Sunday, July 13, 2008

25 signs that you lived too long in Egypt

1. You stop needing “green light” and “zebra lines” to cross streets. You dodge cars, donkey chariots and horses like Leo (from Matrix) dodges bullets of Matrix agents.

2. You start drinking all kinds of water, be it highly chlorified (thus poisonous to stomach) and widely drunk water as in most of Egypt or from the river Nile (yes, you read correctly, from the river itself) and best of it all is that YOU DON’T GET SICK.

3. You start eating any kind of food and your stomach and intestines get used to pretty much everything that might be dubbed food, although 90% of which would not be even considered by poor in developed European countries.

4. Your intake of nicotine rises to levels which are lethal if sustained for moderate time-periods. This is due to compelling and incontrovertible urge to join the predominant majority of Egyptians who smoke daily all kinds of Shishas (from most popular Apple Shisha to Lemon to Coke Shisha to Coffee Shisha).

5. You start appreciating healthy food however ridiculous it might appear to look like (think Egyptian ful or kosheri).

6. You start going to and enjoying all kinds of toilets (as long as one can do what one might in those places) and your habits of using toilet paper become completely optional, while the accepted and usual way is to use floating (of course highly chlorified) water.

7. Even if you were coming from an extremely well-bred and ethical country such as Switzerland (my case), where manners, politeness and tolerance are bywords of everyday life of everyone, you end up being rather indifferent, unpolite (not yet), unsmiling and completely blunt in expressing yourself.

8. You stop being offended by all street beggars, retards, crazy and just seemingly smart locals who try to cheat, lie and get their way into your pocket (everyone from taxi drivers to coke sellers).

9. You start thinking that having bad service or no service in restaurants, bars, and other such places is normal and you will have to leave a tip.

10. You loose all sense of apathy and compassion (this requires time and you have to stay at least 6 months or so). Reason for that is that you end up giving money, tips, BAKSHISH to so many people that you get broke.

11. You are not angry when a car almost crashes you or even when it slightly runs over you. In one month, you will get so many such occasions that you will either have a heart attack or get used to just smile and continue what you were doing before.

12. You get used to drinking lemon juice with mint (best ever, in Europe people have no idea).

13. You get to eat some of best chocolate pastry out there (Egyptians are inventors of chocolate cake) and all things chocolate, even in cheap places, are really good (even compared to Switzerland).

14. You are not surprised when a soldier or someone stops you on a street and for no reason asks for money in exchange for wishing you a good and successful year (sometimes I give them some money).

15. You never tire of hearing people say “Welcome to Egypt” even after you tell them you have been living in the country for a year. They still welcome you and treat you (mostly) like a stupid and ignorant tourist.

16. You take pleasure in making happy Egyptians when you utter few words (or more) in Arabic. Everyone without exclusion starts thinking of you not just as an ignorant, filthy and stupid foreigner but a rather humanoid-looking creature with some culture (that is derived from the fact that you speak Arabic). When you show that you care about their country, culture and indeed the language (my case) they slowly but steadily take you as one of them. Egyptians happen to think that Arabic is so difficult to learn that any foreigner with even a scarce vocabulary in Arabic must be someone deserving respect.

17. You become so relaxed and take-it-easy in being punctual that a 30-mins late arrival for a meeting draws nothing more than a smile and a “Welcome to Egypt” from you.

18. At some point, you start thinking that all foreign tourists – especially those who walk around with LonelyPlanet guides – are stupid (my case).

19. You get comfortable in knowing that you (not necessarily very knowledgeable about Egypt) know more about Egypt than most of Egyptians.

20. (At work)You get used to the fact that almost no deadline is respected and people need multiple reminders and nagging sessions to deliver even the smallest of results.

21. Your sense of humor gets more refined and subtler by day. Egyptians are famous for their sense of humor.

22. You get used to the sight of young Egyptian men fighting (jokingly) and touching, pushing and pulling each other regardless of their environment and time, on streets, in restaurants, in cinemas, etc.

23. You standard of beauty (if you are a guy) goes way up because there are many beautiful Egyptian women out there, worth noting that majority of them are veiled (thus Muslim).

24. You stop being angry at asking direction on a street to five different people about a rather famous and well-frequented place and getting as many different answers.

25. You become very direct, cutting-through-bullshit, very forthcoming and marginally polite (my case) when dealing with Egyptians on streets, shops and restaurants.

You become a little bit or more of Egyptian after more than few months!! I did!