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I thought this picture I took in Dublin was best suited for the topic

If I had a Pound, (Euro or Dollar) for every time someone asked me ‘Why Aren’t You Married’, I would have a hefty retirement fund!

It has reached a point where, I wonder if this is all people have to worry about?! I meet people for the first time and naturally they’ll ask if you have a significant other, but they shouldn’t feel the need to lecture me on ‘Why I Should, Have One’. Even some of the doctors I’ve had consultations with seem to be more concerned about my marital status than my ailments. I appreciate the fact that close friends and some family members want to see me settled down and happy. What I don’t like is those whom I hardly know appoint themselves to play match maker with determination. (What do they get out of it? Is there some jackpot or prize you get if your match is a good one?)

Let me clarify, once and for all to those who are adamant to find me a significant other (based on THEIR wrong criteria to find me a ‘PERFECT’ match) and to those who can not get their head around the idea of me flying solo. I have great respect for marriage and all that is stands for. I do think it is a beautiful thing to be able to live ones life with another and share the burdens and happiness that come their way together as a team and to justify their union and love by having children, so their family tree can continue to blossom and grow. HOWEVER, I DO NOT believe that I should marry for the sake of being married. Just so that I can have a wedding band placed upon my ring finger along with a nice big sparkly one, have a big party and not be alone! If I want to wear a ring, I’ll go buy one. If I want a party, by GEORGE I shall throw one! If I’m lonely, I can go out to social events mingle with people, invite people over or go visit family or friends.

Marriage is a commitment that I would take seriously and I would want it to be forever, (not to use as an escape to move out of my parent’s home. Which doesn’t apply to me because I don’t live with them anyway). I do not want to marry the first person that comes knocking at my parent’s door asking for my hand, especially if he knows nothing about me, my family or upbringing.

In the past I have had mothers of sons and men see me walk into a store or driving my car and find out who I am through 6 degrees of separation, get my parent’s home number and call my father up and ask for my hand in marriage without ever having spoken a word to me! The last time someone did that my father took great pleasure in telling the caller that I had recently just been released from a mental institution, (NOT TRUE OF COURSE) and that he was a garbage collector. I found it extremely funny, while the person on the other end of the line was not as amused!

I want to marry someone who understands how my mind works (well, to some degree), who appreciates and understand my mixed ethnicity/cultural heritage (and doesn’t want me to change who I am or make me choose one culture over another),  has similar characteristic traits, shares some of my dreams/interests, is a bit adventurous, likes to play sports and can deal with my loony family and relatives! He must speak ENGLISH quite well, (if he can speak more languages, excellent! but he has to be able to communicate with the Irish Clan), likes to hold intellectual conversations, reads, well-traveled, has a playful side, very good sense of humor and doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, because I won’t be the only one doing all the hard labor around the house and changing dirty diapers. Oh an most importantly is financially independent from his family.

Marriage to me is a partnership, where two people promise to look after one another and share everything. I am not the type to marry and be told to stay home, not work, cook/clean all day long, have children and raise them alone. While hubbiness goes to work, comes home, eats, naps, showers, changes and goes out and socialize with his friends.  (If that’s what I wanted, I would go for Don Draker, from MAD MEN). That is a recipe for my misery and driving me to the brink of insanity ! So, those kind of guys need to be taken off your must introduce her to him lists! That is if you really do have my happiness and best interest at heart.

If you’re miserable in your life and want company… then please don’t set me up with anyone.

If a guy comes from a well-known, respectable, rich family it DOES NOT automatically make him a nice guy and my dream man! Money is great to have, but it isn’t a recipe for a successful marriage. The person’s personality, ethics, morals, values, mentality are things that I find more important than the wrist watch he wears, car he drives, his home address and the size of his PARENT’S bank account.

‘Friends’ of mine, (who have now been demoted to mere acquaintances) wanted to introduce me to a guy who was VERY wealthy and was quite liberal. Now, I am not one to judge a book by its cover, but why would anyone want to introduce a 20 something year old girl (my age at the time), to a guy in his mid 40s who is extremely over weight, has lost half of his teeth, from lack of dental hygiene (due to excessive smoking and drinking) and has little social etiquette? Clearly these people didn’t take the time to know me or to choose wisely either.

I have met, socialized and been out with several guys who fall into this category. I have to say a small minority of them have been raised to be gentlemen of great integrity and are very decent men. While others have been toads dressed like princes.

Players and Cheaters… What can I say? I have been played and burned by both. Not the most pleasant of experiences and I have learned from my mistakes and have grown wiser and stronger because of it. These two are like trying to domesticate a tiger!! Woman can not ‘change’ or ‘reform’ them. They have to sincerely want to and they have to be the ones to take the steps. If/when they are ready, I’ll gladly give them consideration, until then, I’ll Pass, Thanks.

Just because a guy lives abroad and holds a foreign passport like I do, doesn’t mean it’s a match made in heaven! The same goes if he’s of mixed ethnicity too.

So, to sum it all up. I would much rather be single and continue to work on improving upon myself and experience what life has to offer than jump into a marriage with someone who is not compatible with me (and vice versa). I don’t want to be put in a situation where I marry someone and find out 2 kids later, that I can’t stand being around him and be forced to make a decision to either stay in the marriage to keep the family together while I am secretly miserable and hide my pain behind my smiles as a sacrifice for their happiness or break up a family and watch the children go through pain I could have had a hand in preventing.

So, That is WHY, I am not rushing to the altar to get married. Let me live and let live!

If you find someone who meets MOST of the criteria I am looking for then we can talk. If not, DON’T even think about it!

The day I decide to tie the knot and take the plunge and say; I DO. I’ll let you know. Until then, no one should lose any sleep over me being happily single!

Students and teachers alike look forward to the longest holiday of the year, ‘summer’.

