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Egypt: Blogosphere's Godparents Going South

Manalaa (i.e. Manal and Alaa) the godparents of the Egyptian blogosphere – are going to live in South Africa for a while, and Alaa has written a post [Ar] describing his feelings towards traveling and many other things.

In his post, he writes:

فاضللي أسبوع واحد بس في البلد و بعد كده هنشد الرحال على جنوب أفريقيا. مش عارف لسه أستوعب الموضوع و بتصرف كأني فاضللي شهور.
من يومي و أنا واخد على السفر و السنة اللي تعدي علي مسافرش تلاقيني بقيت ملول و مش على بعضي. بس السفر كام يوم حاجة و الانتقال لمدة طويلة حاجة ثانية.
زمان أيام الصحوبية لما كنا صغيريين و عبط مكانش عندنا احساس بأن الواحد له مطرح و أن له علاقة خاصة بمطرحه ده (اللي هي بيجعلصوها و يسموها انتماء)، كان بالنسبة لنا نعيش فين ده قرار الواحد بياخده و ينفذه حسب امكانياته زي قرار ندخل كلية ايه و نشتغل ايه، و كل ما نزور أو نسمع عن بلد نتخيل نفسنا عايشين فيها و بنينا خطط كثييير عن الحياة في بلاد كثييير بما فيهم مصر طبعا لكن احساسنا بكل بلد كان محايد جدا.
على ما اتجوزنا و استقلينا و كبرنا (خدي بالك أنهم حصلوا بالترتيب ده عكس المعتاد)، كانت ابتدت الصورة الرومانسية عن العالم كرقعة مفتوحة لينا تتغير.
بس دي كانت عملية تدريجية اللي كان واضح لينا بشدة هو أن السفر مش سهل زي ما أحنا متخيلين، و أننا عندنا مستقبل و حياة كريمة في مصر و بالتالي مفيش داعي للبهدلة.
I am going to leave after one week, heading to South Africa, but I still cannot understand the whole thing, and I am acting as if I still have months to go before I leave.
Since I was young, I am used to traveling almost every year, and when I stay at home for one year, I start to get bored and don't feel good. But traveling for few days is really different from living for a long period of time in another place.
Earlier when we – Manal and Alaa – were just friends, we were still young and we never had the feeling that we belong to one place (homeland). For us, choosing where to live was just like choosing what to study or where to work. And whenever we hear about some other country we start to imagine ourselves living there, and start to draw our plans for staying there. Our feelings towards many many countries – including Egypt – were neutral.
Then after we got married, had our independence, then grew up (see how the order of the events here is almost the opposite of what happens normally), the image of the whole world as an open place for us to live anywhere was slightly changed.
And gradually we started to see traveling as a not very easy thing, and that we have our own life and future here in Egypt. So we thought that there is no real reason to go and live abroad.

He continues:

لحد ما رحنا جنوب أفريقيا في زيارة مع أنها قصيرة لكن فشخت دماغنا، على آخر الزيارة كنا خلاص عارفين أن هو ده المكان الي أحنا عايزين نعيش فيه، المكان و الناس و الطبيعة و التاريخ و السياسة و كل التفاصيل شدتنا تماما، و الأهم احساس عميق بحاجة مشتركة. و المرة دي التفكير بقى جد، عايزين نعيش في جنوب أفريقيا، و من بعدها اتحول مسار شغلنا و حياتنا بحيث أفريقيا تبقى في قلبه، و بقينا سنويا عندنا رحلة عمل في بلد من بلاد أفرقيا جنوب الصحراء و حلقة معارف مهنية في القارة بتتسع كل يوم و هاتك يا قراءة و مذاكرة و مزيكا و أفلام، و تنظير عن قومية أفريقية جديدة تجمع الشعوب مش الحكومات، و ضرورة التكامل الاقتصادي حول حوض النيل و الخ.
بس ما بين الخطة و التنفيذ أربع سنين كاملة، حصل فيهم حاجات كثيييير
Until we went for a visit to South Africa. Although it was a short visit but it really changed our mind. And by the end of this visit, we knew that it is just the place for us to spend our lives in. The country's location, people, nature, and history, all attracted us to it. And the most important was that feeling that it has something in common with us. We were serious this time that we do want to live there. Later on, our jobs and life started to revolve around Africa. We started to visit one African – Sub Sahara – nation every year, and we started to have more contacts in the continent. We spent days and nights reading, studying, watching movies, listening to music, and attending lectures about Africa, and how there must be one bond to gather all peoples living there and the importance of have some economical integration among the countries living around the the Nile river basin.
However it's been four years since we first planned to move to South Africa, and during those years many things have changed.

