Monday, November 14, 2005

Epitaph on the Wrong Side of the River

Was walking through a park, considerably lost ,as has become part of my daily routine, when i came across one of a thousand other slabs of stone, with lots of names scribbled on them and a statute of a struggling soldier untop.
The 'slabs' are usually a sort of monument for all those that died for king and country in different sorts of wars etc.
So anyways, as i rushed passed this one, my eye caught one name; "Rafa".
A few steps away, it suddenly occoured to me that "Rafa" is actually very close to "Rafa7" and could be the name of an Eyptian/Palestinian soldier! So i hopped all the way back.

Reading the names more clearly i found;


Gaza 1
Gaza 2
Beer Sheba
Bir Khu Weilfe
Hill 265

Except for 'hill 265' (they numbered them?!) while reading the other names, immediately the picture of palestinian children sitting on the ground cross legged calling out name and each of these countries came to mind. Taught to name them with precise articulation, they were always ready to indicate the precise location of their homes on an imaginery map, (or even draw one for you) as well as recounting all the landmarks and qualities and fruits each of these places were famous for.

Warmed by the memory but slightly alarmed, i skipped to the very first column that read;


Al Arish

This ofcourse sprung a little chorus of "baladiiii ba7ebaha, kol 7etta fe baladi.. balaadiii ya walllaaa..."
And ofcourse my heart skipped a beat with the memories of the smooth stretching sands of bahariya and dakhla and all the little hills and '3agabat' i had climbed with friends and family as we conquered them as our own..
as well as the sea shells on al arish's beautiful seashores, the spectacular red-cross stitch embroidery on the scarves and gallabeyyat, and the beautifully windy family vacation we spent there.

Reading on next there was;


Jordan Valley
Modawara (Hedjaz)

With this i was catapulted back to teh winding moutenous (or were they actually hilly?) streets of Amman (wonder if they attempted to re-number those!), and the tense yet mind replinishing week i spent in Aqaba with Palestine and the occupied territories only miles away, their lights shining through our view of the sea every night. So silent was the view, and yet so noisy and mind boggling their angry debates and internal struggles as they attempted to create a 'vision for peace' 'reconciliation' or 'co-existance' in the building behind us.
(Slightly daunted, as they were, by the recent events in Amman..)

Warmed by the memories, but chilled by the implications of their engraves on such a slab, i hurried over to the other side;

"To the glorious and immortal memory fo the officers, NCO's adn men of the imperial Camel Corps, British, Australian, New Zealand, Indian, who fell in action/died of wounds and diseases in Egypt, Sinai and Palestine"

Perplexed, I stood there for a long while trying to contemplate how it felt having so much of my warmest memories of a larger, more extended 'home', engraved on the slab, and an epitaph to those who threatened it on the other side..
How did i feel about their deaths?
i had always sympathized powerfully, with those that died in the WTC, the British/American soldiers that may have been brainwashed into fighting in Iraq, those forced to fight and stormed into trauma and PTSD's in Vietnam, even the israeli soldier that swore at me powerfully and threatened to crack my head open with a large stone in an ugly encounter on the borders of southern lebanon, had aroused much of my pity. He could not have been older than his late teens and was so full of anger and aggression towards someone he barely knew.

I could not feel anything human for these. i could not even try. Perhaps it was the sudden rush of warm memories and the (ironic) pride of finding 'names' so personal and close to heart engraved on one side of a stone, and a cold, chilly prospect on the other?

Shaken out of my trance-like daze, i decided to proceed with my treck, and asked a passer-by if she knew the way to my inteded destination.
She cocked her head to one side and squinted, getting her barings straight, then suddenly her face broke into a smile and she said;

"You're on the wrong side of the river luv.."

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bab El Shams

An open evening with Elias Khoury seemed like 'another interesting thing to do', I had seen the movie and was infinitely moved, my own subjective love for a country and it’s people playing a huge part, the extent to which the movie exposed ‘real lives’ raw emotions, love , war, separation, and one of the cruellest realities in history another. However, I emerged from the lecture, eyes wide, heart racing, thoughts bouncing across my head in Brownian motion, and could not wait to share the events of the night to anyone who had the time for a good inspiration.

The evening was launched and moderated by novelist an historian; Tariq Ali. He began by asking Elias Khoury to read an extract from his book to the audience, after which a discussion would be launched.
Elias held up the book, looking at it sceptically and spoke to the audience of how "Amazing" and yet "Strange" it is to read a book which he's written in Arabic; in English.

"It's strange to find myself finding characters whom I’ve known and lived with for years suddenly speaking so many other languages.. and so much more fluently than I do!"
It seemed they had developed lives of their own, and continued to speak to thousands of people all over the world, in a million different languages.

The only common one being, that of humanity. This was, after all, a love story. The love story never told.

1. Kan ya makan... Once upon a time...

The story starts with Khalil, the son of Younis the main character, telling a comatose Younis bits and pieces of his own story.
Khalil told these stories in attempts to keep Younis alive, to save his own life! (as he was in hiding in the hospital and could only stay there as long as his father lived)

Khoury compared this to Shahrazad's One thousand and One nights, where she told the king stories day after day, so that she may entertain him enough to delay her execution one day after another.

Shahrazad, however told the stories of other people; people that did not exist. The idea behind Khalil’s story telling however was how he opened the story for other people to join in and contribute. And it is through telling their aspects of the stories that these people came to life.. they had a history a background, a character, feelings, a life; an identity.

Once Khalil mingled his story with those of all the others, the picture of Palestine was created, it's people, it's culture, it's music, it's events all came to life, living, breathing , existing in our imaginations.

2. A Love Story

This story is a love story. And that is all Khoury had set out to write. However, it was not only the story of Younis' love to Nahila, but Khoury's love to the Palestinian people.
“You open any TV or Radio station and you will hear the Arabs speak of the Palestinian cause, the Right of return, the situation in the occupied territories; they love Palestine. But the Palestinian people they love not. I wrote this book about my love for the Palestinian people.”

This book was about Younis, a Palestinian from the Village of Galilee, now a part of Israel. He married Nahila when she was only a child, an activist since young age, he spent his youth fighting the British. In 1948, he and Nahila are separated as he ends up as a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, and she is stuck with her parents in law in Galilee.

“The strangest and most beautiful thing about this story is that 10 years into their marriage, and as Younis risks everything to go back to seeing Nahila, Younis and Nahila finally fall in love.”

“This is strange,” Khoury recounts, “because usually, ten years into a marriage, it is someone else's wife we fall in love with.. not our own."

3. A Language

In order to write this story, Khoury, spent much time in the refugee camps of Lebanon, particularly Shatilla, as that is where most Jalilee'ans had ended up.
He sat with the people of '48 , not only to hear the stories of what had happened and how it actually happened, but also to grasp the "Jalileean dialect" from it's nationals and make sure he uses it well in the dialogues in the book.

He looks back at the book as he mentions this detail, his nose a little wrinkled in perplexity;
"Yes, I was actually trying hard to investigate the Jalilee accent.. they don't really actually speak English as you might hear them now.."

4. A People: Om Hassan

The Passage Khoury was about to read us, was one of Om Hassan's. Om Hassan was a woman, who like many others, after the singing of Oslow, was permitted to return to her home-land, her village, her house, just to visit, just to see what had become of it.

Khoury explained that it was after this treaty and also in 1967 that the borders were opened for many Palestinians to visit their homelands and return to their displacements. At this time, many a home comers, would take video cameras with them to take shots of the place to take back ‘home’.
Overwhelmed with the experience and lack of experience in film making, the movies actually ‘showed’ very little. However, once taken back to the families, a minute of a poor shot movie would be translated into a million stories of the meaning and significance of each spot.
Thus it is through their stories, not the places, that their Palestine, their identity, their belonging came to life.

Om Hassan went to visit her house in the village, and though most houses had been demolished, hers was still there. Looking a bit newer, however.

Om Hassan surveyed the house , the garden, the tree in the backyard, saying very little as she reminisced the significance of all she saw.
Until they approached the house and knocked on the door.

An old woman, hair black, streaked with white opened the door, and much to their surprise , refused to speak in Hebrew and spoke to them in Arabic.

This woman was a Jew of Lebanon, who had lost her own place there in the civil war.
She let Om Hassan and her brothers in, and Om Hassan marvelled, as many a Palestinian did at returning to their homes, how most of the furniture and setting of her house, had barely changed.

This was a very powerful passage, powerful in the surge of feelings conveyed to us through Om Hassan, the fear, the disbelief, the ecstasy, the nostalgia, the memories.. and what i imagine might have been bewilderment, at coming this close, feeling this at home, and knowing that it was no longer yours, knowing that soon you would leave, and bid it's inhabitant good bye.

