Date posted: March 1, 2009


One of my earliest movie memories is a scene where a man was kidnapped (I guess) and was about to get tortured (I suppose) for some secret he withheld (as far as I remember) and, as he waited for the pain to begin (naturally), he remembered a conversation with a woman (probably) who advised him to create a place at the back of his mind where he would feel safe and secure no matter how cruel the world around him became. She told him that when he could not take it anymore, he could start thinking of the details of this place leaving his body behind and escaping with his soul. I thought I heard her tell him that the body could not feel any pain without having a soul and this way no one could ever hurt him (I think he told her that he would think of his Harley). I was about 9 at the time and I could not grasp the full meaning of what I heard, still I kept those words safe somewhere at the back of my mind. They came in handy many years later when I learnt to leave my body somewhere I totally hated and escape with my soul to a place where I longed to be.


My first escape was mango – yes! As in fruit! I would escape a boring class or a paternal lecture by imagining a mango in my hand; the feel of its skin, its scent, and its color. Then I would slice it into two halves; the blade, the strong aroma, the bright color, the soft inside texture of the fruit, it's coolness on my lips, it's taste, and it's after taste …. Sigh … I grew up and I needed another hiding place to accommodate the suffering that comes with age. I have many hideaways; teaching and writing were my favorite escapes for many years. Having my own home was the dream that managed to distract me from long strenuous working hours that ate away from my youth and health. When I was run down with exhaustion, I would sit and think of the walls, the orange colors, the stone fixtures, the wooden carvings, and all the details that made the past six years of my life worth living. Then I lost track of my, what now looks like, petty issues in the pain and suffering of people who trust my advice and opinions in their relationships. Lately I have lost myself completely to the fight for freedom of speech and the right to choose. This is my ultimate escape – the place where I do not have to deal with my own unresolved issues because they hurt beyond my pain threshold.


The Internet Screen: When reality is too intimidating, people spend their time online living love stories of their own creation. Behind a screen you could be anyone you want.

The Elitist Getaway: When they are not satisfied with their family or their social class, they spend their time with Cairo's IT list thinking that they will become one of them just by dressing, talking, and hanging out with them.
The Fictional Hideaway: Those are people whose souls have wandered freely between the pages of books; they never get tired of reading. They have lived a million lives in the novels they relentlessly consumed.

The Outer Beauty Cloak: When the inside of a person is too tiny or too scarred, that person gets addicted to makeup, hairdressers, and plastic surgery hoping that fixing the outside will fix the inside.

The Love Camouflage: Those are people who, instead of searching for the happiness within, they hop from one relationship to the other looking for the lost key to happiness in the hearts of their partners.

The Career Disguise: They found a safe haven in work and career; this is what they do best and this is where they would never get hurt.

The Religious Resort: Those are people who decided to invest in the afterlife; they escaped the pain of a life that is bound to end only to land in the safe arms of God and religion.

The Chemical Escape: It takes a lot of strength to face your problems. When strength failed them, they gave in to drugs and alcohol. They love themselves too much to let the pain get to them, yet they hate themselves enough to let the poison eat away their years.

The Marriage Mirage: For those souls that need a nest of their own where they could be kings and queens. Those have escaped their families and their prison-of-a-home to a whole new inferno-of-a-marriage.

On The Road Shelter: You see them in their cars driving. They took a road that leads to nowhere – an escape from a pain that still haunts them no matter which turn they take. Lonely restless aimless drivers on the run!

The Image Escapes: When there is a gap between how you see yourself, how people see you, and how you want them to see you, an image escape is created (an illusion). Here are some examples:

The Male = muscles, aggression, facial hair, street fights, foul words, and breaking rules in defiance.

The Female = cute, helpless, nurturing, silent, obedient, inexperienced, passive, and submissive.

The Intellectual = reads, writes, and memorizes poetry, novels, and books by exotic European and East European writers. They are more into non-commercial movies and music, they show off knowledge, and the more he/she writes gibberish the more intellectual they are.
The Activist = a part of social movements, frowned upon political movements, supportive of minorities – be it ethnic or religious – and their work is characterized by passion, anger, and determination.

The Rebel = does not conform to the acceptable social dress code, cultural norms and decorum, and the concept of marriage and having kids.

The Insatiable = No work is good enough; hence, the career drops and lack of stability. No woman/man is good enough; hence, the breakups, affairs, and divorces.

The Self-Righteous: Everything is a personal attack, every cause is yours, every word is meant for you … and you have all the answers … you are right and everyone else is wrong.

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