Saturday, July 30, 2005

Anti-Mubarak anyone?

Today's protest was no fun at all. Our wonderful president who has been ruling Egypt for a quarter of a century has decided to surprise us all and run again for presidency. How considerate of him. And ofcourse, since Egyptians are a bunch of cynical unappreciative bastards, some of them decided to protest against him for running the country like 3ezbet abooh for 6 more years. Guys guys, its his constitutional right to run for presidency until he dies (or we die). Give the guy a break, he's sacrificing alot for all of us!

Well, I tried to join today's protest, but not just because I am unappreciative of Mubarak, but also because I wanted to be on TV, jump up and down and wave to everyone out there. Did you see Kefaya's protest two weeks ago on alJazeera? It was so much fun, I was in the North Coast, watched it for two hours while sitting next to the sea. Was more fun than actually being there, kept SMSing my friends who were there to feel that I'm doing something useful --from the luxury of my beach couch. The chant that got to me most back then was ".... elsha3b elmasry 7ayy..." (Egyptian people are alive). Well, we are alive, but under a heavy coma.

On the ground, its very different. Today's protest was horrible. As expected Tahrir square was sealed off, and protestors tried to start their grouping in Talaat Harb street. Group of 40-50 infront of Felfela. They were cornered in the opposing building, the street was cordoned by Amn Markazy forces, and plain-clothed soldiers from State Security went in groups of five to grab the protestors one by one, while Amn Markazy soldiers are beating the protestors with their long sticks. They dragged them in the street, beat the shit out of them, and put them in a prisoners' cargo lorry. When the people standing by cried to the officers to have mercy on these people, they were shouted at, asked to move back and mind their own business. The high ranking police officers were standing there indifferent, giving orders for more masses of soldiers and officers to come down.

It was just devastating. The scene was horrible. The way they were pulled out, beaten, and dragged, and who knows what's happening to them right now in the detention center.

The same scene happened again in the Bustan street, a group tried to start chanting, they were cordoned, plain-clothed soldiers took turns in grabbing some of them and beating them, and dragging them to the prisoners lorry. Some passed a word that one of the guys beaten and detained had died! The state security officers were also wearing plain-clothes, some in trainers, as if they were in a routine exercise! Many journalists and cameras on the scene this time. alJazeera aired video footage of the events in Talaat Harb street.

After witenssing all that, the word was that the remaining courageous protestors went to the journalists syndicate to continue the protest there. At last, the protest happened there, around 500 standing on the stairs of the syndicate shouting chants against Mubarak, his regime, and his coward bullies. "We are not afraid. You will not shut us up. Down with Mubarak." What a pitty, the state this country is at. Its not even funny anymore to mock that 'Arab Spring'. People were chanting on the stairs of the syndicate, looking the officers in the eye with great disrespect for the country's honor they've stained. What a pitty.

Those 40 or so who were dragged, beaten and detained are now my heros. Their comrades who kept it going and are still on the syndicate stairs right now, sticking there until all their comrades are freed, are also my heros.

Thanks God they're starting to release some of the detainees now. Amin Iskandar and George Ishaq seem to have been released so far, and more are on the way, hopefully tonight.

I think I'm ready now for my meditation trip tomorrow in Sinai. No worries about bombings at all, but worried about disappearing in mysterious circumstances after the many detentions that's been going on in Sinai since the Sharm bombings.

See Josh's shocking pictures.
More news from: Associated Press 1, Associated Press 2, Reuters, alArabyia.

Friday, July 29, 2005


Me: fuckin lonely bitch.

DNA: passionate extra-pragmatist. How does that work?!

Haal: torn between searching for her divine Godly love and her pure humanly love. Its right there!

Baheyya: best political writer out there, but needs to come down to Earth.

Mohammed: passionate physician, who's still searching for the cure.

Alaa: a real revolutionary activist that I'd love to wash his tongue. Admire his energy, I think it might be because of the long hair.

Praktike: was a blogging guru, lost it after coming to Cairo. Egypt will do that to you.

Kayla: would you go out with me?

Alif: his knowledge tickles my brains.

Loulou: extra emotional idealist, at times naive, and she knows it and so worries about it.

Sallinette: a poet who will shine on her breaks away from Egypt. But Egypt is her real home.

Zoss: a multi-dimensional academic researcher. A female scientist, cryptography?

Tarfa: always worried about exposing herself. A good friend.

TIC: we miss you baby, but its much better for you this way.

Orientalism: didn't even give Egypt a fair shot. Ran away too quickly. We all envy him.

Al Sharief: deep spirituality. Hard to understand.

Moon: very sweet, great DJ.

Meshref: good luck working at MSFT. You'll love it. Just don't forget about us.

Abu Aardvark: knows his stuff, the Arab media, that's not who we are though, so you don't really know us.

Dalulla: typical Egyptian believer. A preacher on the side.

Roora: typical Egyptian believer. A preacher on the side.

Eve: can grow into a deep female beauty.

Jane: outreach of cultures.

R: very civilized and objective. Boring.

Magdee: fun to watch. He's almost sane.

Stacey: hard worker, but keep your emotions out of your research.

Big Pharaoh: deep political analysis, only for the shallow right-wing Americans.

Josh: nice guy, spent too long in Egypt. Are you sure you're okay?

Issandr: too well-composed to be working in Egypt. Something must be wrong.

'Arfan: the Arab state of being.

Nadezhda: good working American.

Milad: where's the results of that bloggers survey? What good is it?

Blogs and culture

This Egyptian blogosphere is having a wild ride. Just in a few months the number of blogs have more than doubled, its growing at an exponential rate. I wish someone could summarize each blog in order to be able to pick and choose who to read. But its really great to have the number of Egyptian blogs on the rise like that. The larger the blogosphere the better reflection it is of our society, and it sure is reflecting many aspects of our society.

