There are certain everyday sound that define the Cairo cityscape as much as its actual landscape and people, and that inescapable cacophony is bound to follow you wherever you go. Here are 10 sounds you're sure to have heard within the past hour...
Cairo - the city that never sleeps. It's no wonder why. Forget about the clouds of grey smoke that blanket the skyline, separating us from the outer reaches of the stars. It's that layer of noise pollution corrupting our own inner peace that keeps us up at night. If you stay quiet and still on any given night, there is a continuous majestic and excruciating symphony of sound. But as much as we cringe and rue our lives every time we're up at three in the morning, those noises are what make up this country's rambunctious little soundscape and they'll be our frenemies to the end. Cairo just wouldn't be the same with out them.
The Car Skid
We all know that cinematic moment when you from hear outside your window the thirty-second wheel screech, and you wait, and wait, and wait to hear that KABOOM! The laws of cartoons rule situations like this, it's common sense, there must be a kaboom! But alas, there never is a kaboom!
Many cities in this world are plagued by a particular and idiosyncratic "hum", involving widespread reports of a persistent and invasive low-frequency humming, rumbling, or droning noise, not audible to all people. Well, the Cairo Hum is the fluttering ruckus of air-conditioning units, thousands in the space of a hundred squared metres, cooling us through 11 of our 12 summer months.
Bikyaaaa, Bikyaaa, Bikyaaaa. For most it's a white noise, so ingrained in audio psyche that it does not exist, but once tuned into, it is the never ending rap, rap, rapping, as Edgar Allen Poe would put it. Quoth the Robabikya, “Nevermore.”
In the western world, there is no komsary, because all buses have changeable signs on their front. And while many new buses have been injected into Cairo's public transportation system, the komsary's infamous district calls from the abundance of four-wheeled death-machines still reign supreme. Giza, Giza, Gizaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!
It seems like every area has that one special Shaabi or balady track that they hold so dear to their hearts to the extent that it is played every night till the early morning, almost on repeat for three to four years at a time. The tablas and the screeching vocals piercing our very being, constant and... Gizzaaaaaaa, gizzaaaaaaa, sorry a micro-bus just went by.
Damsel in Distress
You don't know if it's harassment, if the bamia has been burnt, if the husband is cheating, or if someone just died. There is always an Egyptian woman screaming somewhere in the distance.
For those who aren't practicing Muslims, the Friday morning adaan is simply a soothing willowy voice that interludes your dreams and signifies that it's okay to stay in bed. But then comes the super Imam, the Barbara Steisand of worship house calling, who bellows and shouts to make sure that all you heathens get up and worship, or perhaps to make sure that the Big Guy can hear him up there…
Firework or Bomb?
Clearly it is not the right time to set off fireworks because little Foulan is getting married in the midst of reported Brotherhood bombings throughout the city, is it?
There is a saying that goes, "If you take the sound waves of every beep ever beeped in Cairo they would stretch around the da2ery 9,546,909 million times over." Here is a list of some things we honk for in alphabetical order: breaking, drunkenness, funerals, getting attention of kiosk attendant, impatience, traffic police, indicating left, indicating right, lost a football match, make a tune, obstruction in the road, parking, seeing a car crash, seeing a nice car, sexy ladies, tiredness, traffic, wedding processions, won a football match.
The Mystery Bang
What the f*** was that?
If you're ever away and miss the sound of Cairo we've put all the sounds in one place so you'll never be homesick again here.