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Diary Entry 9

Friday, 4th February 2011

 

‘Departure Friday’

 

 

I wake up with my nerves on edge. I am completely and utterly nervous. So nervous that I am nauseous filled with fear and dread. If the past two days have been bloody then God only knows what lies in store for the brave protesters today.

 

Today we anticipate more protesters to take to the streets and head towards Tahrir, but after seeing the event unfold on TV the past two days I am fearful for the lives of those who want to go, Becs and a few friends of ours too.

 

‘Please God, If you can hear me, let there be no blood shed today. Blow away those who want to inflict harm, violence and chaos.’

 

Every time I look at the clock or my watch the hands don’t appear to have moved. I feel as though everything is going in slow motion.

I sit and continue to type my diary entries out on to my lap top. As I peck away at my keyboard, I feel as though my intuition is picking up on the anxiety of everyone around me. My heart is racing, breathing heavily and a tightness forms in my chest. I try and over come the strange sensation, by taking deep breaths and exhaling slowly. Bec now is looking at me with concern and ask if I’m alright and if he can get me anything.

 

“God, I just want this day to pass”

 

Becs’s sister asks me if I want to accompany her at Makani, a café very close to the house. I think getting out of the house might be a good idea.

 

My Blackberry these days seems to be an extension of my hand. I check twitter every few minutes for up dates from trusted sources in Tahrir and in other areas of the country.

 

Friday prayer has commenced and the TV is showing rows upon rows of people worshiping, bowing and praying together shoulder by shoulder and in unison,

while others form a human chain around the people praying to protect them. The sight of the live footage on TV is empowering and moving. I am moved so much that a lump forms in my throat and my eyes begin to burn from holding back the tears.

 

This is a scene I have longed to see, where hang ups and walls between Muslims and Christians do not exist. They stand together as people, as Egyptians. I can not help but feel proud. How I want to be there and stand among them and witness the barriers between religion, classes and people come crashing down along with a regime that built it. I am thinking of ways of escaping the safety of Heliopolis to go there. A phone call from my mother quickly ends that. She calls to make sure that I am safe and nowhere near Tahrir! Grrrrrrrr

‘Are these the same people who had been fighting in self-defense the past two days?’

 

The world as I have been told by many have been glued to their TV sets for hours every day and today they will be as shocked as I am to see a different scene, a scene of unity and solidarity. Muslims and Christians standing together, what a vision, what a sight and what an example they are being to the world.

 

For the pas few years I have been teach in a school where my students have tried tirelessly to find out what faith I belong to. I never tell them because it shouldn’t matter what religion I practice. What should mater is what kind of person I am. We shouldn’t teach children to identify others by their practices. It’s wrong and that is what causes BIG problems and a huge rift in our country and society. I hope my students and the administration are watching this and will be inspired and learn from it.

 

Heba comes and joins us at Makani. I introduce her to Meeza we talk about how things are going right now in Tahrir. Heba shares my desire for wanting to go to Tahrir. She too has given her word to her parents that she won’t go. Her father calls her every day, early in the morning to make her promise that she will not go. He doesn’t want to have to worry about her, while he is out of the country. She alone understands and shares my frustration.

 

The café is filling up with more customers; the limited menu doesn’t turn them away. The change of scenery and being out of the house seems to be a common change that everyone is in need of. Being here sitting in a café makes me feel guilty. I feel as though I am not contributing or supporting. I am a firm believer in the freedom of speech, liberty and justice and for years I have been trying to break free from the chains that the country and society have tried to shackle me with and here I am sitting at a café!!!! What a hypocrite! ARGH!!!

 

I take my phone and check the tweets!

Reporters are having a tough time down on the ground. Military officials are confiscating cameras and detaining them. The safest place for them ironically is in Tahrir, where the protesters grant them refuge.

The square is turning in to a huge big out-door concert or festival with live music and dancing!

 

I should be there!

 

 

 

 

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Diary Entry 7
Thursday 3rd of February 2011

I wake up early and stare up at the ceiling in bed for a while before I get up. I try to leave the room as quietly as I can so that I don’t wake Meeza. I grab my phone and my diary and sit in the sitting room crossed legged on the couch in my PJs writing in my diary as well as typing another entry to post up on my blog on my lap top, while I follow tweets on twitter on my phone. (Multi tasking at it’s best!)

