Tough Times

I had to go pay respects and condolences to a university friend who spent the last month attempting to save her mother’s life.

When did we grow up?

When did we become the adults responsible for making such harsh decisions?

Our friend has had to navigate hell, two chronic illnesses, greedy doctors, incompetent nurses and surgery & chemo complications.

She had to make a series of decisions that may potentially save her or risk expediting her demise.

The thought of being responsible for the well-being of loved ones is scary.

Having to do so in such dire conditions is terrifying.

Healthcare in Egypt breaks my heart.

To Die For

Not to sound insensitive, yet I feel there is an overwhelming fixation in Cairo with the idea of dying for something. I recently lost a good friend so a bit melodramatic in that regard. Yet putting that aside, kindly observe the extent to which death is always dragged into the discussion. Fanatics and regular Joe(s) are constantly using this as the ultimate benchmark, your willingness to die for a cause.

I have heard people claim they would die for loved ones, an ideology, a cause, a religion, a country, a way of life, the revolution, etc..

I appreciate the sacrifice involved, I do. I understand why that would come across as the ultimate level of commitment and dedication.

I am just posing a slightly different question, what in life are you willing to LIVE for? Like really live for, dedicate a lifetime to working towards and spare no time, effort, energy, spirit, heart, soul and money towards making it happen.

Would you live your life working diligently towards a better Egypt, towards the achievement of a specific goal, towards furthering a cause you believe in? Would you live to spread and ensure the success of that idea, cause, religion, ideology, political party, etc?

I really hope that the answer is yes more often. I really wish we would start living for our dreams and causes. Too much has already been lost. Too many martyrs. I really hope we can work on the ground day in day out on making sure their sacrifice was worth it, that our causes have a chance because we LIVED for them.

Random Thought

Come to think of it, the true test of the extent to which you care about someone is your ability to be happy for their happiness. For the other end of the spectrum is too easy, it is basic human instinct, empathy and compassion with the wronged or hurt. It is only natural to be sad for someone else’s sadness, to share their grief or mood, to sympathise. You find yourself rising to a better version of you because circumstances are dire and you come to the rescue of friends, acquaintances or foes.

Yet to really know if someone is of significance to you, do you find it in you to be happy simply because good things have happened to them? Does your heart soar because they received and shared good news, because they’ve accomplished something, won something, were touched by the Lord’s infinite blessings? Does your mood get better? Do you laugh from the heart? Is your smile and congratulations sincere? Are you genuinely happy for them and proud of them? Then you do care my friend, for we are far more self centred a species to normally give a damn about the happiness of the other, anything above neutral is not usually worthy of attention, nor does it usually elicit joy.

Moments

I don’t know if this is a general normal thing or if it is just me, but don’t you sometimes counter chances in life, experiences and situations that you feel very grateful for, for you’ve been gifted them, yet you feel you perhaps were not the best possible recipient?  That there are individuals out there whom you know who would have enjoyed them more, they would mean more to them?

Do you ever wish it could have been them?

Do you ever wish you could gift them that moment, that sensation, that experience, that instant in time?

I wish I could.

Takes a photo, uploads it. Makes mental note to find a way to gift them that experience.

Seasonal greetings to you all!

On Deepest Fears

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone; and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Marianne Williamson

A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles,” 1992

Hat-tip: Jessy K!

Things I’ve Learned

  • Just because you have valid reason to be on EU soil on a specific date doesn’t mean the EU embassies in Cairo will assist you in being there at that time. Teases often include giving you the visa 4 days too late resulting in you missing that original business meeting.
  • I’d rather have no boss, no guidance, no management whatsoever, than be micro-managed; the latter just drives me insane.
  • I enjoy doing stuff more when things are for the benefit of other people, than when they are things I’m obligated to do for myself.
  • I sulk.
  • I could spend a year attempting to write a proposal for my thesis, never actually do it, then start and finish an MBA to recover. Yet when asked to spend a day helping a friend write her, it took a grand total of 2 hours and felt like a piece of cake. Out of fairness there was a 3 year time frame between trying to write mine and writing hers, perhaps one’s brain has matured.
  • That theory and practice are two completely different things, lets hope MM picks up on that as well before they actually securitize the entire public sector.
  • You can fall out of friendship, and it feels equally awkward.

