Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. Everything has been figured out, except how to live. One always dies too soon or too late. And yet, life is there, finished. The line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life. There is only one day left, always starting over. It is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk. We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are, that is the fact. When you live alone you no longer know what it is to tell a story: the plausible disappears at the same time as the friends. You let events flow by too.Suddenly you see people appear who speak and then go away; you plunge into stories of which you can't make head or tail. You'd make a terrible witness. It is true that people who live in society have learned how to see themselves in mirrors as they appear to their friends. Luckily, I only have a few...

Dr Shaw is a lecturer in Further Education at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. She also offers philosophy courses at the School of Continuing Education, Lifelong learning, at the University of Liverpool. In 2015, she has completed her Doctorate in philosophy with a focus on existentialism, the equilibrium doctrine and narrative. She has worked as a teacher of English and Comparative literature and Philosophy at The American University in Cairo, Egypt where she also obtained her BA (Hons). Dr Shaw has an MA in Philosophy and Literature from the University of East Anglia where she also taught on a number of humanities subjects. Whilst working in North Wales in Further education, she gained a PGCE aimed at teaching in FE and HE sectors. Dr Shaw moved to Liverpool in 2010 where she now resides.

Interests: Existentialism, Narrative, Comparative Literature, Feminist Thought, Public Speaking, Arab Existentialism, Philosophy of Education, Art, Music, Film and Theatre, Greek Mythology, Existential counsellor and psychotherapist.


Monday, 29 December 2014

Xmas Love

Parents of my dear friend, DebsDecember 2014
When we get married, we enter a union of the mind, the heart and the body. The three have different ways of developing. The beauty is in how the three compliment one another. I look at this picture and realize how beautiful it is to grow old together and how love always lives on. If you think that marriage is all about happiness, you are very wrong. I am sure there has been times of struggle but these two found each others comfort and love sufficient enough for them to carry on. The strength that loves gives one to carry on is magical. The dedication, the commitment, the care and affection are all that one needs to be. The look in a man's eyes is enough to fill a woman's heart. I cannot imagine a better picture that would capture true love and happiness. She smiles because she knows he accepts her as she is with all her faults. He sees her for who she is, a beautiful woman in every way and a mother. If a man cannot see this in a woman he does not deserve her. Marriage is not about you, it is about the other. If you cannot understand this, then it is not for you. When you love, you give your all. You bring the best in the other out, you put them first, you stand by them and comfort them in whatever life throws at you both. Selfish love has no room in marriage. A lover gives his all without waiting for anything in return. This is the meaning of love and this is what marriage should be.
I wanted to share my 7 years of marriage wisdom with my readers, may this year bring you all joy and love. Your life is what you make it to be, so make it count! It is unfortunate when a marriage ends like mine has, but I will look back at those years as a stepping stone for who I have become, for what I have achieved and for the love I carry now in my heart for those who deserve it. 

**    Merry Xmas and Have a Wonderful New Year  **

"Dear God, thank you for all the lovely people in my life, for the amazing friends, for the wonderful parents and family I have, for the best sister and cousins you gave me, the amazing child who lights up my world and most of all, thank you for the struggles and obstacles that you have put in my path that helped me grow, be strong and become the person I am today..."

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Radwa Ashour (1946-2014) Egyptian Novelist and a great mother

"The three of them don’t just form the most talented Arabic-writing literary family around: They are thoughtful social and political commentators, too."
Like branches on a tree 
we all grow in different directions...
We may not have it all together, 
but together we have it all...

