Dr, Doctor

Phew, I’m knackered, I’ve been back and forward to Cairo and the Uk, our shipment arrived too, so with this and that and lots of exploring I’ve been “up to my eyes” as they say.

I’m starting to settle in, the kiosk guys on my street know me now giving me the opportunity to practice my very basic Hindi although the dog gets more greetings than I do. “Good morning Harry” then fits of giggles, I’m not sure if Harry is an inappropriate name for a dog here, or maybe just the fact he has a name is cause for the giggles. Either way it’s great to feel comfortable walking him again without fear of poison to be avoided. If he would just stop pooping at inappropriate times, like right in front of the mattress makers eating their dinner I’d be sorted.

This week was to be my official Week 1, all the distractions out of the way so time to settle down into a routine, yoga classes, Hindi classes and a bit of networking but sure things never go to plan. I’ve been plagued with a sore leg for months, nothing major just gradually getting worse and no amount of walking or yoga was making a difference, the four flights didn’t help either. I was putting it down to old age until I looked in the mirror after my shower (something to be avoided at all costs) and noticed I was an altogether very strange shape, distinctly lob sided and I couldn’t stand up straight without being in significant pain.

One of the downsides to being in a new place and not knowing anyone is you have no one to ask for recommendations for doctors, physiotherapists etc so google was my only option. I’m lazy so after a few minutes of searching I went for the one closest to the house. Joint Efforts Clinic I believe it was called, made an appointment and off I went. Now, we don’t really live in Delhi, we are on the east bank of the Yamuna river which is the dividing line between Delhi and Noida.

So we are in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which is officially known as the gun state and considered very rough. In fact waiters in restaurants have advised us it’s very dangerous and even they wouldn’t live there, even though thats where they come from. I know we are a great disappointment to our driver, (white uniform, epaulettes and all) as he is constantly trying to get us to move to Delhi proper. Maybe we will at some stage but the 5 minute commute to work is what sold it to us, and anyway after Cairo it’s awesome, everything is relative.

The clinic turned out to be in “the village” again much to the drivers dismay and he was rather reluctant to let me to go unescorted into the single story, steel doored, mud road fronted “clinic” undeterred in I went. It was a one room outfit, three treatment tables, a desk, a water dispenser cloaked in a floral table cloth (I’m guessing this was to hide the colour of the water as it looked distinctly green) and all in all about 12ft squared.

There were a couple of people in front of me and I was able to watch as he worked with a gorgeous little boy about 4 who was in callipers, just as the teenage boy who was next was able to watch him work with me once my turn came. Anyway, he said I needed scans etc and there was nothing he could do until then and he was rather insistent I’d been in a car accident. I hadn’t been but he felt vindicated once I said I’d been knocked down a couple of months previous to the onset of the pain.

He spent about 40 minutes with me and the charge was £2.50, not a great hourly rate. He asked if I could afford the top consultant in Delhi who charged £25.00 an hour and once I said yes he rang and made me an appointment for the next day. I’m really glad he did as there was no way I should be taking up his time on much more deserving cases for people who probably had to beg steal or borrow to find the £2.50

So the next day off I set to see the top “consultant” in Delhi, well, it was in New Delhi much to the drivers relief, although I’m still not exactly sure which discipline this guy was the top “consultant” in. We had a chat whilst he took copious notes in the most perfect handwriting I’ve ever seen, each individual letter was printed in capitals but in a tiny font size and it looked like a printer had spewed it out, fascinating.

He examined me and then it got weird. He stated that he didn’t need scans to see my back was a mess and went on to explain that an orchestra is at its best when all the instruments are playing in harmony…..and that whilst there is always room for an individual instruments solo piece, the solo only works against a back drop of harmony, or words to that effect. He was going to be the conductor and use all the instruments at his disposal to create harmony….ok says I and I was especially relieved when he said the first priority was to remove the pain and realign as much as he could.

So he started with Reiki, that’s healing hands to you uninitiated lot, they don’t actually touch you but he allowed his hands to hover above me until lots and lots of heat was generated, I don’t know how it works, I think you need a gift but it felt good. Next he did some acupuncture, then he applied some anaesthetic gel, (I’m guessing this was a modern instrument) then he gave me a massage and after that he used a massage machine, another modern one.

