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A man of many words. Profane, profound, loyal to a fault and a right rat bastard. I love the finer things in life: expensive cigars, cheap women and all the salted, cured meats I can eat. A friend to dogs, lover of humanity and despiser of people. If I were King the world would be a better place, because, well...I would be King! Oh, and I like ice cream.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Walk Like An Egyptian...

One of the great challenges in the Third World is the act we westerners like to call "Crossing the Street." In the US it's easy. The light is green, your way is clean. Generally. We have laws. Legal and physical.

Not so in places such as Cairo. Here one begins to understand the great faith of the Muslim people in the loving mercy of Allah.

To master this so-called pedestrian skill became my quest. Sure, they have those underpasses where you can simply avoid the risk. But, that takes all the sport out of it. It was my destiny to go into the belly of the beast. The roadway.

I found it to be a great producer of cheap adrenaline highs. Each time I successfully made it across I felt ALIVE! My walks from the Hilton Ramses to the American University of Cairo and the Cairo Museum were the highlights of my visit there. (The Pyramids were nice too.) Never is there just one or two streets to negotiate. There were always at least half a dozen in a one mile hike. Plus many split-offs, traffic circles and the normal day-to-day chaos you find in a city of around 20-some-odd million, half trying to drive down the street, the other half trying to cross. The pedestrians (well, I'm pretty sure the drivers too) don't even look. They just go. All of them. At once.

I was so proud of my new-found skill (although I must confess I could never make an entire crossing without looking "upstream", as it were) I wanted photographic documentation. Thus, I recruited fellow blogger Hani Morsi to take the pix.

This is where I need to tell you a little about my heritage. I was born and raised in Appalachia. In Appalachia you always know when something bad is going to happen. Every time you hear the words "Hey, watch this!" you know bones are going to be broken. The state motto of West Virginia should be the latin equivalent of "Hey, watch this!"

Well, I realized I was having a "Hey watch this!" moment on my second pass through traffic. The first try didn't get exactly the right photo composition. Thanks to Jason Combs and his critiques of my photo composition for possibly contributing to my untimely demise. At about this moment,

as I saw this blue car bearing straight down on me I thought "SHIT! I'm going to be an Egyptian hood ornament!"

Hani, watching through my camera's viewfinder, had precisely the same thought. Only in Arabic.

I'm sure she (the driver) never saw me.

My whole life flashed before my eyes. I didn't like the ending.

But, as I always say, "if it kills you, your troubles are over. If it doesn't, it's a heck of a good story." No harm, no foul.

The only thing I have to do now to become a full fledged Egyptian is drive in Cairo traffic. It looks real easy. You just lay on the horn and go.


forsoothsayer said...

it's my only skill, egyptian road crossing :) u gotta admit, being bored in cairo is never an option. i've done my stint in the west and am moving back.

mike247worldwide said...

Can't blame you. Cairo is my favorite ridiculously large city.

Enjoyed your blog. I like Canadians. When comparing Canucks to Yanks it's like looking in a mirror. Except the mirror is cracked.

Hani said...

Although I witnessed your near-death experience firsthand, I was reading this and laughing so hard it hurts. Your most hilarious entry to date.

buthaina said...

I came across your blog by accident "how appropriate!" . This may be too late, but I was yahooing for a photo of crossing a cairo street. I needed that photo to illustrate a story to be posted on my blog. I live in Cairo and I don't cross streets there, I drive.

To be able to drive in Cairo, just follow a simple rule: "DO NOT FOLLOW RULES". If you go by the ruleS (which you once learned just to pass the driving license test)you will be hit by all kinds of cars and other drivers will heap bad names on you or gaze at you dangerously wondering what are you doing when you do not know how to drive properly?

Ofcourse in Cairo streets, if someone hit your car , it is always your fault.

Buthaina, an Iraqi living in Cairo.