Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Voting for Mubarak is high treason

That's what I think. Sorry to be like most Egyptians in using labels and secluding people, but I'm not labeling people, but the act. The act of voting to Mubarak is a great disservice to this country.

The argument of the Mubarak supporters is that he is better than the alternative, Egyptians are not ready for democracy or for change even, let's maintain the status quo. High treason is looking after one's own interest at the cost of the group's interest, and that's what those who want to maintain the status quo are doing.

Is there a need to point out the terrible state this country is in, isn't it obvious? And yet all they think about is how it could get worse with someone other than Mubarak --instead of how it could get better. No wonder we're not getting anywhere. Many Egyptians are gutless and fearful, but worst of all is when they use that to serve their own interests, and these are the ones who screw this country for the rest of the citizens. Be passive and apathetic, but don't suck up and polish others because of fear and greed.

The streets are now full of banners of support to Mubarak. Most of the banners are put up by shops and business owners. Why would a butcher, a chicken shop, a balady cafe, a small business put up a banner supporting Mubarak. Do they really love him that much that they go through the hassle of putting up a banner paid for from their pockets? Are they forced to put those banners up by the NDP? If so, why aren't all the shops putting up banners? Will Mubarak see those banners personally and give them benefits that they're hoping for? I really don't get it, why do they put up those annoying banners with truly disgusting words, like "God has chosen you Mubarak", "Forever Mubarak", "The maker of the one united Arab Nation, Mubarak". One eih, we united eih, we Arab eih bass, Allah yekhreb beit elhartala. I wish they'd just stick to the new party's show slogans, "crossing to the future". Ofcourse we don't know what kind of future they're talking about, but whatever it is, now that all the bridges are destroyed, I'd like to know how they'll make that leap to whatever dark future they're talking about.

I really doubt that any of those who put up banners supporting Mubarak will actually go vote for him. They really want him as president, and they are sincere in protecting their interests by maintaining him as president (yeah, I'm reading their minds). But what's a secret vote compared to a big visible sign. It looks to me that all those who support Mubarak just want to protect their personal interests. If they are well off today, having a good business and managing well in that screwed up system of ours, then they want nothing to change. Maintain the tyranny, maintain the corruption, maintain the lawlessness, maintain social injustice, maintain the ignorance, maintain the cultural disorder and impairment, maintain the national weakness, maintain the lack of development and lack of economic growth --as long as I, am doing well.

Can there be that much fear and selfishness in people that they want the same person and the same regime with the exact same failure mechanisms rule us for 30 continuous years. A whole generation has seen nothing but failure. Isn't it enough? For God's sake, can't we hope for any better, can't we think any better of ourselves, don't we deserve any better? Do we really think that low of ourselves?! Do we not deserve any better than this mere state of survival that we're in, a painful survival. Do we not deserve to produce, develop, grow, excel, and lead? Is that it for us, and we should just try to maintain the lousy survival state we're in until we die. Those whom are supporting Mubarak apparently think so. Some of them think that they, and only they deserve any better, and to hell with all the rest.

Why would I ever vote for the same person who's failed to develop this country in a quarter of a century. Even if he's done no harm, if he's not a tyrant and hasn't stolen a penny, the guy is incompetent. He failed. To say the least, we're stagnant, if not disintegrating. He's had more than enough time, more than enough resources, more than enough ideas, and he simply failed to develop this country. All those businessmen whom are benefiting from him and his impotent system in power, or are afraid of not showing their support to him lest he turns on them, wouldn't it be a no brainer for them to fire an incompetent employee. You train the employee, give him more than one chance, give him time and resouces, and he keeps on failing, pulling your business back, wouldn't they fire him on the spot. Now, apply the same standards on the president, or is it because he's having the most critical job in the country and has all the threads in his hands he's free to mess up as he wishes! Well then don't fire him, but have some mercy on the rest of us and take down those pitiful banners.

AlDostour newspaper has a cute comparison table reminding us of Mubarak's 24 years of rule in Egypt compared to 22 years of Mahatir's rule in Malaysia. Even by a dictatorship standard, he's failed.

Women in engineering

I'll try to make the argument here as short as possible because I need to go to bed, but the topic is sure worth a much longer post than this. Why are we not encouraging enough women to pursue engineering careers in Egypt?

The question is not, why is there not enough women in engineering? Or why is Egypt different? The first question is applicable everywhere, not just in Egypt, so Egypt is not that different. Yet ofcourse, like everything, Egypt is a little bit behind so the proportion of women versus men in engineering is much less here than in industrial countries, just like everything else.

But my question is, why are we not promoting and pushing for women in engineering here? Why are all those women rights groups not interested in that? focusing instead on much grander issues, as well as more relevant issues (have to give them that). That is a main difference betweeen us and the rest of the industrialized world. They found that they have an issue with lack of interest between most women in pursuing engineering careers, and they've found that the field would be served well by them, so they're encouraging them to get into engineering careers. Some schools even have quotas that must be filled by female students. They've realized the imbalance and are working hard, researching and thinking of ways to attract more women to the field, balancing the engineering discipline with more women in it.

We; we're debating if a woman can be a judge or not, can be a president or a grand ayatollah or not, and totally forgetting that the poor engineers don't have women partners at work. Alot of the women are not interested in engineering, many others are not interested in work in the first place, many others are forced to stay home, and then those who want to work want to rule or manage the rest of the working men. I'm fine with that actually, but why don't we have some balance and encourage more women to work in that great field of engineering. Its good to jump all those steps ahead, but we need to put equal efforts in those gaps where real productivity should be happening.

Not to mention that its annoying for someone who's looking for an average girl, ehem, who can't find except an airheaded one who has no career prospects, or an over aggressive one studying some political economics theories and thinks she'll change the world.

I don't blame women in Egypt for not wanting to be engineers ofcourse. Who wants to be in a field that is totally underestimated. Who are you next to a businessman whose importing whatever and making tons of money out of it, or next to a fahlawy who knows how to get rich quick and make money out of thin air. Even most male engineering graduates end up working in non-engineering jobs, so we can't blame women for not expecting much out of this field here.

What's even worse is that at some places here they don't hire women engineers. A place I know don't like hiring women because they feel more comfortable having an all-male R&D environment, and they don't want to introduce fitna to the place! Another place has a female engineering manager, who's a friend of mine. I was shocked once when she told me that she doesn't like hiring women because they'll soon get busy with marriage arrangements, then get pregnant, then make use of that 1-hour off policy by law for baby care, and they're all delicate and don't work hard enough. I told her I can't believe she's saying that. You, my aggressive progressive hard-working open-minded friend are saying that about your fellow women!

Yet with all this discouragement, women are getting into engineering in Egypt. It used to be that women in engineering here would look more like men, looks and atittude wise. I guess that was their way, as a minority, to fit in with all those guys surrounding them. But now, its apparently becoming differenet. Remember my anti-Warda, that was a good example of a smart feminine engineer. And these days I'm seeing quite a number of them reasonably feminine female engineers around. And they did it all on their own, no encouragement from anyone, no women advocacy groups helping them, no scholarships from the government, nothing. Well done gals, and keep it up.

Ok, no comments about how all this is to serve my interests please!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Desperately seeking paradise

No matter how open minded and clever you are, authoritarianism always finds a way around. Plurlism and authoritarianism, Ibn Hazm asserted, are locked in eternal combat. A single megalomaniac can destory a paradise it took decades or centuries to build.

Lots of these around here and all over.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Candidates show off

Caught the last few minutes of the 9 o'clock news on the state-controlled TV channel 1, to find a review of the compaigns of the Presidential candidates. Made sure it was really channel 1 before I sat down and watched the snippets of their speeches today.

Ayman Nour, more reasonable than the others in my view. Talking from Assiut, criticizing the lack of investment by the government in upper Egypt, proposing that graduates will get retraining based on the market needs. Says that they'll be giving out 150 pounds a month for the unemployed, which he admits will be spent in a few days, but will nourish the market!

Noaman Goma'a, from Helwan, already gives his speech as if he's a president! I feel he's already assuming the dictatorship role from now. Make me president and I'll be a better dictator than Hosni. All they showed of his speech was the part where he talked about the great achievements the Wafd party did some 60 years ago! Are you serious, do you think Egypt is the same, do you think Egyptians are the same. Some Egyptians are still nostalgic to that past apparently, but be real, you can't apply what's back then now and expect to be taken seriously. Yet, he is being taken seriously by many, 3agaby.

Osama Shaltout, from Kafr ElSheikh, kept talking about how he'll limit the presidency to one term only, being accountable after every three years, and how the president's powers will be limited so that he doesn't become a pharaoh. One of his slogans I read for him is that he'll be giving 100 pounds to each unemployed. I really don't get that concept. Isn't that the policy of the helpless who can't create a real economy, just give out charity to the people. What happened to creating competent human resources that fulfill the needs of the eonomy. Can't think of a worst thing to do than give people easy money from the government, unless the government is totally helpless. Can't he think of a social system and an economic structure that is abit more sophisticated than luring people by promising to give them money!

Regardless of what any of the candidates say however, its all talk, and Egyptians are excellent at talking, and at giving speeches, and at deluding something out of nothing. You listen to Mubarak himself, and he speaks as if we were living the past 24 years in heaven. Are you talking about us, about Egypt, are you serious?! He's so confident saying it I'm starting to believe it, and he's so sure he'll do even better in the next 6 years, I can't wait till I vote for him!

Talk all you want, I trust none of these guys. Once any of them get into power their inner pharaoh gets into them, and the surrounding power-hungry and chicken-hungry will start inflating his ego, raising him to an idol status, making him believe himself, and convincing all the rest that Egyptians can't be ruled except by a tyrant. I've seen it alot here, not just at the presidency.

The Judges ultimatum

Will the judges boycott the elections for not getting their demands fulfilled by the regime, or not?

My bet is they won't. September 8 will be just another day in Egypt. Congratulations will be due to his Excellency President Mubarak for his historic win, and for his mandate to do whatever he wants with us. A show well done. Right on real Egyptians.

Place your bets if you want. No optimism allowed. If you win your bet, than atleast you'll win something out of this election.

BTW, anyone knows Hebrew? What does this Israeli article say about this blog?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

أعود إليك مشتاقاً

أعود إليك مشتاقاً
و قلبي زاد أشواقاً
ونبضي بين جنبيا
بإسمك صار خفاقاً
و أجنحة تحلق بي
إليك تجوب أفاقاً
نأيت بجانبي يوماً
فكان النأي إخفاقاً
و ليلاً في دجي ليلٍ
و في الظلمات إغراقاً
و صاح الخطو في دربي
يريد العود تواقاً
إليك أعود يا ربي
و حبي عاد عملاقاً
و عيني لم تعد عيني
تري للكون أحداقاً
تنيب إليك خاشعةً
يفيض الدمع دفاقاً
لديك أبوء بالذنب
و منك العفو إشفاقاً
و رحماتٍ ومغفرةً
و فيضاً مس أعماقاً
و منك الرحمة المهداة
أنواراً و أخلاقاً
حبيبا من شمائله
يسبح فيك خلاقاً
و إني لنوره أسعي
بشوق زاد أشواقاً
إليك.. أعود يا ربي
لغيرك لست مشتاقاً
سهير إبراهيم عليوه
(via Defeat Yourself)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Two wrongs don't make a right

What's with beating kids instead of teaching them properly? Today I saw two such incidents, and I shivered everytime I saw those kids getting slapped. The hip lady sitting next to us for some reason shouted at her teenage girl and then slapped her, takh takh. It couldn't have hurt, but the nervousness that the mother hit her daughter with hurt me. And then while I was swimming with that annoying background noises of those diving instructors, one of the instructors pushed two of the little kids against the wall, and then slapped them, takh takh, takh takh. I shivered. Why can't they teach them instead of beat them. If I was the father of those kids, I would've slapped that guy for scaring those kids like that. I wanted to get out of the water and go shout at the guy, but wasn't in the mood for another one of those fights where I lose because "that's how things are done around here."

Reminds me of when I went into that argument with those guys (two guys and two girls in their early 20s or so) who were smoking at the airport. The air conditioner was helpless with the crowd, and this guy was smoking next to me, and the No Smoking sign was right infront of us. So I asked him to stop smoking, he ignored me. I asked again, so he brought his taller friend to talk to me. His friend took the cigarette from him and asked me what I wanted, I told him I wanted him to put off the cigarette or go smoke it outside. He moved back in the crowd. A few minutes later the guy is smoking again next to me, "which part is so hard for you to understand, or are you so disrespectful to the law and all those people?" I said. "Don't involve other people in this, we have utmost respect for them, but yes, we don't respect the law" the tall guy responds. "You respect those people by respecting the law which is in place to protect them" I respond. Then their girl friends start pointing at other people in the hall whom are smoking as well. Well, I'll go talk to them as well, don't worry. So then I think to myself that I should stop arguing with those idiots and complain to the Police officer in the hall. On my way there, I find that the officer himself is smoking a cigarette. Wonderful, I take a turn and walk along the hall, and I notice that every other five people there's someone who's smoking, and every other meter there's a No Smoking sign on the wall. Just great. No I'm not going to file an official complaint to the airport authority. Not today.

Walking in the street with two of my friends and their wives, the horse carriage (7antour) is slowly creeping behind us, so I ask the guy to watch out. I ask him again to watch out while moving away from infront of the carriage to find his wheels hitting my legs. I just couldn't hold myself, shouted at him until my voice was gone, called him names, called him an idiot 3arbagy ibn 3arbagy sa7ee7. Just really wanted him to feel low. The drivers of the other carriages came by, so I shouted some more, cursing him some more. They finally all say they're sorry. While getting into our cars, my friends' wives exclaim at how the expression on my face is a calm cheerful one?! I tell her that I'm not mad, its just routine. While in the car, my big friend whose big body came in handy that night, asked me how I benefited from shouting at the guy and making a scene? I thought atleast they'll stop thinking that they own the street doing as they please, and ignoring other people's rights. Maybe he'll think twice before stepping over someone else. Maybe. Somehow, this is reminding me of the beautiful horse carriage drivers in Victoria. Those were some beauty 3arbageyyas.

