The best way to describe Egypt is to say that it’s a country that has everything. And when you have everything, life can be overwhelming. It’s a contradicting country where opposites rarely attract yet are forced to coexist side by side. Mornings in Cairo are chaotic, noisy and bustling but if you walk down the street after midnight, the tranquility of the city will engulf you. It’s a giant beast that roars nonstop from 8 am till 12 am and sleeps peacefully from 12 am till 7 am. We can’t help but have alternating emotions towards our country. We asked 10 Egyptians to describe their love/hate relationship with this giant beast and this is what we got!
1- “People in Egypt are always helpful and willing to lend a hand even when they have no hand to give and no information that will be of use to you. For example, when you ask a stranger for an address and they tell you ‘homa alolak fen?’ Obviously, they don’t know the answer to your question but they still want to help. With that being said, it annoys the s**t out of me when they do that because I’m late, lost and have no time for their faty.”
2- “I love Egypt because it’s home. I love the familiarity of the streets; I love the people and the food. Everything goes ‘bel hob’, which is not always a good thing but when you leave Egypt for a while, you miss the ‘bel hob’ concept. Egypt is where my friends and family are, and I love ‘el 3ashwa2a’ that exists nowhere else. But at the same time, it’s hard to live in a country where there is lack of support from your own government. I hate the traditions that don’t make sense yet people keep abiding by, because they refuse to think for themselves and only want to follow. I hate the traffic and dealing with paperwork and most of all, I hate the education I got. We deserve more from our country.”
3- “It’s not really love. It’s inevitable attachment or comfort because Egypt is where I grew up. I’m attached to the country subconsciously and unwillingly, but I hate the country itself. Even the things I love, I love them because I’m attached to them. Take my friends for example; I only like them because I like that I connect with them and the only reason I connect with them so deeply is because they come from the same place I’m from which is the country I hate.”
4- “Egypt is my home, and it’s also the home I hate to love and love to hate.”
5- “My relationship with Egypt is interchangeable. It’s anything but stagnant. It depends on where I am in my life. So if I’m finding opportunities where I can grow and feel like I’m contributing with my talents and skills then I will feel like I love Egypt. Mostly because when I’m buried with work, I have little time to ponder whether this is a good country to live in or not. But for example, there was a time when I couldn’t find a job and felt aimless and helpless. All I could think about was how much I hate the country because economically, it’s not stable. The quality of life is poor and there aren’t many opportunities for fresh grads to strive. I consider myself to be lucky because despite the conditions of our country, I was able to be happy but I know that many people are not as lucky as I am and this is where the love/hate comes in.”
6- “What I love about Egypt is the people and what I hate about it is also the people. Egyptians are friendly, fun, diverse yet they are intrusive, sneaky, old fashioned and passive. We love Egypt because we know it too well, and we hate it because we also know it too well.”
7- “Some days I can’t help but hate this country for all the things it deprived me of. All my life, I’ve only wanted to do one thing. I wanted to do good, to volunteer often and to make this country a better place. I’m at this point in my life where I can’t even do an internship in the UNHCR, only because I don’t have the right connections. It’s frustrating knowing that I live in a country where I will never be able to achieve my dreams, but then I think of how I’m willing to travel abroad, start my career somewhere else only for the sole purpose of coming back and doing good to this country because I love it. With every broken bone, I do love it and I will forever try to make it a better place, even if most of the times it doesn’t make it easy for me to.”
8- “I love that there are restaurants open till late. I hate bureaucracy and going to any government related place. I love the empty streets at night and the beach at all times. But I also hate the majority of the people and how they think, and despise what they choose to judge other people upon.”
9- “Egypt is home, but I don’t want it to be.”
10- “It’s simple. When there was hope, I loved Egypt but now that there’s none and there hasn’t been for a long time, I don’t love it anymore. It’s not a love/hate relationship anymore.”
Maybe we love it today, but we’re not really sure how we will feel tomorrow.