Author Archives: cairogypsy

An open letter to my best friend

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Disclaimer: The subject in this essay is totally fictitious. Any resemblance to people living and dead is a miracle and should only be obvious to the subject and those who know the subject.

I was waiting for my lunch at Testa Rossa today and was about to order coffee when I saw two guys laughing and talking the way that only Joey and Chandler does. I thought of you and ordered cherry cola instead.

Isn’t that the definition of our friendship? That I like coffee and you like cherry cola? I’m the emotional one and you are the unbreakable. I’m always idealistic, the way you’re always pragmatic. I’m the one who believes in happily-ever-afters. I’m the one who sought for love and failed, yet never tire to seek for it over again. Whereas you keep things real. You weigh the success rate of a relationship based on statistics.

While I have ideas on how to solve a problem, you have specific steps to reach a solution. I always ask you to believe and give things a good try, and you’re the one who always prepare me for the worst. I give you hope, you give me reason. And that’s why we go so well together. Well, went. After our silly argument last night, I’m not sure if I should start referring to you in past tense form.

I remember, when I met you at a salsa party a year and a half ago, you were that guy behind your glasses sitting alone in a corner. You would dance, and sit, and dance, and sit again. A vicious cycle. Nothing else in between. Back then, your social skills weren’t really your strongest point. And back then, I would never have guessed that you would eventually become one of the very few people I hold so dear in my heart. And I bet neither did you.

Referring to you as my best friend is a long process that reflects a string of cafes we went to, the amount of popcorn we eat on every movie night, the evening drives to and from parties, and all the conversations and calls exchanged in between. Our friendship reflects a history of inside jokes and banters that people around us would never understand.

I think some people still find it hard to grasp that two people from the opposite sex can be best of friends without crossing the lines, or without smudging the borders of friendship and romance.

What we have is friendship developed over time, over shared experience, over a consciousness to support another person without any ties and expectations romantic or familial.

But best friendship is not always sugary, and full of rainbow colors and unicorns and jokes and hangouts. Let’s face it, that’s bullshit.

In reality, our friendship is flawed. We have a lot of misunderstanding and contrasting views that often lead to petty fights.

You tell me that I’m a drama queen to you the way I am not with everyone else. You are right, everyone else sees me as this peachy, ever-so-awesome, happy-go-lucky girl. I don’t show them that I am neurotic because it will make them run 190mph!

You are an asshole. You are a self-absorbed, unfeeling, callous ass! In a way that you’re not with everyone. Everyone else sees you as the laid-back, cool, all-smiley guy.

Why can’t you be that laid-back, cool, all-smiley guy to me? If only they know you, they would be running 190mph too.

See, the point is, I can be the monster that I am and I know you will understand. You can be full of crap (which you are!) and I will take it for what it is. We take each other’s shit. We listen to each other’s crap. We got each other’s back.

Our friendship is as special as it is rare. It consists of honesty. Brutal honesty and ugly truths, and everything else that no one would dare tell us. I don’t think anyone else can call me a bitch on my face, the way no one else can come to you and tell you to fuck yourself off. Respect that we can do that in each other’s faces.

I know I don’t say it as much as I should, and it doesn’t show in my actions, but I really value our friendship. I appreciate you and everything that you’ve done for me. And I will continue to value our friendship and appreciate you even if you stop everything you do for me. You are my rock. Everytime I find myself in trouble, you are there. You are there through every heartache. You’re there through every good and bad decision.

You are my family. For goodness’ sakes, you’re even my emergency contact person!

We will have disgareements, we will want different things, and we will fight. But I think being each other’s best friend means there is willingness to adapt, and understand each other’s shortcomings. And to not cease supporting each other because someone was being irrational (in this case, I will admit it’s me.)

It may sound like a job, and it sort of is. It is something that demands admitting you’re wrong. It is something that requires you to swallow your pride and understand that you can’t be too selfish all the time.

I’m sorry about last night. But you made me feel that you didn’t have my back. Ok, I overreacted, but you could have been considerate! Scratch that! I’m sorry and I mean it. Can you still be my emergency contact person?

