"It used to be a very lively area – there was always people laughing and joking all the time," said Sarah Youssef, a non-governmental organisation director who owns a flat on Youssef el-Guindy Street. "Then after the walls it became very quiet, very dull and sometimes scary. It's become a place where all the weird stuff happens: robberies, theft … Tahrir Square is lively, but then I go home a block away and it's totally dark, there's lots of garbage."
Youssef and her husband have been forced to move out of their flat, partly because of the walls and partly because the teargas frequently used at nearby protests exacerbated her asthma. "For eight months my furniture still smelled of teargas," Youssef said. "One of my neighbours started coughing up blood."
Some residents – usually those blessed with strong arms and dressed in casual clothes – save time by hauling themselves over the walls. But it's tough work, and sometimes dangerous. "My brother tried to get over this week and he broke his leg," said Ahmed Tegi, as he clambered over himself, carrying a bag of juice back to his restaurant on the other side. Many schools straddle the barriers, forcing students to take the long route round. For a time, the only way to one school was through Salima Barakat's house.
"Before it would take two seconds to get to work," added Mansour, the civil servant, who has lived in the area all his life. "Now I have to go all the way round. It's ridiculous. Some of my colleagues have to get up at five in the morning because the traffic is so congested."The article also includes a video: