My First Egyptian Hair Cut

So it was time.

I entered with some trepidation and a bit of hope.

My hair was pretty bad. It really couldn’t get worse.

I looked around at the organized chaos and wondered if I should walk away. Another look in the mirror and I knew I couldn’t.

I sit down in a sea of a beautifully made up women, decked to the nines from head to toe. I glance at my flared jeans and red t-shirt and wonder what I had been thinking. Clearly it had not been about my wardrobe.

As I gather my wits, I glance around at the system. I am sure there is one but it is as foreign to me as Arabic is. I notice looks being exchanged as one woman “demands” something, clearly amusing to those who understand her. I wish I understood.

I am signaled and soon the hair wash begins. So far so good. I am directed to my chair and my guy shows up. He looks at me with the towel on my head and says:

Volume! Big Volume! Lots of Layers!

And I wonder how he knows when he can’t see my hair.

Off goes the towel and then the shock or is it horror is revealed.

You need to colour your hair!

I look down sheepishly and meekly say that I want to see how this goes first.

Dismayed, he shakes his head and the scissors come out.

My head is yanked in every direction as he surfaces and resurfaces all around me as he gets the right angle for each and every strand. My hair is screaming for attention and attention it receives. Almost embarrassingly so.

I wonder how much more he can cut. I wonder how much longer he can cut.

I stand up. He jumps in front of me and cuts. I sit down. He crouches down and cuts. All the time, his perfectly coiffed hair never moves and nor does his chest hair, popping out from his half buttoned shirt, perfectly appointed to reveal.

I think I am getting too old for all this.

The manager walks over. Words are exchanged. Not nicely. I think my guy has been told to hurry up.

And there is no hurrying up my guy.

The posturing begins, looks are thrown and I am no longer under the radar. In fact, I am now on center stage and I don’t know my lines!

Now my guy has slowed down even more.  The classic oppositional defiance has set in and each strand gets cut for the zillionth time.

And then I hear. My name is Mar Juana.

Seriously?!

I will colour your hair next time.

Next time?!

It appears he is done. He walks away. I sit there. I don’t know what to do.

Slowly, or so it seems, I slink out of my chair and go to pay.

Oh and the tip? I am motioned to put it into the pocket of his shirt. The final act!

I walk out, sweaty and stressed, thankful it is over.

Jade takes a look at me and announces she can fix it.

Need I say more?

 

Adjusting to Cairo?

I have lived in 8 countries. I have worked overseas before. This time, however, “adjusting” is taking longer.

Why?

Other times I was less (or not!) reliant on computers, the Internet, or anything else electronic!

This time I am. And it is a game changer.

As I have limited to no wifi at home, my life revolves around my phone and/or my school computer. Both have their good days and their not so good days.

As a result, any ideas of “perfection” when it comes to my blog and/or keeping in touch with other bloggers through their blogs, have sadly gone down the drain. At least for the moment.This has been my first lesson in adjusting.

Adjusting is hard work. In fact in Egypt it can be very sweaty hard work.

I literally sweat all day! Living on the third floor and working on a fourth floor means walking up and down stairs all day long. Especially when you teach Grade 4s who need to be taken and returned to the classroom numerous times throughout the day. So the gym has become my flat and my classroom. It saves money and it saves time!

I have been teaching for one week now. A typical day begins early for me (my choice!) as I like to beat the sun and get to work before I officially become one hot sweaty mess. Walking to work is minutes away so I am very fortunate in that regard.

The teaching day is busy, loud, slightly chaotic and sometimes resembles what I have previously experienced in Canada. And sometimes not. It depends on the day.

I have a classroom with desks and 22 students. I have 22 students, some who love to talk and others who don’t. Those who love to talk are entertaining at times but of course, need to be managed. All teachers know the thrills and the lows of September teaching but how is it that I tend to forget what September feels like each year?

As my school has a Ontario curriculum this means some changes for me as expectations and procedures are of course different. And of course, this school is set in a desert like setting in the suburbs of Cairo.

Students get to swim each week in the school pool! For those who teach like myself in schools without pools, this feels like a weekly field trip! Our first visit went fine until the girls needed to primp after to get ready to return to class. Yes, another adjustment for me and one that will involve some creative solutions in the future.

Each day after school, Jade comes to my classroom. For the first time, I am teaching at a school that she attends. We love this! Her adjustment is extraordinary. She was meant to do this. Her classmates are curious and friendly. A perfect combination for a teen in a new country. Jade even loves her uniform and the food in the cafeteria. And of course, one week into school and she is already sleeping over at a friend’s house. Can you hear me sigh with relief and gratitude that she loves it so much already?!

Usually after school, we walk to our local market and stores to run our errands. We have our fruit man and our bread man that we buy from daily. We have our store now that delivers our water and our heavier groceries to our flat. Delivery for the cost of less than a dollar! We have our pizza take out place and our Italian restaurant for more relaxed occasions.

We are slowly but surely finding our rhythm.

And as we do, we will change it all up next week when we fly to Sri Lanka to backpack for one week. Now that is the adjusting that I can get used to pretty quickly.

Take care all and thanks for bearing with us as we find our Egyptian feet.

Cheryl and Jade