In the past summers for me meant packing my bags with all that I would need and move down to Agami, a summer resort just outside of Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea, where my parents had a beach house. There I would spend my days in shorts, t-shirt, swimsuit and flip-flops with my beach bag ready for the beach. Two to three months of swimming, tanning, reading, playing volleyball, running a summer camp for children and catching up with old friends whom I hadn’t seen since the previous summer.

Summer home in Agami- Villa Casa Blanca

Times have changed and friends have moved on. I have not been back to Bianki since 2007. I miss the times, I had there during my teenage years. It is there where I made some of my most memorable memories and met some very interesting people and dear friends.  To date, my summers are split between Alexandria and going abroad to various destinations to get away from the stress that the post revolution has left and the political roller coaster of electorial disappointments we have had to take part in, witness and accept the results of.

The beginning portion of my summer for the past two years has been spent in Alexandria with my parents. My mother and I have been motivating one another to get back in shape and eat healthy. (This as some of you may know has been an ongoing process for me. After  1.5 years of battling the bulge, I am 13Kg away from my target weight!) I would spend an hour working out at home, doing various crunches and sit-ups as well as using an elliptical bike and 3 hours of the day would be spent swimming laps and using various apparatus to help strengthen and tone my arms and legs. For a few weeks, I or we would go abroad.

To go abroad for me is a chance to recharge, re-evaluate, relax and look at things from a different perspective (the change in scenery and climate is also an added bonus). This year my mother and I ventured to London to visit briefly with my sister and to Ireland to attend a family wedding and strengthen family connection with our cousins, whom we had lost contact with over the past few years.

I am fascinated with our family genealogy, especially on the Irish side. I have found that not only do I look Irish, I have a lot of the Irish family traits in me and from listening to stories, I find I learn more and more about myself and why some of the members of our family are the way that they are.

As a young girl London never appealed to me, I had formed an image of it being a dark, grey and gloomy place, much like the Industrial time in England. My opinion changed quickly when I first visited 3 years ago. I look forward to my visits there now, not solely due to it’s undeniable allure but because I actually feel normal there. I don’t worry about what I’m wearing and if I’ll be harassed as I walk down the street or how long it will take me to get to my destination. When I am there the stress of constantly having to be aware of the people around me and looking for signs of possible sexual harassers trying to invade my personal space drops from 100 to 1.

Time spent with my sister, her husband and other members of our family are precious and they always take priority. I try to spend as much time with them as I can, to keep our family bond strong and because I simply love being in their company. There is never a dull moment when we congregate! On extended visits I like to walk around and take in the sights, museums, shows, take pictures and of course shop! (One has to make a contribution to the economy of the country one happens to visit, no?)

It was also exciting to have been there pre-Olympic ceremony. To see the city decorated with flags of the different nations taking part in the games. The excitment and pride of the nationals to host the games. My mum and I missed the ceremony but watched many of the highlights and events once we had made it back to our hotel room and back to Egypt after our trip. The athletes are phenominal in their dedication and inspring!

Family time or giving new meaning to the term, ‘swimming with the fishes’

I have always been very proud and patriotic of my Irish heritage. When I visit I can’t help but be in awe of her beauty. Her beauty, in my opinion becomes more enhanced by her people, who have such a cheerful, friendly, helpful and funny disposition about them. I can’t help but find so many similarities in them and the ‘old’ Egyptian culture that I grew up knowing, ( it saddens me to think that what remains of the ‘old’ Egypt, might soon be lost, if things are not sorted out soon).

During this trip to Ireland, I made sure that I would not be rushing through like a forest fire, but I would actually have time to walk the streets, visit historical landmarks, eat in pubs, shop and talk with the locals, as well as visit with family.

I can not tell you how much I enjoyed touring the capital, learning about how Ireland earned its Independence, driving through the grounds of Phoenix Park, visiting Trinity College and sitting in its grand library of ancient manuscripts and books that were written and read by some of the greatest minds on earth and where some members of my family attended. Although my connection to the country itself isn’t strong, I think this journey has definitely strengthened it.

                                                       
                        The scene from the brige where my cousin wed his bride. Tintern Abbey-Rosslare

My cousin whom I had only reconnected with over the last three years and hadn’t seen in twenty, invited my family and I to attend his wedding. The place in which the nuptials took place and the ceremony itself was unlike any wedding that I have ever been to or seen before. It was a Humanist Wedding/Ceremony, filled with spirituality, tradition and love. It was held on a bridge on a beautiful summer’s day with beautiful landscape encompassing the couple and their families and friends. Nothing could have made it more magical, meaningful or beautiful in my opinion.  The two-day event was packed with entertainment, food and great times. Most importantly it was shared with people who truly cared for the couple and genuinely wished them nothing but happiness in their future life together. It was at this event, where I made new connections and bonds with members of our family whom I had lost contact with and those I had never met before. (Now, I know where I get my energy, drive, motivation to succeed, love of learning, sense of humor and love of partying from, The McSorley Clan)

The third part of our trip was spent visiting the area of where my grandmother and generations before her had come from. In some strange way, Wexford, a small county by the sea reminded me of Alexandria. It is here where my mother attended boarding school as a young girl and where she spent many summers with her aunt, uncle and cousins at a nearby resort called Rosslare. As I walked the quay and breathed in the fresh Irish sea air and took in the scenic views, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the opportunity to have traveled to the land of my ancestors, to see where half of me is from and to be able to pass down the stories that have been told to me by my aunt, mother and cousins, so, that our history isn’t lost or forgotten.

In Wexford we strengthened existing ties with family we are in touch with. It was also a second opportunity for my mother to spend time her aged aunt of 97 years and to thank her for all the wonderful summers she had spent with them as a child and all the other things she and her late husband did for her growing up. (Moments like that should be seised, because they may never come again).

