Wednesday, July 21, 2004

That's Me in the Middle

When people talk about women getting harassed in the streets or anywhere else, I'd like to direct anyone's attention to this wonderfully flattering photo of a 55 year old woman standing in a paddock with a young friend. Would YOU harass her? Probably not, although the friend gets her (un)fair share of it. There really is no question about it in my mind. In a vast area of the world it is considered okay for young men, as well as those who just wish that they were young, to comment on the women in their immediate vicinity, and some of these individuals feel that it is their right to do more than comment. It is a major pain for many women and an aggravation that most men really can't quite comprehend in a personal way. After all, no one is harassing them, right? Maybe we should organise a movement that supports "Turn the Tables" Day, a day during which all the women we can arrange turn around and whistle at and comment about any men in their vicinity. Imagine the chaos!

The house in the picture is someone else's rather over-sized version of a country house. I live in a 100 sq metre cottage down the road. It is totally possible to insulate yourself from the culture around you by means of affluence. A lot of Egyptians and a lot of ex-pats do it here all the time. The owners of the house behind me have done it. Within your walls you are free to do and be whatever you want. But movie sets take a lot of maintenance, and I'd rather be riding or gardening.

Many of my observations on my life in Egypt are coloured by the fact that I moved here just before I turned 40, a mother with two children. I would have had many very different experiences had I come as a student or an ex-patriate worker or even as a tourist. I see the world from my vantage point, as hard as I may try to see it from other people's as well. I've seen the affluent life style and I've seen the flip side as well when my husband died unexpectedly in a private plane crash and I found myself having to manage the transfer of virtually all of his business assets to banks and creditors to secure the finances of a factory that he had been just about to put into operation. Everything we owned was pledged to secure the loans and with his death, the banks decided that they'd rather take his companies. As he was a one man show, a classic entrepreneur, there wasn't much option. A quiet life with a bunch of dogs, horses, parrots, and water buffalo looks pretty good after four years of negotiations with banks to settle a USD 250 million debt. The banks did okay since the factory is probably worth almost twice that. Easy come, easy go. There really is a lot more to life than the pursuit of wealth, but it doesn't hurt to have the skills with which you can get by in terms of a living.

15 comments:

Babie said...

I just wanted you to know that I'll be reading your blog. I recently started one of my own, though it's really rough. Please visit.

Gawly said...

Its never easy being a woman, I'm not a woman but I constantly see the harrassment that women have to endure in Egypt and in other countries as well. Its quite sad really that some males get a kick out of this, its rather degrading since it lowers the woman from being a complete human being with a lot more than what on the outside.

Nefertiti said...

I know what you're talking about. My friend was groped in the Khan during Ramadan. But what can we do about it? Just adapt and get used to it I guess!

I have lived in Egypt for a year now. I am pleased to have discovered your site. It's nice to read about other people's experiences in Egypt.

Joan said...

I have just recently discovered blogger. Before I started writing what I thought would be a journal my life, my voyeur instincts took over and I had to see what other people would write about and share their life experiences. I got so caught up in yours, that my life experiences seem so empty.

Your write so well, I can feel the heat of the desert, and coolness of the nights, and some of your pain having to go through life alone after your husband had died. I have never considered Egypt a place I would want to live, but again I have never considered anything other than what I know in my tiny place in the world. I will try to put my perspective of where I live and what I do in my blog, but I can't think that it will ever match yours, but I guess that is not the point of all of this, is it? You might even find mine amuzing, because that's what I like to do...laugh...

I have gone on too long. Look forward to seeing your next comment.

Joan...from Canada

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Levon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Levon said...

After reading more of your posts I realized you are a Canadian in the full sense of the word. I had an impression that you were an Egyptian born in Canada, who had moved back to Egypt...
So now it is much more interesting to read about you, since you cannot claim Egypt as your "fatherland", but a question arises here can a country truly beomce a "fatherland"? My answer would be a "no", since I don't see myself calling any other country a "fatherland" other than my one and only Armenia... But I would like to hear what others think...

manydogz said...

I'm new to this blog stuff, so if I do something wrong please bear with me. This is my first post.
I enjoyed reading about your life. I have family in Israel and I have wanted to visit Egypt since i was a small child with dreams of becoming an Egyptologist. I am about your age and lost my husband 2 years ago. I'll be waiting to read more. You write very well.

Patricia said...

I love your blog. I spent time in Cairo many years ago and found it wonderful. However it seems it might be rare to find someone who appreciates it in the way you do, and I like that. Keep up the good work.

Sincerely, Patricia

Yasmin said...

Nice blog, I enjoy reading it whenever I have time. It is always interesting to live in another country and see what the native don't see or Appreciate.

Kimberly said...

I am a first year Ex-Pat, living in Dubai. I moved to the Middle East with my husband almost one year ago (he's Canadian, I'm American). I have found our first year of marriage to be difficult because we are living in a foreign country, away from work, family, and friends. My husband does business in Cairo and I had the opportunity to visit in April. I loved Egypt and cannot wait to return. We have made friends with a lovely family there. I believe Dubai is much more "Western" than Cairo and have not found anyone to be harrassing or disrespectful - thankfully! Best of luck to you and I hope to visit your site again.

flipstart said...

Hi..:)
how about living in Egypt??
It looks great and you are.
peace ~!

dreamer said...

USD250 million debt?!!! That is one huge crater of debt. I'm glad to hear that you managed to settle that.

HomeGirlsays said...

wow-I always wanted to visit egypt!I love your site,I wish this many ppl visited my site and left comments!lol-take care and be good.

Shobha said...

Hey! First time here, lovely blog. I'm Shobha from India. I love reading people's experinces living in various countries. Somehow stumbled upon ur blog and well.....am glad I did. :) Keep writing, I will sure visit often.
Shobha
http://differentstrokes.blogspot.com