Monday, January 25, 2010

Cairo Journal: Crossings

1.24.09

I love the anarchy of Cairo. In so many ways the people here, despite living under a true life dictatorship, are freer than we are in the states. I say this because there is an imperative here for one to make their one way, and an understanding that everyone else is trying to do the same. This creates an atmosphere of tolerance for behaviors that, in the US, are sources of major frustration.

Crossing the street, for example, is much more than a Pythagoran attempt to get from Point A to Point B. It's a statement of purpose, a declaration of intent that everyone around respects. People generally don't wait for traffic signals--whether on foot or behind the wheel--instead they wade out into the waters, letting one car pass, stepping in front of another which will gently swerve to the right or left, pushing the flow of traffic with it. The lanes are merely suggestions. They represent orderliness, regulation. Control.

But people are not meant to be controlled. We are not meant to have our lives contained within four walls--the apartment, the elevator, the cubicle--where we avert our eyes from our neighbors'.

That old Greek mathematician may have been correct, that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but here one learns that there are other things to consider beyond physical distance. In a place like this, where human interaction is a form of currency, weaving amongst the human tide opens the path for new, uncontrollable possibilities. For, we must see one another, work with one another, and trust one another to act in ways that are mutually beneficial.

It's a recognition that your journey is as important as mine, and I see you making your way.

And we're both going to make it. Insha'allah.

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