Elliott Colla in his blog:

ScreenHunter_802 Sep. 20 22.07My first year as a student in Cairo. I visit Cairo’s main book market located in the famous area of Ezbekiyya. When Napoleon tried to conquer Egypt, this was the site of a man-made lake surrounded by the ornate palaces of Turkish Pashas and high-ranking officials of the late Mameluke state. A century later, during British rule, the lake had been filled in and the area converted into a vast entertainment district. Bars and theatres, cabarets and brothels catered to Cairo’s elites who met in this border zone located between the medieval casbah and the new colonial downtown. By the time I get to Cairo, most of this history has disappeared under flyovers and Soviet-era concrete projects. Still, a few sordid belly-dance clubs still hold out over near the decrepit old fire station and post office.

The book market is literally fastened to an old black iron fence. Inside the bars, sit the stately gardens of Ezbekiyya Park, completely off-limits to the general public. Outside, the book market stalls cling to a tiny strip between the fence, a chaotic bus depot, and the busy streets of Ataba.

I do not read Arabic in 1985. So, I mostly look around at the posters. During those years, most of them featured the Indian beefcake actor, Amitabh Bhachchan and a woman provocatively fixated on a snake, her full red lips about to kiss it.

More here.