The Trail of Tears

the trail of tears

The Original Trail of Tears

The dust is settling after the horrific shootings in DC and elsewhere this week. The right are seizing on this attack as the handmaiden of Liberalism.

For example, right-wing, pro-gun racist Congressman Steve King has blamed the attempted murder of House Majority Whip Scalese on none other than, get this… former President Obama.

In other venal lunacies, Chaldeans are being rounded up by ICE in Detroit and sent back to Iraq where their prospects of surviving a week without being killed or raped will be on the dim side.

Also, the Orango chumpster’s beloved Muslim travel ban, though again found by courts to be illegal, is tacitly ramping up, with various passengers, some of them born-in-the-USA teens, other naturalized American citizens, all with apparently valid American passports, are being denied entrance back in this country.

And in the spirit of harmony and peaceful coexistence, various marches and events are being held around the US to spew even more anti-Arab venom, this a speciality of a hate merchant impressario with a dubious Lebanese War backstory, who’s one of the leading profiteers of Islamophobia in the US, and who never tires of thinking of new stunts to inflame right wing zealots and insult peaceful Arab-Americans who are trying ignore the taunting and humiliations and survive in these United States.

Meanhile, some Americans pols are starting to think that perhaps they ought legislate while packing weaponry. Would it be a terribly inappropriate pun to call that a less than capital idea?

This is all starting to remind me of the John Wayne and Richard Widmark Westerns I used to watch on open air Cinema Night at the tennis stadium in the Gezira Club in Zamalek, only the blood being spilled ain’t catsup. America is falling back on its movie legacy of the Old West mythology that was conjured up over a century ago in Hollywood by Tom Mix and Nicholas Selig. Talk about being disassociated from reality, which for many here is still distilled through a prism of the O. K. Corral.

In my current (but soon to be former, thank God) neck of the woods, a few white enraged geezers are keeping their distance after I was compelled to call the police a few months ago.

This was after prolonged menacing behavior toward my wife and I outside our house, which we have lived in far longer than any of the small group of racists who moved to our street about 10 years ago.

I will not bore you with the details, but if you wonder why it is that I am leaving America, after soaking up Manhattan to the gills for decades, there is certainly that to consider, that, and many other things besides.

There are only 80 days left before exiting stage left to safer environs. It seems like just a few days ago that I took a pic (see below) of my watch, which I just had refurbished in preparation for scuba diving in the Red Sea; but in reality, almost 3 weeks have passed.  


Omega 1

For the last few days, I realized my blood pressure was going up, and I was, alas, back to food bingeing. I suppose the looming inevitability of it all was sinking in. The days ebb and flow; often it rains, for these are the sub tropics, and it is summer; I almost never leave my house anymore. I do not relish turning into a quasi hikikomori, but if the choice is between being a temporary shut-in or risk being shot, I will err on the side of caution.

As I read today’s news, or rather, skim the headlines (I find I am becoming less interested in particulars now, and surf the Internet just to get the general drift of things: I rarely if ever watch any news shows on cable anymore), passing thoughts occur to me: in particular, what if for some absurd reason I’m not “allowed” (despite being a citizen who’s paid a fortune in taxes and insurance premiums!) back in the country?

That would bother me, but not intensely so, only philosophically — as in, (insert your favorite anti Yankee imperial dog Guardian comments section rant here) — and even then, mildly so, as I do have options, and in fact intend to return only sporadically until things dramatically change — which may not be for a while, for I do long for the vanished gardens of Cordoba, O ye Lawrence of Arabia fans.

My UK passport allows me to reside in France as an EU national (given that Brexit is likely to drag on forever), and my Egyptian ID card allows me to stay in Gouna as long as I please, without having to pay the Egyptian government for the privilege of residing there permanently, if I choose to do so.

gouna lagoon

Gouna is an upscale resort town: orderly, safe, pleasant. I look forward to moving there in mid September; if we like it, my wife & I may live there 6 months out of the year, or we may sell our FLA house, and buy one of those nice places they are about to build on Mangroovy Beach, overlooking the Red Sea.  

Of course there are some things going on in Egypt right now that bother me. But any country is a delicate balance of imperfections and compromise (Self Ed Note: ugh, what a ratso rationalization! What about Ahmed Naji?).

For example, I do not want the Moslem Brotherhood to take over, again, ever, in Egypt; so we tolerate certain things, knowing there is room always for gradual improvement. (Self Ed Note 2: double ugh, you are not fooling anyone, for this is nothing but cowardly fear of writer’s block!)

