Entry #31: Egypt's Quirks

Here are some cultural oddities about Egypt.

First: they drive at night without headlights. Somehow, they think this saves on gas. And it's not just one or two people, everyone does this. It's not a strong comment on the educational system here in Egypt.

Second: Egyptians speak to each other in a sort of screaming angry tone. At first you think they are mad at you, but then you realize that is just they way they talk to everyone.

Third: They always try to "help" you out even when you don't want "help." An example: I went to an ATM to take out money and while I'm standing there a guy comes up, and at first I think he's going to rob me, but then realize he is the bank security guard. He starts pointing out that I should hit the buttons that I already know how to push and then he starts pushing them for me. In the end it spits out money in an amount I didn't want and then he asks for a "tip" or "present" as they call it here. I refused and walked away. They are just silly with this stuff. Another example: I sat down for my breakfast and a guy walks up and gives me a coffee. I said, "I didn't want a coffee." He says ok and returns it, but then comes back and asks for his "tip" for returning the coffee I didn't want in the first place! If you ask someone directions, like where the exit to the museum is, they will expect a tip. It’s just plain silly.

Fourth: Negotiating is the norm here, which makes hailing cabs a pain in the arse. As you always have to do the walk out the door technique at every turn of the negotiation...which must last at a minimum of 15 minutes before you can settle on a price.

Finally, it seems as though after the Egyptians built the pyramids, they haven’t built anything worthwhile since.

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