Sunday, October 30, 2011

Unloved season

Autumn. My unloved season. Suddenly, after many months, fine clouds are decorating the unspoilt blue sky. The shadows are growing in length and width, impertinently expanding without respecting any limits.

Palm leaves are rustling excitedly in the unsteady wind. The wind has become unpleasant, makes one feel cold although it’s still warm. Trees and plants surprise with new buds and leaves. The suffocating heat has withdrawn to give space for new life.

The sea is restless, the waves dance fiercer than usually and proudly carry whitecaps. The horizon can be discerned again: golden islands in the sea, the mountain chain in the desert.

I slip over a jacket, the first time after several months. I feel cold.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Egyptian Specialities (I)

Now and then, I see, hear or come across something that lets me smile or amazes me. I want to share these experiences with you and from now on will write under this label about these things, situations or facts that are surprising, funny or just different from our well-regulated Western world.

Why need a windscreen when you can also do without it?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Star in the desert

This morning, I went for a long trip on my bicycle, haven’t had the time since long. A long trip means to me also, to capture many impressions and surprises.

There were the workers at the columns of the electric power line waving their arms to greet me – far away from Hurghada, in the middle of nowhere. The drivers of the forty-ton lorries passed by me with a decent space, horning and waiving.

But something else attracted my attention: about five meters away from the road, I saw something small, unusual in the sand. White ribbons where flapping in the wind… I cycled on, yet after some meters I stopped and went back. I put my bicycle on the ground and after few steps, I reached…

… the memorial. Jakob, 22 years old, died here on August 12, 2010, in a car accident. The flapping ribbons carried greetings in German, English, French and Arabic. I was deeply touched.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My unspoilt world

When I was a child, I didn’t want to grow up. I simply didn’t like what adults did. They spoke about love and friendship and that we children shouldn’t brawl. However, at the same time did I realize that adults argued, lied and cheated. I saw war and violence.

I lived on in an ideal world where human beings were honest and kept their promises. In spite of my inner resistance, I eventually grew up. So I fit myself with a thick, transparent glass cover and pretended to live in a perfect world. Yet alas, I lacked power and energy to defend my ideal world and so it happened repeatedly that something penetrated from outside through the glass cover and my unspoilt world got a crack, a fracture, a dent.

I read books about history and fates and tragedies and was unable to conceive that all this was possible. TV news showed pictures of the unconceivable... while I preferred to dream of liberty, equality and equity.

Protected by my glass cover, I stepped out into the adult’s world. There, where disputes, lies, poverty, power struggles and wars reflected reality. I walked on although my perfect world started to get damaged by what I saw. My unspoilt world gradually became smaller.

During the last couple of months, my thick, transparent glass cover burst. My perfect world of tolerance, respect and acceptance has fallen apart. What remains is only a tiny grain – which I keep in a place, where no-one can get hold of it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dark night in Egypt

Two days after the dreadful happenings in Cairo, I’ve tried to get an idea about it. It’s hard to find words for this nightmare, but nevertheless, I want to inform you. What happened on Sunday night is equal to the attacks on Copts in New Year’s Eve in Alexandria (Objective: Coptic Churches) and the so-called “battle of the camel” at the beginning of the uprising in February.

Obviously, the Western media are presenting the occurrences as a sectarian strife between Christians and Muslims. That’s superficial. The Egyptian State Television reported that Copts were attacking the military and called for a civil war!!!! State TV employees have meanwhile distanced themselves from their employer. Too late, it’s done.

I watched a number of videos and read several blogs and eye witnesses‘ accounts. They all reflect the same: protesters were attacked by plain clothed men and the military brutally cracked them down. Army cars drove zigzagging into the crowd and deadly crushed them. A video shows how a single man is beaten up by several dozens of soldiers. The soldiers are dragging the inanimate body along the street until another plain clothed man takes it up and wants to carry it away. Thereby, he gets beaten by the soldiers as well. Another video shows the gathering of the demonstrators and the beginning of their peaceful march. Only a couple of meters later do they get greeted by a cordon of armed plain clothed men and get attacked. Eye witnesses report that soldiers lead groups chanting “Where are you Christians, this is Islam!” Some dead bodies were reportedly just dumped into the Nile by soldiers.

The Supreme Counsel of the Armed Forces has ordered an investigation. That’s nice. Some culprits will be found – mainly low ranking state employees, some thugs maybe too – and the truth will be hushed up, kept secret.

