Archive for November, 2013

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Facebook … Mon Amour

November 14, 2013

There is this special friend in my life that I spend time with at least 1 hour a day. Whenever I open his window, he would ask me gently “what is on my mind?” Or “how am feeling today”. He can be available at any time day and night welcoming my silly comments and anything I feel the urge of sharing. It is more awkward, if I tell you that my husband happen to have the same person as a mistress and so does my father, my brother and 864 people from my family and friends. Our common lover’s name is Facebook!

See, I spend a big deal of time thinking about my relation with Facebook and how does it affect my social life. I concluded that there is very few things in life that I can’t do with my blue and white personal profile. We can gossip, watch videos, play games, remember old memories while viewing old albums, celebrate birthdays, attend events, support causes, discuss politics, read, write, and even Poke people for fun!

In fact Facebook is a reflection of my social life and is ruled by the complexity of my human connections and ties. For example, there are things you keep public and others you keep private. You can show things to some people and hide them from others. There are some pictures which you want to share with your friend but hide from your family, and feelings you can’t put on your status because you care for the feelings of your friends or fear to hurt your colleagues at work.

I totally disagree with people who say “get a life and sign out from social networks” because the best profiles belong to people who actually have A Life, as the more you do things on the real life, the more writings, pictures and stories you have to share and thus you get a more interesting virtual life.

It is true that I’ve had some symptoms of facebook addiction sometimes like when I sat on the morning after my wedding to upload the nearly 200 pictures captured by my friend Corinne. Or when 5 minutes after I delivering with a cesarian I asked for my mobile to announce the birth of my son from the reanimation room. Yet, for a person who lived in different countries of the world and who has friends from over 40 countries what could be better and cheaper to keep in touch other than Facebook! Well, sometimes I cheat on facebook with the new guy called twitter, but that doesn’t count because I made sure they know about the time I spend with the other by synchronizing them.

When I lost a job because an article I published on facebook few years ago, I decided to go Off-Line and reconsider my priorities. Then, I started hearing people around me talk about all sorts of things I was missing like who met who and who said what and that video that went viral and that funny picture about that famous politician… I found myself in less than a month melting out of temptation like a kid in a candy shop. I am still proud of my record of 27 days of abstinence. Another diet on the list!

I should confess that it sometimes scares me to think about data security and confidentiality and about sharing more than what I am supposed to do with a global platform that I do not control. I even get more scared when I think that I have exposed and gave my son a virtual identity that he might not want to have once mature enough to decide for himself. However, I comfort my self by repeating that if someone wants my data there is worse than facebook like satellites, cell phones or my Bawaab (door-man), unless I choose to isolate my self from modern life and live with the Touaregs in the great sahara.

I believe that so far facebook has been a great window of opportunities for me to have a mental image about political views and general trends. I have a very diversified friend list of journalists, activists, artists, family, childhood classmates who range from the extreme right to the extreme left. I also have photo albums, series of statuses, groups, and pages that constitute together my Virtual Capital!

Finally, I wanted to talk with you about what happens to my virtual identity if I die. I take the opportunity to ask you not to put a black and white picture with a black bar on my profile picture and start unfriending me right away, because maybe there is an afterlife for me and Facebook Mon Amour when I leave definitely the physical world…

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Horror on the Desert Road

November 14, 2013

‘’Nawarty Masr’’ said the driver, holding my name in a piece of paper and waiting for me at terminal 3 of Cairo airport. He probably thought that I am a tourist coming from Casablanca and excited to discover the wonders of the land of the pharaohs. ‘’is it your first time in Egypt?’’ he asked me while putting the baby’s stroller on the back of the agency’s Hyundai. ‘’I lived in Egypt for 4 years now’’ I replied tiredly as I wanted to put an end to the conversation since I just had a hell of a 5 hours flight with a sick 5 months baby who didn’t stop vomiting on me. At that moment I didn’t suspect that the real horror was still waiting for me on the road.

Finally, I was in a car holding my sleeping baby and relaxing, while thinking of nothing but a hot bath and a comfortable bed after a fruitful mission in my home country: Morocco. After one hour stuck in Cairo’s famous jam, Hussein the driver said desperately looking for some kind of conversation to kill the time ‘’who did you vote for Madame?’’, ‘’I am not Egyptian, I don’t vote, and you who did you vote for’’ I replied carelessly just not to ignore him. ‘’I voted for Mursi as he is the best among the worse’’.

I was half asleep, at 00:30h 5 kilometres before the gates of Alexandria, when all of a sudden a light blue Chevrolet Optra with no car plates came out of nowhere of the you-turn and tried to hit our car. In the beginning, I didn’t realise what was happening to us and thought it must be some drunk young men heading to the north coast. Then the car hit us again and came right in front of us and stopped suddenly. We went straight into the strange car, and the sock woke up the baby and made the driver shout loudly ‘’Thugs! Thug!’’. The brave Hussein, drove the car with all its speed backward and made some Hollywoodian manipulation and went towards two trucks which were on the Cairo – Alex desert road. Meanwhile, our aggressors didn’t give up, seeing that there was only the driver and I in the Hyundai. They came on our right and started hitting us again trying to get us outside the main road. At that moment, my eyes crossed the eyes of the Optra’s driver. Cold evil eyes of a dark skin man who has many scars on his face as a witness of a criminal past. He was holding a firearm and knocking on his ride’s window asking us to poll out of the road and stop. Seeing the gun and the scary faces of the two ‘’Baltagiya’’ on that Chevrolet, I had the reaction of holding tight my baby and getting down under the seats, as the first thing that came to my mind was the possibility that they might start shooting our tires if we don’t stop.

I don’t know how many minutes I spent under that seat, but for me time was frozen, and I was looking at my baby and thinking: what if they shoot him? What if they rape me? I started trying to remember the valuable things I have in my luggage to offer them in order to convince them not to kill us. I thought of my friend Karim who got stopped on this same road by thugs who stole all his goods, his car, and even the coins of money on his pocket. Yet, I am not Karim, I am a woman with a baby, and when it happens to someone else no matter how close he is it’s not the same when it happens to you. I also remembered when I was in Rio with my friend Majd, when a men holding a M16 raised on the highway and started shooting, and how our driver laughed at us and said ‘’ it’s normal! welcome to Brazil!’’ while deviating him with his bullet proof taxi. 

Hussein’s voice interrupted my scared thoughts when I heard him saying ‘’you can come up Madame, I can see Alexandria’s gates’’, as if Alexandria’s gates were the doors of paradise where the deliverance from our nightmare was waiting for us. I was still under chock and the tears fiercely came down my frightened pale face. Hussein, him was shouting ‘’we deserve El Adly, I regret voting for Mursi. I should have voted for Shafik! This f…… country needs security!’’.

At Alexandria’s gates, we stopped at the police checkpoint and told the officer about the description of the car and what happened to us hoping that they will send a patrol to get the Baltagiya. In the contrary, the officer stared at us and said carelessly ‘’this happens often. We know these thugs. It’s normal’’ I prefer abstaining from saying what I think of that officer because the problem is way bigger than what happened to me, and I chose to tell the story as it happened without side comments or analysis, because it doesn’t need any.

We headed to Alexandria where our loved ones were waiting for us to get back safe. We didn’t pay attention that we left the radio on during the entire incident, where a nationalistic song was singing ‘’you are the dear Oh my country! And you are the most beautiful Oh my country! If things get bad, we will fix them, and if things get wrong, we will sing for you. Oh my country! Oh my country!’’.