Hadayek El-Zaytoun, an old district in eastern Cairo, means olive gardens in Arabic, and is rich in origin and history.
Before the 1952 revolution, Hadayek El-Zaytoun was famous for its huge olive farms, but after the revolution Hadayek El-Zaytoun was transformed from a farming community to a residential area. After that, wealthy people started to build their villas which some of them still exist till now and others are replaced with buildings.
Its location gives it a privilege to be close to several places. Heliopolis is in the south side of Hadayek El-Zaytoun which means that it is very near to Korba, a small district in Heliopolis, where you can find the entertainment in its different restaurants and cafes. Also, by using Hadayek El-Zaytoun subway station, you will find that Hadayek El-Zaytoun is very close to other districts, like Ain Shams and Kobry El-Qouba.
My grandfather got married in Hadayek El-Zaytoun where they built their own house. My father was raised there, and got married also in the same house, but in a separate apartment. He graduated from Al-Aziz Bellah school which is extremely close to the house. I was raised in the same house for my first 6 years, then we moved to another apartment as my parents were seeking for a bigger apartment.
The new apartment is in the next street of my grandfather’s which means that we are still living in the same neighborhood. My sister and I graduated from Gomhoria Language School (GLS) which is in front of my father school. “I live here from my first days, and the most beautiful thing about Taqsim Maher is its people” Khaled Eraky, one of the people who lives in Taqsim Maher, said. “It is like one big family that you will always find their support and help,” he added.
The main street in Hadayek El-Zaytoun is called Maher street. This street has six ramified streets which makes it looks like a tree with a lot of twigs; I live in one of these branches, and it is called Taqsim Maher, where I live. All the twigs of Maher street are alike and shaped like a U, and both sides are full of parked cars which are owned by the residents of the neighborhood. The buildings are equal in both sides which are 6 buildings per side and in the middle, there is only one big building.
The first thing you will notice when entering Taqsim Maher street is the mini market which is called El-Mestkwy that has a wide range of sweets. “People communicate with each other without making any attention to the religion,” Maickel, the owner of El-Mestkwy market in Taqsim Maher, said. “This is what makes me open here for more than 30 years,” he added. In Hadayek El-Zaytoun people believe that religion is not something to take into consideration when communicating with each other.
On the left, beside the mini market, there is a dry-clean shop that plays loud entertaining music, and also a mechanic’s workshop that opens its gates early in the morning. There is only one tree in the street, but it is huge and very old, and full of birds’ houses. These birds sing very loudly in the morning in a beautiful musical way. It would give a nice feeling and positive energy if you drink a cup of coffee on Friday morning in the balcony along with nice company. Every balcony has different curtain colors and shapes which make the view very colorful and entertaining.
Along with the sound of birds, the street is full of other sounds. Upon entering, you will hear the sound of the steam coming from the dry-clean shop, and the crashing sound of metal echoing from the mechanic’s workshop. In addition to all of that, you will hear a lot of car engines as they either enter or leave the street.
Sunlight enters all the houses in the morning which makes you don’t need to turn on any lamp in your house. The weather and light make the people in the morning very active and positive. Even in the night, there is a very long branch of lights that makes the kids play in the street to a very late time because the street is well lightened, and their parents can check on them easily.
Nearing to Taqsim Maher street, there is a very famous mosque that is called Al-Aziz Bellah mosque. Sadly, After the 25th January revelation, Brotherhood used it as one of their units where they spread their evil thoughts and decisions. But thanks God, After the June 30 revolution, this mosque turns to Al-Azhar authority which means that a real religious man prays with people and advise them in the way that God asks us for.
Back to Taqsim Maher Street, it is considered as a safe place as there is a near police station and fire station. The police station helped all the residence of Hadayek El-Zaytoun in the revolution period as some of the police men were walking all the mornings and nights to ensure that everything is safe. Even when this police station got fired by unknow Terrorists people, Hadayek El-Zaytoun remained safe.
In addition, the fire station has a big role in saving my life. one day, there were young men playing with fireworks in El-Adha feast, and one of these fireworks caused in a fire in one of the curtains in the building where I live. Within a very short time, the fire men arrived and killed the fire off.
On every Friday, after the prayer, the street becomes like a club where all the male residents of the street gather and start to share their stories of the week. For the children, they gather and play a quick football match before going to their homes with their fathers to eat.
This scene turns into a bigger one in the feasts as women, men, and all the children meet after the prayer and start inviting each other to take their breakfast in one’s home. This what makes anyone who lives in Taqsim Maher feel like, he has a very huge family.
During the festive periods, the street takes on a more revived spirit. Young men held a small color festival in the street. They start their preparation in the day before of any feast, by getting some powder colors and some balloons filled with water. They start their games at 12:00 AM by dividing themselves into two teams, and when someone of the old men in the street say “Go”, they start their fight.
Once they start, we can see from the balcony the first two minutes, and then the view turns to a wonderful fog of mixture colors. You can know that the game ended when their voices turn from shouting into laughing, then they take like 15 minutes break when they prepare for the water battle. This game is exactly like the other one, but they replace the colors with water balloons.