When I was in University (2001 to 2006), I met Tamim al-Barghouti. He was studying for a political science degree and I was studying English literature and philosophy. I never really understood why he seemed mesmerized by the Egyptian female, especially one who would be studying these two disciplines. Could it be the passion for words and the literary charm that chanted him? Could it be the image of the strong feminine woman who was so accustomed to see in his household and grew up loving? In my own bubble, I carried on studying unaware of what went around me because my only goal back then was to succeed and to go on to an adventurous life journey abroad. I probably owe Tamim an apology for being that focused and that disciplined. Now, almost 9 years after graduation, myself, having married, gave birth to a beautiful boy and lately, divorced I understand to a certain extent the surroundings that might have shaped Tamim and made him the person he is today. I followed his success news year by year. I never really doubted that he had it in him. He was always good with words and can steal any heart with some cheeky verse or two. Spontaneous verses were probably the best. Only when I became a mother that I realized the impact of a mother on a child. I envy him for having great parents with vast knowledge to pass on to him and so much love which made him a success today. One should never underestimate the power of education and knowledge. I remember an Egyptian proverb which says if you invest in mothers and teach them well, you are guaranteed educated aware nations. I will learn from this and I can only hope that my son, Zein, looks at me in the same way that Tamim looks at his parents (specially his father Mourid al-Barghouti in the above picture). I can already see that my son, Zein, who is only 3 years old this year, likes girls with brown big eyes and curly hair (especially those who seem Mediterranean) Isn't it funny how children love those who remind them of their dear ones?! It is almost as if the eyes are the ones that love and communicate this love to the heart and it naturally grows fonder. Tamim al Barghouti is always standing on giants' shoulders. He seems maturer now than I remember, possibly the fame, the experiences in life added to his great start in life. The memory of his mother Radwa Ashour will live on in the memories he has of her, in the lessons she has taught him and in the fond moments he holds so dear and remembers whilst growing up amongst a strong intellectual environment.

Image plus caption source: https://arablit.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/in-praise-of-the-poet-with-the-weird-accent/

From a dear friend of mine and family member of Ashour:  ((البقاء لله

ليست صدفة أن تموت رضوى عاشور بعد يومين من الإعلان الرسمي لوفاة الثورة، وبعد أن أنجزت النصف الأول من سيرتها الذاتية لتبقى السيرة غير مكتملة مثل الثورة التي أرخت لها، والتي عاشت لها. رضوى التي منعتها ظروف الجراحة من أن تحضر فصول الثورة الأولى، رضوى التي كانت كلماتها الأولى حين أفاقت من البنج: "هم ضربوا الولاد في التحرير؟"
بحسب وصيتها، سيتم العزاء في عمر مكرم اليوم (الأربعاء) بإذن الله، حتى وإن أغلقوا ميدان التحرير

Monday, 24 November 2014

Dark Passenger by Daniela Andrade_Original Song

Lyrics to Dark Passenger

You were a call that I couldn't put down
you stayed in my mind late into the night my dark passenger
It's a war in my mind as you sharpen the blades
I try to be good but it's not as good as being insane
Could you tell me if I have a chance to be free?
'cause it burns every hour of every day being me
I've got pockets of ease
I've got slides of decay
Got a mind full of people that I once loved and betrayed
I go looking for fear down the alleys and homes
It's a war in my mind but I can't shake off the joy in my bones
Could you tell me if I have a chance to be free?
'cause I know I can love, I know that I'm doing more harm to me
It's the flashbacks the blood
It's an essential need
I've gotta get back to the boy that was taken from me...

[Thanks to Efrain for these lyrics. These are Dark Passenger Lyrics on http://www.lyricsmania.com/]

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

About love: It is never too late to start over

Just when the caterpillar thought it was the end, it turned into a butterfly....

From this image we learn that regardless how love can leaves you like an empty drained shell, one should know that it is never too late to start over....

It isn't the end, it is the beginning of something much more exciting. It was a transition I had to go through in order to be who I am, in order to be strong for the next chapter and be able to go further. I accept that and I acknowledge it. I gained a lot and learned a lot. Whoever wronged me will no longer hurt me and will no longer be part of the bigger plan. That is fine and I accept it was necessary and I accept that there is something planned for every one. I will learn from this and move forward. I will not break and will not dwell on this too longer. I will mend the broken heart, carry it on my shoulder and cope with whatever life throws at me because the pain I feel today will be my strength tomorrow.
Now I just need to continue to recall to myself that I am not the only woman who has gone through similar experience in life and that I am not the only woman who will survive this. Women are the exception and men are simply the norm. Fact *(Let's just say that I haven't met anyone YET who never fail to disappoint, but 'alas never again. I am no longer a "settler") .

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A New Chapter

Autumn 2014 Photo by Deb Jackson
A New Chapter

There are some words I hear and they always stay with me. These words for instance:

"You can either feel sorry for yourself of treat it as a challenge, an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing... You choose."

