Friday, December 20, 2013

Egypt's Tom and Jerry


Asalamu Alaykom,





So, I'm in Egypt riding a school bus home.  Sometimes, this can take 45 minutes and sometimes it can take two hours.  What can make it seem longer is an increase in volume levels.

Oh-oh.  I hear an angry diatribe going on.



"MORSI BLAH BLAH BLAH WAHESH! 
BLAH BLAH BLAH MORSI MISHKWES!"



BLAH BLAH BLAH SISI! 
BLAH BLAH BLAH SISI ASSIN!" 


It's my time to turn around in my seat and get involved.

"No, no.  We don't talk about politics or religion at school."

"We're on the bus."  Some little smart aleck pipes up.

"It's a school bus," I assert.

There's a short pause then the noise starts again.

"BAHEB MORSI?
MORSI WAHESH! 
BLAH BLAH BLAH SISI! 
BLAH BLAH BLAH SISI ASSIN! 
BLAH BLAH BLAH MORSI MISHKWES!"


I turn around again and I'm just about to lecture again when a little boy tells me, "He doesn't speak English."

For the first time, I realize that the bombastic rhetoric is coming out of the mouth of a three-year-old.  Yes, we now begin our political debates at the KG1 level here in Egypt.  I know the other kids are watching to see how I'm going to deal with such a rude little rule breaker.

"La. La. La." I say, "No," three times because then you really mean it.  "Mafish kallam keda.  KHALAS."  I told him that we don't talk this way and enough.

There is a lull.  I feel that the little guy understands he's doing the wrong thing but now that he's on a roll (with a captive audience to boot) he really can't stop himself.  He's going to open his mouth again so I decide to change the subject.

"Baheb meen? Baheb Tom?



O baheb Jerry?"




"TOM ASSIN!
JERRY WAHESH!" 
BLAH BLAH BLAH TOM! 
BLAH BLAH BLAH TOM ASSIN! 
BLAH BLAH BLAH JERRY MISHKWES!"

The Tom or Jerry debate was still raging when I got off the bus.  Basically, the dude just wanted to rant.  I was laughing about the switcheroo as Mr. Formerly-Known-as-Boo and I walked the narrow street to our home.  He started laughing too.

"He didn't care who he was talking about!"  Mr. Formerly-Known-as-Boo realized.

"So, who is Tom and who is Jerry?" I asked my astute son.

"Oh, definitely Tom is Sisi and Jerry is Morsi." 




Yes, he's right.

In a country which still reveres Tom and Jerry as comedic genius, there are two political rivals who are stuck in a never-ending cat-and-mouse game.  Children and grown-ups alike watch it unfold with the strange sensation that it's all happened before and it will all happen again.  Though we can't stop a thing, we can take sides as if us supporting one of them makes us a part of the action.



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