Is it about class? On Being in Cairo


I sort of went to Cairo on a whim, a classmate said that I could some with him and stay at his friend’s house… free lodging is hard to pass up, right… ha,ha.

I planned to come next week (well I am) as it is Coptic Easter and then EAster Monday is a national holiday that has it’s roots in the Phraonic celebration of Spring (Sham al Naseem) I have much to write about.

I am loving Cairo right now, but it’s too soon to tell, you see I am staying in Mohandessen which is  a pretty swanky area… but in general, my impressions are that foreigners are not as big of a deal here as compared to Alex.  People still stare  but not as long, and kids are not intrigued by me… it’s like I’ve been living in a totally different world for the last 24 hours… I am sad that I have to return to Alex…

On the other hand, I am not in a place that the average Cairene frequents, in light of my argument with my instructor, I keep the fact that I’m in a really nice area in mind.  If I were to go somewhere a little more low-class, if I were to ride a public bus instead of take a taxi, some of my fears about this place might resurface.  For now, I am content to write my next paper as I chill in an American style apartment (including the furnishings and the kitchen)… and reflect a little on Egypt.

I wrote an angry post about street harassment a few days ago, and it was erased, all the better I guess, I wrote some not so nice things about the people here.  ha, ha…. I will write more later, but I am thinking about the conversation my friends and I had after the rocks were thrown at us, one of us, Arab, but Not Egyptian, exclaimed that it’s so hard for her to not just look at Egyptians and say that they are just low-class, and uncivilized when the type of s&%# she goes through everyday happens.

I think I agree with her.  But it’s important to not get caught up in that mindset for too long.  What makes certain parts of Egypt so just do darn awful (literally full of trash, the most terrible kinds of sexual harrassment, the poverty)?  People point to religion (which is not the issue in my opinion, not at all).  Others point to unemployment and all that jazz (which is not the problem either)… could it be class?

In the end it’s probably a mixture of reasons, I am thinking about the class angle right now…

I refuse to believe that there is something intrinsic to the Egyptian culture/identity that  is the cause of the problems I get a taste of daily and that many Egyptians expereince their whole lives….That smacks of Eugenics.

but the thinking continues, I need to differentiate between my personal experiences and those of those around me, and issues that wider, larger, more-far reaching than little ole me…


One thought on “Is it about class? On Being in Cairo

  1. I was there for a while (though Alex was my favorite). And it was definitely a love-hate relationship sometimes. Enjoy the food and the good parts of the culture. There are good and bad people everywhere. I tended to remember only the bad/frustrating for a while. But now I look bad with total fondness and am very excited to return someday. Good luck on your paper!

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