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The Curious Case of Safi

The voice of a generation of young Egyptians wasting away in Cairo traffic, Mohamed Safi, or just Safi, as he’s more widely known, is going on an adventure...

Taking a tuk-tuk trek across northern India for charity, the former radio jockey has never shied away from unusual challenges. What else did you expect from the man that spins fire, plays the bongos and prides himself on his obscure facial hair? Setting off next week to begin the 3500km Rickshaw Run, he’ll be blogging for Cairo Scenario exclusively about his life-changing trip! But before he picks up to go pimp his tuk-tuk, we caught up with the multitalented philanthropist at the MO4 offices for a bit of banter about Bengal tigers, the end of radio as we know it, and of course, that little goatee of his…

Tell us about the Rickshaw Run and why you decided on this particular adventure…

To be honest, I’ve gone a bit mental and thought it’d be an excellent way to see India while making money for a good cause. An annual event, the Rickshaw Run is race with a difference. Firstly, of course, we’ll be racing in tuk-tuks for about 3500 kms across northern India but there’s no set route. We set off from a place called Shillong which is known as the wettest place on earth and have to make it to Jaisalmer on our own.

Do you think you’ll ‘find yourself’ in India?

I expect to find out how lost I am, actually.

Is that why you left Nile FM?

I haven’t really left Nile FM, this is more of a sabbatical and I’m still involved with the production side, putting together the Nile Bazaar mix on weekends. I left because, frankly, I needed a break; a change of scenery.

Where do you think the future of radio is going?

Unfortunately, radio is a dying industry just like newspapers. Everyone is going online and radio has already gone through FM growth curve and satellite radio has also dried out. The future of radio is totally online, and podcasts will become more popular.

How’s the fundraising going for the Rickshaw Run? Could you tell us about the charities you’ll be contributing towards?

There’s one compulsory charity we have to donate to which is Frank Water, an NGO that provides clean drinking for villages in India. Other than that, the Egyptian team of 6, and two more Middle Eastern teams we’ve been in touch with have chosen to distribute the rest of the funds we raise between educational charities Asha (India), SOS Hope Village (Palestine) and Educate-Me here in Egypt. I’m holding a big fundraiser for my part of the donations at Left Bank tomorrow where High on Body Fat will be playing alongside some inspirational talks from Omar Samra, the head of Educate-Me and myself. The idea is to get 100 people to donate 200LE each to reach my target and it’ll be a lot of fun, so come along!

How fast does a tuk-tuk go?

50 kilometres per hour, up to 70 downhill! Either way it’s still slower than a Bengal tiger…

Is that a risk?

Yep. It’s a serious risk. That and bandits, King cobras and leeches. After what we’ve seen in Egypt recently, though, I’m not worried about the bandits at all! In fact, I’m most afraid of the leeches.

Do you fear death by tuk-tuk?

I’d welcome death by tuk-tuk!

Tell us about the beard…

Well, for starters it gives me balance. Like actual, physical balance. Secondly, it’s interesting to see if people judge me based on how I look or if they’ll sit down and have a chat with me before they make their decision. It’s also confusing to people who might think it’s for religious purposes. I live in shorts and it shocks them!

Are you going to grow it out in India?

Yes. As far as it will grow! I’ll also be on the lookout for people with similar beards for me to take pictures with!

Have you found anyone with the same beard yet?

Yes! It’s actually quite a phenomenon…I won’t say I started it, but it’s doing well!

What can we expect from your blog from India?

Expect a lot of colourful pictures and plenty of wild experiences!

Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring tuk-tukists?

That there’s no need to sit on one side if you’re riding alone. Give your bum a rest and sit properly in the middle!

Contribute to Safi’s fundraising efforts tomorrow, Monday 27th August from 8pm – 10.30pm at Left Bank, Zamalek. For more information click here. For more information on Educate-Me Egypt check out their Facebook page here. And make sure to keep it tuned to CairoScene for Safi’s live blog exclusively for Scenario starting next week… 


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