Reflective Essay (Breaking a Social Norm)

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Reflective Essay

I went to Khan el-Khalili on a Friday afternoon and it was about 40 degrees. My plan was to observe the different reactions between the people in the Egyptian souk and the people around the goldsmith’s shops and Naguib Mahfouz coffee shop, to my norm breaking outfit. I planned to stay an hour in each area. I chose to wear a very heavy wool jacket and a pair of Uggs, (calf-high boots made of heavy wool) with a pair of jeans and winter accessories. My expectations were that people would laugh and I wasn’t sure if they would insult me in the Egyptian souk or not. I thought the foreigners would also laugh but probably not insult me.

In the Egyptian souk all the women I saw weren’t foreigners and were wearing abayas of light cloth. The first reaction was from an old woman sitting on the curb selling boxes of tissues. She looked at me with a grin and insulted me by saying, “you stupid girl don’t you have lighter clothes”. I ignored her comment and continued walking. The second reaction came from a group of kids who thought I was showing off my winter clothes. They kept on laughing and pointing saying, “amlalna feeha khawagaya”, (Egyptian wannabe girl). The third reaction was from a group of men who followed me teasing, asking questions like “eh el halawa dee bess, mesh hare alleky?”, (don’t you think its too hot for such an outfit you pretty girl?). They were right, it was hot and I needed something to drink. I saw a man who sells eirk sous, a juice, I asked for a cup to see a close up reaction. The seller looked away trying not to let me see him laugh and said, “etfadally ya madam”. As I walked away I could see him laughing. The area around the Gold Smiths and Naguib Mahfouz coffee shop is very different from the souk. Most of the people there were foreigners were dressed in shorts and t-shirts, light cotton dresses, sunglasses and sandals…etc. The most common reaction seemed to be fear. One of the women looked at me anxiously and...
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