It’s been a while now in Cairo. I’ve stopped counting the days and in a strange way I stopped missing home. Everyday is filled with such new discoveries and adventures that I have yet to bore of this place. Here are a few more of my observations. Now worry not, oh few and faithful followers, I haven’t forgotten about the characters; I am in the process of collecting their pictures and will post an update soon.
1. I have learned that the sidewalk is a fine place to start a fire; Many a time have I had to cross the street to get past a giant fire made right in the middle of the sidewalk with three or four bums hanging around it…”3adeeeeee”(A word my ears have become accustomed to; meaning “it’s cool” in an everything-goes type attitude).
2. They have a computer mall. Yep, that’s right. That means when you are sitting at your desk and something goes wrong, it could be anything: A broken mouse or keyboard, a cartridge replacement, A4 paper. Whatever it is you may need, relating to your computer, it’s all in one glorious place! That oddly enough has a very decent pool place inside. (And by pool I mean the green table with colored balls that you poke with long sticks with blue powdery tips, not a swimming pool).
3. There is another magical place hidden away in the streets of Cairo, disguised as “sha3be” or low class with dust, dirt and damage everywhere. If you take a closer look at the carelessly piled stacks of clothes on the sidewalk, there are a few pieces only one wash away from becoming shining little pots of gold!
Vero-Moda, Mango Classic, HnM, Eternity, etc…
The black-hole of outlet stores: endless rows of nice quality pieces of clothing hidden among the other rags.
For some reason, the Egyptians only go for the rags, that little name on the back of the collar means absolutely nothing to them, besides they were too expensive for the commoners to buy, but to us, it was ten dollars or less, I kid you not.
Let’s just say I bought 15 quality tops for 100$….I will forever do all my clothes shopping on that street, which I will not reveal the location of, so as to avoid the tourists finding out about it. (As if my blog has paparazzi :P).
4. The Cinema is one of my favorite Egyptian phenomenons, whatever you watch will be a comedy.
Whether it is because of the little infant in the arms of the veiled woman sitting next to you at the one o’clock past midnight showing or the inevitable intermission in the middle of the movie, you will walk out speechless from laughter.
My friend was re-telling her experience of when she was watching “The adventures of Tintin” (I thought it was a rather odd choice, but regardless..:
“The graphics were amazing, it turned out to be a really cool movie, and I really got into it, there was this one scene when Tintin was running away and he jumped in the air and he was about to land but the lights came on and the screen went blank and every body left the room to smoke a cigarette. When we came back in, ten minutes later, I was still in shock at the idea of an intermission in a ninety minute movie, and suddenly Tintin hits the floor and continues running…”
5. If you are not married by 22 you are officially a spinster… Most of the people I work with are rather young, yet each and every one of them is married or engaged or recently a father… They reproduce in a freakishly organized systematic way.
It may be that since society frowns upon sex before marriage, their sexual drives make them really impatient to get married, but thats just the talk on the street.
6. The veil can be an extremely useful tool to speak on a cellphone handsfree and the Egyptian women are all in on this. The amount of women that walk on the street with a cellphone tucked into their veil and their mouthes chattering away is startling. I mean is walking in Cairo so terrible that anytime a woman wants to walk on the street she makes a phone call to another woman walking on the street? That is the only way to explain how so many people have so many things to talk about all the time, while walking on the street. There has got to be some kind of memo spreading, that’s all I’m saying.
7. Fifty percent of the population is illiterate, but that’s not the kick. Get this:
Elections are going on now so naturally candidates’ faces are all over the city. At first I thought that a couple of the candidates were getting creative with their “brands” or something because it seemed as though they each chose a logo. Then it hit me and one of our drivers explained that since such a large percentage of the population is illiterate, each candidate chooses a “ramez” or sign so that the people can recognize it on a ballot when voting… A couple examples of the signs are: A flashlight, a suitcase, a fan, an envelope, an axe, must I go on? At least there is something entertaining to look at when stuck in the endlessly stubborn Cairo traffic.
8. In one night I went from “Le Bodega” to “Sit el Koll” (Everyone’s Lady). I think the names of these places perfectly describes their class and type.
Le Bodega, don’t know what it means but sounds fancy and sure as hell is. A nice cozy little pub where you can drink alcohol and where high-class modern Egyptians can mingle. I shook the hand of one of the female candidates that I saw a picture of earlier on the street. Her symbol was a sunflower. I drank some wine in a wine glass (and yes I specified that it was in a wine glass for a reason). The wine I drank was from a bottle that we brought in to the pub ourselves from the Lebanese duty free. We just pay the manager the profit he would normally make from selling a bottle, he gets to keep his bottles and makes the profit either way, and you get to drink Lebanese wine in a small pub in Cairo. Everybody wins, but it’s slightly, dare I say, boringly snobbish.
Later that night we went to “Sit El Koll” which was ever so delightfully located at the intersection of Syria and Sudan. (How cool is that? Those are street names by the way, in case you are a total geography dummy and assumed I meant the actual countries – it could happen).
Behind the wooden door, and by wooden I mean a giant chunk of wood that was hinged to serve as a door, emerged a rainbow of colors. Bright blue lights shone from all over the room, the walls were decorated with what we would normally use on the christmas tree. Grey from the smoke that permeated the air. Red from the shirts that the “entertainer girls” wore. Okay, this is where I must confess that this was in fact a cabaret and it deserves it’s own post with it’s own characters so I will leave this here as a teaser.
9. After living in Cairo long enough you will become immune to the “annoyingness” of flies. I haven’t been here that long. I am still in the very long stage of getting so annoyed of the constant invasions that I am often seen beating myself up.
10. Specifically the five a.m. prayer call is surprisingly invasive. It violates the crap out of the few hours I have to sleep.
11. Last but not least for this post, their drive through system. There is this one place that we stopped at called “My queen” and boy was I treated like one. We pulled in and the waiter came to my window, took my order, took my money, brought me back the change, gratefully accepted the tip that he rightfully earned, brought me my food, and we drove away… and I thought Lebanon’s drive through alcohol joint was cool.
Stay tuned for two very exciting posts coming up soooooon 🙂