Thursday, June 18, 2009

Letters from Egypt: Use Caution

Yes, I never got around to the second posting that I wanted to do discussing the dating game in Cairo (at least from my perspective). However, it is still on my mind. Keep a lookout.

Instead, this week something happened that was a wake-up call, so to speak. Sometimes we get too lax in our surroundings and need that jolt to remind us of where we are. That jolt happened to me Monday night.

I usually do not go out (or at least make every attempt possible to avoid it) on Mondays (‘school nights’ in general), but as one of my other friends just returned from her holiday in Spain and other work colleagues were all congregating, I decided why not. After meeting them, I then met up with my friend Alex and we ventured out to one of my favorite places – Cairo Jazz Club. As per usual, after leaving we usually stop by my favorite shwarma place (Abou Maar) and it makes for an even better story to tell you that yes, we do take a cab and all the cab drivers know are quite familiar with the place (along with the Abou Maar staff that rush out to the car saying, “The Americannnnnn”). At which time, we also get the driver something to eat in addition.

Now many a night have I gone out, stayed out late and then ventured to take a cab home – sometimes alone. I would say my ratio of meeting decent drivers is approximately 85% and remember, I lived in NY and good luck getting that high of a statistic. I was warned when I arrived that I should never speak to a driver. Well, that just isn’t in my nature and/or culture. I would never want to snub anyone and to me, ignoring small talk from a driver is just rude.

Monday night, we dropped Alex off first and I asked the driver to wait for a few minutes so that we could make sure she got into her building. Then he began driving me – seemed nice enough – and insisted on pulling into the small street that leads to my apartment. He instantly got out and opened the door for me. As I was going to give him my money, he grabs my wrists.

Before you think the worst, nothing progressed as I got away from him with the guys at the restaurant near my apartment yelling. The meaning of this is to remind you (as well as reminding my friends) that no matter where you are – especially females – you have to ALWAYS be careful! I continue with saying that the percentage of how many cabs I’ve taken and this now happening is very low.

However, reiterating that first piece of advice that I’d simply dismissed, I now realize that you cannot be so nice to cab drivers. It’s unfortunate as of course I feel bad for them and want to be nice, but any form of pleasantness can be misconstrued as meaning more. It’s also a part of the culture. From this point on, while I will not be rude (unless provoked), I will not be so nice either. It’s a fine line and unfortunate that it now has to come to this, but it is just a precaution.

It’s all about learning experiences. I just hope there are no more (or worse) where that came from…for ANYONE.

Eat of the Week

Fuego (located in Bandar Mall, Maadi)

9 Palestine Rd

Tel: 2 982 0311

To be honest, I had a very bad experience at the last Maadi sushi place mentioned on my blog (Sakara) and have failed to have the courage to try it again (as they tried to make us pay for a salmon salad in which the salmon was clearly not good).

Fuego just opened and the owner spent a great deal of time in California, so I have to give credit where credit is due – this is going to be a favorite of many before long! If you aren’t in the mood for sushi, no worries, they have other options. One of my personal favorites to start off with is the goat cheese bruschetta. It literally melts in your mouth. I just tried a new sushi roll that isn’t yet featured on the menu, but will be making it’s debut soon: the Fuego California roll. Inside it has avocado and crab, wraped with fresh tuna and salmon on top and drizzled in eel sauce and this sesame paste – it was heavenly. Another personal favorite of mine is the Red Dragon roll. It has sea bass inside wrapped in tuna with a touch of this sweet and spicy sauce on top.

Not only is the food spectacular, but the service is phenomenal – which is hard to come by in Egypt. The owner is Tamer and the general manager is Ahmed – both are great. I can assure you that you will NOT be disappointed. The setup makes you feel like it’s going to break your wallet, but it’s really reasonably priced for the quality you receive. Actually, it is the same price as the other sushi places that boast of great sushi, but fail to deliver.


  1. Take care of yourself, girlie!!! (said in my best "mom" voice).

  2. Made that experience in Kuwait.
    I was lucky too. Glad I'm a big girl ;)
    But I always went back to talking to them. Can't help myself.
    I just didn't smile that much at them no more, sigh...

  3. What a dumb broad you are. You worry about being nice to a taxi driver. Do you realize that a taxi driver who opens his mouth to talk to you about anything but how to get where you are going is not being nice to YOU? You wonder why you get harassed. You just don't know how to dress, behave, or anything in this country. I never get harassed and that is because I behave properly.

  4. I know exactly why you probably do not receive attention/harassment – because you are male. Women do not refer to one another as “broads.” We usually say – if we are of low class – bitch, slut, whore and there’s another word that is used for special occasions. Even a female ogre would get harassed in this country.