Moving to Kuwait

If you have been following my writings so far, you would probably know by now that I’m an Egyptian who is living in Cairo, but actually a few months ago I decided to relocate and move somewhere else. Well, I teach undergrad students and I ended up accepting a job offer at a university in Kuwait and that was quite a move!

I was quitting my familiar work place, a place where I have worked for 9 years, my not so comfortable anymore comfort zone. I was leaving Egypt, the place where I have lived all my life, my beloved family and friends, the vibrant social life I had in Cairo, and my car (God, how I miss my car!!). Perhaps I was leaving behind even more than just that to start anew at a country I have never visited before, where I knew almost no one, alone; a single Egyptian Muslim female, that’s me. And I was doing so, amongst the dismay of some friends and the constant worrying parents hold for their kids, no matter how old they get. You read that right yes, kids because to our parents we will never be grownups.

With my friends in the Fiord Bay of Taba <3

With my friends in the Fiord Bay of Taba ❤

And despite what was going on in my head back then, I was actually enthusiastic about the idea more than I was worried! I guess I needed such an opportunity to aid me in putting some things into perspective when it came to my career in academia. You see, I have been having an identity crisis regarding my career in academia over the last couple of years, ever since I got through my horrible master’s degree experience; an experience that left me feeling worthless. And with work being not so good either and the fact that I can’t make up my mind regarding my PhD, I ended up feeling lost and confused about everything. I had me convinced that I’m not cut up for this; with this being academia/postgrad studies. I totally believed that this is it, no more teaching for me, I’m not good enough, I can’t even start on my PhD; so what the hell am I doing to myself being stuck in such a career?

But at the same time I kept on thinking, what else could I do? I love teaching despite everything and I have been teaching ever since I graduated and don’t know anything else to do except that. I just felt adrift and the feeling continued to mushroom with no intentions to subside till I almost quit! But just before I was about to quit everything God sent me a message; a message in the form of a job offer and back then I thought to myself that maybe God has another plan stored for me and maybe this is not the time for me to quit academia, at least not just yet. I got this job completely out of the blue! I only needed to show up for the skype interviews and within less than a month one thing led to another and I found myself with a signed contract in hand, declaring that I would be joining the university in few months’ time. I couldn’t help but think that perhaps I felt the way I felt towards my job because I was only stuck with the wrong crowd at the wrong place, and that I only needed a fresh experience to help me make up my mind objectively. I presume this was God’s way in urging me not to give up on academia for the time being.

The last person to see before I take off .. Thank you for being there and making the minute where I collapsed with emotions more easy for me <3

The last person to see before I take off .. Thank you for being there and making the minute where I collapsed with emotions more easy for me ❤ On a side note, she technically wasn’t the last person I saw since I ran into another friend who was leaving for the UK but she was there at a very important moment and I highly appreciate that ❤

So I decided to leave the familiar and go for the unknown because perhaps the problem with my career identity crisis was all in my head! Perhaps what I needed was to simply escape my norm, my current life, the dissolving relations and the hardships, all the blows that knocked me down and tied me to the floor. Maybe I needed to be on my own for a while, to distance myself from the fuss, to remove the piles of sorrow that have been accumulating over the past few years, to allow my mind to see the light after a long period of stumbling in the dark, to let myself return to its set back and relaxed form in order to be able to think clearly about what’s next in general and not only about my job. So the timing couldn’t have been more perfect! How could I have said no to such an open door! I just had to walk through, to cross over and experience whatever was waiting for me on the other side.

My baby sister and I in Taba :)

My baby sister and I in Taba 🙂

When the time for me to leave kept on getting closer and closer, I chanced on the sentimental part of my personality; a part that I have not been acquainted with before! I was in denial about my departure till the very last minute when I needed to sort my stuff out for packing. I spent my last two months travelling around Egypt, meeting family and friends and having such a great time that it didn’t feel like I was leaving at all. It was like me enjoying my summer doing things and meeting people but it all hit me when I had to pack because I received my plane ticket. I was not travelling on a short duration trip this time; I was actually leaving my home to live elsewhere for at least a year!

One last coffee with my best friend of college days ... I miss you buddy :*

One last coffee with my best friend since college days … I miss you buddy :*

I started to go through my belongings and thought how should I decide what to pack and what to leave behind in such a situation? How should I pack my tangible and intangible belongings when every single one of them is attached to a memory and means a lot to me? What are the things I would want to have with me to make me feel at “home” or to make it better if I’m faced with a rough day? I always thought it will be easy to pack and live somewhere new but putting the excitement of that idea aside I have to admit it wasn’t that easy.

