A fairly typical dayPosted: May 11, 2012
I wake early, sweating; the AC went off some time in the night. Down in the street it’s warm too, though it will be hotter later. Running alongside the railway tracks I sweat more. After ten minutes I meet the first pack of dogs. Docile during the day, in the early morning they roam in packs. You might get past them walking but running is asking for trouble. They chase me in a snarling mob, snapping at my heels. One on one they won’t look you in the eye but when the pack’s together there’s a battle cry. I turn and rush at them, sending them scurrying but provoking further fury. The only drop the pursuit when I stoop to pick up a brick. Shortly afterwards I run down an alley into another pack. This time I don’t manage to scare them off so easily and they are too close to run from. A baying standoff ensues that is only broken by a passing tuktuk. The next dogs I see I’m careful to walk past.
Showered and breakfasted I hop a metro downtown. As usual it’s crowded and I prop myself against a pole to read.
“Eh da?” a boy asks, eyeing my Kindle.
“Computer,” I offer by way of explanation. This satisfies him and we both get out at Sadat. There are tents again in Tahrir but I barely notice them as I hail a cab.
“F’il Zamalek, 26 juilio.”
Five pounds later I get dropped outside the Marriot; “henna kwayze, shukran.”
I pick up an Americano at Coffee Bean. The girl asks me if I want large or medium.
“Medium,” I say, familiar now with the routine.
“No, only large.”
I still don’t get the joke but pay her and as usual she dangles my change out of reach, only giving it to me when I give up grabbing after it. I’m on time punching in and the first person at my desk, although the boss is around somewhere. A few hours of not much pass and I write a blog about the product launch from the night before. It’s a cool product but I’m still amused at the Twitter circle jerk on the product’s hashtag – amazing what people will say for a free (nonalcoholic) drink. In the afternoon I go with one of the girls to interview a client for an advertorial. This is mostly conducted in marketing speak which is difficult to translate into good quotes. I have a hard time getting some colour. It’s not until I turn off the dictaphone that they relax and give me what I want.
After work I go meet up with a friend for a drink. He’s coptic and not surprised when I tell him my story about the woman identifying the Copt from his gold chain. My friend wears a chain too; he says people notice it all the time. He also tells me that during Ramadan he has to carry his US passport if he wants to drink, as Copts won’t get served even if they show their national ID cards which state their religion.
After two Stellas we call it a night and I hail another cab. The meter is already running and up to 55 pounds but I ignore it. I wonder why it’s on.
“Where you go?”
“TaHrir. Metro Sadat.”
“Corniche ok? I go home to Shubra.”
He cuts off a minibus which then pulls alongside to conduct a shouting match. The minibus driver is on the right so yells in my window. My driver leans across me to yell back.
“I go home to smoke hasheeh. You smoke hasheesh?”
“Never,” I lie. “Sometimes I drink beer.”
“Only beer? No whiskey?”
“Where from? Germany?”
“La. Min New Zeelanda.”
“La. One day, inshallah.”
“La. Ya3ni mesharaf.” No. I mean, I don’t know.
“You like girlies?”
“Aywah. Taba3n.” Of course.
“You like boys?”
“La, la, la.”
“Sometimes boys sexy.”
“You come my house? Smoke hasheesh, drink.”
“Next time momkin.”
“Ok. How much you pay me?”
This is acceptable and he drops me outside the Egyptian museum. I walk the five minutes to the Metro. It’s crowded but I get a seat after Sayeda Zeinab. Outside the Metro station a Muslim Brotherhood member hands me a flyer for Dr Mohamed Morse, the Freedom and Justice Party presidential candidate. The flyer is in Arabic and we meet eyes and smile as I take it; it’s obvious I can’t read it so giving it to me is a small joke between us. I pick up tammaya sandwiches on the walk home. There’s two beers left in the fridge and I crack the first as I sit down at my laptop. Aside from the taxi driver it was a fairly typical day.