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Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Guide to being [really] Arab: Cross Cut like an immigrant

This morning, the Toronto Star's cover story is about Jaywalking. I was surprised that I, notorious for this act, was not pictured. Upon reading the article, I realize how stupid it is to get fined for jaywalking. $85? Is that how much you're trying to squeeze out of my paycheque alongside all the other ridiculous things I pay for? Check out the lines in this story, the opener is GOLD: "They are ruthless. They are fearless. They are breaking the law. With a phone in one hand, lunch in the other, they are also impressively persistent. Nothing, it seems, can thwart a Toronto jaywalker in progress: not the fear of being ticketed, not a horde of speeding cars nor even the daunting size of a truck passing within inches." Listen, those that are jaywalking while staring at their phone are not jaywalking...they are not paying attention. True jaywalkers cross in the most absurd conditions because they are pros. True jaywalkers know not to look at their phones. Those that stare at their phone have what we call A.D.D.
The writer continues, "(...) some of them even forcing a police car to stop to let them cross. The officer could have given the dozen pedestrians tickets or at least warnings." Um, hey, did you know that there's other crimes going on that are more important than someone crossing the street illegally and maybe that's why the cop was like "whatevs"?

It is my choice to put my life in "danger", if danger means the two way streets of Canada sans median. The streets aren't dangerous. In Jordan, you cross a highway. In Egypt, you have .001 seconds to bolt or get hit. I can't even begin to describe India. In Eastern Canada, drivers stop even when you're not intending to cross. In Toronto, people stop. In Montreal, they might. Now, just because I've lived in North America for 21 of my 23 years of life, does not mean I will not continue to cross the street like a Middle-Eastern person. People, remember, I am a Middle-Eastern person! If my sense of humour, cleanliness, generosity, and complaints didn't give it away, then my love of jay walking sure will. Also, remember, we "cut" the street, we don't "cross" it (see your parents for references).

I've crossed the roundabout in front of the Arc de Triomphe, not to say I did, but because I needed to get across from the Champs Elysées to the Arc and I wasn't about to go around...in heels, okay? I can't stop my crossing ways. If the traffic light is two steps from me, I will still jay walk. I've almost gotten run over by various vehicles and streetcars (the 501 put your hands up) whether by biking or walking. I also do random crossings during storms. So you see friends, it's in my nature to cross in the most inappropriate manner. I survived the Middle-East where crossing the street is the equivalent of crossing a highway here, so I'm pretty sure my jay [walk] can handle North America. And if I do get run over then I'm pretty much blaming one of you for cursing me, cause that's the Middle-Eastern thing to do.

Love love,

the yuppie activist

P.S. Here's a video of the "walk" sign in Egypt. Note: he's running.
video

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Qu'il repose en paix

Il est mort le 9 janvier, 1973. "Assassiné ciblé" par un commando du Mossad à Paris dans l'appartment.
Combattant pour la liberté au service des plus démunis, il aimait la vie autant que possible.

" ET NOUS, NOUS AIMONS LA VIE
.....
Nous volons un fil au ver à soie pour tisser notre ciel et clôturer cet exode.
Nous ouvrons la porte du jardin pour que le jasmin inonde les routes comme une belle journée.
Nous aimons la vie autant que possible."

- Mahmoud Darwish

Plus rares sont les roses (ed. de Minuit)

Sunday, 17 January 2010

One. Un. Wahad.