It wasn’t easy for me to condense all my stuff in just two pieces of luggage; I almost had a panic attack during packing on the night of my departure!! I felt that I wanted to pack EVERYTHING!! OMG, I felt I wanted to pack my room, the whole room with everything in it, including my bed 😀 I’m one of those people who are attached to their stuff and it was never an easy task for me to let go of things. But I have been adapting a decluttering scheme for almost a year now, and that taught me to abandon lots of unnecessary things and feelings. I have to say moving to Kuwait helped me with that scheme even more, as it taught me not to cling to things, places, people, etc. because eventually all of these are subject to change! I got to know that at a certain point of time I would need to let go, to put the weight down and carry on, and that I would better hold on to the meanings of things rather than the things themselves. You have to admit that when you start to declutter, to move all the rubble away, you will feel at ease and peaceful inside; at least I can say that for myself. That kinda makes sense actually because when you do so, you will only be surrounded by what’s really important to you. At such a moment I believe one should appreciate what one has and be thankful for it, and I can truly profess that I’m entirely grateful for everything, and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way!

We have been friends for years and that was the first time we meet on my side of town :D

We have been friends for years and that was the first time we meet on my side of town 😀

So I did all sorts of “packing” which also included all the love I had received from family and friends bidding me farewell – a love that left me feeling blessed and overwhelmed- and flew to Kuwait to start on this new phase of my life. I landed with no expectations at all and was blown away by how it’s been going on so far. I had an impression about Kuwait that it’s somehow a conservative country with nothing much going on socially or even culturally but I was wrong! So far I have been meeting amazing people and making new friends, doing things and learning about new stuff, attending amazing performances and musical concerts. But most importantly I’m slowly coming back to my old me and restoring my faith in myself, and what I can accomplish! Of course, there are some tussles who said life is easy, huh? But even those tussles and hustles can teach you things and make you grow wiser; so I can’t really complain.

What a cool bunch of professors we are :D going for a paintball fights on the weekend :)

What a cool bunch of professors we are 😀 going for a paintball fight on the weekend 🙂

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences”, says Eleanor Roosevelt; therefore, I’m reaching out 😉

Kuwait, thank you for the great time i'm having so far

Kuwait, thank you for the great time i’m having so far 🙂

32 and counting

So, my 32nd birthday was almost two weeks ago. Yes, I just turned 32 on January 7. I’m aware that most people feel insecure about their real age; especially females but I have to say I find it a bit strange when males act in the same manner! This makes me wonder why such a number matter that much? Why do people feel the need to hide it? Isn’t it just a number? And why would the “magnitude” of that number cause such trouble? I then think that what if we measured our age by what we have accomplished in our lives? Wouldn’t the “magnitude” have a different meaning then? How about measuring age through the way we have lived our lives instead of the number of years that count for our age? Or even measuring it with what we have done or where we have been to? Wouldn’t we want a big “magnitude” for that? So that we feel we did something with our years and that they didn’t pass by in vain!! Why can’t we look at our age from that perspective? We can then recognize how insignificant that number is when compared to how rich our lives can be and maybe then it won’t be such a threat anymore and we can actually be cool about it!

Well, I chose to measure my age by how prosperous my life has been and hope that I score high because in such a case I will feel that my life is worth it; that I succeeded in living and didn’t let the years just pass me by with nothing important to cling to or remember. I believe at such a moment it won’t make a difference if I’m in my 40ies or even early 20ies! Because simply at the end of the day it’s up to me to make my life count and that has absolutely nothing to do with a silly number. It’s me who can choose whether to enjoy my life and do the things I have always wanted to do; the things that make me happy or just give in to life!! I believe if we fail to notice that number and just start focusing on the things that matter the most to us and not that one thing we can’t control which is our age we will be able to see things differently; clearly even and we will just be amazed. We need to be in charge of our lives and not allow numbers to tell us what to do; we should know better.

So looking at how my previous year looked like; I have to admit it was kind of a tough year. I have lost people close to my heart and life is not the same without them anymore. I have faced challenges that I’m still trying to cope with until now; challenges that have left me feeling lost. And now at age 32 I feel more lost than I have ever felt before. I never felt uncertain as I do now; it feels as if I’m pursuing a mirage and the more I run towards it the more it disappears. I have always thought I knew what I wanted to do or how I wanted my life to turn into but at the moment nothing is certain anymore! Maybe I just thought to myself I’m now old enough not to feel disoriented, I’m now old enough to “assume” that I know what I want but why would that be the case? Should I really know it all? I feel lost though at peace and that’s maybe because I need to lose me in order to find myself.