I for example insist that I am an ordinary Egyptian. When Eric from NPR was telling me that a number of the Egyptian bloggers are too Americanized and asked how Egyptian I am, I told him that "I am too Egyptian." I tend to be very objective and critical of myself, and then of everything surrounding me and affecting me. So it comes very natural for me to express that objective criticism on my blog. Being too Egyptian, I naturally have many of the characteristics that I criticize so harshly. People think that if you're criticising something than you're alienating yourself from it. Not me, I criticize myself to objectively see my faults and try to fix them.

Back to our beloved blogosphere. The great thing about the Egyptian blogosphere is that its being able to present our culture as a diverse and multi-dimensional one, which is usually considered a monolithic one. I tend to think that we are pretty diverse, Egyptians that is, but we don't like that, so we work very hard on aligning everyone else to our thought, which has to be the mainstream line of though of our culture. Happens everywhere in Egypt, even on the blogs. But blogs have a tendency to sustain their individuality, and thus stressing our diversity. Attempts to lure others into one line of thought still persist ofcourse.

That is the most interesting thing I find about that blogosphere, its diversity and individuality, and that is a main benefit I see that is not as easy to have on the ground. Once you delve into that blogsphere, you really can tell that its an Egyptian one. Its a reflection of our society, a reflection of real people who have the opportunity to be themselves, which is why our diversity shows in such a striking manner.

But even on the blogosphere people try to maintain a certain image of themselves. Not necessarily the same image they present in real life, probably even a different image intentionally in order to complement that missing part of their beings. I for example am usually called crazy by close ones in real life, but I seem very well composed over here presenting an image of a mature and wise being. I for example am a classic example of the Egyptian apathy in real life, but over here an image is presented of me of a wild activist who is into everything trying to change the world. Actually, I like myself in real life. I like my crazy moments, and I love being apathetic. I think apathy is a good thing. God save us from stupid activism and maintain the sanity of our people. The most non-apathetic people here are the extremists, on both ends of the spectrum.

In real life its healthy to interact with different people in the society. The blogopshere makes that much easier to do, you can sit infront of your computer and interact with the world. Interaction comes in various forms, and fighting is sure one of them. In Egypt, they'd tell you never to argue with low people in the street no matter how big the wrong they did, because calling names is their game, so you don't want to stoop to their level. Don't mix with the dirty, lest you catch the dirt, and don't hang with the sick, lest you catch the virus.

Being the crazy being that I am, I do talk to them, and its worth the experience. Isn't it useful to know how they think? Sure they can think. Doesn't matter how screwed their thinking is, but it gives you exposure to the underworld. I once went into an argument (aka fight) in the street with two of the goon delivery guys on motorcycles. And after stooping to their level to get a feel of how they think and function, I went the following day to the McDonald's branch they work at to expediate their firing. I don't think they were fired, but it was the right thing to do.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

China's awesome rise

Here's a good reminder about China's enormous rapid economic growth, a multidimensional report. Get scared, and start worrying about how we're doing. China is the new mecca that all the businesses are flocking to.

Forget about its huge consumer market, but they've managed to use that for their benefit, and become a major producer. Their policy of forcing multinationals who are so eager to tap that market to couple with local developers I think is one of the keys to how they developed their technology industry and matured it so well.

Its not just the major cities of Beijing and Shanghai that are doing well, but the poor west is picking up as well. In Chengdu:

hundreds of high-octane multinational companies, including Alcatel, Corning, Ericsson, and Microsoft, have established branches. An hour and a half's drive from the city, Phoenix-based ON Semiconductor Corp., which spun off from Motorola Inc. in 1999, operates a joint-venture IC assembly-and-test plant with 2000 workers. It is now building a semiconductor facility next door; the 150-millimeter wafer fab will be the first in western China. Negotiations are also under way with IBM for what would be its largest software outsourcing center anywhere. In 2004 alone, Chengdu attracted $7 billion in foreign capital investments, making it the fastest-growing high-tech center in western China.

The story around here when some Japanese wanted to build an IC fabrication plant and they were talking about the requirements for building a Cleanroom for the plant with the guys at the Ministry of Industry, the reply was; "Egypt is not dirty, Egypt is clean, we don't need no special clean rooms!"

My relationship with my good old Chinese friends is fading away with the years, but they sure were good guys. I was so eager to go to China at one point, almost made it to Tibet, but that lousy virus ruined the plans. Seems like very far fetched plans now. And going to work there for a few months didn't work out before, and is certainly very unlikely now. I have to figure a way to get connected again to that upcoming superpower. Almost impossible to speak their language. Should we start with Cantonese or Mandarin? Well, atleast I like their food.

I've mentioned the Chinese once before here. One obvious difference between Chinese and Egyptians, is that they can work well together, so well. They're incredibly patriotic too, and they're persistant like crazy. There was this religious cult that was being prosecuted in China and they held a demonstration for over three years infront of one of China's embassies abroad. No kidding, they setup a tent and a display infront of the embassy, and rotated people 24/7 for over three years. But ofcourse, all the other patriotic Chinese called them crazy. If you think Egyptians are survivors and hard workers (this one is questionable), you ought to go see the Chinese.

Last day at work

Big sigh of relief. No regrets, just hopes. Have been planning of leaving since last October, but somehow managed to keep it going, since I had to. Big compromise that didn't really work, but I didn't have much choice. Looking forward to a new experience with much less compromise. Still unknown.

I won't think well of the time I spent here, but I've certainly learnt alot. What have I learnt? I think to myself.

I've learnt that what's a year in our lives? doesn't count for much when you lose it, but can change your life if you make good use of it. Time does go by if you just want it to.

I've learnt that I have to do what I love in order to achieve and be satisfied. Just like I have to be with whom I love. The more I compromise in that, the more I achieve less, and am less happy.

I've learnt that at times it seems like I know exactly what I want and what I love, its just very hard to get, so I just have to make the right compromise. And when I do, hope for the best.

I've learnt that compromise is part of life, yet too much compromise can hurt.

I've learnt that giving up is not an option. When you give up you lose, and no one wants to lose.