Another day at the movie theatre, I'm standing infront of the ticket counter, which looked open with a guy behind it counting some cash. I wait for a few minutes till he finishes counting, then ask him to buy a ticket, and he responds that the counter is closed and I should move to the next one. What?!! Ofcourse I had to raise my voice, wondering how stupid he thinks he is standing there making people wait for him to tell them that the counter is closed. This is one of the famous incidents that a good friend of mine who likes to call me crazy provides as evidence for my craziness! He sure can find better proofs.

I think I'm finally adapting to living in Egypt.

I started this post with the intention of writing about getting personal at job interviews. How did that post turn into that! Oh well.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Looking for the artists

I dropped by yesterday's Artists' Protest (no, not these ones) in downtown on my way home from work. I guess this was organized by the Artists for Change Movement. There are so many change movements nowadays that I lost track of them. Any group of people with anything in common seem to come up with a new movement for change these days. You know how it goes in Egypt, someone starts something, and then everyone else does the same and it becomes so trendy so fast. This could be the same thing, but its just not picking up that well.

Well, it was very convenient to drop by this protest. I was in downtown already, grabbed a shrimp sandwich for dinner while walking across Talaat Harb square to take the cab home, instead of being stuck in traffic trying to cross that area while inside the cab. I wanted to check out the artists too, you know, hang around with some famous people. It was really a disappointment though. They were probably less than 100 people, and I hardly recognized anyone famous there. Well, I'm not really familiar with the show business, so there must've been artists there whom I just didn't know.

I basically stood there for five minutes checking the protest out, trying to find someone famous whom I might know. I thought maybe the camera would catch me with one of them, but I knew no one. It was more like a bunch of friends hanging around. I did recognize the pictures they held though, Umm Kalthoum and Sayyed Darwish. How do they know that these dead artists support their cause?

I wonder if these protests are getting boring. I was bored all along those protests so never mind what I think, but now even those Police officers had special plastic chairs that they were sitting on this time. I thought it was funny, they arranged for chairs this time, some were sipping tea from the next door cafe. I was almost sure some of them must be in Groppi eating some French pastry. And just in case, atleast a handful of Amn Markazy security soldiers cars were filling the side streets of the square.

I thought that the more exposure and publicity the demonstrations get, the more people would want to join, the bigger those protests would be. But I was surprised at how small that one was. Maybe its because it was for the elite, novelists and artists and their friends. Or maybe the crowd was much bigger and they got bored and left early before I made it there (which was an hour and a half late). I don't know, it just didn't look like anything significant.

The second hearing for the lawsuit against the constitution referendum and its results was supposed to be last Monday. I was really interested in that case, thought it was more worthwhile than those protests, but I never bothered to ask what happened there. Anyone knows?

Anyway, so after checking out the protest and finishing my shrimp sandwich, I stopped a cab to go home. The driver asked me why the traffic is at a stand-still. I told him, oh, its just one of those small protests. He laughed and hoped that time passes quickly till September 7, so that the elections are over and we are saved from all the hassle and waga3 eldemagh.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Evidence of negligence

I've been going through alot of resumes lately and the one common thing that I've noticed is that they all look really bad. Not the content, but the presentation. Terrible. This is just one of my evidence of how negligence and recklessness have become part of our culture.

Its not just on the Egyptian blogosphere as noted by Zoss, with its lack of proper spelling and punctuations. Maybe those who don't care to spell or punctuate their thoughts on the blogs don't think what they say is important enough to present it properly and clearly, or maybe they think those who read what they say aren't important enough to try to present their thoughts properly for them.

With blogs maybe, but shouldn't it be a little different with resumes? In a job market where the supply by far exceeds the demand, and with so few good jobs available and so few suitable candidates. Shouldn't we put a little more care and effort in writing our resumes to atleast be presentable, in order to encourage the skimmer to read it, and the reader to dig into that person further.

What does an engineer's resume that is full of typos, and is badly formatted indicate? Aside from being an unpleasant read, it says something about the author of the resume. If they are so negligent and careless with their resume, which is a piece of paper representing them in the job market, then how accurate and careful can they be in their work? Can you imagine how much harm a careless and reckless engineer can do. With a few such resumes I wouldn't worry, but with all of them like that, its scary. Its a cultural thing. An engineer can sure look up the words she's using to find out how they're spelled, and can sure know how to use a word processor to format a resume properly. If he can't, then there's no way he passed those college years.

The problem is we've learnt to accept it, and you're called meticulous and silly if you note those errors. Low quality work has unfortunately become the norm now, and so everything looks bad around here, and is hardly ever done good enough. Everything is half-cooked in Egypt. Everyone does the job here, but never does it right, even if it affects their own lives.

And here's my input to the list of funniest resumes; a resume I've seen with no name and no contact info except for the address!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Islamic swimsuit

There is such a thing, if you're wondering.

Did you know that the more obnoxious you are, the more extreme you are, or the more controversial stuff that you post, the more traffic that you get to your blog. The picture I posted showing two veiled women with a topless woman in a swimming pool got my blog a peak in traffic. People want to see it, simple. I wasn't trying to be obnoxious or to shock anyone, but it was just so real, and it was really up to people to draw their own conclusions. Some people could find it odd and funny, others see tolerance, understanding and diversity in it. I personally, just found it ugly (meaning that the picture is not a pleasant sight --especially if you've seen the original thing with the breasts unblurred).

I didn't take that picture if someone is wondering. A friend sent it to me, but I made an assumption that its real, because I've personally seen it in real life alot before. The new thing is that they're posing so close to each other, you even see one of the veiled women is literally touching the topless woman's breasts.

That picture brought up some thoughts that I've had for a while, not about topless women, but about women who swim fully dressed. I know some people have their minds set already that its disgusting, and some others have it set that its the only respectable way to swim. I; am not sure, but here are some thoughts.

Ofcourse, there are the topless (and the nude, but that's not in Egypt as far as I know), the bikinis, the one piece swimsuit, the "Islamic" (conservative) swimsuit, and then those who swim fully dressed.

The first three in the list are well-known. The conservative swimsuit covers more flesh than the one piece swimsuit. More like a wetsuit I suppose with some kind of a skirt over it. There are different models of it I think, some go down only to the knees, some don't cover the whole arm and so on.

I'm trying to think of alternative options of how these conservative women can manage to get in the water and swim whilst not revealing too much of their bodies, which they're trying to protect so hard from the gazes of the male species. Considering how much I value water and swimming, avoiding swimming all together is not an option that I can consider, and I just don't know how those who sit on the beach fully dressed not enjoying the water can do that. So then the options to me are to either swim at times and places those are not available to men, or to integrate and swim along the males, but segragate their bodies by swimming conservatively (while dressed conservatively that is).

In most swimming pools here there are certain times where the pool is only available for women. They are ofcourse taking from the men's rights and giving it to women, because women get exclusive time with the pool for themselves where men can't access it, while men don't get the same. So I would think that some conservative men could complain that they need men-only pool hours where they wouldn't have to mingle with unconservative women. Considering the number of conservative women here whom are not willing to reveal the parts of their bodies that typical swimsuites reveal, it seems very reasonable to have this policy of having women-only pool hours --as long as they're very few hours a week and at very odd times! Fortunately, I have access to a pool that doesn't (and can't) implement this policy, so I don't really care how other pools do it, and am glad they give a chance to conservative women to enjoy the water.

