No near death experience here. No “life flashing in front of my eyes” film roll. Sorry.
In fact, as I lost control of the steering wheel and the car flew across the road, head first into the bridge’s railing, I realise I was rather stoically thinking: “Oh. Brakes are not responding. How unusual”. Followed by an equally stoic “I wonder how this will end”. And even “oooh how interesting, that metal fence is digging int the car rather fiercely”.
Then a handful of ridiculous thoughts, of the kind “my Manu Chao disc is stuck in the CD player! Oh no, how will I get it out!”
So no big epiphanies pour moi, sorry to disappoint. In consolation though, two rather interesting things I noticed on the spot:
– You do think about God in time of crisis. Whether it’s hardwired in us due to a religious upbringing or whether we’re desperately seeking help, God was in my thoughts. It was an interesting realisation.
– Realizing that ‘that special someone’ whom you’re supposed to share your best and worst moments with isn’t the first person you call. Actually, she’s nowhere in the top five.
Seems like I have a phone call to make…
Now we blog about far less important things than an actual life-threatening event, so do indulge me for writing about my car accident. The basics are simple – late at night, October bridge in Cairo, speeding car sends me crashing. Car is totalled. I, apparently, am not. A number of muscle tears and other injuries here and there, and a few bruises.
Other dissociated remarks that go in bullet points:
– Although my car was sent crashing against a fence by some douchebag, as the police report supports, the Government is actually suing ME. For damaging state property (which is the said fence).
And that will mean that I’ll either have to stand in court, or go to the municipality and reach a financial agreement of sorts. I haven’t made up my mind which road I’ll go yet. For the time being, I’m giggling at the thought of being the “accused”. Tempted to respond with a Mubz’ “afandem, ana mawgood“.
– There are some really good people out there. One guy I had never met – Mohamed Samir, he works in an advertising agency called “Brands”, if you know him buy him a drink and if you don’t, hire him – spent nearly 4 hours with me, from 4 to 8 AM, helping out. Out of pure kindness.
– The police officers at the station were bureaucratic and narrow-minded – but some were nice and friendly, unexpectedly.
– The visit at the public prosecutor (since I am, as you know, accused of damaging the fence) was interesting. Bureaucratic mostly. It took them about 2.5 hours since the beginning of the workday to start seeing the accused. Not sure what they had been doing in the meantime.
And I did go to the Prosecutor’s office on the very day of the accident. The police insisted. I’m lucky they didn’t put me in jail in the meantime but allowed me to sit quietly on the police station benches. Injured, exhausted – whatever. I was actually up and shuttling between offices for 12 hours after the car crash before I went home. Sounds ludicrous? It is.
– While at the prosecutor’s office, I chatted with my fellow accused – a dozen people or so in this district. Charges range from possession of weapons to drugs. To hustling/begging.
– My favourite fellow accused is a very funny woman who’s been arrested, she says, “25 times or so”. In her 30s. Sincere, but heartbroken, and hardened smile. Snickering at the thought of having a lawyer, she answered “I don’t need anybody here. It’s my second home here!” (dana sa7bet beit!)
[I saw her at the same police station a few days later. A police assistant claims she’s a prostitute].
– Speaking of lawyers, a few of those vultures actually wait for the accused at the Prosecution office to offer their services. Sometimes however they attempt to intimidate the accused, and their families, into hiring them.
So I found myself – me, the new kid – calming a woman who had been sent into a frightened breakdown by an unscrupulous lawyer who scared her a little too much.
As if I had any idea what we were supposed to expect outside of our waiting ‘room’ – which was really the floor landing where four seats, two of which with no cushion, had been placed. Past the doors was the land of the men-who-wear-suits-and-arrive-late-at-work, and God knows what awaits there.
– The next day I went to a private (and definitely not cheap) hospital in Heliopolis, the Cleopatra Hospital, where I saw a hack of a doctor called Alaa something in the outpatient clinic (not in the emergency room).
It was dreadful. In the space of 4 hours, the “doctor” saw 73 patients. That’s less than 4 minutes per person. How much care does this doctor give every patient? The man checked me STANDING. My chest, my knee. Even my ankle. Ever seen a doctor check a patient’s ankle while the patient is standing? I had to nearly yell to have him check me while I sat on a chair.
– I recovered my red telephone-booth-keychain today, as I retrieved the car from the police impound. I’m delighted.
– I’m recovering well, thank you very much!