16 August, 2008

The Traffic Matrix of Egypt

The discussions about the new traffic law in Egypt reminded me of Morpheus in "the Matrix" when he was talking to New about why some people can't be hooked out of the system of the Matrix; "You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.". Although the case here is the opposite but the same concept applies. We as Egyptians are so hooked on having no system what so ever that we refuse any change that will enforce an improvement, or will at least try to force us to respect the law, any law, weather it's good or bad for us.

Just a note here, when I say "We" I mean "we as Egyptians" even though the fact that not following the law is not at all my nature but again, some might say that I'm not even an Egyptian having lived here for less than a couple of years. Just had to say it cause somebody telling me that I'm not organized really bugs me.

The point I'm going to base my argument here upon is the part in the new traffic law that says that every car has to have a first aid kit and a hazzard triangle. Now, call me crazy, but, don't new cars come already packed with at least a hazard triangle? I know that some top-of-the-line cars like Mercedeses and BMWs come with both, but think about it a little, aren't these things here for our own safety?

I know everybody is going to tell me that it's all a scam from the government to get more money for us and that we are not going to get any services out of all this money they're taking, that the roads are getting worse, the roads are still jammed with traffic, everybody still runs red traffic lights and that the law is only going to apply on poor people. I know all of this shit. But, have YOU ever been in a car accident? Haven't you lost someone close to you in a car accident? What if the thread between life and death for you was inside this first aid kit? Would you still be unwanting to pay for it? I bet not.

The only problem here brings us back to what I personally consider the biggest problem in Egypt. Education. Even if people have the hazard sign and the first aid kid they wouldn't know how to use them or what to do with it. I remember from when I was a kid, that's back at KSA, they had these educational short movies on TV that tells you what to do in a case of accidents and a lot of first-aid procedures. There was also a lot of short movies about traffic laws and stuff like that and I just loved to watch them, everybody did, even if you didn't like them you were bound to see them because they were like on all the time and like a bad commercial there's going to be that one time that you're going to say to yourself that what the heck, there's nothing better on right now, let me see what they're talking about here. And it's going to be useful. That's why almost everybody -at least in my generation- knows all about the traffic laws and who has the prvilage to go first and how to understand the lines and traffic signals, all of this was build into our brains when we were kids.

Now compare this to Egypt. It's just like when someone here tells me that there's this restaurant that makes this great shawerma when to me, if you haven't lived in Saudi Arabia and tasted a shawerma sandwich prepared by a Syrian osta then you are not in position to judge weather any other shawerma is good or not cause you simply didn't taste good yet. And that's exactly what happens when anything gets done in Egypt. People who haven't been abroad will never be able to tell if a road for example is paved or lined right cause they have been living in a total chaos and have no idea about what a highway for example should look like -fyi, none of our roads here in Egypt are considered real "highways", at least not to me-.

Back to our main subject here. What I was trying to say here is that we as a country have become so missed up, our standards so low if any, that wer are actually afraid of doing anything right again. We have been living so long in so much shit that when we fall into fresh water we run back again to the puddle of shit we've been living at cause that's to us is the "normal".

Just yesterday I stopped a taxi and before I get in I asked the driver if it was ok to smoke inside cause I was still holding a half smoked rod of cancer and he was like shocked or didn't get what I was saying or something, anyways, I glimpsed a pack of cleopatra's so I assumed that it was ok to smoke in the cab. As soon as I got into my seat, the dude turned to me and told me "enta ragel mo7taram", I told him "kattar 5eerak leh?" ally "enta awel wa7ed fee 7ayati yes2alni el so2al da abl mayerkab!". The dude was shocked.

This was just to give you a glimpse of how inconsiderate we became towards each other. How everybody now is only looking for how he could benefit no matter what happens to others.


We don't need a new traffic law. What we had was enough. What we need is to have a little consideration towards each other. To respect each other. This plus some organization of course. Kids at schools have to be taught how to respect the law, how the law is there for their benefit and safety. How crossing a red light could mean somebody's life. How to respect the pedesterians right to cross the street. How to be humane to each other. And that is going to take years. I don't expect anything in Egypt to get better anytime soon because of two main reasons.

1\ You can't solve a problem that has been developing over decades in one week or in one day as they're trying with the new traffic law.
2\ We didn't even start to try to solve these problems - that will surely take like at least a decade to solve-.

And until we figure out how to re educate ourselves and how to raise our children with true human values, I don't think that traffic problem in Egypt is going to be solved, to say the least.