The daily chronicle of my family as we embark on our quest to relocate from New York to Cairo... the impending journey to get there and the daily lives of myself, my husband and our four children... and other random thoughts while living in Cairo!

Looking to make contact with other Muslimahs who are like myself with small children living or will be living in a foreign country.

I invite you to share the experience with us as we try to make this happen!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

There's NO place like home....








Well, I have about 3 minutes to sit at the moment and I've been thinking about my beloved home for the last few days... and I started to look at pics and the mind started to drift away- thinking about normalcy, family life, friends, GOOD food, cleanliness, wide open spaces, fresh air, the beautiful ocean, the vast cultures all co-existing in that huge melting pot called New York!


Eventually, most of us can learn to adapt to our surroundings at some point and time, while others may NEVER be able to adapt at all- this is LIFE and we're all built differently. What I can take and make a joke out of it, some may feel bitter resentment and hate things even more- and no one behavior is right or wrong- how we cope is part of who we are..... I must tell you the obvious: visiting is one thing but when you're forced to live the day-to-day in this forsaken place called Egypt, it's not easy. The biggest problem I feel is how people put their "culture" before religion- to most of them, this is what it's all about. We're ALL to be the same, regardless of where we come from... and this is what we as Muslims are taught and THOUGHT... be here, this is not necessarily the case- you are the OUTSIDER and most will NOT let you forget it. Forget about being brothers and sisters in the most glorious religion on this earth: you're from where YOU are and we're EGYPTIAN- so stupid. And if I could speak a lick of the local slang dialect, I would ask: what exactly IS IT to be EGYPTIAN??? Not to rant, but most feel for some really odd reason that they're better than us... and how so do I ask? Is it the ancient culture that have absolutely nothing to do with you nowdays... or is it the country that you so disgustingly neglect in almost every way imaginable??? I must tell you, I have had alot of contact with some very nice Egyptian people here and even they agree: their people have some serious issues.... and alot of them don't even like us, Muslim or not- but if you stop and think, if people like us from ALL over this world didn't come here for one reason or another whether it be to live indefinitely, study for a period of time, vacation, buy property,etc. what ELSE EXACTLY WOULD BE GOING ON HERE??? I will tell you... nothing.
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In my lifetime, I have mixed and mingled in many different circles: rich, poor, middle class, no class, super highly educated, no education whatsoever, average education, morons and uber-intelligent so I know HOW to hang with the good, the bad and the indifferent. I have tried to immerse myself somewhat with understanding the mentality of the locals to which some things I have figured WHY they do what they do but still again, most stuff you just can't understand WHY... and even their own have said so- to me! But I think the biggest problem is all the boisterous pride, the blatant ignorance and the moronic arrogance and the REAL belly buster: the huge aire of SUPERIORITY that they try to "flaunt" in your face (this one I really laugh at) but I ask you, WHY? Maybe some Egyptian sisters care to comment so maybe people like myself living here can get a better handle on what we're dealing with or HOW to deal with the natives. I truly want to understand since I do plan to stay, InshaAllah, but to co-exist like this IS NOT condusive. I can honestly say, I wouldn't advise anyone to come here UNLESS you've been here and know what you might be facing in the long run. I want to make it bearable not perfect- to be able to look at the natives and feel like I belong here and they ARE my brothers and sisters... not the things that run through my mind when I'm faced with the uncalled-for idiotic behavior (Astagfiruallah)- you're not hurting me but you're making yourself and your people look bad... think about it. Because I know, at the end of the day, I CAN pack my bags and hop a flight back to my native land- no questions asked... but is this the solution? WHY shouldn't I be able to stay and feel like one of them? A person, a sister, a Muslim and still yet know I am a foreigner? I've heard MANY things over the years about what people think about the people here and I said to myself, they shouldn't say things like that: they ARE people just like us- but until you have to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, don't judge- living here for 3 months have put things into perspective as to WHY they've said what they have- and I can't fault them. But I don't want negative feelings and total resentment be my memory of living in this country- I want to walk away whenever I leave, with a positive experience and be able to say, I lived amongst my brothers and sisters and it was good! I don't want to report that the experiences were all bad: they're HUGE liars, thieves, arrogant, ignorant and such- even writing that doesn't look NOR feel good- but this has been most of the interactions here so far- I can totally relate to Umm Travis's gripe. For those who might think she complains- life here everyday is like this... imagine this being your daily fight... would YOU feel good or even remotely "appreciate" the people? I think not. I want to understand the mode of thinking- someone "enlighten" me, please!!!
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So, even though this place will be my home for some time to come, InshaAllah, I can't help but miss my beloved New York... I might be biased but it's one of the most beautiful places in the world! NO PLACE can EVER compare to it whether it be the wide open spaces, huge homes, friendly neighbors, landscaped lawns and uber-clean parks in Long Island or the hussle and bussle in one of the greatest cities that NEVER sleeps- New York has it all!