There is so much more for me to see and learn of Ireland but I have an itching desire to learn as much as I can about my family as I can. I hope to be able to go back there again soon in the near future.

Upon returning to Egypt I couldn’t help but feel depressed. Ireland might be in dire straits economically but the people have the drive to rebuild the country to get it back on its feet again. Egypt, a nation of great potential and historical as well as cultural wealth seems to be sinking before our eyes and very few seem willing to get their hands dirty. I have said it before and I will say it again. I fear for Egypt’s future and her children. I pray that I am wrong and that she will not suffer in the hands of men like Rasputin. Perhaps the Egyptian Olympians who preformed so well at the London 2012 games, might inspire their country men and women that hard work does pay off and that they can not only achieve great things but be recognised for them in the long run, if they pull together and move forward in rebuilding the country rather than pointing the finger of blame.

I feel like a fish out of water! I can’t believe it has been over a month since I have posted anything. I have been caught up in whirl wind of events. Let’s see what, have I been up to?

Well;

I started one of my final Masters courses last month and I have 3 more weeks to go before it comes to an end! It’s a bitter sweat feeling. I am bitter because it’s taking up so much of my time and when I’m sat with my face glued to my lap top reading the material required for completing my course work, my friends are out enjoying themselves, while I have to force myself to be disciplined and get on with my work and convince myself that it will all be worth it in the end! The sweet sensation is knowing at the end of the journey, the money I saved up to be able to complete this and endless hours of writing, researching and reading I would have earned the title of ‘Master’ and the salary increase is always an added bonus too.

 On top of that my sister FINALLY got engaged! So, in the midst of my studies, there was a lot of planning, drama and celebrating. I am really happy and thrilled for her, because the groom to be is a really nice guy and he is going to be like the big brother I never had, but always wanted!

 I recently had to bid farewell and good luck to a dear friend of mine. He has been offered a position in the UAE and I’m feeling a bit lost without him. He was my confident and sounding board. I’m finding it rather difficult having to come to terms with the idea that I can’t just pick up the phone and call him when ever I like, or arrange to meet up for lunch to vent or to get some sound advice. I have to text, email or Skype now to keep in touch. I know everything I’m mentioning is quite selfish. I am genuinely happy that he is starting a new adventure in the chapter of his life, but apart of me wishes that I was one of the characters in that new adventurous journey.

 I can’t remember if I had previously mentioned this but, I was approached by an editor, who is launching a new magazine in Cairo, he had been reading and following my blog and thought I had an interesting perspective of what life in Cairo/Egypt is like from a half Egyptian, half Western point of view and would like me to write a column every month! So, look out for ‘Nadia, In The City’! The Magazine that is set to launch in November is called ‘Moments, Life Style Magazine’, keep a look out for it at a news stand near you!

In addition to all of that I am working full-time! The school year has finally kicked off and my new students have now been with me for the past 4 weeks. I have to say that I it’s good being back in the classroom. I don’t know what it is about being in a classroom, but to me it feels like it’s my stage or domain, where I can make magic happen. This year’s batch of second graders are a handful! They are very opinionated, have fascinating characters and are full of ENERGY!! To keep up with them, I have to get up earlier than usual and do at least half an hour on my elliptical bike to get my endorphins jumped started for a day of teaching!

There are times when I just need to drop everything I’m doing and have some ‘ME’ time. Which either means getting out of Cairo and going up to Alexandria and visiting my family OR doing something fun and joining ‘Weekend Trip’ for an adventures day of fun and some times spontaneity. The owner of Holiday tours and co-founder of ‘Weekend Trips’, Yehia El Decken, has asked me to blog about EVERY ‘weekend trip’, I go on with his team. So, you’ll be reading a lot about my adventures with them this year.

 My romantic life you ask? Emmmm…..Well, what do you think? Do you honestly think with all that I’m juggling right now, I have time for a romantic interlude!??! I will say this though, since I’ve started focusing on myself and looking after myself more, I seem to have re-ignited ‘The Old Me’, which is attracting some attention. Other than that…there is nothing to report!

How about you? What have you been up to?

BE WARNED, THIS IS A LONG POST.

I have seen the “Marriages from around the World” segment on OPRAH twice now. I have to say that I am happy that Egypt was represented but I think that one of the Egyptian representatives, Heba, an interior designer in Cairo, didn’t paint a clear picture of what life is really like here in Egypt, While Inji the journalist was more realistic.

There were a few things that really ruffled my feathers when I watched the show the first time and the rerun. I took notes when I watched the show the second time around so that I could remember the points that I wanted to refer to. (I can be such a nerd at times!)

I- Safety for Women

When Nana, the Danish representative asked Heba if Egypt is a safe place and she answered, ‘Yes, it is very safe” I couldn’t help but cackle in disbelief.
If I was to compare Egypt to Iraq, Afghanistan or Harlem, then I would whole heartedly agree, but if I was to compare it from where Nana is from, the answer would be ‘NO’!
I don’t know the women in that interview but from the way they held themselves and the way that they spoke I think it is safe to guess that they aren’t considered ‘common folk’; they are higher up the ladder than most of the population of Egypt. I am also willing to wager that most of them rarely walk the streets of Cairo and commute 96% of the time in their privately owned cars.
I walk both in Cairo and in Alexandria and I can tell you that it is a man’s country. If a woman is or isn’t veiled but looks nice, 99 times out of 100, you will either hear a crude comment or be harassed in some shape or form.
Let me give you an example of a well know incident that happened in Cairo about three years ago. It was during Eid El Fitr, (the celebration after the holy month of Ramadan, where Muslims fast) and in down town Cairo a mob of men had been to see one of the newly released Egyptian movies and they were wired! They were so tightly strung that they attacked innocent women who just happened to be passing by the cinema at that time. How bad the attack was, the news papers didn’t report. A taxi driver tried to save one of the women by pulling her in to his cab and driving away but the mob jumped the car and proceeded to attack them both. Not long after the incident and the story came to light, Imam’s in mosques didn’t condemn the mobs behavior, but they blamed the women who were innocently minding their own business!
A more recent story was published in The Community Times magazine about two girls who almost got harassed after one of the matches played by Egypt and Algeria. They had to seek refuge in a shop until the group of men gave up waiting.
These two examples are extreme cases of what may happen here in Egypt. It is more likely to happen to natives than it would be a tourist or a foreigner living here because they know that the police and the embassies would get involved.
So, I have to say that Nana’s intuition was spot on.
She probably felt even more insecure because she’s fair skinned and a blond.
What happens abroad happens here to, but it is kept very quiet.
If anyone wants to dispute this then, I am willing to provide examples from my own personal experience as well as examples that have happened to people I know.

