Thursday, February 09, 2012

Street sounds....

When I sit at home I hear many street noises..

Thankfully, my street is a quiet one, close to busy areas, but without the traffic of them. So I don’t have too much of the usual car horn pollution found in Cairo.

I sometimes, like now as I write this, have bird song too.
The call to prayer form the local mosque is beautiful. We are lucky to have a talented muezzin.

Then there are all the travelling salesmen:

Common calls include 'Lemon'... 'na3 na3' (mint) ... 'Robba beekia' (any old iron type of thing).

You also get wandering fortune tellers, knife sharpeners, and donkey carts with various fruits and plants. The list goes on...

Then you get the occasional skirmish that breaks out between the street people, the bowabs and shop keepers, delivery boys and police. Usually the ruckus is due to someone trying to drive down the street but finding the gap left by the parked cars is too small. Everyone tries to help in these cases. It often hinders rather than helps. But they try.

Today I heard a very strange sound. A woman’s voice over a megaphone. She was crying, loudly. So much that I could barely make out the words. Someone (I think her brother or son) needed an operation and she didn’t have any money to pay for it and she didn’t know what she could do. Begging basically. Driving through the streets very slowly with a megaphone attached to the top of a beaten up old taxi. Many people went up to her window and handed in cash. Then one woman, covered in her abaya with a huge hood which hid most of her face as well as her hair, shouted down to the woman to have some respect and not go begging with a loudspeaker and to move on. She was really quite angry. I was surprised in this neighbourhood that someone had shouted down from a balcony. It’s common in more ‘local’ areas... but I have never seen it before here. Her complaint was taken on the chin and the taxi moved off in a far swifter manner than it had arrived.

What is really sad about the whole thing is that this does happen. People do get to the point of desperation because they literally have nothing that people do die because they can’t afford the medication or operation to keep them alive. It’s horrific to imagine how desperate you must be to do something like that.

What is even sadder... is that me and my housemates had a discussion about it wondering if it was true or not, or if she was a very good actress who had hit on a very profitable way of making a living. It is hard to know. Cons are common, as they are around the world, especially in countries where poverty is so high.

Now I have a mental dilemma.

Do I wish that she’s for real- that he brother really is in such a state and she really can’t find any other way to keep him alive...  or do I pray that she is a smart con merchant and he is fine (if he exists).

Neither are very good measures of the state of this society just now.

It’s sad.


habibifestival said...

This situation tach the heart, but, sometimes, you think is real o no...
I think so, but the people in cairo is this...
Inshallah i see you in the summer!!!
Miren Ripa.

Lorna (aka BellyLorna!) said...

actually Miren,

I was unfortunately correct with my cynicism.

I discovered a friend of mine had seen the exact same woman do exactly the same 7 months previously in a totally different neighbourhood of Cairo. So unless her brother is still waiting for his life saving operation after 7 months, which i doubt, Its a con- a very clever,successful and very low, con.