5 incredibly weird things Egyptians do
Before you say anything, I know that Egyptians possess an unlimited supply of weird habits and traditions. However, it would take me ages to compile them all at once, so I decided to start with five.
Chances are, you’ve probably seen or experienced at least one of the things I am going to mention. You were probably as surprised as I was -unless you’ve magically acquired an immunity to Egypt and Egyptians..and in that case, why not tell us your secret? Sharing is caring.
1. Celebrating weddings by blocking streets and honking car horns
What’s an Egyptian wedding without an hour-long traffic jam and a migraine? I never understood the concept, even after seeing it hundreds, nay, thousands of times.
How it works is that a few motorcycles and a few cars decide to either drive like maniacs in zig-zag patterns or the less dangerous (but equally annoying) option is for all said motorcycles and cars to drive next to each other extremely slowly. Either way, no one can pass unless they are given permission to pass.
I usually try to deal with such situations by hoping for the best, but sometimes I reach a limit. The last time this happened to me, I was on Suez road, and I could see that the road in front of the impromptu wedding parade in front of me was deserted. I was already running late and so I let out one long, persistent and agonizingly loud honk from my car horn until they got fed up and let me pass. The long honk is actually a very useful trick; those guys let me pass within less than a minute. I then sped up, leaving them looking like little dressed up ants in the rearview mirror.
But here’s the thing: blocking traffic is not the only problem here. It’s a common tradition for Egyptian weddings (and soccer matches, and any type of useless celebration) to resort to car horns as some sort of weird substitute for music. I’m sure you’ve heard it before.
The weird honking song will not only give you a migraine because of its sheer annoyance, but also because each car does it at its own pace, to ensure that you, the innocent person stuck in traffic, will not have one single second of silence. I think I’m getting a migraine just remembering all the times this has happened before.
2. Calling girls by male names in the street
A few years ago, I was walking down a street, looking for my driver. I could hear a voice calling “Hassan! Hassan!”
Naturally, I didn’t look behind me. My name is not Hassan. Hassan is a boy’s name. I am not a boy. I thought this was all self-explanatory, public information.
Anyway, the calling continued, loudly and persistently. It got so annoying that I spun around, wanting to grab this Hassan person and drag him to whoever was calling him so that the annoying voice would shut up already.
Turns out it was my driver calling me.
I walked up to him and asked him why he didn’t use my name -or better yet, his cell phone. He told me he was using my brother’s name since it would have been inappropriate to use mine. I looked at him, still not quite understanding. What the hell was his problem?
He said that if he’d used my name, the entire street would have known my name. He then got into the car, thinking that I was convinced.
I am still not convinced. And all I’ve gathered since then is that a lot of people actually do this. I will never get it. People can find out my name if I lose my wallet or through a million other ways. What difference does it make?
If the problem is harassment, I reassure you that harassers do not give a rat’s ass what my name is. They harass anyway.
3. Removing a part of the logo from any Mitsubishi car
Not a lot of people have noticed this, but if you focus on the logos of Mitsubishi cars in Cairo, you will find that about 80% of them are missing a piece.
This is because Egyptian people seem to think the logo represents a type of religious disaster. I don’t recall if they think it represents worshipping the devil or worshipping another being with God, but it’s something along those lines. I was never blessed to meet one of those logo-stealers to ask them what the exact reason was.
Basically, regardless of the exact interpretation, these people decide to appoint themselves as men of God and remove one part of the logo so that only two remain. This is why I am never buying a Mitsubishi.
4. Crossing the street
This title is vague for a reason; there are SO many things wrong with how Egyptians cross the street. Let’s mention some of the basics:
a) Crossing the street extra slowly
b) Couples crossing the street extra slowly while holding hands
c) Seeing that the street is blocked, waiting until you can finally press on the gas and then deciding to cross extremely slowly in front of your car
d) Not moving their eyes off of you while they cross in front of your car
e) Sexually harassing you after you allow them to cross in front of your car
f) Walking in the same direction as the cars in the middle of the street and not attempting to cross (aka “people who think they are cars syndrome”)
In all the above cases, I urge the writers of Egypt’s new constitution to legalize running over these people.
5. Writing weird shit on cars
Egyptians consider cars methods of self-expression. They enjoy posting written words on their cars so that you may know them a little bit better or find something entertaining to read during your next traffic jam.
These words may be in arabic…
“العين صابتني و رب العرش نجاني”
“The evil eye was cast upon me but the lord saved me.”
“متزعليش يا قطة بكرة تبقي تويوتا”
“Don’t be sad, cat, for tomorrow you shall turn into a toyota.”
“شغلانة عال و بوظتها العيال”
“A respectable job that the youngsters have ruined.”
“الاجنبي صنعها و أبو أحمد دلعها”
“The foreigner created it [the car], and the father of Ahmed pimped it.”
Or they may not be in Arabic -but not quite in English..
“I’m lived yesterday so I know 2day so I don’t afraid from 2morow.”
“Fuck to girls, but not all.”
If you’re expecting me to explain or translate the last two, just know that your guess is as good as mine.