At this point I feel pretty familiar with central Cairo and the nearby neighborhoods, since that’s where I’m living, working and hanging out, etc. But I’ve barely seen any of the suburbs. So yesterday I decided to take a trip to Maadi just for the hell of it.
It took about a half an hour on the subway from the station closest to my apartment and when I got off the train I felt like I was in… Park Slope. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration. It’s still Egypt and most of the people there are Egyptians—but only barely. Many of Cairo’s expats–embassy people, corporate types, who knows what else–make their home.
What am I talking about? I went to a decent used book store where I almost bought a book of interviews with Woody Allen. Then I walked down the street and saw a place called—no fucking joke!—Jared’s Bagels. As I marched down Road 9 I passed smiling couples with blonde babies in babybjörns. A totally surreal experience.
I’m glad I don’t live there. (Longer post on the discourse of “authentic” and the Western traveler to come later, I promise.) Maybe if I were older and bringing my family to live with me in Cairo Maadi would be my choice. But why the hell would I move halfway around the world to be surrounded by American yuppies? If that’s what I wanted I could have just moved to Brooklyn like so many recent Oberlin grads.
Incidentally, Maadi is also home to the best hamburger in the world, at least according to Time’s Scott MacLeod. I haven’t been yet, but obviously will go. I haven’t been out of the US for half my life like MacLeod has, so I might be coming at the Lucille’s burger with clearer eyes. I will report back, of course.