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From 6th October City to El Tahrir Square and Back

Essay By: Laila Alexander
Editorial and opinion



My first trip to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo alone, with a new light of awareness.

**Note: this photo was taken before the revolutionary protests, now a few changes here and there happened.


Submitted:Jul 4, 2012    Reads: 10    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


I REMEMBER MY MENTAL FIGHT I WAS HAVING WITH MY SHAKY FINGERS WHEN I LEARNED THAT THIS SEMESTER I'D BE HAVING A WEEKLY TOURISM GUIDANCE LECTURE IN NO WHERE ELSE BUT THE EGYPTIAN MUSEUM, THE PRIDE OF EGYPTIANS. IN EL TAHRIR SQUARE.
THE TREMBLE IN MY FINGERS DIDN'T EASE ON BIT (CONSIDERING THE "EVENTS" IN THE SAME DESTINATION I WAS HEADED) BUT SPREAD TO EVERY LIMB AND TOE.
STILL, I WAS MORE AWARE OF HOW RESTLESS I WAS TO GO. HOW IMPATIENT TO GET ON THE BUS AND EXPLORE THE UNKNOWN STREETS ON MY OWN.
SO I STOOD IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR FOR ABOUT 10 MINUTES DOING NOTHING, BUT STARING AT MY PRETTY REFLECTION AND INWARDLY STEELING MYSELF AGAINST MY STUPID FEARS. LITTLE AS THEY WERE, BUT THEY DID EXIST. I AM A HUMAN BEING AFTER ALL AND DESPITE THE RUMORS GOING ROUND, I DO HAVE FEELINGS! AND THE PEOPLE AROUND ME DID NOT ENCOURAGE ME ONE BIT MORE AND BEING ME, FEARS AND IRRATIONAL SPECULATIONS (SOME OF WHICH I AM ACTUALLY ASHAMED TO HAVE EVER LET MYSELF HEAR) MAKE ME SICK IN RECORD TIME.
BUT WHEN MAMA, OUR LOCAL CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS,OFFERED TO TAG ALONG WITH ME THE FIRST TIME INSTEAD OF GOING ALONE, I WHOLEHEARTEDLY JUMPED ON THE OPPORTUNITY.

I soon realized that there is nothing like entering that museum for the first time. The air that seems to cling in that mysterious way to the time when the spectacular exhibits were new and young would hold you still for a long moment.. Then you release your breath and take the first baby-steps, still a little wary of the dominant prestige.
I was suddenly so proud of my identity. My ancestors obviously wanted to leave an imprint in this world, and they single-minded did.

I tell you there is nothing like that first time.
I knew right away that I was in love. And if my professor Dr Rasha Soliman was in my sight I would have kissed her.

Just the other Thursday March 22, 2011, I knew for a fact that the green squares on both sides of El Mehwar are actually fields!!??
Of course I know that Egypt has fields all over it, but OUR fields are not really what "fields" look like in my mind. They don't stretch out for miles like the other fields in other countries. Still, they are beautiful.
The swaying palms, the gleaming green and the sweaty working people.
A sight for sore eyes, indeed.
The bus moved on its speed as I watched the pretty scenery roll by with wide-eyed, open-mouthed awe, which of course made me look ridiculous. It wasn't until we reached the end of one of the fields did my heart sink, my mouth snap shut and my eyes dull. In short, I felt ridiculous myself. Because on the wide, beaten stripe of mud that separates the fields, multicoloured plastic bags of RUBBISH piled???
As if it isn't enough to have buildings protruding from the green, slowly eroding away fertile soil and ruining the beauty!!
As a citizen, and may that be a hard-working man, or a struggling student, etc, not only do I have the right but DESERVE to have something "nice" in sight on my way back from a tiring day.
The peasants need fresh air around them, generous soil to plant and a good view to look at when the straighten from a crouch.
People need good natural food.
The sight really made me mad. No wonder they spry all sorts of aerosol in fruitless attempts to keep bugs, insects, and most of all the nosy rats out of the fields. OF COURSE, no aerosol would do! and how on earth would it, when rubbish is laying around the grounds from which we EAT.
It should come as no surprise that we suffer strange deceases and have vegetables infected with strange microbes. Add to that the air pollution, the Nile pollution, traffic and people with bad temper.

The Revolution came to change the bad habits. To teach us a lesson; allowing small things to pile and pile to the point of "no more" would inevitably lead to a disaster.
It made us rekindle the dying hope. And now after weeks of cautious calm I come across THIS.
I don't know what to call it but "shame". Really.

Turning my head away, I came to realized one painful truth.
Take it from me, for the life of you, traveling El Mehwar staring at abused fields is much, MUCH better than what attacked me once I turned my eyes…
The complicated knots of bustling cars, glistening furiously in the sun and filling the length of the other side of the road (the one that take people to Cairo) to the top.
Well, now, the rubbish would eventually roll out of sight and be long forgotten by the time you get off the bus, but the sight of cars trying their very best to stay off each other and the near-fainting, near-going-mad drivers WILL make you cry for hours on end!
And that was to say the LEAST!!
So deciding to save my tears for a broken heart, a dead relative or bad grades, I quickly turned my head away.
And there it was, the clear fields as if nothing had ever happened…





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