Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Letters from Egypt: Sounds of Ramadan

As going to press always poses more chaos to my schedule, I have been riddled with electrical problems the past five days to the point that I even packed a suitcase just in case of an emergency evacuation. I also learned the Arabic words for “fire” and “help” so I could warn others in the building in the event an electrical fire occurred. The electrician came this morning, so hopefully the problem has been rectified.

I have posted a clip of how dead one of the most popular roads (particularly for foreigners) is right at sundown, and also so you may hear the mosque nearby the café.

video

However, I wish I would’ve obtained video of what I witnessed yesterday. I’m sitting with Natalie at the café and we see an SUV driving down Road 9 and all of the sudden, people begin running to the vehicle. Some even make an attempt to get on top, while others are trying to get in through the back windows. Even the policemen are trying to get in. I can’t understand what is happening and it is upsetting, but then I realize the couple, seated in back are handing out food. One of the beggar women dressed in black (see picture from previous post) even grab onto the car. The driver attempts to speed away, and ends up dragging the woman.

I want to say that the beggars on Road 9 are crème of the crop compared to other beggars. Foreigners, thinking they are doing a good deed, are always giving these people money in this particular area. At Iftar, or feeding time for those Muslims fasting, food is made readily available for EVERYONE. Even when I am in a cab, people are on the street throwing bags of food in the car to supply those working during this time.

I am uncertain if the people in the back were foreign, but they appeared as so. Also, deductive reasoning would lead me to believe that if Egyptians are going to provide food, it isn’t going to be on Road 9 – that’s expat territory. Natalie and I looked at each other and commented, “This is why you should never do this.” I understand people are only trying to do good, but just as Nat and I discussed, you have to be able to decipher between those that are just lazy and those that really need the help.

I am always getting items for Shaimaa, and I enjoy it. She works hard for me and I want to show her my gratitude. My Egyptian coworker told me that these women can get a job cleaning, and this is true. Everyone here has a maid or wants one. Giving to policemen is understandable considering their salaries is only about 500-600LE (approx. $100 - $120) a month. This is why policemen usually opt for bribes or also help park cars to earn an extra pound here and there.

I just want to make the point to those traveling afar that yes, we are very blessed to have what we have. However, do not forget that there are lazy people in our very own countries and while it’s easier for us to spot, make a note they exist everywhere. It isn’t heartless, it is just the truth. When you feed into this, you enable laziness to continue and unfortunately, it is one unfavorable characteristic that spreads. We would all like to believe that one kind act bestowed upon someone is also followed by them returning the kindness to another stranger, but you must distinguish no matter how difficult it may appear.

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