Sunday, January 02, 2005Homesick before leaving home
I consider myself an Egyptianist, I actually love everything in Egypt whether it’s good or bad, from the sunny sandy beaches to the chaotic-traffic of Cairo, from our ancient history to “Akhtarana lak” TV show(lol). And Why not? Ancient Egyptians considered the land of Egypt to be their Heaven so maybe this feeling passed along generations. But what I love the most about Egypt is the warmth of the people; Egyptians are like no other people on this planet... I’ve dealt with so many different nationalities and cultures as I traveled a lot and also through my work but I’ve never met any people who are as funny, emotional and friendly as the Egyptians (you can call me biased anytime you want now).
Even the annoying Egyptians (government officials, microbus drivers, street beggars etc) whom could be so irritating, that it drives out of your mind that you wish you were a character out of Grand Theft Auto (VG) with a .50 caliber machine gun and running the streets like a loose canon.
As I’m on the verge of traveling again on a work-study trip to England, so I keep recalling all the bad things in Egypt to help me ease up this upcoming homesickness, although it’s a short trip (two months only). As any normal Egyptian I keep whining about all the screwed up things that we have here as I frequently compare ourselves to other countries (Western mostly). You might think it’s an easy job, giving the fact we are a mess of a country.
Basically when we land in a foreign country (especailly European or American), we get series of culture shocks followed by different self-questions like.. why this country is so green? Why the traffic is so organized? Why the buses don’t look Sardine cans? People actually walk on sidewalks? Can they make fun of their President on TV? Why I’m breathing fresh air? and these sort of stuff... And you keep drooling in admiration for the blessings of these countries.
But in the end no matter how well you've adapted and how many friends you made in any foreign country, you keep longing for that day. The day you set foot in Cairo airport and you start stumbling into the masses of people, where you are coldly greeted by the Check-in officer who throws your passport away to his assistant, to run a check for any criminal or military records that you might have and keeps you waiting for 15 minutes while you bitterly watch the foreigners passing by in less than one minute (sometimes they are granted the Visa too)… it’s the day when the men who bring you the luggage cart blackmail you for tips (and they won’t settle for anything but Dollars or Euros or else they would give you a screwed up cart)... it’s the day when the customs officers almost strip search you for a Camcorder or a VCR!! and you end up paying triple the price of your Discman in customs. (They assure us that this won’t happen again with the new customs laws... I’m gonna give it a try)... it’s the day when you become shocked with the amount of crowded people waiting in the arrival hall (usually from 5 to 10 persons are waiting to pick up one family member or a friend)... it’s the day when you search the entire Egyptair duty-free shop for a bottle of Kaluha or bottle of Armadale Vodka and you end up with 4 bottles of “Finlandia” (cheap vodka) in order not to waste your 24h passport quota (a personal dilemma not a general one lol)... it’s the day when the tears start pouring from your eyes from a home culture shock and you start questioning whether you’ve made up the right decision by returning to this country or not... it’s also day when you face the counter-culture shocks while you're driving your way home from the airport.
But all the doubts and fury ends up when you find yourself surrounded with the welcoming warmth of the hugs and kisses of your family, friends, soul-mate and even your building porter... and this when you feel like screaming your lungs out with “bahebek ya masr” I love you Egypt.