Egyptian wives abroad

This is a blog from the real world of Egyptian wives and mothers living abroad, trying hard to make it in the real world outside Egypt, without the support of maids, drivers, networking, doing it all alone like most western, modern women, who work, cook, clean, bring up children…etc…

May 2004
The day I decided to stay
After a teary afternoon, I sat in a corner of my then half empty home, furniture was still being slowly delivered….I gathered my thoughts as I was about to make a major decision that would possibly affect mine and my family’s life forever, do I toughen up, take up all the challenges ahead and stay in the UK? or do I simply just quit, and go back home to what I’m used to? after a long pause, I decided I’m not a quitter, and how can I make an impulsive decision based on less than a week of trial…I got up, emptied my shopping bags and pretended I was just back at home in Alex. on a day where I had no help, I cooked a nice meal for my family and started to make a plan of action….I called the only Egyptian friend I knew in London then; knowing that she would sympathise and understand where I’m coming from (how vain! now looking back and thinking about it) my whole life revolved around help..I asked her if she can recommend a maid even once a week, which she did…hurray I felt, it’s not too bad after all, my next challenge (again very vain) was ironing our clothes (I had never done it before) well i knew what it entailed (roughly) that got sorted by my good old man, who decided to pitch in, knowing otherwise I might just collapse….I think you’ve all started to get the message by now….13 years later and looking back on the first few weeks I moved abroad, I feel so sorry for anyone of my generation or beyond who have been brought up the way I was…really sad how we were so spoilt, no wonder (and I’m not judging) half of the marriages around me collapse, I utterly sympathise…it’s not our fault (men and women) it’s our parents faults for the way they brought us up, with minimal responsibilities and too much support which bread a spoilt, non productive bunch…everything was provided for my generation whether upper, middle or even lower middle class, an apartment for when you get married if you were a boy, the big lavish wedding of course whether they could afford it or not, they would even borrow to make it happen, all the furniture if you were a girl……till recently I was obsessed with “must buy a nice diamond ring for my son for when he meets the right girl and wants to propose” my husband kept humouring me till one day he said ” if the boy can’t afford to buy his wife to be a ring, then he certainly shouldn’t be getting married” how much sense does that make…..I thank God everyday I married a man from the do it yourself world, his family brought him up in a way that instead of handing him money, they taught him how to earn it….to be continued otherwise our supper will burn


4 responses to “Egyptian wives abroad”

  1. Brilliant and very very true and I must say you are a talented writer my friend. You never cease to amaze me Maha xxxx Looking forward to the next episode x


  2. Anna-Kaisa Brenner Avatar
    Anna-Kaisa Brenner

    Thank you Maha for writing this. How much do we really know about each others everyday life and the way we are brought up in the context of our own culture?

    I remember when we moved to Alex 1998. Everybody had maid, a driver, some had even more people like a baby sitter oor cook or gardener etc. working for them. What did the women do all day long if they don’t have to clean the house, cook the meals, wash the laundry, go shopping for food, take care of the toddlers…?

    As I come from a Scandinavian culture where no household help traditions, I felt a bit unsure at first if we should hire a maid for us. I could perfectly do everything by myself as at home. But then I understood that this is another culture, another reality, another world. I didn’t know the language – how could survive the everyday life without help? How could I ever get to know other people if I spent my days cleaning my bathrooms and vacuuming the dusty floors (everything gets so dusty in Alex) all day long? Why wouldn’t I pay for that and give a job to someone thad needs it?

    I was so happy to be able to live a rather carefree life in two years time. I am very thankful for that.

    Here in Finland like in other Scandinavian countries we do learn to do everything by ourselves already as a child or teenager. Men and women equally. We don’t have the tradition of having household help. We do not recognize the class society (exept Sweden at some point) but then again we do work too much. The women are very tired.

    Nowadays it is socially accepted to have somebody to clean your house once a week or twice a month. Socially accepted! And a family with both adults working outside home (as most families here) many families can afford it (good salaries, high taxes).

    I’m proud of the tradition of teaching household skills our children (boys and girls equally) so they could share the housework when they are grown up. At the same time I feel sorry for my children as I know they will have to work loooong hours first at job, then at home.

    You Maha show a very good example to many people. You are not afraid of shuttling between different cultures, you speak fluently different language, you get easily to know people, you are eager to learn new things and you are willing to share what you’ve learnt. You are an open hearted but also determined person who could definitely survive even in a middle of a desert.

    You’ve been blessed with a wise family both in Alex and in England. Your parents have done a great job when upbringing you a cosmopolitan and encouriging you to follow your heart.

    I wish you success with this very interesting blog of yours. Please keep writing actively as we just love reading your texts!



    1. Anna-Kaisa this has truly brought tears to my eyes, so will just say thank you so much for the kind complements and love you xx


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