Ladies and gentlemen, when you paint your lips, eyes, nails, hair, side-beards, or whatever, to look beautiful or handsome, don’t forget your up stairs, if you don’t go up there to put things in order, then, consider the former attributes null and void.

At the beginning, I thought the best Islamic work was in Spain – the mosque in Cordoba, the Alhambra in Granada. But as I learned more, my ideas shifted. I traveled to Egypt, and to the Middle East many times.I found the most wonderful examples of Islamic work in Cairo, it turns out. I’d visited mosques there before, but I didn’t see them with the same eye as I did this time. They truly said something to me about Islamic architecture.

The overcast skies had the colour of deadened stones, and seemed closer than usually, as though they were phlegmatically observing my every movement with their apathetic emptily blue-less eyes; each tiny drop of hazy rain drifting around resembled transparent molten steel, the pavement looked like it was about to burst into disconsolate tears, even the air itself was gray, so ultimate and ubiquitous that colour was everywhere around me.