Just today, I paid a visit to Yasser, Khan al-Khalili’s famous costume vendor, whose wisdom I adore more than his costumes. We hadn’t seen each other since before the revolution, and he told me that I changed. My face changed, to be precise. He said it had a certain “sweetness” to it that wasn’t there before the revolution. Not the sweetness of innocence or excessive kindness, but the sweetness that comes after being dealt one too many hard knocks. I never thought about it this way, but maybe he had a point. I have been through a lot, especially over the past 6 months, and I have acquired an attitude of careless resignation as a result. Well, sort of, anyway.
I guess what I’m getting at is that Cairo has been a sort of boot camp for me—a “life” boot camp. “Life in the raw,” if you know what I mean. It is for many people actually. It teaches you how to be a human being without leaning on the western crutches of political correctness and boundaries. It teaches you how to survive, how to succeed, how to deal with people, and how to defend yourself. Cairo is the kind of experience that makes you complain, but that deep down in your heart, you love. And, it offers all the perks of any great city (but with a few more kicks in the butt)!
So today, in addition to celebrating my birthday, I will celebrate quite a few things. I will celebrate the fact that I survived and thrived in Cairo for 3 years. I will celebrate the approval of my work visa. I will celebrate my work and my Egyptian residency. I will celebrate every opportunity Egypt has given me, especially the opportunity to fulfill my dreams. I will celebrate the fresh start I gave myself in life. And I will celebrate the fact that for better or worse, Cairo has raised me. :)