Ayman Ramadan

This one’s on me

I met up with an artist here in the neighborhood who had previously done a residency at Townhouse, my gallery back in Cairo. We decided to go out for a beer, and were practicing his (rather limited) Arabic when an old Dutch man at the bar got curious and invited us for a drink.


Footsteps in Noord - Ayman Ramadan

He got us some hard alcohol, which I never drink, so I convinced the bartender to dump it out in the sink when the old man wasn’t looking. When he found I was from Egypt, he became excited—his brother and his brother’s family had just gotten back from an Egyptian vacation. The old man starts to talk about Egypt and all the nice things there, but then quickly becomes sidetracked into the history of Egypt and Israel.
Amazingly, he knows more historical dates and details about the wars than even I do, but his viewpoint quickly shifts from the biased and slanted to the downright paranoid and racist. He exclaims that Arabs are bad and wrong, and they’re out to kill the Jews.
Feeling awkward and wanting to change the subject, I asked the bartender why there was a bell on the counter. She responded that anyone who rang the bell would buy a round for the entire bar. Excited, the old man started to ring the bell and, indeed, proceeded to buy everyone a round.
Slightly disturbed, my friend and I left. The loneliness of the old man weighs down on my shoulders as I make my way home.