THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER reprinted an article by Jeffrey Fleishman which originally appeared in the "Los Angeles Times" regarding Mohamed Sadek, also known as Felfel, who has worked as a waiter at Cairo's "Cafe Riche" since 1943. He began his career there as a 13-year-old newly arrived in Cairo from the Sudan. The quite interesting account details how the "Cafe Riche" was a meeting place for prominent figures in Egyptian history, including Nasser and Mubarak. But, among these interesting facts, one little item about Felfel himself caught my attention: "The downtown Cairo designed to resemble Europe slipped into disrepair and the poor built brick shacks on the desert outskirts. Felfel raised his children, four daughters and two sons. One year replacing the next."
How on earth could a simple waiter scrape together the money to have and raise six children? It seems fantastic now. But, then, I can recall back in the late 1950s when a young man could graduate from high school and , having no other training, go into a factory and earn enough money to have a family, buy a house, all the while that his wife stayed at home. Such an accomplishment is impossible now even for the typical college graduate. It makes one wonder how we measure standards of living. Even more questionable becomes the placid assumption that today's living standards are across the board higher than were those of fifty years ago. Now, even in Egypt, such a life as that led by Felfel is impossible. We read that the unrest against Mubarak was triggered by unemployed young college graduates. People run faster and faster, but do not even stay in the same place.