Book Review: The Humorously Arrogant Travels of Gihan El-Gharabawy – Reviews – Books

The book in question today is “Gihan likes to travel” (Gihan Toheb El-Safar). Author Gihan El-Gharabawy puts his name in the title and classifies the book as satirical travel literature.

The title of the book is reminiscent of sitcom titles like “Caroline in the City” or “Seinfeld”, which was exactly the writer’s intention to write a fun book focusing on one person’s experiences.

Putting your name in the title of a book is a real risk, it is the certainty that the reader will be interested in a book on the travels of the author.

El-Gharabawy has a provocative style in telling his story; it challenges the reader from the start. The first title is, ‘A necessary introduction: If you don’t want to read it, please don’t.’

With a sense of superiority she conveys to the reader, the message is this: dear reader, I don’t need you. It’s an unusual style of writing that she might find funny, but it’s actually unacceptable. Even though writers sometimes fall into the trap of preaching and teaching the reader, and writing to satisfy all readers is mission impossible, bluntly stating that the reader is the last thing on the writer’s mind is downright wrong, to say the least.

In the introduction, the author states that each story and each visit will give clues to the reader as to when to visit. This was a big mistake in judgment, as younger generations who might read the book probably won’t recognize the historical events mentioned in the book.

For example, during her visit to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, she mentions that there is a feeling of sadness among the public at the division of Sudan, which is expressed in cafes and restaurants. Without saying it right away, it is clear that the people of the North were not happy with the division of the country.

The visit took place a few years after the separation, and even readers old enough to remember this major political event will probably not be able to know the date of the visit.

The author recounts his travels in 19 countries. She uses a sarcastic and funny style to describe her experiences, especially when recounting her visit to Lebanon. She was able, thanks to her “driver” – a young man driving a high-end BMW – to learn how the Lebanese think.

They care about their ‘prestige’, wear brand names, drive high-end cars, care about their image and appearance even if it means having to borrow money to maintain a prestigious image.

The writer’s sarcasm and humorous style are on display when the driver charged him $80 for gas, a huge sum for his budget. “After all, you drive a BMW,” he said.

She paid, though still annoyed, saying to herself, “You materialistic rascal, I thought you were a friend doing me a favor on behalf of Arab brotherhood for a journalist trying to strengthen Arab ties.”

Reading these words in the Egyptian dialect makes the reader laugh. In this story, she nails humor and portrays a difficult situation in a comedic way.

The part that I found interesting was the visit to Iran. Egyptian-Iranian relations were severed after the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

Iran’s theocratic regime decided to name one of Tehran’s main streets, Islambouli Street, after Sadat’s murderer. This was unacceptable to the political leaders and people of Egypt. Since this incident, political relations between the two countries have been tense to say the least.

It was the news given by the media, but nobody actually went to Tehran to check this street and tell us if the name is still there. The writer visited downtown Tehran, visited the barber shop on that street, and announced that the street still bears the name of Sadat’s killer.

In her chapter “A Kiss on the Consul’s Cheek,” the conservative reader gets a little curious. She kissed someone and wrote about it? The story was about getting the US visa. She had to meet the consul for an interview before getting the visa.

She describes the harsh Egyptian employees of the United States Embassy, ​​and ends up meeting an American who tells her, after a few questions, that she will receive her visa in three days. Our heroine is surprised and says: “but I haven’t met the consul yet”, to which the young girl replies: “I am the consul”. The author is upset and asks to kiss her on the cheek because she was nice and the visa applicant was so happy. It was the story of the kiss, funny and unusual that makes the reader laugh.

After removing the humor, not always funny, and the reasons for each trip, which sometimes had to be deduced from his words, the book gives the reader little information.

The writer promised the reader in his introduction that “he is not buying a book, but a plane, where he will find out what Facebook did not tell him and the atlas did not write”. It was an ambitious promise that was not kept.

The book is exactly what the title says, Gihan loves to travel and decided to tell the reader about it. His experience is personal and no reader can directly benefit from reading this book.

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Angela C. Hale