I've learnt that my career (and job) is important to me, no matter how hard I try to convince myself otherwise. Achievements can be done in various ways, but I'm a single-minded person and that's usually how I invest in myself. That investment is not to make money and have a higher price, but to achieve, to do something useful. That is my return on my investment, its the usefulness I convince myself of doing. Contributing to the improvement of life as much as I can.

I've learnt that a work-life balance is crucial, but work is part of life, and its exhilarating to work when you don't have to. And I miss it.

I've learnt that I've been raised to contribute through my work, and everything else is secondary. While not necessarily right, being raised like that makes thinking otherwise not seem right.

I've learnt that nothing lasts. Not the bad thing, nor the good thing. Just try to get as much good as you can. For me, its harder than normal. I'm not a lucky person in general, and things don't come that easily for me. I miss and miss and miss, even if I try hard enough, but when it works out, it just feels so good. But I know it still doesn't last.

I've learnt that I'm starting to lose my strong sense of attachment to people and to things. It was very easy to quit this job. You'd think that with age my sense of attachment would grow stronger and I'd grow more dependant on things and people I'm attached too, but no. With all the things and people I've lost over the years, I'm growing indifferent. Haven't developed a strong bond to a thing or to a person in ages. Something that I'm most certainly missing, but it makes me travel much lighter.

I've learnt that patience is a virtue, but I wish we didn't have to wait so long, and try so many things, especially when not knowing what the end would be.

I'm also learning that life is as beautiful as we make of it. We think we know what we want, we work on getting what we want, but Allah knows best.

Sometimes I wonder how my life would be if all what I hope for just happens, and all my not-so-successful experiences just never happened. Sounds like it would be nice. But I'm not doing that bad after all, and thanks God for all. Wouldn't know what to do without the peaks of hope I get from time to time.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Show of support to Sharm victims

From Digressing, initiated by Africano:

Starting Thursday noon, July 28, 2005.

In the garden of ElSawy Culture Center: Leave a flower, light a candle, write a statement, read a verse, put a picture, draw a painting, join us in expressing the feelings of sadness over the victims of the terrorists blasts, and in expressing your opinions on facing terrorism.

The idea is based on organizing a public reaction in a calm artistic manner like what happened after the London and Madrid bombings.

A small corner where each one can express their support with the victims, a paper with their names, candles, verses of the Quran or the Bible, sweet word, flower or a bunch of flowers, a sign, etc. The matter is left to each one's innovation.

There won't be a protest, nor a gathering, nor chants, nor signs against the regime. The objective is clear, and its a calm public rejection of terrorism which is everyone's enemy.

This will continue, God willing, for a few days. So if you can't make it on Thursday, you can go to the Sakia Culture Centre in any following day.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Reaction to the blasts

After a terrorist attack people tend to forget everything wrong going on and focus on the most obvious, the mass murderous criminal act and its perpetrators. Sure, this should be the first priority, get the frickin bastards and punish them and make a lesson out of them.

But being so blind to everything else, to the reasons and to the analysis of how effective the treatment of the problem was, certainly does not help. Worse, it increases the problem. Sure, people get emotional and rage in anger against the atrocities of killing innocent humans in a heinous manner. Sure, let it out, but don't give yourself the right to shut everyone else, claiming that "if they are not with you, then they are with them."

In times of war, times of hard struggle, people don't want to deviate from the main goal and lose focus of it. The goal is large enough to achieve, the sacrifice is big enough, so decrease disagreements and converge all the efforts on achieving that goal, regardless of differences, disallowing them as much as possible. But when the goal is very clear, yet the means to achieve it aren't, it is very hard to expect everyone to follow like blind cattle, otherwise everyone will soon lose sight.

Everyone is in rage, justified. How can we think of anything else but the one clear message, "we are against the terrorists"? Sure, ofcourse we are, and ofcourse we should keep repeating it, and ofcourse our first goal is to catch them and punish them. "Wa lakom felkassase 7ayah".

Granted, for every action, there should be an equal and opposite civilized reaction --not a terrorist reaction. So when we speak of the government of Egypt using a pattern of mass detention and torture (90 are arrested so far after this blast), and of extraordinary rendition for example, we are not justifying terrorism or excusing what they did. Treatement, I think, should come from the top and the bottom. Punish the bastards, show them that they're outcasts (protests are good), but also figure out what is turning so many humans into murderous criminals, and try to reduce that makeover abit. If there are reasons that are turning humans into criminals at a higher rate than normal, maybe we should look into those reasons. Sure, if a thousand humans turn into murderous criminals annually, find them all and execute them all. But if its becoming a trend, and the turnover rate is more than normal, then try to reduce that rate by figuring out the reasons and eliminating them --while still finding the outcast criminals and punishing them.

So, among the reasons are the hate ideologies being bred, yes, definetely. Among the reasons are a skewed version of Islam that denounces everyone else, and that would make its followers murder me for having this blog for example, yes, definetely. Among the reasons are also desperation and loss, torture and injustice, extreme pressure with no legitimate ventillation channels which leads to explosion.

Once these factors have infiltrated into people turning them into murderous criminals, you don't worry about the reasons and just work on getting the criminals, yes. But wouldn't it be wise to close the tap, from its source, that pours so many terrorists into our laps?

Sharm blasts

So I'm spending more time by the sea these days. The sea is definetely good for me. Heard the news about the Sharm blasts on Friday night while I was in hot Marina. Marina gives a new definition for Egyptian female sexiness. So while hearing the news I thought that this Marina place could very well be a next target for the terrorists.

I think its a shame ofcourse, and all the usual curse words for the terrorists are in place here. Atleast Londoners won't feel they're alone in this now. There you go, even we, Arab Muslims suffer the same.

Ofcourse, I have to stress again that this is proof that Bush has failed. I said it before, and I'm saying it again. Ok don't question Bush for that war on terror, but have him think of some other way to do it maybe? I hate to admit it, but Hosni Mubarak, our wise president, was right when he said that the war in Iraq will create a thousand Bin Ladens. He said that and then somehow he managed to do every single thing the US asked of him afterwards!

