What my two week stay in Germany taught me about Home and myself.

Two weeks ago I finally started my journey into the uncharted (to me) lands of Europe. Before these two weeks, I never knew what the inside of an airport looks like, I had never met more than 8 or 10 outsiders and I definitely didn’t know what to expect. It was overwhelming and at the same time frightening.

As an Egyptian one grows up to these oh so familiar words of “you’ll come back. It’s your nature; you’re Egyptian” and in a way, I think I am beginning to understand that. Mind you, I am one introverted motherfucker. I hadn’t talked to someone other than family in person for a month before I left, so I people-wise, I shouldn’t miss much, right? I still don’t know if it’s because I’m having living arrangement problems or if I’m just scared of the whole Germany thing, but humans seek familiarity and ability to integrate. For all I care, fuck the entirety of Egypt, its streets and the government, but when you come to a country where you speak like an illiterate half-wit, you really begin to notice how strange this place really is. You can’t just grab a German and have a deep discussion about politics or ethics or what not. I am pretty sure it will take a long ass time before I can write something so concise and easy to write as this and it’s even the more reason to feel pissed at being in another country. I am definite being in an English-speaking country will almost completely negate that, but still, that’s an entire lifetime, culture, language and interactions you can barely relive. It leaves a hole in you, mind you, a shit hole, but a hole nonetheless. But Egypt is like your abusive partner that you hate. They may feel familiar and they rid you from having to exert effort to find another partner, but they are bad for you on the long-run. I am pretty sure I’ll come to like this later, but for now, it just feels weird. I can say for sure though, living in a country so orderly and beautiful can bring one some inner happiness and peace. What I am trying to say is, you’ll enjoy life a bit more, but it will never feel “wohl” like the Germans say. It’s not that Egypt’s people are especially good company or anything, it’s the mere irreversible fact that I was born here.

I think the second thing I’d like to talk about is quality of life. Not the one on paper, but enjoyment of life I guess. In a sense I’d say I’m somewhat depressed or I find life to be bland. Don’t know if anyone else feels as such, but being outside doesn’t make life any more or less enjoyable, if anything, it makes it a bit worse. I don’t know what I thought, but I guess I thought life would be easier? More secure? maybe Egypt was the cause of my misery? Maybe I’ll find more people that are into the same things that I’m into since I’m not in bumfuck Egypt where half the people don’t even know what Netflix is, but it didn’t matter anyway. If you weren’t happy in Egypt before you left, you won’t be happy when you come.

Does that mean that I’m saying that wasn’t worth it coming here? I don’t think I can answer that. For me, it wasn’t a matter of how I feel, it was a matter of what was best. That doesn’t mean that you will be saddened by coming here or any such shit. On the contrary I never felt this welcome as a person or never understood what it’s like to be treated as a human, not as a stain of shit. In an alternative universe though, I really hope I was born somewhere else. I really do.

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My first (and hopefully last) Aufwiedersehen.

Today is the first day ever that I leave Egypt. Part of me is excited about the experience, the other part of me is dead with fear. I sometimes have an emotional breakdown thinking about what the hell I just commited to. I just decided that rather than wait in Egypt for 5 years, learn comfortably in a language I know with a considerable scholarship then easily go on to do a masters out there, I gave all of that up to chase the dream of learning in a foreign country in a language I know nothing about without even blinking. What’s even worse is that I dragged my parents into this. Risking one’s life is fine, but other people’s livelihood? It’s a burden you have to live with. At this point it isn’t just about the financials, I just sacrificed a great great deal of comfort during education so I can go to Germany 3 years earlier or some such shit. Loads of studying are no problem, but language difficulty? That just affects my understanding on such a dangerously fundamental level. This uncertainty along with the risk, makes me wonder if I did the right thing. I usually pride myself on being methodical, planning with some sense of foresight, but I think my hate for this country blinded me. I never take risks, even if they may be worth it. I find security in the mundaneness of life. It never bothered me and I never bothered it. I don’t really know what happened or how I got here, but I don’t know if it’s the best for me. All I know is, is that I committed myself to something that is probably going to be very uncomfortable for me. I’d like to say that I’m happy to be out of Egypt. But to be honest, maybe my problem is far greater than hating or loving life here. I think I just simply hate life. I hope I’m wrong. Regardless of whether or not I enjoy this, I hope above all that this risk is worth it. At least for my parents’ sake.

Eitherway, I guess this is my first and hopefully my last Aufwiedersehen. Bis bald, Leute.

Irreligion in Egypt: how and why we should reconsider our stance on it.

Since the days of Ramadan are finally before us, I imagined now would be a good time to be a filthy infidel and talk about athe- I mean the filthy kafers. We’ll also take a jab at the Egyptian view on the “issue” and just generally give people perspective of how Egyptians not only view Atheism, but any other differing belief from “الهلال و الصليب”.