Over the course of the past few days I feel as though the country and its people have awakened from a long sleep. The Spirit and the pride of our Great Ancestors that seemed to have died after the 6 day war has been reborn and re-ignited in not just Egyptians in Egypt, but around the world. It’s as though the shades of 30 years have been lifted and everyone is seeing how deprived they have been of their basic human rights and the possibilities and potential that could be theirs if they call out and march for it.

In such a short time, the seed of rift and segregation that had been growing over decades had been ripped out of the ground. Muslim’s and Christians, Rich, Educated and Poor have been standing shoulder to shoulder, side by side day in and day out as one force, united for the first time in a long time.
The Muslim vs Christian paranoia almost seems to have evaporated as they stand side by side protecting themselves and each other from the attacks and blows that the Mubarak supporter are landing on protesters.

Bec’s wakes up and find me sitting deeply engrossed in my typing. He invites me to move to his room to continue working. I pick up my belonging and move to his room, claiming a place on the floor near an electric outlet. I get comfortable and resume typing while Bec’s busies himself with editing his photos taken at Tahrir. (I will ask him if I may post the link to his photos)
Bec’s father bursts in to the room urging Bec’s not to go to Tahrir today, he’d just seen and heard on BBC Arabic that the area in Tahrir was now occupied by the Muslim Brotherhood and that the President of Iran spoke and supported Egypt’s revolution.
My heart sank in to the pit of my stomach. Is this how it ends? Will this country of passion, history and potential fall and follow in the foot steps of Iran?
I call my mother and my friend Heba and tell them what had been relayed to me.
My mother exhales deeply and says,’ If that is what is going to happen then we have no choice but to leave. We can’t stay if it turns in to a state like an Iran’ She closes with me and goes to watch the news.
I tell Heba the same info and her response is ‘Oh boy…”

I left my laptop to go and listen to the news myself with my phone in hand (it goes everywhere with me) and yes…that is what the media was saying. For the first time since all this has happened all I want is to stuff face with comfort food, the craving for chocolate is at an all time peak! I resist … for now.
My mother calls back and says she’s been flipping through the channels and none of the English news stations have been reporting that… could this be a propaganda move?, an attempt to cause chaos and panic perhaps? The only thing we can do is watch and wait.
After hours of watching the news, typing and editing we both need a break. We decided to take yet another walk in to Korba. The scene is a little different today, it’s business as usual (some what). The hairdressers is open and taking clients up-until 2pm, cafes are open but not working in full capacity, but that doesn’t matter people are still willing to stand in line to sit in a café for a few hours rather than in front of a T.V waiting for the inevitable.

While we are there, Heba calls to say that she’s in the area. We meet up outside a very locked up Vodafone. Heba and I go in to Cilantro Cafe, while we wait for Becs to come back from the bicycle repair shop to exchange the tube we had bought yesterday for his busted tire. We sit and talk about how things are going politically and what direction we think it’s going in. Becs comes back and joins us and as do a few other friends of ours. We huddle around a small table as, Heba a relative of one of the leading oppositions leaders and a big supporters of his. She tells us about her experience on Friday when she accompanied her relative on the 28th for Friday prayer, he wasn’t allowed in to the Mosque and prayed outside in the street along with many others. Heba and her relative’s wife stand back and the riot police inch forward encircling them almost boxing them in. They push them down hard off of the pavement in the back. As soon as Friday prayer is over, tear gas is fired in to the crowd for them to disperse. Her relative is ambushed and they have no idea where he was or where he had been taken until much later. He had been held in the mosque along with the Middle East’s newest heart-throb, Al Jazeera’s news correspondent, Ayman Mohydin.
Reports of reporters being detained or arrested under the emergency law are flooding twitter along with many other protesters! OUTRAGE!!!

My friend in Alexandria calls me to ask how the night was in Cairo last night. I tell him that it was quiet. He informs me that his night was far from quiet. He had a full scale shoot out right outside his building from 3am to 7am. He sounded exhausted and his moral was low. He told me that thugs (looters or theives) were armed with machine guns. The neighborhood were no match for them but luckily the army took action and returned fire. 4 of the intruders were killed, a couple captured and the rest retreated.
A very tall, handsome and strapping UN judge came and joined us, he brought an interesting new insight on to what could happen if the President was to step down and leave the country. When he spoke he reminded me of a University professor commanding his student’s attention.
Closing time came too soon, we bid everyone farewell and stay safe before we went on our way. Before we continue on our way home, we stop and by two more boxes of cake mix. (I think I have turned Becs in to a Betty Crocker backing monster!)
He was so inspiring that when we got home Becs told his parent’s that he was going to go to Tahrir tomorrow and that was that! I really want to accompany him, but I know if I go and if the battles between the protesters and the pro Mubarak mob continue and something happens to me, I would never be able to forgive myself.

