Disturbing the Peace

This isn’t really a proper post, just a splurge about my shock bordering disgust at the spectacle of madness on the metro tonight.

To set the scene, I had a book in my hand and my headphones in (yes, I needed to drown out the background noise to read in peace… yes, peace), and the metro wasn’t particularly packed. I got onto a females-only carriage, opened my book and read. Simple enough, right?

But when you have your iPod on maximum volume and you can hear noise not because what you’re listening to isn’t very loud, but because the people in the environment you’re in are louder, you get a bit irritated, especially since you have your iPod on to filter out noise. As you may have gathered, it’s exactly what happened.

I looked up to find two Egyptian women shouting at one another… seated on opposite rows, faces red. The redness could’ve been put down to the heat (and I tell you, it has been scorching and humid up in Cairo!), and the shouting could’ve been ‘cos some women like to play deaf when they communicate – ear buds could do the trick… maybe. However, it was quite clear that there was some sort of a disagreement going down. I couldn’t care less, and since I wouldn’t have been able to fully grasp it, I didn’t bother to even try to understand, and so I went back to reading.

The women decided to take it up a few decibels, and by the time I looked up, one of the women had decided that shouting right into the face of her opponent would be more effective, along with finger wagging, the occasional finger jab and then finally plonking herself right next to the opposing women to make the fight more intimidating!

Now here’s where my eye-rolling and shake of the head come in because all the on-lookers did was crane their necks to get a better look. Some were so engrossed that the only missing element was popcorn, and others shuffled closer to offer a feeble “ma3alish” and “bas keda”, all the while I’m thinking, ‘What in the world?!”

My observation is that most Egyptians like words more than action (this is revolution aside, before you decide to slaughter me!) and this shouting/ slanging match could’ve gone on for hours without any sort of resolution. Back in England, however, we really don’t have the time nor patience for such ‘diplomatic’ disagreements; a throw of a fist is how people in London like to handle things.

I would’ve liked to tell the screaming women to just get on with it and beat each other – surely that’s what they’d rather do, and it would’ve allowed me to carry on reading in peace. If I didn’t have to get off the metro so soon, I would’ve loved to have helped them along.

– The Londoner

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About LaYinka Sanni

Editor & Writing Coach -- "... connecting dots, one sentence at a time..."

Posted on July 12, 2011, in Ruminations about Cairo, Thru The Londoner's eyes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Lol you should turn your adventures into movie :p

  2. Now you can grasp the “inta seeb, wana seeb” concept. It means, “you let go and I’ll let go.” When two men get in a fight they grab each others shirts at the chest, and get in the others face screaming like their going to hit each other. When things get critical they say, “inta seeb wana seeb”. They don’t tend to actually get physical, your absolutely right, it’s very much about words. The term for that is “Kalamangeyya”.

    • I’m so glad that there is an actual concept behind my observation… ‘inta seeb, wana seeb’, huh? Interesting, but I still think it’s just too much noise for something that could easily be ‘sorted out’. I’ve actually never seen anyone get into a fight here. Obviously, that isn’t strange at all.

  3. Haha! That is sooo true. But come on, the men are sooooo much worse. Have you not seen the fights in the street? So much shouting and wailing and throwing forward of the body “Hold me back!” – “Leave it!” – “Haraaam!” – “Hold me…Hold me I warn you I’ll kill him!” – “Khalaas ya Gama3!” ………….And then nothing. Not one punch. They just part…….. and leave. Every now and again it does kick off. My fav was a pre-revolution argument between a driver and a police driver. The policeman slapped the man. He was one of those Terminator 2 (sunglasses and tight trouser) types. He really was not expecting the man to give it back. WHALLAP!! The returning slap was soooo much better it threw the policeman back at few steps. Then the above took place, lots of onlookers, all the usual words as above and then they just left it and drove off. Classic.

    It’s very loud. Its all for show most of the time. But as someone who has been stabbed inLondon before, I’m glad it doesn’t end the way nearly ALL arguments in London do, with physical violence.

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