First rule of of freedom of belief in Egypt, you’re only allowed to be Muslim or Christian. Oh, and you’re not allowed to convert. Why, you ask? Probably cause you don’t want the angry mobs from either side threatening to destroy your life, either literally or figuratively speaking. There are two end paths to having a different view or converting in Egypt, either A) Your family pushes crazy nutjob extremists in your face to try and bring you back to your senses until it ends in violence or B) People around you “accept” your opinion, but in reality they still give you the weird look of “I only accept you, because I have to”. It’s horrible. Basically, there is no freedom of belief or respect of the other opinion. People in Egypt are so insecure about their faith and how fragile it may be, that they refuse to allow anyone to even slightly endanger it. You’ve hear the saying “الشعب المصري متدين بطبعه”. In reality though a more fitting saying would be that Egyptians want to feel that they’re devout and moral in their own way.

Pretty much since Islam started in Egypt, Egyptians have slowly built an overwhelmingly great echo chamber. Hell, you can still hear echoes from the guys in the 18th century. This bubble that Egyptians have created just absolutely distanced them from all the other voices in the world. It embedded in their mind a thought and that thought still flourishes till today. There are no different beliefs, there is no possibility that there are possibly other correct views in the world and if you say otherwise, then you’re an infidel and a traitor. In Egypt, you are either muslim or wrong.

“But why the hell would we even care about changing the situation?”, you bearded devout people ask. Well, beardy, veiled men, it’s basically because pretending atheism doesn’t exist, serves only to create more atheists. Weird, right? No, not actually. There are many many dimensions to how someone can reach the conclusion of being atheists and each person has their own reason for it, but we’ll discuss just a few. First of all, there’s the atheist that looks at Muslims here, sees the intolerance and close-mindedness of muslims here, then at the same time takes a look at speakers for atheism, with their science and support for all beliefs. Involuntarily, they pick the guys who have their shit together, the guys that support what the new, civilised world supports. Sure there are other Muslim speakers that speak similar sense, but when comparing the behaviour of the people themselves, it’s not hard to see which group the confused human would choose.
There’s also the guy that’s one the fence about the issue, the person that wants to believe so badly, but they just can’t find the support they need to continue keeping on believing and why would you blame them? Where can the average person find discussions about controversial or supposedly “taboo” issues. The truth is that there is absolutely zero effort being exerted into trying to make people believe that Islam can exist in the modern world and our modern philosophy. Religious speakers and Imaams just recycle the same religious lessons every.damn.year. We get it, don’t throw trash at your neighbours and pray a lot, can we now move our train of thought to the 21st century? This religious bubble of ours has effectively bit us back. The average Egyptian muslim simply cannot debate for their own religion against other beliefs. He has no understanding of the fine details of his/her religion or how its philosophy makes sense in the grand scheme of the universe. We have hundreds of religious shows, movements and speakers, when all of them speak in a manner that is supposed to imply singular thought only and pretend that no one else exits or has valid points, then it is natural for people to give in to doubt.

How might we fix this? Simple, treat irreligious people as your intellectual equal. No looking down, no arrogance, no nothing. Frankly speaking, you aren’t even in a position to display arrogance. Most of Egyptians didn’t even get to choose their religion and even then, you believe in a religion among tens of others. More importantly, you have no empirical evidence of your claim to the truth. In reality, no one has decisive proof; people have been arguing for centuries over ideological differences. In other words, religion and belief are purely subjective matters and you’re not right until we find out what happens after death. Simply try and adopt that school of thought. You are not better than atheists. You are not smarter. You didn’t find the truth, you only believe that you found it. Atheists might be true. We will never know who’s right, but we can try and present evidence. Shift our opinions to better adapt to the arguments of today and please respect the sanctity of the freedom of belief. Treat everyone as your intellectual equal and always remember that we’re all in this scary immense universe together and it’s better we help ourselves understand it, rather than fight over who understands it better.

Oh, also, Happy Eid you happy betches.

The ultimate dream of never having to dream.

After millions of years of existence, evolution, some wars in the middle, and the relative peace we have now, it seems humanity’s only grand purpose now is to…well, there isn’t much purpose now is there? Yup we finally did it. We sort-of-but-not-exactly conquered the world. This left a gaping hole in our “reason for existence” space in our life questionnaire, one the world unanimously decided to fill with “chasing one’s dream”, a concept so seductive, so endearing, practically every form of media encourages it, nay, it even discourages the lack of it. There’s always a chase for a grand life somewhere and it’s always followed by eyes gleaming of sheer awe and admiration, but is that really necessary. Why is there a need to scrutinize people for thinking simple, if not necessarily scrutiny, then why treat ambition as the highest platform upon which to ascend?

