It’s nice here.
But this is Cairo from the perspective of two eyes—literally—so let it not be the final sight.
On Society [...continued],
Poverty here is not at level that can be found in to-the-core third world countries. Fresh water is plenty and food is cheap. To my knowledge, no one starves in Cairo. There is also opulence, great opulence! If you can’t afford a mansion (very rare), you get apartment‘s’, sometimes covering half a floor in a building. (Apartment living is the norm in Cairo – the first thing you will see before landing in Cairo is the sheer number of apartment complexes).
Given the great affluence that a portion of society enjoys, and of course the fact that Egypt is a tourist’s paradise, you can find anything here that your Western heart desires. From Starbucks, Second Cup and Timothy’s, to any brand name clothing, including European ones, which we in North America may not be familiar with. And of course the restaurants we wish in the West would serve Zabiha are all fair game for the one with a pocket big enough to play it.
Also, Egyptians love their TV. The “lower class” cannot afford air-conditioning, but they sure can afford a TV and more channels than one’s mind can ponder. You will pass by makeshift brick “houses” with a blue glow beaming from between cracks. You have purely Islamic channels, 24/7 Quran recitation channels, bus load of news channels, drama and soap opera channels, and of course, western channels.
A final interesting aspect of Egyptian society, among the educated middle and upper classes, is the sheer number of languages they often speak. A handful of times you will meet someone with working knowledge of English, and often French, Dutch, German, Italian, you name it. I gather that it is taught in primary and secondary education.
The norm of tipping is another unique aspect of Egypt. When someone does the smallest of things for you, the informal (sometimes formal) tipping cultural script activates. This applies to anything from carrying something for you to (uninvitedly) whipping the toilet for you before you use it. At times you will see them gracefully lean over, allowing their shirt’s pocket to acquire a handsome gap; or they will complete the task and innocently wait for the expected reward. It’s rare to be hassled were you to break the norm, but you’d be breaking the norm. Of course it’s understood here that only those in low income lines of work get tipped.