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Penn & Teller in Cairo, 2003

A different time.

By Staff writer / March 21, 2013

Last night stumbled across this video bringing together two of the world's greatest magicians and one of the world's greatest, if seriously troubled, cities.

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Staff writer

Dan Murphy is a staff writer for the Monitor's international desk, focused on the Middle East. Murphy, who has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and more than a dozen other countries, writes and edits Backchannels. The focus? War and international relations, leaning toward things Middle East.

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Penn & Teller went to Egypt in 2003 (the same year I moved there... coincidence?) and the video is filled with street life in Cairo around Tahrir Square and Talat Harb and some of the city's poorer neighborhoods.

They're ostensibly in search of the descendants of the "gali-gali men," Egyptian street magicians who have largely faded from view, and the roots of the "Cups and Balls," a magic routine practiced across the globe for centuries that may have been first developed in pharaonic Egypt (in a tomb in upper Egypt they examine hieroglyphs that suggest, but don't prove, the trick was well known 4,000 years ago).

I share it because the moments with the few proud, but dirt-poor, street performers they find capture the resilience and incredibly good humor of Egyptians.

Oh yeah - Teller talks (at about 19 minutes in he explains his delight at being fooled by one of the Egyptian magicians they meet). 


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