My views, observations, questions about everything in this world ....and that country they call Egypt.

28 November 2006

Maybe I'm Not Me

This is Cairokee with Hany Adel from Wust El Balad. I think the song is great and so different from all the crap we hear on the music channels. The lyrics are special too but I could not catch all the words. If you've got the lyrics, do post. Enjoy!

25 November 2006

Climbing Up The Walls

There was 7 of us when my close friend Volks said,

The first rule is that, except your mother, every woman is a whore. Every woman has a whore inside, sometimes a little whore, and sometimes a big one.

Nobody objected at all to what was said. The reaction was a mix between laughter and approval. I was disgusted inside but didn't know where to start. This is what I was able to say,

Your problem is that you view women as less than men.

To which he responded immediately,

Yes, of course.

I was not in the mood of arguing and the time wasn't right, so I decided to keep it inside for now. I couldn't get it out of my head. I kept my wondering if these views are somehow related to the mass sexual assaults that happened in Cairo last month.

In other news, I went to a concert for Omar Khayrat at the Culture Wheel and it was great. It started out slow but it picked up considerably. Khayrat is a great musician and a very talented pianist. The Oud solo was perfect. I just wish he had a guitarist in the band.

20 November 2006

Uncertainty Excites Me

I had a busy last few days. Here's what's semi-interesting.

I went out with my few best friends the other day. We had good talks and good laughs. You know when you're with friends and you laugh at the slightest of things? Ah. As we drove home we sang along with the music, we couldn't talk, the mood was too perfect to disturb. Hmm... It sounds lot cheesier reading it now! They were not very happy though as I schooled them in table football/foosball that night. I still got the touch!

Then next day I met my other group of friends. The three of us were best friends at some point until we went on 3 week trip together after which it went downhill. I haven't seen these guys for ages. Sam was as loud as ever, broadcasting our conversation to everyone around. He's still womanizing. I hate how he womanizes, he's never been 1% serious with a woman in his life. Si had just changed jobs. He proposed to his gf the day before, and she said yes. He's getting married in a couple of years he said. That's a long engagement isn't it? It's funny because I remember this big talk we had just before he met his girl when he told me that he wants to stay single for at least 4 years.

My best friend Isso's gf emailed me the other day saying she wants to meet up. Is it me or is this weird, knowing that I've only met her for 5 mins? Do I meet her? Do I talk to Isso about it? Am I making a big deal out of nothing?

I also met up with this girl Dee whom I've known for less than 2 months. We somehow quickly became friends... close ones too (yes, just friends). We had a nice talk and we caught up. She gave me a card that I should open only on the plane! We said goodbye but I was too shy to tell her that I'll miss her. Idiot MC! Tried to rectify it in an email though.

Oh ya, the names are fictional obviously.

16 November 2006

Spend A Minute In My Shoes

Ah... I haven't touched my blog in ages. I haven't read any blogs either, with one exception. How have you all been? I was very busy finishing up work and getting my things together. And I still am. Since my last post I feel like a lot has transpired. Here is some of what I recall, in no particular order.

1. I quit my job. Now that it's gone, I realize that it wasn't so bad. I realized that I've known a LOT of people at this job because I had to say goodbye to maybe 50 people, no exaggeration. It's not that I'm that social, the company was just huge. I've made 2 friends from work, but we'll see if it lasts.

2. A cougar gave me her number. She's a nice woman and has one of the weirdest stories I've heard. I'm just not in the mood of turning my life upside down more than this. I'm gonna pass on that one.

3. I had a revelation: Music is a big part of my life. I noticed that spend a lot of time listening to music and reading about it. I noticed that I was late a few times because I couldn't get my self to stop listening to music!! Right now I'm listening to the song Gong by Sigur Ros which is just pure genius. It totally captures my mood. Download the mp3 here [Sigur Ros - Gong]. Tell me what you think after you give it a couple of listens.

4. I was supposed to have a nice friendly talk with a girl that I've recently met but ended up out with a friend of hers at an event that they wanted to check out. It was a little awkward because of the nature of the place. I was reminded of how shy I can be sometimes when I meet new people.

5. I got together with two friends and tried to record something before I leave. By 'record' I mean sit in front of a laptop and record music over a mic so don't get other impressions. It was a total failure. We came to the conclusion that none of us can sing. Actually I think they're pretty decent. I'm not sure why all our recordings suck. Maybe it's practice.

6. I spent a lot of time putting some Arabic music together for my cousin's wedding after she asked me to. Finding soft instrumental Arabic music for dinner time was a nightmare. The dance music was no easier. I first put a list together then started refining it. Then I scratched it all and changed my mind on half the songs. Do the song lyrics have to match to mood?? i.e. Can I play a song that says “I don't want to see your face again...” even if it has a good beat?? I think not.

I am very excited... starting from scratch is always refreshing. I will try to post again before November 22nd.

06 November 2006

What Is Fact, What Is Fiction

I got into an argument with someone yesterday and they claimed that the following is true about Sadat.
  • His name was originally just Anwar Sadat but he later added 'Mohammad' as a first name to please the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • In a conference somewhere, he claimed that he would make the highest ranking Christian in Egypt a shoe polisher.
If you are able to verify these claims with links or books please add a comment.