I’m already feeling better, if a little confused, but hey each to their own and this guy seemed open to all “instruments” I’d been in an hour so I thought it must be time to go but he hadn’t finished yet. Next came the chiropractic techniques were he clicked and adjusted my back and if that wasn’t enough he gave me some physio exercises to do at home. I had told him I’d been using yoga to help relieve some of the pain earlier so he added this into the mix too giving me some asanas (postures) on which I should concentrate. So after that little lot you can see why I’m not sure what type of consultant he was.

Anyway, i paid him his £25 quid, even though I’d been in for about an hour and a half, and set of back to the car, I can’t say I was walking on air it was more like someone had attached a football to the sole of my right foot. I was completely disorientated and felt like my leg was too long, I must have looked very strange as the driver was very concerned at my gait, I’m sure he thought I was drunk. I have to go back for two more sessions after which depending on the results he will decide if he will bother with a scan or not, I have one this afternoon, I can’t wait.

All in all I’m feeling rather lucky there are some not so lucky. The huge disparity between the type of treatments available to people, mostly dependant on where they live and the funds available to them is very disheartening, whether it be India, Egypt or even the UK. My journey back to the UK was to visit my son, he is the full time carer now for his girlfriend Charlotte who is suffering from leukaemia and, as a result of three unsuccessful rounds of chemotherapy, is paralysed and wheelchair bound.

It’s incredibly difficult to watch your 23 year old child tend to the very personal care of his 23 year old girlfriend who has been told all NHS Options have been exhausted, all they can do is concentrate on pain relief and quality of life for the time remaining. It’s also incredibly difficult to watch her parents and twin sister put on their positive fronts to the world when you know deep down that tears are just simmering below the surface.

If she lived in France or the USA she could get treatment that has an 80% success rate, maybe more considering her age. So her mum has started a Facebook page linked to a website to try and raise the funds to send her abroad, if it was your daughter or son, you would do the same. Please visit the page and link HERE and please do it today as time is not on Charlottes side.

On graduation day, big smiles, thinking they had the world at their feet…

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Thankyou, and here is the website address in full http://gogetfunding.com/project/i-m-saving-charlotte in case my technical skills have let me down again

Bye, Masalama, Namaste, Slainte

Good Evening Mam

Hi lovely people,

As most of you know I am now in Delhi so my Irish Eyes on Cairo won’t be getting updated that often. Here is the link to my Irish eyes on Delhi, I hope you will have a look and see what I’m up to. Please hit the “Follow” button to receive the email updates as its a completely separate site that I am incapable of linking to the Cairo one, yip thick!

Many many thanks
Mairead

http://irisheyesondelhi.wordpress.com/

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Goodbye Cairo

Cairo, you have worked your way under my skin, I love you and hate you equally. I love the fact that in this sprawling quagmire of a city you can still randomly stick your hand out for a taxi and be greeted with ” Ah Miss Maria, el bayt?” (home?)

I hate the fact that even though you know the fare costs 2.50 you give 5le and the supposedly pious zebeeba adorned driver says its 10le…..the driver last night nearly lost his teeth and the hubby his hand, thieving chancer, needless to say he was lucky to get his 5le (that’s 50p to my non Egypt based readers)….yes it’s worth a row for 25p it’s the principle of the thing.

I love the fact that the plumber yesterday, here to fix my toilet just gave us his monkey wrench. We asked to borrow it to change the gas cylinder and he said no problem just keep it. Well, we think that’s what our broken Arabic translated it as….we still have it and he left with smiles, along with his 7 year old assistant Mohamed whom I hope was his son. His generosity was humbling, but I hate the fact that Mohamed was not at school where he should have been.

I love the fact that the kind policemen who found my dog returned the reward saying it was just their job. But I hate the fact that corruption, baksheesh and bribes is part of daily life.

