Saturday, November 24, 2007

Who turned off the lights and water?

When I arrived at my apartment lobby, I noticed the lights were out. The doorman sitting outside said the power went out, including the elevators. He directed me to use the stairs. I started climbing—in the dark. As I live on the 5th floor, you’d think it’s a simple thing to climb to the 5th floor to my apartment. Well, this is Egypt, where they like to add a few floors between the ground floor and your floor. So, there are actually two or three additional floors before they start counting “floor one.” I’m glad I actually walked up and down the stairs a couple of times when I first moved in because I would have gotten lost tonight.

A short while after I entered my apartment, the water stopped running. About midnight, it returned—very quickly as the toilets started making noises. About 12:30am, a group of 10 men or so, some still in their business clothes, went around ringing doorbells, including mine. “Hello! The water and electricity was cut tonight because we owe 250 LE ($50) more. Can you pay this now?”

I didn’t know what to say. It sounded very odd. My roommate Alex came to the door, more skeptical than me. She said we would speak with the landlord first and slammed the door. I could still hear their voices as they lingered outside the door, laughing...

How strange—the internet connection tonight is very clear and fast, the first time in a long time, but we are lacking electricity and water.

Welcome to Egypt!

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