The power of the passage reached a peak, when Khoury described that upon finding out Om Hassan was Palestinian, the woman told her, (and i paraphrase)
"Return me to Beirut, and I would give you the WHOLE of Palestine!!"

How painful that must have been. If only it were hers to take. If only what was rightfully hers was hers to reclaim.

6. An existence

Rather than ‘telling’ their story, Khoury had always described how his characters came to life to him so that he suddenly felt they were speaking to him, that he was listening to them and conveying their stories to the others. With that, khoury emphasized that a writer's primary role is to 'listen' and convey, and not to 'tell'.

He had felt the strength of his characters and the pertinancy of their existence, when upon giving a lecture about the book, an old french woman called out from the audience asking Khoury to forget about literature and symbolisms.. "I really loved Nahila.. tell me more about her; the real person.."
Khoury laughed and explained that Nahila was only a character, had she been real, he would have married her, and not written about her!
Though the audience erupted in laughter, the old lady joined him once again, a little agitated, and demanded he speak to her of Nahila.
When once, again Khoury tried to assert that Nahila did not exist, the old woman stomped off, angry and exasperated..

"This.." Khoury explained "is the best thing that can happen to a writer.. that the people believe your characters, more than they would believe you.."
emphasizing the extent to which Khoury's characters had suddenly come to life.

Upon finishing the book, Khoury explained he felt very sad at finally having to part with his characters.
He also envied them. He envied Younis his Nahila, and Nahila her Younis. He envied them their struggle, their strength, their resistance, he envied them their love for each other and for their Palestine.

Question and Answer Session

1. This book was translated into Hebrew; what were the reactions to this?

Khoury explained that the reactions were actually very positive, the full stock of 5,000 copies were sold in one year and more were republished.

Khoury recounted a story of being in Canne, where the film was being shown, and at which point an Israeli woman stepped out at the interval crying and explaining to people that a number of mistruths were being communicated in the movie.

A younger man then walked up to her and told her taht he had just called his grandfather and asked him of specific events, and if this is the way they had attained their homeland, and his grandfather said to him;

"And how do you think Nations are built...?"

The book, to some, Khoury believed, was a discovery.

2. A recurring theme or thread that seemed to run through the story, was Younis' cries, "Men el Awwal", or "From the beginning" every time a significant event occurred. Will you tell us more about that?

The first way that Khoury explained this, was that every time something went wrong, it was to Younis, another Nakba, another mistake, another catastrophe, so it was as if it was happening all over again, bringing them back to the very beginning, the very big Nakba that must be overcome, for all else to be settled.

The Second, is that seeing that it is impossible for us to 'undo' history, we have to find ourselves a beginning to start from, to claim as our own. For the Palestinians to exist , they must begin. And through living and resisting, explained Khoury, they are beginning!

4. Must one be Palestinian to write a Palestinian story?

"I am not a Palestinain" explains Khoury as he reveals his Lebanese Origin.

He then tells the story of Margerit Duraz, a French writer.
Who , upon being asked as to her origins, post world war 2, claimed she was Jewish.
Margerit, was of course not Jewish, however it was because of the drastic events of World War II, that the Jews were seen as the most 'human' of all people..
because their stories as people, had become known to all, through their suffering.

And thus, wanting to be acknowledged as a human, and a wounded one at that, Margerit, claimed she was Jewish.

"I feel Palestinian, simply because I am a Human being.."

5. How long do you think the Palestinians can maintain their identity.. their culture, their customs their rights and their belonging..

"At least another 2,000 years... Just as the Israeli's have managed too.." replied khoury with a wry smile.

Throughout the seminar, Khoury kept emphasizing the importance of stories, and how the essence of an identity will always be best promoted and expressed, through them. We come to life through our stories, through stirring other's imaginations to see all the pictures, emotions and sensations in our heads. And it is through these stories and these memories that the Palestinians will continue to strive, resist and survive.

"Palestine needs more of these stories, than it does any other ideological discourse. This was my love story to Palestine. And in the struggle to verify our different versions of history, it is the story and not the history, that can prevail..."

Monday, November 07, 2005

On Home...(and polk-a-dot umbrellas)

I flicked open my brown polk-a-dot umbrella and held it up high, marveling as I did at how it managed to shield all four of us, giggling and snuggling, out of the pouring rain.
My umbrella, more a polk-a-dot statement, than a real mobile shelter from the storm, was usually barely enough to shield my own head. Looking at it now however; I realized it hovered above all of us, keeping the raindrops away.

A few hours earlier, other warm notions and concepts, memories and ideas had hovered above us all as we tried to revive the old "Eid" cheer with Ghorayebba, and a general "hey heyh heyyyyh" attitude. It is in warm get togethers, with people that not only share your 'origins' but your active state of belonging, that Eid, Ramadan, and even Masr, come to life and hover above us all, rather than seeming like a distant memory as one tries to revive it on his or her own.

My favorite ‘hovering memory’, was that of my last felucca ride in Cairo. Felucca rides with close friends were always ones to deeply refresh one's mind and spirit.

Catapulted by the wind into the very heart of Cairo, and yet experiencing it as an onlooker, rather than being trapped inside the grind, Cairo, or to me 'Masr' always looked and felt beautiful when seen as the Nile might see it.
The wind, breezing through us, sent both; wisps of our hair and our imagination wildly prancing, created the perfect mood for a final recollection.
We marveled at Magles qeyadt el sawra, Kobry el Abbas where the students of the 1919 movement were shot and fallen to their deaths, Cairo's age old hotels, the Manial Palace gardens, and other places that strongly signify all this country has experienced as it continued to develop and reproduce itself.
We spoke to the 'rayess' as we usually did and marveled, again as we usually did at his perspectives on our Egypt. This time he spoke of being an Egyptian from Alexandria coming to 'Masr' for work, and spoke at length of the implications of his reference to ‘Masr’ el nadahha, rather than greater Cairo. His accounts were as enlightening as previous accounts of how he was forced to vote, and yet others of how 'el nas el shoghayarra' in this country are always subject to the will and rule of 'el nas el kebeera'.

Would it always be like this?
Under another Mubarak term, if Ayman Noor had come to power, if the Muslim brotherhood tookover, if the current religious tensions increased...
Would we come back to find it different...?

Our visualization of the scenarios was strictly limited to how all this would affect our experience in our felucca ride. We were somehow in the heart of our Masr, and yet somehow viewing it from an outside perspective.

Would the Magles still be there, would the Kobry, would someone , would anyone remember their stories? Would the buildings change in colors, would more old ones be torn down? Would the pollution affect our wisps our wind, would technology decrease our humidity, would the rayess be replaced, would he have as much freedom to speak? His smile as wry, his accounts as pertinent..?

Would I ever return to find my Egypt as it was to me...
Would I recognize it? Would I hold it as dear?
Would I be the same..?
Would too many lost Eids and too many nostalgic nights and too many hovering memories return us to a home we no longer recognized?

"We are all dispossessed of our childhoods; we return to a remembered or imagined scene to find at best frayed edges and faded colors. I say 'at best' ; for many of us the changes are more than the effects of time and an altered consciousness " Ahdaf Soueif

My incessant resorting to Ahdaf Soueif and Edward Said's writings over the last week, did not seem to me as anymore than my regular interest in my two favorite writers, despite the endless reading lists provided to me by university that only came second to them...
Until I suddenly found myself, as Eid rounded the corner, frantically switching from one writer to another, basking in, and savoring their memories of Egypt, and particularly the Zamalek I love so dearly.

Said's Egypt, was that of the 40's, a place almost unrecognizable in it's description, save for the occasional streets and venues (such as the fish garden), where I could share the warmth in relating to their respective memories. Soueif's Egypt was that of the late 60's, and though the places were much more familiar, they had very little traces of Said's older extinct Cairo, and a few touches of the all the social and political events, that now constitute a significant controversial part of our history and shaped the Egypt we live in today.

It was through contemplating Said's, and Soueif's very different Egypts, that I suddenly feared, that mine too would become a memory...reduced to a set of notions and pictures in my head… and occasionally hovering above a group of our heads’…

I had extracted this quote from Ahdaf's account on Said's and her Egypt, and how much of it was now in their memory, how little actually still existed.
More accurately, I would say the quote extracted me.

It was not only the realization that as her and Said's Cairo's had slowly faded and frayed, that mine too might eventually as well, but I was also suddenly struck with, and slowly assimilating the fact that it is impossible to return to a childhood scene and find it the same in anyway.
Just as it is impossible to revive any notion , emotion, experience, perception or conception that was developed at a particular time or place, in a particular context that no longer exists.