Maybe, if I close my eyes and click my heels three times, I might find myself in my old neighborhood: there's no place like home... there's no place like home... there's no place like home....

30 comments:

Mona said...

Wow, this post really hit the nail on the head. It's just that..I really do feel like I can see both sides a little bit because Egyptian women see me as Egyptian too, which I am but anyway they comment about foreign women, Muslim or not as if they are simpletons and less than.


I wish I could understand it but I do get the feeling that Egyptians are proud of the ancient civilization and all that but that's really irrelevant now like you said.

Great post, I look forward to reading the comments.

Empress Anisa said...

Mona- I'm glad you commented since you know and have lived both "lives" as an American but being of Egyptian heritage. My sister, I really do want to understand what makes the brains "tick" here because for the life of me, I CAN NOT figure them out. And if they would just remove the ridiculous arrogance and put Islam before being Egyptian, things would be better... the things I've heard about what people think about the locals and their behavior is like referring to them like something not of human species- worse than animals... and people WANT to treat them that way, subhanAllah. But what can you REALLY say when you've been faced with the retarded behavior yourself? Not much, even though you feel bas as we're all human and mostly brothers and sisters in Islam but they leave many people like me, us foreigners no room to feel differently: in comes resentment, hate and treating them less than you even think of treating ANY animal... and that's not nice. I wanted to keep this post "real" so maybe someone can tell HOW they think so ALL the sisters I have met can maybe can get a handle on dealing with the natives. It's by far not just me- I've met soooo many sisters, MashaAllah, and ALL have their issues and horror stories but again, the behavior doesn't hurt us but make them ALL look bad- it gets harder to see some of the good people when the masses behave in this manner.

We're all human so trying to make some people see the good however small at a certain point becomes a mute issue since the experiences have been sooo negative on just about every front here...

They need to remember Allah and remember that they are MUSLIMS first and Egyptians after that... and all that porcelain war paint they wear is a whole other story... subhanAllah....

ModestJustice said...

Oh sister! You have so much strength and patience!

May Allah swt ease your burdens.

I've always wondered about living in the Middle East among 'brethren' and 'sistern' if that's a word.

I don't think I could handle it.

Empress Anisa said...

Modest- I TRY to have alot of patience and strength but sometimes you just wanna...lol

InshaAllah, things will change down the road, I'm sure of this by Allah's (SWT) mercy but it's to remember this and not get totally psycho when faced with these stupid issues (which is how I feel when things are going down)... maybe it's hormones cuz I sometimes wanna know where I can get an assault weapon complete with silencer... even asked my driver (AstagfiruAllah) and he informed me you can't buy guns here like you can in the US- after that conversation, he kept looking at me in his rear view... ;)

Malek said...

ASA I have always been impressed with the fact that you moved half way around the world by yourself with young children while preggers, but now I see that your strength is even higher than I thought!!!! Masha'Allah I tell you everytime I hear one of my friends talk about moving I always encourage them to read about the culture, visit, really do the research before making such a huge step. I find that most sisters here just want to live somewhere were its "easy" to be Muslim...especially if they have daughters. They want to hear the adan and be among more Muslims but sometimes I think as reverts we expect "born" Muslims to be a certain way and we have to realize that some are not following Islam correctly. My husband is from Morocco and I find the some of the same attitudes and personalities as you have found in Egypt. But to be honest with you I also find it right here in the US. My son attends and Islamic school and the Arabs and even Indo/Pak community act like they are better than you. Its not until they learn you went to college or can speak another language that they even give you the time of day. And whats funny its not like most of them have higher education....

