Total Pageviews

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Revolution 7.0

We had dinner last week with a friend who just arrived in Cairo this year.  She was anxiously discussing the road closures and curfews, the violence and the "tension" in the air.  Over her shoulder I could see the news feed on the T.V.  Men running through clouds of tear gas, people throwing rocks and other projectiles.

She asked us how what's happening now compares with the Revolution 1.0 we experienced two years ago.  And the best answer I could give is that it feels nothing like before.  It's sad, and the violence is disturbing, but I don't feel like it's really affecting my life at all.

Let me preface all of this by saying that I am always reluctant to give too much personal opinion on the subject of Egypt's tumultuous political situation.  Because if we look at the facts open and honestly, it's a bit naive and arrogant of me or any other expat to talk as if we can ever truly understand what's going on.

1.  I don't live in downtown Cairo where the nitty gritty real stuff is happening.

2.  I don't live on a normal Egyptian salary.

3.  I don't understand the cultural and religious issues that underly everything.

4.  I'm not Egyptian.  While I can appreciate their national pride and interest in improving their country, it's still their country, not mine.

When everything started two years ago it was frightening. We watched the news constantly for updates on what was happening in Tahrir. So much was uncertain. We had only lived in Egypt for 6 months, and were still trying to find a comfortable place for ourselves in a vastly different world.  To have that world suddenly go chaotic was a lot to handle.  I was afraid school would close down, and we wouldn't have jobs anymore.  I was afraid for the safety of my Egyptian friends who were taking part in the protests.  And I was slightly afraid of becoming trapped in a country where access to basic supplies was dwindling.  But never once was I afraid for my own safety. The people banded together and patrolled the streets.  It made me feel protected and safe.

This time around, as the Revolution continues, again and again... I feel very separate from everything that's happening.  We don't watch the news.  Half the time I don't even know something is happening downtown until I get a frantic message from loved ones asking if we're safe.  The media coverage always over dramatizes what's happening and I know how alarming that can be for friends and family back home.

Not to be callous, but it's all become something we're used to.  And that is a very harsh thing to say, especially with the death tally over the last week.  But when things continue in the same pattern without significant changes, that's kinda what happens.

So here's the point I want to make in this post... yes there is a point... If I can figure out how to weave it in.

I feel sorry for Egypt.  The vast majority of it's population lives without basic amenities, and the quality of life can be quite dismal.  Even in the "middle class" people are seriously struggling if their business relies on tourism, because no one wants to come to a country on vacation if they're concerned for their safety.  Which is especially sad, because Egypt is a dream for so many people.  It's a shimmering mirage in the sand, with Pharaohs and hieroglyphics.  We think of the amazing achievements we all learned about in grade school; the Pyramids, the Sphinx.  It's exotic and leaves a magical spot in our hearts.  And it should hold that spot.  Even now that my image of Egypt has changed to a more realistic one, I still remember the magic of seeing the Pyramids for the first time.

This is a country with so much history, so much passion, so much wonder.  And I truly hope that the people of our planet can keep the magic of Egypt alive in their hearts.  Because one day, things will get sorted out and coming to Egypt should not only be on your bucket list, it should be something you can do without fear.


  1. It's strange how quickly we become used to things. After my second or third day in IRaq I thought nothing of walling around with half a dozen guys toting Ak-47s. I didn't look twice at the blast walls anymore. It's sad in a way, but that's how we survive.
    I appreciate you admitting that no foreigner can truly understand what's going on there. If only the journalists would be so honest!

  2. Very well put, and the honesty you expressed, refreshing. The media shows the heavy stuff, not the everyday people just trying to live. When we were in Paris, there was a bomb scare at the Eiffel Tower, which scared our girls at home in Canada. For us, when we went by the Eiffel, we were impressed at the coolness of the French military. They made everyone feel they had the situation in hand. And they did. Stay safe and keep blogging.

  3. I am sure this article has touched all the internet viewers,
    its really really nice article on building up new weblog.
    Feel free to visit my homepage

  4. I'm not sure where you're getting your info, but great topic.

    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for great information I was looking for this info for my mission.

    Feel free to surf to my webpage ... money Online Niche