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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Social Segreggation

I was reading a while ago the novel "3omaret Ya3kobian" Yakobian's Building. In it, the author describes tennants of this famous building that exists in down town Cairo. He tried to give us a small display of all different types of people in the society, the rich, the poor, the ladies' man, the politician, the merchant.. etc. I did not like the fact that almost all of these portraits are not really the normal, or at least accepted, the average Joes were not here at all. I guess he thought they would not make interesting stories, but this one guy Taha, the only one who seemed like a hard working ethical religous character in the story, he turned him into a terrorist at the end! Didn't like the implication, but that is not what grabs me here.

the story talked about how he is so proud, and maintains his dignity, even though he is the son of the doorman. In its own, the doorman job is honorable and there is nothing shameful about it, but the society unfortunately imposes a social segreggation, as if making them into different people. this is not Islamic in any sort.

The guy Taha talks about how when he went to college for the first time, was in awe of all the different people, and how poeple were almost immediately divided into different groups according to social or financial standards. A metaphor he used that i liked: Like oil and water so clearly separate, so did the different social standards. they do not intermingle at all.

When i read this, i remembered my days in college, and yes this so did happen. But i don't recall consciously deciding not to mingle with this or that, it just happened natuarally somehow, did not think of it as segreggation, but now that i am working, it is much less pronounced, people mature a bit i guess, and realize we are all the same more or less, I can mingle with anyone as long as they are decent and polite.

But i had never looked at it from the point of view of the others, the ones of a less prestigous standard may i call it? It was described that Taha was terrified of talking to anyone lest they would ask him what his father does, and he has to lie, or appear inadequate. Insecurity led him to stay away from the social life. then he found solace in this guy whose socks he noticed had patches and holes. He thought this guy is even poorer than me, and that is why he was able to be a friend with him. I felt bad, I sincerely hope this is not the true case, that no one fears talking to others because they feel being of a lower financial standard or social is something to be ashamed of. I would understand that they would feel more comfortable because they would have more in common, they have the same ideas, would like to do the same things for fun for example, but not for shame as portrayed in this novel.

And yet, I know it can be true, the society is a harsh and cruel critic and judge. And is so unfair sometimes. And it is so unfair, no one is better than anyone else, except through their deeds and heart. What anyone is given in life is just his luck, doesn't mean he diserves it. Wish people would take the time to talk to others, even the ones that they know are "not their type", just to remove this segreggation thing. And it would create love and harmony through society.


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