On left, Map of Maadi – (we are on Road 85); on Right, Maadi in relation to other parts of Cairo.
So I am living here in Cairo. I am not just visiting. I wondered how long it would take for this fact to sink in. It still hasn’t completely. I have traveled to many different countries, all over the world, and visited for one, sometimes two months, so this felt like I was just visiting at first. It still kind of does. I think the difference for me this time is that I have stayed primarily in one place and I have had to learn a lot of very basic things very quickly: such as using the washing machine; learning how to cook on a stove in degrees Celsius opposed to Fahrenheit (google converter is very helpful); the metric system; thinking in Egyptian pounds; Arabic numbers in street signs, prices, and everything else important; a new language and alphabet; walking to the store without getting hit by a car; fielding inappropriate advances from taxi drivers; navigating the grocery store and learning the foods. Also, when outside my apartment, being constantly aware of the fact that I am a woman. A western woman. And the set of (written/unwritten, spoken/unspoken) rules I was used to following at home are different here.
The neighborhood I live in is Maadi. It is like diet Cairo. I believe it is technically a suburb, considered part of “greater Cairo,” on the very Southern edge of Cairo on the East bank of the Nile. It has all the amenities a westerner could want, but enough foreignness to make it interesting. For example, people drinking tea on the streets and smoking shisha, the calls to prayer, dust everywhere, more cats than people, taxis everywhere; smell and sound assaults of the senses – combinations of mint, incense, the-best-perfume-I-ever-smelled, apple shisha, mangoes, tea, coffee, olives, cooking meat, decomposing animal, diesel, garbage, dust, cigarette, body odor, cat urine, horns honking (every five seconds, I am not kidding), people shouting and/or singing in Arabic, laughing, cats’ sexual escapades and/or yowling arguments, some type of loud motor running, something being sold loudly and enthusiastically in a language I don’t know yet.
My next post will be a photo tour of my neighborhood. I promise it will be very soon. Right now my apartment is being painted and I am watching the Kardashians with my landlord.