When you first move to the big city, everything sounds like a St.Vincent song. The halfway mark is when you face the biggest difficulties. You're tired of the party friends, the drugs you don't take, the alcohol you don't drink, and the faces that won't call you, they'll just be your best friend when you're out, give you a light if you need it, and be an acquaintance when it's daytime. They won't remember your eye colour, or your favourite brand of anything. By this point, you're pretty familiar with the city you call home, the lights that shine whenever you walk down a certain street, but you're not familiar with who your friends are, can't explain the sudden drama or lack there of in your life and left wondering if this is really what you want. But you never really know what you want anyway. You're a twenty something, the future is to be dealt with later, or never, depends if you like looking at life as an empty abyss or planning it. Depending on your situation and how much support you have around you, this is quite possibly the most crucial time. The St.Vincent song no longer resonates in your head alongside your footsteps when you're walking. You start to figure out that you're pretty much going to be un-easy for the next little while unless something fantastic comes along. If it does then great, if it doesn't then shit, right? By the completion of your first year, as the hair on your arms rises when the crisp winter air comes into effect, the whole thing feels like an Iron & Wine song, on loop and you can't do anything about that.

January 19th will mark the one year anniversary of this blog. Unlike when I marked the six month anniversary back in July, I won't be counting down my favourite posts. 2009 has been by far the most difficult and interesting year of my life, after all, much has happened in such a short span of time. Some changes were documented to my dear readers, some however, stay hidden inside my basement, locked and revealed only at my most vulnerable hour. What have I learned from this year filled with life lessons? Plenty. I grew up too quickly. My mama never said don't grow up too fast, on the contrary, she wanted me to grow up fast, but my friends told me to wait. I took part in many things I never imagined myself partaking in, adapted to living life independently, witnessed the ugliness of human beings I cared about, developed a paranoia of having false things being spread about me, proved loyalty, switched jobs, distanced myself away from many people, stopped planning and caring about many things, analyzed every human being I met, and my impatience and longing to leave this country has surpassed what I have ever imagined. Why? That's a discussion that will take place another time, because I will continue to write on this blog, so don't worry about it.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for reading The Yuppie Activist, whether you're a new or old reader, whether you love it or hate it, whether you understand the posts or not, either way, you're visiting the site.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Dear Mindelle Jacobs,

you write for a newspaper that isn't even legitimate, for that, I forgive you. However, if you're about to call yourself a journalist, you need to learn some journalistic integrity when garbage like this article of yours gets published. With that being said, I'm going to provide you with a free history lesson on Palestine, which by the way, exists and has much more history than those 30 years you're claiming girl (do you kiss your mother with that mouth that spreads such false allegations?). Research your facts. Just because you write for the Sun and probably The National Post doesn't mean everything flies.

  • 1000 BC: Israelite conquest of Canaan
  • 965-928BC: King Solomon constructs first temple in Jerusalem
  • 606 BC - 537 BC: Kingdom of Judah defeated by the Babylonians. Destruction of the first temple and deportation of some of the inhabitants. Cyrus the Great conquers Babylon and creates the Persian Empire, allowing Israelites to return and rebuild the temple.
  • 333 BC: Alexander the Great conquers Persia. Palestine comes under Macedonian rule.
  • 63 BC: Incorporation of Palestine into the Roman Empire
  • 70 AD: Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire is put down and the second temple is destroyed, leading to the exile of Jews out of Palestine in 135AD. The Romans name the province "Syria Palaestina". At the time of the exile, 3/4 of the world's Jewish population was living outside of Palestine.
  • 628-638 AD: Byzantine Christians rule Jerusalem
  • 638-1072 AD: Caliph Omar Ibn Khattab conquers Jerusalem and establishes Muslim rule. Jews are allowed to return.
  • 15th century to 19th century: Palestine under Ottoman rule. The term "Land of Palestine" was used to refer to Palestine.
  • 1896: Zionist leader Theodor Herzl publishes "Der Judenstaat", advocating the creation of a Jewish state in either Argentina or Palestine.
  • 1897: First Zionist congress issues the Basle Program "calling for a home for the Jewish people in Palestine" and establishes the World Zionist Organization to that end.
  • 1900: Keren Keyemeth (Jewish National Fund) founded as land-acquisition organ of WZO with the function of acquiring land in Palestine to be inalienably Jewish with exclusively Jewish labour employed on it.
  • May 16, 1916: Sykes-Picot agreement signed, dividing Arab provinces and countries of Ottoman Empire under French and British rule.
  • 1917: British Foreign Secretary Balfour sends a letter (the Balfour Declaration) to Baron Rothschild pledging British support for the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine, specifying that nothing should be done that "may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." Allenby's troops occupy most of Palestine and enter Jerusalem and Damascus.
  • 1918-1920: British military rule in Palestine.
  • 1936-1939: The Arab revolt against the British occupation
  • 1882-1939: Several mass Jewish migrations bring the total of the Jewish population from less than 3% to 30%, with Jewish land ownership rising to 5.7%.
  • Nov 29, 1947: UN Partition Resolution 181: The UN general assembly votes on an amended partition plan calling for 60% of Palestine to be attributed to a Jewish state, when Jews totaled only 31% of the population, and 40% for the creation of a Palestinian state, whose population made up 69% of the total population. It was recommended that Jaffa be part of the proposed Palestinian state and that Jerusalem and Bethlehem would be under international control administered by the Trusteeship Council on behalf of the UN.
  • 1947-1949: Zionist organizations Irgun and Haganah execute widespread internal and external ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages, displacing over 700,000 Palestinians.
  • May 15, 1948: The British Mandate ends. 4pm in Tel Aviv, an Israeli state is declared.
  • June, 1967: Six Day War, The Israeli military occupies the West Bank and Gaza Strip in Palestine, Sinai in Egypt, and Golan Heights in Syria. 200,000 new Palestinian refugees; Resolution 242 adopted by the UN Security Council
  • oh Mindelle, there's so much more

