Ailsa’s travel photo challenge: Rhythm

Ailsa proposes ‘Rhythm’ as this week’s photo topic, which is great for me!  Since the WordPress weekly photo challenge is proposing ‘Today’ as a topic, I can’t draw on my father’s black and white photos from seventy years ago!  But I can for Ailsa.

See her Rhythm story here:

And here’s mine, the only photo from the album in which someone is playing a musical instrument.  I imagine this monkey is dancing to the beat.  It was amusing enough for a few people to stop and watch and for at least one soldier to stop and photograph.  My father wrote ‘Kan-Kan’ under the photo, so that must be the monkey’s name.

An Egyptian man with a dancing monkey is generally a beggar who lives on alms.  He is called a fakir (so I read), an Arabic word for ‘needy man’.  In Western countries, the use of animals for street entertainment is frowned upon now, though I did see some online  images of dancing monkeys in India and Pakistan.  I suppose it’s like busking;  there’s probably some talent involved in training the monkey.  But from then on it has to dance for its supper.  It’s something which leaves me ambivalent:  I have a real (Western) pleasure in Orientalist images, whether they be paintings or designs or photos like this one.  I feel the same when listening to gypsy music like that of Django Reinhardt, which makes sense:  the word gypsy comes from Egyptian.  The colourful elements of Middle Eastern life are like chocolate to me; they’re rich and mysterious.  Here’s to ancient peoples!  We owe them much.

Kan-Kan, Egypt, 1942

8 thoughts on “Ailsa’s travel photo challenge: Rhythm

  1. I understand your conflict with this photo, Trish, it always makes me sad to see animals in these situations, and yet it is a photograph so rich in history. There is currently heated debate in New York over the use of horse-drawn carriages in Central Park, we still have a lot to learn about treating our fellow citizens of the world with compassion.


    • I played your videos – thanks for sharing them with us. Where I live, we don’t have much street music, probably because we have shopping malls instead of street shopping, which is part of this city’s modern design. I’m sure people here would be happier if they could see live musicians like you playing here and there as they go through their day.


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