Goodbye Cairo

Cairo, you have worked your way under my skin, I love you and hate you equally. I love the fact that in this sprawling quagmire of a city you can still randomly stick your hand out for a taxi and be greeted with ” Ah Miss Maria, el bayt?” (home?)

I hate the fact that even though you know the fare costs 2.50 you give 5le and the supposedly pious zebeeba adorned driver says its 10le…..the driver last night nearly lost his teeth and the hubby his hand, thieving chancer, needless to say he was lucky to get his 5le (that’s 50p to my non Egypt based readers)….yes it’s worth a row for 25p it’s the principle of the thing.

I love the fact that the plumber yesterday, here to fix my toilet just gave us his monkey wrench. We asked to borrow it to change the gas cylinder and he said no problem just keep it. Well, we think that’s what our broken Arabic translated it as….we still have it and he left with smiles, along with his 7 year old assistant Mohamed whom I hope was his son. His generosity was humbling, but I hate the fact that Mohamed was not at school where he should have been.

I love the fact that the kind policemen who found my dog returned the reward saying it was just their job. But I hate the fact that corruption, baksheesh and bribes is part of daily life.

It’s the juxtaposition of kindness and goodness and god damned outrageous exploitation that I still find fascinating, and if truth be told I will never figure it out. There is so much hope for this country, the people here are some of the kindest most generous I’ve met anywhere, but, but, but, there are an awful lot of bad apples. There appears to be two nations running in parallel, I just hope the shit doesn’t float to the top. (Apologies for the language but this will be my last post from Cairo and I really want to say it how it is)

We came under Mubarak, we’ve had a revolution, Morsi, a coup (touchy point) and now we will leave under Sisi. I can’t help thinking its come full circle, the only constant being the army. The excitement and enthusiasm for change after the Jan 25 revolution has dissipated, evaporated, the expectation of change was so high, ok maybe unrealistic, idealistic, but you could palpably feel it on the street. Morsi was not the man to deliver this change, his vision was skewed, backed by an agenda. I’m reminded of some old graffiti just as I say that, here you go, this was under Morsi


As from Sunday Sisi will be the new president, what change will he bring? The international media are focused on the very restrictive protest law, the crackdowns on freedom of assembly and expression and the trials of journalists for simply doing their job. The local media is full of pictures of adorning Sisi fans, parties to celebrate his victory. In true Egyptian style at one such party in Giza three people died from being hit accidentally by celebratory gunfire, go figure!

I truly hope Egypt grows and flourishes and once again becomes a country to be proud off, not with a nationalistic fervour, and flag waving, but as an example of what can be achieved by caring for its resources, its people, and perhaps most importantly steadfastly building decent education for all it’s inhabitants regardless of the thickness of their wallet or connections. But it’s a massive task ahead and although the graffiti above is from Morsi’s time, the people still need bread.

I hope change can come for the sake of the rude lawyer who jumped in front of me in the queue in Seoudi and ended up with my trolley up his backside and rolling on the floor. You were no more important than me or anyone else in the queue, I hope your money and wasta loses its leverage here.

I hope change can come for the little street kids outside the metro who pester me everyday with their tissues for sale. I know you don’t get to keep the money honey, I hope the cruel “madams” who run you end up in jail very soon.

I hope change can come for the spoilt little rich kids who will never amount to anything whilst they are pampered and cruise round Cairo like little kings, above the law, with their parents buying their way out of every problem.

I hope change can come for all the good, kind, honest hardworking Egyptians I have met. You all deserve better, may you get it soon.

Finally in the words of Vinny Jones, “it’s been emotional” Cairo you have provided a roller coaster ride for five years. Lots of highs and lows, but my overwhelming feeling of the journey is one of “what a ride”. I am so glad I came, I have no regrets, Egypt I wish you well, Goodbye “Irish eyes on Cairo”, Ma Salama. Hello “Irish eyes on Delhi” Namaste, what have you got in store for me?


5 thoughts on “Goodbye Cairo

  1. Lesleyann awwad says:

    All the best in India I have read your posts with interest as my husband who is Egyptian wanted us to move there. It is unlikely to happen i have visited many times and prefer a cooler climate! We are staying put in sunny Bangor. Have visited India several times too with work and often drew a comparison with Egypt, but no doubt you will make up your own mind. Good luck and keep writing 🙂

  2. says:

    I cannot believe I came to this post from the page of an expat in Luxor who just wants to constantly put down Cairo. Look here stupid this post is not about Cairo specifically but alot more. Just because your DH is not able to handle city life so you are stuck in a village doesn’t mean there is something so bad about Cairo compared to where you live.

  3. Aliza says:

    Dear Mairead – Thanks for all the great posts. I can’t wait to see IrishEyesOnDelhi. Oh, in the meantime, you should watch Delhi-6 (movie) and see how it compares with the real Delhi.

    DH is short for “dear husband.”

    May you and your DH enjoy the best of health and happiness in India.

  4. Philly o' Brien says:

    Another fab post Mairead! So true and I echo your thoughts. Think we arrived around the same time as you and I cried when we left two years ago. Will follow your posts from Delhi, a country which I have always wanted to visit & hope to do so this year. Life here in Jakarta is crazy in a different way, but so similar in other ways. Have a great time in India & keep on writing!

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