Monday, November 4, 2013

And the writing starts...

Since ex-president Mohamed Morsi is on trial at the moment and Mariam is probably somewhere around Cairo covering the news, I thought I should take advantage of the situation and write the introductory blog-post. 

Mariam and I asked everyone in the newsroom yesterday to suggest a good title for our new blog. 

"What is it about?" they asked us.

"Our lives, Cairo, 20 years, girls," I blurted. 

"Our writings are going to be social," Mariam stepped in to clarify.

"You want something that people will read?" a colleague asked us, "Diaries of my Sexual Liberation." 

I slapped my hand across my chest like any good Egyptian woman. (Though, after a few posts, I think everyone will agree we're not typically 'good Egyptian women'. At the least, I personally have issues with all sorts of identities written on my national ID).

"OK," our colleague came again smiling, "Two Drunken Women." 

It still didn't work, though I personally liked it. I always feel drunk though I've never tried alcohol and this phenomenon has become stronger since I graduated in June. After much fidgeting, anyway, and with the help of office friends, we came up with this title and typed it in. 

We cannot escape Cairo. It lives up loyally to its name, overpowering us all. And we cannot escape ourselves. 

The title is in Arabic and English because we've decided to write in both languages, depending on how we feel. I will probably write in Arabic when I'm depressed or in a very fragile situation (such as holding back and not falling in love, being lost in identity, being lost somewhere, etc). Mariam will probably write in Arabic when her "poetry devil" befalls her soul. 

I first met Mariam when we started studying journalism at university in 2009. We've been friends since then. We've shared failed love stories. Stupid crushes. We've had every other meal together. Competed stupidly when we worked for rival on-campus newspapers. Gossiped about our professors. Gossiped about our sources. Sat side by side writing leads and ending paragraphs and transition sentences in our stories. We ranted about not having time to look like Angelina Jolie every day. Not finding the Ahmed Mazhar of our lives (She'll kill me when she sees I've written 'Ahmed Mazhar'). We whispered indecent jokes. And laughed loudly about them. We sent each other whats-app messages in the early morning saying things like "What are you doing?" and "Are you working today?" - which clearly translates to "I've been crying" and "I can't do this job anymore". And the good thing is that we both understand the translations. 

But no, we've had our times too. We fought a lot. Ketir. We hated each other. We complained about each other to other people. And in the meantime we're going through a rehabilitation phase, if it's ever going to end. But I don't mind. I tell myself: at least we are making an effort to keep our friendship. Sometimes, that's valuable by itself.

So, since I work in the second half of the day, I shall stop my introductory rant here. And we'll write something every week, every other week, every other day. We'll write about our lives in this merciless city, the chances it gives us and the rolling days of disappointment - and hope - we wake up to every morning.