Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Research in Egypt - On Counting Chicken

in my line of work we have to do alot of research, especially
about the market and industries and the economy, etc.
now if I want reliable information I would NEVER consider an
Egyptian source,
and when I do have to, I end up going to wezaret el zera3a
masalan to get info about poultry production in Egypt.
I have to get a very strong wasta... to tell me WHO to go to,
that person sends me from person to person, to person to
person, until I finally find a woman who lets go of her fool
and ta3meyya sandwich and leafs through her drawer for a
piece of wrinkled paper that I've been slaving after for at
least a month..
the piece of wrinkled, paper is battered and bruised and
outdated by at least two years.. it is also handwritten, and
I'm not allowed to photocopy it.(as ofcourse it's highly
confidential top secret information, god forbid you find out
the rate at which hens reproduce in Egypt)
so instead she lets me copy it. is that not duplication?
'no, no,' she explains, smiling at my naivety..
'you're not allowed to p-h-o-t-o-c-p-y' she elaborates as she
pats me on the back..
so I sit, and copy number by number down.. much to her
annoyance as she always wants to leave by one..
I win the lady over using my charm and she agrees to give me
the figures for at least another two years, so i can try to
come up with any kind of coherent trend or projection using
the figures.
now ofcourse if I look hard enough I can find some
information in the American chamber of commerce, or the US
agricultural development fund, or the FAO or other UN
but ofcourse, the figures never match..
so I try to get the updated figures from the foreign sources, and try
to fix my local sources, using interviews performed with
business men in the field.. so that they tie well with the
updated figures I got from the other sources.

Other industries involve trips to CAPMAS, maktab el ma3loomat
we da3m etekhaz el qarar, and kazza other wezara and institute
with very outdated mashkuk fee information, that for some
reason they assume is very confidential, when they don't EVEN
KNOW what it is :)

Otherwise, when it comes to information about the economy,
I'm lucky enough to have the EIU (Economist Intelligence
Unit) to refer to.. much more reliable.

The most disappointing realization, is not that we don’t seem to have any respectably credible or updated information anywhere, bas hte
implication behind that, and that's that we don't even
respect our resources , be they human, industrial, or
natural, enough to keep track of what we do and don't have...
it's not only disgraceful, it's very sad. it's like being
very ungrateful for what you have... we run after so much,
becuase more than anything we've no appreciation or
realization of what we do have.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Remembering "us"; Once Upon an AUC

I was staring out the window at everything and nothing in particular.
Then suddenly, i was on the Greek Campus.
Lots of noises. Lots of different kinds of noises, people, rustling leaves, (cling clang) something or someone banging on metals, laughter, discussion, teasing..
Trying not to look around so i don't catch someone's eye and look like i was staring..
Then I see Heeha..
(I'm on the plat stairs men 2odam el SS building)

She's walking up the stairs (men 3and squeezo.. only squeezo's no there) and skimmin the crowd.( Probably looking for me).

She's wearing her blue was3een pants (remember those?) and the white sleeveless tutti frutti top.. her back's straight. Empathetically straight.. too straight. To the extent that her chin is marfoo3 keda shwaya. The expression on her face is slightly serious.. to the wise eye a bit self conscious.. her mouth is slightly open, and one of her hands is holding the black strap of her big red bag.

Her hair's freshly washed, only recently dried, you know the phase where it's not curly, bas mekasar.. and just a bit fuzzy since it's just been washed? But not hayesh. She moves her head slightly from side to side, lifting her chin as she does, as if she's moving her hair off her neck, she thin turns to my direction. Sees me. Smiles and walks over, slightly swaying from side to side as she does. She sits down next to me (still smiling) and shouts "EZAYEK?!" and proceeds merrily..

