1. You’ll lie before you will admit you don’t know something.
It’s more than hard, it’s almost shameful for us Egyptians to say “I don’t know” when you ask us about something, especially directions. A friend from Palestine challenged me to prove this was true. We were walking on the street when she stopped and asked a man standing in front of his shop about the directions to “Al Shajaiya St.” The man answered with full confidence: “Yes, sure, take a left, and then turn right, it’s right in front of the cinema.”
Al Shajaiya isn’t even a street in Egypt. It’s a neighborhood in Palestine.
2. You’re the original MacGyver.
Egyptians like to brag about our uncanny ability to fix everything, everything, with just a pin or a good kick. You’re a doctor/electrician/mechanic/carpenter, depending on the situation that arises.
3. You make jokes in the darkest situations.
Egyptians are known for their humor, even in the darkest situations. Irony and laughter have always been part of the Egyptian identity. Recently, the political satire gained more ground especially after the 2011 revolution. Egyptians used humor as a weapon during the turmoil to the extent that the revolution was called “the humor revolution.”
4. You buy something just because it’s on sale.
Us Egyptians do love sales, and even if there’s not a sale, we will use our bargaining power to try to make it so. Never mind if we actually need the item or not…
5. You dream about molokhia, koshari, and mahshi when you travel outside Egypt.
The best pizza in Italy or the best caviar in Russia or an exquisite French croissant could never compensate for the absence of these Egyptian dishes. Their smell will follow you everywhere; their image will haunt your mind and make you drool on your hotel room pillow.
6. Your parents still pay your bills even after you’re married and have children.
Due to the economic situation, your parents are more than likely still helping you financially, no matter how old you are. They don’t save their retirement money for going on a long vacation; they keep it for emergencies. Emergencies = you. They will bail you out of your debts, pay the hospital bill for the delivery of your baby, and buy you a car if you need one. Who needs to work with parents like this?
7. You fight heatedly with the taxi driver over the fare.
Many taxis in Egypt don’t have a fare counter, which makes it hard to calculate it. If you don’t agree on the fare from the beginning, there is a chance there’s going to be a long conversation between you and the driver (ending up with you both shouting and disrupting the traffic).
8. You say “Insha’Allah” a ridiculous number of times per day.
It seems like the average Egyptian says Insha’Allah at least 20 times a day.
If you take a taxi and ask, “Can you take me to…,” he won’t answer yes, he will say, Insha’Allah. “Do you have a change?” again, not yes or no, it’s Insha’Allah. “Are you going to pass by the train station?” Guess what? Insha’Allah.
9. You run on Egyptian Standard Time.
15 minutes = an hour. So if you hear an Egyptian saying on the phone “I’m on my way,” trust me, he is just ‘on his way’ out of bed.