The times are a changin’, or so it seems. Presidential candidates are all over TV to share their visions for what needs to be different so Egypt will prosper, hoping to convince voters that they will lead the country to a better future. An anti-harassment law came finally into effect, a long needed first step to address the epidemic that is plaguing the country. After a heat wave, torrential rains caused terrible floods in several areas of the country, turning deserts into lakes and several resorts into rubble.
On a personal level, things are also going to be different: this was my last week as Art and Culture and Lifestyle editor. Knowing “a change is gonna come” made a difference in my general mood and demeanour these past few days. I smiled benignly instead of erupting in frustrated fury when the first 12 cabbies refused to take me across town on my daily commute through the terrifying traffic. I kept my calm when all but one story of a carefully planned page fell through, baffling my colleagues with my serenity. Waiting for hours for a lunch order that finally arrived incomplete just made me grin, freaking out my co-workers even more. “You are not known for staying silent in the face of adversity,” is how one of them put it, referring to my normal, very vocal way of expression. I did not feel the need to yell this week.
Looking back, there is a plethora of memories and emotions that come to mind. I have been mesmerised by wonderful art, moved by great music and amused by funny performances. I have been intrigued by installations I still do not understand, irritated with lazy performances or shoddy organisation, and overall, surprised by the wealth of artistic expression that blossomed in all corners of the country.
It has been fun to discover new designers, small start-ups that produce wholesome products and many social entrepreneurs that are changing the country one day at the time. I have eaten great meals in newly-opened restaurants, checked out both fun and dodgy new venues and overall, enjoyed roaming around town in search of things worth writing about.
I have written columns about things that made me wonder, laugh, angry or have simply astonished me. I poked fun at people who did things I thought idiotic, cried for the loss of life and accused those who perpetrated unspeakable crimes against those unable to defend themselves. Some were serious, others satirical or plain nonsensical, but they were all written because I cared.
I enjoyed highlighting everyday things and drawing attention to what many consider mundane and creating signature stories of fruit-and-veggie standalones that have become a running joke in the office, but a favourite of our readers.
Readers have been loyal, but unpredictable, and at times hard to fathom with regards to what they favoured. Articles I was sure would generate an uproar went unnoticed while things we added last moment became unexpectedly popular. My best friends seldom read a word I wrote while strangers have been kind in their criticism; I have been accused of bad intentions or intentionally misunderstood when my attempts at satire were apparently abjectly unfunny.
People a lot smarter and more experienced took the time to teach me how this job is done. Their confidence in abilities I did not know I possessed and generosity of spirit helped to slowly build a confidence that allowed me to come to work with a sense of fun and adventure. I was lucky to end up with the best reporters an editor can hope for and received help from unexpected quarters when I least expected it and needed it most. I thoroughly enjoyed working in a team that knows how to combine serious work with abject nonsense, and does both very well. I was called Dutchess and Mother Snark, never wore a hat on Tuesday, laughed much and hard.
If I would be true to form, this would normally be the moment where I wax poetically or throw in a twist on some general platitude (I am no stranger to pomposity) and tie the whole column nice and neatly together. But I have no need for that today. Suffice it to say the simple truth is that I have loved many, if not most, of every minute I have spent at DNE. I have learned and laughed a lot, created and cared, and most of all, was so very fortunate to be surrounded every day by intelligent, funny and talented people. I leave them with my very best wishes and am looking forward to seeing all the wonderful work they will continue to produce.
The times are a changin’ as they always will. As I go on to the next adventure, I carry a wealth of wonderful memories with me. It really does not get any better than that.