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Meet the Columnist

Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the Columnists.com, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern
Humorists.com
  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of HumorColumnist.com

    To carry her weekly column in your newspaper, or to republish an article, please contact her. It's that easy. 

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Cairo Traffic....
   

The Traffic of Cairo

When I was warned about traffic in Cairo, I thought in terms of Chicago or Atlanta. But the traffic in Cairo gives a whole new meaning to rush hour. There are often no white lines in the streets and cars rush about in a haphazard way, out bluffing each other. To wait or take turns is unheard of, and even pedestrians are not given the right of way but cross streets at their own peril.

Cars turn from the wrong lane as a matter of norm and u-turns are frequent as left turns are impossible without traffic lights. Even on the "ring road" which is similar to an Interstate, white lines are considered mere suggestions and largely ignored as cars make their own lanes straddling the lines between lanes of speeding traffic.

I cannot watch as we drive around the city as it is too frightening. Many cars drive without lights at night and everyone honks horns constantly. The traffic seems typical of the aggressive nature of the people who push and shove to survive.

Somehow, we never have an accident, but do see one serious-looking wreck. The numerous close calls leave the hair on my neck standing up. Emergency vehicles drive on the wrong side of the road in oncoming traffic -- but what does it matter. So does anyone else who wants to, including donkey carts.

I take back every single bad thing I've ever said about traffic and aggressive driving on the interstates back home. Not in Los Angles, not in New York, not anywhere do we have traffic in the U.S. to compare with the traffic of Cairo. Everyone goes at the same time, everyone has the right of way, and everyone disregards traffic laws, if there are any.

In spite of everything, I am glad that I came. It helps me to understand the people and the Muslim culture much more. We go to a typical Egyptian restaurant where the food is strange to us, but good. Egyptians cook with little meat and a lot of vegetables and spices. Ninety percent of the country is Muslim, and they do not eat pork or drink alcohol.

The families are close knit and are expected to take care of the males in their families by giving a dowry and providing a place to live for each son and his family after marriage. This may help explain the unfinished houses and the additional stories being added. Families live in groups and parents continue to live with children until they are old as there is no social security system.

Education is free, we are told, even college, so modern Egyptians are educated. English is taught as a second language in schools and required, so most people speak at least a little English. How many Americans speak Arabic, or are even interested in learning? Arabic words are difficult for us to pronounce -- so we don't.

We visit an Egyptian home which is a nice and well-decorated apartment, very clean, though the neighborhood seems bad. The family has three sons so they must plan ahead to the time they will marry. Both the father and mother work in their own business as interior decorators. We are served an Egyptian meal that is very good, and notice that there is a maid to help with the dishes.

The woman, named Cherry, wears the traditional hijab on her head and shows the women in the group who are interested how to pin and fix a scarf. This comes in handy later when our group has a "Dress Egyptian" party. The Muslim women are not forced to wear a scarf. It is a religious choice that they make. Once they decide to wear the hijab, however, they cannot wear it one day and not the next as that will break the commitment.

Sherry speaks English well and is very warm and friendly, like most Egyptian people. We are not anxious to leave and face the horrible traffic of Cairo again.


Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss
 
 



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