Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Some (long) Thoughts on Egypt....

(sorry this turned out to be a really long post, i guess i'm just getting some things of my chest)

I havent really written so much about the political situation here in cairo at the moment,
mainly because i dont think i'm the most informed person to be writing about those kind of things.

I can write a little bit, but its purely my personal opinion and how things here have affected me.

To be honest i'm just tired of it all...
its not my fight and i'm stuck in the middle of tensions that i have no emotional connection to.

I understand the people trying to fight for a better life, 
there are so many people here who probably dont even fully comprehend just how much better their lives could be with a government that put its peoples needs first rather than their own, 
but at the same time i believe that
 'Charity begins at Home'.

How can you expect the leaders of your country to be
 honest, sensible, peaceful, trustworthy people, 
if you yourself are not these things.
(i'm sorry that i am incredibly generalising)
but let me say this....
in my time here as a blonde haired, blue-eyed foreigner i can tell you that on a DAILY basis, 
i am harrased in the streets as i walk down them - 
people staring at me,
 shouting at me,
 taking pictures of me,
 (of course there also the people who just want to say hello and be friendly too, again on a daily basis)

I am scammed by people who think that because 
i am a foreigner they can charge me sometimes as much as 200% the regular selling price....
(this is understandable as most foreigners in this country probably
 do earn a lot more than the average Egyptian but i myself am on
 an Egyptian salary and nobody believes me when i try and explain this to them!)

Egyptians have a short temper, 
and the common way to treat each other is to yell and scream to get things done, 
often resorting to fisticuffs. 
I once asked my friend why he punched the boy who was sitting next to him. 
'He just made me so angry,' he said, 'and punching him made me feel better about it'. 
I said to him, 'the ability to control our anger is what makes us better than the animals'.
 He replied to me that he had never thought about it like that before, 
and no one had ever told him it was wrong to react in such away.

And so i say again, 
if you expect the people who lead your country to be the best examples of you, than you have to improve yourself. Improve how you treat your fellow men. 

Since the Revolution there have been many protests,
sometimes tension filled - sometimes not.
 i rarely call in sick to work, but i do occasionally call in scared!

In general though there has not been a lot to worry about, 
the problems have been incredibly localised.

But just a couple of days ago whilst travelling home after
 a dress rehearsal with a friend on the Metro as a man went to exit the train, 
he purposely pushed his body up against mine and grabbed my ass to cop a feel. 

This was not the first time this has happened, 
but it has been happening on a more frequent basis. 
Most of the time i'm left absolutely helpless, and to be honest it makes me feel incredibly violated. 

I know it may sound a bit funny that someone grabbing my ass makes me feel violated, 
but please trust me  in telling you that it does.
 Men stare at me, they openly push themselves up against me,
 they grab my ass as i walk down the street,
 they walk behind me - following me all the time telling me how much
 they want to f**k me whilst i pretend not to hear....
and i can tell you that the constant daily strain of it wears you down. 
It makes you feel less than human,
 it makes you feel like an object that it is okay to treat like that, 
no better than they would treat a dog.

So the other night when it happened to me (again) on the Metro, 
i totally wigged out, 
i went crazy ass nuts on the guy, screaming and shouting proper Egyptian Style.
 And he of course did what they all do, throw their hands up in the air in the 'i surrender' pose and shake their heads claiming that they didnt do anything
 (sometimes when they do this i begin to doubt myself but this time i clearly saw what he did)
and then i broke down in tears and just kept
 repeating how i couldnt do this any more,
 this life here is too hard.

When i got off the train at the next stop,
 a few people who had been on my carriage came and apologised to me for what had happened. 
And i can tell you that this is something that happens often too. 
When they see something happen that shouldn't have, 
Egyptians will come up to you and say sorry, even though it was not their fault. 
They say sorry on behalf of their country,
 and they say sorry because they know as well as i do there is nothing either of us can do about it....

I guess i broke down so badly this time because i see an end in sight, 
and i dont need to keep myself toughened up any more.

Then yesterday  i heard that Principal male dancer from the company
 had been at a shopping mall with his friend, and was in the car park 
and him and his friend were held up by gunpoint by four armed assailants.
 As he ran to get help from some nearby security guards they shot at him and the bullet went through his femur breaking the bone in two. 
With the healthcare system the way it is here in Cairo
his chance for a full recovery and to be back on stage again any time soon are very slim.

So Egypt, 
its been an experience, and i think one that i wouldnt change for the world, 
but also one i wouldnt particularly recommend to anyone.

Life here is so different, 
and my eyes and my mind have been opened in a way that holidaying here, 
or reading about things on the news would never have made me understand. 

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