In Canada I used to be what you would call a passive-aggressive driver. Not in the classical psychological definition of the term but in the more literal form. If no one bothered me (cut me off, tailgated me, tried to blind side me) I would be a chilled out cruise machine. I’d get from point a to point b without there being a fuss or stress involved.
If on the other hand you pissed me off. Then the Egyptian driver in me would rare it’s head. I grew up in post Gulf war Egypt. We moved there as refugees (I was born in kuwait) from the first gulf war and I arrived in egypt 3 years before I could get my license. My friends taught me how to drive and then I took a few goes at it with an instructor … I got my license at 18 (the legal age to have a license in egypt) and that was that.
Driving in Egypt
Driving in Egypt is the closest thing to the Mad Max movies kind of driving you’ll ever experience. I often say either Egyptians are the most brilliant drivers in the world or they are the worst. But truth of the matter is that driving in Egypt has helped me avoid several accidents in Canada. When you are in such a high stress, high octane kind of environment you will either develop a sixth sense to where everyone in proximity of you is … or you will die.
Road rage is one of everyone’s daily emotions… I could experience road rage one minute and the next be whistling.
The Other Side of The Coin
In Toronto drivers aren’t so adept at handling their machines… they are taught to drive and they know the rules but they can’t react to anything out of the ordinary. Which is why on several occasions I avoided possible death or at least a bad car accident when the person in-front of me (or on me side) swerved or did something that is not in the driving manuals they teach from. My Egyptian driving instinct never went away… it was always there running as a hidden process (computer analogy here) waiting to be used.
Today I decided to up my Egyptian driving training up a notch. I decided to drive without stress. To drive without speeding. And if I may use an eating analogy instead of rushing through dinner to watch TV. I enjoyed dinner. Ironically I got to work 5 minutes early by not speeding. I can’t say I was less stressed because having everyone around you swoosh and zoom at 60 miles an hour while you are going 45 is a bit unsettling. But I was determined to see what might happen.
The Journey or the Destination
In voiceover work I often have to hold myself back. Do I rush ahead to get to the end (payment) or do I take my time and enjoy the process.
I can’t say I enjoy all aspects of voice work. I hate recording audio books. I can’t deny that… its probably because I don’t have a nice booth at home to record in… therefore I would need allot of audio editing to make the recording half decent.
I enjoy recording fast radio, internet and tv spots. They pay more… obviously… but more to the point I have a challenge. To make them fit into the allotted time.
Mind you I often over do it and end up making the audio so tight that it is well within the time alloted. Meaning I would need to slow things down again to make it fit.
I enjoy messing with compressing effects and trying to get my voice sounding as boomy as ominous as possible… then as friendly and guy-next-door as possible.
Sometimes I enjoy editing … sometimes I don’t. People are moody and eclectic… one day your sessions can be smooth as butter… and the next it’s a struggle just to get the words straight.
And the Moral of the story
What is it that pushes people to do this job day in and day out? Is it the knowledge that they acquire from the texts they record? Is it the self sufficiency? Is it the narcissism involved in hearing your voice over and over.
Are you a perfectionist and does that make being a VO harder or easier? And as my old song goes… why do you do … why do you do… what you do?
I enjoy driving… but not in egypt.. in egypt it is closer to survival than recreational hunting. Are you a recreational voiceoverist or a survivalist?
This post is a little amorphous… but such are musings in the summer.
Your post hit home for me at this particular – I’m out in Vancouver finishing a 17 day, 3-shows-a-day live announcing gig at the Pacific National Exhibition. The vehicle they gave me to driveback and forth from the PNE site to the hotel is a huge Chevy truck – it’s as big and long as a motorhome. Navigating the streets of Vancouver is a challenge to say the least, as the width of the lanes are tight even for a smart car (I already ripped a rear fender flair off the truck and had to pay to replace it :-)).
And of course, I have my portable studio with me – in a hotel that’s next to the sky train. So I have to time my reads around the sky train’s passing. Talk about road rage.
But your “Moral of the Story” got me a thinkin’. I think the key for me why I do voice over every day is similar to an impressionist artist’s motivation. While you hope to make your living using your art – it’s the thrill of swiping the brush across the canvas and not knowing for sure how it will turn out. And for that I’ll deal with big trucks and sky trains everyday.
It is good to learn that you are (regardless of your middle-eastern heritage) just like everyone else. No one is exempt from daily frustrations, whether they are with our daily transportation challenges, or the mundane elements of practicing our creative work.
An attitude I try to develop (no…I push myself to develop) is to realize that while one’s talent and the opportunity to use it can bring personal satisfaction, one should not expect the craft to fully satisfy all yearnings. When you understand this, then you are free to enjoy it for what good you get from it, and not be diminished by what it does not do for you.
Taji, you have a gift for using words. I would not be surprised if one day you added ‘novelist’ to your resume.
Best wishes for success!
I think that allot of people out there don’t think that Middle Eastern people are like everyone else. We’re either fanatics or people who have given up on their identity and only wish to blend in with the west. This is all Hollywood nonsense. To think that one is different to you because of one’s heritage is something that the governments and the media have worked hard to perpetrate. Much like pre civil-rights movement America where the “whites” had a place and the “colored” had another.
Hollywood has pulled the wool over people’s collective eyes to play on their fears and reinforce a stereotype which they have created. It is like saying that all westerners are Atheist, anarchic and drug users… Freedom does not mean total freedom. The majority of those from the Middle East are educated, ambitious and have similar hopes and dreams as the rest of the world.
The fact that maybe I can show you what a total crock of crap hollywood and the media are is my pleasure 🙂
I have always subscribed to the premise that people are people, having far more in common than we have in differences.
There is definitely a need to learn the story of main stream middle easterners. A person who is as articulate as yourself can perform a great service to foster better understanding between cultures.
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