|A Tale of Trash/street children and wishes
||[Oct. 4th, 2006|01:51 am]
Have just dumped a pot of old carkaday (Don't know English word for this) out of the shutters into the back common "dumping area" for garbage. It is acceptable-although it is bad manners to throw it out the front windows. I used to think this was barbaric. What has happened? The rules change, and slowly, without realizing it, one begins to adapt to these customs and they become "normal." or "normal". (depending on which grammar rules apply-here interchangable)
A Tale of Trash: Here is the story of the hierachy of trash in my world:
First: the semi-offical trash man knocks on the door and collects trash. He gets first choice and is paid 5LE a month or less than onedollareUS.
Second: Before the first choice person comes, the man passing on his donkey cart, calls out for trash (obviously in Arabic)-at this point, he can get "good trash"-this means plastic bottles, broken furniture, broken cups, empty jars, etc.-plastic is always reused-so most people keep plastic bottles and fill with water-as water supply may shut off, or water may come in brownish. This person is in direct competition with the regular trash collector.
Third: the kids who carry trash in rice bags. They appear to be hired by someone? They carry opened large (you would not see these bags in West) ricebags and hold these by ropes which they carry hung onto their backs-the ropes rest against the upper forehead.
Fourth: the kids who collect trash from the infrequent "dumpster area"-which in the best case means, a large container with trash in and scattered across sidewalk and into street in an area of approx. eight-10 meters-often much more. They pick through the trash, after the others.
Fifth: the cats, at any given time, at least 10 cats are going through the trash. They are not very friendly, and are more agressive than the dogs.
Sixth: the feral dogs-groups of dogs then go through the trash-very meekly and in small groups. They are considered religiously "haram"-and if one touches you-that would be ANY dog, one is not allowed to pray until the garment is washed seven times-in some opinion-or one time, and then cleaned 6 more times in some other manner. Dogs are not allowed in the house as a house with a dog is a house without angels...dogs are well-hated here, and, even in packs, docile and abused with rocks. If one were to pray without this washing, then full ritual cleansing, one's prayers are not accepted. These would be the normal teaching which I have been exposed to, although, perhaps these are not the norm-I have no basis for comparision....
So, having thrown out a pot of cooking "teas" from window, I have become "different." I always hear the falling trash from the back windows-it used to disturb me-now, I have just learned that I must close these shutters-of course, no one has screens-so falling trash from upstairs does not ruin the clothing...there are no closets built-in like in the States.
Once upon a time, I remember that there were fines for "littering"-there is no such thing as littering here. Actually, if there were garbage disposals, many kids and animals would not eat-I am not in any way being sarcastic-I wish I were. There is no public food help-that's just not even imaginable here-some places do give away bread-and there are lines.....The worst of it is the children who beg outside of McDonald's (a high-class expensive resturant here-with doorman always)-staff come out and threaten these kids-or even hit them-again "normal" here-I think some people save something for these kids-I do-anyway, before I gave up meat-I would save something for the kids...thn they save some of it, or it goes back into these areas where there are twisting dirt "alleys" and hut-like homes and probably is re-sold in another form.
Without medical care, government aid, labour laws,mandatory schooling (impossible), innoculations-or even clean drinking water-everyone is on the hustle, just to eat. These areas are called-roughly from Arabic slang"-the snake streets, due to their winding, inassessability to outsiders, walls and deadends. These areas are then divided into Muslim and Christian areas. There is no comparision to any place I have seen in the US-including Appalacian and the worst inner city areas. Military police (always with their careless automatics) stay outside these areas, but really never enter-the people who live here are shrewd survivors-and most amazingly, will share their meal with you.
I know people in the snake alleys. They are decent, on the hustle-but at least, they are exactly what they appear to be. A refreshing change-everyone else is wearing a mask. I am posting again if able-as Ramadan means no privacy and no decent connections..spelling errors and typos all stand proudly in error.......over and out..sh