“Bravery is Not the Absence of Fear

It is rather the ability to operate through the fear… to overcome it. ”

This is my rendition of some wise man’s words.

Bravery my friends, much like fear, is in it’s entirety a state of mind. A heightened sense of invincibility, a natural high or a drug-induced one. An adrenaline rush that renders your brain unable to fully comprehend and calculate the true dangers and risks associated with the smallest things.

During my Dubai trip, the Jouj and I and some friends decided to check out the aquatic theme park. We’d both been to similar parks in the States so felt comfortable with the notion of a day of fun in the sun. We packed up swim gear, flip-flops, towels, sunscreen AND tanning lotion (a girl’s gotta have her options).

I must hand it to them, the organization was impeccable, totally comparable to the parks we’d been to in the US. With digital lockers activated using armbands you are given at the door and which are coded to your liking so they contain information about your locker, available cash to spend and access to the games. All built into your nifty bracelet (anklet) so you don’t have to worry about carrying anything on you.

The main attraction was a huge slide they called “Scareah Jumierah”. Friends heckled us about what a dangerous ride that was, how incredibly spooky it is, how they themselves wouldn’t do it and they wouldn’t recommend it to us. Not one to pass up the chance to prove people wrong I got all the more psyched about trying the game. I don’t have a fear of heights nor speed and am very comfy in the water. I figured I had all the basis covered.

Brave (and ignorant) we waltzed to the slide and stood in the huge que going up the endless flight of stairs. At intervals of our ascent you would meet people heading in the opposite direction. They had gotten to the top, taken a look and decided against it. Not very reassuring. Yet we persisted. High on life. Determined to get our rush for the day.

I watched a couple of people go down the slide, it seemed easy enough. It was my turn, the attendant gave me the basic instruction I’d already heard him give at least 20 times, and which to me seemed obvious enough.

Keep your arms crossed across your chest, keep your legs crossed at all times, do not under any circumstance attempt to leave the slide once you are in motion.

I assumed the position and inched myself towards the tip of the slide.

Ready, set, scream!

Ready, set, SCREAM!

There I was doing what felt like a 100km/h free fall. I learned later that we were only doing 80km/h. All of a sudden it struck me, the rush of overwhelming emotion, the doubt, the fear. I tell you ladies and gentlemen bravery is a state of mind, and a misleading one at that. Cause you see, states of mind are difficult to maintain against external influences. Especially when the external influence is 33 meters of 80km/h body racing. I could no longer see nor register distinct images, rapidly the world became one continuous blur.

It was at this point, the point of no return, when I realized that all bravery has deserted me. It took every ounce of self control in every cell in my body to resist the basic human survival instinct to grab to the slide railing abandoning the Mummied position they had us in. The two thoughts battled in my mind. The rational part telling me that the safest thing to do would be to stick to instructions, these people know what they are doing. The irrational part telling me to save my skin, to take all necessary and unnecessary measures.

There I was watching the world fly by, the sound of life whooshing by my ears. Sprays of water flying at my face and eyes and the sheer force of my weight and gravity hurtling me towards the upcoming steeper inclination. I think it was at that point that I decided I was better off not knowing what was yet to come. I clamped my eyelids shut and channeled my whole energy and focus into maintaining my position.

Minutes or seconds later…. they felt like so much more… I arrived at my destination at the end of the slide. My swimming suit bunched up around me and my body contorted into the weirdest angle. I had to be assisted to get up, all wobbly and unsteady on my feet. I’ve always had bad sea legs 😉

Nothing short of crossing the streets of Cairo blindfolded would have been as exhilarating. Thought I’d share my defining moment with you. The day I became a fatalist (in the words of Anna). The day I discovered my version of the Secret. Yet that is another tale.

This too shall pass

I’ve noticed that this is a phrase I use often and in varied situations. I remember once when we were young my father telling me a story where this phrase was used or allegedly originated. Enter Wikipedia (God I love that site). Upon searching for this phrase I’ve discovered it has multiple stories explaining its origin, including the one my father used to tell me, so here goes.

