Monday, April 30, 2012

Egypt: Plotters or Pantsers?

                                      Ageeba Beach, Marsa Matrouh, Egypt

The rock and the sea.

There are two kinds of writers when it comes to getting a first draft down: those who outline every detail, the plotters, and those fly by the seat of their pants, the pantsers. (I don't really know if that's the origin of the word.) I’m a plotter. In fact I'm such a planner-aheader that if my novel takes a left turn somewhere in the middle (usually due to a new idea), my writing comes to a dead halt while I re-outline the whole thing. Yup, I’m a control freak.

Since living in Egypt, I’ve noticed the Egyptians live their lives as ‘pantsers.' They rarely worry about tomorrow, satisfied that if a problem presents itself, they’ll take care of it when it happens. They believe the only true ‘plotter’ is Allah, and they should let him decide on the course of their lives. They’re also very aware that no one is perfect, so they don’t worry about making mistakes or feel guilty when they do.

This way of thinking leads to a non-stressful existence, and this is the reason most of the foreigners I know appreciate living here -- that and the gorgeous sun, sand, and sea I've pic-ed above.

Once, I tried to write a novel without outlining and ended up with a confused, unworkable mess. (Won’t do that again!) But I really enjoy the easy pace of life here, where no one worries too much or stresses-out about tomorrow. In a world where you don’t really know what the future may hold, it doesn’t pay to over-plan. Life isn’t a novel, and a relaxing environment is priceless.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Postal Problems

For years, I've been having trouble getting mail in Egypt (along with all the ex-pats I know). As opposed to the West, there are no 'mailmen' here that have regular routes--at least not outside of Cairo. The postal workers don't consider themselves paid well enough to venture out and actually deliver anything. Almost all my mail has been lost, stolen, or occasionally sent back. Here's my most recent experience.

After receiving gift certificates, I ordered books from a well-known internet source on March 9. I paid extra for 'expedited' shipping, and the books were supposed to arrive on March 21. They're over a month late now. I'm sure some Egyptian postal worker was thrilled to see a package from the US come into the Post Office. I'm sure he was less thrilled when he got it home and found it only contained two how-to books about writing novels (as opposed to anything electronic).

I contacted a large bookstore here to try to get them to order the books for me. They said yes, but it would take two months or so for the books to arrive. No problem, I said, as long as they come eventually. However, the company sent me an email the next day saying they don't 'deal' with those publishers. (The four books I ordered were from three well-known publishers.)

Why don't I simply download e-books, you ask? Because the net source noted above refuses to allow anyone from Africa to download their books. But don't worry. I'm resourceful, and I haven't given up yet. :-)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gas Shortage

(AP-Associated Press from The Daily Star: Lebanon)

For some reason, there's been a shortage of gas (called benzine in Arabic) for the last month. Cairo and Alexandria aren't suffering very much as supplies are delivered there first. (The Army Generals sure don't want millions of people taking over Tahrir Circle to riot about gas.) But the outlying cities are sometimes out of gas for days at a time. When tankers arrive, hundreds of cars get in line and wait to fill up. 

As opposed to gas shortages in the US in the 70s, the lines for gas here resemble a genial get-together of friends. Egyptians will get out of their cars to chat with others nearby; they laugh and joke, taking the annoyance easily, as they take most every irritation in this country. While driving around the city, car owners will pull up next to taxis and ask where to find gas. Taxi drivers always know and will immediately direct the person to the right area or even offer to show them the way. 

This is one of the things I like best about living here. Egyptians rarely get stressed-out, are very patient, and are always willing to help someone else. On the other hand, it's still an unexplained gas shortage and who knows when it'll get better?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring in Egypt

We're halfway through April and temperatures are rising to almost 80-degrees during the day. Many online friends are mentioning allergies. That's understandable if you live in the U.S. or Europe, full of spring flowers and budding trees. But my allergies are kicking in, too, and there isn't much here besides the desert. The only planted areas are farmers' fields, near irrigation canals from the Nile, or those places where property owners water plants and trees with water piped in from the Nile. The rest is just one big, dry desert (with an occasional stubborn camel).

So where are those evil pollen-meanies coming from? I'm pondering that question as I go out to buy more allergy medication...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Egyptian Facts and Info

I've added three pages of Egyptian info to this blog: Egyptian Wildlife, Egyptian Gods, and Egypt-Clip Art. I'm trying to add sections daily so that people who are interested in aspects of my life in Egypt can find some reference materials and pictures. I just added a section on cats, since they're everywhere over here, both feral and domesticated, and included this adorable kitten image.

Cute little guy, although he looks a bit surprised at being photographed. I've had two cats while in Egypt. Both were "Sharaz," a long-haired breed found here. One was black, and the other white with a blue eye and a green eye. Her name was "Sucre" which means sugar in Arabic. I miss them both.

Check back soon for more information, and have a great day!
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