As a reporter you arrive just before IT happens, sometimes after, sometimes in-between. These are all artificial designations to be sure, but there is an unmistakable aura of "in-betweenness" about Cairo right now.
Everyone talks about life "before the revolution" as though it happened 20 years ago. Everybody talks about the elections as they would about an upcoming ice storm in the political forecast, for which one has ample time to prepare, but with only the foggiest notion of what it will actually look like, and feel like. The journalists and human rights activists that we've interviewed all the say the same thing: the stage is set for genuine change, but it's not here yet, and it may never be. The entrenched bureaucracies are still in place, the same palms are being greased, and most important, for us on the media beat, there are still "red lines" reporters may not cross. A reporter for Al Ahram - the oldest and once the most respected newspaper in the Middle East - told us that everyone is welcome to write about the corruption wrought by the Mubarak clan - but are well advised NOT to to write about the only power that matters - the military.