Hidden Gem in Al Maadi, Cairo

If you are an expat family living in the old area of Maadi, one of the things that you might notice right away, is the difficulties of finding any public playgrounds for kids to play.  One of the hardest transitions for me, has been the lack of public green spaces for kids to burn off their energy.  Everything here seems to be privatized, where you need to pay an expensive membership in order to belong to any sporting clubs. There are a couple of public places where you have to pay a small fee but it might not be in the best of conditions and/or safe for kids to play in. Egypt does not have many public green spaces but in old Maadi you can find areas with gorgeous villas surrounded by exotic and local plants, trees and a couple of facilities that offer play areas for kids.

I found this literally hidden gem (since there are no signs at the door) online while searching for kid’s friendly coffee places. I came across Osana Family Welness or what I like to call “the pink door” or “the place” and fell absolutely in love with the place.

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The Osana Family center is a facility that focuses on holistic approaches to health, mainly through many types of yoga, massages, acupuncture, facial and they even take care of your psychological health with couple therapy and many more. On their website, under their vision statement Osana said;

Osana aims to take holistic living to new horizons within the local community. By facilitating wellness in all its forms, we promote a lifestyle that exists beyond its walls and hope to assist those pursuing a wholesome life in achieving it.

This place also has great, fresh, organic, healthy food all made from a chef in house but most importantly they sell one of the best coffees in the area.

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My favorite part about Osana is the openness, it is surrounded by greenery and various spaces to sit and chill with a playground and a sand pit where kids can play away. To top it off, you don’t have to pay any entrance fee which is so rare around this area and the security guy at the gate is the most genuine and helpful person I’ve met at a working place thus far. Osana has a great working culture where all employees are qualified and trained to deal with customers with respect and in a polite way.

This is a truly special place and  no wonder why it is gaining it’s popularity and success through word of mouth. I can go on and on, talking wonders about this place that you would think I am getting payed for. The truth is, I have all the respect for a business that carters towards the overall well being of its community.

If you are in the area than come by and see all the hype for yourself. Make sure you check out their website Osana Welness Center. If you think they don’t offer what you want, at bare minimal, it is a place where you are literally chill, read a book and enjoy nature in this chaotic, brick jungle.

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Going Shampoo-less

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The road towards a healthier life is not an easy one. You can’t take an escalator all the way to the top, it is a step by step process. I am by no means considered a healthy person but I have become more conscious of my actions and what impact it has on the society. Living in a chaotic, never stopping concrete jungle it is very easy to fall into and contribute to the city’s pollution. I have to come into realization that I will not be able to fix the city’s dangerous pollution but I have to take responsibility for my own contribution, whether or not it will have a positive impact on the environment.

It is quite clear to foreigners and Egyptians that Cairo does not have any green public spaces. And if it does, it is all privatized and enjoyed by the privilege which leads most of the population behind. I am a strong believer that nature is the cure to our soul, it is the way towards knowing God and being closer to Him. When you hinder people from decoding their stress and rejuvenate their energy than the country is building an aggressive and resentful beings.

What does this all have to do with going “shampoo-less” a.k.a no poo? Well, since the air in Cairo is nothing but a poison. Apart from trying to build a mini garden and eating healthier, I also questioned what else was I doing that could harm my body? Using conventional house products was one of those things that I’ve completely eliminated from my cleaning routine. Instead, I use apple cider vinegar for everything related to cleaning and more.

On a rare moment where I watch t.v, one of those dr. shows was on and a guest had explained how she had not washed her hair with shampoo for 5 or more years. At first, everyone in the audience were frazzled by this concept. However, as she explained how much we are exposed to chemicals on our daily life and how shampoo strips our natural oils and that not too long ago we were not using shampoo, all of this starter making sense.

Immediately after having watched the show, I started making my own research for alternatives to using shampoo and came across the “no poo” terminology. I found a lot of alternatives that were just overwhelming and would take a lot of organization to go on the “no poo” journey. The simplest alternative to shampoo was by washing my hair with banking soda and apple cider vinegar. It didn’t require any work since I already have those products, so all I had to do is just start. I said goodbye to my store shampoo and conditioners and nevertheless saw great results. For moisturizer, I always use a fusion of almond, castor and coconut oil on my hair but this time I try to cut it down to allow my scalp to product the natural oils.

