It’s always shocking to see brutality, and the wails of aspiration from younger people, in places to which I’ve travelled.
What’s really shocking is the knowledge that there’s a hard cancerous underbelly of a security apparatus, unseen by a traveller’s eyes, for fear of driving away tourism dollars.
In such countries you are aware of the `chancers` that `want to take you to my local art gallery` or charge what is for them, a small fortune, on a faluka.
It’s more than made up with kindness and the warm feelings of the culture and people.
That being said, I will always remember my first night in Cairo. I ventured out one of Micheal Palin’s favourite hotels and with huge excitement went to the local road where sat a parade of cafes.
Half-way through eating and drinking there was a sudden commotion from the other end of the row. A police van had pulled up and out poured what seemed like several semi-violent thugs taking plastic seats and tables and dumping them into the van. The image was frightening.
The other cafe owners quickly put some of their tables and chairs into their premises while other people were either quickly getting inside or staying put outside watching with a subliminal angry `shrug of the shoulders`.
The reason for this threatening behaviour?: cafe owners over-reaching the legal limit on where to put their tables.
That got me to thinking – if they can behave like this in front of people who might at least be travellers (it was in the middle of Cairo for chrissake) what happens to ordinary Egyptians who don’t toe the line.
It’s an image that will last for me forever. I hope in future it’s one that won’t be shared by Egyptians on the streets today.