I’m in an Internet cafe in a mall in a gated community in Cairo — or on the outskirts of Cairo. It’s a carefully controlled, manicured, clean, upper- and middle-class community; keep all the poor folks out unless it’s for labour. It contrasts sharply with downtown Cairo, which looks like stuff was thrown together in a hurry. Particularly the highways, which, it seems, actually were thrown together in a bit of a hurry — built right next to already existing buildings with barely a few feet to spare between the railings and the building’s facade. There’s a lot of European tourists, in tour groups and whatnot, many who dress quite immodestly (a German-ish male, for instance, in short-shorts took off his shirt to bask in the heat or something outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo) — a little cultural sensitivity never hurt anyone. There’s police everywhere (literally), they wear starched white uniforms. When we tried to enter Al-Azhar University, for instance, a policeman blocked us and said we couldn’t. Also, stuff is spelled in the French-ish form, El Azhar rather than Al Azhar; and the Arabic script is the Urdu-ish type. Cairo reminds me of Karachi in many ways. this!

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