Perhaps, then, It is best to preserve these notions, these memories, with all the people, places, feelings, music, and events that accompany them, safe and sound in our little memory boxes, and attempt in their warm light to create the same pleasant 'feelings' and 'situations' of the new context.

How, however would I apply this to my own home.
Would I bear to live in it, if I no longer recognize it? Will it be as easy to return?
Will I still feel part of it? Or will I like a foreigner, find it impossible to adapt, like a grandmother, constantly rant and rave at things 'were before'.

"The best is to consider that we have a home nowhere, and only then does one really love the world..." Edward Said (Out of Place)

To the best of my understanding, Said found his situation as an exile, one that worked to his extreme advantage, that "Never feeling fully adjusted, always feeling outside the this metaphysical sense is restlessness, movement constantly being unsettled, unsettling others" (Representations of the Intellectual) , this "willed homelessness" as he described it, gave him the power and ability to truly make the best of each of his experiences, to see the truths in all of them, rather than constantly compare certain experiences to others, holding them against each other, or simply trying to revive the old ones ignoring the new ones.

I tried to compare Edward's description of his "willed homelessness" to my frantic attempts to create the Ramadan and Eid atmospheres of my old life, what he would call "the earlier and perhaps more stable condition of being home" in my new one here in England.
It was my strongest blow and realization that I was quite far away from home, when I failed to re-create that atmosphere and homeliness and discovered that a new sort of experience was on call.

Perhaps if I stop trying so hard to link my Egypt, if I let go of the powerful notion of it as my only home, to which I must inevitably return, and for which my every effort exerted, every experienced endured was dedicated to, I would settle in more easily in this new world, and perhaps be a little less torn to return to my other.

Perhaps though Said's awareness that there was no home to return to gave him a "unique pleasure" and a heightened sense of awareness to all that went on around him, what I imagine would be a sort of 'emancipation', perhaps I too would be able to emancipate myself in realizing that as I was to grow and change, so would my country, and that for either of us, this change might not necessarily be for the best. But it makes us both wiser and richer.

I do not feel homesick in London. That is , I do not feel particularly 'exiled’ here, or much like an outsider. Perhaps, of course it is my conscious will to come and begin here, but also because it is the world with which's literature and language I have been introduced to the world. It was both the language of instruction of my education, and the country of which most of my literary background and experiences had originated.
The people, their nature and accent are no less familiar to me, than any other people I had grown up with, its transport system, its streets, its venues, not at all unfamiliar to my eye or mind. And perhaps these are all things one should be wary of to ensure that one is never too familiar, never too comfortable to feel the 'jolt' of awareness that unsettlement provides, to keep one alert and understanding, to keep one critical , skeptical, questioning, probing, unsettling those around them at all times.

I do not feel like an outsider in London. But it is before I sleep, almost every night, that I recollect and reminisce bits and pieces of my Egypt, the one I am not too sure I will re-experience again..

I remember the owner of the kiosk in Aswan refusing to take money for my drinks after a short conversation,
I remember the women I worked with in a micro-credit project in Moqattam telling me that tomorrow was bound to be a better day, no matter how drastic her situation was simply because "no matter how dark it gets at night, the sun will come up every morning.." punctuating it with a smile..
I remember the little boy wandering up and down the Nile banks of Garden City, selling necklaces made out of seashells he collected off the beach 'back home' in Arish, where he lives on weekdays, and my internal dilemma of whether this is unjust child labor, or whether his excitement at the sales of his creative produce are worthwhile..
I remember how we were attacked in the last protest, my disbelief at the looks in the eyes of the amn markazy, and the shake in my belief of Egyptian 'values',
I remember my expidatory walks down El Ghoreyya with my father,
my love for downtown's architecture and all the various civilizations it symbolizes,
I remember how easy it was to go jogging in the club, or walk into any cafe and know I will meet someone I know..
how much I love our traditional walks in Zamalek..
how colorful and noisy and musical and chaotic my shisha infested Egypt was in Ramadan,
how easily a 'nasty' government official can be turned over with a smile, and strong attempt to break the sarcasm, and how you can be suddenly transformed from 'despicable enemy' to trusted confident as she starts to describe her husband with "Shuf el raaaagel.." (Will you take a look at what that man's done...")

I miss it. And I Love it.
And I am no longer optimistic about finding it again.
"At Best", because I too, will have changed.
Perhaps it is up to one to consider all with;

"Pessimism of the Intellect and Optimism of the Will". Gamsci.

Though one may see all the negatives or pitfalls of the situation, one considers all with the will to make it and see it in a better light. Or one is at least hopeful. Somehow.

No. I may not be 'homesick' in London.
But I cannot deny that every time Yenassam 3alaya el Hawwa men Mafra2 El Wady;
I think to myself; "Ya Hawwa, dakhl el hawwa... [1]"

[1] From Fairuz's Song "Nassam 3alayna el Hawwa"

Friday, November 04, 2005

العيد ب"حاله" جديد

I had tried as with many other 'notions' and 'experiences', to recreate my 'eid experience' here in London.. but failed miserably.
Maybe some things are best kept as memories.
Some notions, experiences, emotions and conceptions are best remembered at the time and place and context they were experienced at.
And maybe that isn't a bad thing after all...
Every situation, event and experience, is a direct result of the combination of people, the time, the place, and the person you are on the inside at that particular point in time.
Thus the effect of the experience, with all the music, culture and emotions that represent it, and are produced by it, are unique and special in their individual entirity, and cannot be reproduced.
We are, I guess then, to make the best of every new situation, and better yet, every new 'us' in creating 'notions' and 'experiences' that are particular to our new context.
"We are all dispossessed of our childhoods; we return to a remembered or
imagined scene to find at best frayed edges and faded colours" Ahdaf Soueif
Sometimes we even return to the site of a special memory, and discover we are so much bigger in size, that even the attempts to re-experience or relive , become distorted.
Perhaps then, it is best we savor those memories of how it once was, how it once felt, and attribute them to all their different phases, and strive in the warmth of those memories, to create new ones.
To recreate the same 'feelings' and similar 'experiences' making the best of all the new 'elements' of our new context.
The new people, the new music, the new context and the new 'us'.
They will be different.
But perhaps even in that difference we will create more memories worthy of a whimsical smile, and a yearning once again, for what once was.
"Pessimism of the intellect, Optimism of the will" ? Anotnio Gramsci

Eid Eid Eid....

I rushed into the tube station for shelter after another greusome and futile struggle against the wind, armed with little more than my polkadot (inside-out turning) umbrella.

As i regained my composure, i spotted a little stand with a vast array of chocolates, sweets, cookies, drinks, nothing i wanted in particular, but everything that could meet my fluttering, no longer fasting, heart's desire :)
On approaching the stand i was welcomed by a realy warm smile and the tradional "Oi Love.."
sounded a bit like an irish/scottish drawl, but, then again, what would i know :)

I picked out a pack of chewing gum, and looked at the salesman inquisitively, "That'll be 40 pence, darlin'"
I smiled back again, always touched at the affectionate "passing endearments"...
I spotted a pack of tissues, and figured, that too would be a worthwhile purchase,
"And those?" i asked..
"Sure Darlin', would you like it in pink or orange.."I smiled, touched again, as he decided pink would suit me best..
I payed, and he returned the change with much affection and warmth and kindness, transmitting what i felt were phsychological 'hug vibes' all the way.

As i prepared to leave, he cocked his head to one side, looking a bit unsure, then with another strong beam and mispronounciations, awkwardly blurted:

"Eid Saeed?"

I reacted with a sharp intake of breath as my eyes widened, my eyebrows raised, my mouth stretched wide on either side of my face and my chin dropped considerably..
Yes, my face, had grown considerably.
He had uncovered my best kept special secret.
Elnahardah eidey :)

I smiled and loudly very excitedly replied "Aywa! aywa! Thank you!"
and attempted to send back as many hug vibes as i could.. as he stood there beaming back at me, proud of his gesture.

I stood back waiting for my train and kept trying to figure out what gave me away?
Where they my extra-neat curls i had laborously attempted to tame this morning for the occassion?my crisp, well-matched outfit?
My complexion?
Maybe, my favorate azza fahmy necklace, given to me by my mother on my last birthday; a string of green and purple semi precious stones, and a big dangling pendat that read "Al omr el Salem" in beautifully caligriphied arabic..

Nonetheless,i sat in the train, catapulted, for some reason, into a string of childhood memories of all that eid ever was.
My father bouncing on our beds (my brother and i) on eid mornings chanting
"Eid eid eid..
eid eid eid..."