Tomorrow is another day, tomorrow is ‘Departure Friday’

Wednesday, 2nd of February 2011

In the early hours of this morning Mubarak addressed the nation and said that he would not run for president in September and will change the government.
The speech sounded reasonable, but something told me that things weren’t going to go down well with the protesters or the public.

Later that morning Becs and I decided to walk from his house near the Baron Palace to Korba to buy a few things and stretch our legs. I don’t know how inmates or animals in the zoo adapt or cope to being kept indoors for hours on end! I just can’t stand being in doors for 17 hours a day! It’s enough to drive you loopy!! All of this because of the curfew hours that have been set. It’s enough to cause cabin fever or claustrophobia!
I needed to be out doors, smell the cleanish air, walk around, do something different.
The feeling of being cooped up brought back memories of when my family and I took the last ferry-boat leaving Jeddah to Suez after the invasion of Kuwait in the 90s. Three days locked in the First Class floor because passengers who couldn’t get cabins were sleeping on the deck and the crew didn’t want them coming in doors. I don’t think I’ve ever been so bored in my life!

Walking in Heliopolis you would find it hard to believe that there was anything going on in the country, it’s relatively peaceful and quite. The presence of the armed army vehicles that were stationed at several important government building made it real.
Walking was refreshing, I could feel the blood circulating through my body again but as we approached the center of Korba I grew sad. People walking out of stores with boxes and bags full of provisions incase there is a food or water shortage. The traffic in Korba made things feel less out of the ordinary but seeing the store windows blacked out or empty and fast food restaurants and café’s with barricaded doors just brings everything crashing down again. Is this really happening? How long will this last? How long can we as a nation endure this? Will the government be heartless and not give in to the people’s demands? Is their intention to make people starve?
The line for the ATM machine is just as long as the queue from the local ‘Forn’ (which means oven, but it’s where you can buy (I believe) the subsidized cheep bread from)

As we walk around trying to find bottle of water to drink, Becs notices that his phone was sending him facebook notifications. He thinks his eyes are deceiving him so he asks a man waiting his turn to go in to a café if the net is back. He says yes it, the signal is weak, but it’s getting stronger. YES! The government took heed and listened to foreign delegates requesting that communication be re-instated!! What a relief, we can now communicate freely with the world again. Well, almost freely, I’m sure that twitter and facebook are being very closely monitored by Egypt’s Secret Service. I guess, I have to choose my words wisely or I’ll end up on their most wanted list.
Nal, my friend in D.C will be thrilled she won’t have to call us daily to check up on us and can communicate through social media. I call my sister to tell her to see if the net is up and running in Alexandria.

I try sending people a text message, but mobile phone services haven’t fully been reinstated yet.
To keep ourselves entertained at home we buy a couple of packets of cake mix, eggs and chocolate to make icing from scratch. Marie Antoinette’s quote of ‘Let them eat cake’ was sounding in my head for some odd reason. Well, if I can’t go to the protests I may as well make cake.
Back at home, I waste no time in yanking out my laptop, setting it up, plugging it in and getting connected with the world-wide web. HOW I HAVE MISSED YOU! I busy myself reading e-mails and messages of support and concern from family and close friends. I answer every single one of them. My sister has tagged me in  the album of newly uploaded pictures and I am horrified. The scenes of last Friday in front of the building where my parents and sister live is harrowing. The clouds of tear gas, the bus and the Muhfza (governors building) a blaze. I can’t begin to relate to the horror or the fear that must have been pulsing through them at the time.Pictures of a looted and semi destroyed Carrefour in Alexandria is also very disturbing. You hear tales about places that have been looted but when you see the photos of familiar places, it really hits home.
In the midst of replying to messages, Bec’s family switch from a movie to the news and we are horrified at the images that are being brought to us from Tahrir Square. It looks like a re-enactment of one of the war scenes from the film, Braveheart. When the Scots are fighting the British to gain independence, but this wasn’t fake, it was very real. Men and women claiming to be ‘Pro-Mubarak’ supporters in Tahrir armed and attacking the protesters, but wait what’s that men on camel and horse back as well? What the hell is going on? How did this happen? Who could condone such savage and violent behavior? Protest and speak your mind, pro Mubarak or not, but attacking people and throwing cocktail bombs is just not on!
The Irish/Sa3eedi (Saeedi is what we call people from Upper Egypt, like the Newfie in Canada) blood in me was boiling; the urge to fight back was rising. I want to be there to defend, take a stand, fight and protect those that are there trying to reform a country for the well-being of the people. The majority have been peaceful, helpful and respectful and these hooligans are just being darn right barbaric!
This escalates the urgency ! Things are going from bad to worse! I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!!! My host family will not let me leave and my family will crucify me if I go, so the only thing left to do is what I do well and that is, write!
Let me tell the world and anyone that is will to read or listen about what is going on in Egypt through my eyes.So, I begin to type until the late hours of the night.

