Before moving to Cairo I was cocky: Cairo and Egypt are virgin territory on the cyberspace running map but whatever the reason it wouldn’t stop me. Then I moved to Cairo and reality hit. But I discovered Wadi Degla and thought that would save my ass. It didn’t. I have to admit defeat. The wadis are really nice, but they require a substantial taxi ride. And I really dislike Egypt cabs…..
This post is not only about running so hang in there….
I tried city running, I really tried but despite my intentions I ended up with one, yes, one route only. I have already written about the Gezira club but my musing left out that its existence saved me. A threeK jog from my front door and then multiple rounds on its twoK sandy track sounds boring but my monkey mind seems to like it a lot. Current temps allow me half marathon plus distances without drinking stops, and quite a lot of my posts are drafted on this track. I love leaving road surface and in a weird way the familiarity of every corner of the route makes the running easier. Don’t ask why. Have a look at the club from a quadcopter perspective and admire Cairo by night.
Now, let’s move from the running back to the musings. And let’s make a quick stop at the music because I nearly always run with music around the track. Admitting the sounds takes the mind off the movement. Movement with the mind engaged elsewhere often becomes much more smooth.
And from the music I often wander into thoughts about stuff I just read. The result might be a post like this. This is what occupied me on my last couple of rounds: read an interview with a photographer, Jimmy Nelson, who documented 35 tribal peoples before they pass away. I’m not much impressed with the project. Way too much discovery channel like self promotion, and plain bullshit. To disagree with me: check his website and have a look at the film. A good bullshit detector is to check on places, subjects or people that one knows well, or at least better than your average media consumer. He’s included Mustang (Nepal), the location of one of my friend Richard’s multi-stage trail races. True: spectacular landscape and interesting culturally, but hardly untouched and disconnected from the rest of the globe.
Nevertheless, Mr. Nelson made an observation in the interview that made me think. In answer to the question What these people have that we have lost he said: Individuality. The people I photographed are very proud about who they are. No one tells them who they have to be. We have forgotten how we have to live. We are too busy with the lives of others. The Western world is homogenizing at every level.
A nice example of the kinds of perspectival shifts that I recently wrote about (isn’t the stereotype that we are the individualists and tribal peoples the collectivists?). What struck me in this was less the shift itself than the realization that it made me aware of the Halo effect. People doing projects that I don’t appreciate are just not supposed to say things that give me a fresh look at the world. One of the many cognitive biases that I and we all (yes, you too) are subject to all the time. I’ll end with another example, but then in reverse: a famous Dutch book designer whose work I like a lot but whose explanations of her work just don’t do it for me at all. If anything they make me cringe.