When travelling to another country, depending on the time that is available and the degree to which one integrates, men can have a deeper understanding of the country’s culture. History, traditions and body language are things that one can learn without visiting a country. However, when living or visiting in a country, these things will be put in perspective. One may understand why the French are nationalists; the Spanish have siesta or why Egyptians have expressive body language.
As the title refers I will talk about culture hidden in the streets. You may take this literally, obvious in the every day life.
This morning when I walked down my street to work, I could only think of the time I had left to arrive and to check mirrors if my hair was not too much out-of-bed (just this one morning I skipped the shower).
When I am visiting new places, usually I don’t even have time to do this. Then my mind is amazed with new smells, sights and sounds.
So how can you discover more then what you actually experience and see?
The discovery is in the larger picture, you cannot see it because it is bigger and all around you. Currently, I live in Nasr City; Nasr is the Arabic word for victory. Founded in the 1950’s and now the largest district of Cairo. It doesn’t seem that special, but there is more.
In 1952 there was the Egyptian Revolution. This revolution shifted the power from a monarchy to republic. The kings descending from Mohamed Ali became substitute for a new leader: the President. The constitution was changed and in 1956, Gamal Abdel Nasser became the first elected president by the people of Egypt. He would be in office about 15 years and I believe he would not give up his power easily. In these years many things would happen that had great effect on Egypt.
By becoming a republic, the Egyptians abandoned the British and French presence and also broke the link with the descendants of Mohamed Ali (King Faruk as last King).
Abdel Nasr would nationalize the Suez-canal, go in war with Israel and strive for more cooperation within the Arab League. Not to forget that Nasr city in Cairo is the largest and one of the better organized neighbourhoods.
Some of the events that took place still have their after-effects.
The revolution of 2011 is of course the most obvious example of replacing the old Presidential system. The youngsters on the street still feel anger towards the loss of Israel in 1967. Not to forget that the Arab League currently operates as a full-scale organization concerned with safety, economics and politics. More like the development that Nasser insisted. Nasr City is also one of the busiest areas and has a high rate of shopping malls.
Before I came in Nasr City, I knew about Abdel Nasser, but already forgot the stories surrounding him. My last address was the Pra Ram 9 in Bangkok, named after the king of Thailand. The associations for me with the street are similar with Abdel Nasr.
By walking in my street everyday, I come to know one story at the time: from developments to monuments to wars and life stories. Abdel Nasr was one of the country’s most influential persons, did many great things and will a long time be remembered. Yes, culture lays hidden in the streets, so feel free to walk and talk around and who knows what is hidden.
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