The Taste of Home

At home, I don’t have or want a car. We have excellent public transportation, and I have my legs. If needed, there’s uber and both momma and baba’s cars. Really, mostly, I walk everywhere. It clears my head, fills my eyes, and keeps me fit; each, great things.

Walking here means I have a delinquent husband whose not driving me as he should be.

Today I spent 2.5 hours walking through Cairo. It was heaven. Here’s some things I learned about this great city during my walk –

First, that I am guaranteed to receive at least once a day the compliment: Inti (You are) 3assal (honey). Today I heard it four times during my walk. From both men and women alike. I think it’s because I’m smiling a lot; as mentioned previous, I am looking as many people in the eyeballs as possible, and smiling. Some are taken aback, some become shy, and look away for a moment before looking back; every single one smiles. To those who might see this as street harassment, I am receiving it as a lovely and not-gross compliment. In fact, I may start introducing myself as Hi anna (I am) 3assal (honey) Maha.

Second, their Kinder Eggs are different than those in Canada. And better. They are shaped like an egg, and they split down the middle like our own. However, there are no two sides of the Kinder chocolate. Instead, there is one side which has the toy, and the other side which – wait for it – is *melted* Kinder chocolate with two crisp little balls of stuff also filled with more melted Kinder chocolate. YOU EAT IT WITH A SPOON THAT IS ATTACHED TO THE EGG. I nearly passed out at this discovery and now I can’t trust a Kinder egg that is not of this quality. ARE YOU IN A NEARBY COUNTRY? PLEASE TELL ME IF YOUR KINDER EGGS ARE LIKE THIS I WILL COME TO SEE YOU NEXT.

Third, there is no Starbucks here. (This statement is for sure factually incorrect, but roll with me, it makes my next contradictory statement better.) While walking, I was shocked to come across a Starbucks sign, first of its kind, at a gas station. I motored my ass right inside excited to be greeted by an unhappy and underappreciated barista (Hi Ati! I miss you! You make the best decaf Americanos). Only, I was instead greeted by a very happy man hitting buttons on Starbucks machines. He was a military fella previously stationed at Al Areesh. I wanted to throw my coffee at the wall but I didn’t. Because manners. Politics aside, there was no drip coffee. No Americano. No cream. I purchased a cappuccino to go and took photos in the middle of traffic, after taking my first sip and tasting home.

Which is the perfect segue into my final point, which is how to cross a Cairo street. The trick is to wait when there is enough traffic that people are forced to slow a bit. Then cross only when you make eye contact with a driver and wave at them with one hand while mimicking the walking motion with the other. They will come to a complete stop and allow you to pass if you do this. It’s great and safe. And I can hear my mother yelling at me from Canada. But it’s really the only way to Walk Like An Egyptian. (Certainly you didn’t expect me to be here for near a month whithout cracking this line, did you?)

Today, I am grateful for:
1. The safe and healthy birth of my Omar and Wendy’s baby Zain. While I write about Kinder eggs, my younger cousins are impregnating eggs. My mother is still yelling.
2. Having the best hair wash ever. And he did it with cold water because a hot water pipe had burst, and it was still the best hair wash I have ever had. (Diva Line 3, in Maadi.)
3. How people here react when I tell them I am Palestinian.

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