Monday, July 26, 2010

One Good Thing About Music, When It Hits You Feel No Pain

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My Microsoft Zune mp3 player took it's millionth and final fatal fall this week (I ditched my Ipod for a Zune last year). When it initially fell, I just picked it up and kept walking, unperturbed. Later on, when I got on the bus and tried to listen to a NPR podcast, the screen read 'unavailable'. I tried another podcast and several songs thereafter and received the same message over and over again! I tried turning it off and then back on only to be met with the 3 most devastating words you can encounter when you're abroad: "Contact Customer Support". I kept walking around the empty house and singing to myself in the absence of music and hoping to resurrect my Zune somehow, "One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain..." 



In an instant a music collection that spanned 1500+ songs and 5 years, and dozens of podcasts from the NPR to DJ Divsa, was rendered silent. To me, music is as expression of emotions, a reflection of events, and a source of solace or joy. You can always tell how I'm feeling by the type of music I'm listening to at the moment. I had playlists that comforted me during some of the most difficult times in my life, energized me before a night out on the town, motivated me during a workout session at the gym, sang hushed lullabies to me as I slept, provided that necessary bit or romance to set the mood, etc. My music had no regard for genre, age, or language barrier. Most importantly, however, I used my Zune to block out the harrasment on the street in Cairo. It provided the perfect distraction to render the loudest and most ignorant street harasser into a comical pantomime. Sometimes I walked around the city with my music on just to view the contrasting sights through the lyrics of artists like Norah Jones and Immortal Technique.


I realized a few days before my Zune's death that both my roommates would be returning to the U.S. this past weekend. Everyone else I know has left already or is leaving Cairo as fast as they can during the 1st week of August while I'll still be here a few more weeks after that. Although, I was saddened at the thought of being in Cairo (alone), I was surprised to realize it was my Zune's death that really made me feel vulnerable and anxious to leave. It rendered my world silent and in that silence I was reminded of all the things I wanted to block out. Suddenly, I wanted to go home and complete in the U.S. whatever I hadn't already finished here. It seemed to me that there were pressing matters that needed to be attended to and I could only to get my life back in order State-side. After several frantic, spur of the moment calls to Continental Airlines, reassessments of my time table and goals, and lengthy debates with myself, however, I've decided to stay in Cairo the allotted time...unless Continental does find a seat available on an upcoming flight then DUECES . Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name..and they're always glad you came.


On a side note, I want to lend my full support to the activist dedicated to the passing on the Dream Act, a proposed legislation in the U.S. Congress that would offer immigrant students in the U.S. without residency status a conditional permanent residency status and the opportunity to get a college degree. Education is a right, not a privilege.

2 comments:

The Observant Cairene said...

It is interesting to see how a foreigner lives in Cairo, but even more so when other factors are involved. Living in Cairo myself for the last ten years, I could relate to some of the issues, but I am ultimately a native Egyptian that just wasn't living here before then. Too bad about your Zune, I always preferred CD players, but they bust just as often.

Shannon said...

Ewww, I'm so sorry to hear about your Zune. Music gives me the same feeling so I completely understand feeling vulnerable when you don't have any tunes. However, I think not having the music will force you to create your own sounds for the city. You might see something you missed before that way.

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