Ep.1 – My First Cup of Tea in the Oasis

(Episode 1: JOYRIDE TO EGYPT)

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My last glimpse of reality was three days prior, July 27, 1999, at 3 a.m.

I had been soaking in my hot tub on the patio of my condo, trying to soothe my jumpy nerves.

Now I sat reflecting on that lovely moment of 3 a.m. bliss. It was summer, the night was a cozy dark blanket between me and the rest of the world. My kids were asleep, our bags were packed and stuffed in the car. We were ready for our 5 a.m. exodus from reality.

My children thought we were going to see the pyramids.

I was soaking in my hot tub as a kind of ritual cleansing. I wanted to wash my old life off and start my new life fresh and clean. My whole family thought I was crazy. One of my brothers had tried had to dissuade me, even threatening to tear up my travel documents to “protect” me and my kids. My mom was so upset that at the last minute she refused to let me park my car at her house and would not give us a ride to Newark International Airport as we had earlier planned. I was already a nervous wreck, and this new thought of paying for half a month of parking at an airport added another heavy burden in my baggage.

I leaned back in the hot water, eyes closed, and played “on the one hand” and “on the other hand” one more time. The result was always the same, always exciting to the point of shivering, even in a bubbling hot tub. Maybe I was crazy, but I knew I was going to do it.

I was going to Egypt to marry a man I met on the internet.

I had never laid eyes on him, and it was all arranged. Within 24 hours of our first meeting, I would be his wife. Signed, sealed and delivered.

.
.
.

I was flushing the past 20 years of awful marriage to a mean drunk, a miserable divorce and a year of therapy while conquering a condo. I was ready for something exciting. Damn the torpedos – Full Speed Ahead!

On the one hand, some people get married after a night on the town. I, on the other hand, had lots of photos and phone conversations, and a 3 inch binder stuffed with email printouts. What more does a woman need after 50 days on the internet?

Now, here I was, sitting in a dark room somewhere in the middle of the Nile Delta. The room was long and narrow, with only the light of day illuminating the entrance. An old wooden bench supported me as I sat, peering into the dark as my two young children explored the depths of the room. Peeking through the open door at the far end, they cried delightedly upon discovering another room with chickens running around inside. I went to look. Light streamed in haphazardly from a thick grapevine arbor above. The floor was dirt, the walls were mud brick. My children had huge smiles on their faces, chasing the multi-coloured chickens between little woven wooden crates and other miscellaneous debris. They laughed and the chickens cackled. I rolled my eyes, grinned, and returned to my perch in the cool darkened room.

A man suddenly entered from outside and I pretended not to notice. I had glanced that way when the light had been blocked but turned away nonchalantly. Reviewing the photo in my mind, I thought he looked similar to my new husband, but I knew right away it wasn’t him.

Happily, my husband prefers western style business suits. In my new apartment in the city, I found his closet full of wonderful suits, shirts and ties. This man, however, was wearing a long, white night gown.

My kids were just past the nursery rhyme stage and “Wee Willy Winkee” ran through my head. I bit my lip to keep from laughing out loud.

His back to me the whole time, the man silently struck a match, lit a fire on a strange small box-shaped metal grill, and adjusted a valve on a small torpedo-shaped metal cylinder. The flame was extremely high and hissing loudly. I was peeking from the corner of my eye and growing alarmed.

From a dusty small cabinet on the wall he took down a small orange box, a dusty glass cup and an old, dented brass vase with a long metal handle. Still without a word, he stepped outside and returned momentarily with the cup sparkling clean and the small brass vase full of water. I realized then that the vase was in fact a kind of tea pot. He carefully measured black powder from the orange box into the brass tea pot. It hissed and sizzled when he immersed it into the flames, setting it on the grill. Then he left the room without a word or a glance.

My husband had gone off earlier to talk with construction workers. He was preparing to remodel the 2nd floor, above me, to be our new home in the country. When he had left me and the kids in this narrow old dark room I had felt sure no one had lived there for ages. It occured to me now that I must be wrong. What were the chickens doing back there, after all? And the tea in the cabinet? I peered again into the dark, trying to understand my surroundings, ignoring the man when I heard him return again.

The scent of freshly picked mint filled the room, and I heard the hissing stop. The tinkling of a spoon in the glass cup caught my ear and I turned to see the man stirring sugar into the cup. He had poured hot tea over the mint and it swirled in the wake of the spoon.

He handed me the cup without looking me in the eye, and silently left the room.

I sat alone again in the dark, cupping my tea while sitting on an old wooden bench. My back against an ancient dusty wall. Pink sweater, white skirt, children playing with chickens. I sipped my tea and wondered how much further from recognizable reality this journey would take me.

