SOUTH SINAI – EGYPT (AUGUST, 2016)
SOUTH SINAI – EGYPT (AUGUST, 2016)
Assuming that I have not yet been forgotten by previous readers, I would like to greet you warmly once again, as well as bid further newcomers who have stumbled upon this humble website a sincere & heartfelt welcome. For what appears to be a horrendously long time to refrain from my previous, much appreciated hobby of tapping away at my keyboard as you may remember, of writing what ones heart pleases and displeases; I had long forgotten the pure joy of running this blog and giving readers insight into my personal universe. In fact, in just over two weeks, I will have reached one, non-surprisingly and stupidly short year upon publishing my last WordPress post – which had marked the closing to my writings and ending to my previous gap year.
Unfortunately, one had stopped writing for a variety of reasons throughout the previous period. I chose to let the ending of my gap year dictate my lack of continuing, for it was what had originally inspired me to begin with. The second it had ended, I felt like my motivation was long gone and forced from then onwards in this particular field. I am not implying that having a year off meant being at my peak level of creativity, but it had proved that spare time allowed myself to explore further my surroundings without the pressure of deadlines. Considering I had just started university, I felt like it was necessary to end that chapter as well as focus on my studies – which suggests that I had no spare time whatsoever when of course in reality, I did have plenty. Sometimes however, I often felt that simply, there was not really much to write about at all.
Previously, I let the non-practicing of my talents cause me anxiety. I often felt like I was a slug or some relative creature – extremely lazy and that my existence on planet earth was completely pointless. However, instead of pressuring myself, I chose to embrace it in return for peace of mind. I chose to allow my writing, or any particular talent in fact, come to me in waves, like those of an ocean. I chose to either peak at the highest tide, being my most exciting periods of inspiration, or instead, embrace the sea at its calmest measure. Rather than forcing a non-existing current, I chose to bask in the glorious, clear waters until the waves feel to crash again. For when they do, I am positive that what is to come is better than it ever was before.
Having strongly missed the support and love I had gained previously for my writings upon this blog, I believe that now is the most perfect time to return. I see a slow rise in the ocean’s tide and I long to make the most of it and to exploit it of the goods it chooses to bring. I am slowly and steadily taking on the current so I do not drown. I hope that both old and new readers gain a pleasant reading experience here and I wish that my return proves to be as glorious and as inspiring as I intend it to be. All in good time.
As I currently sit upon my Egypt Air seat of 53C at 11:06 AM, I decide its appropriate to turn to my poorly neglected blog for the upcoming journey that consists of 4-5 hours flight time. I created this WordPress account just over a year ago to document my gap year; which today, has indeed come to a very sincere end. I’m not entirely sure where to begin; I cannot tell exactly whether it flew by ever so fast or if it has perhaps stretched out to a decade due to countless events and wondrous happenings occurring in between. I seem to recall the start as fresh as I do the ending. But over the past few months, aside from what was apparent in my surroundings, ever changing environment and people; I most importantly, see a huge transformation within myself.
Departing the UK at 18 years of age in June 2013, I was an entirely different person. Witnessing oneself lose, gain, learn and grow in a place different to what I was perhaps used to, irregardless of my holidays spent in Egypt over the years, it was indeed challenging – but the most inspiring kickstart towards adulthood. Learning to thrive amongst the new, adapt to culture, to welcome with open arms and to simply, care less – was indeed a pure breath of fresh air in a city too extravagant to dislike.
I do indeed anticipate clicking that resume button in which I had paused my reality – to return to my future, my life back in England; but I cannot deny the fact that I do miss Egypt. I fully embrace that I am a part of two greatly opposite yet amazing cultures; I appreciate that I have two homes and feel ever so blessed for the opportunities I have been given in this life. When I am in England, I long for those warm, tropical summer days and nights spent by the sea at home; in the burning daylight of 40 degree sunshine – feet tickled by soft, warm grains of sand; our bodies entrenched in the cooling waves of the ocean’s blue. I strangely enough, like placing my head upon my pillow awaiting to fall into deep slumber whilst I hear the noise of street life and car horns sound alarmingly in the distance. To say I do not see flaws in Egypt would be a huge lie; I am only human and my writing to a public audience does not mean I will sugar coat life in Egypt. But amongst the poverty, total lack of safety and other misfortunes, I will accept my sometimes felt hatred and combine it with great love to the place.
