My Mobile Internet

As our leave’s getting closer and we’re  counting down the days. I’m remembering the beautiful things about the States. The green outdoors, the breeze, the parks, and most of all: my house. I miss my house, it’s in a quiet place, you don’t hear any car horns or anybody yelling; I really miss my house.Thinking about these things makes me even more excited to go. I’m so excited that I’m surprised that I didn’t start packing my bag out of excitement already. I also really want the language center classes to finish so the time would go faster until our leave.

mobile-shop
My very first days in Cairo.  Shopping for Mobile Data Plans.

While thinking about my home, I also think about how on YouTube anything under 1080p resolution was unacceptable. But here in Egypt  I have to watch everything in 140p resolution so it doesn’t finish my internet packet. In Egypt there is no unlimited internet packets so it’s like pay as you go. You buy a small card and put the code on your phone. Then after you do that you can buy a limited packet with the credit you put in. The biggest thing that I got affected by living in Egypt is the fright that my Internet will finish. Every video counts, oh you want to try out this game on the appstore? Well before you download it you scroll down and look at how big it is, before coming to Egypt I didn’t even know you could check that. You really have to use the internet efficiently and not waste it so your internet packet lasts until the end of the month. For me however, a huge internet user, you can find that I finish 7 gigabytes before the half of the month.

mobile-internet
Get used to this.

I miss using the internet without limit, before, I used to download apps according to the limits of my phone storage, and now I download according to the limit of my internet. Every time I watch a video I watch it cautiously, everything counts. Many times my internet finished and this small dreaded message popped up on my phone screen saying that I used 100 percent of my internet.

Internet has probably been the most of my expenses this year.

Internet has probably been the most of my expenses this year. I look forward to going back to The States soon (About 2 weeks) and enjoying the unlimited internet and the greenery outside and taking a break from the yellow, grey, and brown colors of Egypt.

All of this teaches me something, I’ve always been told “be grateful for what you have”, and I don’t think I truly understood that until I came to Egypt and found that there are some things in America that Egypt doesn’t have. Even Egypt has some things that other countries would wish for. You come to Egypt, you drink as much water as you want in this burning country and stay hydrated. While drinking the water we have to think about those who don’t even find water. We need to think about the orphans while we are enjoying our time with our parents. And we have to think about refugees while we are warm and cozy in our house and they leave their houses and head towards an unknown future. We have to be thankful for what we have.

An Abrupt Leave – Syrian Refugee Crisis

By the time he returned home that night from his job at a healthcare company, he had resolved to flee Syria. He talked it over with his wife, informed his mother, and then reached out online to an underground group known for smuggling Syrians into Jordan. Again he was fortunate: the smugglers had space in a private car to carry him and his wife to the border the next day. The couple packed their bags with clothing, photos from their wedding and a few keepsakes, they walked out the door and left their life behind…

This is the story of Faez al Sharaa, a 28 year old Syrian refugee (Time Magazine)

You’ve probably heard about  the big tragedy in the world today: The Syrian Refugee Crisis. Whether it be taking in refugees or about the refugees themselves, this big tragedy has probably been in most country’s current events. We also hear about this crisis, from Internet, from the news, from our friends. Everybody knows about it now. The problem is, getting people to take action about this crisis, which people have started doing, with the help of fundraisers or actually going to the refugee camps and helping them.

kids How did the crisis start? You might’ve heard of The Arab Spring which is when most of the Middle East countries revolted against their tyrannical leaders. The same was going on in Syria, however the peaceful protests escalated to something far more extreme, after the governments violent crackdown, rebel groups started attacking the government which led to the government fighting back. About 250.000  lives were lost, half of which are thought to be citizens.

This fight resulted in the people fleeing their homes for their lives. That was a total amount of 3.8 million Syrian refugees in 2015.

This fight resulted in the people fleeing their homes for their lives. That was a total amount of 3.8 million Syrian refugees in 2015.  The Syrian refugees make up the biggest refugee population in the world. A problem this big cannot go unnoticed, which it hasn’t, the IRC (International rescue committee) has assisted 1.4 million people in 2015. Many efforts are being made daily to make these people’s lives better. man gets down on his knees

sad kid Lets Imagine ourselves in their shoes. I can’t imagine myself leaving my home, leaving my country to go live somewhere that I know will probably be worse, where I know I can die. However that decision has to be made, you either go or get killed by your own county. Taking with you only enough, leaving all of your luxuries. Making your world worse for the better. fenced in

What can we do to help these people?There are ways we can help them.  We can inform the people around us about this crisis and donate money. On savethechildren.org you can provide the refugees with 1,000 gallons of safe drinking water for only 15 dollars. We can also start our own fundraising on these websites, I started one myself and invited my friends to donate, here’s the link if you’re interested. Or we can write in our blogs and make a difference about this subject.
Syrian refugee tents

By doing these kind of things we can make their lives better and more comfortable, especially for kids. According to the UNHCR more than 50% of all refugees are children; these people don’t deserve this.  It is up to us to make their lives better.

