Saturday, May 12, 2012

Observations #9

54. Although few protesters ever chant “The people and the army are one hand!” anymore, the phrase is emblazoned on many of the military’s tanks as they guard state buildings and embassies.

55. Young men have long made their way around Tahrir square with paint cups of red, white, and black, writing Jan 25 and brushing an Egyptian flag onto anyone’s arm or hand or face for a few pounds. Recently, though, they have been going from car to car in traffic jams and beginning the flag on someone’s arm, stretched out of the window, before they have a chance to protest.

56. While in Port Said, I found a boarded up shop with its name covered in newspapers to protect it from the sandy wind. The newspapers, upon closer inspection, were mostly all from the day after the soccer stadium violence, detailing then numbers of dead and wounded and speculating on who was to blame.

57. Coca-Cola billboard in Port Said: “GIVE ME A BETTER TOMORROW.”

58. Along the Suez Canal boardwalk, a man approached us and asked where we were from. When we said America, he burst into rhapsody: “I love America, a lot, a lot, a lot.” He had a thick, grey beard and weathered skin. “In America, and in Egypt,” he said, “people are like apples. There are a few rotten ones every once in a while, but most of them are very beautiful.”

59. During the revolution, a chief prison warden named Mohamed El-Batran was killed after refusing higher orders to release prisoners into the streets. In October, a rights group claimed he was killed by security personnel, not, as previously believed, by prisoners. Graffiti artists painted his picture alongside those of other ‘martyrs of the revolution’ on the sides of buildings. Many anonymous people since have tried to deface the painting. A graffiti artist explained: “They don’t want to accept that he was part of the revolution for refusing orders, that he was killed for it.” It was unclear to me if ‘they’ refers to the revolutionaries or the military.

60. Near my apartment, a cab driver spends every day, from morning until late at night, hanging around his station wagon taxi. He is short, wears long sleeve T-shirts tucked into jeans, and a grey comb-over atop his circular head. He shines the taxi, cleans it out, decorates it with pictures and trinkets, opens up the windows and blasts music from it, and just generally mills around its vicinity. I have never seen him drive it.

Photo: Mummified crocodiles in Kom Ombo, by Emily Smith

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