Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ode to Egypt (and Palestine)

There is no place like Egypt in this world. (There is probably no place like Japan or Burundi either, but that's besides the point). I love Palestine, and my current hometown Ramallah is cleaner, whiter, quieter and decidedly more modernized (at least on the surface) than Cairo, but some days I just MISS EGYPT.

Reasons why:

1. Eish Balady. The soft, flat, chewy, perfectly textured wholemeal bread you buy off the street. By far the best bread in the world. Sure, there's sand in it sometimes, but what do you want? It's the desert. The Palestinian taboun is sort of the same, but totally different.

2. The Egyptian Sense of Humor. It's stupid, loud, corny, and I don't get it half of the time, but I love it, and if it makes people laugh 95 % of their time regardless of what hardships they might face, I'm all for it.

3. The Heat. 48 degrees Celsius. July. You sweat like crazy, inside an old crappy black-and-white taxi from 1972 with no AC. The windows are down, but you're stuck in the crazy afternoon traffic so there is absolutely no breeze. I complain, but at the same time, it makes me comfortably lazy and completely relaxed.

4. Which brings me to the Zahma: I know I'm supposed to hate being stuck in Cairo traffic, because it's cray-zee. Travel time will double or triple, but who cares? You're in CAIRO.

5. Which brings me to the Absence of Stress: The minute I land in Cairo and step outside the plane, all the stress and the pressure just melts and runs off me like so much Swedish ice. The traffic, the noise, the crowded streets--nothing can change that.

6. The Music. To the untrained Western ear, all Arabic music may sound the same. But this is about as far from the truth as you can come--different countries and regions have very different music, and there's nothing like Egyptian music. Sherine, Amr Diab, Um Kalthoum, Tamer Hosny, Mohamed Hamaki, Haitham Said. Love them.

7. The Foul. The mashed fava beans at Gad in Mohandeseen. Dee-lish.

But actually. No one makes better foul than my Palestinian boyfriend. He makes it for breakfast on Friday mornings. And as much as I miss Egypt, Palestine is pretty damn amazing too.

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Mirkhaaa said...


Ruby said...

Oh yeah! :)