On the eve of ex-general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s inauguration I sit in my flat. The power has failed. It will be out for an hour or so as the blackouts roll through Cairo. I don’t know if this is part of the new president’s plan for the country, but it is a reality of living here over the last year and a half of three. The lights go out, the generator at the Italian restaurant next door comes to life, and depending on the day lately the heat settles with some haste into my room. Some evenings my veranda offers respite, some nights it does not, the city just now opening its oven door to the clear atmosphere.
Not every building is without power and the ones across from my bedroom window, as well as many in view of my veranda, are still functioning normally. People walk about as usual, cars honk, voices rise. The drone of a radio, annoying, its speakers small and tinny, volume loud, the musical selection modern and local, the modern ruining it. Imagine that Bieber kid, sorry fans, trying to sing with a Middle Eastern flair.
A motorcycle roars by, the horn chanting beep - beep, be-be-beep. This is the local celebratory soundtrack. The Brotherhood used it when they were up, then when they were protesting being down, now the ex-generals followers have embraced it. Must be a Cairo hallmark. The junk man is out late chanting “RIK’ia,” pushing his cart over the pocked street. An impatient driver beeps at him. He continues unfazed.
With the inauguration there will be celebrations in many parts of the city. The day has been deemed a holiday and I will relish the long weekend. Tahrir is expected to have a crowd. Hopefully there will be no incidents of violence. “Foreigners are recommended to stay away from large gatherings of people,” reads the US State Department email to all us expats. Most of my students will be celebrating. They almost have me convinced that in a few weeks things will be back to “normal” in Egypt, even better than before, and the crazy hard times will be over. Maybe it will be for them. I don’t know about the hard times being over, but the revolution almost certainly is. The crazy is here to stay.