Health consciousness, self-help info, self-development and long term planning don’t seem to be part of Egyptian culture. Egypt after all is a Third World country and people in general are too busy fulfilling their basic needs. But even if you do have money you eat what you can, any form of exercise is associated with poverty and therefore uncool and who needs self-help, inner peace or goal setting. You live your life, god willing and then you die. People here turn old quickly. The phenomena ‘yummy mummy’ is virtually non-existent and although people do care about their appearance the dream of eternal youth does not seem to be chased as frantically as it is in the West, which is quite ironic in a way since kids up until their mid 20’s or so seem far less grown up than their western counter parts. Mummy and daddy take care of you, then your husband or wife will, then you die and it’s all up to god. In the West it is not unusual for people in their 60’s and 70’s to be very active. Many feel full of life , travel the world and keep their brains involved with all sorts of mental stimulus. Being that same age in the Third World means you’ve got one foot in the grave. Is it a blessing that so many of our needs are fulfilled that we can choose to eat wheat-free, get inspired by any self-help guru and contemplate if bikram yoga is really our thing? Yes, yes, yes, ’cause choice is good. Choice also means responsibility. Here in Egypt, there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of choice. The political structure, society, nor Egyptian culture give you any. Therefore no one feels responsible. So you can whine, complain, hope and pray and something mind change, god willing ,but it’s up to someone else. And when it’s always somebody else not an awful lot does change.
And while I analyse and whine about Egyptian culture I wonder how I will cope once I get back to London, ’cause although there I can wear what I want, do whatever I want day or night and it’s not considered to be pc for men to treat you like prey, it’s back to grey, rainy weather most times of the year, no two-weekly lunches at 5-star hotels, no taxis to uni , no weekly massages and definitely no mansion with almost-sea view. I’ve had a taste of it and there is no way back. Expat life doesn’t broaden you horizon, makes you experience and appreciate other cultures or makes you homesick, it just makes you greedy.