My wife and I recently relocated to Brooklyn, NY from Cairo, Egypt. The strange and wonderful experiences that we had while living in Cairo are not too far behind us. Hearing a conversation spoken in Arabic while riding the train reminds me of my old commute through Giza, past the pyramids and out into the desert. I filter through hundreds of photographs and notes looking for material to use in my artwork. I recently found this photo from the Giza Zoo. It was taken on a Friday, the busiest day at the zoo, the wrong day to visit.
The Giza Zoo is a dilapidated mess, full of every kind of trash. Caught in a dusty urban trap the animals seem sad. It's not a surprise that I chose this image for one of my drawings. The abandoned look of the building suggests that the zoo personal have no interest in caring for the animals. However, this might not be the case at all. After all, Cairo is a poor country with little to spend on public spaces. My experience in Egypt taught me to never under any circumstances assume anything about anything.
The Giza Zoo is entertainment, not protected wildlife. Families go for a picnic, children practice karate (pictured), and couples court one another. The Giza Zoo is loud and chaotic just like the rest of the city.
I live in a serene environment, close to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Looking at photographs like the ones from the Cairo zoo I am reminded of faces, sounds and emotions from a completely different part of the planet. I always have to remember that we all experience serenity in different ways.