So sorry that the blog has been on hiatus for a while. I’ve been busy with school and midterms and of course- Arabic. So what have I missed or more importantly what have you missed?
A lot. And that’s my fault, I suppose.
So to recap here it is:
February- Civil Disobedience Day- Two days off of classes because the youth (meaning college- aged youngsters like myself) convinced a few college campuses to stand up to SCAF by not going to work, attending classes, etc. Though it was a poetic symbol of resistance, strategy wise, it was a complete flop and only something the elite could take part in. (The poor don’t have the luxury of taking off work to fight the injustices of SCAF)
March- SCAF accuses AUC (that’s my university) of being a platform for Western, specifically American ideals and that the university are some of the “hidden hands” behind the revolution. Seriously? Most of the wealthy kids who go to this school come from families that were quite cozy with Mubarak and his cronies.
March/April: SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood are duking it out. Both are struggling for supreme control over this country. SCAF accuses the Brotherhood of being Islamists and the Brotherhood threaten another revolution. SCAF has metaphorically sneered at the former remark pressing the Brotherhood to remember the last time they became powerful. I believe it was the 1950’s or 60’s when the military forces arrested hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members. The party was (up until Mubarak was bounced) banned from that point on.
And so that brings us to now…Spring Break is right around the corner. I’m just finishing up my midterms and I have a slight cold. It’s starting to get warmer in Egypt and the skies are usually bright blue, giving off the illusion that they are not saturated in noxious gases. Everything is well in the small, gilded cage of AUC.
Since I try to leave each blog post on an interesting note, I will tell you another story (I have countless) about Egypt.
This one is about bribery and corruption- two of Egypt’s favorite past times.
It was my friends Alan’s birthday a few weeks ago so we decided to hold a boat party in his honor. I arrived late to the boat with my friend Ziad. We were just getting on the boat when Ziad’s phone began ringing. He rolled his eyes at me and picked it up, barking Arabic into it gruffly.
“ya habeebee…mhmmm…inta feen? gemba club 77, tarifhoo? nahnu odamhoo ah, ah, sa. okay, masshi, tayyib. bye”
(hello friend/love/dear, where are you? Near club 77, do you know it? We are in front of it. Okay, yes yes, okay, fine, bye.)
I looked at Ziad and mouthed, “Omar?”
“He’s late,” Ziad muttered. Everyone in the background on the bus began to become agitated.
“Hey guys, Omar is running late with Claire. Can we just hold the boat up for two seconds?”
Everyone stared. Omar and Claire were running late as usual but they were now almost 20 minutes late- late even by Omar standards. I called Claire’s phone and heard her pick up in a hushed tone.
“Where are you?!”
“I can’t talk right now, can I call you back?”
I grumbled but hung up. I saw something in Ziad’s eyes. He picked up the phone, turned away from me.
“Who are you calling?”
This is how it went, back and forth until finally our two amigos made an appearance. Omar looked decidedly angry and Claire looked dazed.
Turns out Claire and Omar were stopped by the police since Omar was driving while talking on his cell phone. They stopped him, rounded the car, and looked into the windows, glaring suspiciously at Claire. They demanded that Omar pay a fine and buy a permit that would allow him to talk on his phone while in the car.
A truck-full of police showed up, leering into the car at Claire as she sat waiting. Later she would say it was frightening only because she didn’t understand the Arabic darting around her ears, nor did Omar explain anything.
Obviously the police wanted money and so Omar paid the bribe (though he proudly states it wasn’t a bribe) and drove off after nearly an hour of negotiating. By the time they showed up, Claire was noticeably exhausted and Omar looked as if he wanted to punch a wall.
This is a window into the corruption that Egyptians live with and face every day. It’s an interesting aspect of society because though it is flawed, the corruption here is functional.
Corruption keeps the power elite on top. Corruption (even small acts like this) keep them safe and warm.