 

Let’s just get something out of the way. Sure it sounds a bit on the douchey, imsodeep side of things, but we need to clear it for the sake of correct perspective. We’re “conscious” carbon atoms. We’re on a rock. That rock is in space. That space is infinite. We are less than insignificant compared to infinity. Whatever you achieve doesn’t really matter much in the grand scale. Obviously, there’s a pretty unarguable counter to that, which is that if we judged everything based on a some grand scale, we might as well just slit our wrists, cause it doesn’t really matter does it? Yes, we can’t weigh everything on a cosmic scale, it’s ridiculous to do so, but it’s there to remind us of something very important. WE CREATED THE ILLUSION OF AMBITION. Yes. That’s where I want to go. Ambition and success, now synonymous words, are as important as society made them to be. We need to realise that we are otherwise pointless creatures and that ambition is just there to fill a void, a gaping emptiness. I’d admit right away, without dreams life is not that fulfilling, however, at the same time we became too obsessive about it. What once was just a way to pass time, is now a life requirement. Imbuing one with faux pride and a sense of “achievement” readily provided by society, ambition has obviously damaged people’s sense of fulfillment and sense of self-satisfaction. Not only that, but the more you push yourself the higher you shine in people’s eye. Sacrifice your happiness. Sacrifice your comfort. Sacrifice your own health, push yourself to the limit and beyond and if you don’t, then you’re not trying hard enough. You stare at the sky, shake your fists angrily and damn life for forsaking you to these limitations, then damn yourself over what “might have been”, had only you tried harder. If you achieve your grand goal, then good for you, if you don’t, and let’s face it you probably won’t, then you’ll spend the rest of your life scrutinizing yourself for not trying hard enough. For not being the perfect version of yourself. More often than not, dreams have become a tool to great sorrow and even a source of self-loathing. It’s sadness and disappointment under the guise of false fulfillment officially approved by society.

As a species, life is only tolerable thanks to happiness and pleasure. Different social and societal interactions can trigger happiness, such as feats of ambition-seeking, though it’s a social mean with – what I’d argue is – little payback and a relatively more finite and shallow emotional gain. Live life as you please. Don’t poison your thoughts with dreams of grandeur then beat yourself over the head when you couldn’t achieve the obviously unrealistic expectations you set for yourself. Live life for the hell of it, not necessarily just happiness, just live for the sake of living, just cause you can wake up and do so. If you’re pleased with your position in life, if you have everything you want, then there’s no need to go the extra mile. There’s no shame in a simple life. A simple life but a merry one.

 

 

Look at all the opinions, they’re just everywhere.

For my first blog, it only seemed fitting to articulate my opinion on…well, opinions. Opinions, that word defines nearly every aspect of our life. It’s a concept many use to relate, others use to justify a certain stance, but for the most part, many use their opinions to rise above the deafening noise of the crowd and show their self-proclaimed “uniqueness”.  Well, that’s sweet and dandy, however, you really need to take a step back…another one…watch that piece of gum over there…just last one step…ahhh you’re finally here…look-y here, you’re a baby again. Let’s start from there.

“But that’s just my opinion, don’t hate”, “Ughh each to their own, dude” and most infamously “I’m entitled to my opinions” are phrases conveniently placed by the great nation of the internet and beyond as a nice little cherry…at the bottom of the argument. A roaring proclamation to the world that this is just “your opinion”, basically justifying your stance on whatever the subject of discussion is, regardless of its negatives or positives. It’s basically your passport past being criticised, but that’s not the matter focus of now, let’s begin with why you have that “opinion” you so brazenly throw at us, Rambo. As you eye these words, try and question yourself, how did I come to that conclusion? Why am I a liberal? Why am I not a liberal? Why do I prefer Burger King over Mcdonald’s even though both are absolutely atrocious? Well, Mr.EntitledOpinionRambo…to be honest, I really can’t put my finger on any one menace, but I can tell you that your existence and “self” is a product of millions upon millions of years of primates having intercourse until you came out of one of them. Yup, that’s right, in case you don’t already know, you’re not all that “independant”. You hear that punkers? You’re not that punk after all. Genetics, as always, play a role into our development, maybe not directly, however, the pillars of your personality lay down the support of whatever opinion you heave upon them. They can affect how susceptible you are to certain opinions. It’s when genes and subjectivity collide, but since all of this lies in the realm of the theoretical maybe take it with a grain of salt.

Back to baby you, and would you look at that, you said your first words,  “تسلم الأيادي” you grin as your parents cheer you on…sort of. You see, how the environment shapes your opinion is not at all exempt from being double-edged. Point in case are sons and daughters to overtly-religious families. Pretty basic. If the child is compatible with extremism of matters they’ll go with the flow so to speak, but if it is overwhelming, they’ll push aside they’re plate of force-fed parental opinion and maybe convert to the opposite extreme side of the spectrum and that’s only a gross over-simplification of matters, mind you. Your environment moulds you more than you think. Your interactions, your successes, failures and the people around you…they make you. It’s more often than not that people form their opinions about a certain creed or belief after they absorb the thoughts of its adherents, with the loudest being the greatest taken into consideration. What you were taught as an infant on what is morally acceptable and what isn’t affects your image of social taboos. You are the child of these environmental efforts, be they good or bad and this is where your personality comes along and filters the opinions that complement it. Not to tread on pseudo-philosophy, but you do really have to think about it thoroughly, are your thoughts really the product of your efforts to be the person you are today? Did you really choose your views or were they offered to me on a silver platter with a nagging advisor that points your finger for you?

Alas, this is only scratching the surface of the issue. This was only just putting the discussion on the table, to fully have an “opinion” on this, we need to dissect every aspect, which hopefully I can do as the days progress. Until the next blog!