Last night I went to the Orient Restaurant and Par. It’s a dinky little place downtown. There I got my belly replenished and my soul rekindled.

The Orient aka Abu Ahmad’s is a very old establishment. To get there you walk down a dark, wet, and smelly alleyway, through a doorway and up a couple of dingy flights of stairs. Once past the door you are in a dimly lit room with glitzy decorations taped to the ceiling and Marline Monroe hanging in the corner next to a brown Styrofoam Petra that takes up an entire wall. The tables are covered in the same gold cloth used for the curtains and are draped with protective plastic coverings. The bar is lined with small bottles of cheap alcohol and a small TV perched at the end.

We sat down for our meal while the TV played an Egyptian movie. We were the only women in the house. The waiters were not phased. The patrons were a mix of amused and annoyed that two women have invaded their male domain. We were made to feel welcome nonetheless. After an amazing meal that is simple, heart warming, and belly filling, we made our way out. But not before this simple place with its simple life restored a bit of reality and simplicity to my life, through the music of an old old friend: Um Kalthum. Her music penetrated deep into my soul, her voice took me to heights of giddiness and the depth of emotion and everything in between.  She  sings of great love and great pain and with every note and every word you live within that moment.

It was just the right experience to quiet the disquiet within. I love my little forays into the real world outside my bubble. This time I ventured into The Orient and emerged with a happier me.  

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