It’s a common courtesy to get to know who/what you’re sitting on.
I have a thing for inanimate objects; just because they don’t necessarily talk or blink or even breathe doesn’t mean they’re not there. When a mug breaks, I give it a small eulogy. When a fork gets bent out of shape, I try my hardest to bring it back to form (body image issues are surreal). But it takes character to bear with the fact that you’re directly interfacing with multiple people’s behinds on a daily basis.
Egypt’s many chairs are a testament to perseverance and hardship, and just like us non-chairs, they’re layered and varied. Lend me your eyes and fingertips as I try and personify the most iconic chairs in our slice of dirt.
7amdy is, for all intents and purpose, original, and in essence, not plastic. You’ll find many a 7amdy in any given ahwa, but there’s only one true 7amdy. He suffers on the inside, silently, eventually welling up into a fit of rage, causing him to sustain lasting scars. He appreciates diversity, although he himself does not enjoy change.
Also known as: Dongol, 3ewees, 3ab-3al, 7amooda or Nasser.
Likes: Long conversations about classist segregation, people-watching, backgammon, loitering, ruminating on the benefits of black versus green tea, innovating offensive slurs, and tattoos.
Dislikes: Green tea, cigarettes, conflicting opinions that make sense, humility, dogs, political correctness, comfort, vulnerability, birds, and Zap Tharwat.
Favourite Venues: Horreya, El Borsa, Sahlala, Fishawi, El Nadwa El Seqafeyya
Favourite Consumables: Carbohydrates inside other carbohydrates, turmoil, beef liver, dogs, spent tea leaves, horrific tobacco blends (eaten or smoked), shit, books, shit books and a cold lager.
Kin: Distant, disconnected cousin of Louise the Modhab Chaise, pretends he dislikes the Blastek Brothers, but is very fond of them.
Louise comes from a line of French colonialists who, by nature of institutionalized racism, thinks she is above all. She has immense illusions of grandeur, and is generally uncomfortable to be around or, heavens forbid, touch. She has personal space issues, and for no real or discernable reason, your mom loves her more than you.
Also known as: Nermine, Pakinam, Boosy, Gihan, Merihannnn (AKA Mira), or Shereen.
Likes: Porcelain tea sets, slim (bitch stick) cigarettes, lipstick on teeth, painful family gatherings, Korean soap operas, flirting, the term “bâton salé,” expensive furniture to house porcelain tea sets, and telling her maid to make ma7shi two days in advance.
Dislikes: The poor, hair, coffee, personality, pajamas, stains, cats, human kindness, your cousin who sometimes smells but is rather delightful, sportswear, technology, and women’s rights.
Favourite Consumables: bâton salé, anything with the word “salé” in it, tiny sandwiches, the gelatinous layer of sadness people put on cakes for some reason, green beans, baklava, melancauliflower, excessively crumbly tea biscuits, and the congealed tea biscuit mass at the bottom of a cup of tea.
Favourite Venues: 50 Metre Apartments in Nasr City, Maadi and Heliopolis. She doesn’t go anywhere, and likely never will.
Kin: Denies existence of 7amdy the Ahwa Chair, feigns relations to Italian marble console (her spiritual twin).
The Blastek brothers, namely Kareem (with two E’s), Mostafa and Eslam Osama enjoy going to a particularly shitty ahwas (because life is hard that way), and discussing whose chest is more saggy than the other. They don’t stand beachside activities, but their families force them to see the sun regardless. They’re very heteronormative, but will gladly entertain the idea of polishing each other off. They are God’s unloved.
Also go by: Mando, Shadyyyyy, 7amama, Sab3awy, 3azooz, M7ama A7ma and 7ammad
Like: Football, feet, balls in general, Ramez Galal, Cairokee, being mistreated, Asian cars, male pattern baldness, sweatpants, horror (the feeling), Lacoste anything (even condoms), not wearing condoms, strictly-verbal fights without actual physical violence, and mango-mint-abortion-flavoured vape juice.
