Sunday, October 28, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #42

While in Israel during the winter of 1991, two friends and I decided to go to Cairo. Once we'd gotten all of the required bureaucracy out of the way, the trip involved a very long, tedious bus ride from Tel Aviv, through the Rafah crossing (more about that later, but keep in mind that the crossing was administered at the time by Israel and Egypt, prior to the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority...), across the Suez Canal, past the charming seaside town of El Arish, and endless hours across the stark, barren desert.

Cairo was fascinating, and I wouldn't be exaggerating if I added that it was a serious assault to all of my senses. The sites, the sounds, the smells... The city is crowded and lively, and the people we encountered were friendly. The Egyptians who thought that I was Israeli (on account of my winter jacket at the time being like the ones worn in the Israeli military) often greeted me in broken Hebrew with a smile. The pyramids were stunning, and the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of Islamic Art were exceptional. I even managed to teach myself how to read and write Arabic numerals while at the Egyptian Museum, and if hard-pressed, I might even remember a few of them...

As I recall, Egyptian drivers were worse than Israeli drivers, and for those of you who have encountered Israeli drivers, you can imagine what the streets of Cairo must be like for drivers and pedestrians alike – especially pedestrians like me, who tend to act like a deer caught in the headlights while crossing the road as cars bear down on them, whizzing past and making one feel as though they were trapped in a real-life version of the game Frogger. Buses barely stopped at the designated stations, slowing down just enough for more people to jump on, often hanging out of doors and windows, crammed in like sardines and hanging on for dear life as the driver made his way through the streets, clearly imagining that he was traveling along the German Autobahn instead of the traffic-infested roads of Cairo.

Driving across the Egyptian desert after dark was often nerve-wracking, as it seemed to me that vehicles would drive using either high beams or no lights at all. At one point, you feel like your bus (or car) was the only one on the road, an illusion that was frequently shattered in an instant when you were suddenly blinded by the high beams of an oncoming vehicle whose driver had clearly opted to use only the slivers of moonlight to find his way.

And then there was the border crossing. I had difficulties in both directions, and my passport was always the last one from our bus to come out (once, the person responsible for our group even had to go into the offices to retrieve it). This was prior to obtaining Israeli citizenship or being in possession of an Israeli passport, and while traveling on my American passport (the only passport I had at the time) the folks at passport control were convinced that I was trying to hide the fact that I was Israeli, despite my protestations that I was American. For some reason, they had gotten it into the heads that I must be Israeli, because my last name is "Rosenberg", which was, according to them, a very Israeli name. I did my best to convince them that it was also a very Jewish name, and in the end, I prevailed, but it was frustrating nonetheless, as I could see that they weren't terribly keen on the idea of believing me.

While I enjoyed my trip to Cairo, to be honest, I'm not sure that I'd want to go back. It was a huge, crowded, congested, dirty city, and frankly, one that I am too timid to take on. I have a feeling that as far as Arab capital cities go, Amman or Beirut would be much more to my tastes. Of course, missing my trip to Cairo would have meant that I'd never have discovered that, when it comes down to it, the Cairenes perambulate just like everybody else. In other words, I didn't come away from my visit knowing how to walk like an Egyptian...

Walk Like an Egyptian
The Bangles

All the old paintings on the tomb
They do the sand dance, don'cha know?
If they move too quick (Oh-Way-Oh)
They're falling down like a domino

And the bazaar man by the Nile
He got the money on a bet
For the crocodiles (Oh-Way-Oh)
They snap their teeth on a cigarette

Foreign types with their hookah pipes sing:
Walk like an Egyptian.

The blonde waitresses take their trays
Spin around and they cross the floor
They've got the moves (Oh-Way-Oh)
You drop your drink then they bring you more

All the school kids so sick of books
They like the punk and the metal band
When the buzzer rings (Oh-Way-Oh)
They're walking like an Egyptian

All the kids in the marketplace say:
Walk like an Egyptian.

Line your feet astreet, bend your back,
Shift your arm, then you pull a clock
Like Sergeant O (Oh-Way-Oh)
So strike a pose on a Cadillac

If you want to find all the cops,
They're hanging out in the donut shop.
They sing and dance (Oh-Way-Oh)
They spin their clock and cruise on down the block

All the Japanese with their Yen
The party boys call the Kremlin
The Chinese know (Oh-Way-Oh)
They walk along like Egyptians

All the cops in the donut shops say:
Walk like an Egyptian
Walk like an Egyptian


Emah S said...

omg, that one was big for us in HS. I remember jamming out with some friends one night after a girls basketball game (I was on the team, but not good enough to play, I FILMED the games! hee hee). But anyway, we were all over tired and shaking our heads and doing the hand motions and everything. ha!

thanks for the memory..........aargh, way back to 1988!!!

the dame said...

That was the first album I ever bought. The Bangles' "Different Light" on casette tape.

RR said...

What an interesting post! Loved the "Frogger" reference- I can just imagine it! I'm that way too with crazy traffic.

You should have told them that you weren't even Jewish- that your last name was changed to "Rosenberg" for business reasons :-)

Liza said...

Hi, Liza,
I just recently saw "Walk Like an Egyptian" on a show about one hit wonders. The Bangles kind of had one hit wonder written all over them. Too bad, because they were really cute.