Friday, September 16, 2005

Favorite spot

My friend emailed me from Vancouver today telling me that the job market is booming again there and I should reconsider moving there. I replied back that I am sticking here for a little longer. Maybe next summer but probably not, if things go on track here. I would still like to take a few years break there in a few years though.

Somehow I am getting satisfied here in Egypt. Its far from perfect, far from good for that matter, but as I said before, I do belong here, whether I like it or not. I am adapting, that's for sure. Something that I didn't want to happen when I landed back in Egypt a few years ago. I remember a conversation where I argued that I do not want to adapt, and I do not want to fit in. Not in this mess, I'd rather not adapt and continue to have the feeling of being a stranger than adapt to all the wrongs that I see around me.

Unfortuantely, I have adapted, and I am becoming too Egyptian again, and seems that I'm perfectly fitting in. On an ideal standard that's not what I want, but on a realistic standard that's making me happy and satisfied. My emotions towards this country are growing again. I used to love it here like crazy, but this love has faded with time, we've grown apart. And as they say, "away from the eye, away from the heart". After living here again for a few years now, breathing the pollution, interacting with the unrefined and dealing with the asystem, I am fitting in just fine now. Just like everyone is doing here, complaining, interacting and moving on.

There is something good here, no its not the food, no its not the people, no its not the family and friends, and no its not necessarily the in-your-face religious preaching; I'm not sure what it is. Maybe its the sense of belonging even though we don't want to belong to this mess. Maybe its our extra emotional being that is somehow attached to this hidden good over here which makes us guilty for not working hard to bring that good out and make it spread.

I am convinced that our problem is in the first place cultural, and a culture is formulated by its people. Yet something is good about those Egyptians, some of them atleast. Today I saw Ahmed Zoweil in the club, finally giving up the bodyguards that used to protect him from fellow Egyptians. Looking at him, I thought of his scientific achievements, but also thought of how zoweils will not save Egypt. Scientists will, but not those with a big bang effect. I'm thinking not just Zoweil's big bang, but everything I know of with a big bang in Egypt have failed, such as the 1952 coup/revolution and Sadat's visit to the Knesset for example. While well thought of plans and slow but hard work seems to be fruitful here, such as the 1919 revolution, and the building of the Pyramids. Egyptians are survivors who will survive through anything anywhere --you don't want to know how! They are resilient in the sense of withstanding shocks, however they will be deformed by them.

I've written before about some success stories of hard working Egyptians who want to make a change. Lots more of these examples. Many Egyptians who have a goal of developing this country by doing what they do best. I'm seeing so many of them lately that I'm feeling proud for a change that Egyptians have this unexplained emotional attachment to the country. I don't think its patriotism, but its the unwillingness to give up on this country for no obvious reasons. Emotional reasons maybe. People who could just leave all this hassle behind and be all they can be elsewhere, or others who could raise their self importance above all to get the maximum personal gains but don't. They always have the good of the country in mind in whatever they do. There is no lack of megalomaniacs here ofcourse, yet with all the harm they do, others keep on working and staying the course, and this is the real hope. Just amazing.

I remember hearing an argument that building and flying a paper kite in Egypt could be as worthwhile as building a space shuttle abroad, and sometimes just as hard. Looking at this statement with less naiveness and idealism and with an extra flavor of realism and pessimism now, this might not be so wrong. Just as long as you realize that you're only building a paper kite, not a space shuttle yet.

Back to my favorite spot, the reason of this post. No, its not the G-spot. Its a green area in Cairo that I used to love. Eight years ago, this was my favorite spot in Cairo, along with a few others. A few years away and back to Cairo, I couldn't see why I would ever love such a spot, burnt grass, lots of dirt, uneven ground with dead tree leaves, noises in the background and cars parking in the back area. The spot didn't change really, but I felt it was stolen from me. A while ago, I realized that I'm recapturing my favorite spot again. This wonderful area that is in the core of the city yet totally detached from it, very private yet totally open, full of green yet you can see the messed up city around you so you're not fooled, hot in the summer but with a breeze of wind that you feel everynow and then, surrounded by two veins of life (the Nile) yet totally unseen. A timeless place to me, in the middle of it all, yet out of it all. A place that doesn't require me to re-adjust when I'm leaving it to the craziness of the city. Today, they are finally cleaning up and grooming that area, removing the dead leaves, evening the land, planting more greenery which made me feel wildly happy. I praised them, thanked them and told them they don't know how happy they're making me.

In every city you live you ought to have a favorite spot(s). A spot that provides you with a sense of belonging and somehow attaches you to the city. You don't have to frequent it often, but you have to long for it, and when you go to it you reach a soothing level of comfort that tells you that this city is worth living in after all.

11 comments:

hauntingmelody said...

i have been reading your blog since july, but i've never left a comment,simply 'cause i am awe- struck by the way you seem to express everything inside me...anyway, you have to promise you'll never give up on blogging, cause i can't live without your blog!

haal said...

Where is that area, Mohamed? Looks like it is the club?

Mohamed said...

Hauntingmelody, scary, isn't it? So where have you been before July!

Doesn't make a difference really Haal, but I've linked to a picture of the spot in the post. One of my other favorite spots used to be a side street on the Nile, but it is now always over-occupied with people and street sellers.

Charismatic Soul said...

Mohamed,

what you described, has made me think alot, everyone i know is strongly advising me never to go back to egypt, i dont know exactly why, some say the money, some say the food, some say the pollution, and all of them are actually living there...but your words gave me a bit of hope, thank you.

Wonderer said...

Remember me? I am "away from home". Your blog brought sad feeling to me. I used to be a "too Egyptian" person, but now after almost 7 years from being "away from home" I see things differently. It makes me wonder why the Egyptians are so creative to distroy Egypt. Dirty streets, polluted weather, traffic jams, bad manners. Try to drive your car in the most calssy area in Egypt. You will find people swearing at you, honking their horns, pumping your car with no reason at all. I also, noticed that the word THANKS, has vanished from our vocabulary. I am really sad to find that happening to what used to be "om el donia".

However, I don't know why, I still love Egypt. CRY BELOVED EGYPT

MoonLightShadow said...

Yesterday, I read that post, and I almost agreed to everything you mentioned ya Mohamed, and I didn’t comment coz I felt I’ll be repeating your post.

Unfortunately, today I was faced by one of these situations which gets on your nerves. As mentioned by Wonderer, I had a bus driver pumping into the car with no reason! That incidence just brought to my mind all the bad manners around. How things are working here in Egypt. Careless and passive people are everywhere, to the extent that their effect might dominate!

I still wonder if we should leave the country for such people!

Sand-E Sez said...

Mohamed, Something bout your blog just struck a chord... I suppose its how any estranged Egyptians feel about going back...Its also part of the reason I’ve been completely scared to attempt the move... Up until now I’ve looked at Egypt with this bright, wide eyed wonder. I keep thinking ignorance is bliss... it protects us from a lot of things that we might not be able to handle…What this all sums up to is the fear that this magnificence that Egypt represents to me might be maliciously stripped away from me by the harsh realities of everyday life should I actually attempt to live there. Y I'm sharing all this with you is really beyond my comprehension I mean really. A part of me thinks it stems from the idea that writing is all about the ability to eloquently put what everyone else feels down on paper... A hunter who makes docile otherwise volatile words and emotions and thoughts....
anyways...
you be good.. and keep writing..

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