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"It is the journey which makes up your life."

Friday, February 10, 2006

Psh, Superbowl? What Superbowl?

Pork rinds? Beer? Cheesy commercials? Scuzzy, overweight, doped-up men in padded spandex crashing into each other? I think not. The American "pastime" may be pigging out and yelling at a TV, but the Egyptian one is much more involved. Heck, get a load of this Consulate Warden message:
The Africa Cup of Nations soccer (football) tournament concludes on the evening of Friday, February 10, when Egypt plays Cote d'Ivoire in the finals at Cairo International Stadium in Nasser City. While the Embassy wishes the host team all the best in their run for the cup, it would like to remind American citizens in Egypt that large groups of passionate sports fans always have the potential to become unruly. Americans should be especially vigilant -- on Friday evening and into Saturday morning -- to the possibility that they could be mistaken for supporters of the opposing team. Americans should avoid large crowds of football fans gathered to view the game at locations throughout Cairo. In addition, Americans should be aware of potentially heavy traffic at Ramses Square, the vicinity of Heliopolis and main routes to Cairo International Airport on Friday evening. They should be especially alert to exuberant fans joyriding in vehicles before and after the match.

Feh, you might think, all sports fans are a little off in the head sometimes. Not in Egypt. In Egypt-- well, let's put it this way. On the day of the final game, a few friends and I headed down to the Khan (Khan al-Khalili, open-air market and tourist trap extraordinaire). The weekend before my friend Sarah had attempted to get to Khan only to be deterred by rioting over that touchy Danish issue. That riot eventually quelled itself without intervention. This weekend however, in light of the upcoming game, there were more than 600 riot police lining the streets near Khan. Also, in the stampede to buy tickets for the game, several bystanders were trampled to death.

So, which issue do you think is more important in Egypt?

In the hours leading up to the game, young boys ran up and down the sides of major streets selling Egyptian flags on bits of PVC for people to hang out their car windows, or just wave around. Every second or third car (in Mohandiseen, anyway) honked out the rhythms of popular go-team cheers as they drove along. Girls made up special hijabs of layered cloth so they could sport the Egyptian colors.

They set up a huge projector screen in the lobby of the dorm, and every Egyptian student in the area crowded in to watch. After nearly an hour of impassioned screaming and near-orgasmic cries of "yalla! yalla!" (the Arabic equivalent of "git yo' ass in gear!") the game was still tied. After a round of overtime, still not a single goal had been scored. Finally it ended up in a shootout, and Egypt won on the very last kick. Intense.

Immediately afterwards, the entire city took to the streets, cheering, playing drums, setting off fire crackers, and, indeed, joyriding.

Caught up in the overwhelming electric joy of the city around us, Sarah and I went skipping, dancing, and shrieking up and down the streets, while our two other companions, Stephanie and Monica, tried to keep up. We returned to the dorm just in time to witness a "honk-off" by two cars piled up with chanting Egyptians. As former bandos, Sarah and I found this to be a fitting end to the night.

As you may notice from the photos (Monica took them), not even Egyptians are immune to funny hats.

1 Comments:

Blogger Ryan said...

NOBODY is immune to funny hats.

1:11 AM

 

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