Cairo 3:43am

07/20/2015

We leave the airplane and I instantly feel the Cairo breeze as I look ahead into orange lights shaded with a blend of dust, history, and memories of honks and donkey and horse wagons, all in this air. The 25 degree temperature cools it down and I walk my way one step at a time, watching over the woman ahead of me, and being extra cautious not to step on her abaya.

 

Transit? From there, there.. Transit? I lose my way between two busses but join the transit group in less than a minute. As the bus door closes and I hear a Saudi man commenting to his wife that these transit busses are such a 'civilized move' of them. "A few years back, we had to walk all the way to the terminal from inside! Finally, some civilized ideas!" The woman does not respond, and the silence is broken when a Somali guy rushes to fit his thin body between the closing doors. He jumps but as his body manages to manipulate the cencor, his arm is dangled outside with the suitcase. I scream and throw my hand on my head and then cover my eyes "Oh My God! Oh my!" (Yes, I did think of myself as that girl who is over reacting, but why wasn't anyone else... 'reacting'?)

 

The passengers going to Somalia and Ethupia are told to take a transit route upon entering the airport and a couple of other,s myself included, are given a receipt and told to exit the airport and catch a bus to a nearby hotel in Cairo. I notice that all of us are Saudis, yes, all of us are Saudi. Some going to Athens, others to Istanbul, and a few to Frankfurt (with Ramadan coming in the middle of the summer season, Eid celebrations are determined to continue in a neighboring country). One after the other enters the Novotel shuttle bus and we, Saudis, are getting along, despite the noticable diferences bewtween those arriving from Qassim and the others arriving from Jeddah.

 

Upon entering the hotel, one guy walks out to the front desk, does not look at us in the eye, takes some forms and distributes them one throw at a time on the counter, then says: "fill them anf give them back to me." By the time he gives out 5-6 forms, there are already about 18 men and two women standing horizontely and asking questions all at once. He says "I can't get to all of you at once" in response to a woman who complains that she arrived first and didn't get a room yet. I fill my form and give it back, he snatches it from me and says "Eh dah! It's all wrong!" It shocks me as I don't know how writing my name, phone, and address, could come out as wrong. Apparently, all the forms he had given us don't have their copy forms attached, so everyone is asked to write their personal info again and chaos strikes back. There is still two women in this crowd with about 18 men lined up on an almost 3 meter long counter, and plenty of children, one of which throws himself on my back, and I don't know what to do except stare so bluntly at him to make him realize what he had done.

With this chaoe escalading, or at least not ending, I decide to tell the man that instead of waiting here pointlessly, I will wait for him to call my name as I find myself a seat near by. When I return, without my name called of course, I stand in that horizantal line once again with 5 other men this time. He looks at me and says: "Fatima?" Of course, I identify myself and take my keys. But just as I embark on this 5 hour transit hotel stay, I cannot but utter: "You know something, it's just that you have to take leadership from inside and set a system, any system you want. You can say that you will not serve anyone except if we stand in line instead of screeming that you can't help us all at once. Wallah haram, the entire world progresses, and we still can't stand in lines. Change happens from your place inside (min ma6ra7ak gowa)."

I say this not because he is not organized or lacks a system of organization, but rather for others to listen (since I also realize the difficulty of taking initiative with people who see you as an inferior employee, and want to be served above all.) Shocked, some few men nod their heads and he, the person behind the counter, apologizes "7a22ek 3aleya...". It is not the apology that matters, but rather change that happens after, if it does happen.

 

Some would consider this dirty laundry, but I will not. If you travel and look around you, you will notice your country and your people's downfalls and their fortunes and improvements too. When we see it, we know it, we can change.

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