Saturday, February 11, 2006

Sometimes Mobbed Streets Are Okay

BBC NEWS | Africa | Egypt rejoices at record Cup win

After a week of news scenes of protesters angry at the lack of discretion and consideration by European newspapers publishing cartoons of Mohamed, the mobs in Egypt were a delightful change. To be sure, I made certain to get out of Maadi and back to the relative quiet of the farm as soon as the game was over. The streets everywhere filled quickly.

I'm not a big football (soccer) fan, but we've watched every one of Egypt's games in this series with wonder and delight. Last night a group gathered for standard football food (homemade sandwiches, chicken wings, beer, and brownies) to cheer on Egypt to a longed for victory. I sent messages to my daughter's mobile phone in New York with updates of the game because she had to be at work cataloguing books in Columbia's Butler Library. Her brother, soaring along on a cloud of adrenalin-produced euphoria, suggested that she should have told her boss it was a national holiday...Egypt was in the finals of the Africa Cup. Hmmm. Boss wasn't going for it. So there were ecstatic messages and whoops of joy when the last kick slammed home to give Egypt the win.

As we drove back out of the city, we were getting phone calls from friends who were estimating that they were going to be stuck in other places for hours...but no one seemed to really care. In the village of Shubramant on the way home, farmers were drifting back to their homes having gathered in coffee shops to watch the match. During the game, there were almost no cars on the road and very, very few pedestrians. Virtually the entire country was glued to television sets to watch the match.

Congratulations Egypt! It was a great series...and now back to our regularly scheduled programming, but with a smile that will surely linger for a while.


Ahmed Shokeir said...

Congratulations for all

My wife who she knows nothing about soccer, and actually hates it
sms me yesterday after the match said congratulations for EGYPT


Pep said...

Congratulations!!!! 5x champions!!!

I watched the game. Hard fought, and a bad penalty miss! Much harder than the earlier group game!!

Well done on a fantastic competition that was well run and well attended.

Anonymous said...

Why does your description of life in Egypt sound like a fairy tale???
I believe life there there is a bit harsher and grittier than in your "life in a bubble" filled with talk of sunny meals on the patio, quaint folk art and happy housemaids cheerily getting married at 17.......
Present riots in Egypt, the growing influence of the Islamic Brotherhood, the double standards Egyptian women are forced to live under....your only comment is a merry remark that the soccer mobs are a "delightful contrast" Pleaseeeee...........

Maryanne said...

Oh, Anonymous, I do feel sorry for you. Maybe you haven't figured out yet that at least 90% of life anywhere is drudgery, getting stuck in traffic, dealing with ignorant people who have ridiculous expectations of you based on a prior judgment because of your gender, your age or the colour of your hair. Life is mostly tedious, repetitive chores interspersed with some truly awful periods and the occasional flash of light and beauty. There are very few happily ever afters and even those often end abruptly and sadly in many cases. All that in mind, there is that flash of light and beauty, the satisfaction of an artisan, the smile of a child, and the sun shining on friends gathered over a meal on a patio. Just as the beauty doesn't take away the difficulties in life, the difficulties don't negate the beauty. It's all there and is part of the entire picture. Since the journalists do such a marvelous job of cataloguing everything that is wrong with Egypt, I figure that I can spend some time on what is right. If it bothers you so much to read about the enjoyable things in life here, don't read it. No one is forcing you. Go back to CNN and Fox News.

Roxie said...

Maryanne. I cannot even express how much I enjoy reading your viewpoint of Egypt. I had the pleasure of visiting Alexandria, Cairo and Damonhour in the past few months. Yes some of it was touring but some was to embrace the culture also. I have so much to learn. I can see the struggles of the people and I can see the simplicity and goodness also. I am hopeful to visit again and again. Maybe find some self sustaining work and live there for a few years so I can learn arabic better. I applaud you for this inspiring interpretation.