Today is Thursday, and we Cairenes all know what that means. Friends are going to call you up, telling you “we’re going out”. The idea of the weekend drives people insane with the need to “go out” and have “fun”. If you don’t cram as many events as possible into Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then you have not lived. It is not only here in Cairo, it is every metropolitan out there. The need to have “fun” and prove that you are not just a machine who works, works out, eats and sleeps.
It all starts with the dreaded phone call, followed by a hesitating form of consent. While your friend is telling you about that hip place you should check out, you are secretly praying that it is within walking distance. However, it is most certainly not. It is more of a 2-hour drive, than 5-minute walk. During the day, there is work you have to finish, or errands you have to run. Just like a ghost-infested horror movie, it begins at night.
You get home and you are starving, so just like a caveman, you eat. Then you gear up and go to your car. If it is not stolen, then hurray, step one is complete. You just have to wiggle it out from between the two cars which seem to be giving it a tight bear hug. Then, you have to drive like mad to avoid the “street valet” who just watched you, while doing nothing, and then comes at the end to usher you to the street. Yes, please, do point out where the street is, I can’t see it.
You drive through Cairo traffic (we all know what a peach it is), and even after consulting all the traffic apps in the world, you are still stuck in traffic. After all, it is Thursday. You turn on the radio to listen to vomit-inducing tunes. So, you just listen to a CD you got 5 years ago at some concert.
When you finally arrive at your destination, back aching and exhausted, there is no place to park. Street valet to the rescue, “Aywa ya Madam(yes, madam), 20 pounds to park.” After being called a madam despite your baby face, you are too defeated to say no. The valet takes your car away, ever so recklessly and you pray nothing happens to it.
You enter the restaurant to a snooty-looking waiter who gives you the once-over and ushers you to your friends. After spending a couple of hours of chitchatting and drinking 25-pound cups of tea, which turns out to be the cheapest and worst brand around, the waiter comes to inform you there is a minimum charge. How much is it? 150 pounds.
Remember, you ate at home, so you are not hungry. However, you have to pay the 150 pounds, because there is your butt print on the uncomfortable couch. Butt prints cost a fortune these days. Fine, let me look over the menu. You settle on a couple of pizzas, which you bring home. Your whole family cringes because they taste like dirt.
Let’s do a sliding door thing, shall we? What if the café is close to home? Then you walk at night, all dressed up in the streets of Cairo on a Thursday night. Fun, fun, fun. You have to survive honking cars, stray looks and not so PG remarks as you cross the street. You also have to survive the crowded streets and the lack of pavements.
Then, when you finally reach that café, you find your friends sitting outside to enjoy the polluted breeze and the full moon. Fine, you sit, clutching your purse and ready to pounce on the next robber that comes around. After having some very bad coffee, you head home. Exhausted, annoyed and feeling violated from the walk back.
So, if I am a freak for not wanting to go out during the weekend, fine. I would rather stay home, read a book, watch a movie or just stare at that spider on the ceiling. After a week of work, I deserve it, and I leave you to enjoy the human-infested streets.