Cairo and it’s baksheesh and sheesha

It’s hot and almost too hot, smoggy and as always, the streets are filled with cars, horse and buggies and motorbikes.   Taking the camera out and trying to capture what it’s like to walk around Cairo is the last thing I think about doing.  Just want to get around without loosing a body part or my life.  Something as small as a distracting camera could put me that much closer to being in harms way.  Getting hit by any one of the reckless drivers of Cairo was not in the plan.  Here, like many places of the world (Beijing and Hanoi are a couple of good examples) there are no rules, cars disregard anything smaller than them (people and animals included), the traffic lanes are not recognized and it’s every man, baby, horse and old lady for themselves.

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With so many uniformed officers hanging around you would think that it would be possible to safely cross the street.  They are usually too busy finishing a cigarette, taking a nap and/or chatting with another to really care.   This is unless you are heading to heavily tourist areas like the Egyptian Museum or are a sucker willing to give up some baksheesh (a few pounds). At least in front of the museum there is a cross walk, a traffic light that works and a guard that sometimes does.  At least there is an option which is not guaranteed to be the safest but there is no shortage of taxis in Cairo and they are pretty cheap.  The safest way is to just grab a taxi even if you are just going a few meters to grab a bite to eat.  It’s not a surprising sight to see innocent pedestrians who fatally loose at the real life game of Frogger traffic in Cairo.  I unfortunately witness one of those moments.  It was an ugly scene.

In the 10 days I was visiting a couple of years back I only got a few shots of the city.  It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my stay but it’s one of those places where you really want to just experience the moment without taking shots.  If I go back it’s probably what I’ll be doing more of since it will be my second visit and I’ll be more familiar with my surroundings.

I’m not at all surprised with the current events happening in Cairo and other Arab nations.  I’m surprised that this didn’t happen sooner from what I had heard and seen when visiting in June 2008.  It was election time here in the US and many younger Egyptians I had met were very excited about Obama running and what I may mean to them.  I have a feeling they are disappointed with how he has handled the situation and it may be why things are going the way they are.

Let’s just hope a resolution comes soon so fewer people find themselves putting their lives and others in danger.  The change that Obama was and still talks about is needed there. It is long overdue.  The funny thing is that I can’t wait to get back after things get sorted out.  Hopefully sooner than Mumbariks’ first term in office.

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