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Come away with me

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I know this will sound crazy. I’m crazy and you already know that. You’re crazy and I already know that. But what I want is to forget all about that craziness for a minute and just let ourselves go, without too much thinking or reason.

I want you to just take my hand and come away with me. Walk beside me as we turn to corners and enter streets in the city that we’ve never been at before. Let’s catch the perfect sunset in the harbor, or we can start chasing ibis and sea gulls at the fish market.

Take my hand as we take the next bus. Sit beside me and let’s go out of town. We will watch the people in the bus and make up stories about them as we head off to where we are going. Or we can watch the changing views from our window–the ambiance of urban structures to the calm of the country side to wherever it will take us.

Be patient with me. Soon enough, we will get there. Only a few hours and we’ll be there.

But where is “there” you might ask. Maybe it’s at your kitchen in Bondi where we can finally put your carbonara recipe to the test. Maybe it’s at a crazy house party. We’re not invited, but we’ll crash anyways! Maybe it’s in a far-flung area outside Sydney where we won’t do anything other than take pictures of things familiar and unfamiliar.

Take my hand as we search for our boarding gate. Rest your head on my shoulder as we take off. Let’s watch as the cars and buildings start looking like Lego miniatures. Let’s look at the sky and see what shapes the clouds take. While up in the air, let’s see the things beyond us and resolve in comfort knowing that we can face anything and everything that lies ahead. Feel the change of atmosphere as we step out of the airport and into a new world. Bali, Sydney, Manila, Cairo, Isle of Wight. Let’s tick one destination off our bucket list at a time, as we collect memories and embrace new adventures. We’ll count how many variety of curry dishes there is on the menu, we’ll try every shisha flavor available. We’ll go see the pyramids, we’ll watch a football game. We’ll look at old buildings, and enter ancient buddhist temples. We’ll count the stars as we lie our bodies across an open field. Our eyes will open at the first sight of a new morning. We’ll watch as the colors change from purple-grey to a gleaming orange sunrise. Another day–foreign and new–is waiting for us.

During the day, let’s discover and submerge ourselves in a new culture. We’ll spend time talking with other travelers we meet on the way. We’ll speak to locals and listen to their stories. And when we’ve finally had our fill of good food and wine, we’ll come back to our hostel and fit ourselves comfortably on our bed. We will sleep happy, and smiling, knowing that there will be breakfast and tea and you and me in the morning.

Get in the cab with me. We don’t know where we’re going but we’ll ask the driver to take us somewhere. Let’s roll the window down and feel the breeze in our hair. Let’s keep going for as long as we can. We won’t stop, unless we’re hungry. We’ll stop at gas stations for bathroom breaks, at restaurants for dinner specials, at pubs for happy hours. But we will continue our travel until we reach our happy place. Until we’re standing at the beach with the smell of the Pacific in front of us. Until the crisp sound of palm leaves surround us.

We’re outlaws, travelers, lovers, companions, explorers, triers of new things. We’re witnesses of whatever it is that is out there. Sometimes we won’t talk, we won’t touch, we will just be there, standing side by side. And we will fall in love, not with each other, but with the unknown. We will fall in love with the things we can’t see, we will love the things we don’t understand.

Take my hand and do this with me because I want to get carried away with you. I want to see new things with you. I want to do old things with you knowing that it will feel brand new because it will be the first time I’m doing it with you. I want to explore with you beside me, with our eyes full of curiosity and wonder, and our hearts just as free. I want to walk on roads we’ve never walked on before, hear languages we’ve never heard or spoken before. I want to get lost with you. I want to be found with you.

We will touch things, and taste flavors, and see life the way we never did before. Everything will be new. You will be new, and so will I.

It doesn’t matter that I don’t know you, or that you don’t know me, or the fact that we’ve never met before, because today, at this very moment, I just want you to take my hand and get carried away with me.

I don’t want to dance with you

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I wish things were simple and direct and honest. If I can speak my mind clearly, without having to filter it, I would bluntly say that dancing with you is so bad I keep fantasizing I’d die of lung cancer just so I don’t have to awkwardly confront you. But instead, I’m left with no choice but to dodge the bullet for as long as I can, hoping that you would always miss and that I won’t get a hit.

