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Monday, October 24, 2011


Nineteenth October

                                                 .................ci...................    .......c2...................

                                                     ....................c3..............       ..........c4...................

“they thought I was an idiot I gave them my car and they gave me a card.”

I love phone games especially the old ones. Angry birds has created a storm of catapults sucking man-hours like it's a toothless whore but before this there were the old school games creating addictions with nothing more than lines on a small phone screen. Snake swallowed more time than the number of balls that animal was after. Bounce was what people used when they were scared of being bounced on dates, but a game that has been severely underrated was push. This wasn't a game of wits and war, it was simply a game where you pushed blocks back and forth as you tried to win, push them this way and they fall, that way and it will all be OK, I had the pleasure to observe a game of push yesterday.

I had been picked up to go to a café in maadi{as promised better with names.} the doors to apartments in Egypt are curious contraptions, they lock themselves immediately on impact, you can then open them if you are inside but if you are outside you need a key, once you slot the key in and turn it the door pops open, I like the security this presents but when your flatmate is on the way to Italy and she was the last person to be seen with the keys it means hermitage isn't just a word that rhymes with rage. Because I needed a solution the guy who was picking me up had to leave his car downstairs in a position that it wouldn't be blocking anyone. His car is c4. C4 and c3 are vertically parked while c2 and c1 are both horizontally parked. In any country in the world this is where you utter a string of colourful curses believing that profanity provides position change, not so in Egypt

He looked at his car and was a little angry then he talked to an old man in Arabic, this was the quintessential wise man, the yoda Egyptian complete with bent gait and walking stick. They grab hold of c1 and push it, magically that car moves , I say magically because this car was parked and it shouldn't be able to move, maybe its the effect of yoda there I think. But am going with the flow so I lend a hand and push till it creates some space. They then turn their attention to c2 and push it but it does not move. Not to be daunted my pal begins to push c3 so that he would have enough space to turn around.

Apparently in Egypt if you park your car blocking the exit of another car it's common courtesy not to set your handbrake, that way if someone needs to leave they just push it out of the way and then leave! I was just as surprised. Anyway now he needs to reverse and turn diagonally because while c1 has opened up its still a player in the unfolding drama. C2 is directly behind us and am not sure how he expects to back out but expectant he is. He starts turning this way and that doing the magic drivers do where they turn the steering wheel really fast  and then move forward repeating the procedure over and over.

At this point he can diagonally back out or so it seems and he begins to. Then yoda says something and it turns out that he has very nearly scratched c3. In fact till this moment am sure he has scratched this car, a hairsbreadth couldn't describe the distance between them unless it was the hair on Michael Jordan’s head[I know I know using an mj reference for baldness in twenty eleven shows an appalling lack of of interest in current ahhairs but that's just who I am right now.] he drives forward now and I can swear I hear the scream of metal on paint but when he is done it's OK apparently.

Two kids show up on the scene, they had been watching with interest and now they want to lend their help. They are  around fourteen or fifteen. They speak incomprehensibly at least to me. In their mouths are dangling cigarettes like that's actually normal they are so nonchalant about it that even yoda doesn’t say anything.

They engage in Rubik’s cube like hand gestures that I couldn't follow if I was active on twitter, when they are done the driver nods like he understands, in my mind I know he scratched c3 and there's no manoeuvre in the world slick enough to avoid scratching it again. My heart pounds since all the confidence in the air has filled it with a sense of hope. He starts his car engine and back out.

1 cm. One second later he still moving

2cm. At this point the accelerator is being caressed like beautiful hair.

3cm. We're so close to the other car they could be kissing each other.

4 cm. This is the moment of truth.


 C2 begins to move, I have no idea why till I see that the owner of the car showed up and unlike Kenya where he would waste more time by starting it up he just began pushing it out of the way and out of ours then we are on our way.


  1. If we tried the no-handbrake rule here, there'd be a lot less fist fights. But then again, you'd never find your car waiting when you got back! Glad you're having fun in Egypt =)

  2. yer the no-handbrake needs a cultur of no thieving, kenyans would find a way to carry it off