It’s Ramses last night in his Square. He is about to be moved for a nicer, less polluted location. You decide that you won’t miss it. You and your friends talk about it, and you deciude to take the Journey together.
The Bridge was awfully crowded, even though it was 12:30 am on a Friday. The reason? People have parked their cars on the bridge and stood out to watch the moving of Ramses. You contemplate doing the same thing those assholes did, but you know better, and you decide to go park the car and try to get their legitimately without messing up Cairo’s traffic.
You park the park at the Ramses Hilton parking garage, and you realize for the first time how weird it is that they named it the Ramses Hilton, when it’s a good 2 miles away from the actual square. You ignore such thoughts. You start worrying about how you are going to get there. There won’t be a single Taxi that will take you and your friend. You decide that the best way to get there is to walk it. Sure, it’s a long hike, but it would be faster than taking any car. So you get on with it.
The actual walk is very close to a religious experience. Here you are walking with a prupose, braving the heat, the humidity, the cars, the egyptian public and other unpleasantness on your little quest to say your Farewell to the Statue of the last great Pharaoh. It’s almost like a Funeral, and you are there to pay your last respects and say goodbye. There seem to be others that share your sentiments. When you ask someone if this is the way to the Ramses statue, he tell you that it is, but not for long, and urges you to hurry up and get there. And you increase your pace. You realize that You are close because people are everywhere and its getting crowded.
This is what You hear:
“Ramses is leaving. They say he doesn’t like the pollution and the dust, so he too is moving to the suburbs!”
“I don’t understand. All of this Hooplah for a false Idol? What is wrong with those people?”
” This is an Idol you Kafarah”
“Even if it’s a great statue, God is greater!”
Your Blood pressure rises, and you feel like killing some people until you find this old man crying and saying: ” For 50 years I have passed by this sqaure, and he (the statue) was there. He was Egypt to me. And now, even he is gone. I don’t know what I will do when I pass by this square tomorrow and not find him standing there”, and your heart goes out to him immedietly. But you take the mental note that this is an old man. He came from a different era. Before Wahhabism mindfucked Egyptians. The man is our past, the hateful idiots are our future.
You position Yourself in a location that allows you to snap pictures, and its hard since you have a girl with you, an unveiled one at that, and you have to make sure that the egyptian crowds don’t get to have the freedom to exercise their favorite pasttime of groping unveiled western dressed girls. The staring is bad enough as it is. And then Ramses arrives.
The People start pushing. They all want a better look. Some guys point that the foreigners were allowed to walk infront of it and take pictures, while the egyptians had to stand behind Police barracades. Others were urging the guys infront of it to not carry their children on top of their shoulders so we can see. One guy was following Ramses through my camera, and he would be like “Can you zoom a little bit? Don’t zoom out yet. This is good. Take a picture now!”. And I would. Guy had a good eye.
There were people chanting “Allahu Akbar” and waving V for Victory signs. Why? I have no idea. There was Jubilation in the air. The people sensed that they were particpating in an event. I am just not sure that they understood the significance of said event. So they acted the only way they know how to act: Cracked Jokes, chanted Allahu Akbar and flashed V signs. Was it a Victory that the Statue had to be removed cause of the pollution? Was it a Victory that the False Idol was gone? Or was it a Victory that we were actually doing this? That we were managing to actually do this on our own? Move such a Huge Statue without messing it up? You remember that this is a country surrounded by incomptence, so you understand that the people will take any victory they could get.
And Ramses finally moves away. Some Egyptian dude screams “GOOOOOOOOOOOODBYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”, and you can’t help but smile sadly that it’s over.
You decide to take a cab on your way back, and the young cab driver decides to start a conversation with you about it, and he-word for word- echoes the same sentiments you heard earlier on that night.
CD: “Why are all of those people out here? All of this for a (Sanam) False Idol. Go back home, people!”
You: “Well, don’t call it a Sanam. It is part of our heritage, and has been a huge part of our Daily Life. And now, it’s gone. The government is moving it away.”
CD: “Well, if this country had real men, they wouldn;t have waited for the Government to remove it. They would’ve removed it years ago themselves!”
You decide to keep your mouth shut, and before you get out, he decides to give you one last pearl of wisdom.
CD: “You know, I am feeling sad. Not because they are removing the Statue, but because you are sad that they are removing the statue.”
You feel like responding that you feel sad that he is the future of your country, but you decide to nod your head and just give him his money. Some battles are just not worth fighting.
Farewell Ramses. May you, one day, find yourself in a country whose people will appreciate you and what you represent.