I recall every word in my head. I reply, to myself "Yes, it IS my choice". I have always wanted to live rightly and thus, I choose to do so. Never mind what happened and regardless of any pain. The pain I feel now will be indeed my strength tomorrow. I will learn from the past, I will learn from "this" experience I am going through and I will continue to work hard for the future that I so deserve.

I do believe there is reason in everything that happen to us. We are yes left in this world, helpless. But it is not about achieving anything. It is about the "struggle". The struggle leads to progress. This is the fact about life that people seem to overlook. In recognizing my life struggle, I grow. I refuse to be blinded by obstacles in my path that hide from me the sources of strength within me. My eyes are open and even though I may seem distracted at times, my life is clear to me. I am here for a reason. It is not to achieve a goal, and it is not to reach a target. It is to "be", to "live" to "experience" and to "struggle" in order to grow.

I refuse to be chained down by tradition, although I respect it. I refuse my mind to be clouded by trivialities of life and people's chatter. The essence of life is to become who you want to be, unchained, unburdened by anything and by anyone. The concept of love to me now has changed. With the change in my life situation, the concept carries now different meanings. But this cannot burden me. This can only drive me forward to realize my mistakes, my shortages and weaknesses. 
I am not a victim, I am not a fighter. I am a survivor.

The only place my dreams can become impossible is in my own thinking. Photo by Deb Jackson
My thoughts are my weapon. Resilience and perseverance are the most important tools in life. This is what I learned over the years. It is in my recognition of the means to cope with my problems and the ways I can manage my weaknesses to bring about my strengths. A man who does not see this and admire it in a woman, is not a man worth sharing the struggle with. Life is not easy. The journey is full of obstacles and it is naive to believe it is otherwise. The fault that I carry on my shoulder today, the pain that I feel in my heart, will be dissolve with past memories and wrong choices. The consequences of my past actions which I endure today will empower me to carry on and will lead me to a new chapter of my life. The exciting journey ahead will not be tarnished by those who do not deserve to be part of it. I believe a stronger force have finally saw it is time to give me a helping hand. It unclouded my eyes and will gradually show me how to relieve my pains. My strength is not a weakness. My strength is not "the problem". My strength is who I am. I embrace this and my weaknesses are also my strength...

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Almost 10 Days in Cairo

Almost 10 days in Cairo and already feel my blood pressure is rising, my skin tired and dull and my head full of nonsense. The anxiety that is second nature to the everyday Egyptian has finally taken its toll on me. 7 years living abroad has certainly changed me and wiped away the tolerance that I used to have to be able to endure every day struggles. The state of the Egyptian person in 2014 is sadly a pessimistic dull one. He/She is stressed by the sum of direct or indirect forces that are all against his/her will on a daily basis.

Day one began with the lack of water to wash my face. The land of the Nile has suddenly fell short of providing water for its citizens. It has also fallen short, as I latter on discovered, of proving many more "things" which a normal person would count as "basic human needs", by this I mean, not just water, but also electricity, comfortable shelter and food that does not carry the possibility of killing you. I was walking in the street today and suddenly a branch of a tree fell on my mother who was walking a few steps behind me (both on the pavement- which is either full of rubbish, broken tiles or advertising boards or signs from various shops) I could not help myself not to say "even the force of nature is objecting to my existence here" I joked.

By day 7 all I was thinking about is to "survive". I need to provide as a mother for my child and suddenly my very existence as a human being has been hit hard by this life that I witness and for so long once called "home". This is no longer home, I thought to myself. It is hell on earth. If my dad is already considering to put bars on the house windows to stop thieves coming and at every opportunity reminds me to be cautious with people, then what kind of life is this? I do not think anyone deserves to live in a prison or feel threatened to such an extent. Neither should one doubt the other for the sake of sheer doubt and being cautious. My anxiety increasing day by day and all I can think of is to keep my son from suffering. My mum jokes "this experience will make him a man". I cannot help but think that this will backfire at any moment and I will end up cutting the trip short and shipping ourselves back home urgently. Why make a 2 years old suffer when there is a life already out there where he does not need to suffer? In whose book is it written that we should suffer and endure such inhumane conditions, neglect and poor services ?

