You don’t have to live in Egypt to experience the Egyptian everyday life. Egyptians simply carry their daily rituals wherever they go as part of their identity. When it comes to making appointments with Egyptian colleagues or just starting small talk, you better be prepared to read between the lines and expect the unexpected. The following rules may help you understand how the Egyptian mind ticks:
Rule 1: Egyptians are programmed to automatically ask you “how are you” every time you meet
Don’t take the question seriously, just respond with “fine”. They are not interested to know how you are doing anyway.
Rule 2: Egyptians use the word “habibi/habebty” (my love) even with strangers
Don’t be surprised if someone calls you “my love” the first time they meet you. This is not love at first sight.
Rule 3: If an Egyptian tells you ‘stay in touch’ at the end of a phone call, don’t take it seriously
It’s just the Egyptian word for “bye”.
Rule 4: When buying something the vendor may tell you to “leave it on them” (it’s for free)
They actually don’t mean it and you still have to pay the money.
Rule 5: Chewing gum is considered a currency at Egyptian supermarkets
You can get it as change but you cannot use it as payment.
Rule 6: Egyptians attribute almost everything to the “bad eye”
From common cold to natural disasters.
Rule 7: Be careful when you ask an Egyptian about the weather
In Egypt “weather” is also used to refer to boyfriend/girlfriend.
Rule 8: In Egypt you will listen to songs by Egyptian male singers expressing their passionate romantic feelings for a guy
i.e. using pronouns of masculine gender to speak to a girl. They are not homosexual; it is just considered romantic to talk to your girl as if she was a guy.
Rule 9: Egyptians are extremely flexible when it comes to appointments
Rather than using hours and minutes, they prefer to use prayer times to make appointments. Do your homework and study the 5 prayers’ timings before you make appointments in Egypt.
As monotonous as the everyday life in Egypt may seem, surviving the challenges sometimes requires supernatural skills such as reading between the lines and giving equal importance to the told and untold information. Next time you visit Egypt, be prepared for the unplanned surprises of the daily Egyptian routine.