Sunday, November 30, 2014

Why I support Gay Marriage

For a few years now I have been quite close to being a gay marriage advocate. I not only tolerate gay people, I embrace them. I'm as far away from being homophobe as physically possible and I'm also very proud of that. Needless to say, the Homophobia I am surrounded with living in Egypt is one of the main reasons I cannot see myself staying here. I refrained from writing a blog about Homophobia before because I never felt entitled to take a stance in a debate that I am not involved in. I'm neither gay nor religious so I thought I didn't get either side of the gay marriage controversy. However, I've known for a long time now that I was wrong about that. The fact I'm neither of these things and still feel an overwhelming tendency towards one side tells me it's probably the right one.

In the early days of engaging with this topic I was, much like President Obama, on the fence about gay marriage. I didn't see why it had to be "marriage" they had to call it when they were entering a union. The biblical definition of marriage called for a mixed gender couple and I thought that was fair enough. Engaging with the topic for longer than ten minutes however made me realize that the Bible also calls for my personal rights as a woman to be completely different from the ones I'm executing and appreciating. Times do change and usually our society has accepted that medieval practices are necessary to change, even if they are not in accordance with scripture. At no point in my life have I been a particularly bible proof Christian therefore having little understanding for causing any kind of policy decision to be based on the word. Initially I had to come to realize though that I simply don't agree with the definition of homosexuality in a biblical sense which makes my view on gay marriage differentiate from the one the church has.

The most basic question is whether homosexuality is a matter of nurture or nature. If the church is correct then homosexuals have a choice and could simply change their mind if they want marriage so bad and go for a partner of the opposite sex. That's where they lost me. To me, homosexuals are neither sick nor in need of change and if they love someone of their own sex I see no reason for them to do anything about them. Granted, they could just call gay marriage a name that is not the word marriage but, then again, why? That would imply that they chose to be gay and hence gave up their right to get married. Since I believe it's their nature and nothing made them gay, for example Satan, why would I advocate for them to not have the same right as everybody else? Especially since the definition of family has also changed.

The biblical definition of a family calls for couples to unite in marriage to have a family. News flash: even gay couples can do that. So next time a straight person is infertile they will be denied marriage? Didn't think so. My marriage to a man will not change in the slightest if my gay friends get to do the same thing. Quite the contrary actually. The fact that I come from a country that had made efforts for equality makes me proud. First women needed to be equal. Nowadays nobody would even think of stripping women of their right to vote in Germany. With gay marriage it will sooner or later be the same thing. Discrimination has always been a thing but it's going to die as we all increasingly become more like each other in the next decades.

Most significantly, this debate is the sole reason why I abandoned religion. The rejection of homosexuality in all religions alienated me from it, not just my own. I thought love was the universal message of religion, yet many people are telling homosexuals who to love, quoting religion as the inspiration for such audacity. For anyone to make an assumption about homosexuality without being homosexual is intolerable and denying them equality is an act of hate. Especially in this country where gay people have virtually no legitimacy I shudder at the hypocrisy of all of these people displaying their religiosity all over the place. They all preach love and would call out gay people as sinners who are going to hell in the same sentence. Religious people do that with far more people than just homosexuals but it is initially the reason I find it impossible to associate with it. All I really remember from the Bible is the command to love my neighbor, and I intend to do so which is why I want them to enjoy everything I was lucky enough to have. And that is equality. For everyone.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Is the silver lining finally here?

I have been at my new job for almost a month now and in the course of that month my whole life has changed. I am not only a working individual, even enjoying the work I do, but I am also living in Africa, rebelling against oppression and dating an Egyptian guy, all scenarioas more ridiculous than the other. Throughout this entire year I was waiting for the moment when I thought that "the search" had ended and I finally found a purpose. Ever since I abandoned the PhD ambitions nothing seemed to even remotely make sense. Then I randomly moved to Egypt and nothing, genuinely nothing, is the way it was. Whoever has read this blog before will recall the posts in whichI asked the universe to change everything about my life, and for the first time in my life those prayers were heard. I am now trying to see if that was a good thing or not.

