Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Friendly Neighborhood APC

The tanks on my street are starting to blend into the background, and that sense of normalcy worries me. I still see kids and teenagers climbing onto them to take souvenir pictures, but less frequently than when I got back to Cairo a few weeks ago. The novelty is wearing off. I know that it's been just over a month since Mubarak left, and that on the scale of revolutions (or whatever this is), that's not a long time. But we're effectively under martial law, and I don't like the notion that everyone's getting used to it.

Like I mentioned a few posts back, I work out at a gym in Garden City, a neighborhood of twisting tree-lined streets and embassies. My gym happens to be near the US embassy, which is a fortress even under normal circumstances. Now, on top of everything else, there's a tank installation guarding the entrance to its street. The tanks are right along my path when I walk to the gym, and I'd even started to recognize some of the soldiers manning them.

A couple days ago, one of them recognized me. He smiled and said hello, nothing more, and nothing menacing. But I do not want to have a cordial relationship with my friendly neighborhood tank sentry. I do not want this to be part of my daily routine. What bothers me so much isn't that there is an army presence, but that it's becoming so routinized. The soldiers aren't on high-alert. They spend most of their time hanging around, sometimes texting. They're blending into the urban landscape, like the corner store owner, the barber, or the obnoxious souvenir shop tout who keeps trying to get me to buy fake papyrus. For me, that's just a little bit too normal.

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