotel, discuss what we are going to do with our adrenaline-filled bodies. "Let's go to the writer's room and dance," someone suggest. We have a room that we can meet in, write in, use a our personal library.
"I'm going back to write," I say, once again desperate to keep myself on track, now having done something for "balance."
What I don't say is I have a new purpose here, not just to write my book, to bring satisfaction of completion, to get the time for myself. I am writing now for the Germans, sitting around pools, reading books, keeping my world alive.
Causes Elmaz Abinader Supports