11/06/2013 09:18 BST | Updated 09/08/2013 06:12 BST

My First Night(Morning) in Cairo


The words passivity and bewilderment pretty much sum up my first day in this busy colossus.

The plane landed at 11:30pm. An on-flight medical emergency meant that it was a while before I got to 'touch down'. In this time an Egyptian man jumped out of his seat behind me to wrestle his jacket off another inadvertent ("fucking idiot!") passenger. Brits were quickly silent and subdued; I was already out of my sphere of comfort. This was a microcosmic omen for sure.

After a calamitous trip through immigration control, a flock of equally persistent and emotional taxi drivers pounced claiming they were government officials obliged to take me to my apartment.

After the initial onslaught, less conspicuous drivers tried to take advantage of my embarrassing but clearly obvious naivety by playfully chatting about the Queen and Manchester United before thrusting a receipt in my face and jumping up and down in frustration when confronted with my confusion. I was picked up 2 hours later and got to the apartment, which was just 11km away, 3 hours after that.

Cairo is hectic and fluid. It seems impossible to be proactive. You endure events rather than make them happen; my agency seems to me non-existent. However in this enormous city gazing at the ant colony streets below my apartment, I see that I'm not just a self-conscious, ineffective spec but am immersed in something more collective.

The power of the people however clichéd a term is inescapable in the streets that never empty of movement or the background noise of shouting complimented by car horns, which are used at any and every opportunity. The Egyptian Revolution, showed this at it's most awesome, yet it remains incomplete. Catharsis was not achieved.

Even after just 24 hours it's clear deep-seated anger persists and boils at the surface. The few Egyptians of varying ages, religions and occupations I've spoken to in the past day have all harked back to the times of Mubarak's presidency as stable and even prosperous. This undermined nearly every assumption I held about the country apart from the expected heat, which is of course hellish and relentless. The former President to my surprise is not just seen as a lesser devil than the dictatorial, erratic President Morsi, but as a viable option, even in his debilitated state.

Tahrir Square the barometer of discontent has been the scene of sporadic violence recently. Every few hundred yards you walk in Cairo there are people waving 'REBEL' petitions demanding that Morsi stands down as Mubarak did. According to them millions have already signed it. The people of Cairo have always been a monolithic power capable of impressive things, but only now do they know it.


The laws of momentum would dismiss any suggestion of a second revolution so soon after the last, but the threshold for public action has been lowered. Egyptians are more enabled and just as furious as they were three years ago. Taking your eye off events here would show even greater naivety than that which the hawkish taxi drivers witnessed from myself. Even the rare couple of Morsi fans I encountered agree with that.