Being a Citizen of the World

Written by admin on April 15, 2011 – 11:17 am -

Life in Paris is glamorous. Well, sometimes Paris can be glamorous. Cold, however, is not glamorous, and I’ve been sitting at my computer wearing so many layers that I look like the Michelin man’s puffy sister.

But, even the weather improved and hopefully, now that President Hosni Mubarak has resigned, let’s hope there will be a smooth transition

I was sporting a vintage khaki down vest with red and black plaid lining, bought 27 years ago, that I wore in colder-than-cold Vermont.

Then it paid its dues in Provence during winter months when the wind was roaring down the Rhône Valley. Funny, the real estate agent didn’t mention the mistral, which seemed to come in three-day increments. By the sixth day, I was complaining. By the ninth day, I thought I was a goner. The down vest saved me then and is saving me now.

I also kept warm in front of a roaring… television set, waching the crowds in Egypt.  I am glad the demonstrations were peaceful, glad that Mubarak is gone, and glad it’s over.  But I know it isn’t.  There are so many possible scenarios that can spread and spread some more. Is this another Iran in 1979? What does this mean for the rest of that part of the world? Israel? And now there are protests in Iran.

However, I also think about the six times I’ve been to Egypt. It’s less than a five-hour flight from Paris, practically next door.  Rarely does a week go by that there isn’t a cheaper-than-cheap trip flashing on French travel sites, which, for travel junkies such as I, is as enticing as heroin is to others. Expats have the ability to explore different parts of the world more easily than they would if they weren’t moving from their home towns to other places.

My mind flashes to Luxor and the Oriental Institute run by the University of Chicago. Luxor is home to so much history and ancient archeology. Anyone who has witnessed a sound and light show in the midst of the ruins can’t help being moved now by the events that are taking place. The looting and destruction that took place in the Cairo Museum are a crime against history, if not humanity.

Tunisia is another country I’ve visited more than once. So close to Paris and yet so different. Emails have already started filtering into my inbox asking whether or not I think it’s safe to go to Morocco during school vacation. If I can’t predict the weather, I certainly am not competent to advise where people should and should not travel in the Arab world.

We’re talking about cultures, people of differing mores and religions and so much more. But more important, we’re talking about people and their lives.  The upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt make me realize that living here makes me more aware of international relations than I’d be if I were living in a small town in the Midwest of the U.S.; however, this awareness is not glamorous—just upsetting and a little depressing. Don’t forget Algeria, Yeman and ??

Perhaps worried is a better word for my feelings.  No one knows what’s next in Egypt.  Even with Mubarak gone, the amount of reliable information we’re getting about the military rulers—-presumably interim rulers—is scanty at best.  In a world of instantaneous communication, only some may be correct. And so much will probably be wrong. All anyone can do now is watch in anticipation of something wonderful emerging from all the chaos. And anyway, it takes my mind off the cold for a little while now and then.

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