Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Monday, March 3, 2008

Necessary Beat Downs

If this is how life is in Egypt, I'm going to lose my mind.

I am trying to somehow give my FIL the power of attorney for me in Egypt to set things up legally before I get there. My husband tells me I need to go to the Egyptian Embassy to get it done.

Hm, closest Embassy is in Chicago... right around the corner right? I've never been to Chicago in my life, let alone to drop everything for a "day trip". Its like 400 miles away. Not close at all.

So he tells me to call the embassy to see if there's something I could do from where I am.

Alright. I look up the number and on my break go out and try to call. Except here's the thing: the number listed for Chicago goes unanswered and has NO VOICEMAIL OR ANSWERING SERVICE. There's nothing on the line to even let you know the number is for the Chicago Egyptian Embassy.

Those of you who are from Egypt or have spent a significant amount of time in Egypt are nodding your heads at this point. Typical for anything vaguely Egyptian.

So I get the numbers for the big head honcho Embassy in Washington DC figuring that it has to be impossible to not reach someone in the MAIN headquarters.

And I do. The receptionist (of the year I'm sure) parrots me the same number that went unanswered.

No, theres no one answering. And no voicemail (seriously what kind of !&*%ing embassy doesn't have a voicemail?). No, really, I'm certain no one is answering.

She transfers me to the "commercial consulate" and I get a voicemail (!!) but I call her back because I want a real live person to talk to.

Oh the injustice of my request.

When I called the direct line she reluctantly gave me I actually get a real person (finally) who answers with an oh-so-professional "alloo?"

Uh, I'm sorry, is this an Embassy?


Oh, ok here's what I need...

Well, did you call the Chicago Embassy?

..... Yes. No one answered.

(Really, I promise no one answered.)

I explain to her what I need.

She tells me that I need to call the Chicago Embassy.

..... Seriously. No one answered.

She huffs and puffs and then finally consents and lists all the things I need to do to give my FIL the power of attorney for me. Apparently I need to jump through fifteen fire-rimmed hoops, on one foot or it doesn't count, on the first day of the new moon, spin around and touch my nose, and then send "them" (actual word she said) a $25 money order.

I'm sorry, I need to send them a $25 money order? And secondly who is "them"?

I am informed curtly that: Yes I did need to send "them" a $25 money order, and I need to call the Chicago Embassy. Click.

She hung up on me.

...hung up.

I will beat you down nasty Egyptian Embassy lady, and then I will mess you up again.

And when I got back to the desk, ruffled feathers and all, M looked on the website and tells me that the Chicago Embassy is only open Mon-Fri 9am to 1pm.

WTF!?! How on earth do they manage to work Egyptian hours in America?!?!

..... I'm done.

If this is how life is in Egypt, I'm letting my husband do EVERYTHING.

But I will beat that embassy lady down myself.


Organic-Muslimah said...

Welcome to the life of an Egyptian!

(why do you need the power of attorney, if you don't mind me asking?)

Molly said...

Basically to get me registered legally as the wife of my husband so I can be added to his insurance and other such registration practices. Something like that.

Its so frustrating. Soooooooooooo frustrating.

I'll grow old early if I deal more with stuff like this.

Janene said...

your experience mirrors mine.

reminds me and my husband's experience getting Egyptian birth certificates for our canadian children plus my current application for egyptian citizenship. no one picks up the phone at the egyptian embassy in canada either. and forget about a timely response. you can leave as many messages as you want but it will not matter.

it may interest you to know that the embassy (at least here in Canada) is often 'on the road' going from province to province and setting up temporarily at universities, churches, hotels, etc. to process applications for a variety of things. So you may want to inquire about this. The most useful avenue is to check out bulletions or newsletters of your local Egyptian Student Association (at the university) or other types of Egyptian clubs around your city (or nearby city). Use the internet to do a search. We found out at the last minute that the embassy was visiting our province and we grabbed all of our paperwork, photos, certificates and rushed out the door. we had the work done within several hours of meeting them. still it is only a first stage and work on certain things (like citizenship) is a multi-step process with a lot of waiting in between stages.

UmmAbdurRahman said...

Last week I had to pleasure of calling the Algerian embassy in DC during their hours of 9-11am and was greeted with a very friendly na'am.

Algerian embassy? yes..rude rude and more rude. at least he said goodbye. You have to be tough with them and have your husband call everyday and yell at them. That's how you get things done.

