Last night, as some tens of thousands of people poured into Tahrir Square, seven of us piled into taxis outside our dorm and drove to the Cairo Tower, the tallest building in Cairo. The 617-foot Tower is in our neighborhood, Zamalek, which sits across the Nile from the excitement going on downtown, but that doesn’t preclude getting a peek.
From the roof, we could see the whole city splayed before us and lit up like a Christmas Tree. You know that moment, after your bristling Fir or brushy Spruce has been decked from top to bottom, and you firmly plug the cord into the socket to turn it all on? It felt a bit like that when Mike pointed out huge swathes of the city that were completely black, like the confounding moment when electricity is flowing through the branches of your Christmas Tree and huge patches, even entire strands of lights, remain mysteriously dark. Whereas it’s rather disappointing when it happens to your tree (can you tell what holiday I’ve been thinking about lately?), it was astonishing to think that in a city of some twenty million people entire neighborhoods are dark at night.
From the top, we could make out songs and sounds from the protests echoing across the Nile among the constant blaring of car horns from Cairo’s 24-hour traffic jams. We felt safely distant from the unrest rolling through the streets of downtown, and excited to be watching part of our generation’s history unfolding below us.
We read the news every day — even though we’re here, we rely on the same resources as our families and followers back home to keep track of what’s going on in Cairo. However, we are enjoying the perspective we get from our professors, tour guides, and friendly Egyptians.
Tomorrow we head to Alexandria bright and early to see one of ancient world’s greatest capitols!