He then explains how staying is a foreign country is really different from just visiting it for few days or even weeks:

سبق لينا أن زرنا 8 دول أوروبيا من شرقها و غربها و جنوبها و شمالها و وسطها، كانوا دائما رحلات ممتعة و يبقى نفسنا تتطول أكثر، و كان عندنا قناعة تامة أننا فاهمين أوروبا دي تماما و ما أسهل الحياة في أوروبا، لما اتاحت لنا فرصة العيشة في روما أربع شهور تصورنا أن الموضوع هيكون ظريف جدا، أنا زرت ايطاليا مرتين قبل كده و البلد لطيفة و بعدين بقالي سنين شغال مع طليان و فاهمهم و كله في التمام.
لكن طلع ليس من زار كمن عاش، الأربع شهور بتوع روما كانوا أكئب فترة في حياتي فعلا و مقدرناش نتألقم على العيشة و المجتمع بالمرة. رجعنا من الرحلة و حالة التصالح مع مصر في ذروتها. و حالة الشك في أننا ينفع نعيش في أي حتة غير مصر برضه في ذروتها.
عشان كده أنا مش عارف أسمي الرحلة اللي جاية لجنوب أفريقيا دي ايه، لو الأمور مشيت هنتنقل هناك لمدة طويلة، بس برضه مش عايز أسميها هجرة، دي نقلة مؤقتة يمكن تصفصف على ثلاث شهور، و يمكن سنة و يمكن خمس سنين (دي حاجة بتاعت ربنا زي ما أنتم عارفين). لكن في النهاية مطرحنا هنا في المخروبة.
أحنا مسافرين من غير المشاعر المعتادة من شباب رايح يشتغل بره بتاعت أن البلد بقيت خنقة، و ملناش مستقبل و العيشة مرة و الكلام ده، بالعكس عيشتنا في مصر ظريفة و مرفهة جدا، و الشغل كويس. و من بعد ما اتفقت على الشغل هناك و الشكوك عمالة تأكل في، مش يمكن تطلع زي ايطاليا و الانطباع اللي خدناه من الزيارة ملوش علاقة بواقع العيشة
We have been to eight different and distant European countries before. And had much fun during those visits and we always wished that the visit could last longer. We started to believe that we fully understand Europe, and living there is a piece of cake. And when we had to live in Rome for about four months, we were sure that it is going to be really good. Especially that I've been to Italy twice before, and the country itself is good, and also I've been working with Italians for two years, and I have no problems in dealing with them at all.
But it came out that living somewhere is totally different than just visiting it. And those four months in Rome were the most dull period of my entire life, and we couldn't adapt ourselves to the life and the society there at all. And when we returned back to Egypt, we felt we've really missed it, and we were in a doubt that we can ever live in any other place by Egypt.
That's why I really cannot describe my upcoming visit to RSA. If it were all fine there, we may stay for a long time, but yet we still cannot describe it as an immigration, and we insist to call it just a temporary move. It may last for three months, a year or even five years (who knows), but still we believe that at the end we have to get back to Egypt someday.
Our feelings are really different than those who are willing to travel abroad because they cannot live here anymore, and have failed to find an appropriate job here. On contrary, our lives here are really good and comfortable, and we have good positions. And may be that's why after agreeing on everything there, I started to fear that it may come out to be like our experience in Italy and that the feeling we took in our visit few years ago may be totally different from staying and living there.

Alaa finally notes:

يعني القصة أننا بدأنا فاكرين الدنيا كلها مفتوحة لينا و بعدين اكتشفنا أن جنوبها بس اللي ينفعنا و دلوقتي بياكلنا الشك أن يطلع الكلام بتاع اللي شرب من نيل مصر ده بجد.
المهم نشوف وشكم بخير،و ادعولنا كده ربنا يفتحها علينا و نقدر نحضر كل ماتشات منتخبنا في كأس العالم
The whole story started by believing that whole Earth is open for us to live in, then we realized that it's just it's southern part, and now we are really skeptic that the famous saying about Egypt's Nile – there is a famous saying in Egypt that when someone drinks from the Nile river, he'll will always get back to Egypt – is true.
Anyway, good bye and please pray for us to enjoy our stay in South Africa and to be able to attend the football matches of the Egyptian national team in the World Cup there.

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