The morning I arrived in Cairo, I was already making my round at the duty free shop at the airport using my passport to buy 4 bottles of alcohol as a favour for my friend, Peter and his mates. Then I was randomly hanging out with them on a chilly rooftop in the city’s wealthiest neighbourhood until dawn, listening to reggae tunes, in between humming to Fly Me To The Moon, and weaving in and out of Dreamland, my eyes wide open.
The sun is up at 4.30 in the morning in Cairo.
By the time Hassan finally arrived to pick us up, I hadn’t slept for 24 hours.
Just coming out of Nairobi’s winter, perhaps I wasn’t quite ready for Cairo’s searing heat, even if I lived in Malaysia my whole life.
I totally wasn’t ready for the Egyptian diet.
In Kenya, it’s all about the meat (accompanied by ugali, chapati, mukimo or githeri). In Egypt, rule No. 1: Dinner is ‘breakfast’ – ‘Breakfast’, at 7 p.m. (because that’s when you’re just waking up), consists of aish (bread), ful (fava bean paste) – nicknamed ‘cement’ for good reasons, cheese dip and falafel. I didn’t dare ask what would await us for dinner. Then I was told that aish and ful are also common for dinner, but they’re just part of a bigger meal. Right.
Other than that, the weekend has been quite a blur, I was in bed most of it, trying to recover from the long journey and adjusting myself to the heartbeat of Cairo city; at all times being muffled by the sounds of the honking and shouting on the streets. Sitting on the balcony watching Cairo alive amidst a dull dusty tangerine-tinged of a backdrop, my heart felt heavy as I realized I was nearing the end of my journey, and yet, I was looking forward to being home again. Days when I don’t have to worry about comparing flight costs, cramped buses, lugging my gear around, constant new names I try so hard to remember, random diets, navigating ways in new locations and making sure my bag is never missing the toilet paper.
The simple fact is, my African days are numbered.
So if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with Mr. Sphinx.
Looking out the kitchen window.