Well hang in there...and if it gets to be too much you know you are always welcomed back home I'm sure!!!!

What about your unborn baby would you want them to born in
Egypt...just based on citizenship????

Umm Omar said...

Wow, interesting post. I understand the frustrations of being in Egypt, but I have never lived there. It's funny. I always thought that living there would be easier than just visiting, but maybe I'm wrong? I'm starting to think so! I think, too, when I go to Egypt, I know what to expect and so I don't have as high as expectations as someone who has never been there.
Anyway, I think the reasons for the low quality of Egyptian life are many-but I do think that government, oppression, and poverty are just some. Lack of education-of course, but I think that that is a symptom of all the other reasons. There are many dynamic Egyptians in the world, and they will agree whole-heartedly with everything you say. I hope things get better for you, insha'Allah. Moving is never easy-never mind a move to a foreign country. It will take lots of time to get over the homesickness, if one ever gets over that. Again, hope things look up for you soon!

Empress Anisa said...

Malek- my daughter is the reason why I am here: to educate her, let her see dressing Islamically for others is not just a fridays-at-the-masjid thing and have them all grow up in a so-called Islamic environment.

The arrogance is a killer here though: they stand in front of you and snicker and laugh at your "foreign-ness" and because they know you're an "Americani" and some look at you like you're some sort of novelty, while others give you the "aire" of superiority when you stand before them being gracious and polite and HIGHLY educated with about 2 bachelors degress under your belt and they've never seen the inside the of an elementary school... this is what I find hilarious (on some days)- and then some look puzzled when I walk away from them laughing.... I WILL NOT stoop to their level and I won't treat them like others do: pure dirt. I prefer to walk away and let them wallow in their own moronic stupidity... most of the the actual educated ones don't behave in this manner: their children might be extremely rude (spoiled) but they know the 411... and will talk to you about their travel to the US- and I don't care WHAT PEOPLE TELL YOU: they may snicker and laugh but ask them if they wanna come live in your country and see what the answer is... most of them wanna be where you're from but they'll be insolent to your face- go figure.

Yes, I've seen this arrogance in the arabs that have come to the US and in the Indo/Pak community- but what's funny with them, as soon as they know you're married to one like myself, you get a "free pass"!!! As if....

And with my next bundle being born here: the wonderful thing about being an AMERICAN, is that where ever you go in this world and give birth, your child is still an American citizen! I researched the procedure here in this place before I came: just get the egyptian equivalent of their birth certificate (they don't have a formal one like we do- they just write the baby stats on a piece of paper in most places... not making this up- my Egyptian girlfriend just had her 3rd child about 2 months ago- this is what they give you) and take that piece of paper straight to the US Embassy and they will issue your passport, social security card and American birth certifcate. My family feared the same saying, "The baby will be one of them!!!"- but I assured them this is NOT the case. I would never leave my country to have a child any place else and put their inalienable rights as an American in jeporady... NO WAY.

Even if I wasn't smart enough to do my homework about the procedure here I AM SMART enough to know that if I go into labor, to hold on long enough to get INSIDE the US Embassy building and give birth there: you and your child would officially be on US SOIL which is just like standing in a government building in New York! Most people don't even know this.... hey, someone might have alot to clean up afterwards, but it works... ;)

Empress Anisa said...

Umm Omar- I knew of the "drama" here before I came as I had alot of friends living here at one point and some are still here... their views and stories made me travel several times to see if I could cope with life here before leaping into moving. As we know life is not perfect anywhere so I figured I could make it work but alot of people here are just ridiculous... and for no good reason! This is the part I'm trying to figure out, WHY?

I wasn't looking for or trying to make anything here perfect but things need to be bearable to live in some sort of peace here. I CAN endure just about anything but I don't want my experince with living here end up whenever I leave, as being a negative one. I won't let them force me to leave before my slotted time... I will stay and make it work for the sake of my kids and what we came here for but I don't want to start to resent or even worse, hate people because of the ignorance, arrogance and superior attitudes... they ARE my brothers and sisters and want to able to treat them as such, but they don't make it easy for you to feel this way at all.... it's really sad. Some days I pity them and other days I just laugh at them and all their craziness... and other days I'm like "Are you KIDDING ME???". I don't ever want to get to a place in my heart to look down on people... I refuse to do this but I need to know HOW to co-exist here and make it through with my sanity intact.....