Shwaya, and we see Rue coming out of the SS building (men el wesh.. where the art department used to be) she's wearing her black glasses (Round spectacles), red pants, a black sleeveless top.. she's walking towards us (though she doesn't see us yet) she hasn't decided where she's going, but she walks quickly, small gait, quick pace. Her long black curly hair (oh-oh it was black wasn't it? hehe) hangs over her shoulders, and the rest of it cascades down to her mid-back. She has some lipstick on (brown). She finally sees us, (by that time we'd watched her comb the crowd all around us, and yet miss us over and over again) she spots us. Stops abruptly as if shocked that we suddenly appeared in the picture, her face breaks into a wide smile (mouth slightly open) her face almost saying "eyh dah! there you are!" then she starts making her way towards us, pace, slower more comfortable, her head turned downwards SLIGHTLY as she chuckles to herself (mouth closed). She comes closer and attempts to bend down to greet us (kissingly), holding on to the strap of her long rectangular black bag, and we all giggle as she tries to avoid the azaleya problem.
The flash bash.

Then I close my eyes and laugh shwaya. Shift a little in the uncomfy sinking seat. I open my eyes again. This time I'm standing infront of one of the booths in greek. just finished talking to someone and sar7ana shwaya.. the noises around me are the most comfortable to my ears now. Nas keteer betekalem. All relatively happy voices, strong outbursts of laughter, notebooks being slammed on the tables, bamboo chairs scraping the ground as they're dragged around. The noises are comfy, i don't have a problem looking around, so long as i keep a small smile on my face, ready to widen when in faced with a familiar face. Then I see Heeha approaching. Very wide smile on her face, walking in small elegant strides in her high healed boots, wearing her jeans and a 3/4 sleeved top. white or beige I can't remember. She's making her way towards me (away from the SS building where the economics classes are) but the expression on her face is happy and relaxed, indicating she either just came men el beyt or the dr's office...
Her smile widens as she approaches, in a sort of "HA HAHA " motion. She's comfortable, now oblivious to the crowds around her. Once alien, now, familiar. She greets (kissingly) with an empathetic "MMWA" on each cheek. We giggle about something and see Rue making her way out of the JC, down the steps from the Cafe. She makes her way slowly, a pensive expression on her face, obviously out of a class where she'd been daydreaming some, wearing sunglasses tinted in purple, a matching, perfectly fitting purple top and her black pants. She goes down the steps slowly, temporarily startled out of her trance as miscellaneous fellow classmates say hello. She sees us (one way or the other ) and her face breaks into a smile, biting her tongue as she sticks it out at us slightly. At that she grabs both straps of her neat little red black pack, and skips down the stairs towards us, her (not quite curly, more wavy) shoulder length highlighted hair, obediently bouncing around her.

The threesome stand, trying to decide on something. Ru slightly purses her (lipglossed) lips, looking beyond us as she considers the alternatives someone just presented, she cocks her head slightly to the left, squinting a bit, then shifts her weight on the other foot and starts her suggestion with a "tayeb..." once again making eye contact with us.

Heeha's expression sobers a bit as she considers the possibilities, fingering the strap of her little black handbag with one hand, her other by her side, fiddling with her nails. She remembers to straighten her back suddenly, and moves her head slightly from one side to the other ( the same old motion, now more refined) and probably mainly to get her bangs out of her eyes). She blinks empathetically as she attempts to concentrate on our presented dilemma (probably to decide how the weekend should be spent, which Sharm- trip deal to consider, or something equally fatalistic). Suddenly she tires of all the seriousness, harrumphs and shifts her feet. As the conversation drones on, and the alternatives get more complicated, she presses her lips together and crosses her ‘mascarra’ed eyes...
All laugh. She catalyzes decision with a "Bosso ba2a...." probably preluded with a "ana zehe2t" or the results thereof... bearing in mind what more favorable destiny ( or who more favorable destiny) awaits in the cafe yonder... and Rues phone starts to ring... ( she fumbles in her bag... at least it's ringing so we know it's not lost,) flicks it out, listens skeptically then throws her head back in a laugh as she recognizes the caller's voice.. and starts swearing that she was going to call back wallahi but...

Heeha and I turn to each other simultaneously, pursed lips sway to one side in an "again expression" then burst in our own little giggles, Heeha's eyes disappearing in her face as she does so.
Our laughter blends in the sounds around us, contributing to what is a clamor of unfamiliar noises emitted by the 'more comfortable' to a newcomer passing by.