Wednesday, August 20, 2008

please let's not get arrested, ok?

I woke up and I went to talk to James and he asked me what I needed and I said a cell phone.  So he gave me the simplest directions possible to find a mobile phone shop (take a left, cross the footbridge, take a right, you're there).  And filled with confidence that I was going to get myself a brand new Egyptian cell phone, I left the flat and took a right.  And I found myself in some sort of desolate railroad wasteland.  A group of very angry-looking Egyptian men were staring very intently at a very slightly discolored patch of sand.  I wasn't sure if they were going to mug me or maybe eat my flesh, but I needed to ask someone for directions.

I asked.  They smiled and one of them began escort me out of the home for old trains, asking me what I needed.  I spoke broken Arabic and he spoke broken English and we both gestured madly, and eventually I pulled out my now-no-signal-receiving old phone and pointed at it.  My Egyptian friend (hereafter referred to as Mohamed), pulled out his phone, smiled, and said "you make call."  I tried to tell him that I wanted to buy a phone, but Mohamed just smiled and shoved his phone into my hand.  "No.  No worry.  You make call."  Repeat a few half-dozen times.

Eventually we came to an agreement that I did, in fact, want to buy a phone.  Mohamed took to his new task with enthusiasm.  He smiled and took off on a mad dash down the street while I struggled to follow him.  He ran into a run-down green metro station and waited for me to catch up.  Then he hopped a turnstile.  I stood there staring.  He gestured at me to come with him and, not having a clue what else to do, I figured I may as well.  So I hopped.  He took off on a sprint through a crowd of Egyptians waiting for the train, and again I followed.

We reached a dirty sun-stained ramp going up.  As we ascended a little yellow motorcycle sped past us.  I stopped.  Mohamed didn't; he just turned his head, smiled, and gestured at me to get going.  Then a big red motorcycle sped past us and I decided he had the right idea.

We ran through another crowd of Egyptians and reached another set of turnstiles.  These had a small crowd of policemen in crisp white uniforms and black berets standing just outside.  Right in front of them, Mohamed hopped the turnstile.  I gestured at the police.  Mohamed smiled and held down the turnstile a little so it would be easier to jump.  I couldn't go back without facing motorcycley death, so I waved at the cops and hopped Mohamed's turnstile.

Another mad dash down the street (no police reaction whatsoever) and Mohamed pointed out a crumbling stone building.  "Phone here."  I said thank you a quarter-thousand times.  He smiled and walked off, shouting goodbyes behind him as he went.  I think I like Egyptians.

1 comment:

Jeffrey said...

o lawl tommy be safe in your adventures in egypt