Lets sacrifice a little bit from our comfort to make others world better.

 

CLICK FOR MY UNHCR FUNDRAISING PAGE

 

 

 

Will I return to Egypt after Arabic?

A common saying I’ve heard throughout my time in Egypt has been “One who drinks the water of the Nile comes back for more”. Many people here have told me their own stories, proving the truth behind this saying. One person told me that he came to Egypt in middle school for a month in Arabic classes; then not long past and he found himself here, in Egypt studying high school. This is yet one of the many stories of people coming to Egypt. There seems to be this magical feel of Egypt that draws people back to it. I think that’s why they call Egypt “Ummud Dunya” or mother of the world.

Would I come back? I truly do not actually know what the future has ahead of me, however…

Would I come back? I truly do not actually know what the future has ahead of me, however if I were to find a chance I would come to Egypt. I’ve even thought about retiring in Egypt even though I don’t even have a job yet. The small slice of a time I’ve been in Egypt has convinced me about the beauty of this country. You might not see it at the first glance, but when you dig down in the heaps of trash in the streets you find a truly beautiful country. The liveliness, the culture, the food, even the annoying sounds.This country has a lot to offer if you dig deep enough.

I’m not even gone yet and I feel Egypt pulling me in and telling me to come back later on. I miss The States right now, I miss my family. However Egypt, the sandy trashland, which doesn’t have much that would make it better than The States still manages to reel me in.

If a country is not comfortable and normally wouldn’t attract anybody manages to attract you, you can consider that country is a good one.

7000 Years !!! Cairo @ night

Cairo Facade

The Grandma Khan El Khalily, Cairo, Egypt

The Bakery. "Al Azhar" "Bab Zweila" Cairo, Egypt

Untitled

“Dakkatu al-thawm”; the balancer on the restaurant table.

koshary-2

In a foreign country, eating it’s cultural foods is inevitable; that’s a part of the whole thing. Well, my Egyptian friends noticed that we had been in Egypt for a couple months and still hadn’t tried Egyptian foods. So they brought us to a place called “Zaim” which sells a traditional dish called “Koshary”. Koshary is an Egyptian dish made of pasta, rice, and lentils mixed together, topped with a tomato and vinegar sauce, and garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions. This is where my story starts…

After we got our plates, I saw that there was a spice which was apparently really hot. My friends told me not to put too much…

After we got our plates, I saw that there was a spice which was apparently really hot. My friends told me not to put too much, saying that even one tablespoon of the stuff could destroy your mouth. I’d seen before that my Egyptian friends didn’t like spice that much, so I thought that they were exaggerating the whole hotness of it. So I put a tablespoon, even more, and I saw one of my friends pouring this yellowish liquid into their Koshary. I asked what it was and one of them said it was lemon juice. I didn’t want hot and sour mixing so I decided not to put it on and I started eating. After a couple bites I felt this burning in my mouth, I thought that I was a spice lover, but this wasn’t spice, It was like poison, I desperately looked for water.

Normally there was water on the tables but our jug was all finished. So I thought about the “lemon juice”. I desperately poured some in a cup and started drinking. A sudden feeling of disgust hit me, this wasn’t lemon juice and it was like vinegar! After being humiliated in front of my friends they asked for water and I drank, soothing my burning mouth.

Later on I found out that the “lemon juice” was something called “دقة الثوم” (dakkatu al-thawm) which I think is like garlic and vinegar and some other things that cool the hotness when you pour it into the Koshary. I don’t think it works too good if you drink it though. This was a really memorable first experience for me that I probably won’t forget. And ever since that I’ve loved Koshary and still eat it to this day…

Traditional Egyptian lantern

A-69.eps
Photo Credit: mneuropa.com

The first time I heard about the word “fanous” (فانوس) was when my Arab teacher told me about it. I didn’t know what it was and after asking “Google the wise” I got some information on this old Egyptian tradition.

Fanous” means light or lamp and actually isn’t an Arabic word, it’s true origins is from the Greek language. The use of the lantern date back all the way to the Fatimid Caliphate. One story about the origin of the lantern is that: one night the Caliph went out to look for the crescent moon which signals the beginning of Ramadan (Muslim holy month)  and when he went out, the kids go outside with lanterns and sing and celebrate the beginning of Ramadan. That behavior became a custom every Ramadan and that custom is now an Egyptian tradition.

038150896349
Photo Credit: alriyadh.com

There are many other stories to the origin of this lantern but whatever it may be, it still has a special place in Egyptian culture. Before Ramadan the kids go outside with their lanterns and celebrate the beginning of the holy Muslim month. And It still is a widespread Egyptian tradition through all these years.

906951436051
Photo Credit. alriyadh.com

These days people hang lanterns outside. The “Fanous” has also started a new industry. Just like in Halloween in America where candy industries sell candy, in Ramadan, industries sell lanterns. Some sing, some are plastic, and some are actual lanterns. Lantern is not only a Muslim tradition, people have been using these “Fanous’” for many kinds of celebrations even in countries other than Egypt, such as famous Chinese Lantern Festival celebrations as early as the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC) throughout the years.

