Friday, November 9, 2007

Breaking Point

There’s no denying that cultural differences are a point of friction no matter how prepared one is for the cultural adjustment. One of the interesting things I’ve noticed in the last few weeks is that tension created by cultural differences has actually increased throughout the semester rather than decreasing. Although it seems that the opposite would be true, I can explain this phenomenon through the increase in frustration American students have with the Egyptian culture and the challenge of living in Cairo. What is at first an inconvenience transforms into large-scale irritation. I call this the breaking point. But the cultural difference isn’t just one sided; Egyptians also are frustrated with Americans. Here is an example of each, Steinbeck style:

What a jackass. A cab from Tahrir is only 6 pounds, not 10. It’s not like we don’t live here and know what’s going on. And if one more person says, “Welcome to Egypt,” I think I’m going to punch them in the face.

No, I don’t have change. Why the hell can’t you give me change for a fifty? Look at your register full of small bills! Forget it. I didn’t want the juice anyway. When I get back to the States, the first thing I’m going to do is buy a pack of gum with a $100 bill, and watch them give me change without even thinking twice. Metro won’t take 50’s? Give me a break.

Is the Internet working? No? Damn it. How are we supposed to do work here if we don’t have Internet? Marwa sucks. How long do we have to put up with this?

We need maid service. The towels are dirty and the sheets smell. All we need is clean towels and clean sheets and a new trash bag. If they’re not going to vacuum, then I’ll do it myself. Just give me the vacuum. Why do we have to be here for the maids to come in? Why don’t the security guards watch them clean the rooms to make sure they don’t steal shit. The guards don’t do anything anyway. How much are we paying for this place?

Elevators are down. Again?

You want me to sign in? What for? This isn’t junior high. You’re just trying to make work for yourself because you have nothing else to do.

I’ve been trying to get this light fixed for a week now. Where the hell is the maintence? Sitting around?

Fucking Egyptians.


The Americans are here. Big group. About 10. Round of Stellas for everybody. They’ll put down a lot money tonight. They don’t get much shisha though. Only a few guys will get shisha. But we don’t make much money on shisha anyways. It’s the beer. A second round of Stellas for the Americans.

They want dance music. American dance music. You think we can do that? Maybe after that other group leaves. They’re about to go. Put on the American music.

What are they doing? Drunk off their asses I’d say. They came here drunk I bet and it only took a few beers to really get them going. They’re disgusting. Who wants to live like this? Look what they’re doing on the dance floor. Why do they have to talk so loud? Give ‘em the bill. Get ‘em out of here. Now look. All the Egyptians are leaving. Our business is leaving!

Fucking Americans.

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