Monday, September 8, 2008

Cairo day 5

So the first word Arabic students in the US learn is "the United Nations" the second word is "literature".
Useless, right?
A few chapters later you learn a word describing the concept of 'overcrowdedness' (al-iztihand).
Even more useless, no?
Not. I now know why that word is so crucial to preparing one to live in Cairo.
Walking back from the bustling Ramses square after hanging out with Chris took a good 25 minutes. For maybe 10 minutes it was dead quiet, then I just turned into times square on New Year's F-ing eve. Everyone, everywhere, everything, all. Table and tables of people eating, smoking sheesha, reading, chatting, gossiping, shopping for shoes, doing groceries, just plain old loitering, dude. My walk back, mind you, took place between midnight and 0u40 ;-) Like c'mon people, don't you have a BED to be in?

This was also the fist time I could feel pollution on my skin and had to blink noticeably more often to clean my eyes from the exhaust fumes.

And in the middle of all this, and a brightly lit street, I see this Nicabi woman looking into a lingerie shop's window at some mannequins wearing very revealing night-gown/lingerie type clothes. (For those of you who are not Arab-wardrobe inclined, a nicab is that gown that covers the whole body except the eyes...)

-Like DAMN girl, that's got me wondering what you're WEARING under that thang, what kind of engine's purring under that hood... Hopefully, only her husband knows.
But doesn't that defy the point of a nicab?

So I keep on walking back and I come to Talat Harb square. I hear this really loud speech being broadcast out onto this square. So I'm like what is that? What are they talking about? It's being broadcast from some balcony so maybe someone's giving a speech or something inside.
Whatever, I go to a nearby Egyptian fast food place to get my $.20 fool paddy, beans in bread, reminds me of Mexican food and Chicago and Ghent in the future... :) I get my fool food and a soft drink, just because, not at all out of hunger, and chill at the square and sat there listening to this speech.
I quickly figured out it was your good old dose of nocturnal Ramadan propaganda. I could make out it was different personalities lauding the president and the country for the many advances they were undertaking. All of this being blasted out over this heavily frequented square in Downtown Cairo.
This explained the large number of policemen who were patrolling the square. It also probably had something to do with these two weird trucks full of military personnel/riot police?...

Quick Fact: Mubarak, the current president, won the last elections in a landslide of 88.5% of the vote with only a mere 23% turnout. Go M!

And here's this French looking dude (twice people have stopped me asking me if I'm French, never if I'm American) listening to propaganda because it's good practice while everyone else walks by on their cell phones not paying attention at all.

Maybe tomorrow I'll figure out the 'United Nations' and 'literature' conundrums.

Pictures with the following captions to follow when connection improves:

1. People certainly not praying before they break their fast. Under an expressway, breaking fast.
2. wft?
3. Talat Harb square.

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