KeepingCairo records and teaches the architectural patrimony of Cairo and other Egyptian urban centers. Its editor is Brian Carter Broadus AIA, (براين برودس) an American architectural historian and an architect whose career is devoted to the conservation of historic architecture, the rehabilitation of older buildings. teaching, public advocacy, sustainable design, and preservation law. It is also hoped that global attention will bring with it economic and social benefits for the residents of the poorer quarters in which the monuments sit.
Brian's company is Brian Carter Broadus LLC Architects.
What Internet site is not a work in progress? Currently that work consists of uploading into the site database many hundreds of photographs and other items. Items can and will include video and audio recordings—the sound of an Egyptian street compared to the silence of a masged is remarkable. The open-source software on which the site depends is analogous to a physical museum: soon there will be collections and exhibits, some of which will hold lecture notes and tour descriptions in English, French, and Arabic. The Arabic will be in Arabic text. In the captions and descriptions that use the Roman alphabet, the Arabic long vowels alif, waaw, and yaa' are transliterated aa, uu, and ii respectively. Brian will transliterate directly from the Egyptian dialect: this is not conventional and is a statement of his belief that dialects are valid forms of written communication. Other contributors to the site may insist on the more common transliteration of Modern Standard Arabic.
The Gregorian calendar is now thoroughly secular and used exclusively. It is also solar, which allows for ready seasonal comparisons across decades, i.e., August and September are always flood months in Egypt. The Hijri calendar remains tightly associated with Islam itself and is lunar, i.e., the holy month of Ramadan is what would be termed in the West a "movable feast” since it is not fixed to solar time. But the principle actors in Islamic Cairene history before Napoléon regulated their days by the azan clock and their years by the Hijri calendar.
Since Brian is a latecomer to these wonders, he acknowledges Doris Behrens-Abouseif, Nasser Rabbat, and Caroline Williams, currently-working scholars whose works will be cited and linked to when this site publishes its Bibliography and Resources list. Brian apologizes immediately for not providing more detailed credits to this trio now and he hopes that the mention of these names, and the existence of an Internet search engine, will mitigate his offense.
Brian next bows towards generally toward the Egyptian people, who are the kindest, most hospitable, funniest and, ya rab, the proudest of a homeland. A prime mover behind Brian's work is a desire to foster direct, street-level contact between Westerners and Egyptians. There are few nationals who will tell a foreign visitor that, “You may go back your own country, but remember that you must return soon and often here, to your mother.” Egyptians are one of that tiny minority.
Heba al-Batreeq is an attorney in, a life-long resident of, and an asset to the al-Darb al-Ahmar quarter of Cairo. If life gets better in this, perhaps the planet's most densely-populated place and a refuge for those displaced from the Egyptian and Sudanese countryside, it will be because of Heba and her friends. Heba opened her home to Brian, who is sorry that he did not eat as much of Heba's mother's cooking as Heba's mother wanted him to eat. In recompense, he will eat more next visit, inshaa allah, and is happy to report that Heba's grandmother received, on his second visit to Heba's home, the kiss he promised her in October 2008. He is most sorry that this fulfillment was not photographed.
Passent al-Nemr does not live in Cairo, but in Alexandria. Nonetheless, her family and she display to the furthest extreme the warmth and welcome of Egypt, so much so that the division between the al-Nemr clan and Brian's has disappeared. Brian and Passent share a truly extended and typical Egyptian-American family, since it is one that makes insignificant 9500 kilometres of physical separation.
Awsim resident Shaimm'aa Sha'ban Ahmad wanted to learn better English and French and through the Internet found Brian as a teacher. In turn, she and her friend Amany Osama—each an Egyptian Ancient History student at al-Giza's Cairo University Faculty of Arts and a prospective licensed and currently excellent pharaonic Egypt guide—support Brian's interest in contemporary and historic Cairo as translators. Amany has been a particularly helpful friend, answering questions about ancient Egypt that Brian has passed along to her from American schoolchildren.
Egyptians persevere without grasping the miracle of Egyptian grace, strength, wisdom, humor, and intelligence. Brian hopes that he can do Egypt a true good in showing Cairo's beauty to the world.