From a pretty early age my entire family believed I should be a journalist. Why that is the case remains a mystery to me because I only found out I was a good writer myself once I hit uni. However, as soon as I started writing I knew I was probably quite gifted. Most importantly, however, I actually enjoyed writing. Chances are that this is the true reason behind me wanting to do a PhD; so I could write all day. On the other hand, academic writing is so much harder than what I'm doing right now. I have written almost as many words as I have spoken in my life so it's not that hard for me. Hence, this job is awesome fun. I can write interesting stuff all day, but I can also write nonsense quite a lot. Either one, it's the only thing I really know how to do so it comes as no surprise I actually found myself a profession that lets me wrote all day.

Of course I'm not really what people believe I am saying I'm a journalist in Egypt. I don't go to Tahrir Square when I hear they are throwing tear gas bombs around. Instead, I am looking at this entire city from the office window, as far as smog visibility allows it, and think of things I could write that would entertain the people in it. Since I am one of these ridiculous list readers that browse the internet all day to find something to read that either makes sense or doesn't, I have fun at this job. I can't complain about the work environment either as the way people are trained, if you can call it that, is right up my street. Basically what happened was I showed up and someone said "Write!". Eventually someone said "Go to a meeting!" and then a little bit later someone said "Well done!" so I knew I wasn't ruining the company. Learning by doing got a whole new meaning around here.

The same time I've been working at my new job my boy of choice inhabited a flat to finally give us a chance to properly date. As I said before, dating in Egypt is a nighmare made in hell. As a matter of fact, calling it dating would be a horrible exaggeration. Due to my job environment being quite Western and my ability to hide out in my boyfriend's place this month I have now had an incredible time, just like every November (except last year!), in which it was easy to forget I actually do still live in a country I essentially find very, very annoying. This more that fulfilling month therefore has come as a much anticipated break to the utter crap I had to endure this year. I have waited for the moment I'm saying "I guess I see why all that had to happen!" for a long time and I feel I may be very close to feeling that way soon. If only it wasn't for missing Christmas and actually living in Egypt but I guess I can't have it all...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

4 Things I will never get used to in Egypt

Today I have been in Egypt for two months and more things happened than in the last two years combined. The original plan was to do a job that I had no interest in for as long as I could to have something written in my cv upon my arrival back in Europe. In the first few days I was already planning when the earliest moment to disappear again would be. The job I came here to do was an absolute nightmare, impossible to exceed in boredom and inability to learn anything at all. I was also living in a rather questionable area of Cairo which saw my departure even faster than the mind-numbing job. As a result, even my life in Egypt has already taken quite the turn since September 11. Having moved job and house already I feel like I get to say I have sufficiently settled into my new life. Most things I struggled with in the beginning are no longer scary. However, that does not apply to everything. I may not get scared easily anymore but there are certain things I haven't and will never get used to. Since I am now officially a writer  and make lists like this for a living I'll try to say a thing or two about them...

#1 Chronic bitch face is a thing
I quite like that I am often called "the nicest person". All my ex-boyfriends loved how friendly and caring I am or at least pretended to be. My current lover doesn't share that sentiment. In fact, he hates it. To my disappointment he uttered the words "I wish you weren't this nice!" more than once. The reason is obvious: the nicer you are in this country the more they will take advantage of you and exploit you. My hating boyfriend therefore really is a caring boyfriend although I just can't help but to still be pissed about it. I like being nice and I don't want to be rude. However, I may have to accept that my bitch face needs some practice. Rather than accepting this culture of never smiling, pushing people in the metro and yelling at everyone I get a chance to yell at I would prefer for everyone to realize that my way is better but I guess I'll be waiting for that to happen for a while.

#2 There is no silence! Anywhere! Don't try!
I found myself in a restaurant the other day that hosted about 15 other guests but me and my friends. It was a large room with basic furnishings. Despite less than twenty people and no children being in the room I was forced to scream in order for my friends to hear me. It doesn't matter where you are in Cairo there will never be anything that could only remotely be called silence. The absence of perpetual sound simply does not exist, never mind the absence of noise. There are no parks, and if there were you would find fifty to sixty children around you at all times or screaming grandpas that are pissed about something in Arabic. Every single street, whether it's at Tahrir Square or in a residential area going one way, will have honking cars because honking here does not mean "watch out!" but "Hey there, I'm going, you better jump!". There simply is no silence in a city crowded by 20 million people. Unfortunately, I will never stop missing wide open spaces and my ears not buzzing...

