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Although I had read many times that your inner thoughts have a great effect on your whole life, yet it is only lately that I have had that demonstrated very effectively where I am concerned and where a friend is concerned.

I have been going through a very difficult time with the owner of the compound where I live, not only I, but also most of the residents. As I am one of the first people to move in and live there on a permanent basis, I had gone though all the ups and downs that usually accompany the growth of such a project. A haven in the middle of the desert is no easy feat, but it was just that. The vision it took and the effort of creating it and making it viable is truly appreciated, but unfortunately that all went down the drain with the lack of proper management and with rash unilateral decisions on the part of those running the compound.

These very bad decisions kept accumulating till they reached a point where most residents moved back to Cairo, threatening to turn our compound into a ghost town. It is very sad that this state of affairs was not a wake up call to those running the compound, but they continued down that path leading to a final clash between them and the owners living there.

These problems came to head when a unilateral decision was taken by management to raise the price of water to triple its original price. Most people in the compound came together and asked the reason behind this sudden increase but were never given an answer. Anger ensued that necessitated taking legal action against the management, which in turn resulted in management cutting off water from the houses of those they considered to be the ring leaders heading what to them was tantamount to a revolution.

I had the dubious honor of being the first to have my water illegally, and inhumanely, cut off. I live there, I have three live-in domestic help, I have numerous animals and I have a large, beautiful garden. Suddenly the source of all life is cut off without warning. Of course I took the needed legal steps and have been through all the unbelievably convoluted route of the legal system here in Egypt. That though is another story. Suffice it to say that the fact that those dependent on me and I, were suffering a great deal because of an illegal act of aggression against my property and against me personally.

A week later the water was cut off from others as well. All this is totally illegal and still the legal procedures one has to go through to get back what is legally yours and which had been illegally taken away from you, is horrendous. My concern here though is how each one of us dealt with this very difficult situation. Though to all those looking in on the situation it was seen that we were all stoically carrying on as best we could under these circumstances, yet with time the cracks started to show, thank God, only to our own inner circle.

I shall only talk about my own experience in this matter, what I went through and how it affected my behavior. When the water was first cut off it was mid February and we were going through a very cold spell. Not having water meant that I could not have my daily shower. I was very generously offered to shower at my neighbors’ and had to take them up on it, but during the first two weeks I could only shower a couple of times per week. Thank God it was winter and that was not too bad. But not being able to take my hot morning shower where all the kinks are worked out of my muscles and where I start the day feeling both physically and spiritually cleansed was a deprivation I never envisioned.

How this deprivation affected my behavior is what is interesting to me. I found that this made it imperative for me to play mind games with those who were behind my deprivation. A few days after my water was cut off I placed a very brief post on Facebook saying how great it felt after taking a long hot shower. Their immediate reaction was gratifying. They sent their employees in cars to tour around my house trying to find out my source of water; they even lifted the lid on the sewage duct to see if there was water flowing out. This alone made my day, even without a shower.

As time went on and there was no progress in getting our water reconnected, we thought of getting water tanks into the compound and into our houses as a temporary measure. The excitement of planning it and meticulously executing the plan of getting six water tanks though the guarded gates of the compound was a lot of fun. The feeling of triumph when we got through with six cars, each one carrying a tank of water is one for the books. We felt that this was one up for the good guys. We were not going to be intimidated into giving in to such treatment. But more of a triumph when, despite their best efforts to stop us, we managed, through the police, to force them to accept the entrance of water carrying tanks to replenish our house water tanks. The fighting spirit was at its highest when all conditions were at their worst.

Once it was seen that physical deprivation was not working and that we were all one solid front, our adversaries started into the mental games that I am so fond of. The first attempt was to try to divide and conquer. But this act alone put me on my guard to the kind of games to be expected. What they did not understand was the complete trust that we as a small group had in one another, the complete honesty and total transparency in dealing together. Their attempts at dividing us were so obvious they were more entertaining than intimidating.

The final attempt at dividing us was when the head of the compound personally offered to reconnect my water and one other neighbor but not the rest. When I said all or none, he flew into a rage and stormed out.

While all this was going on we still had no water, the weather started to turn and we started getting heat waves. The gardens started to suffer and my domestic staff kept asking me how long this situation was going to continue for. I had no answer. The law was of no help. It is a very long, convoluted process and was never a sure thing. The only thing I knew was that I would rather have my garden die than give in to such treatment. Call it stubborn; call it what you will, but no giving in to such illegal, inhumane behavior.

My state of mind at that time was one of carrying on and keeping up the fight. Not once did I allow myself to have any negative thoughts of defeat of giving up. My thinking was always of the next step if the current one does not work out, so what next? I avoided walking in my garden, as I did not want to see my dying plants that could conceivably affect my stance. I was totally in fighting mode.

Things finally took a turn to the better. Many circumstances contributed to the turn. The court cases were nearing their conclusion, management of the compound wanted to start a new sales and marketing campaign and the bad press they were getting was making them feel the pinch, the fact that more than one person was criticizing their continued cutting off of the water, as well as the relentless criticism they received from owners on their Facebook page, all resulted into a sudden reversal of behavior. Water was finally reconnected to all those who had had it cut off.

Strangely enough my relief at having my water restored was tinged with a slight feeling of letdown and depression. Suddenly there was no longer a reason to fight. Though the court cases are still going on, yet that almost personal fight of wills is no longer there. Rationally I see it as a good thing. Principles have won over unprincipled, illegal behavior. Emotionally I just feel a void. But my garden will start to get back into it own and my domestic staff will settle down again. Though my neighbors look upon this situation as a triumph, it has left me rather drained and disappointed. There were too many negatives even though the conclusion was positive. But true to form, I shall overcome these negative thoughts and look forward to my next challenge.

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