This is one of those posts that was going through the self censorship filter, but luckily broke out of it.

When I started going out by myself which was around university time, I started facing a problem. I would arrive late and our neighbors’ cars were parked in front of our building. At some points people had to carry me with my wheelchair on top of the car hood to be able to get inside our building.

My father being wise as always asked the neighbors politely not to park there. He tried making it easier for them so he measured the width of my wheelchair, and paid a painter to draw two lines that would show the area I need to be able to pass. No one respected this.

In the next escalation my father installed two iron bars at the same two lines that represent the width of my wheelchair so that cars are unable to park. One of the neighbors paid someone to remove them so that he still parks his car, preventing me from being able to get in or out of our building.

My dad fed up, so he bought the shop under our building. He bought it so that he can park his car in front of it, creating space for me so I can get in and out. Since then this has been the case.

In 2015 my mom’s car got stolen. Car theft is relatively normal in Egypt and there is a relatively well defined process to get it back.

First you need to report the theft, and in the police report you put your mobile number. Then you have to wait for the thieves to call you. They get your number from the police report you filed (one friend I know put his mom’s phone number in the report and although the car wasn’t registered under her name, the thieves called her) or through other methods. Once the thief calls you, you agree on the details, and if you take this information to the police they will tell you if they know this thief or not and how risky to deal with him. It is some sort of credit score but for thieves. Then you decide if you want to take the risk and pay the ransom to get the car, which might end up you lose both.

We were lucky and our thieves were honorable. After an adventure my father met the thief, had a nice chat, paid the money, and got the car. He asked them to offer him tea, sadly they were cheap bastards and asked him to take the car and leave. But they kept their word.

Fast forward and I am now in Germany. I bought a computer screen from Saturn, the biggest electronics shop. It broke. I took it to them and they gave me a new one. The new one broke. They refused to replace or return it saying it passed the two weeks return policy by one week and therefore they have to take it to LG the manufacturer to fix it. They said it will take a maximum of two weeks there. The two weeks passed and I didn’t get my screen.

I had a long argument yesterday with their employees, they kept telling me it is the German law, it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to not produce faulty stuff and repair them. I asked them what value do they bring to the chain if they can’t protect customers from shitty manufacturers. They couldn’t answer.

Last week I was with colleagues from the real estate department. They were telling me they are trying to establish an accessibility standard in the company since what’s in the German law is not good enough. I tried explaining to them how not having good regulation is a great opportunity to set the standard. And that you can always do more than what’s in the law (e.g German laws state you have to allow online buys to be returned for 30 days, Zalando gives customers 100 days to return stuff).

Those stories are part of a mental shift I am going through. Where I am coming from the only law is who you know. Nothing else matters. I always have to use my common sense to decide whether something is right or wrong. Here it is different. Most people take laws too literally. They bound their thinking by what’s in those texts unable to imagine there might be better. Or that those same laws are by people like us, which sometimes mean they might have got it wrong.

It is a learning and adaptation process. But the one thing I never want to be, is to blindly follow rules sat by someone else. Because I can do better.

3 years abroad

I realized that earlier this month I crossed the 3 years mark since I left Egypt. The two best decisions I made in recent years were immigration and deleting Facebook.

Some friends are surprised when I use the word immigration. It implies I am not going back. I actually don’t know. I can’t say never as I can’t predict the future. But I don’t feel home sick as some of my friends do.

I made the decision to leave because I gave up on a better Egypt. There was a point when things were wrong but directionally right. We lost the direction and that’s when I decided to leave.

I didn’t have to leave. I had a high paying job, was living with my family, and had a great network of friends. Compared to the Egyptian society I had a great life.

I left because I am ambitious. I love my work and I love our industry. I want to contribute to it and make great things. I didn’t have this opportunity back at home but I was willing to sacrifice it and stay in hope for a better Egypt. This is no longer the case. I now am in a place where I can chase my ambitions.

I love living abroad. My freedom is priceless. The freedom to go anywhere anytime I wanted. My independence.

This comes at a price. On top of the list is loneliness. Moving to a new place requires enormous adaptation efforts. A new country, a new language, new job, and new people. It takes time to adapt to all of this.

But I am grateful. I had great experiences. Traveled to different places. Made great friends. And becoming better every day. I read more, I think more, and I discuss more.

I am generally not anxious about the future. I am an optimist. My only concern is the stability of my medical case. It has been stable for few years with minor hiccups but I don’t know what the future holds.

When I first arrived to Amsterdam Shreef[1] took me to a pizza place close to the booking office. I asked him about his experience living abroad so far. He said “We are coming from below zero. We need to first reach the zero”. His words struck me. I have been repeating his words to myself and every newly relocating person I know. I even created a definition for the Zero.

The zero is the moment when you know yourself. You know where you are and why you are there. You know your triggers. You know how to control yourself. You know what you want and how to achieve it.

Immigration is not for everyone. If you have a purpose, you will make the best out of it. Reach your zero. Liberate yourself from your negative thoughts. Invest in your future. Believe in compounding. Do your best. And pray for the results.