You know you are a Cairene when you leave the airport and sign your name as Donald Duck in that book administered by a lonesome policeman, who records your vehicle registration and destination.
I mean really, what is that register of vehicles leaving Cairo Airport all about? There must be hundreds of those dusty journals back at police HQ dating back to Agatha Christie. I wonder if she was the first to write down Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse.
So, are you a Cairene? Following is the Khawaga’s Tale’s check list to whether or not you can consider yourself truly immersed in Cairene culture.
You know you are a Cairene when you don’t care for haggling with taxis and just take the airport limousine service. Your bawwab pays for your ride when you arrive home and your luggage is brimming with pork products.
You know you are a Cairene when your phone rings in the cinema. You have a friend in Maadi who you’ve been meaning to call and you’re unsure whether Palestine is a State or a state of mind.
You have a delivery menu from your neighbourhood fuul and ta’amiyya spot. You have sushi home delivered for dinner parties and your morning coffee is also delivered on weekends, when you answer the door in your pyjamas.
You know you are a Cairene when you have eight random phone numbers of black & white taxis saved in your phone. You don’t know who Ahmed, Mustafa or Jane is, but you also have their phone numbers. And you have left a phone in a taxi, restaurant or on a felucca.
You are always busy when invited to Maadi for lunch or a genteel afternoon tea. You have attended more leaving parties than you have friends and you’ve been to Aswan, Luxor, Siwa and Dahab, but prefer Moon Beach.
You know you are a Cairene when you say you support Al-Ahly after realizing the Club is based in Zamalek, but feel you should be supporting Zamalek because that is where you live.
You always nod with authority when asked if you have read Max Rodenbeck, Robert Fisk or Noel Barber. You have two or three Arabic language books on your bookshelf, but spend most of your time weighing up whether or not to have both Showtime and Orbit.
You make an effort to go to historic Cairo and Khan Al-Khalili when you have visitors, but send your visitors off to the Pyramids by themselves.
You know you’re a Cairene when you have kissed a diplomat, fallen in love, fallen pregnant because there is something in the water here and fallen out at After 8.
You have a wallet full of unused bar tickets from the Canadian Club, BCA, Rugby Club and the British Embassy’s Phoenix club.
Reading Al-Ahram Weekly makes your head hurt, though you have heard it is more entertaining in French.
You know you are a Cairene because you wear shades inside, you think it is rude to be on time and you’ve finally realized that IBM is not a computer brand. You’ve stopped flicking the wing mirror in after parking as you’ve also realized that you never use it and you need constant noise to get to sleep.
You pine for the African Cup of Nations. You can’t remember that sailor’s name from Alexandria’s Spitfire bar and you have finally realized that you could never leave your cat and couldn’t afford quarantine anyway.
You write a blog with a hip name like; whatzzupegypt.blogspot, for expatriates. You have started a cottage industry and gotten lost in the Mogamma.
You know you are a Cairene when you are wearing your blue jeans inside your knee high boots. You have one blow heater which you carry from room to room during January and you are wondering whether or not to join the exodus to Dubai.
Though, you realize you have been in Cairo too long because you remember your home country through rose tinted glasses; where politicians were honest, the streets clean and the service brilliant.
You have a thousand and one taxi stories. Your weekend starts on Wednesday night and you’ll never get used to going to work on Sundays. Your apartment has the ugliest chandelier in Cairo and your maid must have drunk that second bottle of gin!
And of course, you know you are a Cairene, because you never miss reading Khawaga’s Tale every Monday in Daily News Egypt.