It's Polling Day!

I'm sure that you've read elsewhere about staying indoors and off the streets during the voting here in Egypt. Well, as the old saying goes in places like Windy Nook 'Shy bairns get nowt'! (Another colloquialism, meaning that if you don't push yourself forward, you'll never get anything, or anywhere.) So off we went, two intrepid reporters, but disguised as ordinary ex-pats; no flashy cameras or microphones for us, just a sharp lookout for anything out of the ordinary. (We were mindful of the 'spies' and TV folk who were reported as being arrested and misused in Cairo.)

But, as we always knew anyway, Luxor isn't Cairo; it's like a different country as far as that sort of thing goes! We jumped the Arabiya on Sharia Karnak, as usual when heading to the southern extremities of Luxor like New Hospital Street and those other foreign places. Strategically placed at junctions and the like were little men shoving leaflets into the hands of those sitting next to the 'bus door, obviously political activists. (You can tell, 'cause they remind you of the same sort of anoraks  [colloquialism: 'anorak' who is obsessed with some passtime or hobby which normal people consider to be unutterably boring] which do similar thankless tasks the world over) The traffic got slower and slower as we wended our way along Ahmed Orabi Street. (Also know as Coffee Street)   

When we got to the end, at Salah El Din Square, we could see the reason why! Voters.....everywhere! There were very long and wide queues all the way along the right hand side of the square, outside the school. Firstly, we saw the men, but as we actually rounded the corner proper, we saw the queue of women. There seemed to be a lot more women waiting than men. There were policemen on the gates to the school, not letting people in (or so it seemed), or maybe they were only letting so many in at a time. On the other side of the Square there stood a really lovely armoured troop carrier, sand coloured and looking brand new! They don't like you taking pictures though. Like most of the army equipment here; it seems as though the new stuff goes to Cairo and is eventually cascaded down to the provinces when it is as ancient as the monuments and in worse condition! Most of the army vehicles which I've come across in the near desert of the West Bank have had smooth tyres, no lights (or only one or two scattered about) and almost non-existent exhaust systems. That's before you look under the bonnet (hood) and find that the big chunky Toyota Landcruiser has a tiny Daihatsu engine floating about inside and that it now has only two wheel drive!.   

The voting is apparently taking place over two days here, as at the last election there were a great many people who didn't get to vote because the polling stations closed while they were still queuing outside. (I remember this also happening in England, another little sign that our 'betters' are trying to turn Great Britain into yet another third world 'basket-case' country which will end up looking to our European 'conquerors' for salvation!)

Note to Myself: Stop going off on personal rants while trying to inform your readers of the current situation in Luxor!!!

Eventually, we made it through the crush without knocking anyone over, and headed out along Salah El Din Street, towards the Iberotel. The school on the left here was also being used as a polling station. I think it's a girl's senior school? Here, the queues were thoroughly mixed, men and women together! But also spilling out all over the road on the other side of the dual carriageway.

There are more policemen about than I've noticed in years! And very smart too, their uniforms looking new, to me. Traffic horrendous everywhere, or so it seemed.

We took a break in Tutti Frutti's and had some well deserved tea, well, Freda had a coffee, as she doesn't care about the expense! It was quite busy in there this morning, mainly ex-pats and longer term regular visitors, but wide ranging and interesting conversation. On leaving, we turned right and made our way along to Medina Street. During the last elections here, the police virtually closed the top end of Medina Street as there is a polling station just farther up and the crowds were very big, and restless. Today, however, I don't think I saw a policeman there at all! We ambled down Medina, picking up bits of shopping as we went, the small bread buns in what we call the 'Little Baker' looked lovely, so we got a pound's worth along with two pieces of their lovely cake. We cut through to TV Street, coming out just a bit further down that Khair Zaman and managed to get on a 'bus in a couple of minutes.

Lo and behold! At the bottom of TV St,. the police had erected barriers across the road and the driver couldn't turn right! Looking along to the right; it soon became perfectly clear why they had done this; you couldn't get moved for queuing voters, they certainly seem to be taking their new found responsibilities seriously. That's got to be a good sign!

Off we went, along Salah El Din Street again. This time we both noticed earnest looking young men near the polling station with laptop computers on the bonnets of cars (for our American readers: hoods of cars). We decided that they must have been conducting 'exit polls' or something.

After battling his way along the Corniche and past the Winter Palace, the driver turned up Sharia Mahatta (Station St) and then cut along a back lane onto Kelopatra (Cleopatra) Street before finding his normal route again, near the railway crossing on Mustafa Kamel Street and eventually dropping us off outside our little alley. By this time, of course, I was gagging for more tea!

So boys and girls, what do you think? I think that today's conclusion is..........that Egyptian elections (at least here in the civilised part of Egypt) are proving to be of no consequence to visitors who might be wandering around the town centre. The crowds which we witnessed were no more threatening than the usual crowds of shoppers in any busy shopping mall or high street. Certainly far less intimidating than the crowds which British people are used coming across after the end of football matches.

It;s probably time for a little snooze now. It's a hard life here on the 'front line' of civil unrest and lawlessness, you know?

Speak soon. 

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