You would think, or maybe, I would think, that after someone has told you ‘no’ for the seventh time, you will get it. That, eventually, you will be sensitive enough to realize that you are stepping a little bit too much into my space. You know, like, if my space is marked with a visible bubble, you would see that half of your body has gone way passed my territory. You have this so in-your-face kind of way of suffocating me. What I find amusing though is how you don’t seem to realize that you’re pushing me out of my own comfort zone.

I tried letting you know that I don’t want to dance with you. Whenever you’re heading towards me, do you realize how I have to pretend to be in deep conversation with anyone who I can grab at an arm’s length?

Or when you see me busily forking my meal as if it is the last supper I’m ever eating for the rest of my life, do you really think that I am that hungry? Or does it sound like I’m trying to avoid eye contact and all the slightest things that might suggest I am free to dance?

There are times when I really want to smoke a cigarette, and mid way of taking the lighter out my purse, I would stop and say: “Jen, don’t. Save it for later.”

So, there I would go, keeping that cigarette stick in my hand, for when I see you walking towards me. Do you really think that I just happen to be on a smoking spree every single time you ask me? How callous can you just be?

I don’t want to be rude, and this is why I come up with excuses, hoping that you will take a hint, hoping that we can save ourselves from having this conversation, but look what you did. And, so, here we are.

I know what you’re thinking when you see me. And you are right. I dance close body contact with guys, and I have absolutely no problem with that. I dance close body with guys who know how to dance, who have rhythm within them, who put a great amount of time and effort in learning the basic and progressing more. I dance close body with guys who know proper dancing etiquette. Now, this is where you get it wrong–what I don’t do is dance close body with guys who give me the creeps–whose definition of dancing is reduced to skin on skin friction.

I mean, seriously, dude. That is not dancing. In which universe do you think a girl gets so excited social dancing with a boner? If that universe even exists, please, feel free to migrate.

My friends, who have saved me a lot of times, from you and other people like you, ask me why I can’t just tell you straight to your face that I don’t like dancing with you. Then maybe we can all just stop wasting each other’s time and move on from it, no?

I know at one point, I would run out of excuses to not dance with you. I’ve used every single drop of creativity I have in mind to avoid you. I know that it will only be a matter of time before I find myself in a situation where all my friends will be on the dance floor and I will be left in an awkward corner with no cigarettes to light up, and no dinner plate to finish. Just you and me. Dreadful.

The thing is, I don’t want to make up excuses anymore. I’m tired of hiding in the girls’ bathroom every time a kizomba song starts playing in the background. I’m tired of looking out on the dance floor and making sure you’re dancing with someone else before I can comfortably sit on my chair, and be at peace for the fact that I’m safe for at least a couple of minutes.

So, here I am, saying it loud and clear (and in the nicest possible way I could muster): Please, don’t ask me to dance with you again. At least not until you stop being creepy.

I hope this time, you will get it. And if you do, I will be very grateful. You can call me a snob, you can call me a conceited bitch, you can call me a terrible dancer. But if that’s what it takes to stop this monkey in the middle, be it.

Whew. I’m really glad we had this talk. Thank you for your cooperation. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go dance with someone else.

10 sure fire steps to get over your ex

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1. Cry. It’s 7:30 in the morning and the current love of your life just broke up with you. What do you do? No, you don’t take Xanax. You call your best friend and cry, and scream, and pour your lungs and your heart out altogether. Do this for 15 minutes to half an hour, or as much as your best friend can handle. After that excruciating phone call, never shed a tear over the same guy again.

2. Mourn. This is the worst part in dealing with a heartache, but this is also probably the most essential one. Some people tend to rush the healing process and pretend that nothing’s happened; that they’re unaffected, and tough and mighty as Brutus; that breakup is no big deal. But the truth is, it is a big deal. Unless you’re George Clooney. So, mourn. Feel regret and sadness for the loss of your relationship. Feel despair, feel empty. You are allowed to feel all these negative things but not for long. When you mourn, you are acknowledging the fact that something has come to an end. Therefore, you must bury it to the dirt and let go.

