Thanks to some family friends living in Cairo for work (US government), Adam and I have had the chance to explore Maadi quite a bit this week. We’re currently at the CSA, a club house of sorts where ex-pats can enjoy garden seating, iced coffee, and free WiFi. Score! Because you know our Internet isn’t going to be installed any time soon…
Maadi is interesting in that it seems to be an ex-pat attempt to de-Egyptianize Cairo. Not in a nasty way, but rather in a sterilizing sort of way. Everything here is much cleaner (yay!) than in areas where foreigners aren’t in the majority, with native workers doing most of the tidying. And there are supermarkets to rival some in New York–I finally found my goat cheese and soymilk!
But for all of its charm from the point of view of someone who does need a bit of home every now and then, Maadi seems inauthentic. It’s certainly a great escape, but at times it almost feels like the whole place is walled and security-controlled.
Speaking of: We had a great night out at the Embassy Club with those family friends, where we had some very un-Egyptian food and listened to a great oldies cover band (“The Fuuls”–if you’ve been to Egypt, you’ll get it). But for Adam, who hasn’t been in the States since May, it was total reverse-culture shock. Barbecue and American beers, and… Reubens? Walahi!
I’m currently reading The Yacoubian Building, a best-seller about the relationships taking place in and around a real building down the block from our apartment, on Talat Harb. It’s set about a decade ago, but is meant to offer a perspective on Egypt in-the-now. Living right around the corner from the Yacoubian Building has been so interesting to me as a reader, and as someone who’s witnessed first-hand the strange and (more often than not) ridiculous goings-on in Cairo. This is such an odd place, but we do love it for its quirks.