Walk Like an Egyptian = Riots?
Trip Start Aug 17, 2010
18Trip End Dec 30, 2010
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It has been a weird start to the semester. I only had about a week at home before I repacked my things to come back to PC. The week was craziness; I was constantly seeing friends and family. Finally seeing everyone again has been strange, but such a great feeling. I feel like I have come up with answers to the questions I get constantly... are you glad to be back? what was your favorite part? etc. It is great talking about Cairo, but sometimes I really miss it-- and by sometimes I mean all of the time. The first weekend back to PC there was a major snowstorm throughout all of the southeast and Clinton was no exception. Classes were canceled for three days because everything was so icy, literally, I'm talking sheets of ice on sidewalks. There was still a sheet of ice covering my car on Friday. My friends and I did a lot of sitting around in our dorms and we watched tons of Glee and also Big Bang Theory-- two of our favorites. You cannot get much different from Cairo than sitting in a room doing nothing for three straight days. It was kind of nice to get back into the swing of classes, but I am still getting into a routine. I have decided to take on a lot of things this semester (perhaps I was unconsciously planning to compensate for the boredom I knew would follow a semester abroad) including eighteen hours, an internship, a job, and two different clubs, among other things. Trying to balance everything is difficult, but I am getting there, slowly but surely.
Now to the interesting part: the Egyptian riots. The first question I now get asked from everyone I meet is: "Arn't you glad you are out of Egypt?" I try to keep my answers light and say things like "that's what I hear" or "my parents sure are!" but truth be told it is hard to watch what is going on in Egypt and not want to be there. Cairo is a place I called home for four months! I walked those streets which they feature on the news everyday. Yeah, Tahrir Square, that place that they keep showing on tv, if you look behind it you can see the old campus of the American University where I taught English to refugees every Sunday night. To the left of the is Felfela where I ate a ton of Egyptian food for so cheap, behind that are streets where I went to smoke sheesha and sip tea with friends. Cairo is a place I love and seeing it in so much turmoil is upsetting. The people of Egypt deserve to be free, they have been oppressed for 30 plus years under a ruler who cares more about himself than the good of his country. People want to know if he is really as bad as it seems and to that I respond, he is worse. The looters? Yeah, Mubarak's secret police (they found these people armed with government issued guns and plainclothes police ID). Egyptian undercover police are scum, they harass women and offer bribes for money. Those pro-Mubarak supporters in the square now have been paid hundreds of Egyptian Pounds to use violence against the peaceful protesters. I have seen it said: "If Egyptians hate Mubarak, then why do they not vote him out?" I was there during the last elections, hardly any minority parties won any seats because of constitutional reform AGAINST democracy-- which I studied in my political science class at AUC. In all, the Egyptian citizens are standing up for rights which they have been denied for years, and I am so proud of them!
So to answer my first question, am I glad I'm out of Egypt? I am glad my parents know I am safe, but my heart is in Egypt with my friends who are standing up for their rights. I wish I could be standing on an unfinished Cairo roof, looking out over the Nile and the protests. While I do not wish to be among the protests, I do somehow wish I could be there. Maybe that makes me crazy, but so be it, maybe I just feel young and invincible. As I hear from my friend Taylor who was just evacuated from Egypt and I remember all of the things which she did not get to do. I remember the times I spent on the Red Sea, going to the pyramids, wandering around the streets of Cairo, eating Egyptian food (falafel, koshary, tahina, shwerma, oh my!) I am certain that I will return once everything calms down one day, but until I go back I will forever feel attached to Cairo and Egyptians. Never in a million years would I have been able to guess how connected I feel to Cairo and I cannot wait to go back!