Living Off the Nile

Do You Remember Me?

September 23rd, 2010 by asmetana · 2 Comments

Today when I went to a rooftop cafe at one of the hotels in Zamalek, an Egyptian girl came up to me warmly exclaiming, “Hey! Do you remember me?” After a second I recognized her; she was the Egyptian girl that I had met in the Chicago airport on the way here. We had spent hours in JFK together since our flight was delayed. I was surprised to see her again. We greeted each other with the double cheek kiss. After chatting for a bit, she made sure I had her number and made me promise to call her sometime to hang out before she went back to her table. It is amazing how friendly and social the people are over here. The physical greetings that they use reinforce this sense of welcome and/or camaraderie.

Egyptians meet and greet people differently than Americans. When I first meet someone, they extend their hand to me and we shake. However, this shake does not involve a firm grip, but rather a limp hand. This felt very weird to me the first few times and I had to loosen my hold on their hand. This handshake seems kind of impersonal and uninterested. I’m not sure why they do it like this. I prefer the second encounter with that person, which is much warmer. The next time I see someone one of two things normally occurs. If I’m meeting with a female, we will usually do a cheek touch/kiss to both cheeks. This is very warm and welcoming. If I’m meeting with a male or sometimes a female then we will slap our hands together, like a casual, non-celebratory high five. I like this best since it’s fun and it feels like we’re buddies on some sort of team.

I think these greetings are some things that I will miss when I return to the states since they give off such a feeling of closeness and acceptance, even when I do not know people well.

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