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ALEXANDRIA - 2

From Half Hours in the Holy Land by Norman Macleod, 1884

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Passing through the utter chaos, dilapidation, and confusion of the custom-house, and clambering over, as we best could, the innumerable bales of cotton, under the protection of the blue cloudless heavens - winding our way among goods of every description, and between barrels and hampers, amid the cries and noise of the mixed multitude who crowded the wharves, filled the boats, and offered themselves as porters, guides, and whatever else could command a backsheesh, we reached the outskirts of the custom-house, passed the officers, entered the bazaar, and had time to look around.

The first impression made upon a European, is, as I have said, that he has never seen anything at all like it. The shops, with various kinds of goods displayed behind a man who is seated cross-legged, willing to sell them apparently as a favour, hardly attract the eye any more than open cupboards would do. But the persons who crowd along the narrow lane! Only look at them! They are manifestly from all parts of the earth - Greeks, Turks, Jews, Armenians, Hindoos, Copts, Arabs, Nubians, Albanians, drunken Jack Tars, English officers on the way to or from India, &c. With the exception of the Europeans, each man appears in his own distinct individuality of face and raiment.

Arabs from the Desert

Arabs from the Desert

In America there is a Yankee type everywhere visible, with lips, nose, cheeks, and hair by no means romantic, though business-like; in Russia there is a Muscovite type, which admits of little variety; and everywhere, from the Mississippi to the Volga, there is a certain uniformity of face, or at all events of dress; coats and trousers with buttons, long tails or short tails, hats or caps - a sort of Caucasian respectability.

But here, each face seems to stand alone. There are eyes and foreheads, noses and beards, colours of skin, peculiarities of expression - the sly, the dignified, the rascally, the ignorant, the savage, the refined, the contented, the miserable - giving each face its own distinct place in the globe. And there is, if possible, a greater variety in costume.

Every man seems to have studied his own taste, or his own whim, or, possibly, his own religion, in the shape, colour, and number of his garments. The jackets, the pelisses or dressing-gowns, the waistcoats, the petticoats, the inexpressibles, the sashes, the turbans, the headgear, each and all are different in colour and in details of arrangement.

The arms, whether dirk or dagger, single pistols, or half a dozen, modern, or as old as the invention of gunpowder, sword, gun, or spear - each has its own peculiar form and arrangement, so that every Eastern has to a Western a novelty and picturesqueness which are indescribable.

And the motley crowd presses along: fat, contented, oily Greek merchants, or majestic Turks, on fine horses splendidly caparisoned, or on aristocratic donkeys, that would despise to acknowledge as of the same race the miserable creatures which bray in our coal-carts; barelegged donkey-boys, driving their more plebeian animals before them; Arabs from the desert, with long guns and gipsy-like coverings, stalking on in silence; beggars, such as one sees in the pictures of the old masters - verily "poor and needy, blind and naked; "insane persons, with idiotic look, and a few rags covering their bronzed bodies, seeking alms; Greek priests, Coptic priests, and Latin priests; doctors of divinity and dervishes; little dumpy women with their peculiar waddling gait, wrapt in white muslin sheets, their eyes only visible; and towering over all this strange throng are strings of camels, lank and lean, so patient-looking and submissive, pacing on under their loads of cotton, with bent heads and sleepy eyes, their odd-looking drivers mounted high above, rocking with that peculiar motion which the camel's pace produces - all this, and infinitely more, formed a scene I that looked like a fancy fair got up for the amusement of strangers.

Women - Riding and Walking

Women - Riding and Walking

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The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt

The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt
by Ian Shaw
  The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt describes the emergence and development of the distinctive civilization of the ancient Egyptians, from their prehistoric origins to their conquest by the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. It details the changing nature of life and death in the Nile valley, which gave rise to some of the earliest masterpieces of art, architecture, and literature in the ancient world.
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The Art of Travel
by Alain de Botton
  Aside from love, few actvities seem to promise us as much happiness as going traveling: taking off for somewhere else, somewhere far from home, a place with more interesting weather, customs, and landscapes. But although we are inundated with advice on where to travel, few people seem to talk about why we should go and how we can become more fulfilled by doing so. In The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton, author of How Proust Can Change Your Life, explores what the point of travel might be and modestly suggets how we can learn to be a little happier in our travels.
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