So you see, dearest Mindelle, there is an entity called Palestine and Palestinians did not suddenly become a people several decades ago, they've been around a long time, and yes Palestine was a country. You may only have heard of them a few decades ago when they started taking up more air time on the news, but they've always been there. Parts of that land they call Palestine is now called Israel (see timeline for details on this) and other parts of it are also occupied by Israel (you know Gaza, West Bank, see timeline again). You ever sat and wondered why the Muslim world has been hostile to Israel's existence? Maybe because of how it came to exist, not because of anti-semitism. Read up on history, you'll see that in many places, Jews, Muslims and Christians co-existed, including within Palestine. Everything is sourced below, MLA style. The timeline I gave you is also shortened, you may want to click here and here for more.


Love love,


The Yuppie Activist


Sources:

- Kayyali, A. W. Palestine a Modern History. 11th ed (Arabic version). The Arab Foundation for Studies and Publication: Beirut, 1999. Print.

- Pappe, Ilan. A History of Modern Palestine. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press: United States of America, 2006. Print.

- "Palestine Chronology." passia.org. Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2010.

- "Jerusalem Chronology." passia.org. Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2010.

- Marcy Newman. "Palestine-map-2004.jpg". Body on the Line. Apr. 2009. Web. 15 Jan. 2010.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Notes from Egypt

I've been back for over a week now and I'm actually really missing Egypt and its adventures. So, what did I learn while I was there? Well for one, I learned that despite the lack of social services, the low wages, and various other terrible living conditions suffered in Egypt, the Egyptian people, unlike my people (known to be the most negative, yet most hospitable), always have a sense of humour and are friendly.

Discoveries:
  • We realized that no matter what country you are from, you are "ahsan nas" (the best people) according to Egyptians. We also noticed that Egyptians cannot tell the difference between the Syrian, Palestinian or Lebanese accent and requested that we speak in the Egyptian dialect because they were having troubling understanding us. Hehe.
  • Furthermore, Egyptian stray cats are much healthier than the ones in other Arab countries.
  • The Alexandria library, despite being huge, is missing books. Where are they?
The library, Alexandria
Manar, I'm using this photo sans permission
Stray cat sits at a café
Stray cats sleep at the newspaper vendors place, Alexandria
Gaza or Egypt?

