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Getting Away

Chloé Hirschhorn

     In Farha Channam’s “Remaking The Modern” about the city of Cairo, she states that the city is “beyond any attempts to discipline it.”  After a day in the chaos of Cairo, I whole-heartedly agree.  There were people selling everything you could think of on the sidewalk, or some of them even in the streets.  I was curious to see if this chaos was unique to Cairo, or if it was just the ways of the area.   I found out the name of a good street to visit in Port Suez, where I could eat and maybe shop a little without the chaos that I found in Cairo the day before.

     I got into a cab, and handed the driver a sheet of paper with the name of the street written down in both English and Arabic.  He affirmed that he knew where this street was, and we settled on a price.  He insisted that I call him when I wished to go back to the ship, and he gave me his business card.  We drove for about ten minutes, and when he stopped the car, we were in front of a shop.  Before I could even stand up out of the cab, I heard the woman in the shop say “Explorer?” (the name of the ship I am traveling on).  The taxi driver said something in Arabic and reaffirmed that I would be calling him for a ride home later.

     I tried to tell the woman that I didn’t want to shop, but she insisted I take a look.  I ended up finding a few nice things, forcing me to ask if she could take a credit card.  She agreed, of course, until it came time to pay.  I pulled out my credit card, and the woman brought over a young man and told me to follow him.  He attempted to bring us to three different ATMs before I asked him politely to stop and bring me back to the shop.  After many words were exchanged about really, really not wanting to wander the city in search of an ATM to buy a few t-shirts, the shop owner angrily told me that my cab driver had been calling, and wants to come now.  I told her I did not want to go home yet; I wanted to look around the area.  She wanted to know where I was going, and sent out the young man after me. 

     I noticed that I had not been on the street that I had written on the paper, so I set out in search of it.  An hour later, I heard the young man’s familiar voice behind me, saying that the woman wanted me to come back to the shop, that she would give me a deal.  Also, that my cab driver was still calling, wondering when I would be coming back.  I decided that much of this area of Egypt was like Cairo, and it would be impossible to get anything done without being hassled, so I chose a new cab to take home, and hoped he would actually take me where I wanted to go.

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