And who is behind all? History will unveil it, yet until then, Egypt will have to go through a lot of suffering. It’s unbelievable for me to see how unfit and helpless this country is being governed at present. I repeatedly ask myself (and not only I do that!) if all this does not happen intentionally.

The uprising, almost affectionately called „Arab spring“, has turned into a gloomy autumn.

PS: I attach neither videos nor links, they can be easily found in internet. Those who want to know more may contact me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Copts again

All day long, I did not have the opportunity to read any online news. Only shortly before midnight, a friend told me if I knew what was happening in the country. No…?

Al Masry Al-Youm has established a live-ticker: according to eye-witnesses there were again thugs that have attacked demonstrators (this time Copts who were demonstrating against their omnipresent repression and discrimination as well as for the reconstruction of the recently destroyed church in Aswan). After midnight, the thugs even began to attack a Coptic hospital and tried to destroy shops owned by Cops. Further according to eye-witnesses, soldiers were assaulted while trying to protect demonstrators. That’s Cairo. Similar events are happening in Alexandria and other governorates.

At least, politicians realize: behind these attacks is someone who wishes to spread chaos. It does not remind only me to the infamous “camel battle” in February: it’s a planned massacre. Egypt should break apart.

And again, again and once more: how is this possible? Why are neither the police nor the military able to avoid such a slaughter? Or are they just not willing? Who is behind these attacks? The Copts themselves? The remnants of the old regime? The Muslim Brotherhood? The Islamists? Why does the secret service not have a hint of the planned strike?

24 dead and more than 200 persons injured (01.35am); there’s a curfew starting at 2am. Elections are coming soon… for what else do we have to prepare ourselves?

Friday, October 7, 2011


Why is there so much traffic, today of all days? At 10 am? The taxis and the microbuses, the lorries and the private cars, all mixed up, moving on painfully slow? I would like to shout at the taxi driver: speed up, hurry on!

I rush out, leave the taxi behind me, cross the jammed street and only now do I realize that something is wrong: microbuses are standing crosswise in the street. Why is that?

Two microbuses are blocking the street, a deafening chorus of horns and shouting men everywhere. I am looking for my taxi driver and give him a banknote – it’s not worth waiting for me, this will take longer.

A group of men is standing in the shadow of the Egyptian Products store and is discussing hot-headedly and aloud. Gradually, I realize what’s going on: the minibus drivers are complaining. Now of all days, when I … They are complaining about their miserable salary and standard of living and many other issues. A young man is trying to guide the traffic through the crowd and the blocking minibuses, the car drivers are angry. So are the bus drivers. Some police men are listening to the complaints. The knot of people is increasing, moving from right to left and left to right along the street, carefully staying in the shadow of the old fashioned, dusty department store.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

New Mobilephone Numbers

Originally, I did not want to write about this subject – not interesting enough I thought. Yet, in Egypt everything is being done in such a complicated way that even the simplest issue turns out to be worth mentioning.

According to the NTRA (National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority), Egypt accounts for 74 million mobile users. Now, the NTRA has decided to replace the numbering plan due to the number range limitation.

That’s evident. However, the introduced system seems to be complicated and the related communication is confusing. There are three mobile phone providers: Vodafone, Etisalat and Mobinil. All numbers will get one digit more and change as follows:

  • 010 will be 0100
  • 016 will be 0106
  • 019 will be 0109
  • 0151 will be 0101

  • 011 will be 0111
  • 014 will be 0114
  • 0152 will be 0112
  • 0155 will be 0115

  • 012 will be 0122
  • 017 will be 0127
  • 018 will be 0128
  • 0150 will be 0120

The National Regulatory Authority has published a press release on 27 September 2011 according to which the change would start on 29 September (!). A transitional period of four months with both old and new numbers working is planned. However, two days later, the media published the information that the start was postponed until 6 October. The communication authority has a communication problem…

Strangely enough, the mobile phone providers Vodafone, Etisalat and Mobinil don’t deem it necessary to inform their customers by sms. While Vodafone and Etisalat inform about these changes on their homepages, I couldn’t find this issue on Mobinil’s homepage. Communication providers seem to have a small communication problem…

Dear readers, if you have friends or colleagues in Egypt, than start to change the numbers next week, otherwise you will not reach your beloved ones some day!