Saturday, August 24, 2013

Safe Havens

"How are you?" 'Are you safe?" The questions come in emails, in phone messages, on Facebook....heavens, even verbally. On these long hot summer days when there seems to be so much going on in the media, but when reality seems to be stuck in a  puddle of tar on a melting road, it's hard to know what to answer. We are in the midst of strong currents that push us in directions we don't want to go. The hope and vision that we saw in the winter of 2011 is darkness and worry in the heat of the summer of 2013.

My staff came to me today to talk to me about their annual raises. This is a topic that usually comes up in June but when it did this year, I told them that I couldn't do any raise at the present time, but we could talk at the end of the summer...and we are now at the end of the summer. But my funds are limited and while they are sufficient to pay salaries and the feed bills at the farm,  they are not going to be sufficient to pay increases without income from clients. I explained this to them and told them that we simply had to be able to get by on what we have for the time being. This is hard. We have good land on the farm where we are growing vegetables that the staff can use to help feed their families, but they are used to the idea that things get better, and right now they are NOT getting better.  They have good salaries and I help them with their medical bills and other things, but no one has ever taught economics or even accounting in Egyptian schools. It isn't very easy to explain that we just can't do raises.

Developments in Egypt are disturbing. The Ministry of the Interior has posted a notice showing two symbols that are being used as avatars on Twitter and Facebook in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, and is asking that people turn in friends as terrorists. This is a very bad sign, and in connection with the fact that the Ministry of the Interior has raided Human Rights Watch and is asking for a number of 2011 activists to appear for questioning.

We are under curfew, which is less than any kind of problem for me since I never go out anyway, but this is meaning terrible losses in an economy that is already crashing for most businesses. During the summer heat, most Egyptians are nocturnal and do most of their socialising and shopping in the cooler evenings. For the past week everyone in most places in Egypt has had to be home by 7 pm, although today they announced that the hour has been extended to 9 pm every day except Fridays. With all the businesses not making any money, how can everyone survive?

I've loved my life in this country and I still  have no wish to be living anywhere else. I look to the US where I lived during my childhood, but I see huge problems there. Most of the Middle East is  a crashing disaster. Europe is having major climate problems and its own share of political unrest. There simply seems to be no safe haven these days.


copyright 2013 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani

19 comments:

Asma said...

It was even more disturbing for me to see intelligent people like you believe that this was actually a democratic revolution rather than a thinly veiled counter-revolution.

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

Oh, Asma, I didn't believe that even the 2011 revolution was a revolution. I believe that the military have been doing a not very well disguised job of using the people of Egypt to manage their affairs. I still hope for the revolution. Right now we are somewhere back in 2010.

Mary Ann said...

I pray that things calm down for you there and the country finds it's way, whatever way that will be. I hope you can live with the outcome, and know that there are still places here that are relatively safe and happy.

Star said...

Thank you for keeping us updated.

Anonymous said...

Hi Maryanne. I am very interested to know what you see as the huge problems in the US. Could you expand on your thoughts about that please? Thanks for blogging. From afar, I appreciate your insights about Egypt.

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

The financial problems in the US are still seriously an issue as far as I can see in that the student loan bubble hasn't burst in the same way that the housing did, nor has the issue of credit card debt. When you add this to a government where one party spends all of its time simply trying to block the possible actions of the other, as far as I can see simply to show that it can, this is a pretty disfunctional country. Sure, everything looks very nice, but if you are reading serious studies and news about the US (most of which is NEVER covered in the US news. Media in the US is some of the worst in the world, though you could say the same about the government-voice media here too) you can see that there are some major icebergs in the course of the US. At least here in Egypt we are so used to the fact that we are in financial straits, since we have been forever, and the fact that almost nothing works the way anyone would expect it too, so when things fall apart it almost feels normal.

Unfortunately, people in the US and Europe have a somewhat illusory life, so when something big goes wrong, it really hurts, sort of like falling from the fourth floor instead of from a step stool. Watching the news and trends around the world (and my family including my kids are living in the US), I can see some hard times ahead. I'd rather be here very close to the ground on a farm that I'm fitting out with solar power so that I can grow most of my own food.

Louise Feddema said...

Maryanne; I enjoy reading your blogs - it is so refreshing to see that ordinary people are just trying to go about their business - loving their animals, family and generally life. I hope that the world 'feels' safe enough for people to travel to your part of the world again. It would be so wonderful to ride horses in the shadows of antiquity. Best to you and please know that people like me rely on your blogs (and a few others) to see another point of view and a little of your life in our ancient world.
For some reason it was so reassuring when you did the blog about your employee's little boy, and you included the little contraption that was constructed for him to toddle with. That seemed like a safer world to raise a child than here where everyone is so paranoid that some 'stranger' is going to grab any child and do who knows what with them. Children never seem to be outside, and never just play with one another. Freedom is such an odd thing to define sometimes.
Thanks,
Louise (from Washington State, USA)

carina Curbelo said...

