CAIRO — The buzz of blow-dryers drowned out any talk of revolution at a popular salon in Zamalek, an upscale neighborhood on an island in Cairo that is home to some of Egypt's wealthiest. The beauty boutique had been closed for days. But on the twelfth day of protests, it was back to business as usual.
Zamalek is located just across the river from Tahrir Square, the epicenter of one of the most significant fights for democracy in modern Arab history. Many say they have remained in their homes all week, but finally stepped out today in an attempt to regain normalcy.
"I miss driving home late at night. I miss Tamarai and Club 35," said one 22-year old woman, typing gingerly on her Blackberry to protect her fresh manicure. "I don't think I'll be able to go there anytime soon. I want my life back."
She says she's been in her house all week "like a prisoner." She was part of the first demonstration on January 25, but said that protestors -- thousands of whom remain in the square, which is taking on the air of a permanent encampment -- have now taken it too far.
"People want change," she said. "Khalas, stop, we got change. Just let the man make a decent exit. The people in Tahrir should be ignored; they're acting like spoiled children and embarrassing our country."
The woman and her mother sat on black leather chairs as a salon attendant carried away a tray of tea and espresso. For the past week, the 53-year-old has carried a new accessory in her purse: a 250,000-watt Taser. She's hidden knives under every cushion in her home and her husband sleeps with a gun under his pillow. But today, she said, they wanted to enjoy a taste of their pre-January 25 lives.
"We thought of it like Lebanon, where people go out dancing after bombs," she said as blue and red curlers were pulled from her hair. On the floor below, women got Botox and laser hair removal treatments. "But we are all scared for our futures."