Heather in Cairo

Heather is a senior majoring in history and medieval studies in Dedman College, with a minor in art history in Meadows School of the Arts, and a recipient of the Gilman International Scholarship to Egypt. In Fall 2009, she will continue her studies in Arabic and Egyptology in her second semester at the American University in Cairo. Learn more about the SMU-in-Cairo program.

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“You want to go to the Khan?”

Last night was my first night truly out and about in Cairo. After meeting a bunch of new people, we decided to go to the Khan for late-night tea and shisha (around 1 a.m.).

There were probably about 15 of us making our way from Zamalek to the Khan. The group was made up of Egyptians, Europeans and Americans. Considering it is Ramadan right now, I was unsure what the atmosphere of the Khan would be. All the girls in the group were dressed as if back in Europe and the States. I thought that we would be a complete show for all the locals; however, I was wrong.

The Khan was extremely packed due to Ramadan, but we managed to find space at a cafe. I was impressed by the hospitality of everyone as the cafe staff did their best to fit everyone in. The shisha was excellent, and the conversation was even better.

A fellow AUCian and I talked about how amazing it felt to sit in such an old market, dating back to the Ottoman Empire. As we sat chatting about various topics, I thought about how awesome it was to be sitting in the Khan during Ramadan.

As 4 a.m. approached and we made our way back to the streets to go home, we passed the Al-Hussein mosque during the call to prayer. Life still went on. Children ran through the streets, people were still talking with each other, and we made our way to our cars. We drove back to Zamalek and enjoyed the cool Cairo breeze blowing through the windows. The night was truly amazing as all of us enjoyed spending our time in an area that both embraces secularism and religion.

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