Saturday June 10th, 2023
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Sahel Sharmata

Weekends may mean some fun in the sun for most, but Sahel doesn't always deliver on its promises of paradise, as Waleed Mowafi recently found out...

Staff Writer

Ah Sahel! The North Coast or the devil’s toilet, as I like to call it. Cairo’s quintessential summer getaway. Where Cairenes escape the hustle and bustle of city life and the dull tedium of encountering the same faces in this soul destroying bubble of a society, by driving four hours to a packed-to-the-brim building site to essentially see the same faces… but by the beach. 

Sahel is fundamentally made up of beautiful droplets of manmade nirvana, surrounded by sparse wastelands of nothingness and fatal desert roads. One can measure their success in life, or rather Daddy’s success or acute ability to launder money, by simply observing which Sahel compound they reside in. This amplification of elitism is judged by how far you are from the alluring party hot spots and the sought after seaside residents. For example Hacienda or Marassi distinguishes yourself as a winner at life; everyone wants to be your friend. However, if you reside in Telal, Marina 1 or Cost Del Sol for example, ma3eish, no Club M membership for you, enta zebala aslan

On the glorious Eid weekend, I was staying at one of the aforementioned zebala resorts. The decision came as a last minute one, with only a few days left until Eid which also happened to coincide with my birthday. It seemed like the most enjoyable option. Now, trying to avoid that uncomfortable phone call of imposition by requesting to stay at a friend’s place, I opted to maintain my independence by finding an apartment to rent on short notice. After many irritating phone calls with shady and misleading simsars,I finally settled on an apartment in a less-than-desirable compound, at the extorted Eid rate of $1000. I was promised stunning views of sprawling white beaches, modern amenities, a quiet and peaceful residence, two spacious bedrooms and most importantly, air conditioning.

I finally arrived after a labourious five-hour drive. There was not one air conditioning unit in sight but eventually one landed at the door step. I had to put it together myself. It squeaked and had an English plug with no adaptor…

So much for a peaceful residence. My ears were also raped by sha3by music at 5am every night. What the simsar was right about was the view. It was definitely white. 

Once again, I did not let the above fuckery dampen my mood. After all, it was my birthday weekend. My first day was spent at the Student DJ Final. A beach party with a production level of epic proportions. The sun was shining and the male specimens with gym-sculpted six-packs and bikini-clad ladies were arriving en masse. These beautiful beach bods were quite the juxtaposition to my flabby exterior and hairy nipples. With a succession of local and international act set to spin for this all-day party, the possibilities for good times were endless. After a rocky start to the trip, my over-determination to rebalance the situation got the better of me. 

Intoxication ensued and as the sun set, the cheerful seaside shindig quickly turned into a hardcore rave. My wandering thoughts and paranoia got the best of me and after spending an hour by myself on a beanbag staring at the dark choppy seas in front of me. A friend finally rescued me from my wandering thoughts and drove me back to my crappy flat where I passed out early. Tossing and turning all night due to the lack of AC, I woke up sad and disillusioned. Oh well, I thought, today is another day…

I still had another night to look forward to; ByGanz’s Teadance. The epitome of high-brow celebrations. The classy way to do khabt. All you had to do is be personally selected to receive a Club M membership. If you have passed this test, it still doesn’t mean you have been granted access to the apparent gates of heaven. You must then pick up your Club M membership at the Cairo ByGanz office before a certain deadline. When you receive said membership card, you will also receive a two-page letter which basically outlines the fact that despite having this card, you are still not allowed access to the ByGanz gates of heaven and you are essentially still a cockroach. To book for a night, you must do so days in advance, at which point the all-powerful Ganz team will denote if you are worthy enough to pay. If so, you must then pay for your night in advance and you will then receive a receipt for your night. If you have made it this far, kudos, you are at the half way point. Once you arrive in Sahel you must then go to the ByGanz office in Marassi, swap your receipt for your allocated passes for that night and turn up at the door, although you may still be refused access depending on certain criteria.

I had begrudgingly gone through 90% of the above process, but at the point of switching my paid receipt for passes, I had missed the deadline at the Marassi office. As such, I showed up at the door with just the receipt. Standing face-to-face Ganz he says: “Wally, where are your passes?” I brought out the receipt. He let out a loud and irate huff, puff and sigh followed by a loud “FINE!” and allowing me through. At which point, his partner Dara, an old friend of mine simultaneously yelled: “Wally! I told you to switch the receipt for the passes! Why didn’t you?” I didn’t respond to either of them. A “Happy birthday Waleed!” would have sufficed but that delightful welcome was just as pleasant…

Upon entering the party, my mood was lousy to say the least. It was already 1AM and I was tired from travelling from compound to compound on the long and torturous Sahel death roads. As such, I quickly started downing the bottles in hand. As the beats intensified, the night quickly became a blur of Gucci loafers, Hermés belts, wide eyes and confusion…

Bam! Sunlight. What happened? I inquire. “You passed out in the car, Wally.” Shit, I thought to myself, another night wasted. Déjà vu kicks in from my first night in Sahel. It’s been three nights now and I have barely made it through a party. I felt frustrated and bothered by this experience. After showering, changing and filling my belly with the me3afin cuisine available in the vicinity, I thought I would head to the beach. I joined a friend of mine in a “nearby” compound but having already consumed all the imported bottles the previous two nights, I took the atrocious decision to drink a local brand.

One drink turned to two and so on and so forth. By sunset I was stumbling around the beach like a deranged man. Before once again blacking out. My mates informed me I was also crying and hailing abuse at them in an aggressive manner. I spent the remaining two days vomiting from alcohol poisoning curled up in this North Coast coffin of my demise. Happy birthday, indeed.