It’s the juxtaposition of kindness and goodness and god damned outrageous exploitation that I still find fascinating, and if truth be told I will never figure it out. There is so much hope for this country, the people here are some of the kindest most generous I’ve met anywhere, but, but, but, there are an awful lot of bad apples. There appears to be two nations running in parallel, I just hope the shit doesn’t float to the top. (Apologies for the language but this will be my last post from Cairo and I really want to say it how it is)

We came under Mubarak, we’ve had a revolution, Morsi, a coup (touchy point) and now we will leave under Sisi. I can’t help thinking its come full circle, the only constant being the army. The excitement and enthusiasm for change after the Jan 25 revolution has dissipated, evaporated, the expectation of change was so high, ok maybe unrealistic, idealistic, but you could palpably feel it on the street. Morsi was not the man to deliver this change, his vision was skewed, backed by an agenda. I’m reminded of some old graffiti just as I say that, here you go, this was under Morsi

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As from Sunday Sisi will be the new president, what change will he bring? The international media are focused on the very restrictive protest law, the crackdowns on freedom of assembly and expression and the trials of journalists for simply doing their job. The local media is full of pictures of adorning Sisi fans, parties to celebrate his victory. In true Egyptian style at one such party in Giza three people died from being hit accidentally by celebratory gunfire, go figure!

I truly hope Egypt grows and flourishes and once again becomes a country to be proud off, not with a nationalistic fervour, and flag waving, but as an example of what can be achieved by caring for its resources, its people, and perhaps most importantly steadfastly building decent education for all it’s inhabitants regardless of the thickness of their wallet or connections. But it’s a massive task ahead and although the graffiti above is from Morsi’s time, the people still need bread.

I hope change can come for the sake of the rude lawyer who jumped in front of me in the queue in Seoudi and ended up with my trolley up his backside and rolling on the floor. You were no more important than me or anyone else in the queue, I hope your money and wasta loses its leverage here.

I hope change can come for the little street kids outside the metro who pester me everyday with their tissues for sale. I know you don’t get to keep the money honey, I hope the cruel “madams” who run you end up in jail very soon.

I hope change can come for the spoilt little rich kids who will never amount to anything whilst they are pampered and cruise round Cairo like little kings, above the law, with their parents buying their way out of every problem.

I hope change can come for all the good, kind, honest hardworking Egyptians I have met. You all deserve better, may you get it soon.

Finally in the words of Vinny Jones, “it’s been emotional” Cairo you have provided a roller coaster ride for five years. Lots of highs and lows, but my overwhelming feeling of the journey is one of “what a ride”. I am so glad I came, I have no regrets, Egypt I wish you well, Goodbye “Irish eyes on Cairo”, Ma Salama. Hello “Irish eyes on Delhi” Namaste, what have you got in store for me?

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Get Me Outta Here

Get me Outta here!

My mate Chris and I headed off to the Grand Mall today, or Manky Mall as we not so affectionately call it, in search of some bright sparkly shoes. It is thee place to go if you are in search of something along the lines of pole dancing attire, or hooker gear if you get my drift.

I’ve never been able to fathom why all the shops are full of such raunchy kit in such a conservative country. Where do they wear it? I never see anyone dressed in it and there is no way the pavements of Cairo would allow you to walk in those shoes without breaking an ankle.

As for the underwear…well I’m assuming the peep hole bras and undies are for married ladies only in the privacy of their home. That’s fine, it’s just there is sooo much of it on display, do ALL egyptian ladies wear it? The sheer volume of it on display would leave you to think so, or maybe it’s just eye candy for the male shoppers and employees to brighten up their day as they stroll around.

Anyway, the pole dancing shoes were for me as I decided a bit of bling would brighten up a rather plain dress I have for the fancy ball I’m off to on Friday. So Chris and I wound our way up the escalators to the top floor which has a whole row of shops given over to all things tacky. We spied a very fetching mint green evening gown with a price tag that appeared to say 213le or about £20 quid, so in we popped for a nosey. Yes we are easily distracted, I know we were meant to be looking for shoes. Then all hell broke loose…..

We could hear shouting and screaming outside but we couldn’t see out, so off course we headed to the door for another nosey. Our nosiness is going to get us into trouble some day. There were lots of guys some with iron bars all fighting with each other. Not the usual Egyptian fighting which involves three boys holding one back, but proper real adrenalin fuelled hatred type fighting.

We retreated back into the shop but kept an eye out. Once they had moved away a bit we made our escape, or so we thought. We nipped out to the right and made our way along a back route which would have gotten us clear except there was another group fighting at that end, we were effectively hemmed in. A kindly older lady saw us and brought us into what appeared to be the Mall management office.