Shaddup, you. (Dear reader, please ignore those unpleasant asides.)

throat clearing *

As I’ve mentioned (yannno, a lot) in earlier posts, there are increasing similarities between the US and Egypt. (Ed Note #3: sorry for the interruption, but this is a stunningly off-the-cuff example of how profound this blog is, and why you should immediately click the Follow button below.)

You want supporting material?

The endless violence; authoritarian tropes; cultural identity issues; the druggie thing. As youz Americans like to say when lapsing into your native argot, which I’m doing here (temporarily) to trick you into thinking that my thick, long beard is for cleaning the sink, “nuf said.”

In the end, if you are 60+, you really do have to start making decisions about how you wish to spend the last leg of your life. Since my corporate career days are long over, I have enormous freedom in that regard.

For me, it becomes a matter of physical and mental health: I am about 90 per cent back from a rare thyroid disease that almost killed me in 2010 – one that was caused in part by living in Tijuana for the better part of a decade (don’t ask) and watching Gringos being manipulated by the followers of Satan into despising what people like myself supposedly represented. Bollox to that.

running on the beach

Before going, however, and apart from the usual plans for extreme dieting, bicycle riding, beach walks, swiming in the pool, and rigorous calisthenics that I have half heartedly decided to perform in between sudden, life-threatening thunderstorms, there are a few authors I wish to read and enjoy, some for the first time: Samuel Beckett, Fernando Pessoa, Malcolm Lowry, Albert Cossery; in all, I added perhaps 5 to 10 heavy-duty works of fiction (maybe a Harold Pinter bio will also make the grade, and of course the diaries of Waguih Ghali) to my summer 2017 reading bucket; and not one of them is a US author, neither, say, the tedious GREAT Moroccan-American novelist Laila Lalami, whose ubiquitous books and especially articles (in so many leading publications, by golly!) I really ought to finish, nor even the sunny Egyptian-American poet Yahia Lababidi, rumored to be Obama himself’s secret aphorism generator: connect the dots, man.

Beyond looking forward to a sort of indolent life of bohemian luxury in Gouna, amidst friends and acquaintances who have known me since I was a kid growing up in Cairo, I will feel a distinct satisfaction in returning to my country for an extended period this time round.

Being an Egyptian in Egypt is deeply satisfying: for starters, it’s not a country whose existence was predicated on a dolorous trail of tears.

Moreover, we’ve been around for a while.

There’s a virtually unequalled, deep, and fascinatingly layered history here that is alive all around you in Egypt — if you know where to look, and learn how to properly see.

Something to keep in mind where perusing lofty-sounding documents like the Constitution’s preamble: We the people is about as inclusive now as it was when those (empty to some) words were first written.

But I am — after decades of living in Manhattan — Americanized through and through; though my chameleon-like persona will most likely shed the most egregious of surface characteristics sooner than you can say Amreekani.

hunter with dog

This linguistic Zelig quality is readily apparent in conversation: when in France, after a few weeks, I am often mistaken, buhleev me, for a Frenchman — my fave bar trick is to ask any American who thinks he or she knows French rather well is how to say “A hunter who knows how to hunt never hunts without his dog,” rapidly, three times in succession, on the fly in the language of Voltaire, but only after having a quaffed a few Ricards; if in the UK, I start to use words like “shag” and “knackered” with tiresome impunity; and any Arab will recognize my accent and choice of slang when speaking the lingo of Da’ad as authentically Egyptian.

And like many protean multi-cultural Americans, with dual or triple hyphenated identities to navigate, I am no longer as angry at how things have turned out: really disappointed, perhaps, but not angry, or surprised. Not anymore.

If I were a sarcastic git, I might even say let them eat humble pie for a while, since, as the saying goes, living well is deffo the best revenge.



2 thoughts on “The Trail of Tears

  1. A rich post. I love your tone and the way you dance all over the world. May the post80 days be splendid. I look forward to travelling with you wherever you go – unless of course life is so satisfactory that you stop blogging!


    • thank you for the kind words. what will happen on day 0 is all the pre travel posts will be made private; ie, they will not longer be available for viewing, unless in google cache (for a while anyway). then you will see 10 days of Nice pics. following that, Gouna material, starting off with film festival observations. i am considering taking a cross egypt motorcycle trip after that.. from day 0, the posts will be completely apolitical, there will less positional sarcasm and more actual observation of what i am experiencing, instead of armchair commentary, as is the case now. a lot more pics too, internet connections permitting. but any writer worth his or her salt is one by virtue of keen observation, expressed with felicity. These pre day 0 posts are simply a way to keep my writing skills sharp as I await being in places where the real writing (I hope) will commence.


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