However with all the downsides of that year I have to confess that I had great moments as well. I was able to travel to Italy (one of my dream trips :D); I made new friends; I shared wonderful times with my family and friends; and I consider that starting my blog is my biggest achievement for 2014 because I found out how writing makes me happy. I’m grateful for all that has come my way, I’m grateful for all the experiences that made me who I’m today. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been the same without all the ups and downs.

So for 2015 I decide to learn from my experiences good or bad. To surrender to the things that make me happy and the people who fill my life with joy. To accept change and not be afraid of it as I don’t know what it holds for me so why presume it will be something bad. I decide to continue to be good to others but myself the most; to take care of myself body and soul. To not allow myself to be broken over things I can’t control, and be strong enough to let such things go in order for me to move on. I decide to just be and as I’m getting “older” I choose to accept what life has in store for me and as Sam Cooke says “There been times when I thought I couldn’t last for long but now I think I’m able to carry on. It’s been a long, a long time coming but I know a change gon’ come, oh yes it will”

So yes, a change is gonna come and I opt to be hopeful remembering the words of the great Rumi “Never lose hope my heart, miracles dwell in the invisible”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music, Lyrics, and Life

Have you ever listened to a song and thought “oh my Gosh that describes me perfectly?” You are in that mood and all of a sudden a song starts playing and it simply gets through you and what you are feeling in that very minute as if it has been written specially about you. Well, it happens to me all the time!!

That moment when an unjust falls upon me I feel that my “heart is heavy does it show”. Or when almost everybody around me behaves strangely and I’m like “they are talking in a language I don’t speak and they are talking it to me “. A friendship goes south and I think “nothing is really making any sense at all let’s talk”. When people or close friends let me down I assume “maybe I’m just a ghost, what’s the point of feeling love for you when you don’t believe I’m here”. That moment when life gets tough and I become aware that “every time I try to walk through walls more walls appear”. And just then I remind myself that “life is a race and I’m gonna win, yes I’m gonna win. I choose to survive whatever it takes”. When “oltremare” reminds me of a friend and though I bring myself to tears every time I listen to it I just can’t stop myself from either listening or remembering and only then I think that: yes, I will meet you beyond that sea so till then my friend. That bad day which gets me thinking “sunny days where have you gone? Why doesn’t it always rain on me?”. When suddenly I feel like “قوم نحرق هاالمدينة و نعمر واحدة أشرف ”. That friend who makes me wonder “I’m fooling myself; you say you love me then you do it again”. The butterflies I get because of that specific someone, that someone who causes me to believe “to be with you is easy; I know you are good for me”. And when I get that urge of wanting to leave everything and everyone and just go somewhere, I simply wish if “أنا بس لو سيارة لبعيد تاخذني”.

Are songs and lyrics only about feelings and emotions? Don’t they provide a good source of advice?! Doesn’t listening to words like “I know that someday soon we’ll all be gone so let it all out. Let it all out today and give me some love. Yeah, give me some love. Come on, give me some love today” make you believe that maybe life it too short to hate, envy, or to be stuck with the wrong crowd!! Isn’t it too short not to show that you care or not to spend it with those you love and love you back!!

What about “Dream on, little dreamer! Follow all your signs. You got to gather up what you need, you need to choose a direction and when the moment is right for you got to go”? Those few words that pass on the message of pursuing your dreams, of being resilient and strong willed to go for what you want!

 

It’s endless when it comes to music. There will always be that melody, that line, that sensation which invades your soul leaving you in trance.

So simply keep on listening 😉

 

 

Note:

أنا بس لو سيارة لبعيد تاخذني is Arabic for: if only I was a car, I would have drove myself very far.

قوم نحرق هاالمدينة و نعمر واحدة أشرف is Arabic for: let’s burn this city to the ground and build a more honorable one.

 

 

 

 

I Miss …

I miss the old “me”; the “me” who was fit and used to exercise regularly.

I miss going hiking; sinking myself in the beauty of a mountain and the serenity at the top.

I miss a good live jazz concert.

I miss you my friend <3.

I miss the moment when I thought I knew it all.

I miss the time when I was sure about what I wanted in life.

I miss Sinai.

I miss the gatherings of old friends.

I miss laughing my heart out till my stomach hurts.

I miss the feeling a good book gives me when I’m not being able to put it down till I have read its very last word.

I miss that moment after I have read a good book; having it closed in my hands and going through all of its events in my head recalling how it felt then.