A word to the wise;
The best way to avoid situations like these is to dress modestly, not to walk in dodgy streets alone, it is best to have a couple of male friends with you when you are out walking, try your best not to be out walking on your own late at night and never sit next to a taxi driver.

II – Conservativeness and the veil.

I loved Nana’s observation of how some of the veiled women were dressed ‘women who are covered and walking around in tight clothing and make up, it makes it very contradicting”

 I personally think Nana hit the nail on the head. There are lots of contradictions in our expectations of behavior and society and for an outsider to notice it should ring some alarm bells.
I can’t tell you how many times I have been absolutely gob smacked by the double standards that exist here.
I have seen veiled women at night clubs, drinking Stella (local beer), dating men and holding hands and some times going further than second base (if they are religious and conservative this is a big NO! NO!), go into a changing room and come out wearing a bikini in front of men in public! Who are they fooling might I ask?
Granted, some girls have been forced by their families to wear a scarf on their head, so I can understand them rebelling behind their parents backs, (I’m not saying I agree with it, I’m just stating I understand it), but what excuse do grown women who made the choice have?

I have the utmost respect for the women who chose to wear the veil as a devotion to their religion and their beliefs. It is admirable when I see women who are doing it for the RIGHT reasons. It takes a lot of will power and devotion to be able to wear it.

III- Tension between veiled and non veiled women

If memory serves me correctly Oprah asked if there was tension between the veiled and non veiled women. Nana who hadn’t been here very long said she did sense it.
Again, I would have to agree.

When I first moved to Egypt in the early 90s the ratio of veiled to non veiled women was below par. There were hardly any menaqaabeen (completely veiled with only their eyes showing). It’s with in the past decade that more and more women are veiling. Some of it has to do with many Egyptians returning from the Gulf States and bringing their new-found religious beliefs that they picked up from there, back to Egypt. The second is it is the fashion, “everyone is doing it so, I better do it too so people don’t think any less of me”. The third has to do with the economic situation in the country, when the poor get poorer and the middle class is heading towards extinction many people turn to religion for solace and comfort.

My sister and I are unveiled and we have experienced quite a few things in recent years.
We would step out of our apartment building and some times a men who would happen to be walking past our building door would swerve away, turning his head in the opposite direction, whilst uttering ‘Astaghfar Allah’ which is a term said when asking God for forgiveness’ and all because our hair is showing!
 (for further translation of the phrase go to the following link,  http://shiastrength.blogspot.com/2010/04/shiastrength-superiority-of-astaghfar.html)

My Mum would get the same reaction too when she used to take a taxi home from work. The cab driver would utter it under his breath when she got in and out of the car.
I remember a second incident that I found quite amusing. We were at a beach resort just outside of Alexandria. The place I’m referring to is Agami, it’s a well-known place where many people go to vacation by the beach for the summer months and people walk around in their shorts, t-shirts, swim wear and summer attire. Anyway my sister and were heading home after picking up some groceries for our Mum when this woman who was very conservatively dressed comes rushing up to my sister and I and tells us that we should be ashamed of ourselves and that we should cover up and veil. She made us feel like we were walking around naked, when we were in our mid-thigh shorts and T-shirt at a beach resort.
Some times at traffic lights there will be people handing out fliers or pamphlets that promote veiling ‘Naam lil Hijab’ which means ‘Yes, to veiling’.
My sister and I usually don’t wear any religious jewelry so people automatically assume that because we are not veiled then we must be Christian.

So, the answer is Yes, There is more pressure for women to veil today than 20 years ago.

IV- Marriages and Divorces

I wrote a post not too long ago about middle and upper class marriages in Egypt and I was recently contacted by a male reader who was able to identify himself with what I had written. Most middle and upper class marriages are based on business arrangements, (please note that I said, most and NOT all).

Marriages can also be formed as an escape from living with their parents and wanting freedom from all of their rules and expectations. Which is another myth, because their life won’t be about going out all the time and having fun, it’s about responsibilities, working and taking after the home. It can often be leaving regarded as leaving one dictating house hold for another, (demanding and controlling husband/wife).

Marriages solely to cure sexual frustration are another popular reason for getting married.
The fairy tale that has been repeated over and over again from one generation to the next about how marriage is a wonderful thing and that the girl will be the lady of her own home and can do as she likes is a sugar-coated illusion of what reality is. These girls by their late teens (17 on wards) are keeping their eyes open like a hawk for an eligible bachelor. When the wedding and honeymoon is over reality sinks in and the fights begin.

There are arranged marriages, where someone would suggest that perhaps two people would make a good union. So, a meeting with the two individuals is set, either at a neutral party’s home, where the individuals can meet under the watchful eye of their parents. A few meetings may follow so that they can get to know one another better, if a match is made then an engagement will ensue and wedding plans begin. One on one dating will not be prohibited there will be a chaperone with the couple when ever they meet or go out. This happens with more conservative and religious families.