Those women who choose to integrate with men in the water however, or atleast swim when its not guaranteed that men won't be around, they go for the option of swimming in a conservative swimsuit. I'm not sure if the point of it is to reveal less of the body so that if we look, we don't see much skin or body parts, or that it should look so ugly that we're not interested to look in the first place regardless of how much skin it reveals or not. Those who can't afford that special consevative swimsuit or think its still revealing, and usually don't have access to swimming pools with women-only hours, will swim fully dressed --with their clothes on.

Now, there is a difference between that conservative swimsuit and swimming fully dressed. The most important difference I think is the material of the garment. I like to think that I don't mind that conservative swimsuit at all. Really, its not like they're covering me with it, its what they're wearing in the water, why should I care. Plus, if they're really swimming, you'll never notice how long or short the swimsuit is. Some hotels here forbid swimming in that conservative swimsuit. I think the argument is that its against the common sense taste in the hotel, or something like that. And the argument I've heard against that ofcourse is that they're allowing topless women to swim freely (in Egypt the Islamic country), while forbiding others from swimming in an Islamic conservative swimsuit. So you either reveal more of your body, or you're not allowed to swim! I think part of it also is that revealing less, covering more, and doing it in such an obvious way (special swimsuit) is traditionally associated with lower economic classes of our society. And we have a hidden cultural policy not to have different classes of our society mingle together.

For those who swim fully dressed however, I can't quite make up my mind about that. Its certainly not a pleasant sight for me, but I tend to think that its their right as well to swim with their normal land-clothes. As someone commented at the earlier picture post, it seems that sometimes those wet clothes do not end up to be as conservative as they might think. I also can't imagine how they can possibly enjoy the water with their clothes on, totally wet. Must be a terrible heavy and itchy feeling. I think it might be natural for people to find this an unpleasant sight, because maybe its unnatural to get wet with clothes on. You get naked before you jump in the shower. When it rains you try to avoid getting your clothes wet. Clothes will make you heavier in the water and will make you drown. So the first instinct is that the sight of a woman (or a man for that matter) getting in the water fully dressed is an unpleasant sight, but as soon as I start thinking about it I say its really non of my business regardless of how much distasteful it might be to me. As long as no one is forcing me to dress up before jumping in the water, nor to get naked, than I'm fine (although taking off that swimsuit makes a whole lot of a difference!).

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Vote Mubarak, a la American style

This Mubarak guy is not bad. He can mutate into anything. Nowadays, he's playing the democracy game, and he's mutating into a presidential candidate. Is this for real?!

This is actually much better than before. Thanks Condi for pushing for democracy that far here. We needed the change. I think I can actually survive this elections campaign without major psychological disturbances like those I used to have in previous presidential referendums. The last time I was in Egypt prior to the presidential referendum, I was sick to my stomach from all the blunt sucking up the nation was dragged into that I was ready to throw up on the voting card.

This time, they're atleast making a good show. If we're going to suffer from the same known outcome anyway, then atleast let us enjoy the preceding show, and this is as fun as it gets. Next to my house, there's this huge two sided glossy paid advertisement with a neat picture of the great intellect Mubarak wearing a cool tie and shirt, which says; "Mubarak 2005. Leadership... Crossing to the future (". I won't even bother to check the website. Every morning when I move the daily state-owned newspapers from our door mat to the living room, I check the first page headline news. It always starts with Mubarak ofcourse, but now it also says what the other candidates say too. Yes, Mubarak is the first on the page, and he gets more space, but its more relieving to see this than to see the daily big "YES to Mubarak" they used to hit us on the face with before.

The best thing about this show is that we can ignore it all together. Before, you really couldn't do that. It was disgustingly blunt. Last night, Mubarak delivered his campaign speech, which was only aired on the private Dream TV, out of the fancy Azhar Park located in old Cairo. Ofcourse, I didn't even care to watch. A friend of mine called me during the speech telling me, "I can't stand that guy anymore. He's pissing me off big time. I'm suffocating." So I ask him, "what's wrong? is our friend Tarek pissing you off again?" "No, Tarek eih!" he says, "its this Mubarak guy." Those unappreciative Egyptians, always complaining, even with a good show!

So, we already know the outcome of this fancy show, but like Baheyya says, it is hard work on these guys this time, considering that they won't just have to simply make Mubarak win in a referendum with 99% Yes votes. This time they have to give away some charity votes to some of the other candidates for their supporting roles.

But really, to ordinary Egyptians like myself, do we care about this whole show, or about how the elections look like? I certainly don't give a damn. I'm just glad the show is not as sickening as it used to be, and that I can ignore it. I have enough psychological problems as it is, I don't need Mubarak to add to my misery. We already know what the real outcome is, and how hollow Mubarak's promises are. As my friend says, Mubarak must be cursing the day that he listened to his son's advise, Gamal, putting himself through this whole mockery of an election campaign, a la American style. The guy is making a fool of himself, or that's how some Egyptians look at it. Especially that he doesn't need to do that. He used to have a firm grip, and everyone else can go to hell. Egyptians like it that way too. Or that's what most Egyptians say about their fellow Egyptians.

I was thinking of volunteering in one of those NGOs that will be monitoring the elections, but luckily I came to my senses and am back to my ordinary Egyptian state of apathy again. I can't see how this election will improve our lives, so I don't care. I don't care. I don't care. Now, back to work.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Egypt has it all

Wet, veiled and topless. Viewer discretion advised!

See also, Lovers in Cairo!

Picture will be removed soon.

UPDATE: Comments section now open upon popular demand (although I don't feel like blogging these days). Remember, this post will be removed.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

On our Culture

- Tourism in Egypt
- Just another game
- Happy birthday Sakia
- The famous Yacoubian building
- We want more
- Arabs suck
- Our identity crisis
- Opposition withdrawal
- Meditation through participation
- Egypt's traffic and culture
- Egypt from up top
- What's wrong with Egyptians?
- Land of Fear
- Arranged marriages
- Reaction to the blasts
- Islamic swimsuit
- Evidence of negligence
- Two wrongs don't make a right
- Favorite spot
- The embassy movie

On Egyptians, Arabs, and Muslims

- Presidency demonstrations
- Elections boycotting
- More on the Egyptian demonstrations
- Palestine
- Government gas
- la porte du soleil
- The Software Industry’s Growth
- Hosni aims to please
- Samir Ragab
- Another Tarek AlBishry lecture
- Gandhi in Arabia?
- Gandhi in Iraq?
- On strikes and layoffs
- Egyptian athlete cry foul
- Hosni speaks to me
- Allah made them funny
- The Arab Spring
- Knock, knock Egypt
- Abu Heif
- Squash Champs
- Hosni's war sitcom (October war)
- Critique of Hosni's sitcom (Samir Ragab)
- From startup to corporate: Egyptian style
- Ordinaries in action
- Tarek AlBishry on the Judges
- Kefaya's momentum for change
- Call (not) to boycott
- Brave woman
- Black Wednesday
- Youth for Change movement
- The street is theirs
- The poor in Egypt
- Integrating the Islamists
- Wasateyya one step closer to political life
- Sharm blasts
- Anti-Mubarak anyone?
- Police and the People in the Nation's service!
- Homosexuality and Muslim politics
- Vote Mubarak, a la American style
- Looking for the artists
- The Judges ultimatum
- Candidates show off
- Desperately seeking paradise
- Women in engineering
- Voting for Mubarak is high treason
- Mubarak signs
- Historic day
- Happy elections day
- 7-year old voting finger
- Mubarak's landslide victory, 88.6%
- Kefaya in the Red Sea

