The Pyramids of Giza, the harsh Sahara, all-inclusive and the chic Red Sea – these associations come to mind when we hear the word “Egypt”. And what does life look like in this country through the eyes of a local, and not a visiting tourist?
Corrosive “Subtleties” decided to study this issue in more detail. To do this, we turned to Elena, who moved to Egypt more than 12 years ago and now shares her observations about the life and customs of local residents with pleasure. About fried pigeons, hospitality and ahuy – a frank story of a Russian girl who has been living in Hurghada for 12 years.
— Lena, tell us how you ended up in Egypt. Was it a conscious decision or was it just the circumstances?
I was born and raised in Moscow. I visited Egypt for the first time in 2002, since that time the East began to beckon me like a magnet. After each trip to Egypt and other Arab countries, it became increasingly difficult for me to return home. I wanted to give up all the blessings of civilization and go with the caravan to the Sahara. In 2008, I got a job in a Moscow advertising agency.
A couple of months later, my close friend was going on vacation to my beloved Egypt. Without thinking twice, I went with her. These two weeks spent in Sharm el-Sheikh gave me a lot. I realized that it was time to change my life 180 degrees, otherwise I would never do it. A girl from Russia worked in our hotel, and I constantly pestered her with questions about life in Egypt, how and where she lives, what she feels like in a foreign land. When I returned to work, I was determined to quit my job soon and leave… I went to look for a job at the MITT travel exhibition (ed. note: Moscow International Travel & Tourism). There I was offered two vacancies: a job at the reception in a hotel in Sharjah and a guest relation in Hurghada.
“I was warned that they are womanizers and you have to be more careful with them. But I am not distinguished by caution, and soon one of them became my husband. ”
After thinking, I chose Egypt, although in Sharjah the conditions and salary were much better. The plan was that I would work there for a while, gain experience and then leave for the Emirates. But it was not there. Fate decreed otherwise, and I stayed in Egypt. /31/2931vtj8pe1wcgg88s044g4ok.jpg” media=”(max-width: 549px)”>
— How was the move itself?
It took about a month to translate documents for a work visa and legalize them. I had a decent run – I think everyone is aware of our bureaucracy. Looking ahead, I’ll say that I just wasted my time, nerves and money, because they didn’t give me a work visa. I came to Hurghada on a regular tourist visa. for a period of a month. They put me in the staff building. The room was, to put it mildly, far from a hotel room, but it was possible to live, because cockroaches are our smaller brothers (smiles).
Then they began to train me and then they sent me to work at the Emerald Golden Hotel. Where I worked, the managers were two young guys. I was warned in advance that they were womanizers and I had to be more careful with them. But I am not distinguished by caution, and soon one of them became my husband. /f550x700/cw/qt/cwqtayeuipwkcgs8goww0og88.jpeg” media=”(max-width: 549px)”>
— How did the husband's relatives perceive his intention to marry a foreigner?
My husband's family accepted me well, although he was engaged three times before me, but each time my mother put a spoke in his wheels. She quickly introduced me to all her relatives and even left me to live with her while her son left to work in another city, so that I probably would not run away (laughs). True, her dream of a magnificent wedding did not come true.
Resorts of Egypt: what are there and what to choose?
Detailed (and beautiful) review — What happened?
First, my husband and I completed all the documents necessary for marriage. It took a long time, considering that I am a foreigner, and then the consulate was not yet opened in Hurghada. Therefore, we dangled to Alexandria and Cairo. When everything was done, and we officially became husband and wife, my husband called me with him to Marsa Alam. We started planning the wedding a few months later in Cairo. But his grandfather died, who lived with them all the time in Hurghada. Due to mourning, we decided to postpone the celebration until later, but this “later” never happened… Our life began, and already dreams began to switch from a white dress to our house.
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— Speaking of everyday life. What does family life look like in Egyptian?
We have been married for 9 years and have three wonderful children. My husband is undoubtedly the head of the family. He is the leader. He works, provides for our entire family. He also buys groceries and other things. I don’t even really know the prices, I don’t carry heavy bags, and in general I am under the auspices of my husband. In general, for the most part, eastern men are more caring, although it all depends on upbringing.
“Egyptians will never say a hurtful word to someone else's child!”
