Monday, March 05, 2007

The Complaints Department

So I live in a place that is sunny almost every day and I can ride my horses out my gate into the Sahara Desert to visit pyramids and the food is wonderful because it's fresh all year round. So what can I possibly complain about? Today, I can complain about plenty, most of which I can't do a bloody thing to solve.

I have a Daily City Photo blog for Cairo that hasn't had a photo for days because my internet connection is so erratic that I can't upload any photos. Vodafone Mobile Connect is not my friend these days. I sit for hours trying to open one email while the network goes from strong to weak to nothing over the course of seconds. Since most of my email time is spent at night, I'm hitting the pillow one frustrated sleeper and I believe that my dreams are beginning to reflect the situation. I tried to call Vodafone last night but their customer service department wasn't answering. Sweet.

On the other hand, maybe my photo problem is originating from Blogger as well, since every time I click on the little picture icon the magic swirling button on my Mac starts and then stops as if it's forgotten what I'm asking it. At this point, since I need my internet connection to reach Blogger, it's sort of a chicken and egg issue. First thing, I'm going to go after Vodafone since they are theoretically at least at the end of a phone line. If I have to I'll go to their offices as well.

Then there is a more existential problem that has been bothering me lately. I'm concerned over the women (mostly seem to be in their 40's or so) who are falling for some smooth chat on the internet with some of our charming Egyptian males (mostly in their 20's or so) and they contact me with ideas of coming to Egypt and marrying this adoring young Adonis. First, I'm not happy that there are so many women who are so unsure of themselves, so unpleased with their lives, and feeling the need to be loved that they fall for these characters that they are meeting in chat rooms. I also am concerned about the real lack of information on cultural differences and so on which prompts the emails that I get in the wake of some new internet romance.

I have always felt that there was a a basic inequity in the way that society has usually felt that men just grow more powerful and distinguished with age while women get old. Old, my ass. I'm sorry but maybe the packaging is getting a bit tatty, but I swear that at pushing 60 I can outride, outdream, outplan, and probably outtalk (they'll agree to that one!) most of the men I know in my age group. On the other hand, I also don't feel the need to find some adoring male to prove to myself that I'm "still a woman". You can't stop being a women, girls. You are stuck with being a woman. However, the aspect does change and we aren't going to be Angelina Jolie all of our lives...for that matter, neither is she. No matter how many times we snip, nip, pull, shrink, whatever, our bodies and faces, we age. It is really sad that especially in Europe and North America, aging is now looked on like a be cured with diet, exercise and cosmetic surgery.

I have wrinkles in places where I didn't have them at thirty and there are parts of me that are there in places where they weren't when I was thirty, and there are parts of me that simply hurt more than they did when I was thirty. That's because I'm not thirty and I never will be again, thank heaven. Maybe those extra spots are where I've been tucking the wisdom that one has the chance to accumulate in thirty years. I like to think that. I tell these women who email me about this young man who "truly loves" them to think about the future, to think about the fact that nothing in Egyptian society supports older woman/younger man marriages other than the economic reality that a foreign wife is often an asset in that she is likely to be less demanding than an Egyptian wife and more likely to have marketable skills to bring in income. However, the real tragedy isn't in the fact that these alliances are formed based on false pretexts, but in the fact that the need is there to form them.

Living alone isn't the greatest thing in the world. There are times when I miss being able to laugh over private jokes with Diaa, times when I miss being able to argue with him over something. But you can't change what you have before you as you might wish to, so learning to find the joy and beauty that is also there is a skill to be encouraged. I've learned to appreciate my friends so much more, to make the effort to try to see them and to have them out or over for coffee or a barbecue. So it isn't the best thing in the world, but it sure as hell isn't the worst thing either.

The worst thing is when your internet doesn't work right.

copyright 2007 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani


gerry said...

Yeah your blog rightly reflects the universal truth that life is not a bed of roses....there are strifes and struggles in life that though we may crib about but adds an extra feather in our wisdom hat. I love the way you have expressed yourself through your post. You surely have a way with words. Hope your internet connection stays hale n hearty so that we could read more of your great posts.
Do drop by my humble blog too coz am sure you're gonna have fun reading the same, especialy when it comes to judging the irrational, immature behavior of most women.

Anonymous said...

