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Street Classes Return to Cairo (and thus AbuTawil returns to the Blogosphere)

Three months have passed since the last post decrying the strong causal link between violence and blog posts. As Egyptian politics calmed, daily life accelerated. An internship was begun at Ashoka Arab World whose understaffed office began to demand increasingly more quantities of time (more on this at a later date;) long-forgotten queries remerged in the forms prompting the continuous revaluation of a worldview; refuge was sought in journaling and books adding further questions to the already troubling queries; a left-wrist was broken making daily-Egyptian life both an adventure and a frustration; college friends came and went leaving behind shared laughter and memories; Morocco was visited, photographed, and pondered (more on this at a later date); and finally summer and fall unknowns caused much panic before becoming tentatively planned. And in the midst of this chaos, the blog was forgotten, neglected, and abandoned. Read More…

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Witnessing January 25, 2012…شاهد ٢٥ يناير ٢٠١٢

When discussing the ongoing Egyptian revolution, I’ve intentionally avoided first person narration. As a foreigner, it’s not my revolution and while I certainly empathize with those demanding their dignity in Tahrir Square and desire to assist them in realizing their demands, directly involving myself through acts of popular protests would do more harm than good.

That being said, it is impossible to emotionally detach myself from the ongoing Egyptian revolution. Nor am I certain of the basis for this attachment. Maybe its my Christian faith grounded in a social gospel; perhaps it’s a Jesuit high-school education based on social justice; or maybe its desiring that my Egyptian friends enjoy the same dignity with which I have been blessed thanks to a wining ticket in the global birth lottery. To date,  I’ve satisfied my urges to change the status quo by donating blood (at an Egyptian hospital nonetheless), raising money for field hospital supplies, obsessively analyzing the possible outcomes of the political transition, and attempting to shape the narrative about Egyptian politics consumed by friends and family at home.

Today, I chosen the latter. I’ve chosen the written word as not only a tool for informational dissemination but also a means of intellectual digestion. What follows is my experience on January 25, 2012. Read More…

Purely Egyptian Moments: The Officer, the Flower Man and I ألحاظ مصرية محضة: الضابط وصاحب الورد وأنا

A couple of times a week as the sunsets and the call to the maghrib prayer softly resonates over Cairo, I am drawn to a nearby flower kiosk across from the Bulgarian ambassador’s residence. There, I sit on a dust covered crate of empty Coca-cola bottles amongst gaudy flower arrangements and discarded sunflower seed shells under haze of cheap cigarette smoke.

It is tea time in this sliver of Cairo. Taking a break from his twenty-four hour shift at the flower shop, Abd el-Allem fires up the butane and sets the kettle of water to boil while Abu Hussam – also in the midst of a twenty-four hour shift – wanders over from his guard shack across the street. Sharing the same work schedule of twenty-four hours on and forty-eight hours off, Abd el-Allem and Abu Hussam have shared tea every third night for longer than I have walked the face of the earth. Six months ago, however, in a queer twist of Egyptian hospitality, their duo became a trio. Keep Reading