On Faith

- Human beings
- Behind a veil
- Hayy 'ala el-Jihad
- Fishawy, Hind and the Sheikhs
- Women Friday prayer imamah: Why not?
- That Friday prayer
- Conservative or progressive
- CAIR takes action
- Kefaya's rainbow
- Hadith types
- Iqra'a TV
- Humans and other creatures
- Dogs in Islam
- al-Ghazali on reading the Quran
- Jebril the reciter
- Moussa naby.. Eissa naby.. Mahammad naby..
- Everything falls in place
- Wearing the beard
- أعود إليك مشتاقاً
- God isn't dead
- Al Nafs al lawwama

On Love, Sex, and Halss

- Men's brains
- Mars & Venus
- I love Cairo
- Why do they call me Mo?
- Sex on the beach
- Masa'a elfoll (drugs)
- Eskandareyyaty (Alexandria)
- Women are crazy
- 1.6.1997
- 2.6.1997
- A night out
- I DO
- Divorce diaries
- Warda
- Anti-Warda
- What women want
- Void
- The memory of her

On Blogging

- About this blog
- The blogging effect
- Bloggers in trouble
- Our journalist friend
- Blogging is bad for your career
- Thou shalt not might blog
- The blogging syndrome
- Cyber Connexions
- Blogging black hole
- Can blogging be any good?
- What about Egyptian bloggers?
- Egyptian Bloggers Forum
- NPR broadcasts Egyptian blogs
- Blogs and culture
- Bloggers
- Bloggers, again
- Elections make bloggers visible
- Bloggers everywhere
- Moving
- Unpublished article on blogging

On Others

- On strike!
- Cidade de Deus
- Foreigners in Cairo
- Lovers in Cairo!
- Men and Women
- Is SW piracy really that bad?
- Look, listen, and learn
- Good to Great
- What a woman
- Kingdom of Heaven
- RFID in your toilet
- Look, listen and learn II
- Real achievers
- Terrorists strike again
- Stop the USAID
- French arrogance
- China's awesome rise
- Homosexuality
- Sania is a good Muslim player

On Me, the Human

- An Arab on skis
- blog blog
- From dust to dust
- Dead man lying
- What does your father do?
- Losing faith
- Living the past
- 5 Kilos
- What shall become of me?
- PLEASE GOD... Save me
- 6 Kilos
- Fortune cookie
- Hot Eye
- Concessions.. concessions..
- London, fly away & formal methods
- Fear of commitment
- Openning up, no?
- Just wondering
- Last day at work
- Warda
- Anti-Warda
- Marsa Matrouh
- Apathy & Pessimism
- Who I am, in a nutshell

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Bloggers, again

Some people are actually still asking about my previous post about bloggers! After I wrote that post, some asked what I meant about my description of them, and some emailed me also wondering what I meant, and some I think were playing with me telling me that I've hit a chord!

I didn't explain what I meant by each of my sentences about each blogger, or my labeling of them (as someone called it) because it really doesn't matter. Doesn't really matter what I think of you. I don't even know you, I just made some deductions from your public blogs or your blog comments, doesn't mean anything.

What I wanted to do is to trigger you, make you think about yourselves. Whether my statements were judgemental or not, right or wrong, if you took a second to think about it in relevance to you than it was worth it. Bloggers tend to criticize everything that walks, so why not get a taste of that themselves. I had a much harsher version of that post initially, but I toned it down so that people wouldn't get extremely offended, turning a blind eye to it all together.

Not being sentimental here or anything, but I only screw with close friends, and I only harshly criticize people I like. Doesn't have to be mutual at all, don't worry.

So really, DNA will sure be missed. Can always find something to disagree with in everything he writes, but am always anxious to read his view on things, and his different perspective and pragmatic views always have to make you think.

Haal, totally triggers me and stimulates me. Very unique mind.

Baheyya, just too good of a writer. Too darn good that I have to consult a dictionary everytime I read her posts. With the depth of her posts and strong analysis and writing skills, you just have to get convinced with whatever she writes.

Mohammed, simply my favorite Arabic blog. I connect with his stuff, almost get high.

Alaa, I really admire his energy and his revolutionary spirit. Who cares about the hair.

Loulou, if its any consolation, I love worrying, just like you. And what would the world be without idealism?

Roora, good-hearted, compassionate, straight and looking for the good of others.

Zoss, I really have no clue who you are.

R, how can I complain. I know I shouldn't involve religion in this, but if Christianity is the secret, then I might actually convert to try to be as balanced and civil as he is.

Stacey, I think I've triggered her enough. Wish her all the best with her work here.

Big Pharaoh, doing his best, and his blog sounds really innocent.

Sandmonkey, whom I've denied the pleasure of my criticism before is actually a good guy, just a teeny bit full of himself at times.

See, even I can suck up. A true Egyptian I am :)

Wearing the beard

My friend who just came back from spending a year in the UK studying wanted to get a piece of software from me, so we agreed that I'd drop by her at Beano's cafe tonight to drop it off.

So I go meet my friend infront of Beano's and after a few minutes she asks me what's with the beard? so I answer that I'm growing it to get closer to God by following the prophet's Sunnah, and then I ask her when she might find the light and wear the hijab again herself.

She used to wear the hijab a couple of years ago. Back then, we went into a discussion and I told her with great reservation my view about hijab, and we had a good discussion about it. A month or so later, she told me she took off the veil! Well, I was shocked and was hoping that our discussion had nothing to do with her decision. She assured me that our discussion had nothing to do with it, and that she already had it planned.

Anyway, so my question if she's planning to take the veil again pissed her off, kind of, and she tells me that my beard looks really ugly (which it does). I tell her that that's the point, so that it decreases my attractiveness and so reduces the temptations! I ask her why she looks pissed, and she says that I used to have a different/certain perspective on things, but now I'm conforming, am becoming a 'typical believer'. Well, I'm conforming to God's will. I certainly still have my mind, but what's wrong with conforming to God's orders in trying to be more devout?!

Well you know, I'm very weary of people who show a certain image, and usually it doesn't reflect a real core, she says. Excuse me, are you talking about me?! No, just in general, the outside should reflect what's inside. Well, that's what I'm trying to do, work on the inside, and in parallel reflect the proper image, and conform. Can't I do both at the same time? Do I have to wait?! on one before the other, can't I just work on the inside along with the outside? Plus, its not just an image, the veil for example is a Godly order, I argue. She says, sure, but we elevate it to much higher levels than it deserves. Isn't taking good care of our parents (berr elwaledein) a more important thing to work on for example. How come we're giving more importance to the veil and the beard than stuff like that, which certainly has more emphasis. Well, sure, I say. Other stuff are more important, but this stuff is important too.