Because I don’t permanently reside in Egypt, I do receive negativity for the times I complain about Egypt as well as the times I state that it is actually, a good place. Being an outsider will always prove a greater deal of wisdom; but will result in great criticism from others. I sometimes feel like I am a swab placed under a microscope in Egypt; I am questioned by people and their noses are almost always finding their way into my personal business.
I hold strong opinions against Egypt at times, for example I most often always clash with someone, somewhere. I don’t appreciate minimum charges at cafés (wasn’t ever forced to order something in the West if I didn’t want to) – I despise nothing more than littering and I don’t like constantly being worried about my purse or expensive items being snatched. Maybe, however, I choose to only open an eye to the good because my time is always limited there, and coming from a pessimist, that’s something. Learning to appreciate and be grateful for what I have has been very motivational, satisfying and has indeed proved great inner peace. I am very excited to move on and to resume a chapter that has been eagerly waiting to be read.
I hope that I have been inspiring readers to open their minds; to cherish their surroundings and to always aim for what seems impossible, because it can be achieved. To some, I may have wasted a year, I have paused higher education to have fun and have taken a decision I will regret later; but I do not let others excrete into my head regarding my own personal decisions. A year ago; I was far from ready to start University, with strange feelings of child-like high school insecurities and nerves. What I aimed for was the time, to explore, to develop, mature and indulge in my passions; so I could develop them further into my more serious years of life. I do indeed feel ready now to take the leap into further future building, now I am sure of myself and my home.
Holding mixed feelings of nostalgia, excitement, happiness and the pain of missing a person; all I can say for now is thank you, Egypt. For all the good, the bad, the hideous and the wonderful memories you’ve brought and will continue to bring. I look forward to visiting you again in the very near future.
My life long dream was made true as I finally made it to the Big Apple; I am so blessed to have been able to marvel at the beauty of it all. Until next time, NYC. ♡
What is happiness? A question that one has always pondered upon, happiness is something which we seem to try to reach for on a daily basis and every breathing second in which we live. Happiness is supposedly the opposite of sadness; or the feeling of emptiness and morbidity. It is an emotion in which we have the ability to feel through aspects such as joyous occasions or a general sense of well being. Happiness comes in a variety of shapes and forms; objects and items, loved ones, relationships, perhaps that hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning or a squeeze given when you hold someone’s hand. Happiness is a lot of things, I do not think that happiness and it’s very broad definition can actually be narrowed down to solely one thing or item. For me, I personally believe that happiness is defined by something that is ever so simple. What makes me smile, what makes me smile like a fool or cackle when I laugh so loud that I disturb others around me. I am not going to recite every single affair that seems to make be blossom from inside; purely because a lot of what I have to say is either cat related or something über artsy. But I am going to stress that happiness may not require a lot to be found, but just the right people, the right company and a good heart. Happiness isn’t money; but you need money to have a good time. You also need good friends. It’s all about balance… But finding happiness is feeling contempt with the little that you may have or may not and finding pleasure in everything you love to do.
It has been a week since my plane landed in Cairo’s airport on the 13th of June; after an hour long delay and struggle to find my 46 kilos of baggage on the extremely slow moving conveyer belt. I can’t tell whether time in this country stretches out or the fact that I am busy and constantly occupied 24/7 makes my days last longer, a definite positive, and contrary to everything back home being pretty dull.
