August 31, 2010

Don't Tread On Me

Although I'm Egyptian by heritage, I've always been American in my head and in my heart. (Of course I'm a Muslim but I'm not talking about religion here so don't go commenting about that) Even after living here in Egypt for 8 years now, you can't shake where you were brought up, what you've always known since being a child or the way you think.

But now I find, I've surprised my self in my reactions to things. I won't go into details but someone recently made a remark to me about our decision to live here. Now I'm the first person to complain about Egypt but can I just say? That little dig? It made me defensive. I felt attacked not just personally but on a patriotic level. Now we all know there are a lot of things wrong with Egypt but there are a lot of good things about this country as well. The same is true of any country of course.

I think that part of why I feel the need to defend Egypt at times, comes from my blood, but I believe it's primarily from living here. As much as I complain and roll my eyes about people here and the way they do things, I've also seen the best of it. The warm hearted people. The hospitality. You know your Neighbours and share your food with each other. The sunshine year round. The beautiful sea. The all around relaxed environment. Never feeling like you're not welcome, just to name a few.

Tensions of late in the US regarding Muslims are at an all time high and I sincerely worry about that as a potential problem if we were to go for a visit.

In the end I'll always identify as American first, but don't you ever imply that Egypt is not a good place to live or bring up children. It only makes you sound elitist and arrogant. /rant

August 20, 2010

Shopping In Egypt

The thing about shopping in Egypt, is the prices in most shops aren't set. I could pay 100LE for the same item someone else payed 90 for and yet another person payed 150 for the very same item. It just doesn't seem fair to me.

When you ask for the price of an item, the shop keeper can decide what s/he wants to charge for it, in that moment. Depending on how you look or where your from the price can range from reasonable to outrageous. I've seen foreigners get ripped of more times than I can count and that's when they haggle, even! Of course this doesn't apply to big stores like Carrefour, Spinney's etc, or brand name chains. There are even small some shops here that have set price stickers on every item, but they aren't the norm.

I've learned to bargain with shopkeepers after paying the quoted price when I first got here. Man, was that stupid. The guy would say 30 LE and I'd take out the cash and pay it! Laughable! You don't even take your wallet out, you have to agree on a price first, and you'd better not act like you're in love with the item in question.

This past week I went to get a dress for Zayneb for Eid. We stepped into a shop and right away I spotted a pretty dress amongst the gawdiness that surrounded us. I pulled it out and asked the woman how much? She said 130LE. Zayneb loved it, and was excited to tried it on. Perfect fit. She was so happy to find a dress she loved. She's in that in-between age where clothes in children's shops don't fit anymore and women's dresses are too long or not a style for younger girls. No Junior's dept.here. So I go to pay and she says 140. I say, you said 130 before. She swore she didn't I'm kind of mad at myself for not fighting it but she loved the dress and I just paid the 140 and left. She kept trying to push more stuff at us, I just thought I'd misheard her and that in the end there's no price sticker on the tag. Zayneb later told me she heard 130 at first too. I'm kicking myself, not for the 10LE, but for not being more assertive but that's something I'm working on. Other people I know would just leave 130 on the table, take the dress and leave. Or start to leave, hoping for a price break, but I knew we wanted that dress.


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Photobucket



That little incident just further cemented my opinion that shop owners here are rarely honest and it doesn't matter if she's wearing a scarf or that it's Ramadan. They will always charge you as much as they think they can get out of you. If it had been a European tourist coming into the shop they might have paid 200 or more for the very dress.

The funny part is so many of them tout "It's not Egyptian" as such a big selling point! Hey! It's not Egyptian, so you know it's good!

Some here argue that it's the shop owner's right to charge what s/he wants and if the client agrees and pays it, that's their problem. They agreed and paid. I say things should cost X amount of pounds and it should X for everyone. It's just not honest business otherwise.

August 14, 2010

Ramadan Days

Hey everyone, I hope you're all well. Those of us fasting, I hope it's not too tough, inshaAllah. It's a long day. I find we get more thirsty than hungry but alhamdulillah it's been fine.

We hung the decorations and got colored lights for the kids' windows. I always want to make our holidays fun and festive for the kids. I need to get Eid gifts and clothes sometime soon. I'm working on my Eid outfit already.




Fasting has made me want to cook and bake more, It might be the hunger or tradition, I don't know.

I made these cupcakes yesterday, Recipe for chocolate cake here, Cream cheese frosting, here.
Highly yummy, if I may say so myself.

August 10, 2010

Blessed Ramadan


Art Credit


I hope this month will be one of the best for you all.

August 9, 2010

Green Green Grass



I love this cafe/playground we go to sometimes. We always take our shoes off and the kids love laying in the grass and doing cartwheels and stuff. Lawns are few and far between here so it's great to enjoy the grass between our toes, even if it's sod.



August 5, 2010

Yeah

I don't know what it is about summer, but I just tend to blog less. I guess it has to do with not having those mornings to myself, and feeling all around lazy. I thought I'd post a little randomness/update to refresh this here blog o' mine.

So, what's been up...Nothing major, lazing about for the most part.



I took this a few nights ago from the window at Mcdonalds. Cute little kitty family.

I tore a hole in my favorite abaya on piece of wood on a chair at a cafe. I really hope it won't be too noticeable, I love that abaya. I have this stuff that's supposed to be good for these things, it's like fabric tape that you iron to mend? I don't know, InshaAllah it will be inconspicuous.

I really, really love wedges, I got a new pair recently and they are so comfortable and I'm taller plus they are very cute. Wedges are the short girl's dream come true. In regular heels/stilettos I wobble and threaten to topple over or feel pain upon walking a short time. Wedges give you height and feel good! I hope they never go out of style.




I watched a movie recently that I really liked. The Lovely Bones. It's weird to even say I liked it. It was so chilling at times. Saoirse Ronan plays the main character and she did an amazing job. She was the young girl in Atonement. I don't want to go into a summary, if you're interested, Google it. It was visually stunning at times and disturbing at others but all in all, very good.




The kids wanted to make marshmallow kabobs. Can you tell we made too much? We ended up eating only some toasted and saved the rest for later. It got a bit sickening.


I really want to get menial tasks such as summer HW, catch up on the laundry, giving the apt a good cleaning done before Ramadan starts next week. InshaAllah, to have more time for worship. I do not plan on having any dinner party/ iftars here this year it's just too much work and not enough space. Iftar's out? That's what I'm talking about.


How much more arbitrary can this post get? I don't know, lets see, There's a circus in town so we want to go soon. I hope it's the acrobats and stuff kind of circus not the abuse animals kind. Hopefully, if we do, I'll post about that.