So tell me, she asks, what made you change? I tell her that I didn't change, I just evolved, with the help of good friends, brothers who showed me the light, the rightuous path. Tell me more, tell me more. Ok, guys I've met at that Quran halaqa in the mosque helped me value more being closer to God, value committment and iltizam and realize how this makes us better people, having a better life and a good afterlife. So what are you doing different now, she asks? Well, hmmm, ummm, and I point to my beard! She bursts into laughter. Then she asks me to work on her like my friends worked on me and helped me out. I tell her no, you are hopeless! May God help you.

During the chat, I ask her to hop in my car to take her to Diwan bookstore as she was planning. She asks me if I'm sure I want her to ride, and I reply that we are required to be gentle with our fellow Muslims and so its okay to be nice to her and give her a ride, but I warn her to be careful with the books she's getting because I'll be censoring them. In Diwan, the guy working there asks me about the CD I have wanting to take a look at it! I tell her, see, devout Muslims are always targetted. I actually told the guy that the CD is with her not me anymore, and then told her loudly that she shouldn't try to hide stuff from the bookstore like that. Shame on you!

We go to Cilantro cafe (I look really ugly in that mirror, must be a bad mirror!), and she gets really serious explaining why she took off the veil. So its not fun anymore and so I tell her that I was just joking and I'm planning to shave my beard before I get back to work next week. Then she goes, so if its not a religious thing, and you knew you were meeting me after months of me being away on travel, why didn't you even bother to shave your beard and clean up before we meet?! Huh! (didn't see that one coming).

Walking away from Cilantro, we notice that heavy bearded guy who's working in the adjacent liquor store! I tell her that seeing that bearded guy selling liquor, I can now go in and buy some beer from him. Must be halal if he's selling it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Homosexuality and Muslim politics

I think the view I've presented of homosexuality in my previous post is as moderate as it comes from a traditional Muslim. Most Muslims look at homosexuality in a much harsher way. From Egypt arresting 52 gays on that Queen boat, sentencing 21 of them, to Iran executing 2 gay kids just last month.

I really doubt that such reactions are proper Islamic reactions. As I said in my previous post, I know that Islam denounces homosexuality, but I don't know how it advocates treating homosexuals. I wonder how Iran derived that execution sentence for those two gay boys! I can't really delve into Islam's treatment of homosexuals, because as I said, I don't know it.

The denounciation of Islam to homosexuality puts Muslims in Western countries in a dilemma. Vote liberal or vote conservative? Conservatives are more or less aligned with their conservative Islamic view of life, while the liberal advocate equality and minority rights as well as values that are against Islamic values, such as abortion and homosexuality (did I get it wrong?). So when its time to vote, should they vote for those who have similar conservative values as theirs, or vote for those who will preserve their rights to be treated equally and be fair to them. I would personally go for the latter.

This topic reminded me of Canada's last elections and a heated discussion that went on between a Muslim female candidate who was running on the liberal ticket, supporting gay-marriages, and between the Muslim community there. The Muslim candidate tried to explain her position by writing an open letter to the Muslim community. I think its a worthwhile letter, so here it goes:

Equality ­ what it means, how it works

Assalamu alaikum everyone,

There has been lots of discussion about my position on gay marriages. I am writing this open letter to clarify my position, so that people can understand my position before delivering khutbas [sermons] about me and writing me hate mail.

I should first state very clearly that this is my position, not the position of my family, and that any discussion about these issues should not involve them in any way.

My position is very clear. I support the principle that all human beings in Canada must be equal under Canadian law and have the same rights in Canada. Every single person.

This is a critical principle that insures the protection of every minority community in Canada ­ including the Muslim community. Without this principle we are all vulnerable to having our civil rights eroded and our safety threatened.

In the last few years since 9/11, the Muslim community has watched, and largely stood silent, while our civil rights have been attacked, while we have been targeted by CSIS, while we have demonized in the media, while we have had our personal lives invaded, while many of us have been arrested or detained for questioning by police. Not to mention how one of us was kidnapped by the U.S. government with the cooperation of our own government and sent to a torture prison. There has been fear and silence in our community. Our overwhelming response has been to be quiet in hopes that if we keep our head down no one will notice us and attack us individually.

When we have spoken up, we have done so based on the principle of equality. We have said that we are Canadian too, that we are equal to everyone else in Canada, that our rights must be protected and that our lives must be secure. And those who have been more brave than our community and have organized demonstrations and mobilized a resistance for us to protest our loss of civil rights in Canada, have also done so on the principle of all Canadians being equal.

Canada is a very large and very diverse country. It is held together by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is the document that protects all of us, every single one of us, and enables us to all live together in Canada and to form Canadian society together.

It is the Charter that protects our rights as Muslims and that enables our communities to develop and prosper. It is the Charter that protects our right to believe what we choose to believe and to organize our communities based on those beliefs. It is the Charter that protects our right to define marriage according to our beliefs and it is the Charter that will always protect our right to continue to do so.

The legal decision by Canadian courts to extend the rights of marriage to include gay and lesbian couples does not override the Charter¹s protection of religious freedom. The court decision has absolutely no implication on the Muslim community at all.

The allegation that Imams will be forced to recognize and perform gay marriages is absolutely ridiculous and is obviously based on complete unfamiliarity with Canadian law. The Muslim community and all religious communities will always be able to define and conduct marriages according to their own beliefs and traditions, with no interference from anyone.

Muslims in Canada must be clear that we can not demand our own equality in Canada, our own rights to be who we are, while also calling for the rights of others to be restricted. If the principle of equality under Canadian law is compromised, it will be compromised for all minority communities.

I am not running for leadership of the Muslim community, I am running for a position in Canadian government. I am not asked about my religious views, I am asked about my views on Canadian law. These are 2 completely separate things. As we all know because we make those distinctions every day of our lives.

We all live as Muslims in Canada. We know the difference between Canadian law and our own religious law. We believe that alcohol is haram [forbidden] yet we live in a society where it is available everywhere. Does that mean we drink alcohol? No. Does that mean we serve it in our homes or our Mosques? No. Does that mean we think it is halal [permissible]? No. Do we tell our children to go out and get drunk? No.

I am a Muslim, not because I was born in a Muslim family, not because I was raised in a Muslim community, not because of any one else in the world. I am a Muslim because that is what my heart and soul demand of me. I am a Muslim because of what I know in my core to be true.

I am a Canadian because this is my home. My Canada includes everyone in Canada. I believe that my ability to be Muslim in my country is completely and absolutely connected to the ability of everyone else in Canada to live according to their own beliefs. That is how equality works, that is how a country as wide and diverse as Canada continues to be home for everyone in it. That is how we all can be safe here.

I would think that this principle of equality is one that Muslims would understand powerfully. I would think that as a targeted community we would cling fiercely to this principle and stand up for it. But no, not so.

I would have thought that there were many issues that Muslims would care passionately about. I would have thought that we might be concerned about civil rights, about equal citizenship in Canada, about the war and occupation of Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan, about the move to link Canadian foreign policy closer to U.S. foreign policy, about the new arms race of weapons in the sky, about losing public healthcare without which many of us could not afford to be healthy, about racist immigration policies, about easing the burden of Third World debt, about racial profiling at airports and borders, about funding education in Canada so that we don¹t have young people each with $30,000 of interest bearing debt, about the destruction of our environment which we believe is an ammanah [trust] from our Creator.

