Returning to Cairo is a constant reminder that true happiness is manifested when we feel our youth.
It’s now 2021, believe it or not. This miserable blur of a year may have brought out the worst in some of us, as it did an impeccable job at keeping us in solitary confinement with our thoughts for a bit too long. Personally, I milked the hell out of every chance I got to escape my apartment, or better yet, my mind. This is why I looked forward to winter break so much.
But it’s also so much more than that.
Every winter break, I return to my home of Cairo, Egypt. It isn’t simply the warm weather that I look forward to and love so much, especially compared to the somewhat brutal winters of New York City. The presence of familiarity and comfort is so overwhelmingly powerful. My life here is my life away from the miseries of being an adult. Not only do I reminisce my teenage years, Cairo quite literally makes me feel like a high schooler again. Having all of my best friends back and watching them grow into amazing, independent individuals is a surreal experience and can never be recreated.
Yet again, it’s far more than that.
For those not familiar with Cairo, let me try and capture its personality in a few words. It’s definitely not without problems, but they are also of a certain charm – intoxication, if you will – giving it an unmatched, understated beauty that I promise you cannot find anywhere else in the world. When people say that New York is a city which never sleeps, I can’t help but chuckle, knowing damn well they’re completely wrong. Every Thursday after basketball practice, my friends and I would stop by an outdoor restaurant: Grapes, at around 8 or 9 p.m., and literally stay until the sun rises. The beautiful thing about Cairo is that time doesn’t put pressure. It doesn’t persuade us to stop spending time with each other, or that every day eventually comes to an end. Returning to Cairo is a constant reminder that true happiness is manifested when we feel our youth.
The food in Egypt is also simply amazing, it emphasizes the definition of freshness. When I’m in New York, I find myself ordering food a bit more than I’d like to simply because my cooking skills are frankly quite pathetic. And yet, when I’m in Egypt, goodness gracious, the homemade food here beats anything any restaurant would try to serve to me.
One of the absolute biggest joys of coming back home is reuniting with my old high school basketball teammates, and getting back on the court with them. The most magical part of it all, however, is the fact that we play at the school courts we grew up playing on, the same courts we endlessly practiced on. It’s an emotion I can’t truly describe, only that I become possessed by sheer happiness.
After playing basketball, we usually frequent Road 9 – a street filled to the brim with cafés and restaurants that seem to never close. When I’m on Road 9, I would not be able to tell you what time it is. Though the street noise can be frustrating after a while, nothing spells familiarity and comfort like constant company, even if it’s from passerby strangers.
If you look at the city objectively, sure, it may not be appealing to some. From noise pollution, the regular pollution, to Cairo’s lack of city structure. See past that, however, and you have yourself a place that oozes magnetism which may captivate you for many years to come.