An aid workers impressions as she travels the world building toilets.
Latest public adventure: to be determined.
Poems, photos and ramblings abound.

click to sort posts

January 21, 2012

What's on the roof?

Roofs are more interesting in Egypt than at home.

In the US, roofs are mostly gabled. We might have tar paper or shingles or skylights, and in some cases even solar panels - but that's about as interesting as it gets.

Roofs that I've seen lately are flat and much ado is had upon them. A lot of buildings are half built... (speculation as to why: Did they run out of money? Do they leave them like that for tax reasons? Is it just the normal pace of construction?) ... and the top floor of a half built building is a lot like a flat roof.

In Syria I mentioned the satellite dishes, nestled across every bare square inch of rooftops, searching for the mother ship. In Damascus they changed the law and now there is just one dish per roof. More developed? I say, not as interesting.

In Egypt there is no such law. Roofs are littered with soft circles of all sizes as far as the eye can see, gazing towards ArabSat or NileSat, sucking in billions of channels. A half built building with no heating or windows will already have the dishes starting to sprout.

On our roof there is an elevator motor house, some water tanks, satellite dishes, a sunny sitting area, and a picnic area with a stove and some decrepit stationary bicycles. On a clear day you can see the big pyramids across the Nile. I would enjoy it more except that it is extremely dusty.

The staples of an Egyptian roof are (of course) the aforementioned dishes, the water tanks, and bird houses. We have speculated about the bird houses. Are they for foul (roof-top livestock)? Are they for the swarms of pigeons that seem to occupy them anyhow? Do people hang out in them? It seems people put a lot of care into them. Designs and gay painting. Large structures of wood.

I have simple dreams. I'd like to visit one of these exciting roofs.


  1. Hmmm, seeing roofs involves meeting people.... and you have an adorable baby! A surefire way to meet nice ladies. Or is that not within the cultural bounds?

  2. Probably within the bounds, ladies to ladies... I wouldn't know where to start though!