The reality of the situation, from the few gatherings I attended so far and my observation, is that the middle class no longer exists and what is now dominant is the lower classes who dictate the future of the country and the new social norms. This is of course going to be a disaster in my view as someone who values education and rational thinking than believing in nonsense and brain washing the masses for personal gain. The generation of new youths today whom I observed seems to be more stressed than I feel in these past few days. I feel sorry for this generation who became men and women in a society that expects too much of them and pressures them in every way. A man is pressured to provide and make no mistakes as far as the family is concerned, whilst the woman is brainwashed to be almost enslaved by these family norms into a role that leaves no room for her to shine in any way or even for her to feel her own existence. She is entirely responsible for the children and for driving the family forward although the man, who presumably is the driver (as far as people are concerned) takes a back seat and only criticise and make remarks. It is daunting for me to think that one day I was about to make the same mistake of falling into this role. Or even to think that anyone, even if my mother, could have influenced me enough to see myself in such a role or living with such a person. Life to me has always been built on an equal partnership in every way.

Anyway, this is my first rant of the trip and possibly more will follow soon...

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Katy Perry - Dark Horse (Official) ft. Juicy J


If you are a fan of Katy Perry, you would have seen this video by now or tried downloading the song only to be shocked by the video. Not sure exactly if as an Egyptian woman living in the West, I should consider this to be a comical video or a misrepresentation of the Pharaohs. The researcher who helped in putting together this video is certainly one who researched "alien" Pharaoh . The avatar looking Pharaohs are a clear indication of the researchers' ignorance and perhaps the producers' attempt to put "everything" in one video, from flying people, to a cute puppy to an Avatar, to some weird looking Pharaohs in the most ridiculous florescent costume.

I could have taken this video seriously and Katy Perry would have done a great job if only she had given this video more thought. "Make me your Aphrodite" well erm...someone should have told her that Aphrodite is not Egyptian- did she mean Cleopatra ? (Don't even start me on that too) The macroons though might have been from Pharaoh times hahaha no kidding. The impressive decor and props could have really been great, especially her amazing costumes, if it was not for the silly misrepresentations.

Miss Perry, please reconsider this video, take it from an Egyptian! (impressive pole dancing splits though sadly there are no record of pole dancing nor flying people at that time in history- erm or is there? LOOOL)

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Arfon Rhys: A Teacher who will be very much missed

Arfon Rhys was my teacher...

He taught me in class and outside of class. Teaching and learning to him was a second nature. He taught me that life is full of good and not so good opportunities. What counts is the person and how he/she deals with what life offers. In class, Arfon was always eager to hear what I have to say. He'd listen attentively and after I finished he would smile. There was never a moment in his class where I found myself thinking of something other than what he was saying and what we were doing. This is how a teacher should be and this is what I inspire to be like...absorbing, admired and most of all, loved by all my students and all the staff.

It saddened me to receive a letter over Easter break from his partner informing me that he is no longer with us and that a meeting will be held at Canolfan Bro Llanwnda on Saturday May 3rd at 2:30. I made the journey from Liverpool to North Wales that day with a heavy heart not knowing what I will say or do. I did not know that Arfon was a Quaker (known as a religious society of Friends) who worship in silence and in search of the Divine. We never spoke about religion. It was to us I guess more of a label than the essence of faith. We shared a philosophical interest in literature, cultures and art. We would have great discussions and I was eager to share Arfon with the world that I wished I could take him with me to live in Liverpool. But of course, a patriotic he is, the love of Wales would not allow him to move to England. This is a recent article I found in  the daily post of Arfon: 

I did not know about this till someone mentioned it in the meeting I attended whilst sharing some experiences about knowing Arfon.

I thought to myself if I did not stand up and say something, I will not be able to let go. The memory is too dear for me to talk about but I had to do it. Here is what I had to say:

"I always considered Arfon to be like a master and I am disciple. I often joked to him and said that I will follow him like Plato followed Socrates in Ancient Greek times. This is how they used to learn. I would have been privileged and happy to do so. He would humbly smile. Last time I met with Arfon in Caernarfon he told me that we often think that when we grow old we will become wiser. It is not true. The body grows old, but the heart stays young. To me, his words were always full of wisdom and in me, these words will always live on."

