- Posted August 16, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Protests in Egypt: Your experiences
The sun is still shining in Cairo
- sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer
The violent clashes in Cairo and all over Egypt have happend just yesterday and news channels are flooded with detailed analysis, reports of how many people died or are injured and the media itself is part of the ongoing power struggle in this country. This all is really happening, it is true, it is terrible but in the same time tremendously out of proportion. Cairo is by far not drowning in blood as the news may make you believe. The majority (!) of people are still living a normal (boring?) life, go to work, do their grocery shopping and hang out in cafes.
Why I am writing this? Am I crazy? Do I want to abnegate the world around me? Of course not, by no means. But it worries me that my friends and family outside of Cairo start to believe that we are not able to cross the street anymore without wearing a helmet or a bulletproof vest. Well, our lives could not be any further from this impression.
We live in Cairo. We moved here in February. Our son was born here in June and we have not left the country yet. Even though friends and family have raised that issue to us. And on more than one occasion. Because everything they get to read and see, is about the "dramatic escalation" of the current situation in Cairo and the "rising numbers" of dead people in the streets and the haunting photos that come along with those stories. But not only the mainstream media is - naturally and understandably - all over this. Private people feed Twitter, Facebook etc. with even more about the casualties of the current developments.
It is something special and certainly worth reporting! But also it is interesting, I guess. In fact, it is pretty simple to go out, drive around just a bit and take photos of burning tires, tanks and blocked off streets. I have to admit, I have already done that myself as well.
As much as I don't want to diminish the fact that Egypt is in a situation which can only be described as more than troublesome, I am under the belief that this story has been told. From all angles and by almost everyone by now. What has not been said is the fact that it is a matter of choice if one (the general population) becomes part of the news. As difficult as it might be to imagine, there is still normal life going on in Cairo. A normal life as in any other city in the world.
The embassy warns us to avoid the inner city or even small gatherings of people. The urge to stay home, in an attempt to feel safe, is big. However, one probably finds themselves worrying about the "outside" developments and therefore following the same news as everybody else all over the world.
So let me tell you about my day today:
At work we had decided earlier this week to close the office because of the current uncertainty. So today I did some home office stuff for which I don't need to be in the office. Around lunch time I decided to meet up with an Egyptian friend in Heliopolis, which is an area just next to Nasr City where the deadly clashes happened yesterday. We briefly discussed where we could meet and which route I would take to meet him. He suggested even to take the 6th of October bridge from where the police vehicles were toppled yesterday. (http://youtu.be/6l7XeYdELNA) ... I choked, checked my traffic app and had to find out that everything seems to flow just fine all over the city. So off I went. Streets were full of cars (but not over heavily crowded as usual), people were doing their shopping and the sun was shining. When I came close to the 6th of October bridge I felt awkward but before I knew it I zoomed over it and had even overlooked the small pile of debris from last days action. When I arrived in Heliopolis I had to acknowledge to myself that I did not see a single tank. Not along the way, not in Heliopolis. What happened then is quickly summarized: We drove around, walked around, had some sugar cane drinks on the side of the street, a Shawarma in a restaurant and met up with another friend. We even went to the Presidential Palace where just some weeks ago hundreds of thousands of people gathered to voice their opinion.
And of course we talked about the current developments and what it all means and what the future might bring ... and as I've heard from so many other Egyptians, they made the same statement about the situation: They are not particularly for or against the Muslim Brotherhood nor the Army. They are Egyptians, who are interested in the improvement of their country. They want a better Egypt. Nothing more, but also nothing less ... and within no time I had to leave, in order to be home before curfew.
To sum it up. It was an interesting but absolutely normal, sunny day. One that millions of people had today in Cairo. I had such a good day. In fact, I even forgot to take more photos. It just didn't cross my mind, because it couldn't have been any more "normal".
Please keep that in mind - whenever you hear about the stories from Cairo.
Once again, this very personal report is not meant to diminish the very real political struggle of this country with all those terrible and unnecessary casualties - it is to show family and friends and everyone interested, that normal life for millions of others can and certainly does exist more than ever next to these events.