I’ll be damned if i don’t do anything at all! If I can’t be on the ground, I will do my part some other way!

Saturday 29th of January 2011 (Day 4, since the Million March, Tuesday 25th of January 2011)

9:45am

From my window you would think nothing happened yesterday people are out in their cars driving around. It is too early for us to tell what will happen, but, again I am not optimistic.
We are still without mobile phone coverage and Internet.
We have no idea what will happen in the coming days, weeks or months.
There are so many questions whizzing by in my head right now that, I am finding it hard to think. Do we go to work tomorrow or not? Is it a wise thing to do if we have no means of communication? If we do regain our cell/mobile lines should we still risk going?
For now, I think the best thing to do is to stay put, until things become clearer.

Dad calls me to check up on how my friend and I are doing. He tells me that the four tanks stationed outside their apartment building are still in place. It seems to be some kind of tourist attraction; people are coming to greet the soldiers. Some drag their family members along to have their pictures taken and people are making them tea.
He also tells me that the ATM machine that was next to the Muhfza (Goveners Office Building) was ripped out of the ground and taken to Kom El Dekka to be broken in to.
He also told me that he had heard that Carrefour Maadi had been looted but he doesn’t know how accurate the information is.
We, (my family and I) are exhausted. We have been up for most of the night listening to the news and keeping watch for anything unusual.

* At around 10 am we regain cell phone coverage. We are able to receive calls and call out but we still can not send text messages, Blackberry Messenger, What’sapp and Internet are still down.

11am

My friend realizes that she has left her passport and money at her apartment. I knot forms in the pit of my stomach. I don’t want to risk our safety by going out, but both items are essential for her to have in-case she needs to be evacuated. She suggests going on her own, but I can’t leave her alone and I don’t want to go anywhere where she might be in danger. I insist that I accompany her to her apartment to collect the items. I’m just thankful that she doesn’t live too far away.
We dress really quickly and make our way to her place. When we first get out of my building everything looks quite normal, but when we hop in to a cab and the car turns the corner to head towards Korba we are met with a completely different scene.
Marghani street that houses the Heliopolis Club and the Presidential Palace is completely blocked off. Riot police, military men and tanks are spread across the width of the street, denying access to cars as well as pedestrians.
Some people walk by taking pictures of the scene, I can’t blame them really. It’s not one that you would see on a day to day basis. Others rush by nervously and intimidated by their presence. While others are sat in a coffee shop and enjoy their mugs of coffee like nothing is happening.
A colleague from work calls to take my land line number in-case the mobile/cell phone lines go down again and to put together a phone tree. She also informed me that school would be closed for until Monday with the possibility of being closed longer.
(GREAT! Last year the school year was disrupted because of Swine flu (H1N1) and now this… these poor kids, haven’t had a stable academic year!)
She also warned that protests would start up again after afternoon prayers, which would be around 1 o’clock.
Upon hearing this, my friend and I increased our stride to try and get to her place and back to mine before things heated up again. We rushed around her place getting the items we came for as well as some clothes and food.
We walked back to my place because traffic was building up due to certain roads being closed off. As soon as we made it home we dropped the stuff off and went to a near by supermarket, Metro, to get more provisions.
When we got there, we couldn’t help but stand with our mouths gaping open at the scene outside and inside the supermarket. Outside of the supermarket was a big tank, filled with unhappy armed soldiers, watching the crowd of people passing by with suspicion. During Ramadan supermarkets are bustling with life and people are stocking up as though they are going in to hiding for a few months. The ambiance of the scores of shoppers was desperate and urgent. When we over came the sight we edged our way inside and split up to get what we needed. The shelves were almost bare. People were stocking up on oil, pasta, eggs, flour, bread, tomato pass as well as other items.
At the checkout I saw one of the supermarket personnel stick a paper on the door stating that the store will be open daily but will close at four o’clock to give the employees enough time to get home before curfew, which has now been moved to 4pm.

