An evocative group portrait at a cafe in Egypt, 1934

Inspired by the post about my family’s villa in the Maadi district of Cairo, I went through my collection of old studio portraits and postcards and found this evocative group portrait that I bought in the mid-1990s at L’Orientaliste in downtown Cairo, which was one of the finest sources in the Middle East for antique books, maps, and photographs.  The text on the obverse explains “This photo was taken in Roda café 10/9/1934” and lists the people depicted, from left to right: Mohammed Ali, Kamal Ibrahim, Fatehia Ahmed, and El Basha.  Roda is one of a number of islands in the Nile near Cairo and at its southern tip is the Nilometer which, at the time this photograph was taken, would have measured the height of the seasonal Nile floods.

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