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Diseases and displease

The Big Kahuna is ill

Something I caught in a taxi ride en route to interviewing a chef for my second column. But the detour left me frazzled.


Watch out for that puddle, yasta.

That kid running from behind the bus, don’t hit him. No, hit him. Wait . he stopped. No, he started again, and the microbus is going to hit him. Okay, he made it safely to the other side.

Car grinds to a halt. I check my watch, am already late, but that’s okay, we keep African time here. Make an appointment for 6 p.m.; show up at 7:30.

Iz-zahma, blame it on the traffic.

What’s happened to our maiden city? You know you are in trouble when even the drivers and cabbies complain about the traffic.

“It’s never been like this, said Hamza, my odd-dialect-speaking taxi driver.

“Have the people all gone crazy?

“No, I have, I said to no one in particular.

I instructed the driver to take me back home; I was not about to spend 90 precious minutes stuck in traffic inhaling the wonderful ambience of downtown Cairo.

I headed back to Maadi, rang up my shrink (because they shrink the size of your head by removing all the excess carbon monoxide from your nostrils), and ran over to his office.

My shrink, Dr. Sherlock Hommous of Maadi, was also an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

I know what your problem is, he said almost immediately.

It s a disease common to many people in Cairo – we, in the medical profession, call it hornititis.

I want to take this moment to assure the reader that my hormones are intact and carefully monitored. I am wary of every look I give . er, the gentler sex.

No, you fool, he said reading my mind. It has nothing to do with your hormones or your, ahem, preferences.

And therein I learned of a modern-day disease that is very particular to Cairo; hornititis is an ailment that afflicts tens of thousands every year, particularly those who ride to and fro through the more congested streets of Cairo.

Symptoms include headache, nausea, irritability and nervousness. People with advanced cases of hornititis are prone to shaking, anger, swearing and . leakage.

Hornititis, as defined by the Human Ear Lobe Presidium – HELP, for short – is brought on by the constant honking of horns during traffic.

This past Ramadan, Cairo officials marked an incredible increase in the number of drivers honking the horn incessantly. In some remarkable cases, drivers would use the horn even when no pedestrians or vehicles were in their way.

Hornititis-A affects those who pound their horns often without knowing why and are predisposed to this freakish, yet inexplicable force of habit.

Hornititis-B affects those who want to pound those who pound their horns, also often without any self-control.

I listened to Sherlock Hommous and felt an incredible fear overcome me. Would I ever venture downtown again?

Hornititis is spreading and it seems the government has put together a task force to combat it, but they have no idea as of yet, he explained.

No surprise there.

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