We weren't surprised then, when the regularly scheduled mayhem was interrupted by a Special Announcement on Al Jazeera. And two minutes later, we were surrounded, even in that sedate setting, by laughing, crying, and wonderfully surprised people. Some were Egyptian; some had been there; some hoped for the same thing in their own countries; and some just saw the expressions on our faces and, half understanding, joined in to congratulate us.
After thirty years of stolid, brooding, infinitely depressing presence everywhere, it seemed, the man I've always thought of, derisively, as Uncle Hosni was checking out. Even then we knew that it was just the end of the beginning, but it my God it was a start.
Moments like that stick in one's mind, of course, and they can be depressing in retrospect. Now, one year later, again it's Mr. Muscato's birthday, but nothing seems any clearer - and much seems distinctly less hopeful - than it did that lovely long evening last February.
Still, I am not, to the limited extent of my political abilities, without hope. Egypt is stronger than anyone can know, and while there are still obstacles, hurdles, setbacks, and annoyances without number ahead of us, I still believe it can, even if only in part, meet the expectations set during the unforgettable spring of 2011.
So today, we're off to celebrate again, have a nice lunch with friends (a little closer to home this time than Dubai - our own Fair City is suddenly chockablock with silly new ultra-deluxe hotels - I'll let you know how it goes).
My present to you is the video above. I really do encourage you to watch it. It's a song called "Sout el Horeya" (The Voice of Freedom), by Hany Adel, Amir Eid Hawary, and Sherif Mostafa, and last spring suddenly it was everywhere. Now it's on the short list, with "Bread and Roses" and a few others, of Political Songs That Always Make Me Weepy.
It was made right in the middle of the uprising that was and is, reductively, referred to as Tahrir Square. Watch those people. They don't know how things are going to turn out; they know they might be attacked, assaulted, shot at, killed. Still, they've come out to say, as Egyptians do, kifaya. Enough. There is only so long people can go without dignity, without pride, without hope; and the moment when they do something about it can be an astonishing thing to see. They're not done yet. Stay tuned.