Everything is delivered here
You can sell everything too
Tea spots wherever, whenever
Suzanne Mubarak can be found behind every book, reminding us that reading is important

People who don't smoke will start smoking. Except this guy, he's a smoker.
This is how dirty the Nile is

Political t-shirts were de rigueur:
Svaria (Sweden)

La France
Canada

Activities:
  • We signed a declaration, one you should sign too. DO IT, THE YUPPIE COMMANDS YOU!
  • I'm a different type of "tourist." I don't really look up places to go visit them, I hear about things, remember places I read about (various mosques, libraries), I see things while in the taxi (Ottoman era Mohammed Ali mosque) and then I want to go discover them. In nine days, I managed to see practically all the historical aspects Egypt has to offer. Of all the places I went to see, I paid the foreigner price once (at the pyramids), otherwise, it was local and Arab people prices (which do not exceed 2EGP). Furthermore, I was able to never get ripped off in a cab again.
  • We sang "El Hantour" one too many times (dirigin dirigin), we played George Wassouf to the police, and we performed versions of "Linda, Linda".
This is how popular we were at the pyramids:
One of the gifts we received from Edward at the photo shop:
Total Gs. Gaddafi, pre-insanity and drag Queen status

The French delegation was by far the best on this trip, a true inspiration. Here's a video they sent our way:
You can watch more here.
At the French embassy
Our best friends for a week
Bandage courtesy of Egyptian police

Manar's torn Fred Perry zip-up courtesy of Egyptian police
Train station, Alexandria
Kids playing soccer, Alexandria
Distant view of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi mosque, Alexandria
A view from Citadel of Qaitbay, Alexandria

Something epic: I met Max in Cairo. I attended his birthday. Max is awesome, he does things like this:
Max adds me to Facebook, he asks me if I'm the Yuppie Activist because he's a huge fan of the blog. I am absolutely flattered, but what's even crazier is that he discovered the blog a little while back by searching the words "yuppie" and "activist". If I learned anything significant from this trip is that it's such a small world.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Palestinian territories on Google Analytics

According to Google Analytics, I received a visit from the Palestinian Territories. Once I click on it, the map is blank. All other cities work, why not this one? Hey Google, is this still in BETA or what?


Monday, 11 January 2010

The Fatimids

Cairo was the city of the Fatimid dynasty, one of the most intriguing Islamic dynasties. Ubaydullah, claming to be a descendant of Ali and Fatima, arrived from Tunisia in 910 and proclaimed himself caliph. In the next half century, his family created a dynasty to be called Fatimid after the Prophet's daughter, Fatima. In 969, the Fatimids occupied Egypt, a rule that extended into western Arabia and Syria (Hourani 40-41). Despite being descendants of the Isma'ili sect, Fatimids believed in the line of Imams and maintained a line of caliphates set by the caliphate in Baghdad. Moreover, Egypt's population was predominantly Sunni Muslim (with large Christian and Jewish populations), however, the Fatimids did not impose Isma'ili doctrines on them.

Azhar mosque was built by the Fatimids for the teaching of Islam in its Isma'ili form

The Fatimids ruled Egypt until 1171 when Salah al-Din, a Kurdish military leader, replaced them with his dynasty, the Ayyubids, which ruled Egypt from 1169 to 1252, Syria, and part of Western Arabia. His dynasty, being Sunni Muslim, had the ability to mobilize and strengthen the religious fervour of Egyptian and Syrian Muslims to defeat the European crusaders who had established Christian states at the end of the 11th century in Palestine and on the Syrian coast (Hourani 84). When Fatimid power declined and replaced by the Ayyubid dynasty, Isma'ili communities shrank (Hourani 185).

Shrine of Hussein, popular belief is that Hussein's head had been brought here after he was killed at Karbala (Hourani124).


Floor plan of Al-Azhar mosque in The Muslim Architecture of Egypt by K.A.C. Creswell, Alexandria library

Sayyida Zeinab mosque*

*The patron saint of Cairo is Sayyida Zeinab, granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammed (daughter of Ali). Sayyida Zeinab mosque houses her shrine. Originally built around the time of the Hussein Mosque, it was renovated in 1549, rebuilt again in 1761, and rebuilt completely in 1884 and 1942.

