Crisis in Egypt: Normalcy Returning to Cairo Streets?

VIDEO: The Roundtable on Egypt
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There are subtle, but clear signs of a return to normalcy on the streets of Cairo today. It is too early, far too early, to declare that the chaos and rage of the past 12 days has come to an end, but there is a different feeling in the air today.

In the upscale neighborhood of Zamalek, joggers were back on the streets and cafes were packed with young, shisha-smoking Egyptians, the tables of the local Coffee Bean full.

People lined up around the corner at the branches of state banks in Zamalek, many of them civil servants, waiting to collect a paycheck for the first time in several days.

"Hopefully they'll get what they want and we can move on with our lives," said Yousro, a university student who was waiting outside a bank. "I want a better Egypt and my life along with it."

"We were eager to film scenes of a return to normalcy but the hostility towards the press is still there, both the crowd and the police told us to get back in the car," said ABC News Middle East Correspondent Alex Marquardt. "But there's no doubt there's a different vibe in the streets today."

We were sent away before we even made it off the sidewalk outside a bank. Police are back on the streets. They insisted we show a state-issued media accreditation before we conducted interviews.

Even if we'd had one, people were in no mood to talk. One man started ranting about the press ruining this country.

It seems people are very protective and have tired of reporters trying to define what's happening here.

In Tahir Square this morning, where just days ago, pro-government forces rode in on camels to quash the protests, there was a much different feeling.

"It had been a few days since I'd visited and in that time a mini village has sprung up; tents, vendors, church services," Marquardt said. "People were milling around, chanting and dancing. It felt a lot like a music festival, and like a festival there aren't enough bathrooms.

Egypt Protests: Calm Starts to Return to Cairo Streets

"The most striking image was of a Coptic Christian priest and a Muslim imam together on the crowd's shoulders," he said. "The priest holding a cross, the imam a Koran."

Tens of thousands of people remain in the square, but they are much more subdued. They insist they will remain until Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak steps down, many say they're willing to die for it.

We met one young guy carrying a pile of blankets in his arms. A bag full of water bottles dangled from his wrist as he made his way through the military checkpoint.

He told us other Egyptians were welcome to return to work but he said the protesters were commited to remaining in the square until Mubarak steps down.

Outside the army checkpoint, a small group of protesters were chanting about the army not allowing food to enter.

Several protesters have complained that getting supplies in has been a problem, but it's not critical. Proof: the first thing Marquardt said he saw once inside Tahrir Square was a woman with four boxes of Twinkies.

Another sign of life returning to normal -- red tape. Journalists have been targeted here since the protests began, but violent attacks and threats have given way to bureaucry, a hallmark of the regime in the days before Jan. 28.

Checkpoints now dot the city, and word is being spread that any journalist who does not have an official Egyptian Media credential will not be allowed to work and may be detained.

So, our team of fixers is busily preparing all the paperwork to get us the credentials we need. An inconvenience for sure, but that's what it's like working in Egypt on a good day.

Of course, the situation is still tense and there are many, many questions.

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