She said they were drug addicts and mimed shooting up into her arm, and that it happens every day! Don’t worry she said it will be over in 5 minutes. Well, it wasn’t. We sat for a while around a very smart boardroom table until the glass wall behind me shook and I jumped out of my seat.

They were right outside now pushing up against the glass wall and quite frankly it was pretty scary. We moved to the other side of the room to a window which the kindly old lady said we could jump through if they managed to break through the wall. Considering we were about 5 floors up that wasn’t a great option.

She was on the phone with security or the police but there was no sign of them. Chris was pretty calm, I was giggling but not in a good way, more a nervous get me outta here way, and it was really really noisy. There must have been about forty very angry men outside.

Eventually they moved away a bit and a couple of guys came in to escort us out. They brought us to a lift but I couldn’t be bothered waiting on it so Chris and I hot footed past the crowds now watching and down the escalator.

You could still hear them five floors below, but that didn’t deter us stopping off to pick up some very sparkly ear rings to match the shoes which will surely turn my ears green by midnight on Friday.

No police to be seen, it was around a half an hour since it started and still going strong when we left, so much for her 5 minutes. So people, avoid the Grand Mall between 1pm and 2pm as she told us they were fighting because the Mall rules now say all shops must be cleaned and opened by 12:30 which is far too early for the shop keepers….. hence the hoards of screaming men and iron bars! Oh Egypt!

Masalama, Slainte, Bye.

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The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Sometimes things work out, sometimes not, but this week I’ve had the best and the worst week ever, all rolled into one. I have cried everyday, and until yesterday I hadn’t laughed for what seemed like forever. Why? Well I lost my dog.

He’s a rather special dog, I guess every dog owner will tell you that, but this one is 14 and has travelled with us from Ireland. When we brought him out he was 9, and the Irish climate had taken its toll, he was arthritic and slow, I wasn’t sure he would survive the flight. But he did and the fabulous Egyptian weather gave him a new lease of life.

Anyway, somehow last Friday he managed to get out of the garden and I went into meltdown mode. I spent the weekend trudging the streets covering more ground than you would in a marathon but no joy. I couldn’t sleep, I spent one night on the sofa outside with the gate open just in case he came back and couldn’t get in.

I posted on Facebook and twitter and hundreds of people shared his picture, (thank you) lots sent me pictures of dogs that had been found but none were him. As the days rolled by I tried to convince myself that he had just gone to find himself a quiet corner, as they do, somewhere away from the family where he could lay down for his last sleep.

Lots of very kind Egyptians, people i had never met, contacted me telling of some horrible horrible markets that sell animals on a Friday. They sent me some very scary photos of the dogs and other animals who are bred or stolen for profit, these people are sick. The condition of the animals was horrendous. I had psyched myself up to go with my driver today, he didn’t want me to go with him, I guess he knew I would be upset.

So, in a last ditch attempt to find him I had some posters printed with his photo and my phone number. The kindest guy in the printers Ahmed translated it into Arabic for me and didn’t even charge me one piaster to print them, again thank you. But that’s when the trouble started.

As soon as I and a very special lady Chris put them up (another thank you) the phone calls started. The dregs of society who were ringing to laugh at me, or, once they heard an expat lady voice just pestered me with nuisance calls. The odd one or two seemed genuine but it was really difficult to tell and my Arabic is just not good enough to route them out. I never ventured far from the security guy outside or the staff at the club who could translate.

On Wednesday I got a genuine one but he wanted to meet within the hour, the hubby was at work and I was warned not to go on my own. Another friend organised within minutes a BIG South African body guard (more thanks) and off we went, unfortunately it wasn’t him.

By Yesterday he had been gone 6 days and I was losing hope so when I got another phone call telling me to go to the same road as Wednesday I thought it would be the same dog I had seen. This caller was a girl with some English and I hurried home to get the security guy to translate. It turned out she was calling on behalf of a policeman with no English and that they had a dog but he couldn’t walk, he was very sick and they thought he was dying. I felt then that this might be him.