Source: Hourani, Albert. A History of the Arab Peoples. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 1991.

Conversations with papa

"Why have you not accepted my friend request? Did you not like my photo or something?" He asks.
"Excuse me?" I respond.
"You know, facebook?"
"Dad, seriously?" I ask.
"And your sisters, they also requested friendships from you."
"No I had one of them on there and she removed me," I say.
"How come?"
A week later, my mom wants to connect with me on LinkedIn

"Are you going to see Doriad Laham? He'll be there I think."
"I don't know baba," I respond.
"Did you know he's Muslim? He just has a really Christian name, everyone thinks he's Christian," he tells me.
"Did you google him?" I ask.
"No no, that internet non-sense is your mother's job. I heard it from him in an interview with Al-Jazeera."
Says the man with the Facebook account

"I don't understand why there is always problems with the transportation system when there's a change in the weather. Living in Canada, you should be used to it. Weather is the only thing that you should become an expert in while living here," I say.
"Stupid people in this country. You know who else is stupid?" He asks.
"Arabs?" I respond.
"The ones that follow them here."
On his countless regrets.

"What would you do if I got arrested?" I ask.
"If that happens I'd really rather you end up in an Israeli jail than an Arab jail. The Israeli jail is like five star compared to the Arab one, and there's more chances of you getting out," he responds.
"So you wouldn't be mad?"
"No, I'd go kill the leader of the country that arrested you."
"It would be pretty cool if I got arrested though," I say.
"Yeah, it would be."
I love you too baba.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Omm il donia

For 10 days, I managed to forget everything from my daily life. I didn't even remember what it was like to work, or have the cold Canadian air brush up on my skin. It was my first complete disconnect. While most of those around me felt the need to constantly update people at home, I felt the recollection of my day when asked was a burden, mostly because I couldn't actually express what I felt. It was also the first time I did not look forward to a trip, due to the fact that I knew there was a high possibility of disappointment in the form of not reaching my initial destination (Gaza). With that being said, my journey back was as long as my journey here, so I had time to reflect and write for everyone: letters from Cairo.

Arrival - Christmas Day
Dear whoever cares to read this,

I've slept an hour on three plastic chairs located in Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport. My back must be broken. I arrive to Cairo after spending the flight talking to a fellow marcher who used to be a big executive at Motorola. She's awesome. The weather is nice and our cab driver is attempting to give us a tour at 1am. We're not having it.

Day 1 (officially)
Dear whoever cares to read this,

We wake up early, eat foul because we're in Egypt and take a self made walking tour around Cairo. "Show me the meaning of being lonely" seems to be the hip ringtone here since I heard in on two people's phones. We find old photos of Jamal Abdel Nasser at a photo studio and end up chatting for over an hour over tea with the owner. He gives us the photos as a gift (I got a sweet one featuring a young Gaddafi) despite us refusing his dinner invitation. Staring is common here, and I must get used to being the object of all glares. We sing songs while walking the Nile. Check into the apartment in Maadi where I'll be staying. Word is: border still closed and the French delegation was denied access to their buses. Therefore, they camped outside their embassy and have no intentions of moving. Count on the French to strike right. Near fatal crossing accidents: two.

Day 2
Dear whoever cares to read this,

We attend our first orientation meeting and meet some of the other delegations. We walk over to the Qasr el nil bridge and hang messages to those in Gaza. The police quickly break up our peaceful demonstration and remove all letters from the bridge. First encounter with Abu Shanab, more on him soon. Later on, we are to go on the fallukas on the nile and drop 1,400 candles in commemoration but we are stopped. We hold a vigil on the nile surrounded by the Egyptian police. My voice is already leaving me because I spend all night yelling "El Horriya li Gaza" (Freedom for Gaza).
Day 3
Dear whoever cares to read this,