88 died in the Sharm blasts, among them 7 Foreign tourists. The majority of those killed were Egyptians. One of the bombs was in the Souq area which is completely occupied by Egyptians. One of the bombs was in a hotel that I've stayed in twice before.

In AlAzhar bombings last April, the state security rounded up all of the terrorist's family and tortured them because he was related to them. So a few weeks later, his brother, sister and fiance went out in a shooting rampage killing themselves in the process.

Last October after the Taba bombings, the State Security rounded up and detained atleast two thousand of the Sinai residents. And yesterday, one day before the Taba trials we get a very similar terrorist act in Sharm AlSheikh. I hope our wise State Security guys start wondering about their "relatives' rounding up" policy like I am now.

When Habib AlAdly, our Interior Minister, is fired next September with the next Cabinet shuffle for the lousy job he did, I hope Hosni steps down as well, because he sure is a big part of this problem.

Hosni has cut his vacation short to go visit the blast site and he seemed to be very scared having Commando guys from the army securing him. I'm wondering where he was vacationing, was it in Sharm?

I am now wondering if I should go ahead with my Sinai plans next week and if its worth the hassle, especially that I'll be going with my car. Wouldn't wanna disappear in mysterious circumstances.

I feel very sorry for those dead and injured, and in no way is this meant to diminish the pain of those involved in those blasts. But I just happen to believe that these blasts are not our biggest problems in Egypt. Last Sunday for example, 7 were killed and 40 injured in a bus crash, and this happens pretty frequently too.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

NPR broadcasts Egyptian blogs

  correspondent Eric Weiner has done a series of stories about the Arab media on the Day to Day radio show. Part of that series was about Egyptian blogs. Eric decided to interview a couple of Egyptian bloggers; myself, Big Pharaoh, and another blogger who refused to be interviewed.

The broadcast aired snapshots of my 2-hour interview with Eric in less than 2 minutes (more than enough if you ask me), and I think Eric was able to summarize my blog well in just a few words.

Don't listen to the show. Its enough that you read whatever you read from this blog. You don't want more of me going through your ears as well. But if you decide to listen to it, then just cover your ears!

Just wondering

Wondering if this is it for my blogging experience. Was pretty fun while it lasted, more beneficial than I had thought, and just as soothing as I had hoped --but not anymore.

I feel that I've let everything out, and that whoever reads my entire blog will pretty much know me too well, and what's left of me I'd rather keep for myself. Contemplated putting up my picture since I feel it adds nothing compared to all what I've written here.

I'm not a journalist, never wanted to be, so its not my job to comment on the world affairs. There are better people who can do that, and I don't feel that I'm saying anything new anymore.

Everytime I wrote a post in this blog I thought afterwards that I have nothing more to add, until something occupies my mind that I end up writing about it. This time its taking longer than usual. Or rather, I don't want to write or share what's occupying my mind these days. All is too unknown for me to write about, which makes it too private. Every aspect of my life is too unknown at this moment, and it scares me.

I'm sure that eventually something will bug me so much, or I'll like something so much that I'll want to write it down, but I'm currently just in an unknown state.

I do like writing, and I get this urge to write from time to time, about different things that I think about. To capture thoughts that occupy my mind for an instance of my life. This blog just made me do it more often than not.

I'd rather have a real connection with the world than this semi-real one though, but that was never the intention of this blog. I just wanted to write.. "to know what I think."

Well, I'm just wondering, and felt like writing that down.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Openning up, no?

Today I received an email from the managing director of a company that is doing pretty well, one of the startup success stories in Egypt. And this guy is one whom I've heard alot about and am particularly fond of. He was telling me about the new line of business that they are starting and wondering if I would consider joining them.

It is exactly the line of business that I'll be doing in my new job elsewhere. I can't begin to describe how great it is to have that line of business open up in Egypt, and it certainly looks like it is. Other than the fact that I love it, and its just my thing, and I've been hoping to work on it for as long as I remember, its real work for a change, and it is just the kind of work that we need to have in Egypt. Huge market potential, just huge. If this business really takes off, then I'll write something about it and maybe try to publish it in print.

Well ofcourse I replied to him promptly that I've accepted another offer, thanked him, and wished him all the best of luck. And ofcourse you never know, maybe I'll try to jump on to his company 6 months from now! I'm already starting to get confirmations about my worries of the management in my new company. I already knew it, so I'm getting myself into this mindset that "management doesn't matter!" if I want to survive here. Egyptian management sucks anyway, big time psychopaths.

Alot of people like me are becoming very weary of the word "potential" in Egypt, and indeed, this word has turned into a meaningless word for me. A guy I used to work with before, who left Egypt and is working in Silicon Valley now once said this before he left Egypt: "I've been in so many failed 'potentials' that whenever I hear that word, I start searching for my gun (ata7assas mosadassy)." That's exactly what I feel about this word now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Wasateyya one step closer to political life

I wrote before about some of the Wasateyya Islamic line of thought, and its integration in the new party that they are trying to get approval for, led by Abul Ela Mady, and how that would be one of the good ways to integrate the Islamists in the political life.

After the Parties Committee in the Shura Council (led by Safwat Sherif) rejected the party application last September, the party took its case to court. Yesterday, the high administritive court recommended the approval of the Party. Here's the news, with the following highlights:

  • The judge that issued the recommendation in the case is Christian.
  • The judge noted that the Party's program does add something new, and the default should not be rejection of new parties.
  • The judge noted that the new Tax law currently being implemented by the government was proposed by alWasat party in their program.
  • The judge praised the concept of working within an Islamic framework which is the framework that the Party is proposing to work within.

French arrogance

Anyone knows the reason for that? If anyone knows me well enough, then they'll know that the one thing that I hate the most in people is arrogance. From the little I know about the French people I find them more than fine. Cultured, sophisticated, and so on. There is a general stereotype about them however that they are arrogant, which I never particularly found that obvious, but I don't know that many French to be able to judge.

Well, I saw it a few times with that Marketing guy at one of my previous companies maybe. Overall, my relationship with him was fine, but there were those moments that he'd piss me off with his atittude and I'd have to give it to him with my sharp responses. The guy finally convinced the CEO that the Egypt site was no good, and spun-off the business and took control of it.

