Thursday, June 11, 2009

And the ticker says...


13 months and 2 days in Egypt. I've been here over a year now and I guess it's time to update and give an evaluation of sorts. Overdue in fact.

First I have to say I missed writing on this blog. I missed the many readers/commenters/friends that came with it. Unfortunately I am still keeping it private, but I think it's better that way. I recently closed another blog because my ex s-i-l discovered it--and me--on Twitter. I dont want any connection to my insane brother or anyone in his family from back home. That was a nightmare in my life and I am so thankful it is over. I moved on to bigger and better things and just want that part of my life to be as far away as possible. So the blog will remain private, but I will add readers.

So how was my first year in Egypt??? Well the first thought that comes to mind is...it was wicked hard!!! I have good and some very bad memories of all that has transpired here. While I do feel in many ways things are now on the upswing insha Allah, I am still shaken by some of the events I have experienced, and just the overall difficulties of life in a third world country.

While Egypt barely appears--on the surface at least--to still be a third world country--the mentality of the people for the most part speaks volumes that they have still not embraced a first world mentality. There is absolutely no accountability here--for actions of words. People dont do their jobs properly or with any kind of integrity. They will lie about anything and everything. While this country is loaded with brilliant minds, tons of money, advanced medical care, amazing huge stores, incredible malls, good roads, fabulous resorts, etc, the mind set of the people is still chaotic. And that pretty much describes Egypt--it is chaos. I think the country as a whole just flies by the seat of its pants--it survives only by the mercy of God, and if ever the day comes where there must be some accountability, I fear the worst. I think the whole system will come crashing down on our heads. One only needs to drive here to understand what I mean. Implementing any changes or new rules here would so upset the applecart--I think it would be worse than Hiroshima after the nuke. People just follow long-standing protocal here. It seems to work for them. I guess for them, the attitude here is...if it aint broke, dont fix it. Problem is, they cant see just how "broke" it is.

The American expats here are another mystery. They might be very nice and normal people in their own country. Here for the most part--oh God--they are snakes. I do know a VERY few really nice expat women here. Can count them on one hand with fingers left to spare. They have adopted the lying mechanisms that so pervade the Egyptians themselves. They are a selfish and unsocialable (if your not in their set) lot--in fact they are worse than a click, they are a gang. If you're not part of the "in" crowd, you dont exist. And I'm talking about so-called Muslims here. Makes me wonder what kind of people we reverts truly are??? Is it that we couldnt make it in our own society, so we changed religions and adopted a new country/culture? Why oh why are so many, almost all the reverts I know here, such selfish hypocrites? For them, promises are made to be broken. Engagements/appointments ignored or cancelled at the last second. Psychiatrists would have a field day here with the Muslim revert expats. In short, they think their shit doesnt stink. Needless to say I am not part of that crowd. Thank God.

In general, one must be very cautious here. Sad to say it is almost dangerous--certainly dangerous to one's mental health--to get close to any one here. Sooner or later you find that no matter how seemingly genuine people are here--both natives and expats--sooner or later they show their true colors. It's not a good idea to trust people here. At least not too deeply. At the least you'll get your heart broken--at worst--they could put you in jail. Remind me to continue this thought with the story of my previous landlord.

On June 1st we moved to our new flat...my husband, mom and me. And the dog! I absolutely HATE moving. I've done it too much. But the new place is so worth it. It is beautiful. Masha Allah. Patience rewards. Took me forever it seems to get to the place/point in time where I am now. The flat and garden are its own little world. It's big enough that I dont feel the walls closing in on me like I did in the last place. There's privacy. I dont know any of the neighbors nor do I want to. I dont want other tenants knocking or invading my space like what happened in my last place. I have learned that to survive with any level of comfort and privacy here, I cant be too friendly. Among other things, friendliness can be misconstrued as a sign of stupidity. A sign you are ripe to be taken advantage of. My husband has a point about his preferring to keep his life very private. We Americans tend to be open books. Egyptians pretend to be but they are not. It's just kind of a ruse to get you to open up. Sometimes one must learn the hard way. I learned. In my real life, I am now a closed book. I actually like it better that way.

I know this post seems to be written with a lot of bitterness. Because I do harbor a certain amount of bitterness. About many things I have experienced here in the last year. Egypt has changed dramatically from what it was even on my last visit in 2006. If you havent heard me say this before, I am saying it again...I blame the satellite TV and the internet for a lot of the shit that goes on here. Some days it's hard to believe I am not in America here. The net is making us so homogenous. Every society exposed to the net and international TV is changing rapidly. Old is being replaced with new--especially in terms of values. Cultural lines have become blurred. It is becoming one world--and not a very nice one at that I think. I believe the end of times are near. Which reminds me of another story I want to tell about my "bowab". Literally it means "doorman", but here it means the "super"--he lives with his family in the basement and takes care of the building and everyone in it...a kind of guard-slash-go-fer.

Well I'll sign off here. All in all, am I glad to be here? Glad I made the move? Was it all worth it? I'm not so sure. Given the fact I live in a place that has adopted all the bad of the place I left--but NONE of the good--I'm thinking maybe home is better. Better infrastructure, much more accountability, everything in my own culture and language--not to mention being closer to my kids. At this point, I dont know. I just dont know. I need more time I think. Maybe I just need a trip home. I DO absolutely need a trip home that's for sure. I need to stop here now. Will write more later.

2 comments:

Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo said...

You know, since your blog doesn't provide me notice of the updates (older version of blogger?), I didn't know you had updated since the post on culture shock! A friend of mine asked if she could be invited...another former Cairo resident like myself.

So the first year was rough. So true. In order to remain you'll likely put up some comfortable walls that allow you to tolerate what drives you mad. I'll be interested in reading how you feel by next November!

mackey said...

Helllooo???? U no bloggy no more?? =(