Picking out presents in our favorate toystores and being told "dee ba2a men teyta..." "dee amo mamduh.."
And i would wonder incessently, did teyta from egypt somehow predict i would choose those toys but tell dad to let me pick them out on my own, ultimately believing i had chosen my own presents?
Choosing to believe in magic, fantasy and the power of my special family's crystal balls, i would never bother to ask.

Later on , in the Egypt eid's, the eideyya that was popped into our pockets, in the joking "here's your ba2shish for today manner.." or ta3aly bas 3ayzaky fe kelma..

The ka7k i would remind myself every year, did not agree much with my tastebuds, but can never seem to resist every time it comes 'round.. for three consequative days, before i remember again, "Maba7ebuhush aslan!!"

The family trips to the desert, sitting in a circle, each telling bits and pieces of a story and coming up with one ridiculous bundle..

The little presents i would buy family members (whom i couldn't offer '3eideyas) depending on 'what' i felt 'represented' or 'reminded me' of whom..

The all day family get togethers, of one meal after the other, when at teh end of every ramadan we remind ourselves that we were sick adn tired of food.. come first day of eid, it was food fest once again!

Za7met sherra hudum el eid that hit cairo once "wala lessa badry badry ya shahr el seyyam.." started to play on radios and tvs..
all the new frilly dresses and neatly piled "2ossas" on little girls' forheads, and the perfect "bedal el geysh" or little suits worn by little boys..

The concept that no matter what was due where, no matter what had to be done, first day of eid was sacred "nothing to do-ness" and complete familyness..
and no matter how much of it's splendour it had started to loose as i grew older, i always woke up wtih a tiny lit special feeling inside me...

Being away from "it all" and my family in particular, the fact that life didn't stop, and that london seemed quite indifferent to my special little secret, made me feel forgotten by all eid's splendours..
as if i was too far away for it to reach me..

But i wore an outfit, not new, but very recently purchased by my last shopping spree with my mother.. (my favorate shopping partner!)
I went out for breakfast and treated myself to a warm espresso and scrumptious chocolate chip cookies with my best friend..
and plan for a special dinner with my entire warm, loving family, all encapsulated in one very special heart and soul mate.

There's little ka7k, little heyssa, little 'pause' from it all...
But i'm sure it took my family alot of effort to create that atmosphere for us, that eventually implanted itself inside me, and all around me..

Some things are just what you make of them :)
And some occassions are worth making the best of...

Eid saeed awey :)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

عيد .... وبأى حال جئت يا عيد؟

Amazing how your throat constricts and a pool of tears can immediately fill ur eyes upon a certain 'thought'.
Almost like a 'sadness button' is pushed, triggering the tear duct hose, and pulling the throat muscles back.. Making way for the flood of warmth and wetness, and occassional intakes of breath that can relieve chest heaviness like nothing else.

It's eid today. And I guess motanaby's phrase " و بأى حال جئت يا عيد" resonates in my head, for many meanings which he may not have even alluded to..

وبأى حال جاء عيدى...أحقاًِ جاء عيدى؟؟
لن أجده بعد
I thought to myself this morning, if it is "Eid" that comes or "el" "eid"...
If it is merely 'eid' that comes, than it is an event, and in reply to the question "El nahardah eid?" you can either answer ' yes' or 'no'.. the question of whether or not you celebrate it, goes back to you..
However if it's "el" "eid", than it is the time for it.. it's the time we've been anticipating and waiting for and it 'comes'.
The notion of the 'coming' of days and occassions, was revealed to me as quite delusionary this ramadan. I waited for the 'ramdan feeling' to come and it never did..
Eventually though, it came to make sense.
Ramadan started late october, and no day was realy any different than the other; it's just the series of events that hit Cairo in ramadan that hit you like a wave and take you through the summersaults and turbulences, the peaks and troughts, the ecstacy and the mere starvation, one day after the other, till your thrown on the sunny shores of a warm comfortable and even lazier eid...
Eid meant family, above anything else, it meant new clothes. It meant kahk, smiley faces adn cheerful moods regardless of what might be going on inside you..
It meant going out somewhere new, enjoying old familiar warm, favored company..
We didn't get to buy our new clothes here, as it just never seemed to gain enough priority to push it up the list..
There's realy no time for spending much time together as there is work, and a number of other commitments taht seemed to have pushed themself above el eid, no matter how high up i tried to push it, at least on the day that was attributed to it.
It scares me.
It scares me that something is practiced beautifuly and sacredly my whole life through, and suddenly on discounting a few physical experiences (a meal with a loved one, an outing, new garments), i loose it...
Needless to say, i have not made us worthy of a 'eid coming' or a 'eid visit'.
And so i start my day alone, with clothes that wear me well, with little excitement, except for the fact , that once again, i can have my cheese sandwhiches for breakfast... my cookies whenever i please.
The day is no longer crammed into it's last few hours; the world is mine to explore and experience any time of day..
But what if it never comes again?
What if i can no longer enjoy the 'break', the way everything stops, and all pays head to family traditions, to big gatherings, to little work and much play, to laughter and ka7k adn jokes and laziness and phonecalls and giggles, warm hearts and the excitment of wearing something 'NEW'.
The carefreeness that can turn us all to children.
Life proceeds normally in this busy london where everyone is going or coming from somewhere.. and where i to shall join in, on my somehwere... and back again.
Maybe it'll all stop for christmas. And there will be taht laziness and specialness... Maybe i should start investing in trees and gifts under the trees.
Will it matter?
It will not be about the event that christmas stands for, but all that christmas at teh heart of it signifies. It will be about warmth, togetherness and the excitment of making someone happy and the anticipation of all that has been done for you...
We make our own worlds; true.
Perhaps my eid was warmer and more significant than that of others...
Will i re-experience it once i return to Egypt? or does it change shape and form, as my role as my parent's daughter adn a member of that warm nuclear family changed shape and form as well as i tore myself out of it...
Or maybe it's floating around in all the confusion floating around me as i unsettled all the dust that are my values, priorities, objectives adn aspirations as i make several new steps on unfamiliar, but much cherished grounds...
I guess only time will tell.
Time for my legitimized cookies..

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Aho Geyh Ya Welad

mesh to2ulu..:)

every year, and particularly at this time of year, ( as some of you might remember), i used to send very animated messages to 'alert' for the onset of another ramadan, or another eid..

it would be something like the "Ahlan ramadaaaan..." song, with a complete description of the chorus, adn the ridiculousness and shrillness and beauty of the song, taht was implanted in each of our memories, regardless of whether or not we wanted it there..

or it would be drawing a picture of welad running all over the place as i sang "Aho-h geyh ya welad.."

i'm sure the humour, if any was found at all, was in the fact that i triggered a very common, an almost 'shared' imagination.. based i guess on similar backgrounds, or inevitably the same tv channels, or radio stations humming for a considerable number of years..

i think, regardless of whether or not we enjoy or celebrate ramadan, or what it realy meant or signified to us.. no one can deny that it 'COMES'...
it's not a month you arrive at, as you make your way through the year..

no , this one;
it comes.

the amar el din stocks up in the supermarkets, only to suddenly vanish, and then slowly regularly make it's way back into the market in teh sufficient or demand meeting amounts.. the bala7, the crowds after noon, tilll right before the madfa3, and the eerily empty roads for the half hour or so, when everyone's gulping something down somewhere...
the non-productive hours at work.. the sudden sleeplessness, the long nights, the different sounds of tarawee7 and tahaggud prayers, often times musical, or spiritually refreshing..

el fawanees, the sweet, shisha infested 2a3dat, on a completley full stomach , adn the sweet aftertaste of atayef and konafa and bala7 el sham in your mouth..

the friends.. teh family , the family the family...

beyeegy ya welad, we ahlan ramadaaan, we bnefra7lu, we ba3den before you know it, wala lessa badry badry, and suddenly el balaleen wel la7ma, we ahlaaaaan ahlan bel 3eid. heyh heyh eyyyhh?

henna ba2a magash.

i always knew it was gonna be 'ba3d mawsal london beshwaya' we ba3deyn i knew it was el esbu3 el gay..
then it was bokra, aw ba3du..
then a few phonecalls from egypt later..
it was bokra.
and we slept the night, and bokra came..

bas bardo magash.

el welad magush. they didn't come runing through, or singing from side to side, la huwwa ganna, wala ana 3ereft afra7lu...