I did know a French girl a long time ago who was extremely nice and sweet, and one of my friends really adored her for her light atittude. She insisted that we pronounce Charles de Gaulle properly though. She and my friend once were acting like complete drunks in the Opera house once, so maybe she's not that French afterall.

Now, this guy from the French embassy in Cairo sends me an email asking me questions about myself and my blog to help him in this study he's doing for the embassy. Lots of questions, personal stuff, facts about me, political stuff, religious stuff, everything. So I'm not really comfortable doing all the work for him, but I provide some answers, refuse to answer the factual questions about me, and ask him to send me the study when he's done to know what he's written about me.

The guy responds back with this email:

Thank you for your answers. Unfortunately, I don't think I will be able to give you a copy of my paper, for French diplomacy is not accustomed to circulate its confidential documents. I have personnal information about some bloggers they would not like to be known.

About the questions you did not want to answer to, this is a little bit problematic, since the sociological profile of bloggers is one of the most important part of my study. Knowing the bloggers is as much important as knowing their blogs. Perhaps you could just tell me if you are born into a middle-class or upper middle-class family, if you studied, and the domain of your job?

I don't like his response. So I reply back:
If my answers are not sufficient, then you should take me out of your study.

Actually, I'd like you to take me out of your study. If French diplomacy doesn't want to tell me what the study says about me, then my diplomacy doesn't want me to be included in that study.

I think you should do your homework and go read the blogs instead of looking for direct answers from bloggers. Read the blogs and deduce what you can about the social profile or whatever else you're looking for.

I'm starting to worry about my next job now since it involves alot of interaction with the French. Any advise on how to deal with these guys?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Fear of commitment

I write too many personal posts in this blog that its turning into a very private and mushy blog, and I don't like that. I actually don't want to write this post, but I keep getting those thoughts in my head and they don't go away until I write them down, and then publish them here! So, although I really don't want to keep writing all that too personal stuff and analyze myself online, I can't help it, since its the only way I'll get it off my head and get on with other stuff in my life. Seems that this blog is working like a substitute for having a girlfriend! That's really the most important thing to me in a long term real relationship --sharing. Actually, since I'm not really sharing with the blog, but rather, with whoever reads it, then if you're reading this personal stuff, consider yourself my girlfriend for the period that you're reading it (guy or gal)! If you don't like that, then don't go on.

So (my dear girlfriend), I've realized that I'm a classic case of men's fear of commitment. I subconsciously act in ways to avoid commitment, and I've apparently been like that my entire life. Even with the girl I loved the most and was close to marry, whenever we were too close to this life-long commitment all those fears and worries about us start creeping up to my mind that I start giving her a hell of a time until she goes and does her crazy thing and eventually dumps me. Then we get back together and start all over. Until we finally came to our senses and ended it for good. Sorry babe, and be thankful that you got rid of me for good at last.

Imagine that such a guy, me, actually goes to setup meetings to meet potential brides for marriage. Sure, I want to settle down and I want to have a good stable long term healthy relationship, but I don't want the responsibility that comes with it, and I don't want to have kids yet. I'm a kid myself for God's sake.

So I go meet those girls I've been setup with, and in fact (for all those who didn't know what I meant in my earlier post) I feel that I am a prostitute, and I'm selling myself cheap. So if we ever end up meeting for a second time, I dump on her all the negative things I see in myself, even if I like the girl (actually, especially if I like the girl). I like it best when the girl doesn't like me and shortens the way for me.

I've realized this fear of commitment in the way I'm attracted to women too. I'm attracted to those who don't suit me and those who don't fit with me in a never-ending relationship, and who'd either dump me or kill me on the first turn. And those who probably suit me, are settled down, and are just "marriage material" by default, I'm just not attracted to, and am always afraid of getting bored of them and eventually strangling them.

But I have this fear of commitment with everything, not just women. Whenever I feel I'm stuck in a place I get very disturbed and dizzy. For example, although I would probably end up spending the rest of my life in Egypt doing nothing useful, but what would ease that on me is knowing that I can leave and end my commitment to this country anytime. Not that I'll sell it out, but that I can take a long break, and detach for a while.

Switching jobs have apparently turned out to be my favorite hobby. Five jobs in three years! I start a job and the thing that keeps me going (for as long as I go) is knowing that I can leave and go elsewhere when things get muddy and I can't stand it anymore. My friend who might be joining with me in my new job was just telling me yesterday that we should look beyond this job and see what we'll be doing next and how we can capitalize on it to start our own business later. Hell, that's the only way I look at jobs, not how to start my own business out of it, but I always look beyond it, and I know that I'll never stay in a job forever. That was also one of my greatest fears from going ahead and pursuing my PhD. Commit for 4 or 5 years. No way, not me.

A friend of mine advised me once to think of divorce whenever you think of marriage.

But you know my real problem is that I get attached. Too attached actually. And that's part of the reason I yearn for change; to discipline myself from that strong sense of emotional attachment. Can you imagine getting attached to something that you can't commit too, so you can't let go, so you end up dizzy like a bee.

You know what. These were probably some of the thoughts that I would not have been able to share with a girlfriend (nor my potential employer).

So.. is there hope for me?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

London, fly away & formal methods

I called my friend who lives and works in London this morning to find out that he was one metro station away from one of last Thursday's blasts. He went to work 10 minutes late that morning. 10 minutes that probably saved his life. He was stuck in the underground train for two hours in the dark, with no electricity and no way out. They were two of the longest hours of his life, not knowing what was going on. After he came out, he realized that his life can be gone in a second. His wife and two girls were dead worried ofcourse, but gladly he is more than fine, and is worried that they didn't catch the perpetrators yet.

My mood today is Lenny Kravitz's song Fly Away (many thanks Jane and MMI for finding the song for me):

I wish that I could fly
Into the sky
So very high
Just like a dragonfly

I’d fly above the trees
Over the seas in all degrees
To anywhere I please

Let’s go and see the stars
The milky way or even mars
Where it could just be ours

Let’s fade into the sun
Let your spirit fly
Where we are one
Just for a little fun
Oh oh oh yeah !

