Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Letters from Egypt: Avoid Seclusion

Just me being silly and trying to sing...I'm not very good :(
I’ve been saying lately that sometimes I feel like my independence has really taken a beating. I have to depend on people for simple things that well, I’m just used to doing myself.

For instance, I went to Pub 55 recently to just hang out with some friends. I wanted to leave around 1 am, so I venture outside to hail a cab. No cab in sight. I think about just walking a little further to flag one down, but instead I had someone begging me for money and following me down the street. I turned around and went back inside and patiently (although unhappily) waited for my friends to leave as to get a ride – which was well after 3 am.

Now, I’m not jaded enough to be unrealistic that every place has the good, the bad and most definitely the ugly.

Omar and Salah playing football in Marina

I just began my 10th month here, and I cannot believe time has flown by so quickly. While my independence has taken a back seat many times, I am also living the life. How many people get to say that they see the Nile daily? The pyramids are a part of everyday scenery (although I’ve now only seen them twice from a distance)? Or going to the Mediterranean for the weekend is not uncommon.

I also want to say that I recently received an email from someone that might be relocating to Cairo. He brought up some pertinent questions that I realized I’d never addressed before.

First of all, Cairo is relatively safe. Yes, women might face some harassment, but it is rare that the harassment will get beyond shouts and the occasional grab (although that being said: ladies, you should NEVER put up with anyone grabbing you without your permission and you should always protect yourself).

For those of you considering a move here with your family, the best place for your family will be Maadi. It has a family atmosphere with many things to do. If you’re interested, please visit the site www.livinginegypt.org that’s sponsored by the Community Service Association (CSA).

Now, for all those single folk out there – Zamalak is the place to be. I wish I could live in Zam simply because it reminds me a bit of NYC, there are always things to do and places to go. I wish my office wasn’t located in Maadi because I would definitely move there given half the opportunity, but the commute just isn’t appealing.

Another piece of advice for any expat moving here: don’t seclude yourself. I see so many expats that move here and only want to befriend their “own.” How are you ever suppose to really learn about the culture? Now, I’m not saying to break away from all of the expats because let’s be honest, you’re going to need to vent. You will need an outlet, and who better than someone who understands exactly how overwhelming Egypt can be?

Alright, busy week, but there’s my 10th Month piece of advice.

***Place of the Week***

Taboula 1 Latin America St.

(located in Garden City) +2.02.7925261

Alright everyone, this is my favorite restaurant in Cairo. It’s Lebanese and slap yo mama, it is GOOD! Call in advance to make reservations (or just bat your eyes at the manager and see if that works, at least makes the waiting time shorter and he’s quite humorous – but don’t tell his wife, ha). I have to say this place offers the BEST humus with meat and I stake my life on the chicken liver. The liver is cooked in this redwine reduction sauce and once you have it, you will always crave it!