Monday, August 18, 2008

Only in Egypt

Why is it that 'Only in Egypt' became a cliche for backward things you find in Egypt? A few days ago I took a train from Alexandria to elCairo and I had a positive Only in Egypt experience.

The train was fully booked, so I got on the train and was hoping for an empty seat. As soon as I got in, I was greeted by 3am 3iesa who sensed I wanted a seat. 3am 3iesa is an employee of EgyptBahn and is basically the do-it-all-dude for the car I was in, from helping passengers with their bags and seats to opening the doors when we reach the station. 3am 3iesa quickly searched the car and then came back and sadly informed me that the car was full. I thanked him for trying and got my book out to start reading, but he quickly interrupted me and pointed to the makeshift seat he just put together for me. The seat was basically a greasy cylindrical train-part and ontop of it sat a small square piece of cardboard and it was propped-up in the tiny space between the door and the toilet.

For the next two hours, passerbys (who worked on the train) would greet 3am 3iesa and shake his hand and then quickly turn to me (since I was 'with' 3am 3iesa) and warmly shake my hands and welcome me too. Even the tea-and-coffee dude, who actually doesn't pass by the area I was sitting at, went out of his way to check if I needed a drink. When I asked for tea, he quickly asked: With mint?

That day I was reminded how in Egypt people are amazingly creative at adjusting. Propping-up a makeshift seat is a simple thing, but if you have lived in Egypt, you'd know how this mentality of 'adjusting to life' is everywhere. Be it the fact that cars and flats in Egypt are more expensive than in some parts of Europe, while salaries are but a fraction. Or the fact that Egypt has extremely modest medical and social security systems. Or the many other things.

Only in Egypt do people adjust to all of this.

4 comments:

madwomaninatic said...

yeah, that's exactly what i love about living in egypt! seriously, it's the coolest thing about people here, and it's what makes life here a constant test of your creativity. as my sister's doctor once said, "In Egypt, el shatra beteghzel bi regl el 7omar!" (translate: the competent woman can weave using a donkey's leg)

Feshfesh said...

Well, that and the fact that McDonalds delivers! You gotta love that in Egypt, no? :D

madwomaninatic said...

and the fact that we have makwageya... don't think they have them anywhere else!

Feshfesh said...

ouuuuuuuuuu... nice one! And you have to respect concepts like 'sakalanse' and 'elshaba7'. Sandwiches that are loaded with 6000+ worth of calories... it just doesn't get any better than this.