I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah yeah yeah

I was planning to go alone to Iraq's Nassir Shamma's Oud show tonight in the club, but a friend of mine decided to join me there. I love Oud, but I'm not particularly a fan of Shamma. He's too inventive (fattay) and likes to add this philosophical themes to his pieces, naming each piece, and always gives a talk before playing each one. Just play the damn music and let me enjoy it my own way. Even a Farid Atrache's masterpiece, he had to play it in his own unique way. I like the more traditional way of playing Oud.

It was nice though still. I wasn't in the mood for Oud actually, more into Lenny's "Fly Away", so I sat on that comfy couch going through a book that my friend brought with him; The way of Z: Practical programming with formal methods

I'm afraid that my time away from the field is getting longer, but the book made me happy that I'm coming back.

They jumped from B and C languages right to Z. But Z is not a programming language, but an abstract formal specifications language. It models a system by representing its state. Novices find the appearance of Z intimidating; a mixture of boxes, text, Greek letters, and invented pictures. I think formal methods is the way to go, and the best way to describe a system to be built avoiding any ambiguities. What you would describe in 10 lines in a natural language such as English, Z would do it in one line without any ambiguity. Without complete and accurate specifications of a system, the user won't really know what he'll be getting. Z is the way to go, especially with safety-critical systems, where an error resulting from ambiguous specifications cannot be tolerated, otherwise resulting in human losses.

Looks like I might be using some of that good stuff in my new job. As I told my friend, I'm getting into this new job with a new approach; "Management doesn't matter!"

Everything falls in place

Everything in our lives happens for a reason, we just don't know most of them. For a long while now, I've been baffled by what's happening to me. A friend of mine mocked me a couple of weeks ago when I told her that I pray estekhara for guidance. I kept explaining to her that there is no visible result of this prayers in my opinion, but I pray and I make my logical decision after alot of analysis (being the analytical being that I am), but I feel reliefed that even if the decision seems wrong on the surface, I have done my homework from all aspects; logically analyzing, evaluating the alternatives, and asking the right people, including the All-Knowing.

I love this estekhara supplication. Allah knows and I don't know, if this thing is good for me than enable it for me and bless it, and if not, then make me not desire it anymore and keep it away from me. Its not really only related to decisions, but to everything. You pray this, and go on, doing what you think is right, if it works out than great, and if it doesn't work out and you really want it, then you try harder, but then if it doesn't work out, than maybe its not meant to be for a reason, and you should be thankful. And I keep remembering: وَعَسَى أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ وَعَسَى أَنْ تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَكَُمْ (alBaqarah:216)

However, I've been wondering really hard during that last period if all my estekharas are working! (something that my friend found particularly amusing). It seems that I've been making so many wrong decisions over the last period, all among limited bad choices really, but still, wondered if my choices could've been slightly better.

I also wondered about other things that didn't turn to my liking. Things that I badly wanted to happen, but didn't, things that I had hoped would work out, but didn't, and I kept wondering, when will things fall in place for me?! This estekhara seems to only break things, and only the second half of it works, "if its not good for me, then don't let it work out"!

Among those is my choice to take this job that I'm quitting, where I've spent a miserable year (according to my standards). Throughout the year I was constantly thinking that I'm running out of options, and this always makes a bad situation worse.

Last night in bed, I connected the dots, and I found that everything is falling in place for me. Or could be falling in place for me. Could it be that all that was for a reason? Could it be that wanting things that didn't happen for that long was for a reason? Could it be that spending a miserable year at work was for a reason? Patience is indeed a virtue. I'm not patient, but I try when I have to, and I survive --even if in pain. It is possible. I now see a reason (potentially) for alot of things. Even that long unpleasurable year at work, might've been remarkably useful (least of which to my career, but that doesn't seem to be the most important thing now).

Even hardship (and mine was minimal thanks God) is for a reason, and what a wonderful reason it can be.

After seemingly solving my puzzle in bed last night, I jumped off bed and prayed an estekhara.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Stop the USAID

I've heard this more than once now and I'm tired of it. Some Americans asking us Egyptians to shut up, kiss up, and be happy with American foreign policy because of the US AID money given to Egypt every year.

Well, that aid money is not helping anyone but our dictator, Hosni Mubarak, where it is supporting his regime ensuring his stronghold to power. Him and his government are stealing half of it, and the other half is funneled back to the US by mandating to have American services and products be used, which are much more expensive and of less quality than their counterparts. Not to mention that this AID money is to secure the peace treaty with Israel, America's baby doll, as it was a result of the Camp David Accord, when Sadat agreed to give up our national security in return for land.

Now, to those Americans who want to shut us up because Egypt gets USAID, don't tell me that I should be thankful to you!! Instead, please go talk to your congressman to STOP that money. WE DON'T WANT IT. And while you're at it, tell him to stop meddling in our affairs.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Terrorists strike again

Damn. One hell of a terrorist attack in London. Devastating. We already know how mindless sick bastards those terrorists are. But I have one question, what the hell have Bush and Co. been doing for the last few years? Four years fighting that alleged war on terror, making us live hell in the process. And our Ambassador to Iraq has just been executed today. Boy, do I feel safer now!

I hope he doesn't go occupy Syria now, and threaten Iran in order to rid the world of the last remaining evil regimes which are breeding terrorism (as if North Korea does not exist). Its obvious who's breeding terrorism, and its not Syria, nor Iran. Not even Iraq. Or maybe they can bring Saddam out of his cell and beat the crap out of him, take naked pictures of him, and flush the Quran in the toilet so that he admits that he had links with the London terrorists.

Americans, can you please impeach your idiotic president.

I don't want to forget the wrong that the terrorists did here, but we just need to put everything in perspective. The terrorists are criminals who did a heinous crime and must be punished, and Bush and Co. should be questioned for messing with the world claiming that he is punishing them, when he's not, allowing them to go further. And then who's to blame? us, the rest of the Muslim world. Well, I won't sit and take the blame for something that I have nothing to do with.