We leave the supermarket carrying our supplies in silence, trying to get our minds to comprehend the scene that we had just witnessed and taken part in. How did things go down hill so quickly? Just 2 weeks ago, things were relatively normal. I don’t think anyone saw this coming. Could it get worse? I think it might. I need to stay strong and continue to think with a clear mind and put my emotions on the side, otherwise I won’t be able to think straight and will make bad judgment calls. Plus, I need to stay calm for my friend, I don’t need to alarm her more that she already is.

We get home and find out that banks are closed until further notice. That news sends me a warning signal. I go in to my room to check how much cash I have. I have some for now, but will have to try and find a working ATM with money in it tomorrow, so that I can withdraw all the Egyptian currency I have.

Now that we have our cell phones are working again, the calls are coming in fast and furious from abroad. I am very touched by my friends abroad who have gotten through and send their love, prayers, well wishes and concern. It keeps me sane and makes me feel hopeful.
I called one of my cousins in New Jersey to tell him that I’m alright. He proceeded to tell me that his brother had forwarded my last e-mail that I was able to send on Thursday to a radio station and it was read over the air ways.
Two of my close friends in Washington D.C have been following the news religiously and trying to get through to my family and I for the past two days but haven’t been able to. When we were able to get in touch with one another, the relief and excitement in their voice upon hearing mine almost brought me to tears.
It is very humbling to know that there are people who are genuinely worried about your safety and well being.
Friends here in Egypt have been amazing too. Knowing that I’m away from my family and protecting a friend of mine have called me every couple of hours insuring that I’m fine and relaying any new information that we aren’t getting on the news.

4pm

So, much for the curfew! People are still out walking, driving around demonstrating.
As my friend and I are about to sit down to have lunch my friends phone rings and was told the news that employees of BP are going to be airlifted out of Egypt tomorrow.
Hearing the news brought back memories of being in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War back in 1990. Knowing that expats are being evacuated means things that are going to go down hill at an exponential rate.
After lunch I called my sister to see how things were at their end of the country.
I was relieved to hear that they had been able to find an ATM machine, I didn’t want them to be without cash for the next few days.
My Mom’s friend got a call from the Saudi Embassy telling them to evacuate the country as soon as possible.
I still haven’t gotten word from the Canadian Embassy.

Another colleague and friend from work called from work called to check up on me. She lives in Rehab City, (It’s a gated community). She said that the are no longer any security guards standing guard at the gates of the compound, which made them targets for the band of looters. The looters did penetrate the compound, they targeted the stores first and then residences. The male members of the compound came out of their homes armed with nothing but sticks, stones and kitchen knives to defend their families, property and neighborhood.

5:30pm

My best friend calls to say that she just got word that the looters have raided El Rehab and are on their way to Masr El Gadeeda (New Cairo) and to get anything I can use as a weapon and to have a bucket of water and rags by the door in case they try and smoke the tenants out of the homes.

Since I was a little girl I had wanted to join the marines mainly to have a pair of combat boots, but so that I could learn how to use a gun and make a bomb if necessary.
I didn’t waste any time getting in to commando mode, I got out the fire extinguisher and checked that it was full. I got out every sharp knife that I had in the house. I concocted my own recipe of mace made from house hold cleaners, bleach being a key ingredient and filled 3 plastic spray canisters. My Dad’s hunting binoculars were out, so that I could keep watch on the road from my floor.

