by Adam Goodwin | 2014 | Last Updated: April 18, 2014
I am currently on another visit to the country of Egypt, Africa, a bridge between the Middle East and Africa. A country where Islam is practised by most (~95%), and yet ethnicity, family name, and origin can play a large part in day-to-day life of many Egyptians.
Here are some thoughts on returning to this city that is currently in difficult times internationally, nationally, and locally.
When I landed in Cairo, our family’s go-to driver (Mr. H.) picked me up from the airport. When a tourist usually lands at the Cairo airport and exits customs ( there’s only one exit for all international arrivals), as soon as they leave the secure area, there are usually 15-25 taxi drivers trying to get you to employ their services. Even after a calm and polite ‘no’ (or ‘la’ in Arabic), the next 99 still ask the same question and all receive the same response. To a Westerner this may be seen as rude or disrespectful. To an Egyptian, they are very hospitable people so see this as a way to ensure you are looked after, safe and happy (albeit they may be more aggressive now considering there are only about 28 tourists in the country at any one time compared to the thousands who arrived daily before the unrest – so competition is stiff). On this trip, the driver was a few minutes late due to a mis-communication about my arrival time, so instead of being able to go straight to a driver and leave, I had to wait around for a few minutes. When I exited and said ‘no thank you’ (in Arabic), the drivers backed off and went back to socializing and waiting for the next plane to arrive.
Perhaps the drivers sensed I knew what I was doing, where I was going, and that I wasn’t a typical ‘tourist’. Perhaps because I was so comfortable and at ease in ‘this crazy country and city’ (an Egyptian’s words, not mine), they could see that there was no culture shock, no stressed eyes darting to and fro, a lack of an overwhelmed traveller from all the noises, heat, language, dress, or smells.
Driving from the airport, the driver and I had a great conversation about Egypt’s current affairs, news, politics, unrest, religion, and the near-future. Normally when visiting a country it can be difficult to keep up and know about the local news and affairs. Speaking with the driver, I felt as if I knew about Egypt’s news better than I know about the news and affairs back in my Canadian home-town or in my current location of London, England.
Arriving at the apartment, I went to my bedroom and had clothes already there. When I started unpacking the few clothes I did bring with me on this trip, I think the series of events from the day started to hit me.
What is a Home
Clothes in a closet in a bedroom. Their news is the news I keep up with. Feeling comfortable and at ease in a city that Egyptians themselves call crazy (it does have over 20 million residents). I started to think, what is home?
Where is home for me currently? Can I have more than one home? One back in Canada, one in my current place of work (the United Kingdom) and one in a city I love and enjoy exploring (Cairo)?
When would I stop calling a place a home? When would I start calling a place a home?
When someone asks me where I am from, I usually respond with Canada, unless I am in the United Kingdom, in which case I usually say a city or county name; or in Egypt where I usually respond with the neighbourhood where the apartment is located.
As I travel throughout Egypt meeting people, exploring news sports (sand boarding), and exploring other cultures and religions, I reflect, have I returned home?
Call to Action
What does home mean to you? What is a home? Where is home? Is it a place for you to eat and sleep, or does it play a larger role in your life?
Based on your reading of this blog post, you may also be interested in: Cairo, Egypt.
These are one person’s thoughts and opinions. We welcome your feedback and own thoughts. Feel free to comment below or connect with us via social media.
Adam Goodwin is a Canadian working in the United Kingdom and virtually in Canada, and is a proud introvert and silent leader. He has travelled to nearly 50 major and global cities around the world, and has worked with universities, consulting firms, and sports organizations. He has family and friends in Canada and around the rainbow nation’s only home. Follow his travels, work, projects, and thoughts on Twitter (@adam13goodwin) and on this blog (click on the bottom right-hand corner to sign up for weekly email notifications).