 

image-1672042d111ba8fc963875d42843b3cb13591b01e1ec80f676a35186183d82de-V
Photo Credit: mneuropa.com

You can even find people wearing traditional Egyptian clothes called “galabiyya”, which is a one piece robe with loose sleeves and bottom which kind of looks like a dress. Normally in America if I came dressed all in old English attire with a powdered wig and all, people would look at me weird. However in Egypt people still wear their traditional clothes. Some might see this as a setback from being “modern” however I believe  that it is a great thing for people to continue doing their traditions even in the year 2016. The definition of modernity should not be narrowed to clothing. The most important  thing that connects people to the future is their past.

 

 

Shopping for a model boat, coming home with an ashtray!

-Be kam? (How much?)
-Khamseen geneeh (50 LE)
-La’a, da ghaali awy. (No, that’s very expensive)
-Mumkin be talateen? (Is it possible for 30 LE)
-Laa mush mumkin… Arbaeen geneeh? (Not possible… 40 LE ?)
-Laa, ma’aya talateen bas. (No I only have 30 LE ) *

You might hear this in an Egyptian shop. Haggling and bargaining is not a rare sight in the middle east. The example above is exactly what might happen in an Egyptian shop where in this case the people are speaking “Ammiyah Arabic”.

IMG_1755

If you’ve been to another country you know that sometimes the shops try to take some extra money and take advantage of you being a tourist. This isn’t really familiar to western people but they do this a lot in the east. Haggling is also something very widespread in the east, and to get the best deal it is a must!

My story starts when we went to “Souq Al-Hussaini” which is a Bazaar near the Al-Hussein Mosque. We went there to buy gifts for our families. Our Egyptian friends also came with us, which is kind of a must to bring a native with you when you’re shopping.

We first went to buy clothes. We had to do a lot of haggling to lower the price from 150 to about 100 LE. After long negotiations  we succeeded. This was very weird because in The States the price is set $19.99 is $19.99, it doesn’t change. However in Egypt the price starts from 100 LE and goes down from there. I’ve also indulged in this practice from time to time as I got used to it.

egypt_20090126_019

The rest of the time we bargained our way through the stores and bought what we wanted. Souq Al-Hussaini bazaar was also a very crowded place. There were many people out with bracelets and things on their wrists trying to speak English with us and sell their products. Everybody was trying to sell us things. However I remember there was this one guy, and he wasn’t selling stuff. He saw us and told us to smile and be happy, that alone made me smile, and I thanked this nice guy.

As funny and nice some people might be at Hussaini, there are some people that are very desperate to the point which makes them scary.

One of our friends wanted to see if there was a model boat that he could buy. A guy saw them and said he had one. He made them go through alleyways until they arrived at his shop which was in a very weird place where no one would really find it. After looking around in the boxes he gave, what my friend described as: “the closest thing he could find that resembled a boat”. He had given him an ashtray for cigarettes that looked little to nothing like a boat. Not only had he brought them to his shop and made them walk the long distance but now he was convincing him to buy the ashtray for 40 LE. After going home the thing broke in less than half an hour.

Untitled

I do have  some shopping  tips for you.

  • Don’t feel like you have to buy something, if you feel the guy is trying to force you tell him no or just walk away.
  • know what you want beforehand, these sorts of Bazaars aren’t really the best places for browsing.
  • If you feel that the price is high don’t hesitate to try and negotiate.
  • Know the language or have somebody with you that does

These Bazaars in Egypt are very good places for buying things for cheap if you know how to haggle for them. If you aren’t a native of the country it is always better to have a native with you. These places can be good places or bad places; however you make it. You should always be smart and know what to do in a haggling situation, otherwise you can find yourself holding an ashtray and thinking about life 🙂

Cairo

* Taken this conversation from http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/haggle.htm Thanks 🙂

The Big Final

I was sweating like crazy, but this time it wasn’t because of the heat. I was nervous for the final test in the center to see our level in speaking and our level generally in Arabic. All of us were nervous to be taking this test in front of many teachers.

We came to school as normal and had normal class until 11:30. At that time it was time for us to take the test and we went to the big conference room in the center. There we sat, as nervous as ever. When the teachers came they said that they’d listen to us in order of age, and since I was the smallest that gave me an advantage to listen to most of the things they were going to say.

After about a boring hour of just sitting and listening my turn came. It was time for me to show my Arabic skills. The teachers asked us to talk about America generally, and asked questions about the most beautiful places, the people, the schools, and many other things. In the end they asked us what we were thinking about the future and our thoughts about Egypt. I was lucky to be the last person because waiting and listening to my friends really took away a lot of the stress.

After we were done talking they gave all of us a certificate from the center and congratulated us.

We left that room happy and hungry, for we had missed our whole lunch break..:)

final-exam-certificate-3

final-exam-certificate-2

final-exam-certificate-1

It's a journey of 14y old American boy in Cairo