Sunday, March 08, 2015

On Bombs

Yesterday I was greeted on opening Facebook, one of the best sources of information in Egypt, by a post by the daughter of a close friend saying that the police had shown up in a very timely manner to take care of what appeared to be a bomb near their apartment building in Maadi. She had been contacted by a neighbour who informed her of the arrival of the police and her boab (the doorman to the apartment building) told her that someone had seen something near the large electrical box on the corner that had wires and looked very suspicious, so the police had been called. There subsequently was  a small boom, then a larger boom, and the problem seemed to be sorted.

Today her mother called me before bringing a friend visiting from Finland to see me here at the farm and we were talking about the incident. Naturally, everyone is very happy that the object had not blown up the electrical connection or caused any injuries, and she was very happy that she and her friend had been at the beach at Ain Sokhna, thus missing the excitement. I asked if there was any further information about what exactly was involved and what had  happened. She told me that while the object had looked suspicious, as far as she knew there was no official statement that it had been a bomb. Apparently the police brought along a big metal box into which they placed the offending object and then performed a controlled detonation. It might well have been a bomb, but now it is in a thousand bits, so it would be hard to tell. On the other hand, she pointed out that the piles of garbage that were usually surrounding the electricity box on the corner were now gone, so perhaps it was a plot by the neighbourhood to get the spot cleaned up. As usual, no one really knows.

There are odd homemade bombs going off in various parts of Egypt, this we do know. Today one went off at Carrefour in Alexandria killing one and injuring six. Most of these are aimed at the police, much like in the 90's when the police and Islamists were in an informal war. Most of us who live in Egypt do our best to avoid the police or government buildings if it is at all possible (also like during the 90's), but then we try to avoid them most of the time since contact with the government and police is almost never very pleasant. I have to go into the dreaded Mogamma (the abyss of state bureaucracy in Tahrir Square) sometime soon to renew my residence visa, but I keep putting it off simply because I don't want to go there, not out of fear.

Yesterday, while this excitement was going on in Maadi, we had a couple of families at the farm with their children to play in a wading pool and romp with dogs and baby goats. Neither family was particularly concerned, though one had been redirected when driving near the site of the bomb that cleaned up the corner electrical box. I'm sure that somewhere in Egypt people are very worried about all this, but to be quite honest, I don't know them. Most of us accept the fact that much of this falls into the "Shit Happens" category that we really can't do much about in our daily life. You take reasonable precautions, pay attention to the news, and get on with your life. Many people say that they'd rather deal with the odds of these random bombs than the possibility that some unbalanced individual might decide to shoot them over some imagined slight or something.  Death really is one of the unavoidable things in life, so losing time worrying about it doesn't seem terribly logical.

copyright 2015 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani