Thursday, July 19, 2007

If Only

Looking beyond the irritable flea and mosquito bites that are on every part of my body, the roaches as big as my face, and the general air of stinkiness, I like it in Egypt. People here are open with you. If they're angry, you'll know it. It's kind of entertaining actually when you see men getting out of their cars to argue with one another on who's right-of-way it was.

Or you know, weddings in the street with full out bands, blocking traffic. Or bearded men on motorcycles, with their niqabi wives and sometimes babies riding behind them (this entertains me to no end). There's the walking on the shore of the sea every day and watching the sun set. Everybody will talk to anybody.

Then there's the hearing the adhan 5 times a day, or more, and seeing people flock to the mosque, or pray in the streets because there isn't enough space in the mosque. And sometimes you'll find shops that close during prayer, and a sign on the door that says "we're praying." On Saturdays we attend this halaqa at the mosque for women, and there are always more than 100 women there, probably around 150 who come to listen each time. Makes me wonder about the sad halaqas I've been to in Toronto with a 4-people attendance.

My 7 year old cousin, who wears hijab now was telling me that her parents didn't want her to wear it yet. She's like, "I had to cry and scream so that they'd let me wear it." So I asked her why she wanted to wear it at all, and she replied "because it's summer, so it's going to be hot and I'll get more rewards because of the heat." There's being with your extended family and how it gives you more of a sense of identity and heritage.

This is likely why I find Egypt to be a place that's full of a culture that is so far from being indvidualistic. You can probably make this conclusion about every "back home," not only Egypt. So yes, if you look beyond the fact that you may not have hot running water, or that blackouts happen more often than you'd like, there is an enchanting quality to being among your peers, and when you've always wondered why you were a certain way, you find out.

And yet, I miss Toronto. I miss my university, Hart House Jummahs. I miss the subway, I miss MULTICULTURAL FOOD (esp somalian and Indian)!! I miss my buddies. If only, yes if only I could transport all of those things to here, I would be happy.


Anonymous said...

That's what I don't get...why can't we just take out that indvidualistic lifestyle in the community here and bring all the positive notes you've mentioned into our T.O. community?!

Change is a beautiful thing

mezba said...

Ah, you just like it because you are on vacation, stress free and living it up! :-D

That's why I like Bangladesh when I go for a visit too. That romantic blackout, though, becomes irritating when it's dry heat and shows no sign of abating hehe

Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaikum Asmaa,

My thoughts exactly. It's funny how something that you would think should feel soo alien in fact captures your heart... *sigh*
Lets get a bunch of girls together and all go next year! What do you say? :P... Enjoy it while it lasts... Talk to the children on the streets, "make friendship" with all the elder people... and keep us in your duas...
Miss ya, fr:)

p.s. Maybe we should try Pakistan next year:P

Anonymous said...

why you miss indian food, can't you find biryani in Egypt? or why don't you cook biryani for your Egyptian family and make them jealous of greatness of south asian food!

Biryani is my rani

Cookie said...


Egypt sounds good... that is... if you exclude the roaches and the other bugs!

Asmaa said...

anon #1, right. that should be the aim but it's easier said than done.

mezba, that's probably true :D if I had to work here and stuff, I'd probably end up hating it. but then, would that be hating egypt, or just hating work? :D

anon #2 aka FR, I am making friendship with people :D pakistan eh...for some reason I don't think my parents would be too fond of that idea...

anon #3, glad to know biryani is your rani though I have very little idea what that means.

cookie, walaikum assalaam, yes, minus the large and very disgusting roaches, egypt is a relatively decent place :D