Dislike: Ambition, non-digital watches, gainful employment, coming to terms with human fragility, pleasant noises, pleasant music, creativity, kiwi (the fruit, not the bird), natural breasts, consent, and words over two syllables.
Favourite Consumables: Literally any animal in shawerma form, melon liquid, dairy-based depression, low-quality ice cream, tequila that’s been left under a car seat for a week, anything from a koshk that is over 390 calories a piece, women called 3abeer or malak, mint-peach or “alcohol” shisha.
Kin: 7amdy the Ahwa Chair is their role model in life, even though he gives them the cold shoulder. They also have thing for Louise for no real reason other than her body.
Lo2ai is a dreamer and a serial (pathologic) entrepreneur. The words “entrepreneur,” “incubator” and “Blockchain” give him an erection akin to the hallways of a coworking space. He was born into strife, raised in the fires of Qnet, and after losing all hope in a prosperous future, conforms to the schemes of old money business tycoons by lying to younger dreamers about working, but not actually working (but still working). Keep an eye out for his newest seat-sharing app, Korsika.
Also known as: Noor, Nour, Nourre, Cornelius, Anas, Mo2men, Kafrawy, Mowafi
Likes: VR, AR, R, QC, HIV, AIESEC, GUC, AI, SC, PP, BenQ projectors
Dislikes: HR, contracts, taxes, paying people money, unions, food that isn’t served in a small rectangular plastic plate, corporations, communism, paid leave, sick leave, the sick, maternity, the point.
Favourite Consumables: Bland salads, overpriced cigarettes, Styrofoam, people’s ambition, bullshit, eggs (scrambled, boiled, soiled), illicit substances baked into poor pastry, literally any food/drink/condom you can get for EGP 20 but for five times the price (especially if it has neat branding).
Favourite Venues: The Motherfucking GrEEK Campus, co-working spaces, businesses that dodge taxes, Beanos, public restrooms.
Kin: Has killed off any meaningful relationship with friends, family and chairs for grants and financial injections.
Enas rarely ever enters anybody’s scope of memory unless there’s a big family occasion (happy or sad), preferably with an open buffet and hardly attractive men in their late 20’s. She lives somewhere that evokes that smell whenever you try to pronounce it, subsisting on corn husks, chilli peppers, spider eggs probably, and condensation. She lays eggs that never actually hatch, but sprout arms, legs, tiny suits/dresses, and with almost no personality to speak of, or smell.
Also known as: Nadya, Om Anything, Fat7eyya, 7eshmat, 3esmat, Ne7medo, The Stench
Likes: Bringing up memories you had as a youngster that are actually quite traumatic, grape leaves stuffed with THE WRONG SPICES, your mother kind of, free food/drink, dangling small children off balconies or high places in general, sweating, breaking down doors, grease, hell
Dislikes: Courtesy, deodorant (I am extremely displeased with the smell factor), acceptance, true love, set menus, you, meaningful conversation, personal space, comfortable chairs, indoor voices, cigarettes, toilet paper, animals, and peace.
Favourite Consumables: Grease, a 7-to-1 sugar/tea mixture (oral or intravenous), me3assel, placenta, hair, willpower, Middle-Eastern desserts, rice with butter, meat with butter, butter with butter, straight sharbat without any dilution whatsoever, literally anything served in a buffet container, and the weakest child in any of her litters.
Favourite Venues: Your wedding, your brother’s wedding, your sister’s uncle’s second cousin to the right’s wedding, your parents’ funerals, your house when your life is going alright, graveyards (autumn/winter), Oriental Weavers and Madeira.
Kin: Louise and Ne7medo share an interesting, intense and convoluted dynamic that only David Attenborough can explain. She often spawns Blastek brothers, and despises 7amdy for his off-the-beaten-path attitude.
