The BLUE LOTUS of Egypt was an ancient symbol of resurrection and rebirth. It was often represented by the image of a young god emerging from the petals of the primordial darkness and into the light of a new dawn.
There was no light in the Lotus Hotel after sunset, particularly in the 1902 elevator and the winding, paneled hallways which were darker than oblivion. After two hours of banging on a rusty iron gate at 3am, a man with a gold tooth finally appeared and handed me a flashlight, a paper thin towel and a used bar of soap with a strangely long pubic hair dangling from it. He graciously walked me to my room and informed me that the breakfast was free.
A lotus flower grows out of the mud, pure and clean, and opens for only three days after which each leaf falls silently into the water and drifts away.
I arrived at the hotel moderately clean and gradually became encrusted with a kind of sandy, taupe covered dust due to the lack of hot water and the creepy pube in my soap. I only lasted one day, not three, and I did not “drift silently” away. I ran. Fast.
Every part of the Lotus plant is edible and can be fried, roasted, boiled, braised or turned into oil.
Supposedly, there were a few edible things in the restaurant, but I did not see them.
The Lotus seed can reproduce after prolonged periods of dormancy (up to 1200 years!) and even under exposure to constant low dose gamma radiation.
The thought of practicing the “art of reproduction” at the Lotus Hotel gives me hives. I choose the exquisite pain of dormancy. Even if it lasts 1001 years.
The Lotus flower wakes up at dawn and goes to sleep by 2pm.
HA! Cairenes go to SLEEP at dawn and wake up around noon. (not ALL of them, of course, but it is considered rude to call someone before 12 pm…..1am, however, is no problem) I personally did not sleep at the Lotus. Water Dripping. Clock Ticking. Cars Bleating.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead contains spells and directions for transforming oneself into a Lotus.
There are no directions to the Lotus Hotel which is located on the 7th floor of a dilapidated art deco building off Talat Harb Square just a few blocks from Tahrir. One must take a broken elevator to the forth floor, then walk the last three levels passed an abandoned dentist office, random sleeping doormen and the “Somalia Youth Center”, all while negotiating piles of cigarette butts and neatly stacked garbage. Finally, you emerge through a long orange corridor and into a narrow lobby where a TV from the seventies is permanently turned to Al Jazeera and a gang of old men play backgammon for money and cheap cigarettes. On the morning I left, Gamal, the player with the most years and the least teeth, opened the window for the first time since the revolution……and the sun was shining.