Monday, September 29, 2008

What is it EXACTLY that you love so much?

I'm surprised (pleasantly surprised) that my "Everyone thinks we are Crazy" post has gotten so much attention. Many of my friends and family have since been asking: What is it EXACTLY about Cairo that you love so much.

What EXACTLY?

So many things. So many that I've decided that I'll just write them down as they come to me:

I used to have coffee at the Segafrado on the main road in Zamalek (July 26). I sat by the window and watched the streetlife and this same scene was repeated countless times: a bus barely slows at the stop. A passenger wanting to get on, reaches out his hand. From inside the bus, two hands pull him on to the bus while a passerby pushes him onto the bus. None of the people involved know each other and go their separate ways. So what? I love that people just automatically help each other. We're all in this together, it says.

The other day, YK and I were on the metro and a blind man got on. He was alone. Two groups of unrelated travelers were crammed on the metro on either side of him. Without a word, one man from the group on the left and one man from the group on the right offered their arms to the blind man and escorted him off the metro when his stop came. They asked if he needed anything more and went off in opposite directions to carry on their journeys.

I cannot count the conversations that have taken place as we barrel full speed ahead in Cairo traffic. Car to car, people will pass comments on a third car or a scene taking place in the next lane or by the side of the road. They'll share a joke as they cut each other off or change lanes. So many times, our cab driver has leaned out and given directions to the car driving beside us.

I love Cairo because everyone is interacting with the people around them. They are INVOLVED. I know there is no way a Cairene could walk past someone in distress without offering to help. A Cairene will give you advice and directions (granted: whether you ask for it or not) and will strike up a conversation wherever there is a sliver of a space for it. If a Cairene catches your eye, he/she cannot help but say "Salaam" and ask you how you are. It would be unnatural not to. Unheard of. Impossible.

That is just one of the things I love about Cairo.

4 comments:

amreen said...

those are wonderful reasons to love a city - sounds like an incredibly compassionate environment. i'm excited to hear about what Eid is like there? blog about it! we'll miss you at Namaaz.

Forsoothsayer said...

how long have u lived here? because the longer i live here, the more i hate it.

Cairomaniac said...

Ok, so to Forsoothsayer (I have no idea who you are, by the way) I don't understand people like you. If you hate it so much....why do you stay? and since I don't search out your blog to leave posts about how wonderful it is here, why do you seek mine out to leave posts telling me how much you hate it here? Who asked you to stay? Go home. And if you don't want to go home, stop bringing down the party. Jeez.

Burgundy said...

hi. assalam'alykum. seems like yur a desi muslim in egypt.

wel well what do u know. me too.
after 6 months of being here, yeh im just loving it.

its very involved and lively like u said.

however, after 6 months, im a tad bit lonely cuz most of my frends are busy busy learning arabic and al that.

where do u live in cairo? do u work?

ive got two kids. and at the moment, we live in nasr city. although w/ all the breathing issues my daughter is having, i dont think we'll be here in nasr city much longer.

email me! i'd love to chat.
(nfminhas@gmail.com)

Naureen