Thursday, January 31, 2013

And Time Yet for a Hundred Indecisions, and for a Hundred Visions and Revisions

"See over there?"  I followed the trajectory of his pointing finger out the window to the street scene below.  Puffs of light mustard-yellow smoke were floating from behind a glass-fronted building block, forming a low fog T.S. Eliot might have admired.  The murky mass didn't quite rise over the courtyard fence beyond which apparently oblivious -- or maybe just uncaring -- short-sleeved men were playing soccer.

"Tear gas?"

"Yup.  His promised briefing forgotten, my Embassy POC rubbed his hands together in concentration.  "If you watch, you'll see the protestors darting in and out."  Watching for a bit bore out his prediction.  The pick-up soccer game looked far more organized in comparison.

After a few minutes, I cleared my throat.  "I should go."  The last thing I wanted was to get stuck in the Embassy and miss my evening flight back to DC.  Well, maybe not the last thing.  It was mesmerizing, watching the tear gas and the protestors and the soccer game.  The scene neatly encapsulated the sensation I've come to most often associate with Egypt:  a kind of voyeurism bordering on scopophilia.  None of us has any idea what's coming next -- but you want to be there when it happens just to say, 'yes, well, anyone could have predicted this'.

I wanted to linger.  Maybe just a minute more of watching, and I would have understood it all.  But in the end, my responsible nature prevailed, perhaps in some small part influenced by the sudden stream of people throwing on jackets and heading for the doors.  To be on the ground, on the ground...  it's tempting.  But maybe not so close.

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