This gentleman was amazing. We talked politics in Egypt, Korea and the states for about an thirty minutes. His English was perfect. When I asked how he learned to speak so well, he said that he was a huge admirer or Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. We talked about Emily Brontë for another half an hour.
These young men were especially vocal. They saw me shooting them and told me not to take their photos. The men next to them told me it was fine and to keep taking photos. They started arguing which devolved into a bit of shoving. I left.
These brothers were typical of my experience in Tahrir. They spoke very little English but they welcomed me to Egypt and wanted to know what I thought of all the recent changes there. And to not take their photo after I had talked to them would have been impolite.
Most everyone I talked to had the same concerns: the economy. Egyptians were having a tough enough time the past few years with protests over the price of bread and the job market for the young being one of the more bleak in the middle east. They desired most a democratically elected government and a stable environment that would allow the economy to prosper. Jobs and the quality of life. All other concerns were secondary.
There were two things that shocked the people I talked to: that the State Department was telling US citizens not to travel to Egypt and that the US economy had been in bad trouble for the past couple of years. It is all relative since the average income in Egypt is depressingly low. I’ve heard figures ranging from two dollars a day for a household to $300 a month.
A vendor roasting yams. He spoke no English and I could not find out who the people were in those images.
The Egyptians had overthrown Mubarak but there had been hundreds of casualties and the thousands of political prisoners languishing in jail remained where they were incarcerated.
I had been behind the stage at Tahrir when a security team arrived and this man appeared, the crowd surging the the blockade backstage and swarming over him, hugging and kissing him. I still do not know who he is and I had to leave the backstage area as this man was getting prepared to address the crowd as the crowd became fevered.
Those kids on top of that traffic pole stayed up there for hours. It is hard to tell in the image but that is really high up there. I waited to see how they would get down but gave up after a while.
The peace sign is not just the domain of irony free Japanese girls but also Egyptian muslim men who have the same beardlines as the GI Joe toy I had as a kid.