The rude algerians at their embassy are currently giving me BS about my son not being an algerian citizen and making us nervous they won't issue him a visa. We've got to give them this elaborate explanation of why he's not already a citizen and that we didn't have time or the necessary paperwork which we will get on our trip. ARRRRGGGGGGGHHHHH!!

so, are u planning on moving to egypt soon?

UmmAbdurRahman said...

I asked that last question because you mentioned before that there is no visa in sight for your husband. I'm not sure if you're aware but the US consulate in egypt is notoriously nasty and sponsoring a husband takes a lot longer than sponsoring a fiancee.


Forsoothsayer said...

i STRONGLY advise giving no one power of attorney. i have seen that shit go wrong too many times. wait until u come here and do it urself.

btw, all embassies around the world work fucked up hours like that. the difficulties i have had with Canadian embassies are without number. but the egyptian embassy in montreal was immensely messed up....i wrote a post about it...

listen, i'll help u with ur power of attorney thing if u really want to do it. i prepare them al lthe time.

Safiya Outlines said...

Salaam Alaikum,

This is one of the reasons my husband doesn't miss his homeland, stuff like that plus all the wasta, time- wasting and extra money required, drives him crazy.

I hope it all goes well for you, insha Allah.

Anonymous said...

You catch more flies with honey!!!!!

Molly said...

Janene- I don't know if it makes me feel better or feel more hopeless that the egyptian embassy sucks everywhere. I can say that they don't do the traveling thing here, I wish they did. I wish my city had more Embassies. Blah. And I'm not sure what an Egyptian club would be, outside of Egypt at least, my metro doesn't have enough Egyptians to have any clubs or anything. And Americans aren't cool like Canadians with cultural stuff like that. :(

I didn't know your hub was egyptian too! :D

Last night my husband regaled me with the horror stories of trying to get things accomplished in Egypt. I don't know if I'll survive it, because I have absolutely no patience with stupidity. I can't handle it.


Ummabdurahman- I knew you were having issues as well. You're in a much tougher position though, my prayers are with you that inshAllah it will all work out soon for you.

I just don't understand why they think its ok to do business like this. It just doesn't make sense to me.

And yes, I am planning on moving to Egypt inshAllah this summer. At least for a little while. We'll see what happens. :( I'm concerned, but I have faith that God will put us where we need to be.

janene said...

i agree with forsoothsayer, don't give anybody power of attorney.

even if he is trustworthy

the legal system is quite different than canada, as i am sure you are aware, especially family law (i believe forsoothsayer had a posting on the topic)

if you have any difficulties with your husband (who knows, it could happen) you are going to have major problems

personally i would refuse to do such a thing even if my egyptian husband tried to convince me

also if you apply for marital certificate I suggest you submit any marital agreements along with application. So if you have pre-mariatal agreements in which you find it in your best interest to submit, then do so. Personally my pre-nup had details about custody of children in case of divorce. its not a guarantee that the documennt will be followed in either a canadian or egyptian court of law but at least it may influence the judge's decisions

sorry to sound a bit pessimistic but that's reality

Asmaa said...

"Aloo" haha.

If you go to the embassy and slip them a few bills, everything will take care of itself magically.

I went back to Egypt last summer...honestly, I don't know how you'll live there. Everything related to the government is done through bribery. If you need to get any papers, be prepared for the run around.

on the bright side, egypt has nice falafels.


Molly said...

Forsooth- I sent you an email.

Saf- the wasta, oh the wasta... I will pretend to not speak arabic if anyone asks for a wasta. I know that I will miss the efficiency of the US when I am in Egypt. I almost miss it already and I'm still here.

Where's your hub from again? For someon reason I'm thinking he is Algerian but I might be wrong. How did your move go? And your new job? MashAllah. I hope you are well dear.

Anon- are you talking to me or to the nasty embassy lady??? I was perfectly peachy with her royal rudeness.

Molly said...

Janene- my fils a lawyer. But I sent forsooth an email asking some questions. If I give power of attorney I will take it back as soon as I arrive in Egypt. It wouldn't be for long term.

I understand your concern and the validity of your advice. And I will definately do everything that I can to protect my rights and my childrens' rights. I don't plan on living forever and ever in Egypt from now, its basically until everything works out for hub to finish his masters in the US. Then we'll go from there.

So most of our legal life will be in America, where I understand my legal rights better. :)

Asmaa- mmmmm falafel.

And koshari *drool*

I told my husband he's going to be taking care of everything while I'm in egypt.