The security guy talked a policeman at the end of the road to go with me, it turned out they were only a few hundred metres from my house. I couldn’t search this area as its a military zone and basically waste ground. As I rounded the corner I saw my dog lying on the ground, I cannot describe how relieved I was, I thought I would collapse, I was shaking more than the dog. As soon as I got close he jumped up, I think they thought it was a miracle as they had him for two days and thought he couldn’t walk, he was perfectly fine just depressed I think. The barbed wire lead they had attached probably didn’t help.

We were home in minutes with him jumping up and down and running like crazy in the garden, but that wasn’t the end of it. I had given the policeman they pointed out who found him some money, rather a lot of money, but I had no idea what he had done. An hour or so later a Major General something or other in the police knocked on my door with the roll of money. In perfect English he told me that the boy had simply done his job and they could not accept the money, that it would be seen as a bribe and the police didn’t take bribes….well who knew, that’s a first.

He then told me what had happened. A few days ago they found the dog but he was down a very deep hole. They couldn’t get to him so for a couple of days they threw down food scraps but he wouldn’t eat. They had no way of getting any water to him so after a couple of days they sent this young skinny guy down the hole. By this stage the dog had been in the hole for four days. The young guy somehow managed to get him out. I have no idea how, I have seen the hole and it’s pretty scary, and they kept him for a couple of days until they saw my posters.

I negotiated with the major general something that it wasn’t the boys job to feed the dog and he needed to be recompensed for this. He agreed to that and returned 90% of my money. My dog is perfectly fine, he has been down the club and is enjoying lots of treats, alls well that ends well. My final thank you goes out to Little Lucy, who rounded up her teenage mates and walked miles, you are a star. X

Masalama, Slainte, Bye.

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Should I Stay or Should I Go……

Should I stay or should I go……that’s the dilemma facing a lot of our friends at the minute. Whilst the majority of Egyptians are over the moon at the prospect of Field Marshall Sisi becoming the next president a lot of the expatriate community and a tiny Egyptian minority, mainly those on twitter, is a little out of sync with the mood on the street. Stability is the buzz word, but I’m not seeing a lot of it.

No matter whom you ask the standard Egyptian response (in no small part due to state media brainwashing, oops did i say brainwashing out loud) is that “Egypt needs a strongman, Sisi is that man” well they’ve had strongmen for the last 60 years and look how well that worked out….

Quite frankly one of the saddest conversations I’ve had recently was with a very well educated and super smart Egyptian friend. I asked him what his plans were and his response made me so very sad. He said ” If I’m still here by October I will consider myself a failure” when I pushed him and asked where he would go he said ” anywhere that will take a 24 year old Egyptian ……..” the dots represent his profession, you don’t need to know.

Suffice to say that this young man is what Egypt needs, and lots more like him. The brain drain will take at least a generation to replenish, and the current climate won’t produce intellects that are questioning, logical or even rational. Combined with the fact they never bloody go to school, the national schools have been closed for over a month now, sorry I digress. Emotional nationalistic blackmail seems to be the order of the day. You are with us or against us, if you’re against us you are a terrorist, there is no middle ground.

That’s all very rich coming from me, an Irish expatriate who is doing what this young man aspires to do. I can’t really knock him, as soon as I finished university I was off. But it’s the reasoning behind the decision that’s so very different. It’s all very well leaving home to travel, see the world, catch a bit of sunshine or just to go somewhere to earn a few pounds, to experience different cultures, or whatever rocks your boat. To leave because you are frustrated, angry and despairing over the path your country is taking is something entirely different.

I could get on my high horse and say he should stay, his country needs him, and really it does need this guy, but truthfully if I was him I would go too. He is young, his whole life is ahead of him, at 24 I didn’t want the mantle of sorting out my country either, thankfully we had some elder statesmen who did. I’m not so sure Egypt has the same will, or want, to do so. Apologies to those who clicked the link expecting my usual fluff, but I care about this place and at the minute it’s doing my head in. Should I stay, or should I go, well I’m very lucky in that I have a choice, but I haven’t decided yet.