3. Declutter. Admit it, a breakup is the time we remember that 1. we are employed, 2. we have friends, and 3. we have a bedroom of shitload to clean. So, take this time as an opportunity to get rid of the mess and stains s/he left behind, literally and figuratively. Toss the bags of chips and pizza carton boxes you left lying on the floor the night you’ve been dumped. You might want to burn everything your ex gave you, but hold that thought right there. That’s just your anger and sentiment taking over. Come on, be practical! You can still use the Argentina travel book s/he got you on Christmas. You can still wear the hoodie your ex gave you this winter without remorse. These things are objects, not subjects, remember that when you start putting your life back on track. Ok, you can burn the letter and cards in slow fire if you must.

4. Workout. Again, a breakup is the time you remember you actually own a gym membership card. (Whoa, it’s like you had amnesia while in a relationship and everything is just coming back now.) The only thing that can be more badass than a badass workout is a post-heartache badass workout. Lift weights, run on speed 8, channel your bad energies to good use, and get in shape. It’s win-win situation, people!

5. Salsa. [Insert a hobby and/or activity that applies to you.] When the going gets tough, the tough goes dancing [insert a hobby and/or activity that applies to you] because that’s what we do, yeah! Seriously though, nothing beats the hell out of a bad break up than doing the things you love while being surrounded with people who love doing the things you love.

6. Improve. I, personally, find breakups healthy in some way. As much as I like to exaggerate heartaches and the I-can’t-live-another-day drama, it is always after a break up that I find myself turning into a better version of me. It’s the more obvious time that I give myself a chance to read the books I bought but never read, to catch up with old friends, to connect with family. Usually, we get so consumed being in a relationship that we take for granted things that actually matter. Now that you’ve finished mourning and decluttering, I say use your time worthwhile by continuously improving yourself. Maybe take up that language class you’ve been wanting to get into, or attend the Friday night movie club you used to go to. Whatever it is, just don’t lock up in your room weeping.

7. Gain. After a breakup, emotions do the talking and usually end up delivering lines like “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.” We think that half of our lives is missing, and that there is a big lump on our throats, and a massive hole inside us. In reality, if I lose a part of myself whenever someone breaks up with me, then there will be nothing left of me now. But I am not Emily Dickinson. It is normal to feel that a big part of us is gone–the memories, the moments, time spent and shared with that person–these are things we will never get back after a breakup (at least not with the same person.) But what is important is gaining yourself back and coming out strong after a black hole. Emotion is what makes us human, but how we choose to deal with these emotions is what makes us intellectual.

8. Remember. The most natural reaction after someone breaks up with us is to be bitter and plot revenge. We go a little bit mental and just become all mopey and sour. We might even ask our friends to run our exes over with a car. In short, we forget all the good times we spent with that other person. We forget all the love. All of a sudden, the only thing we see is the bad. We blame them and try to make excuses for our flaws. We have to be reminded that that love was real no matter how short it lasted. We have to remember how good it felt, how special they made us feel, how strong and happy we were. You have to remember all the good so that you don’t fear love; so that you don’t transform to a cold, heartless robot; so that you don’t put up this wall that no one else will be able to break into.

9. Accept. That even good things come to an end. Take it for what it is. Accept that it is over. You have to let go of the person, of the scent, of the songs you listened to, the movies you watched together, everything. Please don’t try to even attempt to get them back. It ended for a reason. Move forward and don’t look back, or you will turn into salt! Though I am one to believe in second chances, I also believe that when someone wants you in their lives, you will never have to fight for a spot.

10. Believe. Another chapter might have just ended, but a new chapter is waiting to be written. Take the pen and start writing new characters. Change the plot, gear towards an epic ending. Keep going, don’t lose hope. Believe that that person exists. Love again.

A letter to my hypothetical boyfriend part 4

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I’m sorry.

I know this sounds bad. Anything that starts with I’m sorry is usually bad.

I don’t know what I can say to make things easier. I can use 99 euphemisms, 272 words, 14 metaphors, and it will still be deduced to one sentence: I’m breaking up with you.

I apologize. I’m really not good at these things. I want to sound politically correct, and calm, and reasonable, but I think, there is no sense of diplomacy or yoga that can make breaking up look like a piece of cake.