God bless your soul and may you rest in peace, my dear friend.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

A Rising star Anna McLuckie- Cover song "Get Lucky" Studio Version


A Rising star Anna McLuckie- Cover song "Get Lucky" Studio Version

A great song by a fantastic rising artist :) worth going to see if you have a chance!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

كاشمجي / Disalata - Scoop Empire: Happy Egypt

True optimism from the new generation of Egyptians today. Lovely video, production and effort!
Great job everyone

Here is my attempt to translate it (from Arabic to English)  
Name of the Song:      KASHMAGI :)

There are lots of miserable people all around us
I listened to them without any thinking
I decided within myself that there is a need for change....
Life is already burdened so I'll just ignore them and fly

Chorus: Why be Kashmagy*?
I don't care! I will live and no matter what I will challenge the whole world

Chorus: Why be Kashmagy*?
Darker days, forget about them. The lighter shades will soon come

Chorus: They want me to be Kashmagy*?
Why be a customer or a lemon juice          (This is just for rhythmming purposes and  not meaningful, but hey! lol) and lose from my life a second?
Ignore what has passed and all the nonsense
There is a thousand more opportunities
I want people to see me to wonder why am I smiling

I see everything in a hundred ways
God bless the Egyptian people
No matter how burdened, was never bothered by the burdens and always smiling

Chorus: Why be Kashmagy*?
I don't care! I will live and no matter what I will challenge the whole world

Chorus: Why be Kashmagy*?
Darker days, forget about them. The lighter shades will soon come
Chorus: They want me to be Kashmagy*?
Why be a customer or a lemon juice          (This is just for rhythmming purposes and  not meaningful, but hey! lol) and lose from my life a second?

Ignore what has passed and all the nonsense
There is a thousand more opportunities
Kashmagy*-- Kashmagy*---Kashmagy*--- Kashmagy*

Stretch widely your face and let your smile show
You will not lose anything
Happiness has its place within you

Twice Chorus:
Stretch widely your face and let your smile show
You will not lose anything
Happiness has its place within you

Chorus: Why be Kashmagy*?
I don't care! I will live and no matter what I will challenge the whole world

Chorus: Why be Kashmagy*?
Darker days, forget about them. The lighter shades will soon come

Chorus: They want me to be Kashmagy*?
Why will I be a customer or a lemon juice          (This is just for rhythmming purposes and  not meaningful, but hey! lol) and lose from my life a second?
Ignore what has passed and all the nonsense
There is a thousand more opportunities
Why be Kashmagy?
I don't care! I will live and no matter what I will challenge the whole world

Chorus: Why be Kashmagy*?
Darker days, forget about them. The lighter shades will soon come
Chorus: They want me to be Kashmagy*?

Twice Chorus:
Stretch widely your face and let your smile show
You will not lose anything
Happiness has its place within you
Kashmagy*-- Kashmagy*---Kashmagy*--- Kashmagy*---Kashmagy*-- Kashmagy*---Kashmagy*--- Kashmagy*

My assumption is Kashmagy* is the new "Pessimistic" hahahahaha :) something obviously Egyptians do not believe in.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Would I want to LIVE again?

A question that has been the highlight of some debates is whether one would or would not live again. The possibilities are 1. we die and go to either heaven or hell (hence we live again) OR 2. we die and nothing happens! Opps...All hopes gone

Well, no one really asks the "subject", the person, what he/she really wants. Do "I" Shereen want to live again? Frankly, no. One shot in life is more than enough to mess it up or succeed. Well really, whatever we do in life is "temporal", nothing lasts since life IS changing and the show must go on. When one messes up or succeeds, there is always a time when things will either get better or get worse for those who succeed. It is like a wheel of fortune, circular, one day is yours, one day is against you. Nothing is for certain and nothing lasts for long.

The principle then of living a life that has no end, no finite point, is scary to me. I would rather believe that when death comes, life will stop and nothing will carry on than know that there is still another "after life" or another form of existence where I have a duty towards or a role to play. Or do I?!

My belief is this: I live a life that will eventually at some point in time come to an end. If I do find that there is life after death, or wait in vain in my grave for a judgement day for an opportunity to reunite with those loved ones (at least that is what I was told as a child), maybe then and only then- if I go to heaven or hell, I will have no way  of communicating this back to anyone. We are all passengers on the same train or boat of mystery. The destination is unknown for us all, even to those who claim they know, they fail. So please please please, let us just live and stop worrying about the "other" life. Is it that we are so unsatisfied with what we got that we seek another? Is it that we wish for a "better" world? An "after life" where all our wishes are fulfilled or where we are at "peace". We come out of one complex question with many more complex questions that we will be unable to answer or shed light on. Maybe then too, in the after life, in some form, we wouldn't be satisfied.... It seems that the worry for many people I guess is the fear that there IS nothing.

