It was a beautiful, sun-splashed Cairo morning, and a brass band was playing in Tahrir Square. The musicians, about two dozen in all, wore driven-snow white trousers and red military jackets with gold tassels. They performed a repertoire of short, patriotic anthems with gusto, if less-than-perfect technique. A crowd of onlookers began to swell, and before long, people were snapping cell-phone pictures of the band and hoisting children on their shoulders to watch.
I asked my friend Hisham why everyone was smiling. “This is the Egyptian Army band,” he said. “Until the revolution no one in Egypt had ever seen them play before. They only played for Mubarak.”
We stood and listened with the rest of the crowd, Egyptians young and old, who now come to Tahrir Square to get their faces painted and pose for photos with their families, like tourists. Some people clapped and sang along, before most decided to get on with their day. But the band played on.