I can totally hear your voice raising, and I can ever-so-clearly picture the dismayed look you have on your face.

But the truth is, I can’t. I don’t know how your voice sounds like, I don’t know what shape your eyebrows take when you get a bad news. I have no idea how you look like when you’re upset, sad, angry, bothered, annoyed, embarrassed, disappointed. Neither do I know how your eyes light up when you’re happy, glad, hopeful. I just have no idea, period.

I know it sounds so silly considering how we were never really together, and yet I am highly convinced that I owe you an explanation.

You’ve been a wonderful hypothetical boyfriend, and I am not just saying that because I am about to break your heart. I really mean it, down to the very core. How can I not? You are everything that I wanted, everything that I could hope for, everything that I imagined to be.

I would fill up pages after pages of scrap paper with my tireless stories about you, and those pages would have been left to rot had you not been around.

My idea of you kept me going when I was feeling empty. When I had absolutely nothing to do, you were there to inspire me, tickle my creativity, and motivate me to believe.

As much as I’d like to hold on to my idea of you, you will always be a hypothesis, a theory waiting to be proven, a fragment of my imagination that will never materialize in this concrete world. And I think it’s about time I put you to rest.

As you would have guessed, I met someone. Oh, come on, don’t look at me like that. It just happened. Like seriously, it just happened. Really!

Though he is not as perfect as my idea of you, I don’t have to wonder whether his eyes are brown or green because I am definite it is blue. I don’t have to stay up in bed at night wondering if he is a Coke or a Pepsi person because I already know that he would choose wine in a heartbeat. I don’t have to guess what he is like because he can show me himself. I don’t have to ask questions that will be left unanswered because it will only take him one call or SMS to answer me back.

He might not come close to everything I wrote about you, in fact, he could be difficult and whingy sometimes, but he is real, right here, right now. He is as real as real can get. And believe it or not, he snores, like a train! And burps like Goliath.

But there is something about him. No, not his french accent, not the way he washes the dishes, not the way he does all these little surprises that often reduce me to a girl. I think, it is how he turns every monologue to a dialogue, how he maneuvers a one-sided relationship to a two-way highway, and how he changes a you and me to us.

Don’t get me wrong. He is flawed as equally as I am. Our personalities clash. A lot! He is the guy who eats his breakfast with a knife and fork and I am the girl who eats my BLT sandwich with bare hands. We tease each other like we’re back in kindergarten. We challenge and play bets against each other yet neither is ready to accept defeat.

We don’t mesh like sand and water. We get on each other’s nerves like matchstick and sandpaper, and we’re alright with that. We know when there is friction, there is fire.

I would really want to give him and I a fair shot–a real, genuine, Kobe Bryant shot. As much as I enjoyed writing about you, I cannot wait to start living my story with him.

I’m sure I am not the only one who thinks of an ideal boyfriend. Before we know it, someone else will start writing about you, thinking of you, wondering about you, waiting for you to pop out of thin air, and I know that when that happens, you will be there to enthuse their curiosity and tickle their imagination the way you did to mine.

A call for critical thinking

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Yesterday, I posted a status on Facebook that started a whole saga between two people I know. It became a medium for arguments and counter arguments. And just like a grapevine, it branched out to sensitive issues that we usually veer away from out of fear of direct confrontation.

My status reads:

“If every veiled woman will take her veil off in protest to what is happening in Cairo, it might not make a difference, but it will be a great statement to women all around the world, veiled or not veiled, that we will not be silenced, that we will act based on our own free will, and that we will not allow a dictator to control even the tip of our finger. But then again, that’s only me shooting for the moon.”

After Morsy announced his presidential decree that gives him both executive and legislative powers, I was enraged. I could not believe that this is happening to the country that I now call home. But what surprises me even more is how I am affected more than some Egyptians I know who just don’t care anymore.

I find it disgustingly revolting how the president, who is supposedly elected by way of democracy, has the guts to impose dictatorship. This is a direct murder of the January 25 revolution. And it nullifies democracy in this country (the democracy that I thought everyone was aiming for.)

All these resulted to an idea so concrete, that it requires a specific action (in this case, the actual removal of one’s veil) yet so ambitious considering that I am only one voice amongst all women across the world.