More meetings, sleep continues to lack but I don't care. By now, we are experts at crossing the street. We attempt to brainstorm a variety of methods we can get into Gaza. This is supposed to be the day we leave for Al-Arish, but the Egyptian government has denied anyone with a foreign passport permission to pass to Al-Arish whether with buses or via public transportation. We protest under the October 6th bridge.
We take our chants and spirit to the UN offices. We wave flags, banners and build mock embassies. Many people are attempting to get the support of their embassies which gives us all the same message: NO. Friend spots Dahlan near the Palestinian embassy. Attempts to hold back his anger. We show solidarity with our French brothers and sisters and visit the embassy where they are camped out, surrounded by the riot police. I manage to insult a "secret service" officer by asking him "who are you anyway?" Big trouble, little yuppie. We visit Heliopolis for a change.
Day 4
Dear whoever cares to read this,

Much to do today. After getting no help from the Canadian embassy, I head over to the Syndicats des journalistes for a protest there, followed by one at the same place protesting Netanyahu's visit with Mubarak. Codepink, one of the organizers of the march, are negotiating with Suzanne Mubarak who agrees to send two buses with 100 delegates instead of the 1,400 currently in Cairo and they can only be people who have never visited the region before. What is this a tourist destination? The French side of les Canadiens comes out and we talk to other groups about protesting at the buses the following morning. Many groups are on board, some however continue to forget the reasoning behind the march and would like to get on the buses. We find a really rad song while attempting to look for something else and it stays trapped in my head for the next few days.

Day 5
Dear whoever cares to read this,

I'm running on one hour of sleep and at the buses it's chaos. The decision makers apologized for their quick and faulty decision. Massive support against the buses departing ensues, but there are still many getting on board, mainly for personal reasons, some with none at all aside from the march, whatever their reasons may have been, people got on and off the buses. We chanted, attempted to remind them of the goal, some people got off the buses. When most of the crowd left, some people got back on the buses. A total 0f 60 people departed for Gaza and the bus picked up people in Al-Arish who were under house arrest or detained for attempting entry previously. A total of 84 people went to Gaza despite the Gaza Freedom March organizers in Gaza urging them not to. We visit the French embassy again and head to some meetings. Drinking lots of tea, koshary count: two. Furthermore, I have mastered arguing with cab drivers who try to rip me off.

Day 6
Dear whoever cares to read this,

This is the day we should've been marching in Gaza. We find out early that some of the delegation is trapped in their hotel, surrounded by police due to the staff being informants.
10AM: We walk up from the subway as we attempt to divert attention from ourselves since all week we have been followed. All of a sudden, a flash mob of 500 begin running on the street in Tahrir Square, Cairo's busiest place. The police go crazy and attempt to push us on the sidewalk by any means necessary. Many are kicked, punched, pulled by the hair, pushed. I was lightly elbowed in the mouth and police attempt to carry me out as I hung onto my friends. When I screamed in Arabic, they panicked and let go of me. Finally, we were in the confines of the gated sidewalk. The police had beat many of us, including a 12 year old Dutch-Palestinian girl. From 10am to 4pm, Tahrir Square was Gaza Square. We even create a mock washroom. We talk to those poor soldiers who have no idea what they are doing and are completely on our side, merely afraid of their government. Ideally, we would've spent NYE there, but we lost a lot of people who were not allowed to return if they left the sidewalk.
Instead, we celebrate NYE again in Tahrir lighting candles for Gaza. The Palestinian flag spread out on the pyramids photo makes the newspapers. Cabies seem to have moved on from El Hantour to this song.



Day 7
Dear whoever cares to read this,

Israeli embassy time. This one caught the authorities by surprise. There was no one, all of a sudden, there were hundreds. The embassy was close to the French one, so it was easy to gain the support of our French comrades. We took over the sidewalk and the bridge. I had the opportunity to chat with one of the soldiers who looked like they had been recruited from the near by casting agency they were so young (what is this Israel?). They asked us when we were going to stop our protests because it's been five days and they are getting tired. They were also scared to ask me questions because their superiors behind them were listening in on the conversation. I noticed that when they found out I was Arab, they showed me more respect despite it being the opposite for Arab males. Tonight, down time in Zamalek.

