Maybe They’re Overworked

Tomorrow I leave for Upper Egypt and the Luxor-Aswan cruise; I will return on Saturday. I’m excited for this chance to see a different side of Egypt, but at the same time I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by this stack of essays, reading and Arabic I am packing along with my flip-flops and camera. Then I stop for a second and remember that it is my privilege to do homework on the Nile, because there are a lot of people slaving away in the Upland tundra. Yeah, I pick Egypt.

Nothing earth shattering has taken place in the past few days. My time has been spent working hard and talking to Muslims at the American University in Cairo about Islam. Its super intimidating to approach complete strangers and ask them questions about their religion, but I’m proud (maybe in the bad way) to report that I’ve done it four times without a hitch. Okay, maybe there was one hitch. I talked to this very sophisticated person, Nancy, who is doing her grad work in business management. She was knowledgeable and her English was beautiful–maybe my best interview. Then as I was getting up she asked if I would send her a copy of my paper when I’m done writing it. At that point I almost choked on my own spit. How intimidating to have this super intelligent Muslim woman read my first foray into understanding her religion. I think I might accidentally lose her email address…

There is something about Egypt that I think everyone should know about–it is sort of an evolution of observation that has occurred in the time I have spent here. When you first arrive in Cairo one of the first things you notice is that the city is crawling with men in uniform carrying intimidating (machine gun like) looking guns. As you stare out the window you notice all these soldiers; you see the tourist police following your bus and you are impressed with the Egyptian army and you feel safe because it is in the interest of the government to keep foreigners well out of harm’s way. But then after a couple weeks you look closer and notice…is that duct tape on that gun? I know that duct tape is an all-purpose tool, but honestly, on a gun? And you wonder things like: why is that guard holding that gun pointed towards his head? And you think this can only end in tears. And then you maybe come to the shocking realization that most of those guns can’t be loaded. A couple more weeks pass and as you become bolder you look into the faces of the soldiers at every street corner and realize that they are children–16 to 20 years old playing with guns and radios. Then it sort of becomes funny because you see them everywhere leaning on their guns and sleeping. I mean maybe they’re overworked. Today, I walked passed a car that had four guards sprawled inside it dead asleep. I often find the tourist police officer that sits outside our building asleep cradling his gun across his chest–and then I feel real secure. Sometimes I stomp my feet and slam the door, inconspciously of course, and other times its my uncontrollable laughter that wakes him up, but then I feel bad. So I’ve taken to tip-toeing past, comforted by the knowledged that I have strong lungs and I could scream loud enough to wake him up if I needed him on the way up the stairs to my flat. I’m sure this indicates something about society, but I’m sick of analyzing so you are free to interpret as you will. Like Picasso or something.

Okay, that’s all she wrote. Be watching for updates concerning my adventure in Upper Egypt. As a closing remark I am going to take the time to give a little geography lesson maybe you can impress all your friends or maybe you’ve known this since you were ten: Upper Egypt is southern Egypt. I bet you want to know why its because the Nile is the only river in the world that flows from south to north making the “begining” of the river in the south. And now you know the rest of the story…

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3 Comments

Filed under the middle east

3 responses to “Maybe They’re Overworked

  1. Nat

    So…I feel like I just discovered a gold mine! Marcia my dear- I have now been enlightened to this online journal and it makes me seem a little closer to you. Your adventures make my heart jealous! I am aspiring to be as courageous as you. Latest news with me is plans to go to Africa this summer with my mom and sister and work at K-7 again as a counselor! What can I say..I left of part of myself in Branson! I miss you….Don’t forget to have the TIME OF YOUR LIFE!

  2. Josh and Sarah

    Marcia, seriously, we miss you. I (Josh) am reading an interesting book with your dad and Kevin Tow. Your statement about post-modernism and how we know the real truth will come through the fire was well put. Kind of scary stuff sometimes. Seriously, your words were refreshing. Again, we just miss you. And, well, you’re doing some really cool stuff. That’s all. I’m (Josh) thinking about spending some of my personal money on a 4 DVD Looney Tunes boxed set. Is that silly? Sarah refuses to go in on 1/2, no matter how hard he begs! 🙂 Praise God, truly eternity with Him is real. Bye-bye.

    We love and miss you!

    By the way, Hannah’s hair is getting seriously long and curly and is oh-so-cute! She walks, she talks (kind of), and is basically a daddy’s girl. That’s what Josh thinks anyway!

  3. Waldo

    Ok, this is the kind of comment you would expect from me, but did you know what duck tape was invented for? Yes, I said Duck tape. It was invented for machine guns. No joke, in WW2, I think it was, the machine guns on planes kept on getting all wet cuz of condensation (warm plane suddenly in cold upper atmosphere, you get the picture). So someone got the bright idea of using some waterproof “Duck cloth”, putting some glue on the back, and wrapping it around the machine gun. Now, whenever you see a machine gun with duct tape, just think “Wow, someone’s using Duck tape where it belongs.” By contrast, Duck tape isn’t very good at withstanding extreme temperatures so no one actually uses it on Ducts. Go figure.

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