Sunday, March 25, 2012

Observations #6

31. An American journalist friend lived on Mohamed Mahmoud street, where the violence flared in November, and moved to a safer area when his apartment caught fire. He told me: “I think we were getting off on the danger thing for a while, but then eventually it’s not fun anymore.”

32. In the Cairo International Airport, a billboard advertising a mobile company reads, “The people of Egypt are the greatest people on the earth, and they deserve the Nobel Prize for Peace – Austrian President Heinz-Fischer.” Another reads, “We must educate our children to become like young Egyptian people. – President of the U.S.A., Barack Obama.”

33. The magazine published by Royal Jordanian Airlines features the same articles in both English and Arabic, though the translations are not always literal. “Valentine’s Day: Woo your lover in style!” becomes “Day of Love: Celebrate with your loved one in a perfect and romantic way.” Both, however, advertise “Loveland Ski Resort” in Colorado, where couples can renew their vows at 12,050 feet before skiing down the mountain.

34. In Jordan, many people warned me not to return to Cairo because they perceive the city to be overrun with theft and violence. 

35. In the Al-Gumhoria (state newspaper) building, every time someone enters the elevator, they greet and shake hands with everyone else in the elevator. I assumed this was because they all knew each other until I was shaking hands with new men on the 4th, 6th, 8th, 9th, and 10th floors, before getting out at the 11th

36. The press reported that Hosni Mubarak’s cousin, who happens to also be named Hosni Mubarak, plans to run for president.

37. In a short story by Yahya Taher Abdullah, a man is hit by a car while crossing the street. A large crowd gathers around his corpse. A newspaper seller approaches and covers the face with a paper to keep away the flies. The car’s driver offers the seller some money, the cost of the paper, and the seller refuses, saying “God grants rewards.”

38. When you arrive at the Cairo Airport, a bus waits at the plane’s exit to take passengers to the terminal, which is about twenty feet away. There are two buses, one for first class and another for second. The difference seemed to be negligible, but the young airport worker tasked with making sure that coach passengers don’t get on the first-class bus was incredibly anxious. “Just one moment!,” he shouted at everyone, holding his index finer in the air as they walked towards him. “Please, please just wait one minute!”

Photo: A man paints graffiti and a woman films him.

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