Celebrating my Birthday in Egypt

I have decided to keep a sort of diary about my life in Cairo, where I will be spending the next month. For the sake of letting my subscribers know that I have posted something new, I will add these diary postings to my normal post list, but you can also find them in the page entitled “The Cairo Diary.” It’s kind of nice to do a more informal musing on Arab culture. :)

Holidays are meant to be fun. They are meant to be times of joy, when people get together to eat, drink, remember and celebrate with their family and friends. For me, holidays do not have a high success rate; the expectations and hype, I feel, are too high, and I have spent many a holiday for this or that reason in tears. So the idea of spending holidays abroad–and thus away from the people who celebrate the holiday–appeals to me.

To date, I have celebrated most major holidays abroad. I spent Halloween in France (I did nothing) as well as Thanksgiving in France (I probably feasted on my glorious ham-and-cheese baguette, which in my opinion is a far better Thanksgiving feast than turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce). I spent Christmas Eve in the Fiumicino Leonardo Da Vinci airport  and then in a hotel room at the Satellite Hotel outside Rome, eating a disgusting pasta dinner (the mineral water, the only thing to drink besides wine which I didn’t want, was awful) thanks to severe rain, and then Christmas Day trying not to fall asleep in Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Airport, with nothing but Pringles and a Pepsi and an endless game of Solitaire. I spent Memorial Day (don’t remember) and the Fourth of July in Cairo, the latter sitting in an American school in sweltering hot heat, where no one seemed to realize that it was July 4th despite being an “American” school.

This was all in 2011. Most recently, I spent New Years Eve/Day in Barcelona, Spain, with my twin sister and university friends as I recently reported. And now I can report that I have spent my birthday abroad here in Cairo, the first birthday I celebrated without my twin (!) or my cousin, who also shares the same day.

Although it was strange to celebrate my birthday without them, it was the first time I really celebrated it as “my day,” which I will never view it as. I spent the day fuming in our flat because there was no internet (again!), then went over with my husband to his parent’s flat where his family, including his older sister and her adorable children, had prepared a small celebration. They lit the chocolate and creme cake twice (as I requested; it’s a tradition in my family) and sang “Happy Birthday” to me, first in English and then in Arabic. We also had a plain cake which his mother had made, which was delicious. I played with the children and declared that I was turning 5 years old, not 23.

Afterward, my husband and I walked around Cairo’s huge CityStars Mall (5+ levels and more awing than any Long Island mall) with his friend before returning home. We were supposed to go to the Cairo Tower yesterday for dinner, but as of yet this hasn’t materialized. Despite the lack of  an “excitement” factor, I had a very lovely birthday with his family and hope that this year continues on it’s upward trend. Our visa interview is coming up in two days, and if I don’t get on here before then, please wish us luck!


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