Thursday, January 29, 2009

Back to normal life

Obtaining normalcy in Cairo is a bit of a stretch. Such a stretch, really, that "normalcy in Cairo" is basically an oxymoron. But here we are, back to normal life in Cairo.

We went grocery shopping today. That's a pretty normal thing to do after getting home from a long trip abroad. See? Normal.

We walked there because we don't have a car. Walking when you don't have a car is pretty normal, but I'm guessing that most of you have cars. You probably don't walk to the grocery store. But we do so, for us, that's normal.

We put normal things like spaghetti noodles and frozen vegetables in our cart.

Rachel grabbed a pad of butter and bit through the foil wrapping and got a big chunk of butter in her mouth, which she enjoyed thoroughly. While it's not normal for her to do that with butter, it's not unusual for her to do that with cookies. I will leave it up to you whether or not it is normal to enjoy a mouthful of plain butter.

We went up to the cashier and paid for our groceries, including the mangled butter, which is also pretty normal. We even used a credit card, which is so beyond normal here that you can't even begin to imagine. Cairo is not a cashless society, but we are American and America is a cashless society so every once in a while we like to use some plastic, which is normal.

We then loaded up our groceries in the jogging stroller, which isn't exactly normal, unless, like us, you happen to not have a car and instead have a jogging stroller, in which case, it's normal, and then we started on our way home.

The roads in Maadi are lined with trees that form a canopy above the road, giving you the illusion that Cairo is greener than it really is. Don't be fooled. It really is located in the middle of a big desert. But the greenery is nice and we enjoy the shade. It's pretty normal to enjoy shade outside when it's hot, I think.

So, there we were walking down the usual street we walk down when we go home from the grocery store and everything was normal.

And then we see this huge semi-truck coming down the street.

That's not normal because huge semi-trucks don't really fit under the canopy of trees that so nicely shade our streets. It was a noisy, messy affair; the branches were scraping against the side of the trailer and then sproinging* back into place. The less adaptable branches simply snapped under the pressure. The truck sounded kind of like this while breaking its way through the trees: CRASH! SNAP! SPROING! LURCH! THWAK! VAROOM! SCREECH! THUD!

It was dreadful, to say the least, and certainly not normal.

We lugged the stroller between some parked cars to wait in safety for the road to clear, which is a fairly normal thing to do...here, at least, where they try to keep usable sidewalks to a bare minimum.

It so happened that there was a tree very close to where we were standing. Its branches were adding to the canopy of branches the semi was belaboring against, and unfortunately they were of the less adaptable, less bendy kind.

When the semi truck reached our tree and began pulling against its branches we didn't hear any thwacking** or sproinging. Instead we heard snapping, which isn't something you want to hear when you are standing underneath a big tree. At least, if you're normal it's not something you want to hear.

Small twigs and leaves started showering down on us, which for some reason (normal or otherwise) made me want to look up to see if we were lucky. Maybe, just maybe, that loud snapping noise was a couple of insignificant twigs and the tree had nothing else to send down to us on the ground. Nope. There was definitely something else.

A decent-sized branch had also broken off the tree and was on its way to bash me on the head even as I was looking up at it.

Oh, great... I thought.

There wasn't really anywhere to go. We were trapped pretty snuggly between the semi-truck, two cars, and some shrubbery. All we could do was sheild ourselves a little, and maybe try to deflect the branch onto one of the cars.

I was still staring up at the branch torpedoing towards me and trying to decide where best to fling the groceries I was carrying so that I could call upon some superhuman strength within me to save our little family from being crushed to death by falling debris when the branch stopped midair. It levitated there for a few minutes before lurching forward with the semi. Each time the truck lurched forward the branch lurched forward, too.

It had landed between the truck and the trailer, right where they hook up, just a few feet above our heads. Miraculous.

So much for having a normal day in Cairo.

*Technically not a word.
**Now this is a word.

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