November 19th: An Egyptian Abroad


So I haven’t blogged in a while. (Out of topic, but isn’t strange that blogged as a verb is still non recognizable in wordpress and has to be underlined in red, making the blogger feel self-conscious and plain stupid?)

At first, it was because I was crazy busy (yes yes I am still the same me, always getting into random unpredicted situations), but then, it changed. Alot changed.

I was occupied with building my new life in Dubai, new job, new friends, new way of living… Getting used to the fact that streets are clean and secure, people are not loud and smell like feet… (See, Hard work!)

Then suddenly I was told that I have to go back to Cairo for atleast 4 working days!

I felt that my world is collapsing around me. Four working days, and it was Wednesday. What did that mean? Did that mean I had to be there for atleast a week and a half?! For some odd reason, that seemed too much for me to register… I felt faint. I really didn’t want to go back!

I started to think of how I will finally see my mother, who with only a few days notice, went from living with three wild children, to being alone, all alone…

I started to think about how happy my friends will be when I surprise them with arriving so unexpectedly, how it would be cool to meet my brother’s new girlfriend. And of course to gratify the materialistic lover of “things” in me, how satisfying it would be to bring back my beautiful belongings that did not fit into my bag last time.

Regardless, I still dreaded it. I cried a little inside.

I tried to make peace with it, my flight, after-all was a couple of hours away.

I got the gifts, packed my laundry, (might as well), boarded and closed my eyes.

The flight seemed to go by so fast, as if in a conspiracy to get me back to Egypt as fast as possible, just to test my patience.

As the Red Sea disappeared from the horizon, I started to reminisce.

I remembered how my friends and colleagues had branded me as the “last optimist”. The only one left who had hope in this country, the only one who only saw the good, and the bad always had an excuse. The one who was sure the good will prevail, the one who will not use her foreign passport, and only use the Egyptian one on principal. The one who fought against corruption in any way she can, with a Canadian passport and journalist status as protection.

I remembered those long days and nights we were at war. Those 18 days. The days that took away the last ounce of innocence left behind by the turmoil of my 31 years.

I remembered all that, and looked at myself at that moment (metaphorically ofcourse). And I continued my trip down memory lane. A quick edit of the following 6 months, those months that made me fall out of love with a country. My country. Those months that made me decide to leave. To look for a new home.

“The pilot would like to welcome you to Cairo, please stay in your seats until…”

And there I was. Back to the city I had left 3 months before.

I wondered if it would feel the same. I didn’t have to wonder for long. I went in. With my foreign passport.

Passport control, suspicious, background check, strange looks, then “welcome to Cairo”.

From the moment I collected my baggage, until I reached a cab, exactly 23 people asked me for money, to take my bags, or if I needed a limousine.

23 people.

I finally arrived at the “Taxi” parking.

They were like flies fighting over the last drop of honey in existence.

I was dazed. But then I said the only thing that could shut them up.

“Which one of you will give me a receipt?”

And then there was silence.


Everyone of them, as if on cue, looked away, and went back to their positions.

That was one of the most organized scenes I had ever seen in this country (outside of the 18 days ofcourse).

“Can someone tell me the closest place I can get an ordinary taxi, with a meter?”

Again, silence.

I decided to address one specific driver.

He gave me a dirty look, and told me that way, pointing into oblivion, “around 2 Km away” he said.

I so wanted to get back on the plane that just dropped me off.

I realized then it was a terrible idea to surprise EVERYONE. There has to atleast be one person who knows, who will pick you up at the airport. Next time, not too soon though.

Anyway, exactly 36 hours later, I was successfully extracted from Cairo and sent back to Dubai, where I am happy to call home, only to be bombarded with the news of Egypt on Saturday.

People so close to me detained, died and scarred for life. I realized then how hard it was for everyone NOT IN the square back in January. I realized how blinded we were by our adrenaline. By the basic instinct of survival.

But that was ages ago.

Felt like years and years.

A week of sleepless nights, international calls every half hour, watching every news broadcast, phone loosing battery due to excessive twitter usage…

A year-long week.

I started to get mad.

Get mad at all the people I met during the 6 months after January. All those people who said they want to make the country a  better place. Those brave people who fought with you side by side for freedom.

All those people who ended up being blinded by personal gains, how their name would look in print, and how many TV interviews they would “star” in.

All those people who sat in closed rooms, and constructed scores of documents, and speeches, claiming this would make it all better. This would make the trauma of seeing people die in your hands go away. These papers, tables and points will make sleeping on pavements in the street for days worthwhile.

But alas, they did not.

Nothing changed.

When the time to unite and build the Utopia they promised, they held on to “what they think is best”.

They held on to arrogant classifications, prejudice pointed fingers…

They held on to that just as the ones before held on to their seats…

The day I decided to leave was the day it hit me.

“This country is not ours. Not for the likes of me.”

I had to leave before I lost all the love I have for my home land.

I want a better life.

I am Human. Therefore I deserve it.

But enough of that now…







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