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Love & Marriage... & Civil War

Our resident foodie is back, this time promising a glimpse into his culinary escapades across the world. But first, a touchy subject: getting married during a coup and dealing with his new wife's 'Vagenda' as they travel the globe...

So what have we learned from this? First, whenever possible, avoid getting married while the government is being overthrown. You will end up worrying about much more than photos and flowers. When our band members and bridesmaids started phoning in excuses, we had to call in the army, enforce marital law, and make sure everyone got their precious little backsides to the reception on time. Roadblocks? Running street battles? To hell with that. We’re doing this thing.

Although, I almost didn’t make it myself. Thanks to Drinkies.

The previous week, I had ordered cases of cans and bottles, and the generally reliable guys at Drinkies had promised to deliver said refreshments to the hotel on the morning of the reception. The night before the big day, however, all went terribly wrong when the drivers, who were too afraid to venture out of the neighbourhood, showed up at my flat and loaded everything into my car with the connivance of my bawab and the mu-naadi.

The next morning, with my suit hanging in the back, I ran the roadblocks only to be singled out and pulled over on the Corniche in front of the Semiramis; obviously a foreign agent. Watching vanloads of dodgy looking youth waved through, I sat helplessly as the large bearded man with a machete ordered me to open my trunk. Which I did. He returned to my window and peered down at me with a mixture of disbelief and mirth; can you spies BE more stupid?

 “I’m going to my wedding,” I explained in my foreign-agent Arabic.

Ah, hmm, the magic password: with a smile and a wink he nodded to his gun-wielding partner to close the trunk and let me pass. In Egypt, it is marriage over politics every time. 

Which is understandable, since marriage is far more serious and far more fatal than politics. And this is the second thing I learned. Beware boys. You might think it’s all romance and roses, but she has a vagenda.

Third thing: don’t question the vagenda; if you do, you will get a lifelong sentence to a penal colony that makes Guantanamo Bay look like the Four Seasons. When you get married, you basically have two options: you can choose to be happy, or you can choose to be right.

Hence the honeymoon, it is what they are for, a stress-free period when the two of you can have fun together before returning to the day-to-day realities of political violence, traffic, crime and in-laws. Her Royal Self chose as a starting point, New York, one of the most stress-free cities in the world. In truth, compared to downtown Cairo, even Times Square was an oasis of calm and order, and it was probably a wise move. If we had gone straight from our desert urban chaos to the peace and quiet of a tropical island paradise it would have been a coma-inducing shock to the system, like taking a fistful of downers after a night out clubbing. We might never have woken up.

As it was we eased into it, we spent time in the southern U.S. to meet the rest of the family on what used to be called a “bridal tour,” then flew to Saint Lucia in the Caribbean to get completely chilled out. We stayed at Sugar Beach, which Gwyneth Paltrow had blogged about last New Year’s, and where a few months ago Matt Damon invited his friends to the renewal of his wedding vows with Luciana Barroso. Nice choice, Matt. Wonder if we sat in the same rainforest hot tub as Ben Affleck and Jennifer Gardner?

And this for me is the most important lesson from the last four months: role out the red carpet, treat your partner like a superstar every day. She deserves it. Make love, not war. Some say that when you get married, you get both. Others say that to avoid roadblocks and running street battles, marriage requires a dictator. Personally, I think the political upheaval of 25th January brought with it a revolution in relationships as well, and that what we need these days are equal, democratic partnerships. Maybe. What I learned for sure, though, is that the last thing in the world I want right now is to live through another coup.

 


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