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British Ambassador John Casson: 20 Memories and Lessons from My Time in Egypt

In this exclusive by Casson himself, the ambassador reflects on a wild four years.

If you’re reading CairoScene, you know the real Egypt lies far beyond the tourist sites and the official meeting rooms. So I couldn’t say goodbye without sharing these authentic memories of four unforgettable years in Om Al Donia:

Bid Your Fos7a Farwell

Unless you want to leave your taxi driver bemused –thinking you belong to the time of the Flintstones – you’ll realize that all the years you invested in fosha were wasted. Now fokak menny and go learn some fresh vocab.

Words of wisdom

On your way to work, check out stickers on taxis and cars. They carry unforgettable words of wisdom and are great meme material.

Get your Shadda On

The invisible shadda in the word Hammam makes a world of difference. One gets you to the little room we all have need to be, another gets helpful Egyptians taking you on a journey to find stuffed pigeons. Make sure you know the difference.

Egyptian Food

Where do I start!  The mouth-watering Bamia, the Shakshoka, Abu Tarek’s koshary and the honey and cream feteer from Fatatry Al-Hussein. Not to mention Qadoura’s fish. Loved it all expect maybe for the feseekh. Feseekh, was for me an experience to be tried… just once.

Ahoy there! Captain on the Bridge

Being on the board Tahya Masr is an unforgettable experience but sailing it into Alexandria is incomparable. OK, maybe not actually sailing it.  But standing right next to the real Captain, so I can pretend that I did.

Nothing beats home cooking

Fettah cooked by yours truly – under the supervision of my guru Chef Ahmed, of course.

Ramadan is here

The time for Konafa and festivities. And, just like Christmas, a time to give something back. I packed Ramadan goodies with a group of young Egyptians in Alexandria and handed out dates in Cairo. I also tried a one day fast with my colleagues.All unforgettable, humbling experiences.

Happy Eid

Can’t pick which one was my favourite… that day we bought a sheep and headed to an orphanage days before Eid, or that time I went to Eid prayer with my Muslim friend and his son. 

Fashion forward

Should I wear the grey suit, the black one or the dark blue?  The everyday question before I head to meeting after meeting as part of diplomatic journey in Egypt.  I recycled the same outfit many times…. but I’m sure no one noticed?

Run free

You don’t have to head to the gym to get your exercise. Head to the Alex Corniche. It is open 24/7, free and has a view to whet your appetite for an unforgettable run.

Aging gracefully

The sphinx definitely aged gracefully. An unforgettable moment was when an app said it was only 15 years older that I am.   

Kayaking

If you’re not into a Corniche run, try kayaking on the Nile.

Life outside Cairo

Egypt goes far beyond Cairo. I was blown away by the Bani Hassan tombs in Minya. I recommend that everyone goes.

It’s O-fish-al

Red Sea diving is a mind-blowing experience. Especially when you meet a fish twice your size. I’ll never forget my diving experiences in Hurghada and Marsa Allam. There really are plenty of fish in the sea. And a big shout out to my diving instructors Magdy and Andrew.

Standing on that Football

It was not just about diplomatic skills. Ramadan Sobhy taught me how to stand on that football too. Habiby ya Ramadona.

Abu Mekka

A super hat-trick from the Egyptian king Mo Salah against Watford. Followed by a sit down with the humble and hardworking Mo over a jar of Assaleyah.

Meeting champions

Launched to support inspiring Egyptians, the British Embassy’s Inspire Egypt program allowed me to meet with Paralympian, swimming and squash champions. It was also how I got to meet Egyptian actress Yosra El-Louzy, actor Ahmed Hatem and many more inspiring Egyptians with incredible stories.

Number One

A moment dear to my heart was when I had the honour of awarding the World Number One IGCSE certificates to Egyptian students. Just so you know, Egyptians are sweeping the board in Maths, Languages, Physics, Chemistry and pretty much all subjects.

The angelic voice

 

Two birds, one stone. BP invited Angham over to sing at the inauguration of one of its biggest projects in Egypt. Thanks BP - Those tickets are hard to come by!

1.2 million Salam

I will never forget the 1.2 million Twitter followers that welcomed me and @UKinEgypt. You have offered support and criticism and put up with my spelling mistakes.

I’ll miss you all.


Todays Events
'Tanagra'  @ Art Corner  Zamalek
Exhibitions
Date: 12/17/2018
Time: 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Venue: Art Corner Gallery
Return of the Birdie ft. Aguizi & Fahim @ CJC
Bars
Date: 12/17/2018
Time: 10:00pm - 3:00am
Venue: Cairo Jazz Club
Monday Selections Ft. Cocoon @ CJC 610
Clubs
Date: 12/17/2018
Time: 10:00pm - 3:00am
Venue: Cairo Jazz Club 610
'Roaming Birds' @ Art Talks
Exhibitions
Date: 12/17/2018
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Venue: Art Talks
The Nile & Musée du Caire @ Mashrabia Gallery
Exhibitions
Date: 12/17/2018
Time: 11:00am - 2:00pm
Venue: Mashrabia Art Gallery
Sewwes  @The Tap East
Bars
Date: 12/17/2018
Time: 10:00pm - 3:00am
Venue: The Tap East
Accordion Dinner   @ Le Méridien
Dining
Date: 12/17/2018
Time: 8:00pm - 11:30pm
Venue: Le Méridien Cairo Airport Hotel
Hany Rashed @   Gypsum Gallery
Exhibitions
Date: 12/17/2018
Time: 11:00am - 8:00pm
Venue: Mashrabia Art Gallery