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Project 4 -- Cairo

By Paul Padegimas


          In Egypt I saw one of the biggest contrasts between the transnational and vernacular society of all the countries that we have been to.  The contrast was blatantly obvious in that the transnational consisted of expensive hotels, international restaurant chains, and advertisements for foreign products.  Essentially, what it came down to, is that the transnational segment of society in Egypt that I witnessed consisted of something that was absent to most native Egyptians.  That one thing was money.  I found much of Egypt to be expensive for my taste, and I feel that this says a lot considering that, being from America, I should be used to paying more for just about everything than people do in most other countries.

            On the other hand, there was the vernacular aspect of society.  In stark contrast with the transnational part, money was a thing of dreams here.  People burned trash in the streets, lived in little shacks or one room apartments, and walked around in tattered clothes much of the time, often without shoes on.  The canals which seemed to be everywhere in Cairo, were filled with trash.  In passing, on one bus ride, I saw about ten dead horses floating in a canal piled up in front of a bridge amongst all of the garbage.  I was appalled at such an image.  There seemed to be no regard for anything but the transnational side.  There was no attention, no interest given by the government for the vernacular, and this is apparent mostly because, I believe, the people have grown tired of fighting for it without success and have become apathetic to their own cause.  They no longer appear to care enough to attempt to better their own society.

            In the end, it is very obvious that Farha Ghannam was absolutely correct in her article “Remaking the Modern” when she writes that Cairo is really two cities.  Though not split down the middle, there are no clear borders, the transnational areas and vernacular areas could be perceived as being wholly different cities that could not possibly be in the same locale. 


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