Being in that state of mind, it didn’t seem in the least bit out of the ordinary, my friend on the other hand was watching me and unable to understand how I was so calm and knowledgeable in making home made mace. I have to admit I surprised myself too. By 6pm I had barricaded the front with a marble top table, arm chair, sofa, and 3 boxes of books. The bucket and rags were by the door incase of an emergency.
Once I had checked off everything on my to do list, to keep calm my friend and I watch a movie to pass the time. We couldn’t watch the movie at a stretch because my best friend calls to say that the looters are now in her neighborhood and can hear gun shots being fired and can see that fires have been lit and smoke rising.

At 6:50 we hear on the news that looters attempted to rob the Cairo Museum, but Egyptians formed a linked arm chain to prevent them from entering and to protect our countries antiquities, artifacts and history. The looters did make it inside by climbing in from the top, they did succeed in damaging artifacts but everything was accounted for. The army has now secured the museum.
Not long after that report a civilian called the news station to inform them that civilians are out in the street defending their homes, because the police no longer exist and the army are under strict instructions not to get involved.
Citizens of Egypt wasted no time in forming neighborhood watches and patrols. Everyone was on high alert and armed with what ever they can find to protect themselves, family and property.

Those are the Egyptians that I came to know when I first moved here in 1991. They would go out of their way to help anyone in distress. The past 5 years those people seemed to have disintegrated, but now they are making a come back.

I look out of my window and see the same scenes that have been described on the TV and by friends. The men of our neighborhood are outside guarding the neighborhood.
I stay up and keep a look out from my flat, with the lights turned off, so that I do not draw attention to myself. Knife close at hand, binoculars around my neck.

1am
The high pitched whistle is sounded, intruders are in the area. Everyone is up and ready. Shouts are heard. Looters are in the neighborhood and very close by. A chase ensues, sticks are clasped in both hands as they run in the direction of where they have been spotted. Shouts ring out that he has taken a side street towards my building. 3 shots next to my building ring out, a mother on the balcony above my flat screams and calls out her sons name. She can’t see him, he isn’t in her line of sight. She calls him on his cell/mobile phone and asks him to come closer to the house, so she can see him.

All is quiet after that…

If you want day by day information of what is going on, follow me on twitter. I am the IrishAlexandria.

Friday 28th of January 2011 (Day 3) From my apartment window that over looks one of the main roads of Cairo; it looks like a typical Friday morning. It’s quiet and there are fewer cars on the road than usual, there are hardly any pedestrians. The scene is reminiscent of when the American President, Barak Obama, came to Cairo in his first term to give his famous speech at El Azhar, but the difference is there is tension in the air. If this had been a typical Friday, people would be cooking up a storm, expecting family for lunch after Friday prayers. Today my building is silent and the smell of garlic being cooked is absent, even the elevator is still. My sister, who had arrived the night before from London, wasn’t as aware of the situation as everyone else. My father who usually prefers to be in denial sensed the urgency to get to Alexandria before Friday prayer. By 8:30 am they had left my house and were making their way back to Alexandria.

Today will be a day that will be forever known as ‘Friday Rage’. Hundreds if not thousands of members of the population across the nation had the intention of preparing to go out in to the streets in peaceful protest to have their voices heard that they want serious and drastic changes made in the country and an end to Mubarak’s 30 year reign. Others like myself are being more cautious and are battening down the hatches and making sure they have enough water, and food to last a couple of days incase things should turn ugly. The government has been keeping a close watch people’s post on twitter, facebook and blogs.

Today they have blocked or for a better word, shut down Internet connection, text messages, and instant chat services on mobile phones (Blackberry Messengers and Whatapp), rumor of land lines, cell phone coverage, water and electricity being cut were circulating across the net before it was shut down at around one am. I have had an un-easy feeling about today, since Wednesday, I have instructed a friend of mine who is Canadian and here alone to come and stay with me for the coming few days. I think it would be better for her to be with someone who speaks the language and knows her way around the city and can tell her exactly what is going on and help her if she needs it.

At 9am I lost mobile connection with my family in Alexandria, so for the time being can only communicate by land line. I found out this had happened from my Mom, she called me on my land line to tell me that she couldn’t get through to me. I still had connection, so I called a few friends and got their land lines, so that I could keep in touch with them during the communication black out.

As I sit here writing this by hand as the call for Friday prayer is being echoed across the loud speakers, my heart is racing and the butterflies in my stomach are flying around like angry wasps. I can’t imagine how those going to Tahrir Square feel.