Mona said...

I'm clueless as to how they tick here too but I wanted to add yes,NYC is one of the best cities in the world.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

I've lived in Cairo for 5 years now and I am almost at breaking point. I seriously can't take it anymore, and so your post really hit home. I don't understand how people think here, or why they are like this. They just don't.care.about.anything.
From the minute I leave my house something bad happens. Everyone on the street stops what they're doing to stare at me. I get into my car and oh God-the driving. Wherever I go there are hundreds of small annoying things that happen that can easily be avoided. I don't understand it and I've given up trying to. The thing is I don't look Egyptian since I'm half Dutch, and this obviously makes things worse in a lot of places.
As bad as this sounds, one option that will make things easier is to mix with non-Egyptians. I realized that most of my friends are not Egyptians, or are Egyptians that have grown up somewhere else. I also tend to go to specific places that are better than others, like Maadi, citystars, carrefour, or the big hotels. These tends to have slightly better atmospheres.
In terms of Islam, people here had really put me off it. When I moved here I had started thinking about Islam and becoming religious, but that stopped the minute I saw all the hypocrisy here. Thank God I got over that and learnt to differentiate between Islam and culture, and became religious a year and a half ago. A lot of parents bring their kids here so they can become more religious but actually a lot of the time the opposite happens: they get turned off by religion because of the way it has become so shallow and materialistic here.
The Pharaohs were so long ago, get over it! Egyptians today seriously should not be taking credit for that! If only they took more care of their country they WOULD have something to proud of, but unfortunately, they don't.
The saddest thing is that all of this is a recent phenomenon. Whenever I speak to people that lived here in the 50s and 60s, they say Cairo was amazing. And I can believe that, from watching old movies and reading old books. Apparently things started to go wrong in the 80s. It really is sad.

I know it must be really hard for you, but if you plan on staying then you just have to start ignoring a lot of things, people, and places. Inshallah things will get easier.

Empress Anisa said...

Cairo, lusaka: Yes, I know the easier option is to avoid them altogether but I didn't want to go that route... if I have to , then I will because I won't sit here and be annoyed everyday but some of it you can't escape since these are the people you have to deal with out there on the streets.

I've recently had the opportunity to meet the a whole new set of expat sisters from around the world- most live here in Rehab and they started a monthly gathering the other day in Nasr City... I think they should expand the group to include whomever would like to come as we all need a social network and be around others like ourselves... they have assign you a buddy who can help you out if you need it and know your info just in case something happens to you and they need to take care of you or your children- I think this is excellent! If any sisters out there are interested in attending, let me know so I can tell the sister that organized the last meeting- it's an outlet, it's remembering Allah (SWT), it's sisterhood, and it's helping your fellow sister if she may ever need you.

I will stay here... I won't let the stupidity force me back home... I will leave when I've completed my mission, InshaAllah- being friendly and sisterly with the Egyptians- OR NOT. My life and purpose here is much greater and bigger than all of them combined so I won't get it twisted as to what is important here... I want to "make nice" but not at the expense of my sanity OR my mission. As I stated before, stupid is as stupid does....

When you're feeling down, you can always reach out to me! We need to link up anyway- all us expats need to stick together... I think this m ight be the only way we'll be able to make it. Email: cococherokeegirl@hotmail.com

Umm Ismail said...

Man all this is 3 min I feel ya Sis and understand. Really and Truly

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

It's great that you're staying positive :) The expats idea is good.

Let me know if you need anything or if you want to meet up. I live 10 mins away from Rehab :)

Empress Anisa said...

Umm Ismail- yes, darling... the goal was to get in 3 minutes but the little rugrats were cooperating so I got in an extra 10! You better get over here soon!

Cairo, lusaka- drop me a line to my email so we can exchange numbers and hook up... look forward to meeting you! :)

Candice said...

