I am in my last week here and have yet to depart Cairo, yet I know I will miss it already. Can this be possible?
Yesterday, I took the microbus to my afternoon tutorial of Ahmed, a 7 year old child prodigy. There were no available seats, so I became an Egyptian for about 10 minutes and simply contorted my body and leaned over the contours of the seat backs, with my head bumping lightly against the ceiling. I had my backpack with me, so the gentleman by the window seat motioned to me to hand my bag to him for safekeeping. I complied.
While riding the buses, I have observed that it is quite common for strangers to offer their laps as temporary storage areas for other passengers’ bags or heavy items. After 10 minutes or so, a seat opened up in the back. I finally sat down and my bag returned to me. I fished for the small bag of apricots and offered them to the gentleman who safeguarded my bag. He refused, of course. So, I insisted two more times. He finally relented, as I expected. I then offered every passenger around me the same bag. They all refused politely.
After this gentleman left the microbus, I commented to the man next to me: “Did you see that? That’s what I love about Egypt—it really feels like a big family within one community. In my country, we don’t have this.”
He expressed surprise.
Can you understand now why I will miss this country and its people so much?