For a couple of weeks everything was dandy but afterwards, I’ve noticed that my hair was breaking and my ends where very dry. One of my daughter who has similar hair to mine was having the same issue. Although our hair looked better than when we were using regular shampoo and conditioner, the dryness and breakage was driving me crazy. I once again jumped online and made more research on the “no poo” journey and came to find out that baking powder has a very high PH level that our hair is not able to handle, therefore experiencing breakage and dryness is very normal.

I came across another alternative to shampoo that required blending canned coconut milk and aloe vera and rinsing the hair with diluted apple cider vinegar. This combination is so refreshing to the scalp and even skin, definitely living your body moist and soft. There was a lot of this mixture left behind so I just froze the rest in ice cubicle batches. However, this method left my hair feeling waxy on my scalp and oily. Although I loved the moist and how soft it makes my skin and hair feel, it was as though I had too much oil in my hair.

After not using banking soda on my hair for about a month, I had go back to this method to wash all the build up oils but this time I used a little less baking soda than usual. The outcome had my hair feeling lighter, airy and brought my natural color back to life. I also had found out through my research that the type of water you wash your hair with can have also an impact on the health of your hair. Water alone is sufficient to wash away the dirt in the hair but it all depends whether or not you living in a region that has hard or soft water. Hard water has a lot of harmful chemicals and minerals that also strip away the natural oils of the hair. Unfortunately, Cairo falls under the hard water category but there are some things you can do to repair the damage that hard water creates.

One step you can take is buying a filter for the shower but if that is expensive one can use rain water by putting a clean bucket outside until filled. If you live in the desert and almost no rain all year round and don’t have a filter than making a hair mask once in a while can be very helpful. You can use either the coconut milk/aloe water mixture or mask that I find helpful to remove dandruff and dryness is using olive oil with turmeric spices and leave in the hair and/or skin for 30-1 hr.

In conclusion, my hair is still not the way I want it to look and feel like with all of my experience with the “no poo” method. I am quite positive that the water in Cairo is not doing any good towards my hair either which is something I have to live with or invest in a shower filter. In the mean time, I realized that not all shampoo alternatives work for everyone. The “no poo” journey is a definitely a trial and error but patients is required and I have hope I will come across either an already all natural shampoo or a recipe alternatives. Although, my hair in the mean time is no where perfect or how I want it to be, I can tell it is definitely healthier because I no longer have dandruff and my natural color is slowly appearing. Also, this step I took towards eliminating conventional shampoos got me thinking of other healthy steps I can take next. Food is definitely one of the biggest challenges but I am eager to master healthy eating habits and share it with you all.

Gezazy Store a Gem in Maady

Today as I was walking by a strip filled with plants and flowers in Maadi, one store always captures my attention. However, today I entered  and asked about a particular furniture that I wanted to know if it was on sale. From afar, you can tell that the store uses recycling products such as glass and wood and recreates beautiful pieces of art. A young woman immediately greeted me with a warm smile and to my surprise Asmaa Farrouk was the owner of this Gezazy. It was a glorious moment to meet such a creative young woman being an entrepreneur during times where the world thinks that Egypt is collapsing due to recurrent events on the media.

What is Gezazy store in a nutshell, you might ask? I will link her facebook page here, so you can check out her work but I will also steal some of her photos and place them down bellow. Asmaa recycles bottles, glass and wood and recreates new things with it. For example, she has a huge collection in her facebook demonstrating lighting features, lamps that she recreates with recycling bottles, she also recycles wood and makes awesome, edgy and modern furniture. Not to mention she has a free library and lounge, where you can just chill, read a book while zipping on free tea and coffee.  Ohh, I almost forgot to mention, not only does she have a carpenter on site building furniture but you can also place an order for her to send a carpenter to your house and make anything that you want using recycling wood and panels.

This definitely was an O M Geee moment and I couldn’t wait to share her store here on my blog. If you live in Cairo you should visit Asmaa’s Gezazy store at 250 St in Maadi. If you do not live in Egypt please support her by visiting her Facebook page by clicking here on Gezazy you will get very inspired.  Enough talking and here are some of her work.

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Her on site library, where you can read and enjoy a free coffee or tea.