When I wrote this status, my intention was to see how it will be received. I wanted to see if this idea can materialize into solid action that will exhibit change.

Women, for the longest time, have been struggling because of patriarchy, we have, again and again been subjugated.

I remember asking someone during the presidential campaigns if there was any woman running for presidency. It was a serious question that required a serious answer, yet what I got was a look as if I have grown two heads, followed by a laugh as though I just delivered the perfect knock knock joke.

Again, how revolting.

That status I posted last night was an accumulation of everything I went through as a woman in Egypt. It was the sum of being harassed on the streets, of being laughed at because I spoke about women running for presidency, of being objectified and considered inferior because of my gender.

I was calling for women action. More specifically, I was calling for veiled women to unveil themselves. Why? Because when you think about it, a piece of clothing does not and should not define who you are. It should not be a requisite to whether or not you will be harassed on the streets, neither should it be a standard to whether or not that woman is a “good woman.”

When I posted that status, I didn’t want people to agree or disagree to my idea. What I wanted was for that idea to be heard. Obviously, if I was a tv tycoon or media mogul (which I am clearly not,) I would have stepped forward light years ago if only to push social change. However, I am only one voice, one idea among many others. The least I can do is say that idea out loud in the hopes that it will reach every single person out of the 892 friends I have on Facebook.

If we can go back to the January 25 revolution, we will find a lot of photographs of people with placards thanking Facebook for the materialization of the revolution. Facebook was one of the mediums through which news and events about the revolution spread like a plague. One cannot simply say or conclude that Facebook is not the place to exhibit such thoughts. For someone like me, a foreign woman in an Arabic country, where else can I run to to voice my opinion? If my idea will fail to reach the friends I have on Facebook, the more important question is who else will listen?

When I posted that status, I did not want to create a disparity between men and women. My status was a call for every one of my friends (especially the ones who live/lived in Egypt) to be conscious, to awaken, to be aware of what is happening politically and socially in Egypt. It was a call for people to act based on his/her own choice, to come up with decisions after careful thinking, to not climb the bandwagon, to resist puppet strings, to seek what is right, and to confront the wrong.

A response from my hypothetical boyfriend

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Please, don’t creep out. It was you who wrote me in the first place, and I felt the need to write you back. So, just hear me out.

Apologies that it took a while, but it took a while for me to find you. Maybe you are right. I was looking in the wrong places which is why I didn’t run into you much sooner than I’d like to.

My name is neither Kyle, nor Amadeus but you can still call me A.

Yes, I am taller than you. Much taller, shorty. Contrary to your expectation, my eyes aren’t brown. They are blue with a golden ring, thanks to my mum. I hope you’re not disappointed.

I like that you are curious because I am too. I like playing bets, and win-win is always a good start.

Let’s be clear here, no Apple products for me. I don’t mind silence as long as you’re not heading out the door.

Now you blame me for your little tooth brush, that’s a bit unfair. I didn’t even know I was supposed to remind you.

My deal is black humor and I like being a smart ass. I can tell that you’re a smarty pants too, so I’m sure there’ll be no dull moments between us.

I can be snotty and bossy like you, so you’ll have to remind me about it too. And yes, I usually act like a child, but I can be serious when necessary.

I don’t kite surf but I love diving, and I think it’s something we should do together. I do judo, I ski, and I like playing paintball. Let’s be spontaneous and random and do things together.

When it comes to honesty, no need to worry. I always am, even when it hurts sometimes.

I’m not sure yet if I am your hypothetical boyfriend. But the more I read into you, the more I speak to you, the more I want to believe that I can be.

I have a big appetite for sushi and sashimi so you can be sure that I’ve got our Friday nights covered.

I like watching movies and yes, we can alternate on choosing which movies to watch.

Lucky for you I don’t listen to metal or punk, but I’ll have to introduce you to a bit of jazz and a bit of rock. And a bit of house too!

You can teach me salsa, but I’ll have to teach you rock n roll in exchange. No buts, we agreed to compromise.

You can’t order me from eBay, that’s very much true, but I will do free delivery for you.

Your hypothetical boyfriend,

Alexandre.