I say, "even if there is nothing, at least you gave THIS life your best shot! Stop worrying and instead, LIVE!"

Thursday, 27 February 2014

No matter what, you have to applaud Egypt's talents


ENVISION SERIES presents  SHARMOOFERS/Khamsa Santy (*translations: "5 Centimetres")
Video directed by Mohamed Shaker

One of the funniest songs by a new Egyptian creative group which is a humorous way of putting forward all the things that face a young Egyptian on a daily basis in today's society. The song begins by the guy in his bed waking up to find that there has been no water for possible two hours. He gets himself ready to leave the house only to be met by a pool of water because the building security man  was cleaning the entrance. (Note: the word "Bawab": is a traditional old fashioned man, usually from rural areas of Egypt who is guarding the building and has with him his wife and a number of kids). The guy's trousers is wet from the cleaning process that is exaggerated. He walks to his car only to find that the couple has been sitting on it, smitten in love, has engraved "I love you Samar so much" on his bonnet with a nail! The chorus music continues as we are shown the busy streets of Cairo and how old and new cars are side by side with lorries and carriers dragged by a donkey. A perfect scene which also highlights the chaotic driving techniques that lead to cars being scratched or even hit badly. In a quick tale we are told that the carrier with the donkey fell over the cliff and people were shouting and a lot of disruption hindering him from continuing on his route to work. And in the midst of all this chaotic moments, the unbearable heat is affecting him and when he opens the car window he's met by a lot of dust. In a funny moment, the three guys shows their trousers full of mud and wet to the extent that they decided to cut them into shorts to escape the heat and looking untidy. The finale scene shows everyone in a small area of the streets of Cairo dancing regardless of the problems that arise during their day and still looking pretty much cheerful.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

A Pinch of Motivation

Let me first start by saying that I have always been a driven person and never really thought that anything is impossible to achieve.

Perhaps because I was lucky enough to have achieved everything
that I ever wanted. And perhaps also because there has been a powerful force that is greater than me not only watching over me but also making sure than I do not go astray. I came across an article about motivation and aspirations aimed at Phd students and it made me actually realise that people spend ages researching and worrying about something that is so achievable. The only place where dreams become impossible is in one's own thinking... And hence, I promised myself that I will always "believe" that I "achieved" something already (regardless of how the route may seem too long and may be full of thorns)

For every person who is doing a Phd, this is only a small tiny milestone that you should not exaggerate to be something bigger than you and me. Just like everything else really in life. If we think we cannot climb a wall, we'll never try to or even go near it.

A religious proverb say "if god closes all doors he leaves a window open", well I think if I cannot find a door, or a window, I'll make one :) as simple as that.

We can either all feel sorry for ourselves or treat "anything in life" as a challenge. An opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep us from growing. The choice is ours. 

After all, if you want light to come into your life, you need to stand where it is shining.

My list of "I will not" for 2014 are:

I will not allow negative people in my life
I will not be someone else's bucket to dumb their troubles on me
I will not look backwards
I will not feel sorry for myself
I will not be the victim
I will not keep anything in
I will not bombard myself with unnecessary things
I will not care about those who don't
I will not make time for those who don't give me any

My list for "I will" accordingly are:

I will be a happier person
I will surround myself with happy people
I will look always forward
I will share my feelings openly
I will try speak positively
I will try see the positive
I will only do the most important things, things that can wait, will have to wait.
I will care about those who care
I will forgive those who deserve
I will give time to those who go the extra mile for me

I think these seem fair enough for 30th January 2014 resolutions :) and motivational tips! Don't you agree ?!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Egyptian Marriages: Clashes and Issues

This post is dedicated for all my unmarried friends, those divorced and those who are about to marry. 

Views expressed are strictly my own and are based on my knowledge of both cultures, Eastern and Western,over the past years. 

My overview will mainly address Egyptian culture and marriage because I would like to leave my discussion of the West for another future post. Let us first start with...

