Politicalmonkey2010

The Truth Shall Set You Free…It might piss you off first, but it will set you free.

My Thug is better than your thug, my thug is better than your thug……

Posted by politicalmonkey2010 on February 3, 2011

My Thug is better than your thug, my thug is better than your thug……

For a city of 20 million people, I have never felt unsafe in Cairo, at any hour of the day or night.  As I watched looked out of my balcony toward King Faisal Street, a street that I have NEVER seen empty, I stared in disbelief, not a car on it.  No horns honking, no microbuses packed with people and packages, just emptiness.  I felt uneasy.  I looked down into my alley, usually bustling with people, Egyptians are night owls…and there was nobody.  CNN was on in the background telling of more prison escapees headed toward Cairo, and the inhabitants of Cairo felt their security and safety being threatened.  Then I watched something amazing occur.  Men started to come out into the streets, all ages and walks of life.  Carrying everything ranging from baseball bats, sticks, knives to guns, I even saw one elderly man who was prepared to use his cane as a weapon.  Since the police had virtually melted away the citizens took it upon themselves to protect themselves, their women, their families, their property.  What I witnessed was a spontaneous, coordinated plan of action.  They sat up posts, they exchanged phone numbers, and they patrolled.  In an interesting turn of events, the local drug dealer had morphed into a leadership position, he of all people knew who belonged and who did not.  I asked how would they know who did or did not belong, and they looked at me with pure amazement, then I began to laugh too…Egyptians have a certain radar for “their” people.  I am not sure how this occurs, maybe it is genetic, or maybe it is part of tribal indoctrination, but it is true.  When an argument erupts on the streets, within seconds of voices being raised, they start pouring into the street.  While it is always a loud conversation and usually there is some pushing involved, there is always a peace maker in the group, 9 out of 10 times the argument ends with a hug and a handshake.  Maybe it is an American thing, we can pass the same people every day and never stop to notice them, this is not the case in Egypt.  People notice, you become the fabric of each other’s life.

Being a nosy Munky I had to investigate further…I live a block off of King Faisal street, the neighborhood is called Talbia, there is a joke that this is the neighborhood the army comes to when they need back up.  The neighborhood has banned together to make the area safe, starting by creating a barricade from King Faisal to the neighborhood.  When the curfew hit, the barricade went up.  From my neighborhood to the pyramids is about 15 minutes by car, and they had a communications network in place.  Calls would come in from the Pyramids alerting patrolling neighbors of a suspicious car approaching.  Cars were stopped on the street, asked for ID and asked who they were, and where they were going.  A judge was stopped, and he had a gun visible on the seat – he was questioned, and made to show ID and show that he had authority to carry a gun.  He thanked the young men for doing such a fine job. One evening an Army captain came into the neighborhood, and thanked everybody for keeping watch.

When I was in college, I had a mouse problem, you may be wondering how this relates to the uprising in Egypt, it does, bear with me.  I set out traps in kitchen and started to study in the other room, pretty soon I heard “whack” and knew that the trap had been sprung.   With a great deal of in trepidation I would put on my rubber gloves, grab the long handled pliers and steel myself for the job of picking up the intruder.  My neighborhood watch is much like a mouse trap.  First you hear voices being raised, then you hear gunfire, then you hear gunfire echoing around the neighborhood – the signal that says, we hear you and we are coming to you.

I am humbled that I have become a part of the fabric of this neighborhood, they have all taken it upon themselves to “take care of the agnabaya” (foreigner).  They have lovingly placed me under “housearrest” – I was heading out the other day and they refused to let me go out.  The only thing I have to offer these people is a late night round of serving them tea and cookies…pray for my thugs, they are noble people.

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