For this blog I thought it would be fun if I had people ask me about Egypt so I sent a survey to all my friends and told them to ask away! Before I answer any of them, let me answer the typical questions asked. Bear with me please.
Lets start with the question that started this whole blog.
Do you speak hieroglyphics?
No, I do NOT speak hieroglyphics. How do you even speak hieroglyphics? That would have been a better question to ask. Hieroglyphics is NOT a spoken language, it is a written language. I speak Arabic, not Egyptian and English.
Do you live in the pyramids?
No, I do NOT live in the pyramids. The pyramids were used as tombs for the pharaohs of Egypt. The pyramids are practically empty. Everything that was most valuable or could be transported was taken by the British. You can go visit the British Museum Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan if you want to find anything.
Do you own a horse or a camel and ride it to school? Or do you even go to school?
No, I did NOT own a horse or a camel when I was in Egypt and yes I went to school, I am currently in 10th grade. I went to AISE (American International School in Egypt) when I was in Egypt.
How do you say the word #?&! in Arabic?
I will say this, NEVER EVER mentions someones mother in an argument in a bad unless you want a death wish. That is the unspoken rule in arguments in Egypt. Just don’t do it, no one will help you, if anything they will support your opponent.
Do you have WiFi in Egypt or do you talk to people by sending messenger pigeons?
Yes we DO have WiFi in Egypt, even though it may be crazy slow, it exists. The messenger pigeons, really guys? Yes, we have in Egypt they are bred, raised, and eaten (story for another time). They are however, not used as messenger pigeons.
Here are a few other questions that I have been asked:
Do you speak Egyptian?
Do swim in the Nile?
Are you building pyramids still?
Wait isn’t Egypt just sand?
Do you worship Ra? (No, I’m his daughter duh)
Do you believe in the Egyptian
So are you a princess or something? (I could be the great (times a lot) granddaughter of Hatshepsut and never know)
Now more on a serious note
How does dating young in Egypt compare to dating young in the US? Tell me about relationships in Egypt and what’s acceptable there compared to what’s acceptable in the United States.
It really just depends where you are in Egypt. In some places there are still some arranged marriages. People view it more like a financial agreement. It would go something like this…
Mother of son: Ya my son is very young and hardworking.
Mother of daughter: Really? I have a daughter you know, are you thinking of what I’m thinking?
Mother of son: My house for dinner on Thursday come anytime.
From there they would discuss who would buy what for the house, the daughter was always in charge of buying stuff for the kitchen and yes that bother me too but that is the culture (in some places not all). Men no matter how much I express my hate towards it, men are seen as greater beings, they are the supporters of the family while the women are at home raising the children. If they don’t come to an agreement or the ‘possible future couple’ do not like each other than the deal is off. Some people even marry their second cousin or even just cousin. It is so embedded in the culture that people can’t get rid of it.
However, a lot of people now are dating without having it put a ring on it first. PDA is just a big no-no in Egypt. Like if I were to hold a boy’s hand that was not my finance or husband then I would be shunned or look down at. Also, I cannot walk alone with a boy, even if he is just a friend, people would get the wrong idea. Then again, I can’t walk the streets alone as a girl or with a group of friends. I must have at leat three girls but no more than five boys or I would need more girls in the group. There are parts in Egypt though that just don’t care about dating and such and have more of an open mind than other people. Still no making out allowed.
Funny story – side note: if I receive any emails, comments or anything else talking about how weird my mom is or if she’s being stupid, just go back to the fourth question 🙂
My mom and I were walking down the street here in the USA and saw a couple kissing each other which is totally ok here. I could visibly see my mom speed up, she felt uncomfortable seeing PDA. Which was understandable, we don’t have to deal with seeing people make out right in front of us. In Egypt, PDA (such as making out and more) is meant to be kept indoors.
Media? How is it different from western media in the United States?