I. The Problem with Egyptian Marriages.

Egyptians have long been known to favour marriage of a young woman early enough. Perhaps on the basis that if she has a taste of success and have an established career she may not feel the need for a man. Now, this goes back to the idea that the man is the breadwinner, the man of the house and the supporting pillar for any family. I won't argue with that because yes, I admit, men has their traits and privileges- both physically and psychologically- which if put to good use, can make them excellent individuals in that respect. However, this cannot be of course true of every man on earth. So am I with the idea that a woman should marry at a young age? My straight answer is no. Although for the family, this puts their minds at ease and, if they like the suitor, they will be happy with the whole marriage and everything will go swiftly. But if the suitor is not favourable by the family, simply because he is the young girl's choice- which of course means that he may not tick every box required of him by her family- then all hell breaks loose. The problem, therefore, with Egyptian marriages is simple. The suitor is marrying "the family". Something thankfully I did not experience much first hand because my husband is foreign. But to be frank, the number of friends who complained to me about problems in their marriage process are all based on the fact that the suitor is unable to please "all" family members. Now let us consider a story here from the Egyptian folklore that I believe either my mum read to me in my youth or gave me the book to read myself. 

The story goes: Goha went to the market to buy a donkey with his son. When they got the donkey, Goha put his son on the donkey's back and began walking back home. Upon passing the first village, the people of the village began to shout and say "look at the young boy, how disrespectful letting his old father walk while he is comfortable on the back of the donkey!" So Goha listening to them, took his son down and climbed on the donkey. Upon passing the next village, and while the young boy pulling the donkey and Goha on its back, the villagers began to shout again, "How cruel of this man to be on the back of this poor donkey?" Goha got off the donkey and decided that him and his son will carry the donkey together. On passing the final village, Goha noticed the villagers laughing out loud and saying "look at the mad man and his son carrying a donkey!"

So the moral of the story is loud and clear: No one can please "All" people no matter what. 

Because I always think of a solution and NOT the problem, my solution is for Egyptian families to "Stop" consider that you are giving your own precious daughter to a good man who will support her, love her and look after her in bad times, good times, in health and in sickness. This is not a cliche of marriages but the truth. Marriage is extremely misunderstood in Egypt. It is not about how much money you give the family, it is not about how well, socially, we will be amongst others or how much money we can make. There are many more things in life that make all the difference in marriage. 

Problem II. Female mentality and expectations. 

I should perhaps add here, Egyptian female mentality. The suitor is not going to be the prince in shinning armour. He will not solve all your problems, he will not make you happy no matter how miserable you are and certainly do not expect gold and diamonds or the standard of living that your family worked all their life for. Females should understand, if the suitor is in his 20s then the chances are the family are supporting him 80% still in life. He has not been working since he was 2 years old in order for you to marry him and spend his money. I find this expectation to be one of the major problems that arise after marriage. The comments I get show a miserable female who is unable to see how she is also in this partnership of marriage, but instead, assumes that she has the upper hand of the bargain where she expected servitude and magically, her wishes to come true. 

Having said that, this does not mean that there are no Egyptian woman who understand the meaning of partnership and striving with your husband equally for a better life. I am very aware that I should not generalise since problem II affect only a portion of the population of females (or at least I wish the majority see sense) When a girl leaves her family house, she is not to think that she has lost anything at all really. Just like little birds leave their parents nest, she too leaves to embark on a new chapter of her life. It doesn't matter about the clothes, the jewellery, the items in the house or the furniture. I find it insanely trivial that these things come up in discussions between couples and even cause disagreements!!! Where is the consideration for the "other" regardless of status, society and trivialities. 

So if you are about to marry know that you are entering a life contract knowing that when you are sick, someone will be there awake the nights to look after you, when you cry someone will be there to wipe your tears and try to make you feel better, even if for moments. When you are facing the whole world, you have a hand that is ready to hold yours and you hear "you are not alone" This is what matters... 

Even though many Egyptians know all of what I have just identified as problems, they fail to put the differences aside, the ego aside, the family aside, in order to maintain good relationships.

One must know that one marries "the person" not the family, not the society, not the world, nothing else but the mere "individual" who you will be growing old together, so if this is too difficult to imagine and to also truly accept, then marriage is not for you...