Was in Cairo last week. Quite a nice city. Was surprised to find that the quality of infrastructure is much higher than in Indian cities. No phat-phati autos and hardly any two wheelers for example. Beautiful Nile flows through the city and is remarkably clean. No one washing their clothes or themselves in the river. Instead, you find boat shaped restaurants, some moored and some which actually go on a two-hour cruise and you can have dinner on the deck with dance and music and cool breeze from the river. Not surprisingly, most of the city's elite hang out near these restaurants.
This is not to say that it is on par with first world cities or anything. It is very much a third world city - roadside hawkers, pedestrians crossing roads even as vehicles are moving, reckless driving, honking and so on. But still, it is definitely better than any of Indian cities. The 3 km long al Azhar tunnel bang in the middle of the city linking downtown Cairo with the expressway that goes to airport is something I haven't seen in any Indian city. Or the ultra-posh Grand Hyatt which makes Bangalore's Leela look like a Patel Motel. There is a 10-floor mall, with restaurants, shops and a multiplex, all inside the hotel.
Another pleasant surprise I came across in Cairo, though nothing to do with Cairo or Egypt itself, was Al Jazeera English news channel. For someone jaded with IBN's and NDTV's, Al Jazeera was indeed like a refreshing breeze of professional, balanced and most importantly low-key news reporting. In their nightly 9 o' clock news for example, they only report news! No opinionating, no breaking into a panel discussion on a news item, nothing. Just an anchor and on the spot reporters. We don't have a Rajdeep telling us whether a judgment was harsh or mild, no anchor "hoping" that government takes this or that action, etc. Just report news as it happened. What a novel concept! Even their panel discussion programs are quite muted (and to think it is an Arab channel!), give plenty of time to panelists to air their views and again the moderator doesn't seem to have an opinion of his or her own. Quite a contrast from the Indian news channels where you can easily tell by their tone of questioning which side of the issue they are usually on. Here's a suggestion to Rajdeep and Prannoy: shut down your channels for a month, hole yourselves and your key editorial staff up in a hotel room and watch Al Jazeera non-stop. If that doesn't change your approach to news reporting, nothing will and you might as well look for alternate careers.
Hmm... what else has been happening. Oh, the Test match. BCCI Bozos vs ECB Idiots. One team bowls head-high beamers and the other throws peppermints on pitch. What drama, what emotions! To top it, I heard that ESPN made half an hour program on just one incorrect lbw decision! In that case, I hope Taufel got a cut out of the ad revenues ESPN made from that show.