Relocating to NYC

Starting from next week I'll be moving from Cairo to New York City where I'll, hopefully, live for the next five years or so. This of course means that there will be no more posts for at least two months from today.

How do I feel about the move? Right now I'm in the middle of a whirl of emotions, however that is not something I'm bothered with, it's just a natural reaction to such a big turning point in my life. What bothers me is people's reaction to the fact that I am traveling on my own.

With the exception of my immediate family and some friends and colleagues who have been super supportive, everyone else, from close relatives to my credit card customer service guy whom I barely know, have reacted to the news of me leaving the country to pursue my graduate education with a half-hearted congratulations followed by a big "but": "Mabrouk but are you going alone?" "Mabrouk, but isn't that too long?" "Mabrouk, but are your parents okay with that?" after that follows the comment "well, it's good for your professional life but you'll be neglecting your personal one [which you will regret]" or, as is often the case, there would be this awkward silence with "but when will you get married?!" written all over their faces. This is finally followed with a look of pity as they gaze sadly at this poor future "spinster" (I'm only 23 years old).

These comments made me angry and offended at the beginning with all their disgusting innuendos about me being alone in a "morally loose" country and their predictions of a miserably lonely future for yours truly, but now they have left me feeling very sad and very frustrated.

One of my professors told me when she heard such a comment that people only say such things because they want to comfort themselves with the idea that while you might have done better than them in one aspect they are still better than you in another. However, while that might be true of some very, very few people I know, it isn't the case with the many people and relatives who were genuinely sad for me. What this is, in my opinion, is just pure social bias against women because if I was a man no one would have thought or cared to ask or worry about when will I get married (unless I was approaching my 40th birthday) because when it comes to men there isn't this crazy urge to get them married and knocked up as soon as possible. If I was a man no one would have expressed fear for my safety amid those non-believers, if I was a man no one would have told me to look for a nice Egyptian guy while I'm there and to avoid foreigners because while it's okay for an Egyptian guy to come back home and show off his pretty white western wife it isn't for Egyptian women.

When I get such reactions my responses vary depending on my mood. Sometimes, I just play the sweet, traditional good girl role and answer "Mahadesh 'aref el naseeb fein" (No one knows where or when I'll find Mr. Right), while other times I enjoy shocking people with the comment that I have no intention of getting married before I'm thirty and then sit back and enjoy the look of disbelief and fear on their faces as they try to bring this crazy girl back to her right mind. Other times I just shrug my shoulders, remain silent, allow them to look at me with pity and promise myself, while looking at those sorry excuses of human beings, that I'll always do what I want and that I'll enjoy every single moment of my life and won't let such creatures confine me inside their little boxes with their dos and donts.