Monday, March 31, 2008

Prologue (AKA: What the hell is this all about!)

In less than a year since I moved from the Mother of The World to the Greatest City in The World©, my whole perception of my hometown Cairo, and consequentially its essential representation of Egypt, has morphed into a mere series of headlines attained sporadically through “The Calls.”

Of course, “The Call” is a familiar ritual for every Egyptian expatriate. With the Egyptian newspapers, and their websites, in a permanent freeze (in 8 months of passing by a newsstand that carries Al-Ahram here in New York, I wasn’t once hit by a headline that I couldn’t recall seeing –repeatedly– through the past 15 years), the only sources of information about El-Mahrousa are the emotionally charged, loud (don’t know why!) periodic, usually weekly, calls from family and friends back in Egypt. Between the usual chatter about family and in-laws, you can get a glimpse of life back home, which, let’s face it, doesn’t move that fast to start with.

To review what I knew about life in Egypt during the past year through these calls looks like an exercise in post modern Japanese haiku; totally abstract and bland. 2007-2008 goes something like that:

Gaza border breached,

Strikes everyday,

African Cup picked,

Inflation went up,

and Essam El-Hadry fled.

So, “The Cairo Calls” are actually my attempt to know more about what’s happening back home. I want you to tell me what’s happening, not the other way around. In a way, this is like an analysts’ call; I’ll try to spin something that I know nothing about, and you’ll just ridicule my assessment. I promise you it will be necessarily superficial, uninformed, and grossly oversimplified.

I don’t know why you would even want to read it!