So I pretty rarely go out lately, but I was home after work yesterday, and I got a text from Nicole about one of Charles's drinks outings on the Strand. And I thought Hey, this is a festive day, I should go out and drink and see people and celebrate. So I pulled the Egyptian flag and the picture of this amazing dude off my protest poster, pinned 'em to the back of my coat, and off I went!
And but there I was in the alley alongside The Coal Hole, when I got another text, this time from Anna. She was out with her law school colleagues and one of them, a nascent human rights lawyer, had hustled them all off to . . . the Edgeware Road.
If you didn't know, and you probably don't if you don't live here, Edgeware Road swarming with Lebanese restaurants, shisha cafes, Arabic-themed nightclubs, all-night kebab and shawarma joints, and sometimes known as Little Cairo or Little Beirut is said to be "after Damascus, Medina and Mecca, probably the most Islamic place on the planet." I've also heard it called the cultural, political, and media capital . . . of the Middle East.
I mean, seriously: how could we have not been on the Edgeware Road on this night??!! When I arrived, the College of Law team had scored an outdoor table at the cafe directly across the street from the main celebration. After checking in, I crossed the street and plunged in.
What an amazing privilege to get to be with Egyptians (and Londoners) on their night of national liberation.
In case you missed it live, here is the exact big moment (that Mubarak stepped down) and the reaction in Tahrir Square.
And here are two absolutely enormous additional reasons for hope after yesterday:
Finally, the New York Times deserves a ton of credit for their coverage. Like the Obama Adminstration, they were a little slow to get in the spirit. But once they did, they've been awesome. We've particularly appreciated Nicholas Kristof's exuberant live coverage from Liberation Square; and the great human tidbits from their front page stories. Here are a few more great such ones from today.
Stunning End to Mubarak Regime Puts Nation on Uncharted Ground
"The sun will rise on a more beautiful Egypt," one protester said. Or, as a joke traded by cellphone on Friday put it: "From Tahrir Square to our brothers in fellow countries … is there anyone who has a president bothering them?"
The beginning was as stunning a moment as the Arab world has witnessed, written in the smallest acts of citizenship and the grandest gestures of defiance. From the first day, Tahrir Square represented a model of people seizing the initiative from a hapless government, be it cleaning the streets or running their own security. The very acts seemed an antidote to decades of autocracy, stagnation and festering resentment over their own powerlessness. "We've discovered ourselves," said one of the organizers, Wael Khalil.
Perhaps the most lasting legacy of Egypt's revolution, though, will prove its most intangible: a sense of pride.
Democracy was the cry on Friday in Tahrir Square, a way to rejuvenation, even as some acknowledged that the unity that created one of the most remarkable tableaus in Egyptian history could splinter as it faces a transition that remained opaque.
"I'm dead scared," said Yasmine Gharabli, a protester in the square, punctuated by cries for civilian, not military government. "I can't believe the power of the people but we have to work so hard now and make sure it goes the way we want it to go."
One leader had fallen, but some worried about a military that sought to claim the mantle of the revolution even as it remained a bulwark of the old order. Asked what they would do if it imposed its own brand of rule, Ahmed Sleem, an organizer with an opposition group led by Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate, said simply, "We know the way to Tahrir Square."
Another reason I'm in love with the Egyptians: awesome sense of humour. That's lovable.