Sunday, February 8, 2009

Letters from Egypt: Chivalry Found

I recently had an epiphany or perhaps I’d just chosen to ignore it until now. It is no secret that there are going to be differences in cultures, particularly between American and Egyptian society. However, what may surprise some of you are the similarities that I have noticed between Southerners (in the US) and Egyptians.

First of all, women of the South do not get dubbed Southern Belle for nothing. You can travel all throughout the US and while the South may have its fair share of what some may refer to as rednecks, Southern Belles are a coveted breed. They are raised to be proper ladies and while at times I may falter with my language usage, I can tell you that they are held to a higher standard than anywhere else in the US. Egyptian females are much the same.

While times are changing and virginity comes and goes, many Egyptian females still remain virgins until marriage. Okay, while that might not apply to the majority of American society, Southern girls care a great deal about their reputation and will do a lot in order to protect it…for the most part. It is hard to gain a good reputation, easy to lose it and almost impossible to get it back.

Furthermore, while I will admit that my family is anything but perfect, Southern families are a different breed. You still have family time, you still have soccer moms and you still go to church in the same car almost every Sunday. Yes, there are exceptions, but overall, this is mostly true. Egyptian families are very close-knit and while I will say that NO FAMILY is perfect, I just see a great deal of similarities in the way the two function.

What I really felt this week was the fact that I was suppressed, but when I stepped back and thought about the situation, I realize that’s not necessarily the case as I would’ve endured much of the same in the South but maybe I’ve just been away for so long. You see, I just realized that when something happens to me here, I’m suppose to wait around for a man to take up for me and correct/solve the situation. I am a very strong, independent person and this is just unfathomable. However, when I think about it, it was the same in the South. There’s a reason that girls love Southern boys – they always say that they have a strong sense of chivalry. They hold the door open for us, they say ma’am to our mothers, they ask our father’s permission before proposing, etc. Egyptian men do much of the same.

When I started this blog, it was a rant about how I felt suppressed and restricted from being myself. While I will admit that I am capable of taking up for myself and have been on my own for quite awhile, I will also admit that I was reminded of how it felt to be in the South where gentlemen are prevalent. Sometimes it is nice to be treated like a girl. Now will I admit that I’m in love with the idea of not having as much freedom to do things – no, I’m not. However, this is my positive feeling on the situation and if you only knew the words I’d written before this, my how you would’ve been even more amazed at my newfound perspective.

Place of the Week: The Marriot in Zamalek

Many tourists are always looking for a place to go and while the Marriot is world-renown for their service, this one is no different. What is great about this place? The fact that it is within easy access to some of Cairo's greatest sites. First of all, it is located on the island of Zamalek. Looking for authentic Egyptian fare? Look at a previous post of Felfela - even Jimmy Carter was a fan! Want to really see Cairo? Visit the nearby Cairo Tower. For nightlife - you're two minutes away from the hottest club in town: Purple and just five minutes away from Cairo Jazz Club. And if you don't want to venture out too far, never fear - there's a casino, various restaurants (including Roy's Country) and also an outdoor garden that provides a great atmosphere, shisha and don't forget to try the club sandwich.

Purple, a hotspot among many living in the Cairo area.

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