The 13th of June – I set my alarm to 5:30am the day before, as I had to make it to Norwich’s bus station to catch the National Express coach which claimed to take 5 hours to get to Heathrow, purely because so many stops were to take place. I love the excitement pre-travel: updating my iPod, packing last minute things and constantly checking my lists. I liked that I was traveling alone because I can completely zone out and listen to music all day, and not worry about anything or conversation. The coach was, what it is. A lovely gentleman decided it was acceptable to spend a long time in the toilet to empty his bowels, right next to where my seat was fortunately placed. The smell was so horrific that my nostrils began to burn from the stench, talk about bad manners. I later discovered that the same man was accompanying me on the EgyptAir plane to Cairo. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
The past week has been an exciting experience of introductions, new cafes, places and being reunited with friends that I’ve not seen since February, some last summer. I had set myself the glorious task of driving for the first time in Cairo in my Grandmother’s very poorly functioning car on the following Friday morning. I passed my driving test in the UK on the 8th of April and due to no insurance, this was really my first time of driving in 2 months. I was prepared before I came and had applied for an International Driving Permit for a mere £5.50 to save my self the hassle in case I was stopped or whatever.
Came Friday morning, my friend passed by and we set off. After the Friday prayer the streets are almost golden; empty and not many stupid drivers were to be seen… Yet. Let me first of all mention, that in Egypt the steering wheel is on the left, meaning my entire driving tactics – gear change and all are entirely reversed. Also, these are not people driving, but maniacs. Ok? I have never seen such crazy driving habits and it was indeed an adrenaline fueled morning/ afternoon/ evening, I struggled to first grasp the concept of no lanes, manners and lack of signals. As the day developed I actually realized it wasn’t too bad, but came the evening the streets got busier and the car had already decided it did NOT want to function. Every gear change to second came with a horrifying screech, and the brakes were extremely late to catch on, simply being a hazard which would endanger us all. But hey, I’m alive! It definitely requires patience and full awareness on the streets of Cairo to be somewhat close to a ‘safe’ driver. We went to a lovely cafe in the hot sun and cooled off with an ice cold watermelon smoothie at Wel3a in Zamalek. Later that day we also went to Jazz Mate, a cafe I have gone to several times here over the past week; also in Zamalek, which I have really liked. I expect a lot more visits to it with its antique, jazzy feel and I hope to witness a live band play there soon.
The following days were great; it feels so relieving to wake up with an intention of going out, to spend the day with friends or family and to explore Cairo’s ever growing cafes and hot spots. My favorite days include my unhealthy tanning obsession which I was able to feed by a day in the sun, by the Lido pool at the Gezira Sporting Club -AHHH bliss! Finally being able to witness pure SUN and HEAT is a huge relief; especially being Vitamin D deficient – it makes a large change from England’s dull gloomy weather and lack of sunshine. I love how in Cairo the city never sleeps. I come home and I can still hear the car horns beeping in the distance, the rumblings and laughter of passers by. It feels so right. I am more of a city person than you can ever imagine. Screw waking up to nature and annoying bird song! I also went to finally watch The Great Gatsby in 3D, which by the way makes me want to marry DiCaprio who I swear to God NEVER ages. Man. That film was wonderful – from the imagery to the story to the awesome soundtrack in the film. I was very impressed and left feeling nostalgic with a hope of turning back time and attending a massive party in the 1920’s – move over Project X!
I must say however, my biggest disappointment yet is not being by the North Coast catching fresh rays and swimming in the beautiful, Mediterranean sea. The best thing to do is go to the seaside and escape the traffic, and spend a magical few days. I expect to hopefully go towards the end of the month once Mother and my family arrive to catch up on tanning and breathe fresh, stunning air! But I am, very pleased to be back. I enjoy the simple things like being able to sit in the balcony, reading a book with my headphones plugged in just before the sun starts to set. It’s so peaceful. I can’t express how much I could actually live in balconies – overlooking the vibrant, city life yet not being so occupied by its difficulties, it allows you to observe from afar. Living in such a large, populated city with 85 million citizens, you can imagine how busy it gets. I must say however, I am very excited to witness what hopefully this year will bring. I aim to travel, have fun, meet new people, do new things, and just let loose! I am grateful to have such wonderful friends, family and opportunities to simply enjoy myself and have a good laugh. Bring on summer.
God love Misr.
