Saturday, November 8, 2008

Choosing to embrace the hype

One of my oldest friends and her boyfriend are currently visiting. They are New Yorkers and thrilled (and relieved) beyond words with the results of the recent election.

We've been playing tour guide and taking them to all the must-see spots in our beloved new home town. While taking photos at Coptic Cairo the other day, as usual, passersby who hear our guests' accents want to know:


An enthusiastic Robert: "Yes! America!"

Little kid gives him a thumbs up: "Obama!"

And then Robert nearly does a jig for happiness and I think he's going to hug the kid. But instead, he gives a thumbs up: "Obama." He sighs a contented sigh. And gives the kid an even bigger smile. And then he proceeds to buy a handful of the papyrus book marks the kid was hawking for one crisp greenback.

My friend Stephanie just shakes her head and laughs: "You don't understand. This is the first time in years that we have traveled abroad and are proud to tell people we're American."

Since then, Robert has been greeting anyone who makes eye contact (and for those who know Cairo - that is no small number of people) with a peppy: "O-Bama" He's even developed hand gestures/ makeshift sign language to go with it. In case they don't get what he is trying to communicate. Normally, I would worry about my hulking 6 foot something American guest getting into peoples' faces but 9 times out of 10, he's met with an enthusiastic smile in return and a "yes yes, Obama -- Mabrook" (congratulations).

Seems the whole world has Obama fever. We even stayed up all night watching the coverage while the Canadian election came and went without us giving it a second glance. And I will admit that I could feel a little lump rising in my throat with every "Yes we can" in Obama's victory address.

But I also wrote political speeches by the dozen in my last job, so I am not drinking the whole jug of kool-aid...

There is, however, something catchy about the shift in mood, the optimism and the hope. And in honour of that, I am choosing to silence my inner cynic -- the one that questions how much a new American president is really going to change the state of the world -- and getting on board.

So to our American neighbours, I say: Mabrook! May your new president live up to the hype.

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