CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's capital has long been proud of its nickname, "Mother of the World" - a metropolis of 18 million throbbing with the vitality and fun of other great cities, even if at times it seemed unmanageable and chaotic.
But Cairo's spirit has been deeply scarred by 32 months of turmoil and bloodshed from two "revolutions," constant protests and crackdowns, and a military coup.
Residents talk of an unfamiliar edginess. People are more suspicious of each other, whether because of increased crime or constant media warnings of conspiracies and terrorism.
Families are split by bitter ideological differences. Fights are sparked by a word or a gesture seen as supporting either the military or the Islamists who were ousted from power by the armed forces.
The mood goes beyond ideology. With police battered by the upheaval and rarely enforcing regulations, many people flout laws with no thought of the consequences - whether it's the cafes that take over sidewalks or thugs who seize plots of land.
A curfew in place for nearly two months has put a damper on Cairo's nightlife. It has been eased to start at midnight, but that was usually the hour when streets and parties were just getting lively.
Political violence has killed more than 2,000 people in the city and wounded many others, starting with the January 25, 2011, revolution that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. That was followed by demonstrations against the military rulers who replaced Mubarak, the protests during President Mohammed Morsi's year in office, and the June 30 "revolution" that prompted the July 3 coup against the president.
"Political differences have made some people lose their humanity," said Shaiymaa Awad, a 32-year-old Morsi supporter.
Awad said she was in a bus recently that drove past Rabaah el-Adawiya, the mosque where hundreds of Islamists were killed in August when police cracked down on a sit-in demanding Morsi's reinstatement.
When she broke down crying, "other passengers looked surprised, but none of them understood why," Awad said.
The Rabaah mosque is not the only city landmark now more famous for one of the violent incidents of the past 2_ years. Others include:
- A historic bridge over the Nile, once a favoured romantic spot for couples that was the site of a battle between police and anti-Mubarak protesters.
- The towering Nile-side state TV headquarters nicknamed "Maspero," now known for the army's killing of more than 25 Christian protesters.
- Moqattam, once simply the rocky plateau overlooking the city where couples went to steal kisses, now remembered for a bloody street fight between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and opponents.
New neighborhoods joined the list Sunday, when Morsi supporters and police clashed, killing at least 40 people. With more streets strewn with debris and blackened by fires, Cairenes fear the city is turning into a Baghdad or a Beirut at their most violent.
"Blood is everywhere," said Belal Fadl, a popular satirical columnist and scriptwriter.
"It is good that life goes on after every episode of bloodshed, but it is terrible from a human perspective," he said, adding that people now react to violence "as if they are watching it on a silver screen."
Cairo has long been an unruly, tough place - densely populated, heavily polluted and choked with traffic. With few parks or green spaces, and almost no street entertainment, residents have few public outlets for escape.
Yet it also was the place where all Egyptians - rich, poor, intellectuals, laborers and migrants from the countryside - were jammed together, forced to get along by smoothing over their differences with a sense of humor.
There was no contradiction seen between deep religious piety - another Cairo nickname is the "City of a Thousand Minarets" - and raucous street weddings with beer and belly dancers.
The city has gone through rapid lurches. The anti-Mubarak uprising saw an idealistic, "revolutionary" optimism. Under Morsi, conservative Islamists were emboldened, scolding the public to adhere to "God's law" and vilifying Christians and secular Egyptians.
Now the mood is defined by a media blitz demonizing the Islamists, idolizing military chief General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and intimidating critics.
One recent morning, a police officer shouted at a man whose car had broken down on a busy overpass. The man had a beard - a hallmark of an Islamist - and the policeman angrily accused him of intentionally trying to snarl traffic.
In a city that was once extremely safe, crime has become more frequent.
Ahmed Mokhles, a 32-year-old doctor, said a youth on a motorcycle snatched his $450 mobile phone out of his hand while he was talking on it. The motorcyclist was slowed down by traffic, and Mokhles nearly caught up with him. But two men on another motorcycle - accomplices, Mokhles believes - blocked him, and the thief escaped.
Everything can conspire to build up stress - a blazing hot day, rising prices, unmoving traffic, family woes.