Thursday, October 2, 2014

First thoughts at the pyramids

Last week I read an article in which the author talked about the benefits of writing. I always knew the biggest benefit of writing is to capture a feeling, and if possible sound good doing it. I've captured a lot of lows in my life in diaries and it’s a heartbreaking read I don’t recommend. Of course in my usual writing I am concerned that what I write sounds good and is either informative, entertaining or, ideally, inspirational. When it comes to my current situation expressing my feelings in words only prompts me to perish in expressions of negativity and anger. I want to capture every moment of emigrating to Egypt because I doubt than anything that would make me feel this way would ever happen again. Frankly, one sentence, although lacking in style and aesthetics, could say it all right away: I feel like crap! But let me try anyways to make ‘crap’ sound like a passable expression.

This past week was probably the worst one in a long time in terms of stress, desperation and exhaustion. I have no doubt this misery will take me to better places but boy, am I over being exhausted. I am a light sleeper who loves greenery and silence and now I live in Egypt. Consequently, sleeping is impossible not only because there is so much stuff going on in my head but also because it’s loud, nobody else seems to sleep and you’re sweating bullets without air conditioning. By far the worst is the impossible task of turning off my brain though. I can’t stop thinking about all the things that went wrong for me to end up here. Now while I think this opportunity is the best that could have happened to me right now I’m still shocked. I expected a lot of "annoying" and "shocking" coming here and I’m sad to say that I was quite accurate in my assumptions.

I am not overwhelmed by Egypt and I do not have a culture shock which most hobby psychologists would probably suggest right now. I’m definitely no stranger to the Middle East and I never assumed I’d be chilling by the pyramids all day. However, all the hassle is still getting to me. I’m not surprised but I’m still annoyed. Making things worse is that even for a German I am very German in the respect that I love efficiency, order and tranquility. Having said that, how am I here? I spent four hours in transit yesterday which I would be ok with if I was commuting to Manhattan from my countryside abode everyday. Distance just needs to be covered. In Cairo, on the other hand, I never really travel distances. All I’m asking for is a cab to take me the three miles to work which ends up taking 45 minutes because the driver is either trying to rip me off or as lost as I am. Needless to say, this is a nightmare for people like me who are obsessed with being on time.

It is emotionally draining to come to terms with the fact that a lot had to go wrong in order for me to end up here. I will cease to think like that soon but for now that thought occupies everything I do. I do feel like I cannot be myself due to the role that I am expected to play here being a woman or a foreigner. It is very well possible that it’s just in my head but I do not feel equal and I feel restricted in my Western definition of freedom. This can only be a good experience for someone who has been spoiled with freedom all her life and is ultimately hoping to be able to contribute to other people’s freedom. The hard facts only point to the truth that this is the biggest opportunity for me in terms of professional and personal progress. However, it just happens to be uncomfortable, hard and off-putting at the same time. And I thought I had deserved a little break from that.

Concluding, I can’t say what’s going to happen. I know I have never felt more uncomfortable living anywhere but then again I never lived in a comparable place. I don’t fit in here for extremely different reasons than the ones I have in Germany for feeling that way and I don’t see that changing. At the same time, I have never lived anywhere with better potential to meet interesting people. In only one week I have encountered more people that own life than in Germany my entire life. People’s stories here are just vastly better. I am going to see my feelings for Cairo as the sacrifice I have to make in order to be around people that are inspirational and will teach me how to change my life. Because that's basically what needs to happen, and how to achieve that better than to do exactly the opposite of what you've done so far? I should adopt the Egyptian way of not giving a crap about anything and just see what happens... 

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