Dodging Clashes, Cairo's Deliverymen Take Big Risks In Cairo you can get just about anything delivered at almost any hour of the night. Have the flu? You can order vitamin C and meds from the pharmacy at 2 a.m. One deliveryman has been dodging tear gas and clashes to get Lebanese takeout to people's doors.
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Dodging Clashes, Cairo's Deliverymen Take Big Risks

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Dodging Clashes, Cairo's Deliverymen Take Big Risks

Dodging Clashes, Cairo's Deliverymen Take Big Risks

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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In Cairo, you can get most anything - food, medicine, groceries, delivered right to your door anytime. But civil unrest in the streets of Egypt's capital have made it a riskier job for deliveryman. Merrit Kennedy in Cairo sent this report about how one restaurant manager and his deliverymen are handling the violence.

MERRIT KENNEDY, BYLINE: Taboola Restaurant, an upscale Lebanese joint is tucked into a quiet neighborhood just south of Tahrir Square, the center of Egypt's revolution. It's usually packed.


KENNEDY: The clashes between protesters and police have been ongoing for a week just two blocks away, and on this night there's only one table of diners.

AHMED SAID: These days I think 80 percent from the business is delivery.

KENNEDY: That's Ahmed Said, the manager. He says it's been a tough week for the employees.

SAID: Even our staff, he cannot go home because all the streets close and we have action here, action here, action here. He will stay here.

KENNEDY: But their deliverymen on motor bikes find ways out of the neighborhood despite the clashes, and through the chaos they keep a semblance of normalcy for Egyptians, delivering food to their doors.

SAID: If all of us, or at any job stopped work and we are afraid from the streets and we are not going to live, we're going to die.

KENNEDY: Downtown Cairo's traffic-jammed streets have never been easy to navigate, but cycles of violence and regular mass protests make it more complicated and dangerous to get around, and the police have blocked off many major streets with concrete walls about 12 feet high. Ahmed Said says Taboola Restaurant's best and bravest deliverymen is Sayed Masoud Abu Gabal.

SAID: Over 50, and he's more strong than the youth, going all the time. Any order he's going, he's not afraid from anything. OK, I'll solve it. I'll solve - this closed, this, this closed. I'll solve it. He'll go from another way.

KENNEDY: Abu Gabal walks into the restaurant from a delivery run and his eyes are red from teargas.

SAYED MASOUD ABU GABAL: (Through Translator) I was delivering food nearby and I was caught in the clashes and went into a building to hide. On my way out, riot police were arresting people and I had to show them the delivery receipt to prove I was not with the protesters.

KENNEDY: Abu Gabal says his job has become more dangerous in the last two years.

GABAL: (Through interpreter) Sometimes you find demonstrations erupting out of nowhere. You don't have any guarantees. You can get shot, but God protects us and we get by as well as we can.

KENNEDY: Abu Gabal doesn't have much time to rest before another order comes in. Manager Ahmed Said says the rest of the staff helps their deliverymen find safe routes by checking for the latest on violence in downtown.

SAID: We have the news from here and from my office, from the laptop.

KENNEDY: This time they're packing up lamb sandwiches and sweets for a delivery just across the bridge, but because of the clashes, Abu Gabal is going to make a wide loop around the area, quadrupling the distance.


KENNEDY: With the smell of teargas in the air, he revs up his motorbike and takes off once again. For NPR News, I'm Merrit Kennedy in Cairo.

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