My dear friend Adam from London is paying us a visit and will be staying for a week after which he will be travelling to Beijing to visit another friend who is doing the-year-abroad experience. The only difference is that she loves Beijing and that she doesn’t want to leave. I am very grateful for the experience I’m having; I am working on my progression and fluency in this language with which I’ve got a perfectly healthy love-hate relationship, I am meeting and befriending really cool people and I am doing this whole moving-to-another-country stuff all over again only a bit further away from home.
I promised to pick up Adam from the bus station which is just outside of the city. His plane from London to Cairo was two hours delayed which meant he would arrive in Alex past midnight. This on its own is not a problem. Me as a woman going to the bus station on my own to pick him up after midnight is. One of the things about Egypt I most definitely don’t like. It all turned out alright; he met an Alexandrian on the plane who travelled on the same bus from Cairo to Alex and who was being picked up by a friend and this friend could drop him off at ours. Adam ended up having a meal, coffee and sheesha with his new Egyptian friend until the early hours of the morning before arriving at ours. This is one of the nicer aspects of Egypt but not that I would encounter them as a woman. Adam brought with him a taste of London by making me happy with my favourite toothpaste, 3 kg of spelt flour and my favourite brand of kohl pencil and mascara which is cheaper at Heathrow than at any fancy shop in Carrefour or San Stefano Mall. While he was making new friends and smoking sheesha I was getting intoxicated and danced the night away at my classmate Michau’s 25th birthday party. The next day, after faffing around and doing a bit of work, we took Adam out for dinner. In a company of six we went to one of the best fish restaurants in Alex. I had never been at the place and I had never been in that part of town. Afterwards we went to a bar in Downtown, one of the few frequented by foreigners although our company which included some Egyptians seemed to be the only foreigners at the premises, where I enjoyed a very good rosé. In the last 10 days- including Thanksgiving which I enjoyed with some Americans who are also studying Arabic and live in the same neighbourhood and who provided us with an absolutely delicious meal and plenty of booze- I have been drinking more than in the entire previous 10 weeks. I feel a need to have a bit more action in my current city of residence, although I don’t really have the time or the money for it, and go explore and live a little and Adam’s visit is giving me an excuse. I have been fairly boring since my arrival in Alex. This has been my choice. I did not come here to party hard, which seems pretty hard work here anyway, but to lead a disciplined life, study hard and work on the realisation of my goals. Although Adam seems still a bit too tired to party like it’s 1999, I have made plans for the whole week; which tourist sites to visit, where to have breakfast, lunch and dinner, where to go for a drink and which people to meet. I don’t want to admit it but I miss London, where life really is like a box of chocolates and where you can do whatever you want, although having a fair bit of money helps a great deal. Where no one is an odd one out and where there is always something going on. Another thing is that the year is coming to an end. The funky bunch from Bremen among others studying here will be leaving us for internships and courses in other countries and they will be sadly missed. I’ll be turning ‘16’ next month and have the wish to celebrate this in the party capital of the Middle East and I have extremely good vibes about the year 2010. Maybe this is the three-month-expat itch, maybe it’s December-fever. Maybe it’s just me looking for some life-affirming action.