12:55 I’m in my apartment trying to distract myself. My friend and I are trying to watch a movie but I can’t concentrate or follow it. I’m getting very anxious as the silence of the street grows more deafening and with every minute that ticks by I grow more nervous. Being in the midst of communication black out and not knowing what is happening is driving me nuts. 1:00pm God hear my prayer! Please let the people’s voices be heard without any violence targeted at the people marching. May God watch over and protect the Egyptian people, friends and family. From my apartment window, I see out of uniform officers on the street and two large trucks filled with riot police. The street is eerily quiet with only a couple of people driving away from the down town area.

1:35 My only access to the news is what is happening in BBC. From what we have been told Suez have started the protest and so have Alexandrian, but the Alexandrian protesters have been hit with rubber bullets and tear gas.

1:45 I finally fin Al Jazeera on my T.V. and find live coverage of down town Cairo near the museum Cairo Museum where you can clearly see out of uniform police officers with sticks chasing people trying to beat them, smoke from tear gas that had been fired to disperse the crowds. I continue Al Jazeera English to find out Mohamed El Baradei has been detained/arrested. We hear on the news that protesters have reached the presidential palace; I don’t know how true that is because there was no footage to prove it and they couldn’t have gotten too close because the area is heavily guarded. My street is getting restless, riot police are now out of the trucks and lined across the street completely blocking off traffic. Not long after writing this a convoy of green trucks full of riot police were heading in the direction of the presidential palace.

My sister just called on the land line to say that protestors were on their street, (Fouad Street), in Alexandria and the riot police were firing tear gas and rubber bullets which successfully dispersed the crowd….for now.

3:00pm Al Jazeera (English) correspondent, Ayman Mohy El Din was relaying eye witness accounts that he had seen after he and a few of his colleagues had escaped from the mosque where Dr. M El Baradei had gone for Friday prayer. He said after prayers were over and was attempting to leave the mosque; the riot police used tear gas to prevent the worshipers from taking to the street to take part in the protest. To avoid the sting of the tear gas they had to seek refuge in the mosque. Opposition Figure, Ayman Nour had also gone to prayer at the Fatha Mosque and has been hit with a rock to the back of the head and his son and long with a few others had to get him in to a taxi and admit him in to a hospital and is in intensive care.

3:40 My sister calls on the land line and in the background I can hear guns being fired. Protestors have made it past the barricades and riot police are firing tear gas. It’s coming in to the house and stinging their eyes, nostrils and throats. The wind is working against the police and keeps blowing back on them causing them to feel the affects of the tear gas because they aren’t wearing their masks. The police are pucking their guts up on the side of the road.

4:00 (approx) A group of protesters out smart the riot police by coming behind their barricade and out on to the street of Khalifa El Maamoun opposite the National Guard (Haras El Gumhouri). The protesters were chanting and passed by peacefully, police followed them but further down the road we could hear shots of some kind. We hear on the news that the army has no been dispatched and a curfew of 6pm had been put in place

5:40 I spoke to my sister again and she said that the Muhfza (Governers Office Building) has been set a blaze and that the protesters along with the police, (who have joined the protesters) took out the furniture inside the building and have set fire to it. A bus that belonged to the Suez canal was also torched. She said there’s no sign of a fire truck and rumor has it that the fire station is on fire too. In a matter of hours my family have been affected by tear gas, smoke from a burning building and had to stand by helplessly and watch a building that they have seen every day for 20 years go up in flames.

6pm Tanks are in Cairo. Armed forces dispatched to enforce curfew. Hosni Mubarek is expected to address the nation (it’s about bloody time! He should have done that on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning in my opinion) My parent’s building has lost power; it could be due to the fire.

7pm So much for curfew, people are driving around like its a normal Friday night. So, much for implementing a curfew. An hour since the announcement that the President was going to address the nation and there is still no sign of him. Fifteen minutes later, H.Clinton addresses the press and asks that the security forces practice restraint and stop violence. Same goes for protesters and encourages the government to reform. The U.S also asks the government to life the communication ban.

– My sixth sense is working over time and I’m getting a really bad feeling in my gut. I call my parents and tell them to get important documents and valuables together in case they need to flee. I also fear that there are people who will seize the opportunity to loot, break in to shops and houses. I ask them to barricade the door and for Dad to get his shot guns out and load them for protection. (My warning went through one ear and out the other)

8pm Still no word from the president. There are tanks outside my parent’s home. No new footage or live feed since Clinton spoke. I’m starting to worry. In times like these, now news isn’t a good sign. Sounds of ambulances passing and occasional loud booming sounds, but done know where they are coming from or what it is.

