Sunday, December 27, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
The new bride Kelly, Jodi and me
I first arrived in NY, the place that although I wasn’t born, I still call home. Despite the depression based on the economic downturn, I felt as though things were pretty much the same – okay, give or take a wedding, two engagements, and a couple of pregnancies. Then I went down South and had some family time for Thanksgiving and of course, to see my favorite sport (American football) and my favorite team continue their undefeated season (Geaux Saints!!!).
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
I officially have 31 days left until I visit the US, my first time back home since I arrived over 15 months ago! And I am ever so ready. However, I must say I have some anxieties about visiting. I hear that your first time back, you realize just how much you and everyone around you has changed. Sure you expect some change, but I guess there’s always that hope that it will be like you never left at all.
That aside, now back to life in Egypt. Just when you think you’ve had enough of something, someone shows you that there is still hope. I will not sugarcoat the gender issues here, as I know you have already been introduced via my blog and many others. What I will tell you is about one of the sweetest, strongest Egyptian women I know and what she’s doing in her own life.
Iman* was married about five years ago, but it was just something to do as she was nearing 30 and already an anomaly by Egyptian norms. She had one child and while life hasn’t always been easy, it was what it was. Atypical from most Egyptian men, her husband Rafeet* was anything but the bread winner. In fact, he relied on her for almost everything. And while she wasn’t happy, she wasn’t unhappy.
She went to an event one night and what Rafeet is very typical for is how she would need permission to do anything. Long story shorter, he came into the gathering, grabbed her – although she’d gotten permission, because he didn’t want to go he wanted her to be quick – and took her to the parking lot where he continued to verbally assault her in front of everyone. I cannot comment on physical abuse as I am uncertain, so I want to remain as true to the story as possible.
Unlike what I had previously thought (mostly that women just put up with almost anything), Iman has decided to divorce Rafeet. Slight problem: he took the child. Families got involved and once again to my amazement, Iman stood her ground. She informed the soon-to-be ex that it was over. He was no longer permitted in her residence and if he wanted to keep the child, he could but she would have at least two days a week, the child would continue with her schooling and he would pay. She knew he couldn’t comply with these necessities. He returned the child.
Iman is currently filing for divorce and her mother is her strongest ally, but Rafeet refuses to sign the papers. She’s in the process of getting a lawyer, and just so you know, she doesn’t have a great deal of money so these things are not so easily attained.
She said, “I know it won’t be easy, but I’m prepared to continue fighting.”
What you also have to understand is the social stigma that comes with a woman that is divorced with a child. Her chances of ever being with another man is slim to none. I think that’s a risk that she’s willing to take. She says that she doesn’t ever want another man in her life anyway.
This is extremely important because Iman isn’t from the higher Egyptian class, yet she exemplifies women standing up for themselves – which evokes hope in me that one day, things will be slightly different. She continued, “Tonight I will go to a wedding and I will dance the night away. I am finally free and feel a great weight has been lifted.”
So, Iman – here’s to you!
*Names have been changed to protect identities
There has been a website created for women to report incidents of harassment based off an online project in NYC that encourages women to snap pictures of their aggressors with their mobiles to report them online for other women as a method of precaution - please visit Cairo Shame.
If you are able to snap a picture, please feel free to email the site at firstname.lastname@example.org.
***There are some things that you must compromise when moving to a foreign country, but there are some things that you should NEVER compromise***
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
First of all, I’m going to address this issue – you may not agree with what I write, but note that these are my experiences. As I’ve stated in previous blogs, I’m not here to appease everyone, if I only showed the positive without the negative, how realistic is that? I do not mind counter views, but please remain respectful.
Furthermore, for those men who send me emails and/or post comments pretending to be women – just stop. You’re only validating views that have been expressed regarding harassment.
Finally, I almost always respond to questions and/or comments. However, I make a rule that I do not meet men via my blog unless in a group setting. This is a safety precaution, and one that I highly recommend for anyone in any situation.
I have to be honest, I really miss home. My best friend recently got engaged and told me in an email. While being thrilled, part of me was sad that the news came via an email and not a phone call. Thus is part of the set back in being overseas.
And of course, I’m at the age where many of my friends are getting engaged, married, having children and I wonder – what the hell am I doing? Oh yeah, riding camels by the pyramids (which might I advise, do not ride for longer than 30 mins as you will regret it later…and I do mean REGRET). Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my life, but sometimes I just wonder if I'm missing out on other things. And I can tell you what, I am.
That isn’t to say that life as an expat isn’t exciting and definitely gives you stories for when you’re 85+ years old in a nursing home humoring your nursing attendant. What I’m trying to convey is that while the grass is always greener on the other side, there’s definitely no win-win to life as an expat. You’re seen as adventurous from friends and family at home, and yet, sometimes you just want to return to that time before you were known as this globe trotter (so to speak).
Then I wonder if when you become an expat, if you’re always an expat?
Beware all potential travelers venturing on a desert safari. I received word of a group that went on a desert safari with the man pictured. While I will remain brief, he was inappropriate to all the women and also took pictures of them exiting the water for personal use – despite their persistence he stop. I believe he has been reported to the proper authorities, but this is a warning for any of you that thought about booking with this company and/or guide:
Siwa Oasis (does tours throughout Egypt)