Monday, August 12, 2013

Letters from Egypt: Don’t Leave Home

A special thanks to the Muslim Brotherhood for blocking one of Cairo's busiest roads
Forget all about Heliopolis. Oh, that’s cute – you really like to shop at City Stars? Yeah, well you can go ahead and chalk those days up to long gone.

What a disaster! So much of a complete catastrophe that I’m even rethinking friendships from anyone that lives in the area. Yes, for all of you (A.M. and D.I. especially) I just want to let you know that it’s been a good run, but unfortunately, our time has come to an end. That is unless you want to visit Maadi. Otherwise, it’s over.

I went to the Intercontinental City Stars to the pool this past Saturday. I negotiated LE 30 for an old model black and white (and in my defense, I didn’t have change) promising that there was no traffic this holiday weekend. There wasn’t. Until after the Arab Contractors building and then – wait for it…wait for it…

The Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood or MB) had carnival-type venders surrounding an inflatable kid bounce house set up IN THE MIDDLE OF THE AUTOSTRAD. How is this remotely allowed? More importantly, why is Amnesty International sending out numerous press releases daily discussing the abuse of the MB members when clearly they are still allowed to conduct such ludicrous protests, aka a state fair or oversize playground, blocking a major roadway?

For those of you that don’t live here, imagine the autostrad as being a major highway or even an interstate. A study released in 2009 (Capacity Analysis of Roads Network at Sheraton Area, Cairo, Egypt) detailed on average that the peak hour volume on the Autostrad in the exact area where the Ikhwan has set up shop to have 2,993 vehicles per hour. That was in 2009, so you can imagine over the past four years that figure has substantially increased.

For those of you that do live here or have in the past, I know you’re thinking: “No problem, just cut over to Salah Salem.” Wrong. Then you will face what I did: the army blockade (Salah Salem is the location of the presidential palace). So unless your driver is from that particular area, chances are he isn’t going to know where to go to get around these obstructions. I got lucky and saw Johnny Carino’s and just asked to be let out with my friend picking me up from there. I paid the taxi LE 38 after I scraped the bottom of my change purse and then it was smooth sailing – or so I thought.

Leaving City Stars, I thought I would get a taxi that would know about the blockades and be able to get around them. Once back on the autostrad, I can direct anyone to my neighborhood. Yeah. Wrong yet again. We drove around trying to get out of Heliopolis for 20+ minutes, then we are headed toward downtown, then somehow end up in Giza, Mohandaseen and back to Giza. The second time around in Giza, I was able to get a glimpse of the other MB protest outside of Cairo University. Funny how these supporters are adversely against eating pork, yet they have no problem living like pigs as the trash was even more overwhelming than the normal filth present throughout this city. Oh, I forgot to mention that the workers from Spinney’s was also outside City Stars protesting God only knows what with a full drum line (unlike the Ikhwan demonstrations, at least thru-traffic was still able to move).

So after an hour and a half, one major car accident, adding another neighborhood of El Menial to my Tour d’Cairo, three different protests and LE 65 later – I finally made it back home.

Many friends, family and blog readers ask me how things are going here. I always say fine because in Maadi, it is. You would have no idea what is going on other than reading my FB friends asking for directions on how to get to their homes in Heliopolis.

I’m forgetting that Heliopolis (and Nasr City/Giza) even exists until this mess is cleaned up. I suggest you do the same.

1 comment:

  1. A recent comment from a friend of mine who also resides in Maadi made me ponder; he said "things are getting bizarre here nowadays" to which I made a joke about 'getting'? He retorted with 'well I have high standards'. Now I get it. A bouncy castle. I still have not seen it all, obviously.