Is it still New Year’s Eve in Gouna?

el gouna
Rising moon over our back yard


That Egyptians are a loud people is well-known.

There are many theories about this that you can find on the Internet.

Here is a typical summary explanation.

My uncle says it is a social domination thing, the concept being:

Take them (ie, win) by sound, which is a literal translation of the Arabic phrase:

خدوهم بالصوت


Yesterday, I talked to an Egyptian friend on my mobile.

He said, you talk so loud, like an American, so I immediately flipped the sotto voce switch.

The friend said, why are you talking in such a low, limp-dick voice?


This weekend, I was in Cairo.

I spoke to a relative about my experiences walking around Zamalek, which is an island in the center of Cairo, at night.

I asked her, why do people riding motorcycles drive with their lights off?

She said, don’t question it, just accept it.

I said, why are there loudspeakers on many street corners blaring calls to prayers five times a day?

She said, don’t question it, just accept it.

I said, why does everything, from getting a taxi to turn on his meter, to buying something in a store, turn into this elaborate stressful negotiation?

She said, you are obviously no longer Egyptian.

You do not belong here.

You should leave immediately.


I thought about this, but then remembered this was the same person who earlier in the day had put forward the theory that Ertogan is about to send the Turkish army to invade Egypt. This is normal. There are many such absurd conspiracy theories in Egypt that pass for fact.


I live in El Gouna, Egypt.

For many months after my arrival this past September, I stayed in a tiny flat and was subjected, nightly, to the moronic loudness of Abu Tig marina — a very touristy part of El Gouna. Then I moved to a nice villa, far away from Abu Tig.


This New Year’s weekend, my favorite restaurant in Abu Tig — 7th Star — was constantly packed — so much so, that I have yet been able to take my wife there for breakfast, or to enjoy a Spaghetti Bolognese lunch or supper.


It is now Tuesday.

How long do Egyptians celebrate New Year’s, already?

Last night, a group of baladi young Egyptians (complete with dented old wrecks parked willy-nilly in the street outside) from Giza sat in the back porch of the house next door. I reckoned they were Gizeans because they talked about Giza a lot. They had obviously rented the place for NYE, and were preparing for one more night of Egyptian jive, before decamping.

It was late afternoon.

Soon. the sun would set.

I listened, briefly to their jive conversation, which was conducted loudly in New Egypt dialect, complete with zibala, that is to say, mustawa-wati Cairene accents.

The topics were as moronic as the Abu Tig music. For example, they couldn’t stop laughing at the idea of renting a limo to take them back to Gizah, and then not paying the driver once they got there. This seemed to be a clever, funny idea. Maybe they were stoned.


Then the sun set, and it got cold quick, and they went inside the house, but not before  turning on some music system that piped loud “groove beats” to the outside speakers of this house.

At no point did they appear to be concerned that their loudness might bother their neighbors.


Later, around 2am, more music and loud talking emanated from the multi-family dwellings across the lagoon.

The same baladi guttural accents floated across the artificial canal.

The same idiotic laughing, by faceless strangers.

This went on till 3am, then it stopped.

Is it still New Year’s? Doesn’t that kind of end at some point?


I asked Said my bus driver yesterday what the weekend people did in West Golf, which is the section of El Gouna where I’m renting.

He said they come here mainly to get drunk — sakraneen was the word he used — and bring their girlfriends or mistresses to get laid, far from the prying eyes of Cairo.

Then they will leave.


But when will that happen? Today?  Tomorrow? Never?


I am not a misanthrope by nature. But I resent the (illusory) fact that Egyptians do not seem to sleep. El sahr, or staying up late, seems endemic.  It is as if none of them ever have to work, or lead normal lives, with normal hours, meaning, you got to bed at a reasonable hour during the week, and get up at a normal hour to go to work. This work ethic seems unknown. Instead, whether here in Gouna, or Cairo, it’s the anything-goes, strange hours culture, because this is Egypt, and don’t ask why, but this is how things are, and nobody has to work or sleep normalement, and fuck the neighbors if they don’t like the noise.


I’m hoping that the NYE assholes leave soon.  I’m hoping that this section of El Gouna becomes quiet again very soon, so that my wife and I can enjoy the place without being woken up at 3am by the sound of a thumping bass line from some mindless Egyptian pop song being played in the desert. I want them to go away. When do Egyptians stop celebrating NYE?




Since I’ve been woken up by this across-the-lagoon noise, I might as well reflect on a few other things while I’m at it.


I told you I went to Cairo this weekend.

I could not stay in my old bedroom in Zamalek because one of my aunts was sick and using it.

I sat with her awhile in the living room that is outside my old bedroom, and she complained about the noise from the wedding that took place the previous weekend at the state-owned “library” (it has no books) next door, which is now available for rent to event planners.

I sympathized with my aunt about the noise, and remembered when I used to watch from my bedroom balcony Her Highness, the Princessa Samiha stand on her roof, old and poor and alone, looking at the Nile. For this villa had once belonged to a daughter of a sultan (Hussein Kamel, to be precise, who ruled between 1914-17). Samiha had bought it from the Cattauis family, one of the old wealthy Jewish families who once lived in Egypt. My aunt probably did not know any of this.  Neither did the morons who used the place now as a setting for their loud weddings.  But it pleased me to know that the villa is still standing, and that a picture of King Farouk, who once visited the place, is prominently displayed in a glass case when you enter.


It’s getting late.

I should try to get some sleep.

In a few hours, I shall again escort my wife to the Gouna Tennis Club to play with Mourid, the tennis pro.

By noon, I hope all the NYE morons will have decamped, and gone back to Cairo, the capital of chaos, where they can shout at each other with their loud voices, and honk at each other with their loud cars, and yell at each other on their smartphones as they sit in restaurants and smoke interminable shishas and cigarettes, and in general behave like hemeer trapped in some virtual corral of their own making.


Me?  I just want get some sleep.

leaving america


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