By Hermes Solomon
THE SWALLOWS have flown north in search of food – too damn hot here and the few remaining insects refuse to rise into scorching skies, preferring to remain at ground level and in the shade.
Our apartment building is suddenly scourged by cockroaches. No, our flat is spotless, but they seem to be climbing to all floors via the drains, waste water pipes and rainwater downpipes. We have set traps and caught loads but the suicide trail continues.
Scrawny cats and kittens litter the courtyard, fed by pet loving poorer pensioners with nothing better to do, and a dozen neighbourhood dogs trapped in gardens, unloved and unattended, bark a dawn and dusk chorus daily – woefully.
The local building sites in Nicosia are at a standstill and traffic noise has reduced noticeably ever since capital controls were put in place last March. Three of my best friends have lost their jobs and are now stealing what they can from their places of work before they receive their final ‘reduced’ wage packets, redundancy and holiday pay.
The roads are falling into a state of disrepair and are beginning to resemble tracks with potholes the size of footballs; the worst stretch being from the American Embassy to the Ministry of Health Yiorkio building on Metocchio – Bishop’s Avenue I call it!
Rubbish collects, windswept and ignored, everywhere. Citizens go about what business is left and the general malaise worsens. Fear for one’s job security has been replaced by resignation as spending has been reduced to buying and paying for mere essentials.
The beaches are packed and the restaurants empty. Sun-seekers bring their food, mats and umbrellas. Fishermen no longer fish in waters as barren as the job market.
The district courts are overloaded and lawyers only take cases paid up-front; too many lawyers, too much work and too few payers, a recipe for injustice.
Our public health service is in ruins. Private sector doctors might as well take sabbaticals as public health doctors suffer under the strain of reduced incomes and ever longer queues; a new medical school will only further deplete what’s left of government funds.
For many the situation is growing desperate. Families that survived on state hand-outs are forever complaining about welfare cuts on afternoon TV shows, their five kids starving, unemployed ex-husbands moving back in and mum begging presenters for help. The presenters take mum’s telephone number and make promises they can’t and have no intention of keeping. It’s called buttering the masses and getting paid for it!
Plight is right! Or so we thought until this government came to power and signed away right. We are at the mercy of the heartless troika the government says. And they do nothing to ameliorate the desperation.
It’s going to get a lot worse. But hang on in there. Revolution is rumbling. Not just in Turkey or Brazil, but everywhere. It is rumoured that our chief of police expects riots to begin as soon as the heat subsides – that means middle/end of September – a Cypriot autumn, not an Arab spring.
Port Fuad is in north-eastern Egypt under the jurisdiction of Port Said Governorate, located across the Suez Canal from Port Said. It forms the north western most part of the Sinai Peninsula and has a population of 600,000.
Port Fuad is known for boat building – by hand – anything from a small fishing craft to a 30 metre yacht. Labour costs are disgracefully cheap – a little more than a bowl of rice. There is some or no sanitation – no public health service, no dustbins, rubbish is tipped outside in piles; the standard of living of the average boat-builder is worth dying for.
A multi-millionaire friend has ordered a yacht – another one – and he has chosen a boat-builder in Port Fuad to build it. It has a single piece of eucalyptus 30 metres long by 80 centimetres square – a straight tree trunk – shaped as its keel. The rest of the boat is built using central African mahogany. It will cost a million and be sold for two. All parts are cut and shaped by hand using an adze – do you know what an adze is? It’s a curved chisel like axe blade with either a long or short staff, first employed during the time of the Pharaohs.
The boat builders tell my multi-millionaire friend that times were better under Mubarak. Who to believe – CNN, the BBC or Port Fuad boat builders?
We know times here were better under Christofias. But he wasn’t a boat-builder. He was a boat-burner. How long will it be before we regret his loss?
By Hermes Solomon