I *so* agree about the worrying number of older Western women marrying random Egyptian guys in their 20's or 30's, whom they've never even met. They quite often come to me for advice, too, since I'm also very happily married to an Egyptian. It's always hard to find a polite way to tell a stranger that it's about 99% certain that this guy is taking her for a ride, and that if she doesn't speak any Arabic, or have any experience with Egyptian culture, there is no possible way that this "true love" is based on enough actual knowledge of each other to be reliable. If the guy has been to the West for extended periods, and can speak the same language as the intended bride, then there's some hope that they actually have a realistic picture of one another, although the woman is still vulnerable. If he barely speaks English, and has never been to the West, and she doesn't speak Arabic, and has never been to Egypt, it's an almost-guaranteed disaster. And I've had just as many sketchy Egyptian guys asking me or my husband to fix them up with some American girl as I've had "love-stricken" American women coming for advice on their upcoming marriage. My advice can be expressed in the immortal words of Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Run Awaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!

Cairogal said...

Loved this post, Maryanne. If I had a dime for everytime I witnessed this. One colleague was the 2nd wife to a dodgey guy who only managed to show up around payday, and even then, after a drive in the car she bought him from Alex to Cairo, he rarely spent the night before driving back. I think some women feel like they can 'get their groove back' by hooking up w/ these young men. Or in the case of my former colleague, I think he gave her the attention that she had always wanted from a man (and from a woman married to an Egyptian, we all know they're sweet on words).

Oprah recently did a show in which a woman had fallen for her Nigerian scammer, who sent a photo of some guy (clearly NOT Nigerian). I suppose it's this want and this need to feel special. And some women will abandon sense and reason when faced with the opportunity to receive such attentions.

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

A few months ago a young friend of mine at university in France (female, Egyptian/French) left me a message on Where Are You Now (WAYN), which is another one of those chat sites for travelers this time. In order to see the message, I had to sign up for the site and today I got a message from the site that I had 10 email messages. Thinking that maybe one was from Mariam, although I'd told her to email me at my regular address, I went to check. There were seven messages from young Egyptian men who said rather idiotic things about seeing my profile and wanting to get to know me better.

I don't know, but something about chatting with a kid younger than either of my two children is kind of creepy. All but one of the messages were from guys who are less than half my age, and they say that they saw my profile where it clearly states my age and has a photo that is not a shot of Pamela Anderson. Something is wrong here. If my son were chatting up old ladies, I'd haul him into the local shrink so fast.....

Cairogal said...

I often think there's some weird social stuff at play here. I was teaching college kids in Dubai, and one of them, a Palestinian w/ Kuwaiti nationality, told me he liked Dina Afifi. I mentioned that she had danced at the wedding of my friend's son a few years before, and every day after, he came in telling me how beautiful Dina Afifi was. I finally said, "Your grandmother and Dina Afifi, same-same." :-)

But I think the greater issue is these young men with sexual energy, and a society that is gradually becoming more and more closed to anything sexual.

Mia said...

well said.

Robin J. said...

To be able to find joy and beauty in one's real life is true contentment. Well said, Maryanne.

Rhonda said...

Thanks Maryanne for letting me know where you stand on this trend that I didn’t know I was joining. I have given long thought to your comments. Needless to say it stirs up a lot of mixed emotion. I do want to say that this situation is far more complex than it first appears. I will be coming back to Egypt with plans to legally marry my twenty something Adonis in April. Since I am a forty something American woman, I guess I am the woman that you all ‘feel sorry’ for. I am encouraged to know that there have been successful Egyptian/American marriages, I hope I have one of them. Also, by most peoples standards, and my own, I am a happy confident person, who loves life. I enjoy my friends, my career, my pets and learning about other parts of the world. It is interesting that you didn’t say, ‘If my daughter(as opposed to son) were chatting up an older guy I would carry her to a shrink”. Older men have married younger women for a long time with only mild reactions. Are older women too wrinkled? I am tempted to argue more, but know that in all likelihood my way will be difficult if not impossible, so I will just hush.

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

Rhonda, you have spent a year or so negotiating this change in your life, have done research and have an idea of the legal and social ramifications of your choice. I've seen some successful marriages come of these matches....but I've seen far, far more crash and burn scenarios, largely because the woman was acting on the spur of the moment and didn't have the foggiest clue what she was getting into.