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46 thoughts on “Ep.1 – My First Cup of Tea in the Oasis

  1. I loved your rich use of detail in telling this story. I think I would have initially found it difficult to support a decision like that, too, but I hope your family has come around.

    • Thank you for understanding both sides – that’s very fair! Yes, they understand we are completely different than them about many things, but we’re all pretty much ok with that, Thank God!

  2. What a beautiful couple. And the story behind an all through your marriage is so touching and challenging… It is great that you could move forward after the previous experience and marry again. That was an interesting twirl your life has taken, don´t you think?… The photo is beautiful and I am happy for you, dear Aisha.

    Best wishes, always, Aquileana 😛

  3. This reads like a novel. If the rest of the story is as good as this first chapter you should pursue publishing it. I can’t read to read the rest of it.

    • Wow, that’s probably the best comment I ever received, thank you very much, Susan! I’d love any critique you can offer as you read, and it’s really great to meet you! ♥♥♥ ;^)

  4. I am loving this blog..I love travel and culture, all things Egyptian, and a good love story! I can’t wait to go on this adventure with you..

  5. What a wonderful romantic story 🙂 I used to have Moslem family as neighbours and remember the respect and love that the man showed to his wife. Your husband has the same caring look about him.
    I will do a catch up read of your story when I’ve finally finished my present writing project. Have to be disciplined. Meanwhile, I’ll start off by following your blog, so I don’t miss any of your current posts.

    • Thanks so much, Sarah! I agree, have to be disciplined about doing our projects. We have to stay on track if we want to get anything done! So happy to meet you, and you’re very welcome here anytime! ♥ ;^)

  6. Little by little I’m reading your “adveture” about marrying a man with other culture and so far from your native country. You are lucky after having an awful first husband you could meet this other one!!!!!! I happened to have a horrible husband, after many years I felt brave and asked for divorce. I’m living alone for many years, but I’m happy. I travel when I can meeting other cultures and mixing wirh the native people. I’ll read your story, it’s very interesting!!!!!

    • Thank you so much, Rosa! As you say, it is an adventure, and I do feel very lucky and blessed to have finished from a sad time in my life and turned to a more happy time! And you, too, it seems, because happiness isn’t something we find in another person only, happiness is something we share and find everywhere we go! I think it sounds like you already know this, and I wish you peace and happiness in all your endeavors! Thanks so much for joining me here! ♥♥♥ ;^)

  7. Hey Aisha, it’s so good to read your life’s journey. Even I have met my egyptian lover online and we know each other from an year now. Since you have been living in egypt since long in need your help in one thing. I am an Indian Hindu and the man is an Egyptian Muslim. We plan to marry in 2 years. In spite of the religious difference can we get we legally married in Egypt? Does the new Constitution legally register such a marriage?
    I really need your help on this. Take care
    Waiting to hear from you

    • Hi Shreya, very nice to meet you! I wish you all the best in your new life! An egyptian man may marry a foreign woman of any nationality and any religion. He may do so in a specific office now in Nasr City, Cairo. The foreign woman must have all the correct documents, tho, and in your case you must call your embassy in Egypt to ask them what is required. The website is:
      http://www.indembcairo.com/

      I read many Interesting stories, similar to mine and yours on this website:
      http://marriagepartner.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11444&page=5

      You might enjoy reading that one, too! All the best to you my dear, I have a favorite video I adore, search youtube for “ahlan wa sahlan” it’s a beautiful indian woman marrying a really handsome egyptian man, and they sing and dance in arabic and hindi, it’s soooo great! keep in touch, I’d love to hear from you again! ♥♥♥ ;^)

  8. Hey dear Aisha, I’m so deeply touched by your kindness and love. Thank you so very much for taking time to reply and making me feel happier and confident about my relationship with his adorable man I have met. Surely we will keep in touch and keep corresponding.
    Lots of love to you and your kids

  9. Hey Aisha ☺ hope you are doing well. I sent an email to some officers of Indian embassy in Cairo and waiting for their response. Thank you very much for the embassy’s link. Just I’m worried coz when I check over the Internet I always find articles where its written that an Egyptian Muslim man can marry only a Muslim, Christian or Jew woman legally on papers. Such articles make me confused and sad. Is this true or like you said they can marry a Hindu woman too legally? Do you know any Indian Hindu woman who married egyptian muslim man legally on papers?
    Also the link you sent for reading stories like ours isn’t opening. Looking forward to your help.

    • Hi Shreya, I can understand your fear and concern, it’s very natural. The confusion you might be having about the muslim marrying outside of the abrahamic faiths is because a muslim woman may not marry any other man except a muslim. This is in the Quran, and it’s upheld in the law here in Egypt.