i waited..
i waited for teh fasting to sink in..
though it is a tad more difficult, because no one else aroundyou is doing it, and actually suddenly ti seems like, barely anyone walks around without a drinking or eating something, it actually makes the sprititual aspect of fasting more apparent.
ofcourse, becuase ur starvation speaks much louder to you.

bas that's if you tried hard to find it.
i tried a great number of other ways as well..

we have a few gatherings every now and then..
and i guess teh biggest difference would be the fact that i've been working on bonding iwth the oven lately.. in an attempt to help it co-operate with me in producing food on our table..

bas still. ofcourse, everything is 'different'..
bas bardo, the fact remainds en huwwa magash..

there's something realy strong about community and culture adn togetherness, and the words, and songs, and tunes and eventually music that develops out of that togetherness..

there's a sort of euphoria keda that comes through when a group of people get together to do something..
not only if all are doing it with excitment.. even if some are doing it wtih exctimetn and others with a groan..

i'm sure there's one aspect of ramadan we all used to look forward to , even if we don't enjoy it all together..

i was one of those people who love it inside out.
it meant so much.. it signalled so much..
it came in so quickly adn hugged so tightly,i just had to giggle and enjoy it.. else i'd have been suffocated, no?

so it's ramadan adn i'm fasting,and drastically trying to think of what we're going to do about eid..

eid has gradually meatn less and less as we've grown older, bas it still 'meant'.
it at least 'meant' family, and vacation, and indigestion at so much food so early in the day..
i don't want eid to go away too.
or maybe that's exaggerating.
i just don't want it, not to be there.

we had our first 3ozuma today..
our very first :)
and i cooked too :)

and suddenly there's a new social circile we're developing, or maybe, one i'm newly fitting in..
a few people i've known forever andmean the world to me, some i used to make eye contact and smile at when in uni.. somei'd heard about and never seen, some i'd had casual relationships with.. some i'd met at some early point in my life, and never seen again adn suddenly run into here..
suddenly they've all come together, and it feels we are being recycled into friends :)

is that putting it in a bad way?
it's actually realy nice.

you re-discover people you thought you think you knew, or you have such an old pic of in ur mind,and u bring it out and dust it and actively converse with add more color and meaning and you find yourself more and more in all the different shades..

so we start over again..

and i look at my pics of el fara7..
and i think of all the memories we have with each adn every single person..

all the funny things we've done.. all the serious things we've decided to do, all the things we succeeded at, all we failed at, all we've seen dand done together..
and it's all very deeply engraved within me..

when will i see everyone again?
will it be as easy to pick up on an old story and laugh.. or pick up on anything and laugh again?
will we be able to build things together again?
there will always be so much in common i know..
either because we've grown so much of ourselves together, or simply because we're all growing towards similar ends, hopes dreams...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

El Nas el Soghayara

It's very interesting how you only ever feel/discover ur bruises the very next day.
And how in exploring the bruises, and the different levels of hurt and pain associated with them that you start to recall and realize the sort of experiences you've had that lead to them.
And only then that you re-experience the whole experience...
and all the feelings you stashed away come out; demanding to be dealt with, and all those you overlooked, tugging at your sleeve..

"Putting your foot down", has alot of images and associations with it.
I autmatically imagine; feet placed firmly on the ground, back straight, and the occasional raf raf of the 3alam in teh background.
Strong in intent, true to a cause, fighting for what you believe in.
You imagine honor, dignity, truth, 'peace of mind' and often even triumph.

Attempt to put our feet down yesterday however, was much less romantic.
It involved alot of fear, humiliation, shock, dissapointment, and often even disdain.
The honor, dignity, truth, and peace were alot of the time completely lost in the din.
And at times i felt i wanted to physically hide them away inside me , when i was suddenly in a situation where none of that existed.

There's a small acute ball of panic inisde me that keeps threatening to surface.
It comes out as i remember thinking
"they won't hurt us. they won't hurt us. they won't hurt us.."when i saw bitterness and hatred and a sort of 'happy' rage in the eyes of an opponent i had never developed.
When i keep remembering that hte people that were most intent in hurting me, were the at one point the main drive behind which i felt i needed to put my foot down, to demand a system that served us all well.

It threatens to come out as i remember the sight of the members of the labor party taht were dragged away infront of us by teh baltageyya, one carried away with two men holding him the arms, two others carryign him by the legs, pullting his legs apart occasionaly as they ran with him..
another slapped on the head,teh face, the neck, the head teh chest, as they dragged him along..
adn another, and another..
and that was before anythign every happened..
when we were looking for the international media.. making sure they were filming.. how did they somehow become our source of justice and salvation?

when the pro-mubarak army, first showed up large in number, dinasour like in sound and movement.. threatening to trample us..
Although later on saneyya was saying over and over
"Kanno keteer awey.. 7asesuna enenna mahzumeen, ennenna mo7awteen..."
i don't think that's why our cry's might have been quieter, our silences longer..
nor was it the fact that we were corndered they were right infront of us, the wall right behind us, and amn el dawla right beside us..
i think it was more about the shock..
it's one thing to fight the state.. to fight el 'amn'.. it's another to fight a group of unemployed completely maqhureen civilians.. the true victimes of the system... how did we happen to be on diff sides..??
how was all their rage suddenly directed at us?!
Suddenly they were jumping on cars, and grabbing our fliers and tearing them, calling us '3omala2 amerikan..'
and shouting "Hosniiiii hosniii..." like some sort of Ariel commercial.
It was enough to completely take ur breath away. completely.

At a later point in the day, when on a felucca, recounting the events of the day, particularly our attempts or non attempts to vote.. the felucca sailor asked us if we were talking about the voting that took place that day..
could we please explain what the red circle and what the green circle stood for?
he was forced to vote, he adn the rest of the crew, and chose the green as it seemed a more positive thing to do..
what was it?
Later on and after a thorough conversation, he explained how the government/state gets its say in whatever it wants..
"Awel marra fe 7ayaty yekhayaruney..
we lamma khayaruna.. khayaruna bel3afya..."
We spoke of rights, of strife, of working for and against waht they believe in and against..
how it was OUR country.. and 'they' were a ruling minority...
"e7na nas soghayareen... wel nas el soghayareen maye2darush ye3melu 7aga..."We spoke of how MANY nas soghayaereen we were, how imp i twas to realize we COULD do something..

He pointed at a far away bridge.. asrn el nil... 6th of october?
and described a group of 'small people' who had decided to stand up for something they believed in. They marched away from their university, and unto the the bridge, and were shot and pushed off the bridge..
one by one they fell off the bridge into the water..
one by one..
his hands still pointint out to the bridge, his eyes tracing their journey from the very top to the veyr bottom..

There was a breif excitement wa2t el hetafat when they were loud and strong indicating each and every thing we had had 'enough' of..
hosni mubarak, tazwir aswat, as3ar mortafe3a, fasad, fat-hi surur, el baltageyya...
it went on and on, where people pitched in with everything and anything they had had enough of, and everyone would shout in unison

Then teh panic comes once again at the image of the Watany dogs slowly trickling between the walls of the security and unto the stairs of neqabet el sa7afeyeen, slowly slowly moving up a step at a time, growing in number and magntitude...
as we simultaneously realized that the neqaba would let us in..
again no place to go, and such hatred and intent to hurt rising up against you..
Eventually they told us we needed to jump off the side, the amn would help us down..
the amn would take care of us..
bring us down they did.

The feelings, sights, experiences and events that followed were ones that were truly horrific.
more now than they were then.
and every one of us with as little or much damage as we experienced then, emerged MUCH luckier, than many other that day..
we had not experienced improsenment, or tht 'extent' of humiliation that other girls and other guys experienced. nevertheless, there was humiliaton, dissappointment, and betrayal.

Later on at night nora and i met with Seif el Islam of Hisham Mubarak law office..
suddenly someone 'good'. literally a 'good guy' hehe
someone who was fighting for the right of others, pushing for people's safety and well being, trying to make sure they got their due.. he was very refreshing.
he was also very experienced, very knowledgable, very aware of all the events that surrounded us, and all that was behind each and every event.
he helped close all the loops, fill the gaps and wholes and straighten some of the question marks that lingered in our heads. and he did it with a kindness and gentless that was unlike anything else we experienced all day. so warm keda...
being htere was almost like being in a hug. suddenly safe. suddenly 'trust'.
Nora tells me later on of Seif's story, his attempt to bring about to change, to push for htings as they should be.. to put his own foot down..
and the 5 years of torture he experienced upon his arrest.. stories i had not even imagined possible..

So alot of goodness, CAN come out of alot of pain nad humiliation and betrayal..
he studied law while in jail, and cna now help all those who fight for what they believe in, and attempts to save them from all he himself had experienced in the process...
his pain is constructive.. and he emerged out of it a garden.
so warm. like a hug.