Social media is used just as much as it is here. Facebook, I would say, is the most used social media out there. Sometimes you will know things before even the news or the police officers will. Facebook is used so often that you don’t even need to put your TV on to see the news, it all in your hand. While here, Facebook is almost non-existent. Snapchat, Instagram is used much more often than Facebook. The media is probably the same, through in some Egyptian comedy here and there. Like this one on the right, if you can read it I hope your laughing your face off.
Now the news is drastically different from here. Here, in the USA, everything is censored, everything from: words, images, people’s faces and videos. Meanwhile in Egypt everything is shown, and I mean EVERYTHING. I have seen videos that people will never knew could show up on the news. At least they give you a heads up before they show it right? No, not always. During the 2011 Revolution all you can see on the news is people dying, blood, protesters and more blood. Seeing something you find disturbing, is nothing for me, a teenage girl.
What are you?
First of all I am NOT a what I am a human begin just like you. I promise I am not an alien from space, as cool as that would be. Please if your reading this, do not ask someone what are you, be sensitive when asking these questions. They hurt more than you think. You are not the center of the world.
Now regarding that question lets talk about racial/ethnic diversity.
How racially/ethnically diverse is Egypt?
In Tennessee more than 70% of the population is White and less than 30% are either Black, Hispanic, Asian or mixed. Do you see that 0.3% of other? Ya, that me, I’m Middle Eastern. I am one of very few Middle Eastern living in Chattanooga. I have only met one other Egyptian on the mountain. If you go to Nashville though you will find more Egyptians living there. When I was filling out the school application the very first question was, “What is your race? Must tick one box. I looked at the boxes, White, Black, Hispanic, Alaskan, and Native American. I tried looking for an other box, I found none. They should have an other box right? I was disappointed, I felt like I didn’t belong. I knew that I was living in a state that was not racially/ethnically diverse but really, not even an other box? As I stared at the application I started to think, will I be accepted? Will my skin color matter? Will I have to worry about people making assumptions? Will be scared of me? These thoughts kept haunting me all night. I woke up the next morning and looked at the unfinished application, the one question that could not be answered.
I pushed the application to the side and looked at some of my old photos when I was in Egypt. Unlike Tennessee, Egypt is very diverse. I was lucky enough to go to a school that was very diverse (besides AISE). I went to MCS (Maadi Community School) from KG till 8th grade. We had people from all over Asia, Sudan, Europe, America and lets not forget Australia and New Zealand. Maadi International School would have been a more justifiable name. Maadi was literally a hot spot for foreigners, we must have has more than races than I could count. I sometimes miss seeing the streets of Maadi, please do not be offended when I say this but I’m sometimes tired of seeing white. I love living here, don’t get me wrong, I love the community and the people living here. Everyone accepted me and welcomed me with open arms (98% of them did at least).
This building in Maadi is a good representation of Maadi. This building was the one building that everyone knew just because it was so different and unique, it stood out. As you the building has all different designs on it but they belong together.
Please take the time to read this blog, it address some very important points – No, Egyptians Aren’t White… But They Aren’t Black Either
How can you live in such a dangerous place?
How can you live in a country that allows teenagers buy guns that are semiautomatic or automatic that do not need to be registered or need for a permit? How can you live in a country that does enforce gun control laws? Why do you have alcohol problem? The media labels Egypt on of the most dangerous places in the world but is it? It all comes down to perspective, as an Egyptian I feel safer in Egypt than in the USA. Why? It’s simple, I lived there all my life, I know the dos and don’ts. Just like people living here know the do and dont’s. It all comes down to perspective. I love living here, but my heart will always belong to Egypt. I can go on and on but I’ll leave that for another day.
How has law enforcement in Egypt been at combating terrorism in your opinion and how does law enforcement in Egypt differ from in the US?
I will be talking about this in another blog when I’m explaining the 2011 Revolution. Stay tuned for that!
I’m sorry If I didn’t answer your questions but I promise I will address them sooner or later 🙂
This is Cairo signing off
If you have any questions or suggestions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned for my next blog