When you wonder if God is playing with you….

1.  You’re watching Nile TV – the Breakfast Show and you know that Deena Younis has just made a new film in Luxor about the tourist situation etc.  and it is on this morning.  You’re eagerly waiting in front of the TV and her segment is announced.  Deena starts her interview at Karnak Temple AND THE POWER GOES OUT!  When does it come back?  Just to tease you, it comes back for two minutes as the music is playing at then end of the segment.  Then it is cut again……for half an hour, then it comes back for 10 minutes then it is cut again and so it goes on.  Simple things like “should I try to have a shower now?”  Better not cos you might get a power cut again in the midst of shampooing your hair then you will be stuck in the bathroom, in the dark with a trickle of water cos the power gets cut again…..just go on a rant til the power comes back!

2.  7pm and it is dark in Luxor.  You decide to walk out to the Souk for the first time in 3 weeks and before you get to the end of the street the power is cut.  You are then caught in a the hell of

  • walking a dusty rubble strewn street (because the council started a renovation project of the sidewalks in early October and did not clean as they went, so you can fall over some rubble or slip on some horse shit
  • you could walk into one of the shop display units protruding off the footpaths onto the street itself
  • you are momentariy blinded and caught like a startled rabbit in the headlights of oncoming cars
  • you feel the whizz of air as a speeding motobike passes close to you which you didn’t see because he came from behind going the wrong way on what is supposed to be a one-way street
  • you are a foreigner so even in the dark someone passes an idiotic remark, and
  • in turning to the Idiot Pest, you almost get rolled over as a calesh comes careering out of a side street onto the main road….does he even see where he is going?  No, he relies on the horse having night vision!

Then you reach the train station and because it is the main area – there are lights.  Are you any safe now?  Not really because even though the police men are sitting in their cars – the tiny Luxor train station is like Grand Central Station.  Though the street is divided by a concrete sidewalk designed to have two separate traffic lanes, each going one way, nobody takes a blind bit of notice so, you literally take your life in your hands to cross the street.  Take it from someone who easily negotiates Cairo traffic on foot – Luxor train station road crossing is a disaster waiting to happen.

I actually realised that night that I have to advise any guests that may stay at Mara House that it really is NOT SAFE to walk in Luxor at night – not because of terrorism or ANYTHING like that – but because there is absolutely no control over the street traffic.  In my 11 years living here, this is the first time I am seriously saying this. ” Power cuts or not, the streets are not safe for pedestrians day or night due to lack of traffic control and because nobody observes even the most common sense concepts of how to drive safely in a town”.  I won’t even talk about the part of the railway track which opens and closes so many times a day to let the trains come and go – I believe there are only 3 such crossings in the town – the track divides the town in two.

I DIDN’T INTEND TO WRITE THIS but one little bit of frustration apparently leads to the outpouring of other stuff :-

The train track also seems to be the dividing line when it comes to cleaning the streets and collecting the rubbish.  Unfortunately I live on the wrong side of the track! 🙂 And this was why tourists came to stay with me, to see how Egyptians really live here.  Prior to the revolution the state of the streets in the area annoyed me but most tourists just took it as part of the experience and the Egyptians themselves don’t seem to see it.

As regards the dirt and the dust today, the tourist section is spotless – the residential areas outside that enclave is anything but clean!   The situation was bad in the Mubarak days, but at least then a phone call to the council would result in a bit of action.  During Morsi days, although one of his promises was to take care of the rubbish” 🙂 smirk” the situation deteriorated even further.

Now the Council got a brainwave to clean up Salakhana St…….which is a big street running parallel to my street, the residents there live in dust hell, while anyone walking through it chokes on the dust,  but we hope for heaven and clean air WHENEVER they finish.  It seems this one piece of action has sent the signal to the street cleaners not to bother with the entire area for the time being – can’t say when the last time a street cleaner was seen in my street.   Apart from the Corniche and Avenue of the Sphinx photos – all the others are photos of my street and one or two adjoining streets – If we had some water we might think we were at the beach there is so much dust and sand in every street.

Mara House used to clean the street a fair distance in either direction in the good old days, but there has been a building boom during the revolution and I now have neighbours who object to our cleaning so we confine it to our own front door and the neighbours do what they do outside their own doors……they even put down their yeast bread to rise in the sun in the midst of all that dirt……so sad!

My mantras are “All things for my good” and “This too shall pass”.   At this stage I am used to the power cuts and inconveniences that come with a revolution but after almost 3 years it’s the little things that (sometimes) get me more than the big ones.

As a resident of Luxor please “God give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference – but most of all, God – I’ve survived the ‘big’ stuff and I’m sure the worst is past, but in the waiting time, please let me keep my sanity in the midst of the needless insanity that prevails in simple things like crossing the road and wanting to catch a TV programme!  Please!

Oh, as regards my mantras and the Serenity Prayer…in case you are wondering….no, I am not an alcoholic, but I’ve been around some and I think the title of my book may well be “I’m Irish but Egypt drove me to drink!”

And if it were not for the fact that the power is now still out as I type this I would not have ranted for so long – so maybe I am not coping that well with this particular god-damn power cut!  Salam!

PS – the power was actually out for 4 hours and I am just getting to upload this rant now.

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