      There is another confusion that might occur because it is possible to marry someone “secretly” in Egypt. It’s a bad practice, usually to the total disadvantage of the woman, because it’s not a marriage that is legally registered in the correct legal office. It is just a written contract of marriage between two people and has no longer any value if one of the partners rips up his copy. Because it’s not a legally registered contract, it comes with almost no legal protection for the woman if she, for example, finds herself pregnant and wants financial support for the child from its father.

      It is your husband-to-be who needs to be making all this very clear for you, my dear sister, otherwise you must search your heart carefully if he is being as honest with you as he must be. Please don’t be in a rush to find yourself disappointed. Press your sweetheart to provide you all the details, all the correct documents, and the address of the correct legal office to register your marriage. As your husband he will be responsible to provide for you, so this little bit of information he provides you is just a little sample of how you will be provided for by him. Please go slowly and protect your future – if he’s not the right one for you, don’t let a big mistake destroy your ability to marry the right man when the right time comes. And if he is the right one, and he provides everything properly for you, you will feel much more confident about your future treatment from him.

      I hope you forgive me please if I make you sad in any way, I swear I only want you to be careful and happy! ♥♥♥ ;^)

  10. Hey Aisha, please don’t be sorry coz im very happy that you are guiding me like a sister and I’m very thankful to you for this. I discussed with him and he told me that his lawyer will take care of the fact that our marriage is legally registered. He said its his responsibility to secure me and our kids in the future. But yes I agree with you that I should be informed of all that his lawyer will do coz i can’t get myself into any trouble. I will keep your guidance in mind and n proceed cautiously. If at all in possible in your busy schedule (coz of u have kids) if you come to know of any marriage of hindu girl with an Egyptian Muslim then do let me knowm thank you sooo much 💟

    • Hi Shreya, no problem, I will do some asking around. Good for you for talking to him about this, and if the lawyer is taking care of it, then the lawyer can tell you what documents are needed. I hope for you the best of happiness and love in life. I meant to mention that your marriage would be a civil marriage, meaning not a religious marriage, like going to a courthouse to get married, instead of as many do here, they go to a mosque for the ceremony. A muslim man can marry anyone he wants in a civil marriage, but it wouldn’t be acceptable for him to marry outside the 3 abrahamic faiths in a mosque, I think the cleric would refuse to perform this marriage. But no one will refuse in the legal office I was telling you about in Nasr City, Cairo, that’s the right pkace fir this kind of legal marriage. They will ask for all your documents and I.D., and of course they will ask for his I.D., too, but they won’t care about yours or his religion.

      Hope this helps some more, best wishes, dear sis! ♥♥♥ ;^)

  11. Thank you sooo much dear Aisha 💖 yes he had told me that ours will be civil marriage where religion won’t be a barrier for legal marriage. He is open minded and luckily he never asked me to convert or try and convince me fir conversion. He says he likes the difference ☺ also it will be great of you if you can tell me the exact address or location of the office in Nasr City for our internal religion marriage. I did check on Internet but I cudnt find out. Lots of love to you and your family. I’m so indebted to you for your kindness and compassion 💓

  12. What a moving story dear Aisha and so vividly narrated ! We never find happiness,my sweetheart, if we don’t risk ,if we don’t go further than we can see …I am sure you followed your insticts and you were not wrong ! Life is so unpredictable and we have to grasp the opportunities when they reach our way .I have read somewhere in your posts your Exodus to Egypt and part of your story,but I don’t remember where.It was when I wrote my first comment on one of your posts.Probably on the About part.
    I am so glad you are enjoying all the blessings of your second marriage especially after having been through traumatic experiences …
    I am reading and re-reading all the details and I feel as if I am reading a fairytale !
    How does your family feel now that you are leading a happy life ?
    What a story my dear friend! It would make a successful film.
    I think I had better sign off now and go back to my crammed inbox 😦 😦 😦
    Love,hugs and kisses my sweet friend !!! Enjoy your evening :))))))))) ♥(ˆ⌣ˆԅ)♥(ˆ⌣ˆԅ).

    • So sweet of you to join me in my fairy tale, Dearest Doda! It has really been a “joyride!” – lots of ups and downs like a rollercoaster, but always exciting! You are so right, sometimes we just have to trust our instincts and do something in “faith” – as they say, we only live once! Thanks so much for your dear friendship, Doda, and good luck on that inbox, I definitely understand! ❤❤❤;^)

  13. I am so very sorry I didn’t mention anything about your gorgeous photo ! I was deeply absorbed by your gripping story and I didn’t tell you how beautiful a couple you are ! You both radiated happiness then and I am sure you still are ; be happy for good !!!!!!!!! Love ♥(ˆ⌣ˆԅ) 🙂

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