But no. I am clearly wrong. There is only one issue that the Muslims are interested in. There is only one issue that the community can become vocal about. There is only one issue that can rise our emotions and our political voice. Let the rest of the world and the rest of the country be damned. The Muslim community can care about only one thing.

We have sat in our homes while others took to the streets to protest wars and occupations, and we have sat silently in our homes while others took to the streets to protect our rights in Canada. While Palestinian towns were being demolished, while Iraqis were being tortured, we stayed home and watched the news.

This may be the kind of Muslim life that the majority of our community believes is good. But this is not what I believe in. I have always fought for justice, and I believe I have done so with courage and integrity. I am proud of my life as a Muslim and I am proud to be Canadian.

And indeed the journey is always to return to Allah, who is the only One who will judge each of us.


Ofcourse the Muslim community wouldn't take this, and had ongoing attacks on her asking her to state clearly her position on homosexuality, calling her hypocritic for believing in one thing and doing something else, and not standing for her core religious beliefs, asking her why is she trying to distinguish between religious and common laws, that Muslims need not compromise their religious beliefs in order to insure protection and equality before the law, and that ends don't justify the means. And ofcourse they didn't forget to mention the work they do in the society, unappreciative of her belittling that.

I was personally dissapointed to see a reasonable Muslim candidate losing all the support from the Muslims community, so I emailed her with my thoughts:

I'd like to express my support to you. I'm certainly glad and proud that a muslim fellow is so politically proactive. I only wish I was still living in Canada to vote for you. I'm only writing this message because I think it would be a shame if the muslim community end up not supporting you in the elections.

I believe that having such discussions are healthy, however, like most modern muslims and arabs, we are not very open-minded to others views, not accepting of others views as we'd like others to accept our views, and have only one scope to look at issues through.

Having that in mind, I think you're a little too harsh and might be dropping the ball too quickly on the community. I think it takes time and a great deal of effort to change a mind-set, and its worth investing such effort with the muslim community.

Regarding the specific issue of same-sex marriage, I think I understand your view. However, I think the difference in views, and the strong opposition to your stand is mostly because of contradicting basic definitions of who are homosexuals.

While you consider homosexuals to be a minority group, just like all other minorities in Canada, hence deserving of similar rights. So that if First Nations can get married and adopt, and so can Muslims and other minorities, then so should same-sex couples. However, Islam certainly does not put them on equal footing, and considers them a group of people who have *chosen* or fallen in a wrong path. So preventing them from marriage does not constitute a violation of a minority right (since they are not considered a minority in the first place). Thinking of it another way, when a couple from any other minority get married, the natural definition of marriage is unchanged. Why is it that the core definition of marriage would have to change if same-sex couples are allowed to get married? From that perspective, I wouldn't see how opposing same-sex marriage would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I would be dissapointed if the community does not support you in the elections because of differences on this issue. I think its important and healthy that they are voicing their concerns and discussing it with you. Although, everyone who has a view is pretty rigid about it, I feel its worth the effort to listen, discuss, and try to reach an acceptable stand on this issue. You are running for a political position, and I think its worth exercising your political talents with the muslim community.

Well, ofcourse she lost in the elections.


What's obvious is that Islam regards homosexuality as a great sin, I would say greater than extra-marital sex. What's not obvious to me is how Islam advocates the treatment of homosexuals.

There is a saying in Islam, which I'm not sure how true it is, that God's throne shakes everytime a homosexual act happens. The most clear story however is the story of prophet Lut and his people. Amazing to me that he wanted to save his male visitors by offering his gay villagers to sleep with his daughters instead. Would this mean that homosexuality is worse than extra-marital hetero sex? However, we see the punishment for extra-marital sex specified in the Quran, but not so for homosexuality --other than God's damning.

I happen to agree that homosexuality is not normal. Our parents, Adam and Eve were male and female, and that is when the norm for human sex has been established. And isn't it obvious that the only way for humans to reproduce is through male and female sexual intercourse, the normal way of having sex. I understand however that there could be same-sex attraction, but I still don't find it normal. I'd attribute that to minor biological imbalances, to how gays are raised as children, and to the environment that nourishes such activities as grownups. Those factors do not mean that homosexuality should be accepted however.

From my personal observations in North America, I find that the strongest lobbying group are the Jews, and the second strongest group are homosexuals (they're not related, don't get me wrong). How homosexuals have managed to establish themselves as a third gender in Western societies, and integrate their culture is very interesting. It seems that every TV show must have a homosexual character now, and they must be the sweetest character in the show!

I've seen them control the Student Union of a university, and censoring the Muslim Student Association's publication about Islam's view of homosexuality, demanding a public apology in the university's newspaper. They didn't back down until they received a formal letter from a lawyer informing them that while they have the right to act as they please, others have the right to free speech.

I've grown indifferent to homosexuals really. Yes, it is a great taboo in Islamic countries, but we all seem to have a hinch on homosexuality in us! People from the same sex in Arab countries already hug, kiss and hold hands (yeah, we're just too emotional they say). When an Arab goes to a Western country, fellow Arabs who reside in that country will warn the new comer not to kiss or hug, otherwise people will think they're gays. I'd say go for it, this way you might get more rights being thought of as a homosexual minority.

Seeing guys kissing and hugging and women doing the same is actually normal here. Seeing the same abroad means they're homosexuals, but it has become very normal too now. After a few months of living two blocks away from a street that is known to be "gay friendly", it became normal for me to see two "guys" mouth-kissing in the street, or to see four male legs entangled on the beach. The Pride Parade passing right below my house was still abit weird though. You really don't have to bring your bedrooms to the streets with all that black leather stuff and other weird accessories to prove you are normal! and that you are "proud to be gay".

I really am indifferent to them. Why should I care. They want to have same-sex sex, sure. Want to have gay bars, sure. Want to get married even, sure. But its too far when they ask to adopt children. If they can't make their own kids, then they shouldn't get any. Why should perfectly normal kids be raised in a "family" that will for sure turn them into homosexual kids?! Its not just a matter of having those kids accept homosexuality as normal behavior --which is being promoted everywhere all the time now anyway--, but its that those kids are bound to grow up as homosexuals themselves. And I'm sorry, that shouldn't be acceptable by any standard. Screw your lives as you wish, but don't screw with others'.

Arab and Islamic countries are isolated for now from having to accept homosexuality and integrate it in our culture. Yes, it exists, but its not acceptable and its a big taboo, and its fine this way. North Western gay winds are blowing hard this direction however.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Marsa Matrouh

[map] Arrived a couple of hours ago. Just came back from the Friday prayer, sitting in the balcony facing the beach. Forgot my scrapbook, so writing on the back of this "Science of Islamic Fiqh" paper.

The Christian experience

Checked in at St. Joseph Sisters of the Sacred Heart Summer House. My mother has recently fallen in love with this place. She's been coming here for the last 2 years. Convinced my father to join her, and I've decided to join as well. I don't know how she managed to get us a room here. I feel like a minority for a change. I'm not sure if I miss that feeling, but its certainly a healthy feeling. They have a picture of Jesus on the wall. Is that really him? My mother is right. This is the best place I've seen so far in Marsa Matrouh.