As for whether I would be concerned if my daughter were going out and chatting up older men...well, frankly if she were going out hunting them, yes, I'd be concerned. Actually, I'd probably be a bit uncomfortable to know that she was going out hunting men of any age...but then in our family, our work has always been our focus and our friends and family our support. I am not one to visit chat rooms...I don't have the time...and neither do my kids. And it is the hunting aspect of this sort of thing that bothers me. Predatory relationships of any gender or age make me very uncomfortable.

I know that you have done a lot of homework, as opposed to many, and I wish you the best of luck. My own experience tells me that you are in for some very interesting experiences, but hopefully the positive ones will outweigh the negative.

Marriage, under the best of circumstances, is a tough proposition. When you add age and cultural differences, things just tend to get tougher.

Mabrouk on your decision to give it a try though.

Cairogal said...

"Since I am a forty something American woman, I guess I am the woman that you all ‘feel sorry’ for."

Rhonda, I am married to an Egyptian man of the same age as myself. He's open-minded, well-educated, modern, atypical in many ways...yet we struggle w/ some of the most basic cultural differences. I wish I could say I've seen loads of successful marriages of these mixed cultures, but I haven't, particularly for the mature foreign women who do marry the younger man in Egypt. One of the common problems that arises is the family never knowing, because he can't possibly tell them he married a woman in his mother's age range, let alone a foreign woman who is perceived to be outside of child-bearing years. I've heard women say the family doesn't know about her. I've seen men out and out deceive their new brides...I guess the message is: be careful. A "real" marriage in his culture means being a part of his family. Women from western cultures who say "that's not important to me" are ignoring some societal norms that should be adhered to by the Egyptian man and his family. It's not always about our own comfort levels, but what his society and his family expect of him and how he abides by those expectations. A man who marries a foreign woman and doesn't tell his family is communicating a very strong message. The problem is that most foreign women don't hear it. They don't know to look for it.

I do hope that this is an exception-that perhaps your fiance has told/will tell his parents, and that your marriage will be transparent and open and subject to all the ups and downs that any other marriage is.

Anonymous said...

American women do not understand the life of the Egyptian man. They want a better life. They do not want to marry a cousin so much anymore. They want to find their own bride more often today. They are very close to their families and discuss almost everything with them. The young girls in Egypt are usually not very educated. Men want a woman who can interact on an intelligent level now. An older American woman usually looks much younger than his mother. She is more educated and usually has a mmore open mind.

A really serious Egyptian man would want his American wife to become a moslem and to be closely involved with his family. It takes a mature woman to be able to do this.

I agree there are some sleezy guys in Egypt just as there are all over the world, but I can honestly say that all of my husbands friends are very nice decent men. They are religious, but not famatical. They value frienships and family more than anything else. They love their wives and children deeply.

My husband of three years now is a very unique Egyptian. He is very kind and caring. He is intelligent and fun to be with. He works hard at his job and he loves his family dearly. And he is a lot younger than me. But,age is not an issue to him or his family. He told me from the very beginning that he loved my personality, my soul and that was what attracted him to me.

I am very much a part of his family. I was welcomed into his family and have never had a problem with them. I love them like my own. They are so good to me.

My problem was with my own family. Marrying a moslem was the worse thing I could ever do. The age was not that big an issue with them.

My husband and I do everything together. We are living in the United States now for the past two years, but I lived in Egypt for 15 months and I had so many wonderful experiences. One has to be openminded and not to expect that it will be a romantic ride. I am looking forward to our visit back to Egypt to be with his family for a few weeks after my husband gets his green card extended while waiting for his ten year card. He has already applied for citizenship, so hopefully that will not take too long and we will be able to go "home" every year.

I have a very positive relationship with my husband and my family has accepted him for who is rather than being negative about our religion.

The concept of family, friends and marriage is very different in Egypt and I find that a positive thing.

We have a very nice home in Egypt with modern conveniences. We lived in his village which is very different from city life. But, most all of the people are good and kind. I love most all of his extended family. We are in touch via internet every weekend and phone calls.


insteadi said...

I'm a bit of a latecomer to this discussion but would just like to third Maryanne and Cairogal's points. I've been living here for six years and have seen the Egyptian guy/older woman combination many times and never successfully. I know of successful cross cultural marriages here, but the parties were both on the same economic and educational level to start off.