After that, we attended a meeting for all those that were arrested and let out that day..
they were all so positive and so light keda. like it was 'all in a day's protest.. and i don't think it was about them being used to it.. it was about it being necessary... no struggle is easy.. no change comes with out 'naz3' and 'neza3'.
a representative of the labor party was there.. and he spoke of unity adn solidarity, of the need for creativity adn presistance and togetherness.. of ugly days to come..
bas of the ugliness being our way through a dark and dreary tunnel, and our only way unto the light..

i do feel bad. i do.
i feel like there's alot of ugly inside.
bas i have no regrets.
and that in itslef produces alot of guilt for all that i had not realy experienced. that i had not seen many levels and extents that others had..

Mr. Seif was telling us that a woman (passerby) who had been stripped by the watani dogs (she was a student going up to thte syndicate to attend the course) was hysterical, and crying
"dee mesh masr! mesh masr dee!"
as she recounted her experience to him.. how el amn let her into the syndicate and 'released' 5/6 guys after her..
they pounced on her harassed her and stripped her on teh stairs up tot eh syndicate before someone could grab her up adn out..
and i could relate..
i could relate when telling myself..
"e7na fe masr... they won't hurt us when they come realy close.. afterall, we've never done anything to them..."
the fact that i was a 'girl' was also somehow encouraging me to be patient and strong. they wouldn't realy hurt us. they wouldn't.
irnoically enough the very same thing i told myself in 1998 in the very first protest i attended, adn right before amn el dawla were given the signal to ram us to teh ground.

:) how did it happen again??

stragnely enough this time, i emerged iwth a stronger sense of ownership..
it's mine. we mesh 7asebhalko.
an amazing sense of solidarity.
it was so beautiful to be there with friends.
there is definately a sense of togetherness in ebing in a protest and finding so much in common.. int erms of feeligns and emotions and stances with all those that surround you, regardless of ur differences.
but there's an ultimate "SOLIDarity" in being there with friends..
knowing someone will watch over you and watching over people...

having people to reflect with, on all that is beautiful on all that is ugly..
finding people like Mr Seif to resort to when the 'trust' is suddenly lost, and where there was once warmth adn peace and 'intent' there's suddenly alot of cold air passing in and and out.

my bruises still hurt, my feet don't feel as planted as they should be.. but my intent is strong i guess..
more than that, i feel like part of soemthing so much bigger and stronger and better.. i feel like i'm realy truly honestly fighting for something htat is worthwhile, and it is not i or the cause i wish to fight for that inspires or drives me,... but all the people that were with me..
and the dignity adn truness and stregnth adn courage, that they have shown in the face of the ugliness..
it is that that gives me stregnth..

There was Nora, and Dina, and Zeinab, and Yasso, and Mongy, Samer, Rabab and also Marwa and salma...
I may not have my feet firmly on the ground khales, bas i felt all teh stregnth and truness and determination and honor and dignity through them..
and honestly, at this phase of thought and experience, they are the positive aspects of yesterday's experience..
the humour and the humility adn ketir the courage thruogh all the mental and physical turbulence..

there's such a stregnth in togetherness and truness of intent..
betatgha 3ala ay 7aga.. and it realy makes el nas el soghayarra.. kebira awey..

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Rain-lit Skies a-pouring...

Mesh ma32ul i LOVE this country.
The winters are SPECTACULAR. can't wait to write about it!
it's been raining so hard today so HEAVY keda like HUGEsheets that just keep falling.i've been needing to leave the office for at least an hourand not able to. that's how heavy :)and then SUDDENLY. the sun is out. it's 4:15 and the sun isout as if it's's as if the sky was crying and suddenly stopped and issmiling keda and yawning and by one the clouds receede showing more and more sun..and what was grey adn wet and loud, is suddenly bright andcolorful, and the soudns of the people adn the street onceagain emerge after being stunned into silence by all thedownpour.
what's incredible about winter in egypt is that i feel like evyerthing is celebrating.. the sky plays games with you as the clouds tease the sun, the rain falls and stops and receeds, and the wind comes in and moves out just as quickly chasing them all around, pushing the clouds into each other to cause rain, then eventually pushing the clouds into the sun to ignite a POWERFUL rainbow!at the end of the day the air is so beaitful to breathe, so fresh, but full of little spiky frost particles, that tickle your nose if you breathe in too deeply.
your nose if you breathe in too deeply.
the sun is always shining; trying to overcome the challenge that all the forst presents as it tries to rule out any warmth the sun preserves.At the very beggining or the very end of every day, or eventhe very middle after a petite storm, the mostbeeeeeeeeaaauuuitful feeling in the world is stopping in a sun patch in the street, straightening your back, closing your eyes and raising your face to the sky for a sunkiss :)
wait for it. wait for it... ahhh the warmth.. and your ownsmile comes breaking through...

"Edrak Al Edrak"

Ibn el Arabi's "Al 3agz 3an edrak al edrak, edrak.."
i loved it COMPLETELY..
when i came back from cairo to camps (the refugee camps in lebanon), i felt like my world was shattered, as all the storngstances and principles and beliefs i had were completelyshattered. shattered shattered ya3ni.not all of them ofcousre, but some of the very asaseyeen ones relating to my understanding of life, and the world andjustice adn fairness and humanity and childrena dn thatparticular politilca siutationa dn taht 'cause' i believedso much in..bas after i pulled through that i realized how much wiseryou become when you realize you DON'T's a higher level of wisdom, knowledge and humility..
bas edrak is not comprehensions.. comprehension is onlyunderstnading :)
edrak is a combination of undersatnding and realizing andbeing aware of.. edrak encompasses your heart your mind andyour soul.. whilst comprehension only takes a certain partof your 3agz 3an edrak al edrak..the first adn second edrak can be seen as completel
as if enta beta3gaz 3an edrak tel al edrak alladhy la yodraksimply because you cannot ENCOMPASS It..and ir ealted it totally to how i feel about you..i cannot FULLY edrok it.. i can\'t be molemma of it.. bas that\'s enough to know for me to \'udrek\' how i feel.
if you take it to a much much deeper level kaman it\'s thedifference between faith adn belief.. you need to todrek aledrak to beleive.. you need to be able to see it , feel itcomprehend it, on the other hand is what you have when you realize you can\'t use your mind onlyto \'edrek\' or realize..
el 3agz kaman is not failure.. i think it\'s more like beingunable, incapable.. bas again \'an ta3gaz\' is when you try to gather all resources and capabilities adn senses masalan,bas you \'ta3gaz\' not that you fail.. failture has anegative connotation keda.. like \'loosing\', el 3agz is whenyou just cannot.. you need MORE OF, to do it.. bas you justdon\'t have it. it\'s just completey NOT be2eedak.. thereforeta3gaz..God, does that make sense to you? i so feel also indicates that you needn't understand everythingkeda to udrek or know it.. sometimes knowing that you can't fully udrek something means you adrakt its power know :)my favorate quote.. EVER, is by el ghazali i think.. not sure..i MUST have told it to you at laeast a million times before, it's my signature quote;
"It was. What it was was harder to say. Think the best, but don't let me describe it away.."
I'm yet to get it in arabic. bas he was initially probably describing the ecstacy that comes with certain sufiststates.. bas at the end of the day he was describign a very SPIRITUAL feeling, that you CANNOT describe using words..fa he's asking htat you THINK BEST, don't let me descibe itaway.sometimes some feelings are so strong, that words are just very FEEBLE in describing any aspecs or elements of thefeelings.. it's like the words are small vehicles keda.. bas
they were created for small sepcific purposese..
english foreg is more pragmaic..
arabic carries much more spiritual,poetic and divine meanings, maybe that's why it's so much richer or deeper..bas the idea is at the end of the day they are words and aceration by mankind to 'communicate' to other men..whereas the feeligns htat you attempt to describe throughwords are one not ONLY created by God, bas they are alsoprobably part of God kaman.. and so you cna't simplydescirbe them..and sometems by attemptind to do that you degrade themkeda.. scatter adn splatter them, and make them seem messy and clumsy wehreas inside you they are glowing , beautiful ,fulfilling, encompassing and softly adn gently , yet fullyadn aggressively penetrating all of you.. triggering amillion different emotions and sensations and thoughts andideas adn phsyical and mental stimulations all at the sametime..
so when you 'describe it away', you just keep trying toencapsulate it into teh differnet kinds of words, betfatfet-ha until it disintegrates completley think best.. and don't let me describe it away.. :)

