We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

And the last answer: my neighborhood

Monica asked,

I’d like to know what it’s like on the streets of your neighborhood. Are there shops? People hanging out? If you were to take a walk at various times of day, who would you meet?

Here’s a photo of the front our building, taken from the balcony.
looking down at the street

My neighborhood feels residential, with several-story apartment buildings that are taller than the buildings in the older part of town. Our building is only a few years old. Here’s the view looking to the right from our balcony.
the view up the street

But a few of the buildings do have some businesses on the ground floor. There’s a daycare across the street and a doctor’s office and real estate agent a few doors away. There’s also an embassy or an embassy residence on the same road.

Here’s a view looking to the left from our balcony. (Mr Four has been fascinated by the building techniques across the way.) See those trees? That’s why people call this part of Cairo “green.”

Most times of day I see a lot of men on the street, including the bowabs, or doormen, who work at each building, as well as police or guards in some places. There are often people walking and lots of cars, including black and white taxis. It’s busy especially in the morning when people are headed to work.

If I were to walk to and from the metro for my commute (I usually take a taxi), I’d see mostly Egyptian men, but also some Egyptian women, plus some expats, including other Americans or Europeans as well as Asians and sub-Saharan Africans (that’s a work-around for black Africans who wear clothing that suggests they’re not Egyptian). And Egyptian and expat kids going to and from school. And lots of men. Are they bowabs or just hanging out? It’s hard to say.

Any time of day I see lots of cats, often eating garbage that’s spilled out of bags.

Just around the corner, there are more businesses. We’re about five minutes from a major grocery store, and another two minutes from another one. I got a pedicure just up the road last week. Within a few minutes’ walk of our house, we could buy an English language paper, get a haircut, go to the doctor, and buy a copper table or lantern. And nearby you’ll also find Domino’s Pizza, an electrician, a large produce shop, a dry cleaner, and, I noticed today, the headquarters of some oil company. Within fifteen minutes of walking from our house, you could buy some nice clothes, browse English-language novels, and buy a nice houseplant.

I’m sure there are a lot more shops I haven’t even noticed yet. Because it always feels like I don’t know where to go to buy things.

Our neighborhood does feel like a city neighborhood, with shops integrated into the bottom floors of residential buildings. There are also some free-standing villas that cost something like $6000/month to rent. Yes, that’s US dollars.

We can’t see the Nile from our apartment, but we can see buildings that do look out over the river.
the view towards the nile

By the way, the photo isn’t hazy. That’s the pollution.

Cairo manages to be both vibrant and dingy at the same time. I’m not sure if that comes through in the photos. There’s lots of garbage in the streets, and things are dirty from the pollution and all that sand. But there’s always a lot of colorful activity as well.

Monica, does this answer your question? It made my brain hurt.


10 October 2007 - Posted by | our life in egypt

1 Comment

  1. Sorry to make your brain hurt, but this is a great answer! I have a much better sense of your environs. Cairo’s so huge, it was hard for me to imagine your little bit of it.

    Thanks, and Happy Eid (if that’s appropriate).

    Comment by Monica | 12 October 2007

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