Condolonces to all those innocent people who have died and have been injured. Terrorists, go to hell.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Concessions.. concessions..

I just resigned.

That was one of my easiest resignations. Got a confirmation for an offer elsewhere by phone this morning, printed out this resignation letter (instead of my usual two-line resignation letters), and just broke the news to my manager now. He's a smart guy, he was expecting it all along.

I feel nothing yet.

My travel plans are scrapped for now. Will now cancel my flight to Vancouver in September, and will give Egypt another shot, hang around for another year or two. But still want to move out for a couple of years in a couple of years.

I've tried to enjoy my life away from my unenjoyable job, but couldn't really do it. I started Oud lessons for a while, had an extra part time job for a while, and started blogging. All that helped me pass the time, but my job is a big part of my life and my future and I can't just ignore it and look the other way. All these distractions did help me break my record of employment in the last 3 years however. When I leave my company, I will have spent 11 months here. I don't even know how I managed to stay that long! My average was 6 months in the last three jobs. Actually, considering how bad I felt from this job, I didn't complain that much about it. Only here, here, here and here.

So finally, I go back to doing what I like most, the kind of work that I truly enjoy. I gave in and emailed the hiring manager at the company that had given me an offer a while back. This is the best option I have in Egypt, and this is what this country asks of you in order to survive in it, give in! I think I've grown immune to the mismanagement in Egyptian organizations that I can handle the upcoming crap. A company insider I met by coincidence last Sunday did relieve me abit however claiming that its not that bad. I hope his standards are not that different than mine.

I am calmly excited, not even anxious yet, but certainly hoping for the better, yet lowering my expectations. It all happened quickly when I started to develop my fears of travel next September, and decided to get back my old offer, and gladly, I got it back in a few days.

I'm sure hoping I get a chance to do something useful for a change. If it does turn out to be so, then hopefully there'll be less of me on this blogosphere as I'd have found something better to do. I still have a month to go though.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Arranged marriages

I never quite got how that works. I'm going to write this from a non-personal perspective because I feel very awkward talking about my own experiences with this. My impression of this whole arranged marriage scene, is prostituting yourself for marriage. I really want to write about it though, so I'll draw from the numerous people I know who've been through this.

The term arranged marriage is not accurate at all actually. Its called here what, Salon Marriage, which is not as bad as arranged marriages actually. This marriage setup to me is like Blind Dates with a goal. A goal of getting married (which is a bigger goal I presume than just getting laid). Can you imagine meeting a total stranger for the first time, and thinking, is she or he the right person for me to marry? Insane, if you ask me.

I think I might do this in installments. So maybe more to come later.
May 6, 2005.

Installment 2 (July 4, 2005):

I have to start by mentioning an incident where a girl was offended about the first part of this post once before and asked me why I call arranged marriage a form of prostitution? Well, I don't mean the traditional meaning of prostitution, and I don't mean it just about the girls. But I suppose that most of the time, both parties try to sell themselves, sell the good qualities in themselves that is. If not to be more appealing to the other party, then atleast not to be rejected, even if they will reject the other party later.

I cannot generalize as to how arranged marriages are being done today in Egypt. Lots of different ways were people get to meet and end up married. A friend of mine who lives in Kuwait brought a Lebanese friend of his once on a visit to Egypt. The main goal of the trip was to witness the non-conservative life in Egypt (read belly dancers, hookers, night clubs, etc.). Among their endeavors was a trip to a near by town where they met a family (among many families there) that was selling their daughter for a marriage --for as long as they wanted, a day, a week, a month, whatever, all for its price! (I gotta remember the name of that town). But that's not the kind of marriage I'm talking about, neither am I talking about 'urfi marriage. Which with all due respect to the Sheikhs and Muftis I find it blatantly haram, and I can't believe that they can be so rigid in calling it an acceptable form of marriage just because they're measuring the validity of the marriage with the historical measures of a thousand years ago.

I'll disregard all those weird forms of marriages, and the other form of two meeting each other naturally, falling in love, and deciding that they want to spend the rest of their lives together, and hence get married.

In the non-traditional social circles in Egypt, arranged marriage is as simple as an arranged date with marriage as a goal in mind. Somehow, it works for girls and guys who don't meet enough new people to accidently bump into a future spouse, or who meet enough people but in social circles that don't make suitable for marriage companionship. Like a belly dancer who meets guys every day, but doesn't want to marry from her work place for example.

When it comes to that, people are getting pretty practical. Too practical if you ask me. Which is strange, considering how unpractical our culture is. Yes, some people do eventually fall in love with his/her arranged date, and so their marriage does make some sense. But those who don't, why do they get married?! because they have to! What a life, sharing my life with someone who is 'suitable', and hoping that emotions will develop through our companionship, or not, who cares --as long as they're suitable!

Talk about practicality. I've seen a news piece once on TV about some group in New York that sets up this group singles events. Tens of singles come in, and each one moves around, sits and talks with each one in the event for 10 minutes. Each person has a name tag, and at the end of the event, people drop the names of the people they liked in a box, and if its mutual, they get to meet again. How about that, eh? Every culture does it in its own way I guess.

And as Loulou puts it down in the comments section: "
At the end of the day what is important is that he's the right guy - not how I met him. Through my mother, through a friend, walking on the street, whatever."

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Hot Eye

My manager at work decided to have a team building activity by going to ElAin ElSokhna to spend a day. On Thursday, they decided to have it an overnight thing. I'm not really into those people I currently work with, and am definetely not into travelling with them and their families. This job is everything I ain't, and these people are everything I'm not. Somehow I agreed to join, since this was a work-related team building activity, but told them I'd be arriving late on Saturday since I have stuff to do in the morning.

