Babylon & Beyond

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EGYPT: Chaos, war and traffic

April 28, 2008 |  6:24 am

Cairo_traffic_3

Egyptians ruefully ponder the traffic on their streets and the chaos in their hearts. They seek, especially in rattling, boisterous Cairo, anecdotes and asides to describe their exasperating predicaments. Here’s a sobering assessment from writer Suleiman Gouda, who recently mused in the newspaper Al-Wafd:

What’s really strange is that when an Egyptian is in a capital other than Cairo, he/she behaves well every step they take and turns from a chaotic creature, who is used to unlimited chaos in his home country, into a civilized person.

Gouda goes on to say that he was startled by a glimpse at traffic statistics:

When a recent report says that the number of those killed (and injured) in accidents in Egypt hit 73,000 in a single year, this only means what is happening in our streets is a war, not an ordinary movement of traffic. The U.S. has been fighting in Iraq for five years, and the number of its soldiers killed did not exceed 4,000!

Yet, somehow, Egyptian friendliness and a wry sense of humor overcome the din of horns and the screech of brakes in a tangle of rolling eyes and shared, knowing smiles.

— Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo

Photo: Cairo gridlock. Credit: auto.howstuffworks.com   

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, the war in Iraq and the frictions between the West and Islam. You can subscribe by registering at the website here, logging in here and clicking on the World: Mideast newsletter box here.

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