A wedding

Trip Start Oct 30, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Thursday, April 8, 2010

Omar, an employee at place I live in Sinai, invited me to his sister's wedding in Al Fayyum, which according to him, was one hour drive from Cairo. Excited about participating in such an event, I gladly accepted.

I was instructed to meet his nephew in Cairo at 2pm. Turned out Al Fayyum was actually three hours from Cairo, but because of many silly reasons, it took us six hours to get there, arriving at the wedding at 8pm.

The wedding took place in the middle of a side street lined up with auto repair shops, most of which were still open. The decor was very similar to Cambodian weddings, with shiny polyester fabrics and string Christmas lights everywhere. The sound system was so loud and out of tune I'm pretty sure several people have lost their hearing that night.

On the stage several unattractive men screamed at the audience waving money at them. Apparently this is the gift-giving procedure. Guests give money to these guys who announce the details of the generous (or not) gift.

No food was served and I was very hungry by that point. Guests arrived with packs of weed and started rolling joints (which I was not offered any). Apparently, smoking weed and hashish at weddings is allowed. Smoking elsewhere would mean jail time.

The happy couple set on a bench with some guests dancing in front of them, as if to entertain the couple.
Hold on a minute. Did I say "happy couple"? Well, that would be a lie.
The couple looked very unhappy and not too thrilled to be there. In fact, within 20 minutes of their arrival they got up and left. Minutes later Omar and his family took me to someone's home where the bride was sitting on the sofa surrounded by women. Turned out the groom decided to skip the wedding and abandon his bride.

Talk about awkward.

About two hours later the groom came to the house and it seemed like the couple was okay again. With the exception of the tray of sweets that I have brought as a gift, no other food was served. I was very hungry but it was clear there was no food to be had in the house.

By midnight, after spending most of my time there playing with the kids in the other room, I told Omar I had to go to sleep (his invitation was to attend the wedding, stay the night and then spend a day with him in his town). We took two service taxis to get to his home, about 45 minutes away, in what seemed to me the most Absolute Nowhere I've ever been.

The bed was a wooden frame with moldy blanket as the mattress. Starving, and being hours from civilization or any other accommodation options I just crashed into dreamland.  

When I got up at 7:30 AM everyone else was asleep. They were still a sleep after my yoga practice. From the window I saw a neighborhood of 5 story buildings in the desert with dirt roads and piles of trash everywhere. Being as hungry as I was, I decided not to wait for anyone to wake up and sneaked out of the apartment.

Within minutes I found a service taxi back to Al Fayyum, where there was a lovely Friday market with delicious foods (sugar cane juice, fried eggplants, falafel, and homemade cheese). From there I took another service taxi back to Cairo, arriving there exactly three hours after leaving the apartment.

On the way to Cairo Omar called asking where I was. I thanked him for his hospitality and pretended not to understand his dismay at my leaving. What I loved about this whole experience is that despite all of the circumstances I was pretty content and joyful throughout most of it and not for a second uttered any complaint. I also loved the fact that I managed to find my way very easily even from such a "god-forsaken" place back to the capital. Knowing that my reaction to such events would have been much different only a few years back, where I would be upset with every single person a long the path, I am really thrilled with the new me: more centered, resilient, accepting and loving.

I love my life. I really really love my life!

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