Tips from the leisure desk: Courses to take up in Cairo

For many of us in Cairo, things aren’t as exciting or hopeful as they once were. Many of us are trundling along — or treading water — in a daily routine. It’s no wonder we often complain that we’re feeling stagnant, that life is boring. Taking on a course isn’t going to fix an existential crisis — though it could keep it at bay a little — but learning something new can bring about a bit of freshness.

Saying it’s never too late to learn something new might sound a bit like something your grandma used to tell you, but there’s truth to it. Instead of waiting to be curious about something, learning something new can feed your curiosity and generate some excitement.

There is CILAS (Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences) for lots of courses in the liberal arts, but if you want to get out of your head and do something with your hands, here are our suggestions for five new things you can learn and easily access while living in Cairo.

  1. Jewelry Design

An interesting skill to acquire, jewelry making and design is a broad and vast medium that would suit an array of personal styles — it can be a minimal, sleek venture or a bold and dramatic one. Delving into the world of jewelry means working with gold, silver, stones and wire, while techniques include beading and threading or soldering and texturing. You can make jewelry for men or women, for costumes or for children. It’s a hobby that keeps your hands busy and makes things pretty. Need I say more?

Recommendation: The Design Studio by Azza Fahmy (DSAF)

Branching out of the internationally recognized Egyptian brand, the Azza Fahmy, design school is located in the heart of old Cairo at Darb 1718 and offers a range of activities, from day workshops to courses that last several months. Although a design school, many of the workshops teach jewelry-making as well.

With classes given by professional designers from Egypt and abroad, attendees can learn basic technical skills, such as design drawing, enameling or stone setting. There are also workshops focused on particular items, such as rings or earrings, and how to transform old jewelry items into something new. Check their Facebook page for the workshops.

  1. Cooking

In the rush of everyday life, it’s not often you find the time to feel inspired by ingredients, and feeding yourself can feel like a chore when you’re not inspired, so taking a cooking class is a good reminder of what’s out there and what basic combinations satisfy every time. You don’t need to have a family or a group of friends to feed in order to play out your fantasy of being on MasterChef. All you need is an appetite and some ideas — the latter of which a cooking class will certainly fix.

Recommendation: Community Services Association (CSA)

A veteran of the Maadi community, CSA is a dependable choice when it comes to taking cooking classes. They offer a choice of international cuisines to indulge in, including Thai, French and Italian, and they offer single sessions or complete courses. Visit their website for schedule updates on upcoming classes, though you could also request a private class for you and some friends to attend.

  1. Gardening

Repeatedly mentioned in literature, lyrics and religion, there’s no denying that even the simplest of gardens are life affirming. Gardening cultivates patience, encourages commitment and, when spring comes round, brings about a lot of pride and reward. Whether you want to cultivate plants that are edible or plants that are pretty, let’s just hope you have enough of a green thumb.

Recommendation: Bianca Fliss

Having previously held workshops such as DIY Kitchen Gardening at Icecairo, Bianca Fliss currently offers private and personalized courses, as well as consultations and garden setups. Born into a family business of agriculture and horticulture, the gardening enthusiast’s experience began with growing up among vegetable fields. Upon coming to Egypt, she lived on the Sekem farm for four years, where she learned about Egypt’s agricultural conditions. You can get in touch with her directly via Facebook.

  1. Playing an Instrument

It may be too late to become an internationally renowned concert pianist, but there’s always time to learn a catchy tune or two to add to your list of party tricks. Playing music can be therapeutic, whether it’s because you’re creating something beautiful or getting out some intense rage.

Recommendation: Dom Tak Cairo

Identifying with a “contemporary approach” to teaching music, Dom Tak rhythm house is situated in Zamalek, and, though it focuses on percussion instruments, such as the darbuka, cajon and djembe, it also offers piano, guitar and singing lessons. There are adult and individual classes, as well as lessons for kids and corporate coaching. There are also several workshops throughout the year the include those focused on jam sessions and drum circles.

If self-consciousness stops you from joining a music class, even though you’d like to, Dom Tak is a good choice, as their philosophy holds that, as music is good for us in so many ways, talent doesn’t have to be the main reason to learn to play.

  1. Drawing and applied arts

Not everyone is born with the talent to create stunning pieces of art, but we all have the ability to learn basic techniques. From drawing and painting, to making collages and using mixed media, producing art is a wonderful way to meditate. Apart from the sense of accomplishment the completion of a piece brings, you won’t regret having the ability to draw, paint or otherwise create something that’s one of a kind, whether it’s to give someone a meaningful gift, paint faces at a kids’ birthday party or really kill it at a game of Pictionary.

Recommendation: SOMA Art

With its main studio located in Zamalek, SOMA has been offering courses in other places, including Osana Family Wellness in Maadi and Marassi at the North Coast. In addition to drawing, they offer a range of art courses, including painting, sculpture and calligraphy, as well as theory-based courses.

Tanya El Kashef 

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