Then there are marriages based on all the right things, finding a partner to be with because they are happy with them for who they are.

When the marriages are based on all the wrong reasons, how can you not expect the divorce rate not to be high here? During my Grandmother’s era it was almost on heard of and for a couple to divorce was a rare occurrence. Now it’s has become the norm.

I have a lot more to say about the topics mentioned in the segment but if I don’t stop my ramblings now, I would go on and on forever!
I will right more about at a later date in time.

I enjoy listening to all genres of music. I really enjoy busting out a few moves on the dance floor to Arabic, Pop, Techno and many other kinds of tunes. The music that is guaranteed to get me up and out of the chair is a Latin beat!
I have always loved the sound of Latin music. It makes me come alive and no matter how bad of a day I have had, the music just shines through the black cloud that was hanging over my head, add salsa dancing to that equation and not only do my woes become a distant memory, I have fun and get a great work out.
When I moved to Cairo, I got to know a certain gentleman who was a fabulous dancer and had taken many classes and was competitive material. I longed to be able to dance like him so that we could go out dancing together. He didn’t like the idea of me taking lessons from a male instructor so, I didn’t. When our ‘friendship’ came to a tragic end (a long story that I won’t get in to), I took up salsa classes, (I didn’t have a jealous person to worry about, plus I also had the hope that one day I would bump in to him at one of the salsa nights held in Cairo and blow him away with my steps and Latina moves. It hasn’t happened yet).

If you are a Salsero or a Salsera, then I highly recommend that you join the Salsa Club Egypt group on Facebook. You can find out when and where Salsa nights are held and when the next Salsa Congress will be hosted in Cairo.
Sunday, Monday and Thursday are popular Salsa dancing nights in Cairo.
Sunday, Salsa Club Egypt offers dance classes at Stiletto before the Salsa night begins.
Beginners: 8pm
Absolute beginners: 9pm
Intermediate: 9pm

Rasha, is usually the instructor and she is amazing to watch.

Sunday nights at Stiletto Lounge is 1 El Galaa Sq. Landmark: Inside Sheraton Cairo Hotel, Towers & Casino, Dokki, Giza.

Monday night salsa at Nile Maxim also offers dance lessons before the night starts. (i don’t think that this night is still on)
They offer free classes at 9pm. Nile Maxim is a boat found opposite the Marriot Hotel in Zamalek. Salsa nights are held in Le veranda.

Thursday night you will find some of the best salsa dancers unwinding after a week of working, showing off their signature moves at Café Bian in Mohendiseen.
I have only been there once and I would never have thought that they would have a night of dancing there, but they do. Bian Café is near medan aswan\next to Atlas Hotel and Omda restaurant.
Salsa Club Egypt http://www.salsaclubegypt.com/

If you are interested in taking Salsa classes in your area you may want to look in to these places.

Heliopolis
Samia Allouba (http://www.samiaalloubacenter.com/Default.aspx?UC=./UI/Visitor/Page&PageID=home)

Vogue Dance Studio; 5 Deer El Bahary Street, off of Hegaz. Maryland.

0117295688 is the number to call for more detail, Eman is the person to ask for.

 

Maadi
Arthur Murray (http://www.yellowpages.com.eg/profile/NjI5ODI=/Arthur-Murray-Dance-Center.html), Samia Allouba

Mohendiseen

Samia Allouba

Alexandria
Tamarin Center (http://www.tamarincenter.com)

* I have debated for days wether to post this or not and I finally decided… If I’m going to take writing seriously, I should be open to both positive and negative feed back.

(This is all based on what I have personally seen and experienced, no formal study has been conducted)

Where do I begin?

I was out last week with a High School friend  catching up  and having dinner, when out of the blue he started venting about how he doesn’t think he could ever marry a spoilt Egyptian girl. Once the flood gates were opened there was no stopping him. I was amused and relieved that someone else shared my opinion and I actually agree with everything he had to say.

*N.B* Please keep in mind that I am not generalizing, there are many who are not like the people we are referring to. As always there are many exceptions to the rules.

Let me try and paint you a picture of the kind of  people he was referring to;

First the Egyptian Woman,

The majority of Middle Class and rich Egyptian girls (with exceptions of course) who are pampered and spoilt. They have never had to wash a glass, make themselves something to eat, wash laundry, fill a dish washer, go grocery shopping, wipe a counter, make their bed or vacuum their bedroom floor. They have everything done for them and handed to them on a silver platter. They wake up when most of us have been up for a few hours and are already at work. They spend most of the day on the phone and worrying about their physical appearance and if their clothes are in fashion. Their sole purpose in life seems to be finding a husband and the richer the better.  Once that has been accomplished their next job is to produce a son and heir to the fortune. To make sure her husband isn’t going to be snatched away from her, she hires nannies and maids to look after the children and the house while she is hooked on to her husband’s arm all the time looking like a glamorous Barbie doll.

The  Egyptian Man;

The men of most of the wealthy families are just as bad. They work for Daddy’s company,  they are late arriving  to work and early to leave. They drive around in a full option expensive car bought for them after graduating from University, wear the latest Rolex, talk on the most expensive phone on the market and can only be seen in designer clothing. After a couple of hours of showing his face at the office he either goes home for lunch and  a nap or heads to the gym to work out and fraternize with people from his social circle and frame of thought, (That’s what he gets paid to do) .Then later goes out clubbing or to an ‘ehwa’ (cafe). They spoil their girlfriends with gifts and expensive dinners and outings and control them from whom they speak to, where they go and what they can wear.

Why do most of these people get married in Egypt? Well there are a few reasons why.

1- The women think that if they get married they will be free of their parents control and can run their households they way they want. Plus their mother’s have painted a fairytale image of what married life is like. They fail to mention that being married takes hard work and it’s a partnership. All they focus on is the wedding day party not what comes after it.  To shatter their dreams even more, they dont’ work, so their parents give them an allowance, so financially they are still under their control.

2- The Gents like most look for a Stepford looking wife, who will be nice to parade around on their arm. Another reason why they chose to get married is because as my friend so aptly put it, they are ‘horny’.

3- Most of the time, it’s a business arrangement between to families to increase their wealth and form a partnership. It’s very reminiscent of the royals and forming alliances through matrimony.

THE ENGAGEMENT & WEDDING

When a couple decides to get engaged this is no simple affair, both families become involved. The grooms family have to formally go to the brides house and ask for her hand in marriage. If the father of the bride agrees then the business talks begin. These discussions revolve around ; how simple or big of an engagement party there will be, the price range or how many carats the shabka they expect the daughter to have (3 rings, wedding band, diamond solitaire and diamond eternity ring), the size and location of the apartment or villa, Mahr is how much the grooms family is willing to pay to decorate the home along with all the electronics, how much the bride’s family need to pay to furnish the house, when and where the wedding will be and how big the wedding party will be and finally the wedding dress (the groom has to pay for that too). If everything is settled then they read the FATIHA a soura, (verse) from the Quraan (the holy book in Islam) that indictates they are promised to one another. From there is ‘TELBEES EL DIBEL’, the wearing of the rings or bands to indicate they are officially engaged. Then there is the KATB EL KITAB,  (literal translation is signing of the book) which is signing of the mariage certificate where the couple become legally husband and wife, but are not allowed to live with one another until after the wedding celebration.

A lot of these marriages from what my friend and I have seen don’t end blissfully. Many get divorced a couple of months after their honeymoon. Why ? because the men want a modern-day thinking wife but who will behave like the traditional woman, stay home, cook clean and look after their children. While the princesses don’t know how to do that and  he women expect to be waited on hand and foot and cajoled and adored all the time.

The marriages that don’t end in divorce; the wife either accompanies her husband on all his business trips and social outings to ensure that her man is steered clear from temptation  or she leads a life of high society socializing, while the children are left at home and raised by the Philippino Nannies and chauffeured around by their drivers. Their children are starved for their parents quality time, discipline and affection but instead of getting that  time they are compensated with ‘things’. Hence the Breeding of more spoilt brats!

These children grow very dependent on the help and have everything done for them! They don’t even get up to go to the kitchen to get their own glass of water, they holler for the hired help to come, take their order and then bring it to them. They aren’t taught how to tie their own shoe laces, pack their own school bags, tidy up their rooms and to put their dirty clothes in a hamper. To teach these children to be responsible falls on the shoulders of their teachers.

It’s a vicious cycle and it needs to be corrected before the damage is irreversible.

‘Do you know what I have a big problem with? Having to get the girl diamond rings with my father’s money, that is so wrong, it should be what I am able to afford’ my friend complained.

Another friend of mine was in the midst of getting engaged and told the brides family that he would be able to purchase 1.5 carat  pure diamond ring with a certificate. Her family didn’t approve they wanted a 3 carat ring so that she wouldn’t have a ring of less value than her sisters. When he said he couldn’t they said if it wasn’t a pure ring and if it had some faults in it that would be ok, just as long as it was a 3 karat ring. He said he wouldn’t be able to marry her.

(here are two guys who think the same way)

My friend that I had dinner with also expressed that he doesn’t want to be married or live with someone who can’t look herself. He would like to have someone to share the house hold responsibilities with and not have a live in maid who will do everything! ‘ I don’t mind someone coming to help 2-3 days a week, that is fine but not have someone at your beck and call 24 hours a day.’

Another thing that he can’t stand are the girls getting all dressed up and parading around in heels with a face full of make up just to go to the mall, cinema and the sporting club. ‘What’s wrong with flats and dressing casually?’

‘My kids will be disciplined and taught to tidy up their rooms, make their beds and put their clothes away. When they are old enough they will have weekend and summer jobs so that they know the value of hard-earned money. I don’t want lazy ass kids’

I text him to tell him he had inspired me to write this, in his response he laughed and said he has more venting to do.

I would like to be with or marry a man who can take care of himself and who can stand on his own two feet without hanging on to his parent’s coat tails. I would hate to be under the dictatorship of his or my family for being dependent on them financially. I admire and respect men who work hard, earns their own money and is ambitious ESPECIALLY if he is from a wealthy family. To see him work hard at his trade like he needs the money, when he actually doesn’t gives me a strange sense of peace. If a man can cook, do laundry and clean occasionally without running back home  to mummy, that would be an added bonus that I would be VERY grateful for. Alas, I have had no luck thus far and still remain an independent bachelorette. A 32-year-old female who is single in the Middle East means that she has past her expiry date.

Plus being an independent career driven, free thinking female doesn’t go down very well with most of the men here. Why you ask? Well, It’s because they know that I am not a puppet and if they try to pull my strings and force me to do their bidding, they know damn well that I will not put up with it.

I will remain a spinster until I find someone worthy of my time, companionship and my affections.

Have you ever been in a situation where the person in front of you is behaving in an improper fashion and in your mind you can envision yourself slapping them so that they will shut up? I have many moments like that and I call them Ally McBeal moments after the TV show. The character would have instances where she would be fuming with anger and in her mind she could imagine her head exploding from fury.

There are times when I’ve been on a date and the person I’m with thinks he’s the bees knees and can’t stop talking about himself that I wonder if I took a pin to his head, would his ego deflate. There are other times when people keep harping on about their complaints and tribulations and I stand trying to look as composed as possible but all I want to do is run for the hills or have a magic remote to put them on mute.

Does anyone else have moments like these or do I need to seek professional help?

My Dad is quite a traditional man and has some rules that my sister and I think belong back in the 1800′s. Just to give you some idea as to what I mean. As kids we were never allowed to sleep over at friends houses unless it was some dire emergency, never allowed to go on an over night school trip, dating  and boy friends are still a big NO! NO!, staying out past 11pm is out of the question, because ‘respectable’ girls/ladies would not be out that late’ and we are NOT allowed to go out to celebrate New Years! Why…? ‘Because, I said so and I am your father!’

So, I tend to get a little depressed when I hear about my friends making their GRAND plans for celebrating New Years and fretting over what outfit to wear. I usually go to bed at 10pm in silent protest.

Only recently am I feeling a bit thankful that I don’t go out on New Years Eve, the prices that people have to pay to reserve are just astronomical! If Christmas wasn’t enough to send you in to bankrupcy, New Year’s definitely will.

This year however, I would love to be out in the desert for New Years to be able to see the 2nd full moon of the month of December in the sky, lighting up the desert or on the top of St. Catherine’s in Sinai. They are calling it the Rare New Year’s Eve ‘blue moon’.

I’ve decide that this rare occasion is a sign of what’s to come this year. It’s going to be a GOOD, GOOD YEAR, where miracles will happen, dreams, prayers and wishes will come true, fortunes will be made and loves will be found.

To read more about the ‘blue moon’ it click here;

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091230/ap_on_sc/us_sci_blue_moon

So, I was recently introduced to an eligible bachelor. (Other than eating and football (soccer), setting people up and playing match maker is a favorite pastime in Egypt).

The person, who recommended me to him, doesn’t know me very well. If she had, she would have for seen this as being a disaster right from the get go! She had spoken with one of her friends about me and showed him some of my pictures on facebook. He liked what he saw, so he took the initiative to contact me. (A brave move on his part, I have to say. Think about it. What would you say to someone you have never met and doesn’t even know of your existence?) He sent me a private message on facebook telling me about his company and the trips that they do. He had been told that I enjoy hiking and camping and that’s what his company organizes. I was quite shocked to find that my acquaintance, had told him about me. So, I politely thanked him for getting in touch but told him that I couldn’t join any of his expeditions at the moment due to injuries in both my feet, (Tendonitis of the Achilles tendon….VERY PAINFUL) but I would keep it in mind once I have made a full recovery.

When I saw the person who had told the eligible bachelor about me and asked who the hell is he…her exact words were, ‘Nadia, he’s such a nice guy and he likes the out doors, he’s one of my best friends dooosy, 3ala shan khatri doosy’ (go for it, for my sake go for it). I was stunned!!! My thoughts were (you sneaky cow! you’re trying to set me up! How do you know what kind of guy I like or even want? I know it was done in the best of interest and with good intentions)

Anyhow… the bachelor wrote back. I had left an opening and an unintentional invitation for him to start conversing with me. (WOMEN ARE SUCH SUCKERS AT TIMES).The more we communicated the more I found myself interested and curious by the mystery person who I was chatting with. I didn’t make things easy for him. I didn’t add him to my friends list for 2-3 weeks. I wouldn’t give him my number. The more I got to know him through our chats, the more I thought he was a nice guy and eventually was able to figure out what kind of person he is. He is a pure-blooded Egyptian man, who is more conservative and religious than my father is. It is something that I am desperately trying to steer clear off.  So,  I took Steve Harvey’s advice and was just up front and honest. I told him that I wear a swim suite on the beach and at the pool, I dance salsa, I go to places where alcohol is served, I’m not religious, I celebrate Christmas and Easter and most of my friends are guys. (Most, if not ALL conservative fellows would not approve of the above one bit).  Oh, and most importantly, I am not willing to change or give any of that up. It’s who I am. I was sure that I had cooked his goose and would never hear from him again.

WRONG!!! He knew that I was returning from my Eid holiday in Alexandria and wanted to pick me up from the station. I told him that I didn’t want him to and that it wasn’t the place I would want to meet someone for the first time. He took no heed of my words and was at the station to pick me up. I couldn’t just have him drop me and leave, that would have been VERY rude. My parents didn’t raise me like that. (On reflection maybe that’s what I should have done).

We went for a bite to eat (no where fancy…it was like a take out store, you order your falafel sandwiches and leave) and then we went to Costa Coffee. We talked a little bit and then he dropped me home. When I was getting ready to leave to go upstairs and change to go out to the Canadian Embassy party he wanted me to call my friends and ask them not to pick me up so that he could take me. I said I couldn’t do that because we had arranged that we would all go together. So, he then asked me to go upstairs change and come back down and wait with him until they came to pick me up, (WEIRD!). I said no, I needed to unpack and get ready. An hour later he was still downstairs. I had a feeling he might be too, so I wasn’t conservative in the way I dressed. (Hoping to make him cringe and run in the opposite direction begging ALLAH to save him from a wicked temptress!).

I go to the party and have a great time, on the way back to Heliopolis I get a text message from I’m asking about restaurant to eat at in Alexandria and if he could pick me up from the Embassy party. I told him of one of my favorite restaurants to go to in Alexandria and that group of people he was taking there the following day on a tour would like it and that I was back in Heliopolis with my friends. Only to get another text message later to ask if he could pick me up from where we were hanging out, by then I was home. He then called to ask me to come down and go out with him at midnight! ‘NO, I AND I NEED TO SLEEP’.

Once he returned from his trip on Friday he sent me a message to ask if I was awake. I didn’t respond. He then sent another message a half hour later to ask me if he could take me out for breakfast. I didn’t respond till the following morning where I politely declined in a text message. That didn’t stop him from trying to see me later that day, offering to take me shopping, drive me to the physio therapist and in the end I agreed he could pick me up from my friends surprise birthday party. Not knowing he was going to kidnap me and take me across the city to have his car washed. While we sat at a cafe near where the car was being washed, I was finally able put a finger on who he reminded me of, My X boyfriend! The way he talked, his looks, facial expressions and hand gestures. I flat-out told him that hoping it would be the kiss of death and a major turn off  … BUT NO, that didn’t seem to even bother him in the least.  It was there I just flat-out asked him, ‘knowing what you know about whom I am and what I’m like, do you see anything happening between us?’

His answer stunned me ‘No, we are very different socially and in many other ways. The moment you were honest on one of our on-line chats, I knew that nothing could become of this.”

So…If he knows th can’at this can’t work out why pursue it, why would he even want to meet me? Am I a challenge to him?

I have to be totally honest with my self I have been enjoying that attention and being desired. It will be three years since my last relationship and 6 months since I last dated someone. I don’t want to lead him on, that is just cruel and I also don’t want my loneliness and need for TLC to get the best of me either.

I saw him a few times after that. During our outings, I found him to be handsome as well as charming, funny, family oriented, caring, and kind and behaved like a true gentleman. On one of our outings he actually asked me if I would consider ‘changing’, (not wearing swimsuits, not wearing revealing clothing (short sleeve t-shirts, strappy dresses, not going where alcohol is served…etc)) and that if I learned more about my religion that I may grow to accept it and like it. (Obviously he doesn’t know me very well. I had been on a journey of self discovery for a few years and I am FINALLY happy and comfortable in my own skin and with the person I have become and the person I am working towards becoming, why would I give up everything I have worked so hard to sort out at a whim for someone who doesn’t understand that?) I simply replied that I wasn’t willing to change who I was, my family, friends or my social life and I could NEVER ask someone to change who they were no matter what. Either I like them for who they are and accept them for what they are or I don’t. I have no right to ask them to change for me to suite who I am.

If he wasn’t too conservative for me as well as my family and social circle of friends, I most probably wouldn’t even think twice, I would take a leap of faith. Maybe I’m CRAZY but I really want a guy who can relate and understand my Middle Eastern and Western Roots and doesn’t mind that I am culturally and ethnically screwed up. I also want someone who will be able to get along with my family and friends without worrying about conflict of ideas.

I am who I am. A person needs to accept me for who I am with the good, the bad and the quirks. Another thing that makes us so different is our desires. I am motivated,  driven and inspired to move forward and finish my Masters Degree in Education and continue with my pursuit of becoming a children’s book author, (yes, I want to be rich, but have money earned from my hard work), earning enough money to be able to put my children through  an ivy league school and University, take care of my parents if I have to and I would like to own property (both here and abroad), While he isn’t interested in money that way. (call me an elitist or a snob, I don’t care)

One of my friends thinks I should give him a shot, while I don’t. I think I’d be giving too much of myself. The Core of Whom I Am Will Not Change.

After having  said ALL that, he still wants to see me! I have to say… he is very persistent.

UPDATE

5 hours after having published this on-line, He had called me 4 times that day, I had been busy so I hadn’t picked up and on the fourth call I answered and decided that the law had to be laid down. We were both very sincere and frank with one another. He said that he wouldn’t want to be the reason for me regretting ‘THE COMPROMISES’, changes I would make for him ( If I was to do so). (commendable and galant in my opinion).

We FINALLY concluded that ‘we’ are not best suited for one another and that it can not work out. He did make me promise that I  would not write him off completely and to keep in touch from time to time and if I should ever decide to change my ways to give him a call.

I’m very grateful that it ended amicably and not in a mud slinging match.

A song that I find very fitting to this situation is the song ‘I think I Better Leave Right Now’. If You don’t know it, click on the link and watch it on youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyE2Ugh-JQw

Stay Strong and NEVER GIVE UP WHO YOU ARE FOR SOMEONE….UNLESS YOU WANT TO CHANGE WHO YOU ARE, FOR YOU.

Requested and Reserved for a future issue of (in)sight Magazine 

When ever I am at a wedding a social gathering where my parent’s friend are present or seeing parents of former students one of the first question they always ask me is ‘eh inti lisa matgawizteesh?’ (you still haven’t gotten married yet?) Frankly I’m tired of it ! 

Here I am a three decades plus one year young  female who still hasn’t managed to nab herself a fish of any status or size. Here in Egypt it is considered close to tragic! I should have hooked a fish by my second year of university and been wed not long after graduation and been with child returning from the honeymoon. Being a single female at this age leaves some people to conclude one of two things. One, that there is something wrong with me if an eligible bachelor hasn’t claimed me for his own and Two, (my favorite) I’ve passed my expiry date.

 My response to that is as follows; The reason I haven’t been picked off the shelf is because I am such a rare piece that the average Joe doesn’t know how to appreciate me. I am a woman of rare substance, intellect and culture and men fear what is unfamiliar and unknown to them. Very few are man enough to step up to the plate to take a risk of actually looking past my physical appearance and getting to know what goes on in my cranium and those that do peek underneath the silky blondish brown wavy hair that sprouts from my head and falls upon my shoulders are more than often scared away because they know that I can not be their puppet and I have a mind of my own.

I won’t settle for being a prize that he shows off and parades around by his side like a Barbie doll at weddings and other social engagements. I want more and I demand to be treated as an intelligent equal of great worth.

 If there is a man who is unafraid of venturing in to the un known and would take a risk to get to know me through intellectual conversation and is capable of winning my respect, trust and lastly my affections he will be far richer than any king that we have come to know. The riches that I will bring to the table of the relationship are far more valuable than gold, gems and land put together.

 As for the question of my expiration, well, I beg to differ. With time, comes knowledge, skill and aging. The perfect process to make a bottle of mixed ethnic wine. I consider myself the wine of the universe. I age like a fine wine and improve with each passing day and year. So, I just keep getting better and better!

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