Archive for November, 2009

What Happened To Egyptians??

A couple of days back, I was waiting at the Tahrir bus stop when I suddenly saw something I would have never thought that I would see in my entire life.

Right next to the gate of the Main Campus, where all students wait for the bus, there was a guy, probably in his late twenties hitting a woman who seemed to be in her early twenties. She was veiled. They both seemed to be coming from a lower social class.

He kept on hitting her, slapping her, hitting her head against the wall, and she was not doing anything at all about it. All she was doing was crying and bleeding all over her face.

He was yelling at her, and she was giving no reaction but crying.

Surprisingly, no one on the streets seemed to care about what was going on. People were passing by, as thought it were a normal scene they see in their every day life. Only some guys, on the other side of the street stopped to watch but they were not stopping the guy who was hurting the girl.

Then, some of the international AUC students went to stop the guy, and wanted to call the police on them. The guy heard them, and laughed out loud, saying sarcastically that they should call the police and that the police would not be able to do anything and that he did not care.

Finally, he pulled her from her veil, on the floor and took off with her.

This is a scene that you would not see in any country and for foreigners it makes our country look very uncivilized and uneducated. Whatever happened to human rights and gender equity? We all know that because we live in the Arab world, women and men are not treated equally, but this is an unacceptable matter.

Swine Flu: A Source of Fun or Anxiety?

A students wearing a Swine Flu mask to school

The Egyptian government may have implemented the swine flu break as a precaution against the spread of H1N1 in Egypt but many for Egyptians, the unexpected holiday gave them the opportunity to travel and socialize for an additional two weeks.

A significant number of students disregarded the spirit of the break and used it as an opportunity to travel. Foreign locales such as Paris, London and Munich suddenly became popular even though swine flu is rapidly spreading in Europe. And local hotspots like Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, Gouna or the North Coast also saw an increase in tourism.

“I went to Sharm El Sheikh for five days and it was crowded like hell,” said Mostafa Gobba, a 17-year-old Fine Arts sophomore at the University of Helwan. “People were in crowds everywhere; whether at the beach or in clubs.”

Even if traveling wasn’t on the agenda, many students spent their “swine flu break” in their hometowns and went out on a daily basis to crowded cafes in order to enjoy their time with their friends instead of avoiding the risk of catching the swine flu.

“Going out was like being in an overcrowded lame fashion show,” said Nayera Abdel Rahman, 18-year-old un

declared sophomore at the American University in Cairo (AUC).

Who Cares About the Swine Flu?

A café like “Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf” where no Shisha is served gained a lot from this unexpected break.

“During the last days of the Holy month of Ramadan people started to come right after Iftar,” said Mohammed Aly, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf manager of Zamalek branch.

The usually packed with studying students place was bookless. No one with any sign of studying was spotted there.

“It was amazing,” said Aly. “We had rush hour about eight hours every day.”

Although Aly declined to give a number, he said that the café definitely made a noticeable profit in that time and wishes that the place would always be that packed.

“Before I went to Sharm El Sheikh and after I came back I spent every day until 2a.m. at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf,” said Gobba. “But my friends and I never managed to find a place to sit inside, so we would always just hang out on the sidewalk and sit on the cars in front of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf; and we were a lot. People passing by would sometimes mistake us for being in a fight or something because we were so many.”

Aly attributed some of the popularity to the design of the café.

“Because we have a high roof and no Shisha people would prefer to come here rather than going to a totally closed and smaller place,” said Aly.

Finally People Who Are Making Some Sense

However, cafes which serve Shisha were disappointed that the Health Ministry of Egypt scared every one.

“We barely had any customers because of the fear everyone had,” said Hamada Youssef, a waiter at the Shisha café “Vivant”.

“The majority of people who came in were foreigners, probably because we are so close by the AUC dorms,” said Shaymaa Ahmed, a shift leader at Vivant. “When Egyptians saw the foreigners, they would just walk out with no second thoughts about staying here, because they thought that they are increasing their risk of catching the swine flu.” And customers that did smoke, consistently asked about the hygiene within the establishment and expected everything to be sanitized regularly.

“We clean our Shishas after each usage and only use medical hose,” said Youssef.

Pottery café, another Shisha café is facing similar difficulties.

“There are definitely less people coming in, due to fear,” said Ahmed Magdy, a shift manager of Pottery at the Zamalek branch. “It led to a certain loss. But the people who came still smoked Shisha, however they requested medical hose.”

Thank God I Go To AUC

Last Saturday, I went with a friend of mine who still goes to school, to the Faculty of Fine Arts, which belongs to Helwan University, but is located in Zamalik. She wanted to go to look at the different majors they have there, as she will be graduating from the German School in Dokki, in June and needs to start applying to colleges. Wanting to keep all her options open, she thought of Interior Design among other things such as Law. Knowing that the American University in Cairo (AUC) does not offer either of those majors for undergraduates, she figured that she would have to go to a public university or travel abroad for these. So we went to the Faculty of Fine Arts and it was a disaster.

Faculty of Fine Arts (Helwan) in Zamalik

Both of us were dressed normally, as though we were going to our university/school – jeans and a t-shirt. The looks we got from the students there once we entered were horrifying. They made us feel as though we are aliens through the looks they gave us. We could see the dirty looks the veiled girls were giving us, like we were prostitutes who came in to take all their guys. As for the guys, they made us feel like something was wrong with us; they would not stop starring. We could clearly tell that they were whispering about us.

After going to the registrar, which is not even close to being one, compared to the one we have here in AUC, and seeing that it was closed, we simply left.

The American University in Cairo

I told my friend that she could enjoy her time there if she was really going to apply there. But she told me that she would not because she would be so out of place. Finally, she decided that it will either be AUC or abroad.