Saturday, October 21, 2017

Alex vs Giza



Asalamu Alaykom,



I've been living in Alexandria for two months now.  I no longer say "home" and mean Giza.  "Going home" means coming back to this cave apartment.  I've written a lot about my immediate surroundings, but I should really tell more about this city I've adopted.

Is Giza different from Alex?

Sure!


Identity

Giza                                                                             Alex
often confused for greater Cairo                            prides itself on being je ne sais quoi

Known for

Giza                                                                             Alex
"Land of the Dead"                                                  Lighthouse and Library


Beginnings



                                      

Giza                                                                             Alex
pharaonic foundings                                                 Macedonian conqueror


Oldest Surviving Architecture

                                                     

Giza                                                                             Alex
Great Pyramids c. 2580 BCE                                   Roman Amphitheatre c. 117 AD


Biggest Tourist Attraction

                 
                                       

Giza                                                                             Alex
Great Pyramids                                                        Citadel of Qaitbey


Tourism

Giza                                                                             Alex
all nationalities                                                         mostly Egyptians


Grandest Old Hotel

         



Giza                                                                             Alex
Menna House                                                           Cecil


Transportation

Giza                                                                           Alex
economy-sized taxis                                               black and yellow LADA taxis
VW bus                                                                      vans
                                                                                   trams!


Driving Style

Giza                                                                           Alex
stuck in traffic                                                        drive it like you stole it

Weather

Giza                                                                           Alex
hot                                                                             6 degrees cooler
dry                                                                             humid

Air Conditioning

Giza                                                                           Alex
not usually                                                                at least two
                                                                           

Laundry

Giza                                                                           Alex
half a day to dry                                                     a day and a half to dry



Grocery Store Chains

Giza                                                                            Alex
Carrefour                                                                Carrefour
Spinney's                                                                Fathalla
Ragab                                                                        Metro
Metro                                                                        Sarai


Food

                


Giza                                                                             Alex
camel meat                                                               fish and seafood
home-cooked                                                            take away


Fried Hummus Bean Patties

Giza                                                                             Alex
a.k.a tumeya                                                             a.k.a. falafel


Spice



Giza                                                                             Alex
mild                                                                             hot


Hijabi Style

Giza                                                                             Alex
Slutty or Severe                                                       Moderate Muslim Chic



I'll keep exploring this new city and finding more comparisons.

Is one better than the other?

For me, right now, I'm still enjoying the newness of Alexandria.

My husband keeps warning, "Wait until winter; it's going to be COLD!"

UPDATE:

I've now been here an additional month.  Here are a few other comparisons to make.

Pervasive Bad Smell 

Giza                                                                             Alex
Uncollected garbage                                                    Sewer


Animals

Giza                                                                             Alex
wild dogs and cats,                                                 cats, cats, and cats, and pet dogs
horses, donkeys, camels
on the street
ducks, geese, chicken, pigeons
sheep, and goats
on the roof

Phone Signal

Giza                                                                             Alex
GREAT!  Towers all over!                                      What?  What?  I can't hear you.


It's a Small World

Giza                                                                             Alex
everyone is family to everyone else                           everyone went to school with everyone else



6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think of your new life and Alexandria seems like fun. Nothing better than being by the sea. Are there beaches you can take a picnic to and corniche you can spend an evening walking/biking/people watching? What is the pace of life in your new city? How do you like your new job? What grade and subject do you teach? What kind of school is it? Has your husband been able to successfully transition what he does work-wise in the new place? Has your son made friends in school and the neighborhood? Are Alexandrians culturally different... do they speak/eat/think differently? Do you identify more easily with one geographic location (in Egypt) more than another? What is the shopping like and which is the cheaper/better bang for your buck city? What is the average rental for a 2 bedroom apartment in a middle class neighborhood? How does life style of the middle class in Giza compare to middle class in Alexandria?

Do you ever get the chance to travel to other countries in the vicinity? I know you have not visited the US in a couple of years but do you plan to sometime? How does your son transition and connect to life in the US when you visit?

So many questions but I truly want to know about your interesting life. One day I want to visit that part of the world as more than just a tourist and I hope I will.

Deanna Troi

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Deanna,

Well aren't you sitting in the front of the class!

Let me get back to you with some answers. It's almost bedtime here and I would have to think first before writing anything. You've asked some interesting queries!

You are, of course, welcome to plan your own weird escape. Be weird. You don't get any extra points for being normal.

Anonymous said...

Deanna Troi,
You forgot o ask Yusra ONE MORE THING, about watching DDLJ---> I mean how many times did she watch Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge?
MAK

Anonymous said...

Yoooohooo! Hope all is well. I have been wondering why you did not update your blog. I look forward to reading it. Also my questions... too many... too intrusive? Enquiring minds just want to know.

Much love,
Deanna Troi

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom,

Has it been a month? Sorry to keep anyone waiting for answers. It's been work and vacation and back to work. Alhumdulillah.

Let me answer the easiest question first: DDLJ is such a great movie, that I believe I have watched it...about ten times. Veer Zara and Kucha Kucha Hota Hai are close seconds.

I get ZEE and MBCBollywood at this apartment, so I have enjoyed seeing some flicks. I've really liked seeing the Indian version of Dancing with the Stars. I did NOT like seeing superstar Kajol on an anti-aging cream commercial I just googled her age: 43 (which is too young).