9pm 3 hours since we heard Mubarak was going to address the nation and there is still no sighting. He seems to have disappeared along with cell phone coverage and the internet. Now new live feed either.

10pm Still no live feed and no sign of Egypt’s president.

11 pm Finally! Live footage. Oh! Crap, the police have with drawn. I have no idea what is going to happen now, but I don’t think it’s going to be good. I decided to barricade my front door My friend has gone to bed I’m staying up by the phone in case her family calls and I’m keeping the TV on. There is still no sign of the president. With every minute and hour that passes I’m sure he is making everyone really angry. News reports that many influential businessmen have fled the country on a private jet…that doesn’t surprise; I’m surprised they waited till today. I expected them to leave yesterday before the shit hit the fan.

3 am OH CRAP!! I fell asleep and missed the speech. Who address the nation at 12:30am??? Mubarak is refusing to step down; he says change should come from dialogue. So, how do people do that if you shut down communication and imprison people for speaking their mind and against you? We still have no cell phone coverage or net. I smell a rat! The 3 police vans that had bee on my street are no longer there. My street no longer has protection that I can see. That National Guard (military) in front of my house looks abandoned. There are no guards, guarding the entrance. The wind has picked up and is howling in disbelief at Mubarak’s speech. I think Saturday is going to be a very tough and stressful day for many. .

As I mentioned in my previous post, there is too much going on for me to go in to great detail, so I am posting the e-mails that I am sending to family and friends abroad with the summary of what is going on.

If you want to follow-up to the minute updates, i suggest you get on to twitter or get an account. To follow the events of what is going on in Egypt, do a search for Jan25, it will give you all the latest updates of what is going on, on the ground, pictures, web sites to see videos. Please retweet information that is confirmed and reliable for people on the ground.

I have been following reporter ianinegypt and benwedemen from CNN on twitter, they are very reliable.

There is a very high possibility that lines of communication will be cut, facebook, twitter, Blackberry messenger, phone lines and internet maybe down. If you hear nothing from Egypt tomorrow, the action will speak for itself.

Last night was a long night in Cairo and Egypt.
Protests across the nation took place.
In Cairo there were several protests in different places.
In comparison to Tuesday, Wednesday was a louder cry and the police
were a lot tougher than they were before.
As one CNN reporter said, ‘NO RESTRAINT’ was being used.
100s of protesters were detained and some are still missing. 6 deaths in total.
The area that was the worst was Suez. It got out of control, police
station was burned as well as another government building.

Thursday (today) has been a quiet day, thus far.
People took the day to sleep, rest and stock up on supplies.

Others have purchased another mobile line, bought extra phone
batteries, gas masks and a few other necessities.
Instruction on putting a locator (GPS) on your phone, so that your
family and friends know where you are at all times have been
circulating in case of being arrested, so that people know where you are being held.
Other instructions are how to behave during the march.

A warning went out earlier this morning that Blackberry messenger
would be suspended, and this came true not too long ago.
Twitter is also down at the moment. Facebook is down.

*Blackberry Messenger and twitter are back up and running on Blackberrys. (for now)

Mohamed El Baradei is returning from Europe today, to join the
Egyptian people in the March scheduled after Friday Prayers tomorrow
at around 1pm Cairo local time.

Another strong rumour circulating is that shops have been instructed
to close tomorrow and mosques have been told/warned to suspend
Friday prayers. I have just come back from getting some extra
groceries, just in case the rumour is true. I will go out and get
batteries, candles, flash light and a box of water shortly.
(I could be over doing it, but I’d rather be prepared). All of this
brings back memories of drills in Saudi Arabia during the 1st Gulf
War.

I am expecting more actions will be taken to limit civilians
communication with one another.

Everyone is being encouraged to take part in the march. I would love
to join, but I know my parents would be worrying themselves in to an
early grave and it just isn’t worth it.
Secondly…with the way things are currently going in Suez, I suspect
things might turn ugly here. I’d rather be some where away from tear
gas, bullets and the risk of being beaten.
From here, I can communicate with people inside and outside of the country.

I will try to keep you all updated on my well-being 

Much love,