"Sal2at Mal2at" أصل الكلمة : "سلأت وملأت

One day we were talking about language and asl el kelma andwhat not so they were explaining asl "Sal2at Mal2at.."
do you know thatsaying?
ta2reeban if something gets lost people say:
"ra7et fesal2at ra7et fe mal2at.. mesh 3aref ra7et feyn.."
or APPARENTLY that's what's said..
the origin of it is in a story of a man, en2elling a balassa of 3assal from one place to another...
he got it from home and was travelling to the market to sel lit..
so he was carrying it on his head, and moving along happily ever after.
And then, he needed to stop for a drink. so he put the balassa down, went to drink men el beer.
now as he was drinking, a group of quta3 turuq (the quta3'schildren actually) came out of their hiding quickly andstole the 3assal from teh balassa and ran..
the falah returning from his drink and unsuspecting of the event that lead to the emptiness of his balassa, put the balassa back on his head and continued his journey..
once he reached the souq he was horrified to find the balassa was empty!
fa darrab kaff 3ala kaff and he told the people, while heheld out his hand in an expression of furstration adnhelplessness..
"Ma Mal Qat... Ma Sal Qat!!"
get it? ya3ni el balassa la kanet mallet wala kan el 3assal,saal.. umal how did he lose it??!
hehe, ok just asked ostaz Hamdi, and he claims it's "Kanet fe sal2at ba2et fe mal2at..."

The Sun Kiss

Next time you step outside, raise ur face to the sun and close ur eyes..
especially if you just stepped out of a cold office, or ur face isfeeling shwaya cold..stand shwaya still, and raise ur face to it closing ur eyes, and feel its warm kisses..
its kisses come in small tickles of warmth in different areas o furface.. ur nose, ur eyelids, ur ears, ur forehead, until ur face is allwarm again..the kisses are especially special lamma yekun a cloudy day and it plays little games, stepping out from behind the clouds to tickle youwhen you least expect it, and just as you get used to it it dissappears again,
and when you start to lose hope and wonder if youlook stupid with ur face raised to the sky, eyes closed tight with a small anticipating smile on ur face... and start to loose ur smile,contemplating walking steps out again, in allll its warmth adn exhubarance, and feathersof warm sunrays tickle ur nose, ur eyes, ur cheeks.. in soft caressing sun-kisses.... :)

Saturday, April 30, 2005



That i CANNOT interview monaqaba women..i just can't seem to penetrate through their faces to their feelings, to waht they're realy thinking..i feel like a number of dimensions just dissappear from the conversation of the interview..and something inside me says, this CAN'T be right.. it can'tbe.

that religious men with big zebeeba's in the field, shake myhands properly and REALY well, while religious men in big corporations treat my hand like it's a piece of burnigncoal, and avoid eye contact like i'm a walking sin

that mothers give birth to their children and then leavethem wtih their parents.. ya3ni a woman left her son withher mother fel balad to take good care of her becuaseshe 'doesn't see well' for years.until the grandmother died.and then the boy comes back withdrawn or montawey, and shewonders why.. with big questioning eyes.. (i met at leat twocases of this in the ten i met yesterday)and when you ask why? they look at you weirdly adnsay "Mahowwa gharado keda.."

Children drop out in 2e3dady STILL not knowing how to readand write.. it's then that the frustration hits them. can you imagine?? This is the case in most communities such as Dewe2a,
7erafeyeen, moqattam.. they can stay taht long not learningANYTHING. akeed they get frustrated and end up working!

In lebanon, Shilpa, teh indian facilitator i was workignwth, that works with working children in india said there\'sno such thing as "I failed at school.." aw "ana manfe3tesh",it\'s SCHOOL that failed you. heyya el mesh naf3a.most of the messed up school systems are in cairo.
the bestschool systems i saw were in Menya and a few places in tehse3eed, where the communities have mobilized themselves tochange it.

i asked a miserable workign boy after we talked about work,his parents beating him up, and learning and reading andwriting and life and future dreams, if he could ask me forANYTHING, ANYTHING In the world.. what would it be..sere7 shwaya, and then he said"Abuya we Umey nefesohom ye7egu..."

in aswan, the children were trying to decide HOW to pick reps from each governorate to represent them in the events..the kids though of 12 year old boy stood up and said,"El tasweet momken yetala3 wa7ed 7omar bas shaklo 7elw..""Voting can\'t always work.. if your popular you will bepicked.. even if you don\'t realy KNOW what to do, and evenif 2albak mesh 3al mawdu3 awey.."even though he was practicaly the most popular boy there.

One of the kids was giving a presentation 3an shoghlohom felmo7afazat and one of his goals were "Al qada2 3ala el "ana-maleyya" 3end el shabab"all the kids understood it 3alatul.
Al 'ana-maley'ya -- comes from "Ana Maley?" -- apathy :)

When Diamonds Cease to Shine!

When i was around ten or eleven , i decided i should be playing a stronger role in saving the word we keda, and consequentially got myself involved in a number of activities to do just that.

I taught myself how to recycle paper and started recycling newspapers (and sometimes even normal paper.. which defeats the purpose!), i started doing research on pollution, the ozone and all that was happenign to it, i started doing research on animals that were becoming instinct and prepared to subscribe as a volunteer to a number of organizations that were fighting hte extinction of such animals, and started buying national geographic regularly at around 13 keda..
I also started paying regular visits to my garden; taking pollen from some flowers and spreading it to others, to ensure their survival we keda.. I also started spreading seads falling from trees around to make sure they don't grow in small spaces and suffocate each other like my biology book said they would (was trying to help encourage all factors my books claimed would increase chances of survival and eliminate all factors that would adversley effect plant survival.
I also started preapring little presentations with my neighbours for my dad, my uncles, my neighbours on how smoking was bad for your health.
Also used the same biology book for pictures, and then used colorful posters to make my own diagrams. Over adn above all this, i tried focusing all my school presentations, and writing assignments in english classes, on envirnomental issues, as well as animal rights, and extinct animals we keda.When a bit older i took el mawdu3 a bit further to ethical issues...what type of make up i would buy, what not (depenign on mokawennat.. a certain mokawwen came from whale fat and people were killing whales for it)what type of food.. certain artifical coloring was cancerous and envrinometally unfriendly..i discovered freon that came out of hte fridge and ac was realy bad for ozone, and so ghedebt 3al talaga for sometime, and had problems accessing water and food at others.. as i tried to economize on teh number of times i opened the fridge. (the kitchen windo was right next to it, which made ozone crime rate by my fridge even higher!) Ofcourse fur was a very sensitive topic 3andy, as well as elephant tusks ..
Here ba2a, things started getting a little messy though.
Things like opening the fridge for eg.things like elephant tusks and certain jewlery... if i realy liked ivory should i stop buying it all together (becuase SOME elephants were killed JUST for that) wala should i buy fake tusks.Wala was it realy worth increasing the demand 3ala the tusks aslan.. real or fake..

when a bit older i took el mawdu3 a bit further to ethical issues...
what type of make up i would buy, what not (depenign on mokawennat.. a certain mokawwen came from whale fat and people were killing whales for it)
what type of food.. certain artifical coloring was cancerous and envrinometally unfriendly..
i discovered freon that came out of hte fridge and ac was realy bad for ozone, and so ghedebt 3al talaga for sometime, and had problems accessing water and food at others.. as i tried to economize on teh number of times i opened the fridge. (the kitchen windo was right next to it)
ofcourse fur was aveyr sensitive topic 3andy, as well as elephant tusks we keda..

things started getting a little messy though.
things like opening the fridge for eg.
things like elephant tusks and certain jewlery... if i realy liked ivory should i stop buying it all together (becuase SOME elephants were killed JUST for that) wala should i buy fake tusks.
wala was it worth encouraging demand 3ala the tusks aslan?
fake tusks was a stupid idea. bas i loved ivory. hte fact that it was alive or part of something alive.
bas i just couldn't bear buying it when i found out the number of elephants that were killed intentionaly for it.
tab do i boycott tuna completely, becuase the way tuna fish were finsehd for (using fishing nets) always led to whales being caught.
the whales get caught in the net and they suffocate as teh net stays inteh water for a long time and they are not able to come up for breath.. and so they even have a painful death.
i don't like tuna tab3an and i LOVE whales and elehphtans they are such BEAUTIFUL animals keda.. they know how to love, they know how to live.. so emtional keda, and GOOD.
fa tab3an it was realy easy for me to avoid tuna, make up and tusks.. (i didn't realy like them aslan).
bas i didn't want to be pretentious.
was i stopping these things, becuase that was the way i could save these animals.. wala was i doign it becaue it was easy for me to stop those things (tuna, jewelry and make up) as htey meant nothing ot me and theni could proudly claim my boycotts.
the thoughts plagued my mind keteer, especially when i was realizing that all these animals, i loved so much, were going to dissappear keda keda as what i was doing was realy not affecting statistics..