Now for Deanna's comments and questions. There were SO MANY! which is great, but also daunting.



D: I think of your new life and Alexandria seems like fun.

Y: Thanks, I think it is fun to re-invent life and make it more fun. I've done it throughout my years and it keeps me fresh and hopeful for better.

D: Nothing better than being by the sea.

Y: Well...we can take a taxi to the sea, but we don't have a seaview.

D: Are there beaches you can take a picnic to and corniche you can spend an evening walking/biking/people watching?

Y: The beach at the corniche is really for strolling or fishing. I wouldn't want to eat a picnic outside there. We do love going to Fish Market, a popular restaurant, which has an awesome view and great food and service.

We walk a LOT when we go downtown. The last time we went, we were gone six hours and that was all walking around. We had been searching for uniform shoes and pants for El Kid, but of course I found a beautiful mosque, a book market, and so on. We don't bike---haven't anywhere in Egypt really. People watching is a given!

D: What is the pace of life in your new city?
Y: It's more business-like and more European than shuffling around in Egyptian Giza.

D: How do you like your new job? What grade and subject do you teach? What kind of school is it?

Y: I do like the change with my new job. It's still an international school with a large network residing outside of Egypt. However, the school itself is smaller---fastest growing in Alex, but only 400 kids instead of 1,000 like at my old school. I teach first grade, or year one in the British system. I'm giving lessons in English, Maths, Science, Humanities (Social Studies), and PSHE (Personal Social and Health Education). I am creating a little world with my kids and it's mostly working. I wasn't able to do that enough at the other school with so many restraints on time and limited lessons. Plus, being with six-year-olds once again is kind of refreshing.

D: Has your husband been able to successfully transition what he does work-wise in the new place?

Y: My hub, God bless him, had a hard time in the beginning---as I knew he would because he so identifies himself as part of his family in Giza. He's gotten a grip and started to make the most out of it. I would say that he's making the time be successful.

D: Has your son made friends in school and the neighborhood?

Y: My son, El Kid, misses his old friends and has spent a lot of the time blaming me for my decision to move. Sigh...but he's had some good connections. Unfortunately, the one kid he resonated with the most has gone out of school to deal with a family issue. What were the chances, right?

I'll answer more on the next comment...

Yosra said...

D: Are Alexandrians culturally different... do they speak/eat/think differently?

Y: My British boss says that there should be a passport needed for those in Cairo to visit Alexandria. I don't know if it's as severe as that, but I see her point. I do feel a difference in being here. When I grew up, I was first in a classy, well-educated neighborhood and then I had to spend some years in a farm community. This experience reminds me a bit of that. Neither place is the ultimate, and I can see value in both, but I did need some time away from village life. Even though I lived in Giza, the little area next to the Pyramids is like a village---with village mentality and almost no foreigners.


D: Do you identify more easily with one geographic location (in Egypt) more than another?

Y: I've got so many facets to my personality, that I can love it all of Egypt. After eight years, I simply wanted a change to satisfy the other aspects of myself.

D: What is the shopping like and which is the cheaper/better bang for your buck city?

Y: Where we live in Alex, is more expensive than in Giza. We're in the "nice" section of the city. For many things, the price is the same. The Bazaar in Alex has more cheap goods than in Giza and I like going downtown to see what's available off the boats.

For a tourist, it's better to go to Giza because THE PYRAMIDS and everything is right there. There isn't that much to see here---maybe a few days worth as opposed to a week or more in Giza/Cairo.

D: What is the average rental for a 2 bedroom apartment in a middle class neighborhood?

Y: I'm seeing 4,500 as a minimum, but it's not pretty.

D: How does life style of the middle class in Giza compare to middle class in Alexandria?

Y: Not sure. I lived with the lower middle class in Giza, but taught the high class in my old school. I would say that Alex, at least what I'm seeing, it not the down-trodden and not the nouvea riche. It seems more normal than the two extremes.

D: Do you ever get the chance to travel to other countries in the vicinity?

Y: I would LOVE to travel more. This whole time in Alex is like a trip, so I'm trying to remind myself not to get greedy. We have two weeks of vacation coming up in December and I would like to use a week of it to go on a trip. Out of the country is something we haven't tried as a family.

D: I know you have not visited the US in a couple of years but do you plan to sometime?

Y: The last time was three years ago in 2014. The US kind of sucks right now. I am questioning whether or not it's safe for El Kid and I to go. I don't think it's safe for my husband with his poor English and Egyptian ways.


D: How does your son transition and connect to life in the US when you visit? '

Y: We both like the materialism when we visit and we get all wide-eyed at Target and the supermarkets. We eat too much, get fat, stuff our suitcases, and wonder how we bought so much. As for people, we've both been let down during our visits and that hurts. It's a HUGE expense and effort to fly over and too often it's not understood as a sacrifice on our parts. In many ways, I feel that if people really want to see us, they can find a way here.

D: So many questions but I truly want to know about your interesting life. One day I want to visit that part of the world as more than just a tourist and I hope I will.

Y: Thanks, Deanna. As long as you're not working for a government agency, I'll answer your questions. In shah Allah you will visit Egypt some time. It's a BIG TRIP! :)

Love and Light to you and all readers!