Egyptians Living on the Edge!

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Living in Egypt is no easy task. Between fighting to maintain your sanity through traffic and planning your life around electricity cuts there are a multitude of inconveniences and hazards that we face daily. Yet for some, life still needs a little bit of spicing up with actions that make you scream “Are you effin crazy?!”.

On a recent visit to Istanbul, I have come to realize that Egyptians (ourselves included – don’t think this is some kind of elitist rant) have really lost the ability to value human life. Simple things such as the right to walk on human-friendly streets, or the right to clean air/food, or the right to feel safe have become distant notions to us, quite the opposite we now crave suicidal adventures. How you ask? 

Pedestrian Crossing

It is a well-known fact that humans existed on Earth before cars (please let go of any ideas you picked up from the Transformers movie). Accordingly, humans have a God-given right to be able to walk on Earth without feeling like potential road kill. What happens though, is that pedestrians cross streets with either a challenging attitude somewhat like that of Gandalf from LOTR “You shall not pass before me!” or a helpless/suicidal attitude also known as the “I-will-cross-the-street-and-completely-avoid-making-eye-contact-with-the-drivers-even-better-I’m-going-to-cross-with-my-back-to-the-cars-in-a-diagonal-fashion” syndrome. Whatever their strategy, Egyptian pedestrians have perfected the extreme sport of “street crossing”.

Unidentified Food

Egyptians seem to have an affinity for restaurants set in horrible locations, with unappetizing names, and that serve really dangerous food that mainly revolves around setting fire to your whole gastric system starting with your mouth, and ending with your… you get the picture. These places are also known for their extreme desserts that involve throwing completely unrelated sweet items together pushing you to the verges of a diabetic coma. If you express your dislike of the idea to your friends you are instantly bombarded with statements like “the food tastes great!” or “you should see the really expensive cars parked there”. These are the same friends that spend 24 hours glued to their toilet seats after visiting the aforementioned restaurants. Why they keep going back, still remains a mystery.

Lack of Safety Procedures

In Egypt, safety is more of a luxury than a necessity. Take for example the people who install your AC units – you know that part in the end when the guy tests that the compressor holder has been installed properly by standing on it? Without any safety harness. In mid-air. Without worrying that there might be a teeny tiny chance that it wasn’t cemented properly, or that he ate way too many foul sandwiches for breakfast thus passing the weight limit for that thing. To most normal people that’s crazy suicidal behaviour  To Egyptians, that’s trust and faith.

The Curse of BBM

“BBM-ing”, yes it’s a word, has taken over Egypt like the plague. Priority is given to that little familiar BBM sound over other humans, physical needs (hunger/thirst/bowel movements), and traffic when driving. Egyptians can now be seen running into walls, crashing their cars, and losing important people in their lives, just because they had to read that funny forward Mohsen just sent.

Delivery Motorcycles aka “Tayyareen”

Deliverymen either take their jobs too seriously, or hate their jobs so much that they consciously try to kill themselves on every delivery errand. These people pay no attention whatsoever to traffic rules. Even the rules of physics don’t apply to them. They can suddenly materialize next to your car, cut you off, and then disappear just as quickly. For people to put their lives in danger like that there must be a greater good behind that…it can’t all be about sandwiches and fries, can it? Well, maybe fries. Who wouldn’t risk their lives for the safe, prompt delivery of fries?

Lack of Hygiene

Egyptians seem to live by the rule “If it isn’t rotting then it’s fine” and this applies to both personal hygiene and general cleanliness. Take street vendors for example, they have made peace with all species of flies/ants/unidentified bugs and with keeping food exposed to such creatures (not to mention dust and pollution – but those add flavour . It also seems to be a generally accepted thing when serving food to touch it with your uncovered unwashed hands (just think of all the places these hands have been). Despite that, many Egyptians see this as normal behaviour  and even accuse you of being too finicky for asking the Simit vendor to not touch your snack with the fingers he had just been picking his nose with.

There are hundreds of examples of Egyptian suicidal behaviour that we can observe everyday, but the undisputed fact remains that Egyptians are no cowards, they like to live on the edge.

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