I miss breakfast at my favorite place.

I miss setting by the steps of Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence watching the sun as it sets over the city while listening to a street musician playing tunes that I love. 

I miss the “me” time that I used to treat myself with.

I miss planning for a new trip already.

I miss the days when life was simple, demands were not much, and people were truthful.

I miss the golden days of the Egypt I see in the pictures wishing I was able to witness such a time.

I miss preparing pizza with my friend’s mom at their kitchen.

I miss the excitement of being driven to the airport to catch a flight.

I miss the moment of arrival to my destination waiting for the adventure to begin.

I miss that fine day at the park on a beautiful autumn morning in Madrid back in 2011.

I miss the moment of disappointment which goes forgotten by a pleasing one.

I miss being in Granada for the first time and falling in love with the city.

I miss the mess caused by making zalabya with my Italian friends 😀 (You know who you are).


The list just goes on and on and on …

But why such moments are always remembered with a mixture of happy and sad feeling? Is it because we remember the good moment and how it made us feel back then but instantly realize that it’s laid in the past now so we end up getting that sad accompanying feeling! It’s weird how a single memory can bring us happiness and sadness simultaneously.

Memories come and go; they come to make you either happy or sad and go to make room for new ones. Such memories are better appreciated for what they make out of us for they are the reason behind what we are today (I believe).

We better be grateful and appreciative. Cherishing the good and learning from the bad and just smile when such moments are being remembered.

 

Note: There is no specific order for what I wrote. Coming first doesn’t mean I miss you the most. I just wrote about what I think I really miss at this very moment.

 

 

 

 

Emptiness

That feeling of being empty within; the big deep hole of nothing inside your being.  
 
A heart that’s vacant like a hollow statue or an uninhabited town; sad and yet so numb; believing but finding it hard to accept.
 
How to fill in such a void when everything that’s being said or done doesn’t seem to be enough.Pour; pour a little more and the gap still remains; wide and opened. 
 
What’s the way to putting ends together bringing that long winding road to an end? How to jointly bring those little pieces back? What’s the means to be whole again?
 
 
Mere thoughts! 

In The Memory of Heba El – Husseini

I’m still trying to catch my breath here and realize that you have left us to a better place.
 
And though you are not here with us anymore I’m so grateful that our paths intertwined. I’m grateful that I met you and had the chance to have you as a part of my life, a part that I will miss dearly. You brought light to my life, a light with a flare that will keep sparking my life forever and for that I can’t thank you enough.
 
Heba was the reason behind my smile and many others’. I wish I could live up to that, I wish I could live up to what she was and be the reason behind some person’s smile.
 
I learned from her how to be positive, how to look at the bright side of things believing that there is always a better ending which we fail to notice. I learned from her how to overlook the bad in people and not allow it to affect me in any way possible. She taught me not to regret a good deed that went unappreciated. I learned from her kind heart not to hold a grudge, to forgive and forget; to be good to everyone and to myself the most. And even that she is gone I’m still learning from her. And I believe the most important lesson of them all is to be passionate about what I love and simply go for it. So find out what you are passionate about and just go for it, go for it and never mind what people might say because they will talk anyway. So you better live your life for you and not for them.
 
I learned the hard way how life is too short to envy or to resent. It’s too short to live with anger or to postpone something that you want to say or do. You simply may not get a second chance and now might be your only chance. And here I’m; being sent another tough reminder about how tomorrow may not come and that today might be all what I have got. We keep on imagining that we might have all the time we want but no we don’t unfortunately! Time is a luxury that we can’t control. So act now because you may not have a “later”. Speak the words you have always wanted to speak. Do the things you have always wanted to do. Be there for the ones you love and show them that you care. Now is the time, now is the life. Not tomorrow, nor next week, nor later, it’s now. Live in the “now”, don’t regret the “former” so that you be happy in the “later”.
 
It breaks my heart how I can’t have more time with you now; how we didn’t get to travel together as much as we wanted; and how few photos I have for me and you together.
 
I’m glad we finally made it to Zooba at “Sohour” time this last Ramadan. I will miss joking with you about Ramadan’s zillion types of “Konafa” and getting confused by which ones to try worrying about the huge amount of calories we will gain.
 
You were such a great inspiration to me; a very good example on how one should live his/her life. I look up to you and hope that one day I can get to be half of the loving and caring pure soul that you were.
 
You will be profoundly missed my friend. This is not a farewell; it’s a good bye till we finally make it up for all the time lost in a better more beautiful place.
 
So, till then buddy.
 

 

Rest in peace.
 
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” – Rumi