#3 I am now a celebrity!
So there is not a lot of blonde chicks around here so I get a lot of attention. My story of attending an economic conference in September has become legendary when the papparrazzi were oblivious to the fact I did not even belong there. These things have changed now since I now work for Egypt's biggest online magazine. In other words, if there is a party, I heard, I'm invited. On Thursday night I went to a new Pub opening including an open bar. When asked about being on the guestlist I was just urged to say the name of my employers and me and my plus one were making our way to the bar. People are more aware of the fact that working for Cairo Scene comes with a lot of benefits than me as they are trying to make friends with me immediately after I tell them what I do for a living. I will not get used to the fact I am getting my hair done by a French star-hairstylist next week as part of my job. It's awesome but I don't think I will ever adapt to taking this for granted and freak out every single time my profession buys me a drink...

#4 To hook up you will need a marriage license... like actually!

I'm not here to sleep with guys but man, would I be out of luck if I wanted to. Hooking up with guys is basically impossible. There are no possibilities to be alone anyways, and most people live in houses protected by security guys making sure the possibility for sex never arises. Consequently, private conversations or hugs do not happen either. For guys it must be even harder because identifying girls that are interested in romance is even more absurd. One of my friends took a girl to the movies the other day. As he was putting his arm around here during a showing of "Gone Girl" someone tapped on his shoulder and uttered "This is not allowed", shaking his head furiously. To have private time with these girls he meets he has to book two seperate rooms in a hotel and pray that the chicks don't get caught sneaking into his room. Hearing these stories I suddenly get why most of my Egyptian friends here claim how they always hook up with girls in their cars. At first I thought it was a weird obsession. Now I know, there is virtually no other option, and this one is far from perfect...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Those who have spoken to me or read this blog this year have been no stranger to the fact that it wasn't the best time of my life. Just like every Millenial I hit the quarter-life crisis this year with force, trying to figure out what my life was after I had abandoned my life plans to seek fulfilment. Most people are aware of the sad realities that come with post-grad life, for example perpetual application writing and despair. I, however, always relied on the fact that all I needed was one lucky break, and I was convinced I would just get lucky early on and not have to deal with these problems. Luck throughout my life had been decent and I doubted it would end once I really need some luck. Needless to say, relying on that was a pretty bad idea since it didn't work out at all. In the end I was genuinely concerned I had been cursed because my bad luck kept piling up in every aspect of my life. Now I have found a way to look at luck, and it's best described by looking at some scales...

Everybody is familiar with the ideas of Karma: if you do good things, good things will get back to you. Karma is a big, huge lie! I am not talking about myself in particular but I have witnessed an insane amount of people being miserable or happy because Karma had not given them what they deserve. Luck, however, is a real thing. Some people just have more of it than others. Luck to me means getting something you don't necessarily deserve. I came to realize I'm really not that lucky because I was hardly given something without working for it. Nevertheless, I consider it luck I was given the chance to acquire the things I received even if I had to work hard for them. I know many people who are way worse people than me though that were given the same things and more without a single ounce of effort. All they did was get lucky! At the same time, I know even more people who are nothing but wonderful and were given ridiculous hardships. Hardly fair! So Karma doesn't exist, but luck does.

As I was listening to a 44-year old Australian woman this week telling me what happened to her in life to make her end up here in Cairo, I realized that luck comes in shape of a balance. This woman was abandoned by her husband, torn away from her family and betrayed by her friends, prompting here to seek a new start in Cairo. For many months nothing good had happened to her. When she thought things couldn't get worse, her phone was stolen. The only thing I felt compelled to tell this extraordinary woman who had the courage to say "Fuck you luck, I will make my own luck!" and leave everything she knew behind was that her luck will change. Seriously good things are about to happen to her because luck is a scale, and it's severely shifted in a negative direction. To restore the balance luck will send some serious goodies. And I know that because I recently experienced it.

One could argue that coming to Cairo could not have been easier for me. I already had existing friendships and relationships so never really had to do the "starting over" thing. I was merely returning to a life I had already started on a microscopically small scale. From basically day one I had a male companion which makes life for a blonde chick in Cairo a tremendous amount easier. Of course there were challenges but I was spared so many of them because I had my sister, her friends and all of the people I knew here around me. After months of not finding any job I was suddenly also offered jobs I never thought I could get and accepted one of them just last week. You could definitely say that I was damn lucky this time. In the short space of two months I have now transformed from a bored, lonely jobless person to a busy career-chaser with too much to do to see her boyfriend. I had accumulated too much bad luck to justify having more of it, so my luck was bound to change. The scale had shifted too far, and now I'm ready for all the bad luck be returned on good luck...