Very few countries can match Egypt in terms of chaos and contrast (I assure India is usually the one that is probably most likely to come up to others from a Western background, but anyways). In the middle-class suburbs of Cairo, it is common to share the street space with herds goats, stray dogs, and piles of trash. The air has so many grains of pollution in it that it is rare to see a clear sky. And, there are few green spaces, for walking or jogging. I had a lot of fights with people, from my landlord to the random people who tried to cheat me, and these conflicts, which seemed to come out of nowhere, wore at my patience, and my self-esteem Nevertheless, for the three months that I worked on the Arabic language, I found Cairo the aptest place to do so, and over time, I found many things about it to like.

I liked how history was on every corner, from the sandstone walls of mosques to the way that men in galabeya loitered as they smoked their streetside shisha. I liked how stacks of books covered the sides of roads at a discount price, or how easy it was to find Indian food, despite there not being a wide array of international foods. I didn’t find it easy to deal with the people, who saw me more as a source of profit than a person, but when I did make a friend, we became quite close. I felt sometimes more at peace in the suburbs of Giza, where the ancient feeling of the Nile culture is still very much alive, and present in the air and the atmosphere. I felt something akin to love, and the love that is hardest to achieve when there is so much hate present; it was the love of something hard-earned.

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