Hi Maryanne,
It was nice to read your post and believe me I understand your struggle and point of view. I just came back from Egypt a week ago and I was fascinated by the people, its culture and the tremendous potential the country has to become a great world power. Before I left everyone was telling me I was crazy to go there even Egyptians residing here in NY, but nothing stopped me I still went. What the media shows is nothing like what was happening. Yes, at its moment during the protest days there was violence and disturbing situations but many countries experience that and even worst. Take Mexico as an example, people get kidnap on a daily basis and women disappear in masses at Juarez city, but you don't hear it or see it in the news. All I can say is that Egypt will raise at the right time, this is a testing period and there will be a day where things will be calm and prosperous for your people. I was a bit disappointed with what is shown around the world about Egypt and its people, and the only way to really know the truth is ti be there, and I experienced that and saw it with my own eyes. I'm now in a spot where I found love there and is being tested as for him to get a visa seems almost impossible and for me to go there and leave everything behind scares me... but is a thought because at the end of the day we all have to follow our heart in order to make our dreams come true and so should the people of Egypt... change is on its way!!

carina Curbelo said...

Hi Maryanne,
It was nice to read your post and believe me I understand your struggle and point of view. I just came back from Egypt a week ago and I was fascinated by the people, its culture and the tremendous potential the country has to become a great world power. Before I left everyone was telling me I was crazy to go there even Egyptians residing here in NY, but nothing stopped me I still went. What the media shows is nothing like what was happening. Yes, at its moment during the protest days there was violence and disturbing situations but many countries experience that and even worst. Take Mexico as an example, people get kidnap on a daily basis and women disappear in masses at Juarez city, but you don't hear it or see it in the news. All I can say is that Egypt will raise at the right time, this is a testing period and there will be a day where things will be calm and prosperous for your people. I was a bit disappointed with what is shown around the world about Egypt and its people, and the only way to really know the truth is ti be there, and I experienced that and saw it with my own eyes. I'm now in a spot where I found love there and is being tested as for him to get a visa seems almost impossible and for me to go there and leave everything behind scares me... but is a thought because at the end of the day we all have to follow our heart in order to make our dreams come true and so should the people of Egypt... change is on its way!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Maryanne,
I really like your blog and can sympathize with you. I bet it can be very scary when you have to answer your employees demands specially in a situation like this. I just got back from Egypt a week ago and I was fascinated by the people it's culture and the tremendous potential the country has to be prosperous. I was very disappointed by what the media is showing around the world. It really is hurting the country's economy really bad, seen all the historical places almost empty was very sad as this is how they make a lot of their money. Before I left everyone was telling me I was crazy to go there, even Egyptians living in NYC!! But nothing stopped me from making my dream a reality and I took the chance and went!! I honestly fell in love with Egypt, I know that there's a difference between living and visiting but I really enjoyed myself and did not feel threaten once!! I bet during the days when the people were protesting was scary and violent but this things happen all around the world.Take Mexico for example, people get kidnap on a daily basis and their body parts get mailed to the family's for ransom money. Women disappear by masses in Juarez City, and no body knows who or what is happening there. Not to mention Thailand, The Philippines children get sexually exploded but we don't hear it or see it as much. See, I was there(EGYPT) I was on the other side of the situation and I can understand the peoples frustration, but in time Egypt will raise and its people will find the peace they are looking for... I'm honestly getting tired of the life here in the US... I fell in love with an Egyptian and just for him to obtain a visa to visit me seems almost impossible...sad situation because we are both honest and hard working people and all we want is to alternate and visit one another. I can't be the only one to travel as I need to work and can't afford to take so much time off. hopefully there will be a brighter future for Egypt as I may be calling it home one day!!

Beautifully Converted said...

Hi :) I really enjoy your blog and read it even before my trip to Egypt July/August. It is really nothing like the media. I barely knew anything was going on and I was in Cairo the majority of my trip. Thanks for your blog, and your love for Egypt, it gives me hope that I can settle there one day with my husband :)

s soliman said...

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Louise Feddema said...

"How are you?" 'Are you safe?" Quoting you... Just hoping all is well. I have seen no posting from you since August.
Best Wishes from Vancouver, WA., USA

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

We are absolutely safe out here at the farm and insulated from the occasional craziness and eternal aggravation of the traffic in the city. As a matter of fact I have a visitor for a month here from New Zealand and another from the UK, both thoroughly enjoying their visit.

obat pelangsing cepat said...

thanks for sharing,and good job

strona esti said...

good blog sporo informacji o Egipcie

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Jryad said...

I was recently in Egypt (on the first day of the revolution when Morsi was about to be ousted) and my family was terrified. I wrote about it on my blog 38daysinegypt.blogspot.com
Although it was somewhat nerve racking, I think that the media has skewed what it is really like in Egypt.

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