Marwa is an ugly, vindictive thing. Although she might appear to be attractive on the outside (if your standards are low enough), whatever comes out of her mouth quickly erodes her exterior. She goes through fiancées (not boyfriends) as fast as you go through a pack of gum, with each one being greasier or more deserving of a lynching than the other. You run into at least three Somayyas a day, and each one leaves a shard of depression in you whether you like it or not.
Also known as: Somayya, Kholoud, Sherwet, Esra2, Menna, Maysoon
Likes: ‘Samara’ gum, melabbes, jevenchy berfyoom, Sprite, CBC Sofra, Panorama Sofra, Mohamed Hamaki, Sherine (pre and post scandal), objectively terrible interior decoration, Enrique Iglesias, domestic abuse, the wrong side of Hurghada, Facebook life-hack videos
Dislikes: Standards, colour matching, original brands, any shisha that isn’t cherry, the H.R Giger-style veil (you know the one), actual effort, proper pronunciation in any language, communicating her emotions, natural hair colour, you until you start berating her for funsies
Favourite Consumables: Cherry shisha (Mizo), lipstick, mombar, Big Macs, breath mints, stale pasta (tubular), cigarette butts, small dogs microwaved for three minutes, unwashed cock, motorcycle exhaust, violence, and vegetable oil.
Favourite Venues: “Cafes” that are basically well-lit Ahwas with somehow worse chairs (Africano, Dekka, Sharsha7a, Layaly el Sha5), Dessouky and Soda, Shawerma el Reem, Serag/Geneina/Sun City Malls, City Stars (when her fuckboy pays), Maryland Park (pre-rennovation)
Kin: Has a massive ladyboner for 7amdy, but will stoop down (somehow) to the Blastek brothers for occasional schlonking. Shares a strange, familiar bond with Enas the Horror Chair. Louise Disowned her.
Onkel Samir is a man of peculiar yet slimy taste. He typically lives in the more secluded areas of Heliopolis, El Tabba in Nasr City, or King Maryoot in Alexandria. He has an ominous thing for loafers and white jeans (euurghh), and loves inviting your parents over (preferably with you in toe) to discuss Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s silver mane and socialist agenda, but generally gets declined. He tries to molest any and all maids in a three kilometre radius.
Also known as: Fouad, Essam, Sala7, Fekry, Shandaweely, Rostom, Sex Offender
Likes: Out-dated facial hairstyles, chewed up pipes (plastic), stylishly cheesy robes, those really dry and just awful tea biscuits that nobody wants, your mom (will gladly demonstrate), the doorman’s wife/daughter/dog, sixties music he never liked at the time but will fight you to prove that he did, Parliament cigarettes, shitting on the youths
Dislikes: Discussing anything that happened after 1990, people of colour (except the maid), Velcro, phones without buttons, healthcare, digital news, things that aren’t on paper, your opinions, that guy who died a few days ago for whatever reason really, foods without sauce (or flavour) of any sort, your valid opinions, his daughter’s husband, and leaving his block
Favourite Consumables: Any food that sounds French, low-quality pipe tobacco, even lower-quality alcohol that he’ll swear by anyway, those horrible tea biscuits, Anise, his daughter-in-law’s cooking, the new maid’s cooking, whatever food that comes from a potential sexual assault case, Turkish coffee, Italian coffee that’s actually Turkish (Andiamo Grande Whateverino), desserts conceived before 1978, your mom’s orange cake, your mom’s privates
Favourite Venues: Your house, the armchair, the armchair(s) at your house, the maid, The Greek Club, your sister’s 16th birthday party (are these jokes overplayed?), weddings where he can slow-dance with everyone’s significant other
Kin: Louise is, more often than not, his spouse, and 7amdy is his haphazard, wayward son who he constantly complains about, but wishes he could be. He tries to get with Marwa, but she has a thing for people under 52.
So next time you decide to park your rear, remember that each and every chair out there has feelings, tendencies, ambitions, and even dreams.