Saturday morning, only had 3 hours of sleep, went to that Canada Day celebration on Friday night (Canadians are sure nice people), and for some reason stayed up till 5am, and had to wake up at 8am to go renew my passport before its too crowded. I take with me all the documents that could possibly be required for the passport; National ID, Military certificate, birth certificate, university certificate, old passport, and head to the passports office to realize that I only have two photos when they need 4. Fortunately, they have the office open until 8 at night to ease on the poor citizens of Egypt. So I go to Phillipe to make more photos of the picture they have in negative of me since 1997. The photos will be ready at 5pm for me to pick up and then I can make use of the late working hours of the passport office.

I go home, not having enough time to sleep, but just sit there idle drinking my cup of tea with cream and checking the newspapers, and then head off for that setup meeting arranged through a friend of my sister. My sister's friend is a nice lady who's been wanting to set me up for a while. So last week when I met her with my sister, we agreed to meet one of her candidates on Saturday morning. Well, the meeting went fine, spent an hour and a half or so with the girl, and my sister's friend and her little kids. Finally, I politely escape to go buy a new spare tire.

I've been driving without one since last December, since it was stolen. That sucker, broke the car window, and only stole the spare tire, nothing else. So I finally buy a new tire, and abide by my friend's saying; "farrat febnak wala tefarrat festebnak" (spare your child, but don't spare your tire). I don't like children anyways.

In the afternoon, I pick up the photos and go to the passport office again. About 25 people sitting there waiting. Doesn't look so bad. The officer takes the application from me and asks me to wait. I sit there waiting forever, then start to chat with this Sudanese looking lady, then her husband joins and we start joking while their little kid is jumping on their laps. I start to feel the exhaustion from the lack of sleep, the heat and the lack of ventilation in the waiting area and try to get a power nap while sitting, but can't. The guy three seats down is complaining to everyone about how they wouldn't take his copy of the Military certificate requiring him to get it officially stamped and how he had to run to two different places to do it. Then he endlessly complains about the slacker employee who's keeping all those people waiting.

I start a conversation with the guy sitting between us --a "normal worker" as his ID indicated. He then asks me if its allowed to smoke here, and I anxiously look for a "no smoking" sign, to fortunately find one and point him to it, telling him that he can smoke outside and that smoking is bad for his health! He concurs and asks me to fill the little slip for him as he can't write. Then this hip guy comes in, his boxer is showing and his pants are hanging half way down his butt, sits down for few minutes then stands up. Very restless guy. I mock him with my normal worker neighbor, "we've been sitting for an hour now, and it hasn't been a few minutes for him yet and he's already up." Then the hip guy pulls out a cigarette and I quickly call at him pointing to the "no smoking" sign, and my neighor tells him that he can smoke outside if he wants. I look to my neighbor and tell him, "poor you, he can't hold himself for a few minutes, and you've been sitting here for over an hour without a smoke, hehe".

Two hours later, the only employee in the office finally calls my name. I jump off my seat to hand him my papers. He looks at my photos and asks if these are recent photos. I tell him, sure, I've just gained some weight, and then think to myself, "did I really get that old that he can notice?! its only been 8 years!"

Can finally head to Ain AlSokhna now. Its almost sunset, I'm wondering why am I going. I'll be there at 9 and will leave at noon tomorrow. Oh well, they've already reserved a room for me, plus if I get one hour on the beach, that'll be good enough for me. I listen to Jebril's recitation of the Quran for the whole way there. God tells Moses to go to the Pharaoh of Egypt for he has indeed transgressed, but to speak to him mildly; maybe he'll take warning or fear (Taha:43,44). Why didn't He ask Moses to curse him, or to take bombs with him and bomb the hell out of the Pyramids?!

I arrive at the hotel in Sokhna, and my sister's friend calls me, so I tell her that there was no connection with the girl in the morning, so I can't meet her again. I didn't tell her though how I didn't like the way she spoke of the workers at her father's company, which she's running and using her management skills and experience (or lack of) in trying to make those workers productive.

AlAin AlSokhna is a good retreat from Cairo. I love the beach, love playing in the sand, and AlSokhna provides that with a wonderful sea just an hour away from Cairo. I arrived just at dinner time, my team mates are all sitting on separate tables with their families, so I take a table alone in the middle of the restaurant avoiding the company of any of them, finish dinner, and head to my room. My manager calls me to join them in the cafe, but I refuse and tell him I'm too tired and am already in bed. I hang up with him, jump off bed, put on my shorts, take my portable music player and head to the beach, light a cigarette, listen to the music, watch the sea and the stars (remind myself to get a book about astronomy to figure out which star is which), and enjoy. Boy, are we missing alot by living in this ugly city, Cairo.

An hour later, the batteries are dead, so I head to my room really wanting to jump in that swimming pool, but am too tired for it, so I order room service instead. Eat (again), and sleep till the morning.

My manager told me they'd leave at noon and won't do any group activities, so I skipped breakfast and headed to the beach in the morning. Took along my music, a book, and a cigarette pack. Enjoyed a nice swim, but not for long, as I didn't find an object to swim too, then sat on the beach for a few hours enjoying my music and three cigarettes lit from each other. Not sure why I cried when reading that chapter about "opression of thought" in Egypt!

After my second swim, I take a final dip in the pool, and decide to head home after listening to this song:

Isn't anyone tryin to find me?
Won't somebody come take me home
It's a damp cold night
Trying to figure out this life
Wont you take me by the hand
Take me somewhere new
I don't know who you are
But I... I'm with you
I'm with you

I'm looking for a place
I'm searching for a face
Is anybody here I know
'Cause nothing's going right
And everythings a mess
And no one likes to be alone

Oh why is everything so confusing
Maybe I'm just out of my mind
Yea yea yea

I really enjoy my own company, but I've had enough of me for the day. I'm ready to head back now. I go to my car to find one of the tires flat! I've certainly bought that new spare tire on time. I replace it and drive on, to be stopped by a police officer on the road who tickets me for over speeding, and hands me the ticket saying in English "Have a nice day". I jokingly tell him that its not nice anymore, and he says he's used to saying that in English to the foreigners. I thank him and move on.

So I'm finally back, enjoyed the beach this morning, am ready to pick up my passport this afternoon, and some how I've lost 2Kg since last week.