Another aspect of this is the younger girls who come here. I'm 27 now and have seen, time and time again, foreign girls in their twenties coming to study for a period and a local guy, usually also in his twenties, offering to "help" her "study Arabic". She thinks he's after something, he doesn't try anything (at first), she thinks, "no, he's really nice, we're just friends" and before you know it he's staying the night and she's falling in love.

I can't count the number of times I've seen this and I have never, ever seen a case where it was genuine from the guy's side. From his side there may be secondary reasons he is interested in her, but number one ALWAYS is that he can sleep with her and he cannot with Egyptian girls, no matter what he says to the contrary. The worst part of this is that these guys then usually go on to marry "good" Muslim girls (i.e. virgins) because they wouldn't want a girl who is "impure" to be their wife.

I'm not saying all Egyptian guys are bad, far from it. I'm merely saying that this is a pattern I have seen more times than I can count amongst twenty-something men around foreign younger women.

In the one case where the local guy ended up marrying a foreign girl, he was instant messaging me (by this time I'd known him for four years, and yes, for the first year he had been trying it on with me) from their new home in Canada saying that he was just waiting until he could get the divorce so that he would have the passport.

Basically, if the guy is really "decent" he wouldn't offer to help with anything where he would be alone with the girl. Not because there is anything wrong with him, but because that is what is normal in HIS culture.

Anonymous said...

To these young men, older women are easier to prey on and victimized. They view these women as lonely and desperate, yet, financially stable.

Hoda Rashwan

A recent study indicated that the phenomenon of young Egyptian males marrying elderly foreign women is growing in Egypt. The study was prepared by the Prevention of Human Trafficking Unit at the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood.

According to the study, there is no specific data on the number of young men marrying foreign women since most of these marriages are not registered in Cairo. Such marriages are typically recorded in lawyer’s offices, except in cases where the wife applies to her embassy for a visitor’s visa or permanent residency for her husband.

The study went on to describe these marriages as a form of human trafficking, as the young men give up their religion, social life, customs and traditions for money or residency in a foreign country. The study added that the young men become love slaves for older women in exchange for money and gifts.
The study indicated that the main motive behind the marriages is young man’s aspirations for quick wealth.

Other motives include the desire to emigrate and financial obstacles presented by marrying an Egyptian woman. The study indicated that a very small percentage of young men marry foreign women because they admire them, find Egyptian girls to be comparatively superficial, or because foreign women tend to make fewer marital demands.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

Anonymous said...

These young men are immature. They have no experience with life, which makes them unreliable. It makes you wonder, just how lonely & desperate these older women are, to let go of all senses & be so oblivious to "YOUTH" being self-centered & folly. These older women are buying into pain & agony. It is all over the Internet how so many older women have lost their financial security in dealing with these young, inexperience, Egyptian men. In each & every case, once these young men have drained these women, they leave them, to never look back. They move on to what they always wanted, which is a young, beautiful woman. These older women are nothing more than these young men's " CASH COW " This game is not NEW. It is happening in the UK, America, Canada, & Germany, all by young Egyptian men. With all these older women having the same fate... broken & devastated.

Anonymous said...

These young Egyptian men are surfing the Internet for older women, its not just in Egypt's tourist industry. OLDER WOMEN...WAKE UP...OR FEEL THE PAIN & AGONY !!!


My Mum had a really bad experience in Luxor. She's in her 50's and met a guy in his 30's who claimed to be head over heels for her.

He visited this country twice and once he had a proper visa, he left her! He returned to Egypt but used his visa to his benefit by working in europe!

Before this, Mum helped him modernise and decorate his home - all from her own money. She also paid for all his flights and sent money to his mother via western union. All of this amounted to over £20k.

As a direct result, she had to sell her home and move into a council home which she detests and now faces financial hardship.

She feels betrayed, as she genuinely did love him but he, quite obviously loved himself...

They were married in Cairo but we now believe that the marriage is not legal in the UK.

Do u know where she stands as far as visa and claiming for her money. It took her a long time to deal with losing him and she's struggling now as she's losing her financial security too.

For all those women out there - planning a trip to Egypt... be cautious.. BE CAUTIOUS and BEWARE of these predators.

Remember life isn't like a movie. A genuine love will not ask you for money or visas as he will love you but bare in mind... muslim men consider themselves to be the breadwinners. So, why would they want their wife to pay for things.
I'm sure that not all egyptian men are the same - there are good and bad in all countries but, there seems to be a real con game being played in Egypt just now.. just watch your back and enjoy your holiday

If anyone can help my mum - please write me.


