Sunday, November 30, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Freedom to be Myself

Dear Freedom,

There came a time when I almost completely lost you, lost myself and lost the ability to freely think, believe, and act.  But, I found you again.  I'm glad that we have reunited and i promise not to let you go.

At times, I may have to compromise and I will not be able to give you everything.  At times you will feel that I have overlooked you so that a family member or someone dear to me can be happy.  But if you feel that I have completely abandoned you, please wake me up because I need you.  Your presence is essential in my life, and without you, I lose myself and I can no longer exist.

"Traveling is the great true love of my life"

Is longing to travel while you are "on travel" greedy madness?

Three months in Cairo & here is what I've learned:

Five things I learned about the city I love:
  1. “za7mah ya dunya za7mah” is not just a song.  Cairo traffic is really as bad as they claim, and rush-hour can be any time of the day.  If you want to enjoy living here, you must give-in to the power of traffic, because there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.  How? By being prepared at all times, with a book, ipod, chocolate, or breakfast bar just in case you are stuck for hours.
  2. Egyptians survive through laughter.  No matter how life is treating them, people are smiling, laughing, and telling jokes.  It is quite remarkable.
  3. There is no such thing as privacy.  The entire neighborhood will know anything and everything about you.  But, at the same time, the neighborhood becomes your family.  They will know you, ask about you, and will be there for you whenever you need.  A sense of community still exists in this large city.
  4. Crossing the road is as dangerous as it looks.  Yesterday I saw a man get hit by a car; and a week ago an acquaintance of mine was hit!  The ironic thing is that a week before she was hit, her and I were rejoicing that we have become pro’s at crossing the road! Oops, maybe not.
  5. Egyptian society, like most Arab countries today is extremely polarized politically and religiously.  The middle is shrinking and disappearing from the public sphere.  Because of this polarization, people tend to pass enormous amount of judgment against each other.

        Here is what I’ve learned  about myself:

1.     I’m finally comfortable eating alone in public. 
2.     I can live without a microwave; I didn’t even notice that I didn’t have one.
3.     I can’t live without Internet; it’s an addiction.
4.     I’m no longer afraid of being alone with my thoughts.
5.     I learned that I’m more “emotional” than I portray.
6.     As much as I love social gatherings, I learned that I need time to decompress, energize, and be alone once in a while.
7.     I learned that I am so blessed to have amazing family and friends.
8.     I also learned that I love the “arts” so much.  Cairo has given me the opportunity to explore that side of my self.
9.     I learned that I need to work on my “indecisive” nature.
10. I learned that I can cook, but I don’t enjoy doing it often J

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In response to the AUC protest

I'm very proud that AUC students are calling for their rights and demanding the end of the commercialization of education!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

inner peace

How ironic is it that I moved to Cairo, one of the loudest cities, to search for inner peace?

تقرير المرصد النقابي والعمالي حول الاحتجاجات في شهر سبتمبر واكتوبر
Click on the link to download the (Arabic) report on industrial action during the first three weeks of September, put together by the Egyptian Workers and Trade Unions Watch…

New pyramid discovered!'s antiquities chief Zahi Hawass, center-right, walks around the site of a

Forced evictions

In 1948 a British police report attested: "Every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab population to stay and carry on with their normal lives..."  that was not true then, and it is not true now.  It is mind boggling that 60 years later Palestinians are still forced to leave their homes!

Friday, November 14, 2008

yes it is possible to be single and happy

Two quick stories:

I had a phone interview with the director of a well-known institute in Yemen (I will not mention the name here).  Overall, the interview went well, but there were some odd statements:

Director: “I asked around and they told me you're single.  That is very good.”

Me: “umm why?

Director: “Since you're not married you will work hard and probably work overtime since there is nothing for you to do after work!"

WHY WHY WHY, do people assume that just because we are single, it means we have no life?!!

Let me give you another example:

A few young Yemenis on facebook were discussing  early marriage in Yemen and the article on Nujood’s woman of the year award ( .  A 21 year old man said:

“i guess to marry at an early age is waaaaay better than being single almost all life ,,,"3anes"...and sorry for the word,,, wt do u think u guys ??”

Why is life equated with marriage for some people.  I’m not against marriage, I think it can be a beautiful thing.  But I also know that just because someone is single does not mean they are unhappy, and just because someone is married does not necessarily guarantee happiness.  Our happiness is not necessarily ONLY extracted from a spouse.  It can also be felt without one.

AUC sold its soul to the corporate world and students are demanding their rights

AUC students demanding their rights

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Need advise on the rules of male/female interaction in Egypt

As you know I recently moved to Cairo.  One thing I do not understand yet is the male/female interaction.  Egyptian men and women are flirty, lively, and very friendly.  So, how does one know if the guy is just friendly, or if he is “interested”?  When is the question “do you want to hang out?” just a friendly question and when is it a statement of interest.  Also, how will my response demonstrate either friendship or interest? 