I'm a housewife. Of course, I am not handcuffed to the battery at home and, contrary to common stereotypes, I am the only wife. I spend my leisure time with my friends (from Russia, Ukraine), Arab wives like me. We walk with children, go to cafes, playgrounds, the beach. In general, we do everything the same as all the mothers of the world.
— Is raising children in Egypt different from raising children in Russia?
The Egyptians are very fond of children, their own and others. Kiss, caress anyone on the street. They are allowed a lot, they try not to restrict their freedom, they are calm about pranks. In this, of course, one can feel the difference from Russia and the CIS. Once on the beach, a Russian-speaking woman yelled at our children because they interfered with her with their games. In Egypt, it is considered impermissible to talk like that, especially with other people's children. Egyptians will never say an offensive word to someone else's child!
But the similarity is that in Egypt, in any weather, little children are always warmly wrapped up. Here they are very afraid of any breath in the direction of the kids and firmly believe that this is what brings all sorts of diseases. .tonkosti.ru/sized/f550x700/0k/tk/0ktktalswrlswcog4sc0848gs.jpg” media=”(max-width: 549px)”>
— May I have a personal question? How did you come to Islam? Did marriage affect this?
I converted to Islam at the age of 21 of my own free will. While studying at the evening department of the university, I went to Arabic language courses at the Saudi Arabian embassy. Along with the Arabic lessons, free Quran reading courses were organized at the school for those who wished. I thought that it wouldn’t hurt for the general development, and went there too. In general, at that time I had stereotypes about Islam and Muslims in my head, obtained from the media. But each time, reading the Koran more and more, I did not find in it any terrible things that were talked about everywhere. After six months of learning this religion, I converted to Islam.
“Mom was especially embarrassed by my hijab in Moscow. She couldn’t understand why I couldn’t take it off, “because no one can see me.”
I started wearing the hijab in Egypt when I was still unmarried. By that time, I had already prayed five times, which was taught to me by an Egyptian girl. In the office of Tez Tour, where I got a job after the hotel, a couple of Russian Muslim girls who were in hijabs worked with me. Looking at them, I admired their style of dress, how they picked everything by color, how they tied a scarf. At one fine moment, I was “overwhelmed” and I wanted to try on closed clothes. I told one of my colleagues about this decision, and she and her husband took me after work to the store, where I bought a turtleneck and a scarf. Having put on all this, I felt some kind of harmony inside, although before that I swore that I would not wear a headscarf for anything and that it was not mine at all. “>
For almost 10 years now I have been living under cover and absolutely happy. I can’t imagine how you can walk in other clothes, how to go out without a headscarf – for me it’s like wearing only shorts. Of course, we had friction with my mother, because she didn’t know before the hijab that I had converted to Islam long ago, and she thought that I was “zombified there, in Egypt.”
Mom was especially embarrassed by my hijab in Moscow. She could not understand why I could not take it off, “because no one sees me.” At first, I thought that upon arrival in Russia I would definitely take off my hijab. But in fact, my conscience did not allow me to do this even once. I have always and everywhere been in it from the moment I put it on in 2009 to this day, because it is not only clothing, but also behavior.
In general, I can say that everything related to religion is solely my decision, my desire and my choice. The Quran says: there is no compulsion in religion! a1/6na118lcjc4k0w4s808ck4gsw.jpeg” media=”(max-width: 549px)”>
Egypt is still a third world country. Are there any things that you have not been able to get used to in 10 years of living here?
It seems to me that every person who has emigrated goes through several stages. When I first visited Egypt in 2002, I fell in love with this country, its history, the Red Sea. When I came to work, got married, felt full.
“Everything annoyed me: from people and garbage on the streets to government agencies. Enraged the mentality of the Egyptians. “
Then there was a period of revulsion. I think that just at this time, many girls run away from their husbands back to their homeland. When all the flaws begin to be an eyesore, when everything infuriates and you want to run without looking back. I tried to find a job for my husband in Moscow or in any other country. I sent out his resume to the hotels of the world in the hope of finding at least something to leave here. Everything here annoyed me then: from people and garbage on the streets to government agencies. Enraged the mentality of the Egyptians.
And then there was respect and friendship. I rethought my view, looked at everything from a different angle. There was acceptance. Probably, right now I am still at the stage of respect and friendship, gradually moving towards love.