during this period i also started doing research on the industries taht used children..
in india and other countries the carpentry, that was brining cancer and lung diseasers, the children that were used in mining, fel ma7ager and how their lungs were hardening... and a few othe rindustries where teh children were dying painful deaths..
bardo, similarily they were all thigns that were easy for me to boytcott..
bas eventually i felt that my deciding to stop buying or encouraging these industries was taking me farther and farther away from the cause..

it's the same way (although they're compleeeetely diff topics) i felt about egyptians denying the existance of teh state of israel, or the whole 'la 2e3teraf' principle.. although my stance when i was younger was much stronger agaisnt israel, based on my palestinian freinds, attitudes at home, and my complete non-exposure to israelis.

i felt that my boytcotting waas a form of avoiding the issue, and evnetually made me forget about.. either ny making me feel i was 'doing' something.. or by taking me far away from it keda.
i felt it was more of a passive initiative rather than an active one.

tuna reminds me of the whales. bas i don't realy eat tuna.
the tusks i still avoid completely.
however i enjoy all our long distance phonecalls, even though i know that the waves that these phonecalls cuase, have made it impossible for whales to communicate in the water using sound waves (as htey always used to across oceans) thus leading to their dperession, lack of mating, and death. death not only by hunters and poachers now, bas lonliness and isolation.

i dropped the child labor issue altogether. i decided i could deifnatley play a stronger role in stopping peopel from using the kids.. somehow.
raising awarness ba2a, workign with children, exploding a carpet factor in india or pakistan, mesh moshkella, something had to be done.

at a certain point i thought boycotting was the least thing i could do. bas after sometime i JUST couldn't feel it anymore.
just like i couldn't feel the hunger strikes people did. my dad and aunt went on quite a few during student political strieks when they were young.. and i just could not understood how it helped. it just felt very weird to me keda...

those were the thoughts and decisions of a twelve year old.

when i went to south africa, i learned that kol el massayeb was finding gold in south africa. it brough teh whole world's attention and led to slavery and bllood shet and colonizationa dn injustice.

injustice was the key word.
and i attended alot of seminars nad documentaries taht emphasized how a minieral like gold, that was suppoed to be a blessing was such a curse to the country.
kol ma2sa talked about that. people that lived in the townships had to come to teh city mazluleen as hte only jobs htey had were working in the mindes.. el este3bad kolo can fiel mines.. the children were made to work in the mines.. the gumboot dancing started in teh mines.. alot of sad songs were made in the mines.. people were killed in the mines.. strongest strikes and protests were attempted by the mine workers, mine workers were made to carry passports in their own countries..
it goes on and on..

all this suddenly reminded me of my thoughts as a child on whether or not i shoulod avoid buying or encouraging products that lead to any kind of injustice in teh world..
and i wondered abotu gold. (Again gold was something i could easily avoid) bas the question came to me again, of whether my avoiding gold would stop the injustice.. and once again i felt it did nothing.
i was glad i was seeing how gold was extracted then.. and i felt responsible to find out more about it and about alternative means to findign Gold..
i'd seen alot of movies about children of mines and cartoons as well when i was young..
all that came back tom e aswell..
i thought about it again wheni was in menya and could no thelp but smile seeing children work with their parents in teh field.. it realy warmed my heart how it was done.. and was very disoriented when teh children i was working with would point and say
"Child labor!!" and start saying kalam inshaa.. it hurt me shwaya that they couldnt' see how happy these children were.. possibly happier than my childrne who were living in urban decay and barely seeing lights at the end of their tunnels..
these children in the green fields we were watching were part of projects being carried out in teh se3eet to ensure chiuldren are beign educated in simple basisc, like reading and writing and mathematics, as well as in agrictulral issues to make sure htey could LEARN and still be able to abide iwth family traiditons of pickng cotton or whatever other agricultural activity they did in th field..

om ayman and om meleik, the two wonderful fala7at i made friens with , loved the projects.. it made them feel proud and secure and children being educated rather than threatened.. and a number of their older childrne had eventually pursued college education as well...
and besides all tha the children looked beautiful and brown in the field.. their giggles echoed through the gheith, as they chased each other through tall crops, and the wind kept giving them away by shaking the trees they hid behind.
true, a beatiful site bas still i knew how the pesiticides in the plants were harming these children and how spendign so much time in teh crops was affecting and limiting their futures.
i was aware howeve rof initiatives taking place to help them, bas STILL it made me sad that the children were blind to how beautiful and happy they looked..
that they had narrow minded perspectives even on right based issues..
7atta dee 7efzuha.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Newsweek- 2004 -- Food for Thought!

I Came across this....

"A third way for America to reassert global leadership is inthe envirnomental arena. Bush is a great supporter of freemarkets. Kerry supports global treaties such as teh Kyotopact. Without joining the treaty, Washington could focus onepart of it -- the development of a worldwide market foremissions trading -- by talking it up, encouraging USbusiness to participate and helping to ensure that the rightglobal regulatory structures are in place to enhance tehmarkets' effectivenes.Advancing ideas like these would realign America's assetswith its global leadership capacity. Let's hope thishappens, for if American doesn't lead teh world toward peaceadn economic progress, it's hard to envision a viable secondchoice""How Bush could re-establish the American claim to globalleadership by borrowing heavily from John Kerry"
Newsweek, December 2004- February 2005Special Edition -- Issues 2005

Do you think they would take up a leadership role fe3lan? And wehre does this leave Europe?

They say;
"the United states has formidable advantages, : theworld\'s strongest military by far, teh most vibrant economy,teh most inniovative capital markets, the most widely usedcurrency, teh most flexible workforce, teh best system ofhidhger education. AMerican is the only country taht is botha great Atlantic adn Pacific power. It is the mostmultiethnic, multicultural, multilingual society, a hugeadvantage in a globalizing world. The guiding "AmericanDream" of opportunity for all has no counterpart anywhere".

The first part of all that, the economy, currency,workforce, higher education, makes me happy such benefits are pinpointed, becuase it makes me feel, i know exacltywaht i need to learn more about.. both there.. how they got to this exactly.. adn then here, what we\'re lacking in terms of unutilized resources, and in terms of comparitiveadvantage 3amattan.

bas from an anthropological point of view, somethign likethe "American Dream" of opportunity, realy realy annoys me,because it\'s SO fake! I"ve read so much literature about it,by Americans adn gheyr..bas this dream of the promising salesman that grows and has a family in a big hosue, with a wife in teh kitchen withshort blond hair adn the little blond boy adn girl and the dog, is realy too much. and it's done NO ONE any good.fe3lan fe3lan baya3een kalam.
and i don't say it with sarcasm or disgust, i say it factually and with a twinge of admiration. simply because they get away with it time andtime again.the fall of this empire i believe will be a big one. alot ofdust will rise.

if you do get your hands on this copy of news week ( i might recommend it, the topics are good, bas not as well coveredbesara7a)you should also read teh short extract they have of aninterview with the Dalai Lama.
He's so cute. Very modest, very spiritual and very down to earth.
They talked to him about politics of teh situation with the chinese keda, his leadership and the link of al htat toreligion,and in the end they asked him:
"You've been a monk since infancy: now you're 69. What haveyou missed out on in life?"
"I missed this (Pointing down, laughing). As a human being,it is quite natural for sexual desire to arise. But overall,a monk's life is more stable, much simpler. In the family there is endless worry, too many ups and downs. Then when acouple grows old, there is the waiting:
will you go first orwill i go first? (Laughs)
Maybe this is not correct, butthis is the view of a simple Buddist monk."

I was touched he mentioned what he was missing out on, bas iwas SURE that's what they were fishing for, and i'm sure herealized it at the very begginign of the interview.i felt particularly sorry for him when he was thinkign up excuses for it, like;
'when the couple grows old, there's ehwaiting.."
he didn't talk about waga3 2alb the responsibiilty, the problems, the distraction from his cause, the money..he just talked about the emotional fear of losing someone.
'maybe i'm better off not trying it..'
i felt sorry for him.i've always wondered.. almsot asked the monks in stcatherine\'s the first timei went.i always also wondered about nuns and priests..
it can't be fair. and you can't attribute that to God..becuase it's just NOT natural.whether it's the sex, the having a family/relationship.. thehaving shouldnt' work that way. not for anyone, adn definatelynot in the name of God."