Friday, August 20, 2010


There is no 'just' in Egypt. Just go to the bank. Just get cell phone minutes. Just cross the street. No, no. As my dad pointed out, even in Canada basic errands are more complicated than the States. Well here what one would expect to check off their to do list in one afternoon is instead an ongoing saga not to take less than a week to accomplish. I tell you this because that way when I say I did something like I purchased an item I needed, or made it safely to the other side of the street, you know I've accomplished something with my day. A particularly amusing moment: after an afternoon of banking I was trying to link my US account with my new Egyptian one. My home bank gave me a warning that Egypt was labeled as a "Slow" country. Ha, even the computers no you can't get anything done.

That said, I had a very interesting night last night. After an outdoor concert in a tucked away corner of Old Cairo (filled with Egyptian youth and ex-pats) we ventured to one of Cairo's nice hotels on the Nile. While I enjoyed the view, what I really liked was listening to Egyptians and Palestinians discuss Egypt's upcoming presidential election. Both girls and guys debated the merits and dangers of the current president versus the only viable alternative, the Muslim Brotherhood. Some argued that if the Brotherhood was actually going to take care of their country then more power to them. Others argued that right now they were at least guaranteed some personal freedoms and with the Brotherhood promising Sharia law, they'd rather not find out what that means. The main problem is that it is hard to tell what the Brotherhood in power would actually look like. Sharia law apparently changes from group to group, so it is hard to tell what one is actually voting for. Anyways it was interesting to hear first hand what people are thinking, thoughts on women's rights, and what to do about the disparity found in the country.

I'll end with a quote about Cairo and more specifically Heliopolis, my section of town.
"It was to ancient Heliopolis, the oldest of Cairo's many avatars, that the bird of fabulous plumage was said to return every 500 years, to settle on the burning altar at the great Temple of the Sun and then to rise again from its own ashes. Time and again, Cairo too has risen from its ashes. It has survived countless invasions, booms and busts, famines, plagues and calamities. Through them all the city has ultimately remained, as in its classical Arabic name, al-Qahira - The Victorious." - Max Rodenbeck

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