A basic pattern in most developing countries
12.11.2010 26 °C
I have a theory that says most developing countries run on the basic pattern of "Organized Chaos". This is quite simple really, in a developing country there are usually problems with regards to infrastructure, lack of resources and population. This makes people more competitive because they have to struggle a lot harder than people living in developed countries for basic needs. Often times, something so simple such as getting an internet connection, a sim card for your cell phone or electricty can be quite a challenge...having lived in the US for the last 10 years I've become a little spoiled with regards to taking these things for granted.
Being able to pay your bills online, calling taxis from a number found on a website, ordering food/electronics/magazines online etc make life so much easier, so why is it that these things aren't in place everywhere in the world? A lot of factors are to be blamed here, when a government is efficient in it's governance, it smooths out the basic processes in life - for example, having a good metro system with easy ways to buy or cancel tickets, make reservations will make things simpler for the people. When everyday living becomes a simple process, the people of that country can then focus their efforts on being more productive - improving their business, being more efficient at work, sending their kids to school etc. If it's a struggle to get to work everyday because of traffic jams/water logged streets/bad roads, it normally means your workforce is already mentally drained by the time they reach work. This is a serious long term problem that needs to be tackled now, this is not easy obviously given that corrupt and tangled procedures that have been established for generations will take much longer to untwine.
Anyway, today I tried to visit the Black and White desert at the El Bahariya Oasis. This is when Cairo's true colours came out, it was supposed to be an organized tour so I woke up at 5am and went to the place, after getting there the bus tickets weren't booked by the organizer so they asked if we would like to stand through the journey (6hrs one way). When our party refused there was some commotion, we were then taken to a mini bus terminus near the outskirts of the city. It was a double downgrade of koyambedu (a bus stand in Chennai, Tamil Nadu). It's amazing to see how similar Chennai is to Cairo in a lot of ways, then again most developing countries share similar problems which I've talked about earlier. Anyway I decided to pull out of the tour because that was more than enough excitement for a day for me, I took the metro (train) on the way back and that was not too bad really. It's a decent system, obviously not as advanced as NYC/London but way better than Houston Plus a one way ticket costs 1LE, on the other hand the taxi drivers charge 30-50 LE to go anywhere unless you can bargain quite well. Oh and I should probably mention that I was quite impressed by the way people buy train tickets here. There's an employee who sits behind a counter, everyone walks up to him and randomly shoves money into the slot...sometimes multiple people do this at once and the employee determines who gave what amount and how much change they should receive in return. All this happens in a matter of seconds, quite interesting that the system works - once again, organized chaos at it's very best. Much like driving on the streets in most developing countries, everyone just drives and finds their way home...there are no lane systems or speed limits.
Also, I'm still fighting to get a sim card here so I can have my own number. I bought a vodafone sim card and a recharge pack for it but for some convoluted reason no one knows why it doesn't work. I'm going back to the store again for the 3rd time tomorrow to get this fixed. There's no wifi in the apartment either, everyone here buys those usb sticks that you stick into your computer to access the internet. I finally got a vodafone usb stick that took about 2 hours of waiting at the shop to get everything set up. Finally, I'm trying to gather info on places to vist/see while I'm here and local people say Abu Simbel, Luxor, Alexandria and Aswan are good places to visit. To put things in perspective distance wise, it takes 10-12 hrs to travel by train from Cairo to Luxor (night train is obviously the better choice), Abu simbel is further south of Cairo so that will take longer. You can travel by plane as well which is faster, however ticket prices are quite different (Plane=$285, Train=$15, see this website for more info: http://www.ask-aladdin.com/luxor_travel__information.htm). Ok then, I guess that's it for now. I'll write more later when I get a chance.
Thanks for reading...this is sandeep signing out!