By D77

An afternoon in Maadi

Top left: A burnt out car round the corner from us. No idea how that happened.
Top right: A family in Maadi taking photos of one of the many tanks in the area.
Bottom left: Ahmed and Fatee from the Egyptian Army, grateful for being in Maadi rather than Tahrir Square.
Bottom right: Hussein, protecting his building from looters.

You see that family Top Right taking a picture of the tank? Well, shortly before I took this, a father was snapping away whilst his two small children sat on the tank, a young couple took pictures of each other doing victory signs, and an older couple were merrily snapping away too. Shortly after I took this, I whipped out the DSLR.

I shouldn't have done that.

Within a few seconds, a car pulled up and out stepped the biggest Arab I've ever seen, complete with Taliban beard, religious bead things, and a big shouty voice. For what it's worth, he was Pro-Mubarak. He called over a representative from the army, and made me delete the few pictures I took, quizzing me about who I was, what I was doing here etc. Unsatisfied with the public deletion of the photos, he then called over a highly ranked police official who (very politely, I should add) requested I join him for an interview with his commander inside the police station.

I thought I was gonnae get battered.

Instead, I had to wait for half an hour before being mildly interrogated by some guy who clearly thought he was an actor with the way he hummed and hawed at my answers in an attempt to intimidate me. After all of two minutes, he buggered off to shout at people and pray, leaving me to it in a small smoke-stenched room for another half an hour with an armed guard who looked about 16. After huffing and puffing a little, I eventually got seen by an articulate but slightly intimidating army guy who was keen to make sure I wasn't an Israeli spy. (I took the liberty shortly before he arrived of emailing these photos to myself lest he discover the shots on my phone. As it happens, despite confiscating it for a short while, he couldn't work out how to use it, and so I got away without having to delete them.)

I explained that I was a teacher who lives here, and that I was just going out for a coffee. I also explained that for the last few days, I've asked for permission to take photos and been denied, and have respected that. I added that I wasn't the only one taking photos today. The fact that I had a DSLR was the difference in his mind. He couldn't understand the concept of photography as a hobby, and thought that anyone not sporting a shitty little compact (many of which are better than my 1000D) must be a journalist, or indeed an Israeli spy.

Anyway, Larissa came to the rescue with my passport (and her best silly husband head shake) and he let me go.

On the way out, we saw four young men on their knees facing the back wall with their hands bound behind their backs. It all looked a bit sinister. On the way home, we also saw a dead cat.

During the walk home, I promised Larissa I wouldn't take photos that were likely to cause trouble again.

The decision to stay or go has still not been made. Larissa is trying to get her flight to the UK brought forward, but EgyptAir aren't answering their phones. I was toying with the idea of registering for the chartered flight till I realised it cost £300 a pop. It does however look like BA are running normal services within the curfew.

It all hinges on what happens later today, I feel.

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