03 November 2006

The Women Of Egypt

Here is a collection of posts by Egyptian women detailing some of their experiences with sexual harassment. Please comment if you've found additional ones, or if you've translated any of the Arabic ones.

Atr Al-Nada
Eny Ra7ela
Lasto Adri
Wa7da Masreya

Samar (translated)

Think of your mother & sisters. Think of your female friends. Think of yourself, and you'll know that nobody should go throught his. Let's stop it!

02 November 2006

Trapped In The Eyes Of A Stranger

The following is my translation of From Zaqaziq To Cairo.

I am from Zaqaziq, and until recently I thought that I was one of the few people who went through unusual personal experiences of sexual harassment, which I suffered from since I was little…. No, since I was very little.

I will not forget the first time this happened when I was walking on the street on Eid as well. I was about 15 at the time. I was walking with my cousin, who is 3 years my elder, and with my aunt in the middle. A group of at least 15 young men blocked our way in a busy main road that was well lit. Suddenly they divided into 2 groups and approached us from the both sides. We found ourselves encircled in fury of holding, touching, groping, and probing accompanied by dirty words and vulgar language describing what each one of them was doing or wanted to do to us.

I never forgot, and never will, my feelings at the time. It was the first time I was touched in those parts of my body, and the first time I heard the words that were spoken, which I never imagined would ever be said to me. The strange thing is that there were a lot of people on the street that saw the act but walked on minding their own business. What is this? Where is honor? Where is the Egyptian manliness, dignity, and altruism that we’ve been hearing about since the day we were born? My only experience of this is weak and superficial gentlemanliness that was mostly closer to flirting than anything else. So it wasn’t just for the sake of it, and it might have been all because I am not ugly. (is that a crime???)

Anyways, I never thought I would ever see a day worse than this, or get harassed any more awful than this. After a short time, these harassments started repeating again: an animal on a bike would touch me from behind and sometimes the front as he quickly goes by, very dirty looks from shopkeepers, taxi drivers, and neighbors. Oh and what do you know about neighbors? I grew older and body changed, but I always thought that it was a good thing not something to be ashamed of ,or a source of harassment that my young mind and life-loving heart did not comprehend. I got scared of walking on the streets and started making rules on what I should and shouldn’t do to protect myself from their hungry eyes and hungry hands.

No going out on the street with tight jeans or a shorter shirt. No going out at all in the streets where the youth hang out for hours, which are well known in my small town. No need to put make-up or do my hair or pay too much attention to my looks. Why would I do that and for whom? Even my girlfriends’ thoughts became dominated by the stinky, radical, male-inspired ideas of the necessity of covering (hijab) the woman because she is a source of temptation that must be hidden. Maybe that’s from what they experienced too and maybe it’s from their ignorance and stupidity. I hated their disapproving looks at me when I wore something elegant that suits my age, personality, and taste and maybe even drew attention moderately and with modesty (what’s wrong with that?). I hated their silly remarks as if I was wearing what the belly dancers wore and not a normal jeans and shirt.

I changed the way I dress, and I neglected the way I look, yet I started to be experience a new type of harassment. What was strange was that some of it was worse than before, but I didn’t give up. I came up with a theory, which at the time I thought was brilliant. I lived in a small town that was surrounded by small villages. So I shouldn’t really take my liberty in wearing what I want as every place has it’s stature. I don’t even need to go on the street, as it’s no longer the place for people who want to maintain their self-respect. It’s enough that I used taxis to go to my friends’ houses or any other closed place. I hated the street, the people, and my looks, and I was on the verge of real depression until I decided to change my life and move to my uncle’s place in Cairo.

Yes, Cairo is bigger and the peasants are less and the harassments are less. No, sorry, they’re different but not less. I won’t be touched in every street but I can buy a 150LE ticket for live western band, meaning the people are mostly well-off and educated, and still get harassed by large numbers as if there was an implied agreement between the youth to do so. I would feel a touch in a sensitive area and turn to that direction to shout and fight but find a very cool and innocent response from the man. All the men around him would have the same reaction as if I was crazy and nothing happened. And when I look ahead someone else would touche me and the same thing repeats over and over again. I change my spot but another animal or animals would harass me in the same way as if it’s a group sex party not a concert.

Now I want a response to my question. What should I do? Should I not go out? Should I not go to live shows? Should I not walk on the street? Should I not swim when I go to Alexandria? What do I do? Hide? The stray dogs and cats walk go on the streets with no trouble! Are the women in Egypt now lower than cats and dogs?

Forget that, someone tell me what happened to the people? Did religion and morals become just superficial facades that have no base, importance, or meaning? Do men in Egypt really believe that sexual harassment and rape are earned rights? And is this a retarded male ideology or sexual suppression, or anger or what exactly?

Someone tell me, what happened to Egypt?

I Used To Think

In my last post, Paint It Black, I expressed my doubts that sexual harassment reached the EXTENT that the anonymous commenter Girl described. I just have not seen a lot of the things that she described in person. Since then however, I have read a LOT of posts and comments from Egyptian females describing very similar, disturbing, experiences in Egypt. Not a single girl came out to say that it was not a prevalent day-to-day occurrence. Based on this, I apologize for casting such doubts. The sexual harassment problem is as real as it is troubling.