It's coming to the end of 2006.... and if the weather is anything to go by, the end of the world too! New Year celebrations have been cancelled in Glasgow, Liverpool and Belfast amoung other cities- but so far Edinburgh seems to be going ahead- although I am guessing that many people will opt for a 'night in' rather than challenge the gales raging through ther town centre as i type ( 6.30pm). Hopefully of course this will mean that lots of people will decide that Morocco Restaurant on Dundas street is where they want to see in the new year- then tonights party will go with a bang whether the fireworks go off as planned or not!
So how do i feel right now.... what has 2006 meant to me and changed me- and what do i expect and hope for in 2007?
The first 3 months of 2006 saw me announcing my plans to head to Cairo to all my students and then be flooded with good wishes and thanks and support ( as well as tears from people not wanting me to go). So much it still overwhelms me when i think back. The big halfa in March brought all of that to a head- and i still feel immensely proud when I look back at the DVD. The end of an era for me (nine years continual teaching) and the start of the next....
Just before i headed off to sunnier climes. My sister made me a very proud Auntie, and being there throughout the birth of Sam and trying to see him as much as possible took up a great deal of my last month in Scotland. Seeing my baby sister confronting motherhood, and handling it so well made me stop and think about what is really important to me and what i really want to achieve in my life. Good family ties is definatly part of that ( although my family would no doubt argue that moving abroad doesn't make that easier!) Thank god for Blog and MSN!!!
.... and then I went to Cairo. My initial 6 months there has been extended so far to 9 and since I am heading back the day after tomorrow.. for more time still. In fact, I don't really know when i will return to Edinburgh for good... but I know i can't until I have achieve or found what i set out to do back in March. Its been such a huge learning experience for me (as is a 'year out' for most people i guess!!) Learning what it actually means to live and work in a completely different culture. Dealing with people from all sectors of the community and learning to cope with difficult situations and look at others in a different way. Understanding that, what people mean doesn't always correspond with what they say, has been one of the most painful lessons. My patience has definetly grown. Although i suspect that dark side of that coin is that i also have less energy to push for things to happen, i expect set backs. When you are thwarted time after time, it is incrediably difficult to stay optimistic, hopeful and driven. But, I am going back for more so I guess that says I haven't let it beat me yet!
My arabic has drastically improved, and so has my dancing. My understanding of the culture, society, people and religion and how all of these things effect the music and dance is bound to have added to me as a person, never mind as a performer and teacher. Learning how to dance for Egyptian audiences trather than for British ones... very different qualities required- although the things which make a dancer really good, wherever they may be, is having confidence and compfort with their own body, and a good personality which wants to entertain and bring happiness to others.
I guess being able to recognise more of my own strengths and weaknesses too, partly from just living alone and not being able to hide in dance and the company of dancers. Realising I am stronger than i thought I was, but also that I have definate limits before i crack and that when i reach that point I am really not much fun to be around!
I have read so many books this year , mainly by arabic authors, and this has really helped open my eyes to factors in society- both in Egypt and in UK, which i may otherwise not have noticed. Writing this blog has been a revelation to me too. I am always surprised at just how many people actually read it and often find myself throughout the day thinking- i must remember that thing that happened so i can write it up in my blog. So Egocentric- to imagine that people really want to know how you are feeling about everything that happens in your life... but I guess its like reading someone elses diary. I just wish i could put absolutely everything in it... but that just wouldn't be possible... for legal reasons!! I really enjoy writing.
So what does the New hold in store....? if only we knew eh?!
My immediate plans; after return to Cairo... enrol in the next level of arabic classes, plan the weeks events for my group coming over to see me (10 bellydancers in Cairo!) and spend a week with them- having fun and seeing as much of that 'senses blowing' city.
Then what? Ideally dancing lots.... but if the papers part of it doesn't sort out soon, then i am really going to knuckle down to the learning part- with lessons as much a possible... so that, if I am forced to return to Uk in Feb for good, ie when savings run out and can no longer pay my rent, then at least i feel that i have achieved even more before i do return. After all the support and encouragement I have recieved from my students and fellow dancers and teachers back here in Scotland over the whole time I have been away... I really want to feel confident i can do that justice and give back lots. Stubborn eh?!
So- that truth is- I really haven't a clue what 2007 will hold. Or even which country i will be living in for the majority of it... but time will tell... and hopefully luck, fate and/or 'Allah' will be on my side.
so now I am off to brave the Edinburgh Gales... and dance the night away in Morocco restaurant, nice and cosy... til 3am (or when the last person leaves!!!)
I wish you all the very best for 2007. May all your (our!) dreams come true!