January 24, 2013, 10:00 a.m.: the eve of the revolution.
I wake up at 4:30 this morning and post some pictures on the web. As I am falling back to sleep around 6:30, my building shudders. I think, “It’s going to be an interesting day,” and go back to sleep. When I wake there is news a of a substantial bomb blast at a downtown police station. People are dead and injured. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the protests that brought down Mubarak. If you’ve followed the news at all you know what I’m talking about. I was not here for it, but I was just previous, and it was the following August when I came here to teach.
It’s a beautiful winter morning, temperature around 20C as I walk to the gym. My neighborhood is Friday morning quiet. There are no clouds, the sky is blue thanks to the north wind, the police are on their usual corner (we exchange greetings), and a Korean man, looking rough from last night, carries a bin of booze bottles and glasses to the curb from his apartment. A cigarette between his lips, smoke forces him to squint. There are sirens in the distance. I think, “bombing,” though they are most likely going to a highway crash.
I leave the gym and the day is gaining momentum. Once home I sit on my veranda looking out on the green. Flags flutter and tree limbs pulse. Friday is a predictable and rhythmic build up from the one quiet time to prayers at noon, then festivities at night. What will happen today between prayers and the night is on everyone’s mind?
Update: One confirmed, maybe two more bombings. The question is answered, for now. From my veranda two westerners ride casually by on their bikes, the neighbors clean the dust from their cars, and the bowab sits and slowly drinks his tea. Life goes on despite it all. Will be staying close to home today.