Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Five Years Old Today

Today is my blog's 5th birthday. I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't believe that I've been writing this thing for the past five years. That's longer than I've worked at any job other than being a mother. (By the way, don't expect any logic to the photos accompanying this post. They are totally random other than for the fact that I chose them today.) When I started the blog I was definitely inspired by the Baghdad Blogger. I read his work and could feel and sense the life in Baghdad during the days prior to the American invasion. After answering all sorts of questions from people who, in the wake of 9/11, couldn't fathom what a more or less normal Canadian mother type was doing in a "dangerous, anti-western, fundamentalist" country like Egypt, I rather hoped that I could bring readers a sense of life in Egypt.

In 2003 there seemed to be a sense that life in Egypt was very serious, rather dangerous, and a bit frightening. At that point I'd been living here for about fifteen years and one of the reasons that I loved living here was the general love of life and laughter that was so much a part of society and family here. Somehow, I guess that my message came across because after some time I seemed to have accumulated a number of readers many of whom have stuck with me over the years, and a surprising number of them have even ended up here at the farm for a cup of tea or a horseback ride. Just today, I had a group of women from Cairo come out on a Community Services Association trip and one of them told me that she'd been reading my blog for years.

So now as I embark on a second five years of blogging about everyday life in Egypt, I've had some time to think about what on earth possibly convince me to do this. I still think that just opening a window onto one of the most welcoming and warm cultures in this world is important. I really love sharing Egypt with people who haven't had the chance to experience Egypt, and I hope that some of them decide to come to see for themselves as a result of reading about this amazing place.

Then there is the feedback that I've gotten from Egyptians both living here and abroad...that has been inspiring. When I get an email from someone who tells me "Yes, this is my country. I recognise it. Thank you.", I feel truly honoured. As a relative newcomer to Egypt, having come here in mid-life, it's a wonderful feeling to hear that somehow I've been able to capture life here in my adopted land. I only hope that I can continue to do so.

I hope that the next five years in Egypt will be peaceful for most of us. This isn't a peaceful area of the world and we've had our share of problems here. Domestically, many of us are worried about what will come after Mubarak. Will his son succeed him? Will he do a good job? Will the military accept a non-military president here? How is Egypt going to handle the pretty crazy inflation rate that we are suffering from these days? I'm looking at how I can increase my staff's basic pay rate so that they can support their families, but at the same time I have to be able to afford my expenses. Inflation is a nasty, nasty business that is affecting all of us. I read my news reports and notice little things like the fact that we are now competing with two new breweries in Egypt for barley for the horses and forage is also becoming more expensive as farmers are competing with villas for land. Guess who is winning... I guess the only way to find out is to keep going. I'll be here if you will.

copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani