Monday, January 14, 2008


The first two weeks of 2008 were wrecked with indecision, life in limbo, a lot of soul searching and general frustration. I was offered a job as feature writer for a newly-launched women's magazine in Dubai and to go or not to go was heavily influenced by several factors, the promise I made to my parents to come back home after Egypt, reservations about living in a society like Dubai, reservations about working at a women's magazine and the urgency of it all — I just simply didn't feel done with Egypt. I still hadn't travelled through Palestine to Syria and I am still halfway through my Arabic course and I would've had to pack up my entire life here in Egypt and leave within two weeks.

I got tired of talking about it. Everyone was constantly asking, "Are you going? When are you going? When do you decide? Why? When will you get married?" (Okay, the last one, no one really asked, but the pressure is on, from certain parties) For unexplained reasons, I just lay back. I couldn't make a decision, it was too hard. I don't think I've ever felt this torn, this confused about making a decision, and it was a decision no one else could make for me. Lord knows, I had plenty of advice, pulling me towards either side. I had friends urging me on the phone to speak to my mother, convince her why this was the right thing to do. But I didn't KNOW if it was the right thing to do.

So I just sat. And waited. I don't know what I was waiting for, if anything. And then last night, I was hanging out with Yasser Bhai and Sufi at their apartment in Zamalek, and Yasser showed me one of his TV interviews that he had filmed when he was working for CBC. With Yann Martell. Those of you on my Facebook know that where you list 'religion', I've written, "Read Life of Pi and you will understand," and that this book is very dear to me. When Yasser mentioned that he had interviewed Martell, I was totally blown over.

After watching the interview on the laptop, suddenly something clicked and I just knew. I wasn't going to Dubai. I made a decision to go into journalism because I wanted to report on things I cared about. It all started with my fascination and dismay at religious nationalism in the subcontinent. I realised that after a year of writing about moisturisers (ok I exaggerate, feature writers dont do beauty reviews), I'm going to get tired and I will still be nowhere near the serious stuff that I came into journalism for. It may not be as fun — which girl doesnt dream of working for a women's magazine and devouring all the free goodies? — but it isn't what I'm aiming for. There were many reasons to go to Dubai, and many reasons not to, but my priority was on my career and the job upon which everything hinged — and I've realised, the job isn't worth it. So that finally tipped the scale.

So thank you Yann Martell, for peace of mind - yet again.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2000...and shit.

A friend of mine messaged me this morning. She's 28, living in Singapore, and she says, "Just brought in the new year here. Boring. Enjoy your youth. It's all downhill from here." Her message made me pause for thought. What a way to start the new year! It made me pause because I'm going to turn 24 next month. Is it really all downhill from here? I had the impression things were on their way up! Judging from my time in Cairo at least, which so far has been one of the best years in my life. In fact, it's in Cairo where I've met friends much older than me, having the time of their lives, despite not being 21 anymore. And by this, I don't mean having 21-year-old kind of fun, getting wasted and pulling meaninglessly...but leading rich lives, meeting fascinating people, travelling to beautiful places, spending quality time with friends. It seems the older you get, the better you know how to enjoy life. Isn't that a good thing?

But maybe it's just this little bubble that we live in called Cairo. We're always talking about how we aren't living in the 'real world', how life here is almost uni-life like. Except its not. We're all holding down jobs, building careers. We pay for rent, pay the bills, deal with landlords and deal with what is sometimes a not very easy city to live in. We cook, damnit! Yet, we still meet up on a daily basis, we still do imaginative things (I'm thinking of Murder Mystery Dinner two nights ago). Is it because we live away from our families, familial obligations? (I'm not really trying to answer any of my questions here — right now, my brain isnt really working, so I'm just focusing on raising the questions. I had to blog because it's part of my new year plan.)

But I also have much younger friends in other parts of the world who already act like they have 4 kids and a spouse. So maybe it is country-specific. Attitude-specific?

I start the new year with no passport, and no clue as to what's happening to me in the next 2-3 months. I know most of us don't know what's happening in the near/far future, but I literally do not know where I will be. Have an awesome job offer in Dubai starting end of January, but several factors hold me back from taking it just yet. A confusing start to the year such as this makes it a tad difficult to make resolutions, make plans. Nevertheless, I rang it in with good friends, good times, and what is shockingly, my second NYE celebration in Cairo. I'm not going to bother recapping 2007, because I did that on my Arab-versary post. And I cant really make any projections for 2008 yet since I don't know what the hell I'm doing. All I hope for is as much energy and enthusiasm as in the past...and that I never lose the child inside me.