What I learned from Egypt, in Egypt (Day 2/10)

  1. You know you’ve fallen in love with a place when even the trash on the street is beautiful to you. (I literally looked at a garbage can and said, “God you’re beautiful.” Kinda sounds like something we’ve said to an ex.)
  2. I feel compelled to say that falling in love with a place seems almost like falling in love with a person. Cairo, what have you done to me? Why do I hate you and love you at the same time? Why do you make me want to write poetry?
  3. My great aunt Coco sat next to me yesterday putting on lipstick, and running her fingers through her short, 80-year-old hair. She told me to never stop prettying yourself up, especially when you’re an older adult. This is the Egyptian aunt version of feeling yourself. Right on, Coco.

4. History is everywhere, it is in our bones. I look at the decisions of world leaders today and at my own decisions and ask, why do we seem to forget history? Why do we not look at what people did before us? Why do we make the same mistakes?

5. If anyone needs a purpose in life until they find their passion, here’s one: help those in need. And then, after you find your passion, find a way to use it to also help people in need.

6. There’s a co-dependence here. The poorer people serve the middle class and upper class. Those who can afford servers need them and depend on them. Those who serve need the money to live. We cannot live without each other.

7. The girl who serves my great aunts, who cooks for them, cleans the house and runs errands for them, is 20 years old. She has a baby. She is married. She will probably be pregnant again soon. She carries her baby as she washes the dishes and brings my grandmother her medicine. I am 21. I thought I knew what hard work looks like. I had no freaking idea.

8. The world can be a kind place. It can also be cruel. Speak up for yourself and say what you want. Don’t hold back.

9. I want to be my great aunt Zuhoor. The type of woman who walked and talked firmly but practiced generosity and kindness. The type of woman who, when she died, people still speak her name every couple minutes as if she is still alive because she lives in every moment, every place and every thought. The type of woman that no one can forget.

10. The pharaohs believed in the afterlife. And they also believed in this: “amal” which means hope, and “iman” which means faith. The two concepts are timeless; the two concepts are universal.


Thank you for reading!

  • Nardine