A HSP in Cairo

{ Wednesday, December 7, 2011 }

As a HSP (and I do believe this term really exists) life in Cairo is not always easy. It's very hard to find a place where it's quiet and peaceful. It seems like people are so fond of noise here, the way they abuse their carhorns. 
Luckily I have an apartment on the 19th floor, where the noise can't penetrate so much.
I know there are people who fall in love with this city from the first moment they get here. I agree that there are very beautiful monuments and places here, and people can be very kind. I remember that it was pouring rain one evening and I was stranded in an Etisalat shop. I needed to take a taxi back to my apartment but the taxi's were not stopping at all. So the salesman went out in the rain for me to stop a taxi. He started shouting "taks!taks!" to get their attention and there were some other men who joined in too. So I could just run to the taxi and get in straight away. Very nice of him.

You can never feel entirely comfortable though. You always remain the foreigner, and some Egyptians have pretty inaccurate ideas about Western women. I partly blame Hollywood for this. I never noticed it in Belgium, but movies often depict women as easy and passive. I went to the cinema here with my Egyptian friend, and the movie showed two men who went home with another girl every night. Every single one of them was willing to be seduced and have a one night stand with those men, and it just doesn't give a good impression.
There is a strong belief here that every girl who doesn't wear hijaab is cheap and wants to be harassed. Then again, even hijabi's get harassed. 
It's a nightmare to walk home when school is finishing. There are tons of schoolkids on the street. When you pass them, they start shouting at you "Hello! Hello! Hello! Hello! What's your name! Hello!" and no matter how much you ignore them, they don't give up. I've also had Egyptian girls touching and pulling my hair.
The police on the street stares at you shamelessly. They call you "muza" or even start singing to get your attention. It just doesn't make me feel safe. 

I've had some kidney problems here in Egypt, and I never had it in Belgium. I had to go to the hospital on my own, which was difficult for me, but if I look at it on the bright side, it helped me to become more independent. 

There are students of two different universities in my class. The students from the other university are given the chance to stay a whole year in Cairo, because their classes in Belgium can be given in Cairo. When I tried to imagine myself staying here for a whole year, I realised how worn out I feel. I am grateful for the experience I had, and Cairo is full of life, but I miss my country. I miss the green in my garden, I miss the food, I miss my friends and family and I miss my cat. Maybe when I actually return, I'll miss Cairo instead :p
I do wonder if my cat still knows I exist. 


SS said...

this is the only way to say what is wrong with egypt without offending cairo.

Candice said...

Sounds about right! I was there 7 months and I would have stayed longer because of my husband but was still really looking forward to going home. I was starting to go nuts! The noise, people always trying to talk to me or yelling hello, missing greenery and missing my food, etc. I had great times and found people very kind like the man who actually crossed the street to come get me to help me cross, etc.
I haven't been in 5 years though and I really miss it like crazy! I can even imagine myself living there for a couple years even if I know that has a lot to do with missing it and that I'd probably go nuts in about 1 year!

MarieHarmony said...

I am sure what you are learning in Cairo will serve you always. It's in difficult times we understand the real value of life.
I imagine it's not easy as a western woman to live over there - my friends told me they were not feeling secure walking in the streets with everybody's eyes on them.
I hope the end of your trip will go well. Take care Safiyah.

Becky said...

As an HSP myself I completely feel your pain. Make the best of it, enjoy your time and know it's temporary. :)

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