Cairo can be so infuriating! I was living there for 7 months. It was going to be longer but I became pregnant and decided to come back to Canada... Most of the people I was with in Cairo were not too bad, to be honest, my husband was one of the most typical Egyptians I ever saw there, so I have a taste of Cairo every single day. You can't know how often I've wanted to separate, divorce, ship him back, throw him to the curb, etc. Something similar to how often you guys who live in Cairo want to get rid of that life, I think.

I don't want to get thinking of the specifics or when he comes into the room I might just blow. But he's the typical cultural Egyptian who sees nothing else (and denies that these things are cultural). GAHHHH

desertmonsoon said...

Hi my friend :) Hope all is well with you!

As an American who has lived outside of the US now for almost 13 years, I can say it is normal to go through this phase you are going through, but I think if you hang in there you will begin to find things you love about the place too. I haven't lived in Egypt but I have lived further south in Africa. I have also lived among Arabs for many years so I think I can relate to some of what you are talking about.

It is good that you want to do this for your daughter, but I hope you are doing this for your sons as well!

With regard to giving birth there, some things you might need to know as the procedure is the same for all foreign born American Children and having done it once in Kenya and Once in Dubai now, I do recall a bit about the procedure.

Getting the Passport:

Your husband MUST go with you to get the passport, even if he is not an American Citizen, both parents have to agree to give him the passport.

Is your husband a US citizen now? If he is not, then you will also need documents proving that you lived in the US for a certain number of years over a certain age (I forget what it is ... something in the teens) So tax slips, school records, whatever, can help with that) You will need these documents to be able to pass on your citizenship (EVEN AS A BORN CITIZEN) otherwise they will not issue the birth of a citizen abroad certificate and they will not give a passport to the baby.

Empress Anisa said...

Candice- As I've said before, hats off to you women married to Egyptian men... don't think I could UNLESS he was cut from the same cloth as the masses... hope everything works out for you. If you're ever here again, look me up!

Desert- yeah, I know we both have to go the embassy together- a few of my friends have briefed me on the exact procedure since they've given birth here. Yes, my husband is a US citizen so that other stuff I don't have to worry about.

I said I was here for my daughter since she's the first one to start school- when it's time for Big Papi to go which will be KG1 next year (this year he will attend the same school with her but baby classes, InshaAllah) then he'll be included on the academic craziness... I'm here for ALL of them to get what they need for their Islamic and academic instruction!

Hope all is well with you and your boys :)

Empress Anisa said...

Candice- meant to say I couldn't marry one unless he wasn't cut from the same cloth as the masses... hang in there :-)

umm imran said...

WORD! Couldn't have said it better....I wanna join the club for women that meet up in Nasr City! send me the deets. As for the schooling, your in for the ride of your life.........Trust me on this one! gave u the heads up on the shipping and this i am even surer of. Schools in Egypt are Egyptian schools, period. Their philosophy of education is jacked. This is the explanation for the stupidity we see in the streets. Hey, by the way we need to catch and have juice cocktail! :)

ilka said...

salam

i wrote a comment earlier but dont see it. anywho, i live in nasr city and would love to join the group you mentioned.

Empress Anisa said...

Umm Imran- no problem darling... juice cocoktails sound fab! Just send me your email or mobile and I'll call you. And these "people" and their behavior goes well beyond lack of proper education- I don't wanna say what I think today ESPECIALLY since I just received my things from customs I sent from New York and these pigs stole ALOT of my stuff....

Ilka- I didn't publish that comment since you enclosed your email address- I didn't know if you wanted it out there. I plan to contact the sister today or tomorrow and inform her that there are other sisters interested in the group- I'll keep you posted

Lisa said...

Assalaam Alaikum,

I would have a hard time leaving NYC sister. What a different world you are in now. It reminds me of Carrie and Big, and how neither wanted to leave old New York. Time will heal these wounds. As you develop friendships, etc. Right now, it's probably hard to imagine giving birth here, miles away from family and old friends. Stay strong habibty.

Empress Anisa said...

Well, I didn't have such a hard time leaving home... it's not like someone was forcing me but we did it for the "experience".... and WHAT an experience it has turned out to be so far....pfft....