No wonder she's single!

Yesterday I had one of those days where I woke up in the morning and stood there staring at the closet and wishing I had a uniform to wear so I wouldn’t have to think so early in the morning. 

I tried on the first shirt, but umm na it wasn’t what I was looking for, so I threw it on the bed.  I tried the next shirt, but it’s getting cold now and this shirt won’t work, so I also tossed it on the bed.  I tried on the third shirt, but it was too tight, (must have been last night’s basboosa), so I also tossed it on the bed.  This process went on for about 10 minutes, until I finally selected the FIRST shirt I tried on.  Of course this made me think about the importance of trusting one’s instinct. 

I look down at my watch, crap it’s late!  Of course I couldn’t clean the pile on the bed, which is ok, cause I live alone right?! WRONG I left the apartment in a hurry contemplating the philosophy of trusting one’s instincts, and why humans are afraid to listen to their heart. 

I went to work all day, then around 6:00 p.m. I met up with some friends for dinner.  Around 8 p.m., I received a frantic phone call from my neighbor, who was wondering if I was home.  I said no, why? She says: “because the apartment door is open”, “what?” I say.  She says: “don’t worry I’ll go check it out.”  Before I could say no, she already hung up.

My neighbor, a 54 year old woman  her two sons, and the door man went up to my apartment.  They went inside to check if everything is ok.  They went into my room, and saw the “hurricane on my bed” and decided that there MUST have been a thief in the apartment who caused such destruction.  They called me to tell me to come because the room is a mess, and I should check for what’s missing!

At that moment, I had two choices:

  1.  Tell the truth, and admit that no, that mess was done intentionally, and forever be known as the “very messy single girl!”
  2. Tell the truth, but also explain that I’m not always that messy!
  3.  Lie and pretend a thief was in the apartment

One thing I’m terrible at is lying, so of course I ended up telling the truth, which is: I admit that I stupidly left the door unlocked, and I am the cause of that mess.  (I wanted to insert a message saying, please come tomorrow to see for yourself that the room is not always this messy, but I couldn’t).

The next day, I passed by my neighbors’ house to thank them, and their house keeper opened the door, and kindly said to me “sweetie, if you need help I can come upstairs and help you, I heard about the room!)


Amnesty sites serious human rights violations in Yemen

Amnesty International expresses concern about human rights situation in Yemen

Everyone knows EVERYTHING here

My friend Nadiya sent me flowers for my birthday…two days later I stopped by the pharmacy located across my apartment building.  The pharmacist told me “so did you receive the flowers?” Confused I say: “what flowers?”, he says: “there were flowers for you two days ago, you’re on the 9th floor right?”

So umm ya, everyone knows EVERYTHING here!  

Sunday, November 9, 2008

the big 29!

It seems that 29 may be a good year inshallah.  It started off with Obama's victory, followed by a nice poem from my dade.  My father usually writes poems for any occasion, and especially for our birthdays instead of buying a gift :) When I was younger, I used to ask him for a "real" gift instead hehe...but now, i truly appreciate it, and i am therefore shamelessly sharing this one here, i must be getting OLD ;)  

عيد سعيد يافتاة النبي  بمفخر العترة في الأحقب1

      بعيد "أطيافٍ" أتى حاملاً  مُسْتَقبَلاً يرفُلُ بالطيب

      بوركت من رائدةٍ فذةٍ   سامية التفكير والمأرب

      لاترتضي في جهدها ليِّناً  وإنما تسعى إلى الأصعب

      لها رسالاتٌ كبار المدى   فحققي ماشئت من مطلب

      وبارك الله خطى سيرها  في مشرق الأرض وفي المغرب

      أطياف كفؤ للعلى فاقعدي على الأعالي في ذرى الكوكب

      فما حياة السفح جذابة   لكاسر الجو العقاب الأبي

      لكن مآواها أعالي الذرى   مأوى كرام الباشق الأعضب

      دعي بغاث الطير في سفحها  تلهو عليه في المناخ الوبي

      وحلقي في الجو مزهوة   فوق ذرى الأجبال والغيهب 

      أطياف هذي تهنئات المنى  وباقة الحب وشوق الأب

      من والد يدعو بعمر الهنا  وبهجة الدنيا وما تطلبي

      حماك ربي من شرور الدنيا  وحاطك الله بفضل النبي 

نعم نستطيع

I finally regained my faith in the American people.  Regardless of whether Obama will deliver on his promises, I am proud that the American people rose from the dead, and decided to change their destiny.  It is a big symbol of hope, and symbol that when people want something they will make it happen. 

Bush managed to unite the people of the world against him and against the US.  Obama’s victory regained a little bit of the lost respect to the American people, so thank you Obama, and thank you America for the great birthday gift.