Day 8
Dear whoever cares to read this,

Walk like an Egyptian. Today is saved for the Pharaohs, the cruelest people the world has ever seen. By now we are all accustomed to the 1 out of 4 Egyptians being informants thing, so we are no longer paranoid. We are now the "celebrity" hooligans wreaking havoc in Cairo. We know this place. It has consumed us. We take the metro and meet up with our Scottish friends in Giza. Looking over the slums of Giza, this government represents the Pharaoh's of the 21st century. To enter the pyramids, Arabs pay 2EP and foreigners pay 60. I'm Arab with a foreign passport, but I'm Arab therefore I pay 2EP. Security asks me for Arab ID, which I don't have. I argue with him, probably yelling things like "I'm more Arab than you, this is retarded, etc etc." but I end up having to pay 60 anyway. I'm more eager to cause chaos at the pyramids now.
I ride my camel, nicknamed Baby Boo up to the third pyramid, pretend to take photos and be some lame tourist, then we start climbing. Police officer yells no climbing, we say we're crossing. Yelling continues. We get to the other side and get down. The photographer from the newspaper arrives, the officer turns around to talk to his informants, we grab the banner, run up the pyramids, take the photo, then begin getting chased. The cops take our bags and fetch inside. They take our banner, ask us for our cameras, call for back-up, accuse two people from our group of being Egyptians (they have American passports) and accuse them of being journalists. They are desperately seeking to find photos. What they did was a) prepare for the longest chase of their life, b) embarrass themselves in front of all tourists and c) attempt to arrest us for no reason. The police chased us from pyramid three all the way to the entrance. I have never seen a human being turn so red. Before I knew it, every officer in Giza surrounded us, including an archeologist who told me he had to fill a report about the incident, to which I responded, "and report back to who? Pharaoh himself?" He wasn't so pleased, naturally. Later on, we end up in a cab with a driver who asks us if we're Algerian. Then he goes on a rant about Algerians and what they started after the soccer match, followed by 30 minutes of a CD with songs consisting of the word Masr. A little too patriotic. He's crazy and we can't wait to get out because we're scared of mentioning anything rai. I'm 99% sure I'm getting deported.


Day 9

Dear whoever cares to read this,

No, we did not get deported. Instead, we are on the train to Alexandria. We took the wrong train so we had to stand the whole way. We also made the newspaper. The beach is wonderful, and I can actually see the sky, smog free. Whoever says Toronto is smoggy has never left Canada. It's a blessing compared to Cairo. We walk around, visit the library, explore the city and realize how Arabs do not know how to maintain monuments. We don't eat fish like we're supposed to because we over ate at lunch. Alexandria has a street car. We take photos of Arabs posing like Arabs and even have a mock photo session of our own. We eat ice cream, we act like Syrians, we act like Palestinians, we act like foreigners, we analyze responses. Upon our return to Cairo, I am stuck with an idiot cab driver who is taking me the wrong way (I know my way by now). I make him stop me on the side where an argument commences with the police. He urges me to get back into the car but I get another cab instead. Try to rip me off why don't you.



Day 10

Dear whoever cares to read this,

This is tourist day. We visit Khan El-Khalili and the mosques around it (the Fatimid dynasty fascinates me), and we also visit Salah El Din's citadel. I finally visit a woman I considered my grandmother in Canada who now lives in Cairo. I've known her since I was six and she's my favourite person in the whole world. I drink sugar cane juice, I eat koshary, we discuss politics. I'm so happy to see her and so sad to leave. I spend the last hours of my time drinking tea at The Australian Hostel. We've formed friendships with the staff. I bid farewell to my partner in crime and return to my hotel. My flight awaits, alongside a dose of reality and cold weather.
more to come.