I often get asked, both by friends back at home, as well as people here, 'Why are you in the Middle East? Isn't it dangerous?' For the most part, I've got a few quick response I give. But I do often struggle to find the perfect reason to describe why I find this place so compelling and consuming.
An article in GQ this month about the assassinated US Ambassador Chris Stevens captures the essence perfectly.
"For people like us, the Middle East is tantalizing. The smell of coffee with cardamom, and of apple tobacco burning in water pipes; the colour and touch of carpets and fabrics; the sounds of the muezzin call to prayers and the energy of crazy urban traffic and large desert landscapes. The warmth of its people and the sound of their music and language. If you combine that with analytical curiosity invested in understanding the long history of the region and the complex dynamics of its current politics, the Middle East is a place you can't resist. It is not only an intellectual endeavour- it makes you feel fully alive."
- Taken from 'Murder of An Idealist' (GQ Magazine, December 2012)
As I sat in El Fishawy cafe (where famed Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz once wrote), I snapped this picture. In my mind, it captures so much about what I love here.