Exploding Life

I saw the lights of Cairo come into view below me from the plane. After spending 24 hours in transit, and touching down on three continents, here I was, at last. Home.

The time I've been back has reminded me why I love Egypt so much. Simple things, silly little vignettes- the bizzare, the hilarious, the everyday things that constitute life in Cairo which seem absolutely ridiculous.

The traffic is bumper-to-bumper, but hurtles along the Autostrahd at 60 mph; one single unit, moving in unison, honking, yelling, weaving. A tentacle of humanity stretching for miles, snaking across the desert, encompassing it, taking it. Next to my cab is a small flatbed truck, loaded twelve feet high with bundles and crates. Perched precariously atop the load is a twenty-something Egyptian, chainsmoking and digging in his nose. The driver lazily glances in his rearview mirror from time to time, making sure his passenger has not fallen off the mound of cargo and been consumed by the mass. Emblazoned across the back of the truck is the word "Hyunday". I giggle to myself and light a cigarette.

En route to Meedan Tahrir, I pass a pet shop, the size of an American walk-in closet. Birds screech and puppies leashed to various door handles bark heartwrenchingly. A PETA proponent's worst nightmare. A mammoth white birdcage stands to the left of the shop, but there is no bird inside. It takes me a moment to see them- six white puppies cuddled up at the bottom of the cage. Necessity breeds creativity, I suppose.

Less than a mile later, I notice a shop whose window is partially covered by a sheet strung up to obstruct the view inside. Four 80s-era mannequinns stare complacently out into the chaos of the street. I realize with a lauagh that the mannequinns are in a state of undress, and the sheet has been hung to preserve their modesty. Oh Egypt, I love you.

A girl walks boldly through the traffic, her cellphone tucked into the side of her tight hijab- an Egyptian bluetooth headset.

Finally home after hours of sitting in traffic, I settle into my bed to see if I can persuade the internet to work, just this once. As I am beginning to dose off, I am jolted awake by the all-too-familiar warning call of the housekeepers- "Man on the floor!". Outside my door I hear Egyptian girls shriek and scamper into their rooms, not wanting these men, who are probably carrying someone's luggage upstairs, to see them without their hijabs on. I smile and turn off my light. It's good to be home.

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