Thursday, 3 February 2011

Re-contracting, Egypt, and Daikon Curry

Hello friends,

I'm afraid I've neglected this here blog since the auspicious start of 2011. Perhaps its the sheer quantity of New Year's resolutions I've been trying to keep (I jotted down 8 during a lull at school), ranging from the mundane "keep apartment clean" to the more edifying "learn to read music/play the harmonica" and "take concrete steps to realize secret plans for world domination."  But perhaps it's poor form to bring up New Year's resolutions in February, when many of us are just coming to terms all sorts of persistent flaws in ourselves. Entropy will remain a major force in my apartment, no matter the earnestness of my resolutions, and world domination will have to wait until I get sick of my new kindle (a godsend in a town where the nearest English bookstore in 2 hours away).

Anyways, here's the latest dispatch from Arida:

I've officially signed up to stay here for one more year! Another year of skewing the dodgeball teams of Arida playgrounds, of bags of free citrus and compliments from cackling old ladies, of talking world politics with inebriated and wind-burned fishermen. And of course, helping the wee ones distinguish their R's from their L's, always tactfully deflecting questions about the meaning of "sekkusu" and "fakku you!"

I could ramble for a very long time about my warm feelings towards this place, but I have something else on my mind at the moment, as do many millions of news-watching people the world over. Egypt's revolution-in-progress rivets us for many reasons - it's geopolitical implications, the flood of striking photos from Cairo, the hope and optimism undergirding such spontaneous, collective action, the menace (and recently, reality) of brutal government reprisals. I'm not a religious man, but I suppose that in my own way, I'm praying that those hundreds of thousand of people in Tahrir Square succeed.

Two things have irked me persistently since I started paying attention to the story a few days ago. The first is the inevitable reaction against the wide-eyed wonder and admiration in much of the reportage from Cairo. "It threatens to destabilize the entire region!" "The Islamic Brotherhood could take over the country!" "Egypt's alliance with Israel/America is jeopardized!" "Economic consequences!" etc. etc.  All these caveats certainly articulate possible, even likely outcomes of the uprising. But just how scared, how jaded does one have to be to not feel a pang of awe and inspiration at the idea of millions of people organically rising up against three decades of repression and stagnation at the hands of a brutal autocrat? Seriously!

But perhaps that's enough political ranting for now. God knows there's plenty of self-righteous bloggers and reporters churning our pages by the minute on this story (I recommend looking up the stuff Nicholas Kristof has written from Cairo for the New York Times if you're interested).  Now it's time for bed - I'll finish up with the rant and get to the daikon curry soon. Sweet dreams to us all.

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