I write this with the primary goal of sharing a video with you.
Judy called me yesterday with the shopping urgency she sometimes gets. I was at home catching up on email and some writing, and Judy was with a friend who is an American psychiatrist with whom she visits the local psychiatric hospital a few times a month. This has given Judy a very interesting perspective on mental health in Egypt. She was at a jeweler on Road 9, about a 20 minute walk from our apartment. She wanted my opinion on some gifts she was contemplating. Judy has a nearly indefatigable ability to shop, so I agreed to meet her, but only for a brief amount of time.
The walk was typical for this neighborhood. Walking mostly in the streets because of non-existent or busted sidewalks, withstanding the nearly constant honking of horns by taxis looking for a fare, and working up a bit of a sweat as the afternoon sun is still warm and desert like, I traversed Maadi as somebody who might even be familiar with the area.
The owner of the shop goes by the name Carlito, a charming Egyptian with two Obama posters in his store and nearly perfect English. He offered me tea which I politely declined. I did not want him to think I was going to stay in his shop very long. He was clearly pleased to meet Judy and her eager shopping energies. She had a number of items out, I offered my quick opinion, and hoped to quickly move on.
Carlito began to talk about the speech Obama gave here in Cairo in 2009, the one I referenced in a post weeks ago and that I assigned to me class here. He also told me that he had recently been interviewed for a New York Times video, which you can link to here. He showed it to me on his phone and then emailed it to me on his iPhone so I could share it with you and my class. It is noteworthy to me for a couple of things:
1) It is more anti-Obama than I have encountered here. Most learn I am American, say “Obama” and give a thumbs up.
2) Israel is simply central to everybody’s feelings here about the U.S. and our foreign policy. There is no escaping this central fact. (By the way, despite Romney’s attempt to outflank Obama on the Israel issues, 70% of American Jews supported Obama, and a huge majority of Jews do not identify Israel as the most important issue to them.)
3) Carlito is an articulate, intelligent man.
4) The video gives a nice and I think evocative picture of Cairo.
So we agreed to buy some of this and some of that, lovely items from a nice man with deep thoughts about our political system. In the end, I probably wished I had agreed to have some tea with him. I think I will take that walk again soon.