Of course, there are still some things that I'm not used to. One of them is the slowness of the Egyptians in everything! Sometimes, even if it is vital to be faster, they still slow down. For example, when I was pregnant at the 6th month, I stepped on the most poisonous fish in the Red Sea – stone fish. I needed an ambulance, which I did not wait for, as well as a doctor. Only the persistence of my husband did its job, and I was literally pulled out of the other world when I was already falling into a coma.
Let's talk a little about tourism. How safe is the country now?
Egypt is safe for recreation. The political situation is stable. In all the time I have lived here, I have not encountered shooting or anything like that. We are all calm!
– The Egyptian authorities always say that Russian tourists are welcome guests at the Red Sea resorts. What do the locals really think?
In fact, there are Russian tourists in Egypt even now. They come here both on their own and through the travel companies of Ukraine and Belarus. Of course, their flow has decreased, but still there, because for many this is a favorite vacation destination.
“From personal experience, with the all-inclusive system, the friendliness of tourists disappears with every glass of alcohol drunk.”
In general, the Egyptians are waiting for and love Russian tourists, they say that we are very friendly, that is, very friendly. Indeed: our tourists are always the most frank, they can chat for hours at a hotel employee, telling life stories and various details of their family relationships. On the other hand, I can say from personal experience that with the all-inclusive system, this friendliness disappears with every glass of alcohol drunk.
I remember how a drunk compatriot ran over me when I was still working in a hotel. She freaked out because, I quote, “I didn’t congratulate the Russian guests of the hotel in the restaurant on the Day of the Airborne Forces over the loudspeaker.” This is the brightest case. By the way, one of the stereotypes about Russians is that we are all “forever young, forever drunk.”
There are other stereotypes. For example, my Egyptian mother-in-law was sure that all foreigners take their children away from their fathers. Well, the standard prejudices about the fact that we drink a lot and that we have eternal cold. When I say that +30 °C in Moscow in summer, the Egyptians are sincerely surprised.
—You live in Hurghada, one of the favorite Egyptian resorts among Russians. What should be visited by those who come to this city?
There are many places in Hurghada where tourists should visit. Of the free ones, I will name Mamsha Street, Marina, Sherry Street. There you can take a walk, eat national dishes in cafes and buy souvenirs. Not far from Hurghada is Sahl Hasheesh, a beautiful place with many hotels, cafes, beaches and beautiful architecture. This is a separate area, even a resort. By taxi you can get there in 20 minutes. Another resort near Hurghada is El Gouna. Built in Venetian style. There is also a promenade for walking, hotels, clubs, shops, cafes, beaches.
— You mentioned traditional local dishes. What dish do you personally like and what would you recommend to try in Egypt?
In general, Egyptian cuisine is very oily for me. Everything is fried, oil everywhere. Knowing this, my mother-in-law prepares Egyptian dishes for me without excess oil and frying. I think only the lazy did not write about the famous local dish – stuffed pigeons. The first time I tried them at my mother-in-law's house, when my future husband introduced me to them. I didn't like the doves: little meat, only bones. For 10 years of living here, I never fell in love with these stuffed birds.
But my favorite dish is
mahshi. These are mini cabbage rolls stuffed with rice and vegetables. My mother-in-law makes them beautifully. She also makes great dumplings, my fridge is always full of them. sized/f550x700/9r/3t/9r3tmqqp3ig4ksww4oo48wg4s.jpg” media=”(max-width: 549px)”>
— Name three main things for which you love Egypt.
I love Egypt for the sun and the sea, for my family, for the kindness and simplicity of people. The Egyptians are very hospitable! For the guest, they do not feel sorry for anything, they always treat them to the best that they have in the house, even if this is the last thing they have. You will never be blamed if you or your child breaks or spills something. They will always say with a smile: “Maalesh!” (“It’s okay!”) And they will continue to regale with all sorts of goodies. And they will be offended if you do not finish the bowl of mahshi, and tomorrow they will call again.
Egyptians are also very friendly. For example, if you compliment a local woman on her new ring, she will tell you: “Hoodie”, that is, “Take it”. And how they lovingly call everyone around
ahuyami. It means “my brother” in Arabic. That's how cute!
In general, I advise you to visit this ancient country in order to look live at the great pyramids of Giza, swim in the most beautiful sea in the world, feel this dry and such a peculiar air, communicate with people. Try Egypt!