Which is kind of obvious, since I don't speak arabic.

Consider This said...

some things are universal: sun, rain, embassy opening hours...ho hum :)

Molly said...



UmmLayla said...

ROTFL... AHLAN WAS AHLAN!!! You are now truly the wife of an Egyptian. We have had to drag our butts all the way to San Francisco to do paperwork at the consulate there... More than once. We had to do marriage documents, stuff for the kids, I got citizenship... blah blah blah. But it is a pain, we sat in the office for an entire afternoon one day. And Egypt isn't any different. We spent literally days when we were there sorting out IDS and getting copies of birth certificates... You just can't do anything by phone. They are not progressive that way. And then there are the money orders which will be translated into little stamps on your paperwork and signature and so on. You might want to consider just going... Bring a friend or at the very least a good book and plan an entire day to be sure you don't run into lunch or jummah or some other thing that drags the entire staff (save the snippy receptionist) away from the office.

UmmLayla said...

Ohhh, BTW I had to have lots more than just giving them my permission to add me onto all DH's stuff. Unless you were married in Egypt you will need a marriage certificate from the Egyptian government... A certificate of Islam if you want your religion to be listed as Islam... Copies of my passport... Oh and pictures (the passport type) since they stick them on all the documents... Be sure you have all you need or you might just be wasting your effort.

Molly said...

aha got most of that done actually, in fact before we were married for some of it.

We were married in Egypt. I had the take my third (?!?) shehada at the al-Azhar office for them to believe I was Muslim. Got that paper in english and arabic.

I don't know about doing all this stuff. I just thank God my husband is a lawyer so knows how to take care of everything. I'm leaving it to him. All of it.

I spent an afternoon in Tehrir square at the matruh or someting like that office... can't remember the arabic word.
But after going there twice I now have a one year visa to egypt.

I don't know, I hate legal crap.

Sarah said...

"Those of you who are from Egypt or have spent a significant amount of time in Egypt are nodding your heads at this point. Typical for anything vaguely Egyptian."

AND LAUGHING. Cuz I figured that out before I even got to READING that part about there being no voicemail. I was like uh, she's not gonna get anything...*reads next paragraph* yup, I rest my case.

"If this is how life is in Egypt, I'm letting my husband do EVERYTHING."

GOOD LUCK. *chuckle* But I really am praying for ya. And yes, that is how everything is. Ahmed and I went to get our marriage liscence here, and it took an hour. I complained about the "man, this was only supposed to take about 15 minutes at most, why did we take an hour?" And Ahmed was saying "an hour?! that's great!"

But hey, if you do need to come here to Chicago, maybe then you'll be close to us and we can make it a day trip. Oh wait...ha... we can't cuz even if my health was ok for a trip the wonderful hours are so convenient...ha.

Molly said...

Saaso- thats exactly what I thought, but why even take the time to go to chicago? I don't think its that necessary. I mean, I'd love to see chicago and its pretty pathetic that I grew up here and have never been to chicago. But I just don't have the financial ability.


And anyways you have to come see me. When is that going to be?

Oh, and M will do EVERYTHING.

He's a lawyer, he can handle it.

UmmLayla said...

My FIL was a judge in Egypt... But allahruhamu, we don't have his help anymore. We actually have a couple things in the legal system there right now and it does help to have a legal type in the family.

Molly said...

My in-laws are abounding with those legal types.

Besides my fil and dh being lawyers, my dh's cousin is a judge as well, and possibly his uncle, but I haven't really dug that deep into it. I didn't have enough time when I was there before to meet his extended family.

I will, inshAllah, be released upon them (or they upon me)when I get back there this coming summer and we have our walima. gawaz. whatever you call it.

I'm nervous. But thank GOD (alhumdulillah al-azeem) that his mother and sisters- and even brother and sis-in-law- love me so I can be shielded from what I expect to be incredibly judgemental attitudes.

Totally off topic. what was my point of this comment again?

I forgot. I want to go home.

Anonymous said...

Interesting........I learn something new everday....

janene said...

speaking of 'how we all think it won't happen to us' here are a couple of articles regarding muslim womens rights in N. America




janene said...

gosh darn it, why wont the little comment box take the link???

the last part of the link after
2006/08/ is:


are we all confused now? is there anyone left who cares?

Molly said...

Here's the thing guys, you totally missed the point of my post. It had nothing to do with "muslimah empowerment" it had to do with me getting dissed by the egyptian embassy.