I’m still entertained by the daily sights, I love the friends I’ve made and something another friend said is nibbling at my brain. She said “I don’t want to leave Egypt on bad terms” neither do I. I don’t want the last few months to mar what has otherwise been a fantastic experience. Yes, I have “Bad Egypt Days” when the electricity cuts, the traffic, the perverts on the street grind me down. But and it’s it’s a really big but, if someone told me I’d spend the rest of my life here, I’d be pretty happy about it.

I will leave you with my new resolution; “I will not let the bastards grind me down” and there is always a ray of sunshine if you look hard enough

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Photo is by the fantastic Mosa’ab Elshamy follow him on twitter @mosaaberizing

Anyone for a Cupcake?

Well, January the first has been and gone, but in my repeating groundhog day existence I am stuck on what appears to be April 1st. In an ever spiralling alternative reality I am constantly overcome with a desire to pinch myself. For the last week or so Egypt has ….. Outdone itself…..You couldn’t make it up, if it was a movie plot it would be canned by the critics for being too far fetched, sadly the looneys have taken over the asylum.

We have had a puppet investigated for …well treason i think, its accused of sending subliminal messages to the Muslim Brotherhood, via a Vodafone Ad….to say that’s embarrassing for all sane Egyptians is an understatement. The international media picked up on it, must have been a slow news day, and although it didn’t make the cover of Time magazine it did make the inside pages, this is truly cringe worthy stuff.

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The “snitch” hotline is now up and running for all loyal citizens to report Muslim brotherhood members or sympathisers. Anyone putting up “Vote NO” posters for the upcoming “democratic” referendum will also be arrested, I’m not sure they get the either, or, option that a referendum entails. This hotline is most definitely open to abuse, any weary husband or wife or basically anyone with a grudge, simply needs to slip a Rabaa sign near the vicinity of the suspect, make the call and voila they are gone.

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The referendum will be policed by the army. The very sexy….well in some eyes, there is no accounting for taste, army spokesman Ahmed Ali posted pictures to their Facebook page showing the new gear they have acquired for the event. Yip, the ones in red with a ninja look about them, or maybe they are more Power Rangers… should make us all feel very safe. The outfits remind me of the Olympics when the National team turned up in fake Nike kit, or maybe it was Adidas, anyway someone is having a laugh here, the supplier being my number one suspect.

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Some of our friends have been evacuated again as a precaution in case there is any trouble during the voting process. I’ve lost count of the amount of times they’ve been evacuated, happy to say the hubby’s company seems to be oblivious to any upcoming trouble so we are staying put. I’m more concerned with the fact the ring road will be closed for maintenance thereby curtailing the Hubby’s golfing plans and leaving him at home with me…..

Just when we thought the whole “Egypt as a laughing stock” was dying down some bloody tourist in Hurghada reported seeing UFOs…..that’s now being investigated too. I imagine the outcome of the inquiry will be that Mossad is responsible, rather in the way that the sharks last year were MOSSAD agents seeking to undermine Egypts tourism industry by attacking tourists. Or, maybe they will be accredited to HAMAS carrying out reconnaissance for the brotherhood, who knows.

I live in the hope that someone will step up to the mark and make a rousing speech something along the lines of “OK people, time to catch yourselves on, get a grip, all these conspiracy theories, undercover agents, spy’s are a figment of your imagination, it’s embarrassing, more bizarre than even the absurd plot lines in a John Grisham novel” yeah well, I doubt there is anyone out there who could sway the SiSi love fest, oh and Yes he will be the next president, most definitely.

I’m going to keep my head down, tape my mouth shut too, oh and ideally wear only coats with deep pockets for fear of my foreign fingers getting me into bother. I will smile nicely at all the pervert policemen and soldiers who are now the flavour of the month and quietly wait until the referendum passes, which it will. It took 2 and 1/2 years from Mubarak being deposed until Morsi suffered the same fate, how long will Sisi last….I’m thinking we are in for the long haul.

There is a little kick back against all this nationalist fervour, it just depends which bakery you use, these delicious looking cupcakes are in support of @alaa who is once again in jail, as he has been under every regime, Mubarak, SCAF, Morsi, and now., (I’m not quite sure what to call the “now” period because it most definitely wasn’t a coup) The other logo is the “No to Military Trials” graphic, but I’m not sure cupcakes as a form of resistance is gong to make much difference….I won’t be buying any just in case..

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Slainte, Masalama, Bye

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