Anonymous said...

CAUTION...Internet relationships with Egyptian men are far greater at being " CON GAMES "

Marriage in Egypt:The Egyptian government allows U.S. citizens to marry in Egypt. For further information, please refer to the website of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

While some marriages between Egyptians and U.S. citizens are successful, the Embassy warns that marriage fraud on the part of the U.S. citizen, the Egyptian, or both is common. Entering into a marriage contract for the principal purpose of facilitating immigration to the United States for an alien is against U.S. law and can result in serious penalties, including fines and imprisonment for the U.S. citizen and the Egyptian. At the same time, it is not uncommon for Egyptians to enter into marriages with U.S. citizens solely for immigration purposes. Relationships developed via correspondence, particularly those begun on the Internet, are particularly susceptible to manipulation. The U.S. government urges U.S. citizens who meet Egyptians on the Internet or while touring the country to take the time necessary to get to know them before considering marriage. Unfortunately, the Embassy sees many cases of abuse against U.S. citizen spouses and often those marriages end in divorce when the Egyptian acquires permanent residency (a “green card”) or citizenship in the United States. These cases invariably occur when the relationship is based mostly on Internet communication and very little face-to-face interaction.

Anonymous said...

Real Egyptian man: Its true, many Egyptian men are marrying western women to get out from Egypt. The Internet helps them pick & choose, sometimes they have so many women on the Internet, just begging to be picked, never knowing the game. American women are so dumb & believe every lie but myself, I can not treat a woman this way, at the end she must face reality & be very hurt. Its not nice to do this to women, even if they are not Muslim. They deserve respect and not to become a instrument of some guys dreams of a better life.

Anonymous said...

Ladies: You have no idea how massive this con game is over the Internet. I am an older American woman that fell for the charms of an young Egyptian man. For 6 months, on the Internet, everyday, W.H. would tell me how much he loved me, missed me, can't wait til I come to Egypt to marry him. By accident, I discovered their are many, many, other older women on the Internet dating young Egyptian men. At that moment, it felt as if an much needed tree fell on my head, to wake me up. I love this man, but facing this discovery, I could not even shelter myself in denial, as I wanted to. It was too obvious something is going on, this is no way an coincidence. All older women, with young Egyptian men. So I start doing research, I befriended many of these women that were on facebook community pages like, 'summer in Egypt'...'Egypt Days' any site with the word Egypt. When I confronted the man I was to marry with my evidence, he withdrew from me a few days. When he came back on the scene, he blocked me from his facebook page, deleted all the beautiful love post from my facebook page that he designed for me. I was so crushed,I cried so hard like a baby. I would have helped him with anything, & he knew this this. The end happen Feb. 26, 2013...I am a little better now, although I still think of him, even miss him. I know its all for the best, as I was merely being used. I feel blessed because I would have spent many thousands of dollars to go to Egypt, & stay there with him, while waiting the one year or more for his visa. He also told me, he would have to hide me in Egypt from his parents, due to my age & tell his parents of our marriage when he gets in the U.S. I feel hurt now & stupid, that I could be that dumb. It would have been far worse if all plans had been carried out, this I know now. The older women that are going through with everything, feel compassion for them, because they're surely going to need it, if they refuse to wake up before going to Egypt to marry their men. My family & friends tell me that was God's way of not wanting me to get hurt any further. I am fully grateful, although my heart still aches.

Anonymous said...

I met my Egyptian fiancé in 2006 through a close friend who is Egyptian. My fiancé is 12 year's younger than me. He asked me to marry him immediately after I returned to the USA from Italy. I refused. I was afraid of getting married to him because of the age difference and because I felt he wanted to use me to come to the USA. After 7 years of him asking me to marry him, I finally have said yes. During these 7 years, I have learned about his culture and religion. I am Catholic and Mexican - American. He too has learned of my background. We both have learned to accept our differences. Throughout the 7 years of getting to know him we have had our ups and downs in our relationship. Both of us agree the nucleus of the family is important and understand that although we are different religions, in the end we seek the same path. We both believe respect, patience,honesty,flexibility and communication has helped us learned about one another. He realizes that it was worth the wait because we have learned so much of our differences. Maria