So, thanks. but I'm deleting the comments. I feel that it is insulting to me.

I know my rights, there is a contract between me and my husband, and there is also what he is responsible for before Allah.

I don't have faith in this dunya, but I have faith in the hereafter.

So, feel free to comment on pissy embassy people you've encountered, but if you'd like to talk about anything else, please do it either on someone else's blog OR on a later blog post that I will probably do about women's rights in Islam just for you.

Molly said...

I left Janene's links up though.


janene said...

apologies molly, i did indeed get off track with my comments

i just got a bit nervous when you mentioned the power of attorney. you are a smart girl, i did not intend to imply you are naive or insult you otherwise. i intended to make my remarks out of concern, not to get on a a 'soapbox'. but i see your point.

Molly said...

no prob hun. I left your links up cuz I'm sure people will want to have access to those. :)

rahma said...

Just wait until you have to go to the Mogama. There's no bueracracy quite like the Egyptian bueracracy, having you run from one window to the next, floor to floor, just to be sent back to the first window you went to.

We had to go to the Chicago Embassy to register our marriage (ie get tons of stamps all over our marriage certificate). We stayed in Madison, then drove down in the following morning, stayed there for like 2 hours while they stamped stuff, and then drove all the way back to the twin cities. Yeah, nothing quite like 10 hours in the car with an egyptian who gets car sick. blah!

Molly said...

MOGAMA!!!!!!!!! Thats what I spent two days in while in Cairo. I forgot the arabic word.

Oh, I've dealt with them. yes.

AND in the summer with no air conditioning. Filled with people. And in the afternoon.

Mmmmmmmmm Egypt at its best.

Sis, are you here in Mlps?

rahma said...

Si si, work in Minneapolis, live in Saint Paul. There are quite a few bloggers who live in the metro, but the only one I've gotten to know in real life is jamerican muslimah, and she's gone now *cries*

Molly said...

omg so do I! (work in mpls and live in east sp)

Which masjid do you go to?

rahma said...

Dude, we could totally be neighbors :o If you work in round the downtown area, we should do lunch.

I go to masjid an nur for jummah. Awesomest masjid in the metro, IMHO.

Molly said...

rahma, email me, I will tell you exactly where I live and work. kk?

Manders said...

"I will beat you down nasty Egyptian Embassy lady, and then I will mess you up again."

This is why I love you :D

Is it just me or does every Arab country have the worst legal systems? Luckily Yasir's parents held on tight to his citizenship papers for Iraq, not like he'd every want to go back there anytime soon.

Manders said...

I mean "ever" not every...

Mona said...

:::sigh::: Is it wrong that I cackled just a bit after reading that post? That's nothing. Getting anything done here is worse than pulling teeth.

Most people here will always try to take advantage of you. Hike up the price of things cause you're foreign. Get a tip for doing anything. Wasta is rampant as you know.

Things here are screwed up. Seriously, lower the bar. way down.

Molly said...

which is what really freaked me about for about a week. It will be a MILLION times worse IN egypt.


I don't know if I'll survive it.

أبو سنان said...

I am glad I am not the only American who hates Arab Embassies. I have been dealing with the Saudi Embassy here in DC for almost 5 years now.

Anyway, for some of this stuff you can go to a consulate and there are more of them. Have you seen if you can do that or if there is one close?

Molly said...

abu sinan- I wonder if its like indicative of MIDDLE-EASTERN embassies, or of embassies overall. Cuz the American one in Cairo blows as well. Although they are more efficient I think, their hours just suck.

I'm certain there's no closer embassy unfortunately. Minnesota has the Mexican consulate and maybe a consulate for Eritrea. Thats it. Neither of which help me very much :(.

mezba said...

I used to think the Bangladeshi embassy was similar - given my experience of them in the Middle East. However, in Canada they are very professional. Maybe it's the geography.

Molly said...

Mezba, everything but the weather is better in Canada.

Mohamed said...

That might have been said in other comments but notice that the Chicago office is a consulate, not an embassy. I am concerned that some paperwork can only be done in DC (the embassy) or NYC. I wouldn't be surprised. I mean, we manage to maintain Egyptian working hours in the US, I'm sure we get to centralise everything there too!

If you have a question and can't get a hold of Chicago, call either DC or NYC, and lie about your address so they don't hang up on you before you get to at least ask about the info you need.

And if you'll be beating up the woman there -- please, please, drop by the SF consulate. they also need a good beating.