19/06/2006

Peaceful Friday mornings

I love Friday mornings in Cairo, the streets are completely empty, no cars, no honking, no street sellers, nothing!

For these couple of hours I could almost get the impression I am back in Neuenkirchen (the little town I grew up in)….

On Fridays I fully enjoy walking to my work. On week days I sometimes prefer to take a taxi for the 1km distance, just to avoid all these cars, smog, people, noise…., but not on Fridays! It is a real pleasure to walk through peaceful and sleeping Cairo, breathe the fresh air and appreciate to see things in a distance which are usually covered by the sight of tons of rusty steel in form of cars, taxis and buses.

 

As Friday is the only holiday per week in Egypt, most of the people use the opportunity to sleep in until noon, then the obligatory Friday prayer at the mosque (here again we see the cultural difference, where in the western world people get up early to gather in the church on Sunday morning, the Middle Eastern culture goes for noon prayer) and after this, life starts to go on as normal, some shops open again and those people who don’t have to work enjoy a walk in the streets of Cairo, eating ice cream, going to the cinema or just having a look at the colorful shops on downtown’s main streets.

 

Peaceful Friday to you all!!!

14:01 Écrit par Natalie :) | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) |  Facebook |

No, I want to sit on MY seat, or I’ll call my brothers, cousins, and Hosni himself!

Egypt is a funny place sometimes, the country of malesh and bukra inshallah (it does not matter and tomorrow, God willing), where everything seems so relaxed and laid back… sometimes a little too laid back for my taste when no one seems to care about anything. But apparently there is ONE thing that does matter, and this is the little number written on the bus ticket: the seat number!

 

 I don’t know if you have ever been in an Egyptian post office or in a bank, where you have to draw numbers and no one cares anyway? Have you ever faced a problem and an Egyptian who does not even know what your problem is told you don’t worry, somehow it will be arranged? Did you ever have a meeting at a certain time and an Egyptian came 3 hours late, “Malesh”? …

By these experiences you would think that everything is quiet easy going here, rules are reorganized according to personal preferences and beliefs.

 

Well you can imagine how surprised I was when I sat in the bus back from Dahab to Cairo. The seat number being written in Arabic, most of the tourists sit down randomly, thinking malesh, there are enough seats for everyone, whoever is supposed to sit in this seat will sit down somewhere else. BIG mistake!

 

One thing that seems to be taken seriously are those seat numbers. Now, don’t ask me why and actually if someone has the answer, please let me know…

 

So what happened this time: a couple being able to read their seat number realized that another couple had taken their seats, culturally well adapted, as they thought, they took randomly 2 other seats, the people supposed to sit on these sat somewhere else, etc etc., the bus filled up, so far so good, only one seat stayed empty and the last passenger got onto the bus, checking his ticket, checking the numbers on the seats, frowning, checking again….. then, realizing he would have troubles communicating with the tourists on “his seat”, he started waving with his hand, signaling they should get up, because I wanted to sit there.

The couple signaled back that their seats were taken by the couple 3 rows in front. The man did not care, insisting, waving his hand to an extend it almost looked painful and yelling in Arabic.

 

This intercultural dialog lasted for about 5 minutes until the bus driver, who was waiting for everyone to be seated in order to start driving (another surprising fact in Egyptian rule following), came up to the unhappy still waving and shouting customer. “What is wrong?” “They are on my seat.” “There is another seat free over there. No, THIS is my seat. Why can’t I sit here, if this is my seat?” The bus driver shrugs and asks to see the tickets of the couple, they explain that they know that these are not their seats but that the other couple is on their seats, so if they move, the other couple has first to find out where they are supposed to sit and then make the people who settled there move again, who then will make the next people move, etc etc…. Too much information for the bus driver. He simply walks off and sits down on his driver’s seat again (At least he is sure to be properly seated) leaving the screaming and waving guy in the isle screaming and waving.

 

The couple attempts to explain again the situation unsuccessfully. Now, in good Egyptian manners the other passengers get involved, some seat number loving ones take the side of the man, others would prefer to leave soon and tell him to just sit down on the one empty seat that is left, some even offer him their own seat…. The man is unimpressed, still standing in the isle, repeating “why can I not sit on MY seat?”

 

Aaaaaarggggggghhhhh!!!! After full 15 minutes, he finally gives in and sits down on the empty seat, el Hamdullilah!

 

What do we learn from this story? For some Egyptians it is more important to insist on their right to sit on the seat indicated on their ticket than holding up a whole bus with 50 people and cause a delay of 15 minutes…. And I thought these kind of things could only happen in so accurate and order loving Germany, Malesh!

13:36 Écrit par Natalie :) | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) |  Facebook |

09/06/2006

Little Paradise Dahab

As low season continues I went to Dahab for short 3 days holiday… lovely as usual, more painful to leave this time…

Next time I ll stay for longer inshallah

99430017smal

 

 

10:53 Écrit par Natalie :) | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) |  Facebook |

04/06/2006

Summer time in Cairo…

While snow has been falling in some regions in Germany, summer time in Cairo makes everything go slower…. The temperature goes up to very humid 38/40 degrees C, sweat is pearling on your forehead just from moving your fingers on the computer, the policemen traded in their black winter uniform with their white summer one, giving the impression Cairo is a giant cruise ship and plenty of smartly dressed captains wave the cars through traffic…. Looooove boooaaat, dadadiiiidadum…..

Now, I could probably find the excuse for not writing for so long in the heat, but I will be honest (and maybe make some of you jealous, hehe ;-)) I treated myself this year and took a 3 month membership in the Marriott: 24 hrs access to swimming pool (47m long, don’t ask me why they did not put the extra 3), Sauna, Jacuzzi, Steam, etc. The employees greet you by name, you take, use and dispose as many towels as you want, shampoo, shower gel and body lotion come in neatly arranged little bottles and there is always someone to readjust your parasol in case you are fearing to break out in sweat by doing it yourself….yes it is decadent, but I like it ;-)

As soon as I have a little bit of free time (and actually I have plenty as we are in low season for tourism) I hop into the pool, very convenient as well, the Marriott is only 15 min away from work, so in case there is something to do, I jump into a taxi and am there before the guests even checked in.

So, when it comes to the choice: sitting in front of the computer to update my blog and going swimming, I don’t have to think long ;-)

But don’t worry, from time to time I will bare the heat a bit longer and write you some news from Cairo

17:37 Écrit par Natalie :) | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) |  Facebook |