Understanding Egypt is a series about Egyptian culture and traditions. I will try my best to explain the Egyptian way of thinking about different aspects of life that are usually different (or not) from Western and other cultures. If you have any questions or points you need elaborated please contact me through the comments sections or through the contact me page.
I have mentioned before what a meal in Egypt means, and that it is not just about the food, but sharing a meal has a lot more meaning to it that this!
Yesterday, I was out with some friends and there was this German guy with us. We took him to a local café, and sat there for a while…when it was time to pay, and in those small local cafes you just get up and find the guy that served you, pay him, so we did this and then the German guy insisted he would pay for us all.
My friend (the one who brought him) kept insisting that this will not happen.
So the situation is two people with money in their hands and a guy in the middle not sure whom to take the money from…with everyone insisting, the guy took the money from the German guy as he was actually the first to bring out the money, and he told my friend I’ll just take the money from him and then you decide together.
With one word everything changed “No, give back his money, he’s a foreigner and he’s my guest!”
Even though the café worker doesn’t know my friend personally but he knows quite well what this word means to an Egyptian. It is almost an insult to make the guest pay.
He shoved the money back in the German guy’s hands – literally shoved it! – and took the money from my friend.
Being someone’s guest in Egypt is an act of honor to the Egyptian host, and they would do everything to prove their hospitality!
And everyone around would do their best to show that this Egyptian host is a good one, just like this café worker, who gained nothing out of what he did, but it was just a “normal response” to what my friend said.
Ever been to Egypt? How did the locals treat you? Did you feel welcomed and did they show you any hospitality?