Remembering Consumerism

To say that Egypt does not have a consumerist society would be incorrect. In some ways they are so much more so than even Americans or Europeans but consumerism here is different. The way we buy things and the way that things are advertised are different here so it feels different and somehow less consumeristic.

I spent this last Tuesday at City Stars in Heliopolis with the Englyptian and had an absolute blast. We browsed all of the couture stores and imagined how fab we would be if we were size six and rich. It felt so much like home for both of us, City Stars reminds me of the Mall of America actually, and except for all the Arabic being spoken we could pretend for a second that we weren’t stranded in a foreign land.

Mr. MM met us in the evening, after the Englyptian and I finished watching the Da Vinci Code sequal: Angels & Demons (so much better than the Code!,) and we all went to have my birthday dinner at On the Border. It was yummy and I ate so much that I was actually in pain.

At the end of the evening I was feeling a bit consumered out and a little off my equilibrium and it felt like a shock to return to the real world of abject poverty that you can see on every corner here. It really made me think and reassess whats important.

The taxi driver was a definite juxtaposition. He was the first person I have seen here in Egypt with Tourett’s Snydrom and it was quite severe. At first it seemed like he was almost having a silent conversation with someone and disagreeing with them but then I realized that there was a pattern to his twitching and head jerks. I can’t imagine that it was easy for his to drive with his head jerking that severely but he got us back safely.

I just can’t imagine how hard his life must be here. People who are in any way abnormal, especially when it comes to mental or physical impairments, are shunned. Add in to that he is a taxi driver, which is certainly not the easiest or best-paid job, and I just cannot fathom how much he must deal with every day.

It really made me feel greedy and ungrateful for what I have and then, just to remind me that I’m in Egypt, we passed a group of young boys herding a number of galloping camels down the autostrade.

Camels. It was hilarious.

You never know what you’re going to get here and thats both the most frustrating and yet also the most addicting thing about living in Egypt.

I went from browsing through French Connection and Mango couture clothing that goes for 1,000EGP a piece, to eating yummy tex-mex food and drinking Starbuck’s coffee, to driving past a herd of camels on the freeway, and contemplating life.

Nothing will look the same after living here.


4 responses to “Remembering Consumerism

  1. The juxtapositioning of cultures here in Egypt is definitely interesting! I’ll never forget the time when I was on the way to the Four Seasons in Giza, and right in front of this beautiful 5 star hotel there was a herd of camels walking by. It was so funny.

  2. Ah, so true. Good read!

  3. My SIL is on a wheelchair and there was no way she would ever be able to live in Cairo. The whole Egypt and people with disabilities thing is a big subject… And an unpleasant one. Maybe the more people gain insight on the subject there the easier it will be, but right now we have a friend who is a quadriplegic living there and even thinking about what he must go through makes me heartsick. There is a city for war veterans somewhere that was built for accessibility, but everywhere else they are just acting like people with disabilities don’t exist.

  4. slightly off the post’s topic — happy birthday!!!

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