Tag Archives: hope

“I Will Believe in My Glittery Screen.”

Compy goes with me everywhere.

Today I was using the ‘ol computer, typing away at my reinvented hamster wheel and rollerskating through the nets like tomorrow hadn’t been invented yet and I had the life span of an Old Testament patriarch.

I felt magic coursing through my veins as the web opened its doors and welcomed me with the minty breath of an over-eager date. Opportunities pushed me over and grabbed me by the shirt collar, saying, “I’m for you!” Yes, today was different.

It was not like yesterday, when the internet’s waters were grey like grandfather’s liver and my eyes grew weary as they sifted through the words like picking over dance prospects at a honkey tonk after only one drink. Nothing was exciting.

But today, zoom! Bang! Whip! Smash! Crunch! It felt like things were happening.

And then I noticed that my computer screen looked different. It was shining, no, glittering as I sped across the web’s pages. I didn’t think anything of it except for how much of an improvement it was on the dust blanket that eternally covered my monitor in Cairo. And I thought the glitter looked really pretty. It reminded me of when I liked glittery things and the solution to any artistic or decorative dilemma was to rain glitter on that mother effer.

I thought of a conversation I had with my neighbor, a member of a “charismatic” strand of Protestant Christianity, when she told me about a revival at their church. Apparently at the height of the service, some members’ faces and hands started shining with what later turned out to be 24 carat gold.

Maybe I was experiencing something similar, except for it was my computer that was blessed by the Lord and had become a sign to the believers in this household that the Lord does exist and that my computer was an instrument of holy work and had been sanctified for its efforts, that it would now live forever, slowly becoming more and more covered in these glitter specks until it turned into a Mac Wafer, a kind of computer that doesn’t yet exist.

Then I saw a speck towards the right-most edge of the screen that was slightly larger. It looked like a water droplet or something of that nature, but that was impossible, because water evaporates and I hadn’t had any on my computer that day. Oil, however, does not evaporate, and I had been using my computer dangerously close to pots and pans filled with various things sautéing.

My computer screen was not dazzling with flecks of spiritual 24 carat gold. It was cooking oil, either olive or canola, that had splattered onto the screen. My miracle was nothing more than the result of haphazard placement of electronics.

I could choose to be disappointed to think that I merely have a dirty, oily screen that’s no better than the glasses of a fry cook. Instead, I will believe in my glittery screen, will appreciate it for the fact it looks pretty, and will believe that this was still a miracle in its own way, both the fact that I still have a working computer, and the fact the screen looks better now than it ever has.

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Transportation: A post in three acts

As the daughter of a doctor, I would venture to say that I feel like 20 percent of our lives are spent commuting. Sometimes mortals like to enrich this transit time by reading, listening to music, or bothering other commuters with forced conversation. In Cairo, however, this is not possible since chance of death or severe injury during transit jumps from 80 percent to 100 percent should one lose focus on self-preservation. Transportation in Cairo will never, ever, be relaxing.

Today I had the pleasure of using three different kinds of transportation, most of which have already been discussed here and yet not exhausted due to the layers and layers of stress and discomfort found in all of them, layers that continue to be peeled back like the proverbial modern Egyptian woman who wears tons of…layers.

Act one: Rebirth on the Metro

Always in a class of its own, my Metro experience today was particularly moving. Switching trains at Sadat in order to head south, I felt my personal will fade away as I was sucked onto the woman’s car in a mass of bodies. While on the train, I was held firmly in place by the bubbly behinds of the ladies in front of and behind me. It was an intimate experience. Between me and the door was a group of perhaps 12 women, women I thought I would either need to squish through or shove aside in order to get out. Apparently there was a third option. As the train reached my stop, I was reborn as we, the mass of woman, formed one being and squeezed ourselves through the aperture of the metro car. To carry the metaphor further, all of us were also hot and sticky as we parted our separate ways. Too much?

Act two: If you can’t see the bones being crushed, do they still make a sound?

After partaking in the most delicious Mexican food this side of the Arab World (including Lebanon and Jordan), we were faced with the task of making it back home from Heliopolis, a faraway land filled with the richer segments of Egyptian society. We had arrived by a busy 8 lane highway and we were to leave by the same 8 lane highway, but in the opposite direction. This meant we had to cross the first 4 lanes (hell), make it to the grassy median (purgatory), and then cross the next four lanes (hell) to safety (paradise). It was nighttime, only 70 percent of the cars had their headlights on, and they were all going fast, about 70 miles an hour if my feelings are right. The speed, nighttime, and invisibility of the cars heightened the terror of the what could have been a normal highway-crossing experience. We made it to the median safely, and as we finally breached the last stretch like little black ants, I watched the lights rush towards me and imagined hearing my bones crunched against cold steel as the truck behind the headlights made contact with my unprotected, human, body. But we made it to the other side and hailed a cab, only to experience near death again all too soon.

Act three: Misfortune and self-interest

We were speeding along back to Doqqi on one of the many Cairene overpasses that look eerily similar to the skeletons of concrete giants when all of the sudden, we heard a screech, glass shattering, metal impacting, and more screeching. And then we saw the car wreck in front of us as our taxi driver skillfully slowed us down just in time to avoid hitting anyone. He stopped the car, got out to help yell at people, and then got back in and nosed his way into traffic that had been further bottlenecked into one lane, down from three. No one was hurt in the wreck, which made me feel better about the fact that my first thoughts upon seeing it were a) I’m glad that wasn’t us b) I’m glad we’re close to the wreck so we’ll be able to get through faster and c) I hope the meter wasn’t messed up when he stopped the car. Cairo does something to your priorities.

I have yet to ride any animals in Cairo, the most prevalent of which are donkeys and horses, as opposed to camels. I have also not ridden any form of bus except for the yachts rented by AUC, so there is still ground to break in the depths of Cairo transportation.

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