I've only had very few Christian experiences in my life. My most regular one was when I spent a year in the states. Too long ago. The first few months of that year, I almost went to Church every Sunday (and I missed almost every Friday prayer). Didn't really know what was the point of going to Church, so after a while I asked to be excused from joining. I remember doing a presentation about Egypt in that Church by the end of that year. After the presentation, the nice priest asked me if I'm willing to talk about Islam? I said No. Until today, I still regret saying No. An interesting experience I had back then was participating in a play that was conducted in another church, Hans Christian Anderson. I don't remember what role I played, but I remember not finding myself in acting, and hence not joining the other play in the winter season. Christmas Carols and Christmas eve service were the best I've enjoyed.

Just checked if there's a Bible in the room. Unfortunately, didn't find one.


Marsa Matrouh brings back so much memories. I have mixed feelings of liking the place, and missing those old days. The place feels like I was here yesterday, not 10 years ago! Its just much more crowded, the Corniche looks nicer and there are now jet skis in the sea. I had almost forgotten how wonderful Matrouh's sea is. But seeing it with my own eyes, and I'm sure swimming in it, is totally different that just remembering it. Can't wait to swim to Shatt elGharam tomorrow. My mother should be a good company.

I used to come to Matrouh every summer with my parents and sister when I was a kid, stay at that routine place with family friends. I grew tired of the place and of the company, so one year I cut my routine 10-day vacation short and never joined them there again. I still remember Matrouh vividly from those days.

After a few years break, I started coming again for a few years. This time only with people of my age group. I had a crush on a girl that was with us on one of those trips once. She was so spoilt, but so cute. Probably the cutest girl I've ever met. Just remembering how cute she was makes me smile now. I might've actually loved her! I was a stupid kid then, but I was smart enough not to tell her, knowing that she was travelling for a whole year shortly afterwards. Heh, I remember when I was in the sea singing Sayyed Mekkawy's "leilet embareh magaleesh nom", to find her calling me in my room that night to sing it for me. So cute she was. I was afraid of dreaming of her that night, lest my roommate would hear me halucinating her name while asleep. Heh! She loved that balady chewing gum, that I brought her some in the airport to take with her on her year long travel. She came back from her travel, and since then I only saw her once by coincidence maybe.

In one of those trips I was caught on one of the girls video cameras going totally bananas while leading the singing in the Karetta and on the beach at night; "everywhere we go, people wanna know, who we are, where we come from, so we tell them ...", and "say heidy heidy heidy ho, say wigley wigley wigley wo, now raise your hands up to the sky, ..., a little louder". Well, actually my favorite song which I was a little reserved in singing in public went something like; "One and one, we're having some fun, in the bedroom, all day, and all of the night." It goes on until ten and ten :)

These were good days for sure, and this trip is bringing all these memories back. But this time I'm here just for the sea, and for the company of my parents.

My folks

I'm still living with my parents, but we almost don't interact at all. My father can sit for hours next to me without saying a word, and my mother has two to three topics that she never deviates from, and I'm done talking about them. I figure its enough that they're one of my excuses for staying in Egypt, but really, they're the ones doing me a favor for allowing me to live with them. They're actually the least demanding parents I've ever seen. They ask absolutely nothing of me. When I moved back with them, all I asked of them (of my mother really) was not to invade my privacy. It was perfect at the beginning, but now my room sometimes turns into one of my mother's living rooms.

Well, we haven't been interacting for so long, I was starting to miss them. Or rather, started to worry about not missing them.

I'm glad I decided to join them in this trip. About time to interact abit more. Yeah, I don't know where they are right now, while I'm sitting in the balcony writing this. But hey, I'm going on a good swim with my mom tomorrow, and I'll sure be sitting on the beach with my dad figuring out something to say.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Police and the People in the Nation's service!

You know what scared the shit out of me in last Saturday's protest the most? Its not the merciless beatings in that terrible scene. Its the fact that they were detaining people. Its the torture and treatement that comes after the detention, and also the fact that they will have an eye on you forever, picking you for no apparent reason when they feel like it. You're picked once, and you're tagged for life.

After I saw those beating and dragging scenes in Talaat Harb street, the plain-clothed soldiers were being grouped and ordered to go to Bustan street. They started to run there, so I went in between them and ran with them until they stopped shortly before the main crowd. Started counting and standing in line. Looked at me and asked whom I was with. Told them, "I'm with you, I'm with you. But hey guys, when its my turn, slow down abit on me, will you." The soldier among them who was organizing the rest of the soldiers seemed actually nice! He told me no way they're gonna touch me. Well, it was just a compliment since I was standing among them. I told them, "hey you guys, you'll blow up those guys with no effort, eh, piece of cake." They said, yeah sure, you know we're just picking up the trouble makers. Just have a little mercy on them, will you, you're already detaining them, no need to beat the shit out of them. The guys answer back, "you know its just orders, nothing we can do."

Ofcourse, I was talking to the wrong bunch. They can't help but follow orders. Not that they are not to be blamed as well for what they're doing. But standing among them, they are normal people, who've been pushed to do the wrong thing. The story of most Egyptians really.

It was not as fun talking to the officers as it was the soldiers, especially those State Security bullies. I was not the only one to throw sarcastic remarks at those officers and what they were doing, pretending that they're protecting the security of the nation, when they're the ones ruining it.

A few years back the Ministry of Interior changed the motto at the police stations, instead of; "The police in the people's service," to; "The Police and the People in the Nation's service." And what exactly is that nation?! Isn't it all about its people? Just another excuse to do as they please in the name of the "Nation".

And you know what's weird too? Its that I was playing Squash on Saturday morning with Habib Al-Adly's son-in-law!

Monday, August 01, 2005


Just woke up on a bad dream. Repercussions of Saturday's protest. In the dream, I suddenly hear very strong sounds of a girl having intense sex. I recognize the voice. Its that of a girl I've known too well a few years back. I run to the source of the sound, and see the guy on top of her, in action. So I tell them that we don't need to hear their sex, "please lower your voice", and I shut the door.

I saw this girl in Saturday's protest. Seemed to have become a replica of Sonallah Ibrahim's Warda. I was once joking with her when she was going to Yemen for two months, asking if she's already feeling Warda's character, and she was very pleased and amused with the comment back then. Apparently, she's really assuming the character now.

I saw her in the protest after the police picked up most of the guys, standing in a small group, among them was a guy that was suddenly grabbed by 6 plain-clothed soldiers to be dragged away.

The girl screamed and wailed. Kept shouting for them to leave him 'cause he's her husband, shouted for the "sons of dogs" to leave him. When they picked him, she jumped and tried to pull him out, then the wailing, screaming, and jumping continued till they took him away. She was just trying to save the guy. Simple. I had this urge to grab her, hold her arms, and tell her that its not gonna help, I think, so please shut up!

I then saw her later on the stairs of the syndicate, standing cool, smoking a cigarette, a smoker she has become. She said hi, I said hi, and I pointed to the unique flag she was wearing, lightly asking; "what is this? Che Guevara?!"