It has been nearly two days since my Sixth Form Leaver’s Day and I must admit it is slowly dawning on me how sad I feel that I am leaving friends, fond memories and Sixth form behind. After a restless sleep and a lot of contained excitement, I woke up to my perfectly arranged costume – makeup, jewellery and Frida’s persona included, it literally felt like Christmas Eve. Despite the miserable rain outside, nothing could dampen mine and my friends mood because this was our farewell to WyHigh after 2 years at sixth form! After much practice and watching of online Frida’s outfit tutorials and hair; I plaited my hair perfectly into place (which I received plenty of compliments on) – placed a garland on and voila! — Frida’s hair. For the face makeup, blusher and bronzer was key to Frida’s makeup and an orangey/ coral lipstick tone was close to the final touches. I was surprised as to how I was quickly transforming into my favourite artist; especially as I began to add the UNIBROW, which included extensive use of my beloved eyebrow pencil… Lengthening it towards the middle and using an eyebrow brush to spread the pencil, creating a soft ‘hair’ effect.
After taking a variety of selfies and posing for Father on Skype for him to screenshot, we drove to my best friends house to pick them up, where also following the theme of Artists, dressed up as Roy Litchtenstein paintings, believe it or not – which were executed brilliantly. We arrived at the Wymondham Leisure centre fashionably late and joined in the group photos, hugging friends and complimenting everyone’s costumes. It was honestly a surreal experience to think that this was it! Our last ever celebration day. There was a variety of costumes, including a mass group of self painted, green ninja turtles, yellow minions from Despicable Me, hilarious wizards, and a few other fantastic costumes. It was brilliant to spend the day laughing on the provided bouncy castles, and dancing to the typical cheesy disco music provided by the DJ which you can guess featured tracks such as the Cha Cha slide and Macarena – which I nicely danced to with Santa Claus. Me and my lovely Roy girls and Wizards AKA Art crew and my best friends made a trip to the art block to take a photo with our beloved Art teachers – which was of course rather emotional. My friend’s amazing Instax Polaroid camera captured moments brilliantly on the day, and it’s such a pleasant, impulsive way to capture a moment without worrying too much about how that last photo looked.
After hugs, kisses and endless photos – we had the emotional assembly, which left us all in fits of laughter with the jokey video created by the staff featuring hilarious clips. It included wonders, and I honestly do need to obtain a copy for future laughs. It was then off home to prep for the traditional gathering at the Pub, with the whole year and teachers. We headed to the Green Dragon in Wymondham; where the rooms were filled with laughter and everyone just getting along pleasantly. We sat outside in the improving weather with my Media Studies teacher, laughing and just telling stories. Oh and taking hold of my iPhone and spamming everyone on my Snap Chat list of the whole day and evening documented through terrible photos and the occasional video. After a long day at the Pub, I waited for my best friend to finish work when we headed to a friends house party that night. I thoroughly enjoyed those last moments with friends that I know for sure I will not see at ease again, or for a long time with everyone heading different ways this year. I have really enjoyed and learnt something new, everyday at Sixth form and really grown as an individual. I have learnt to cherish every little time that I have left with people, and that it is good to socialise, even with people that you may not have familiarised yourself with in previous times.
Overall, Leaver’s Day as an experience is something that I will never forget – I love how it brings everyone together for those last few hours before everyone takes off. You really click with everyone again and if anything, makes you regret not doing so earlier! I am truly grateful to have met such wonderful people those past two years, and to have made long life friends that I can’t live without. It’s saddened me to think that Leaver’s Day is my last memory as I will not attend Prom this year, because I am leaving to Egypt so soon…
I wish everyone that I have met the best of luck in their exams, future and life. I hope that we will all be reunited again at ease and a big thank you for being a part of my life and some of the best memories I have had at WyHigh; which I will very much miss – despite what one has said previously after a stressful week at school, or tension between a teacher or two.
Farewell, school memories that will forever stay in my heart.
If you’re wondering how I fashioned up my fabulous Frida hairstyle, watch this great online tutorial which really helped – here!