A KHAWAGA'S TALE: Don't miss Tuesday's date

Peter A. Carrigan
6 Min Read

Cairo’s newest expatriate arrived during the week. Max Carrigan has had his first black ‘n’ white taxi incident, dipped into the Nile Hilton pool and lunched on the Marriott terrace. Though I think my baby boy, at just seven weeks, is still a little young for the Cairo Expat Meet and Greet Club on Tuesday evening.

The inaugural meeting of this purely social get-together will take place tomorrow night at one of Cairo’s oldest expatriate haunts, the BCA Club House in Mohandiseen, at 7.30pm.

This social initiative is the brain child of Ms Angana Shah and Marilys Corbex, both professionals working in the development sector, who felt Cairo’s diverse expatriate community, lacked a hub.

“I’ve come to Cairo from Washington DC, where such regular informal gatherings worked very well. And DC, like Cairo, is an in and out kind of town. Where professionals are always arriving and leaving, Ms Shah said.

“I was inspired by all my friends who have left since the summer. It is as if we are ships passing in the night, so you have to keep meeting new people.

“Tomorrow night, I am expecting a real mix. From Fulbright scholars to journalists. Lawyers like me, embassy people, United Nations staffers and contractors. Marilys and I have spread the word through friendship groups.

We have asked everyone to tell their friends and so on. We hope to attract a fun crowd, Ms Shah added.

For just a LE 20 entrance fee, it is probably your best chance dear reader to meet and greet a host of like-minded singles who haven’t heard your jokes. And if they have, the BCA has Cairo’s best stocked bar and a menu of tasty favorites.

Ms Corbex, who works for the World Health Organization, sees the Cairo Expat Meet and Greet Club as an outlet for single working people.

“You meet the same people all the time in Cairo. People from different communities don’t mix that much. There are lots of people who are alone in Cairo. If you are a spouse or have a family, there are things organized, but nothing for single people, Ms Corbex said.

“The Belgium Embassy is very good at organising a social event every month for their community. But there are few of us, it is a small community.

So I think we have a duty to get people together, to get communities to mix. And as a European woman I need to find a place where I can be myself.

It is a comment I have heard before, and I heard it again only last week from a Citibank expatriate. Even though Cairo has thriving expatriate communities, with schools bursting with American accents and ethnic groups constantly staging annual black tie balls, foreigners often form tight cliques that are difficult for new arrivals to break into.

Where do new arrivals go to meet like-minded people outside of work? Making friends and joining in takes effort. Especially, I imagine and have heard, for single women.

Sports of course have healthy expatriate membership. Many of which; rugby, golf, softball, tennis, running, windsurfing, scuba diving, all cater for women. But if sweat, drowning or little balls are not your thing, where does a single girl get her kicks?

Singles work late, possibly to avoid going home to lonely apartments. After the gym, it is easier just to crash in front of the box. Dinners and parties come along and you build up a draw full of business cards. The same few friends text you on the weekend and you start to get lost in Facebook writing anecdotes of how fascinating Egypt is.

So possibly, Ms Shah and Corbex have hit on a formula that will add another option for making friends when you are a long way from home?

“I want to encourage people to meet new people, Ms Shah said.

“Tomorrow night I want everyone to feel comfortable, mix and help build a mailing list for the future. The BCA is a very relaxed place. People can play pool, enjoy dinner, sit at the bar and just be themselves.

It has to beat speed dating or another Thai curry delivery. If you can find the BCA Club House, which is around the corner from the Vietnamese Embassy, I am betting this will be the night to be part of something new, because nothing new comes from doing the same ol’ thing. ([email protected]).

Next Monday this column will publish an expatriate event calendar for 2008, so if you are a club, organization, sport or charity and you have an event to publicize, please send an email to this address below [email protected]

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