Yes, time heals almost all things but I think it's time these people are held accountable for their actions... most just accept the fact that their things are stolen, get angry and "let it be"- well, I'm totally different from this for sure- my next course of action WILL be to contact the US Embassy to what if anything can be done about this- I didn't unload thousand of dollars in New York getting stuff for me and my kids for these morons to help themselves to it... sisters here are plenty so Alhumdulillah, no lack of friends or friendly people- EXPATS of course. No issues with giving birth here as I found a great ob/gyn, picked one of the best hospitals I could find and closest to US standards and my family will get here eventually... and if not, next summer, I WILL be back in New York to enjoy my family and friends, InshaAllah!

Hajar said...

Eek~!!! Appears to be you're experiencing nightmares there~! Hang in there sister! The difficult times will pass! To be blunt about this, I've never been to Egypt hence, am in no position to say much. On the contrary, friends that stayed there absolutely adore it. Quite odd really because I never have the urge to go there and visit them no matter how lovely they describe it. LoL~ You're having a remarkable journey sis! Enjoy the ride! :) Take care.

ilka said...

salam

when i read you had shipped a lot of your things from new york i knew lots would be stolen as that has happened to ppl before when they had things shipped. ppl also open mail here and steal money and trinkets sent in boxes.

Empress Anisa said...

Hajar- the journey of a brief vacation here can be a headache but living in this place day to day can drive the calmest person, INSANE! I have no more left to describe the natives here.... I'm at a complete, utter loss... but I will do whatever necessary to make it work for me and my kids for our time here- that's just me and how I roll....

Ilka- yeah, I sent the customs broker a scathing email earlier today- I guess it wasn't well-received or he doesn't know HOW to respond to what I said- it wasn't pretty...

queen said...

salam sis, hope you are well, thinking of you and the kids, plus bump, i have nothing constructive to add, i just hope that Allah makes it easy for you, my only experience is when i went on holiday to dubai, though i dont look typically bangladeshi, (they reallyt look down on asian minorities)i felt that i was looked down upon, due to my dress sense and lack of make up, its like if you dont have a designer handbag stuck to u and your face is not made up like a clown, you might as well crawl back into the hole you came from!

Empress Anisa said...

Queen- wa alaikum assalaam, my darling sister! InshaAllah, things will get better by his mercy... just have to hold out and wait for change to come!

Yeah, what's up with the Bozo the clown make-up? And they THINK it looks uber hot! I heard here the husbands/boyfriends like it... for her to walk around looking like a clown (already with some of the clothing here) in kabuki-style makeup??? Yeah, that's definitely sexy... LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL and THEY make fun of us- imagine that.........?????????????

Lisa said...

I wonder if it's not resolved could someone be sued there, or is it pretty impossible? I hope i is easy, May Allah make it simple for you...and force them to capitulate.

And yeah you are right about Egypt and giving birth. Angelina Jolie gave birth in Namibia, and it sounded much nicer than any U.S. hospital. I'm making dua that everything works out.

Coffee Catholic said...

I've been to NYC a few times! Stayed there once at a convent for two weeks ~ went out exploring... that city is amazing. I've never experienced anything quite like NYC before. If I had had enough money to live in a *safe* part of the city I'd totally have moved there when I was single!!
(All cities have their dark sides...)

Everything you say in this post is interesting because in many ways I feel that I am experiencing the exact same crap here. (I'm American and living in Britain.)

The shocking thing is... I figured that since I was coming to a country that has such close ties, and shared history, and the same Christian identity as America then there wouldn't be so much of that, "You're an outsider blah blah blah and WE are deffinately superior to YOU!"

Like you said, being a visitor is so totally different then having to live with this awful racist, insular, hatful stuff day in and day out.

I'm called an "incomer" ~ something that really chaps my hide! I know for a fact that if I lived in a British city I'd probably have a much easier time of it. Especially if I lived in an area full of different nationalities.

There *are* several people with whom I get along but not many. And the general additude is the same kind of additude you're getting from the local Egyptians.

What is UP with people??

I know your pain... and I too daydream about home, home, home. Yes, hijab would deffinately make me stick out in my home town but for the most part people would get over it and move on. Americans are good like that. (Unless you're in one of those rural towns where everyone's been there for seven generations... which is the situation here.)

I've married a local man and had a baby ~ isn't that good enough for pity sake?? The sad thing is, with people like us we'll be "outsiders" to the day we die. So sad. Where's God in all of this?