The King Solomon version references the following parable:

One day Solomon decided to humble Benaiahben Yehoyada, his most trusted minister. He said to him, “Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for Sukkotwhich gives you six months to find it.” “If it exists anywhere on earth, your majesty,” replied Benaiah, “I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?” “It has magic powers,” answered the king. “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.” Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister a little taste of humility. Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the night before Sukkot, he decided to take a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day’s wares on a shabby carpet. “Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” asked Benaiah. He watched the grandfather take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile. That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday of Sukkot with great festivity. “Well, my friend,” said Solomon, “have you found what I sent you after?” All the ministers laughed and Solomon himself smiled. To everyone’s surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, “Here it is, your majesty!” As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: _gimel, zayin, yud_, which began the words “_Gam zeh ya’avor_” — “This too shall pass.” At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.

The Age of Discontent

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

I guess Dickens said it best. Yet I can’t help but feel that we are living the age of discontent. Look around you at your friends, family, then look at the mirror. Ask yourself are you happy?

Recently it’s become epidemic, the overall level of boredom and discontent. Everybody is bored of life itself. It seems we live in the same circles, meeting the same people, going to the same places having the same discussions over and over and over again. A vicious cycle, a loop of melancholy and utter boredom. It’s become the normal complaint, the automated response to “how are you?” or “what have you been up to?”. “Nothing much happening” and “I’m BORED” have replaced “elhamdollelah” and “ahy mashya” as the two most popular answers.

Funny thing is that while you’d hear of this before, now it seems it’s all I ever hear. In any group, varying crowds, it seems to be the consensus. As if interest or intrigue is an artificial high which to reach you have to take increasing amounts of the drug, whatever that drug may be. So simple fun activities no longer cut it, you are in constant need for newer bigger better never-before-attempted adrenaline inducing activities.

Then if you are not bored, you are unhappy, you are taking every opportunity to whine and complain to anyone who’d listen or read about your job, life, relationship and family. I’ve yet to hear someone claim to be happy with his/her job or what they do. You’d meet someone new, ask them what they do for a living, then if insane you can venture a “mabsout?”. I’m willing to handover green cash to anybody who’s ever heard that being answered with an affirmative.

Also people are incapable of relationship happiness in this era, for as AEB so eloquently put it “irrespective of your relationship status, it’s a source of complaint, and a different relationship status is always coveted.”

Ah I guess after all I’m a discontent member of this discontent age of which I dare speak and dare not complain.

The Juggler

Craving attention I took center stage
The crowd hushed as the lights dimmed
Confident I step into the spotlight
Juggling one ball, soon they were four
I juggled them with ease, asked for more

My tricks grew more and more elaborate
My arms grew weary as I juggled faster
Sending the objects into the air
With utmost ease, not breaking a sweat

The crowd cheered as my load grew
Their cheers stroking that inflated ego
Egging me to be daring, to do more

I pulled a stunt I had not rehearsed
I fumbled, they gasped…
As I pulled an amazing save

Here I stand with the balls all in the air
Nothing holding them there save God’s grace
Any minute they’ll all come crashing down
Will I be able to save one? or all?

Dilemma

I’m lost and very confused. I’m faced with a critical situation which I’m not quite sure how to handle. First off I must stress that I don’t think too highly of myself at this day and age (click here to avoid redundancy); and that I’m a lazy bum who chalks it up to having been taught that efficiency is getting the most output from the least input, I’m a least input persona.

Anyways, I’ve been struggling with my new job for a while now, feeling very overwhelmed and fretting about having made the wrong move, or bit off more than I could chew. Just a week ago (after 6 month on the job) I was beginning to settle in and feel comfortable.

Amidst this insecurity on my part my boss informs me that he has resigned this Sunday and will only be here for another month and that we should start handover procedure. I must have looked shocked because he kept telling me not to worry and that I’d be more than able to fill his shoes, be the unit, steer the ship. Needless to say I completely beg to differ, I’m panicking like crazy.

Now I have two options:

1) I can take the easy way out, confess to not being able to handle this and heavily recommend they bring in somebody else to fill his spot rather than have me report to the CFO. The lazy ass me is very lenient towards this option.

2) I can really take this opportunity and run with it, I could rise to the challenge and work like I’ve never worked before and by the end of the year earn the right to my boss’s title/position/ salary.

I like to think that I would chose the second option. Only I don’t trust myself so much.

Song of the day: Craig David and Sting ~ Rise and fall

Breast Cancer

pink.jpg

The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman.

It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on “donating a mammogram” for free (pink window in the middle).

This doesn’t cost you a thing.

Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising.

Here’s the web site! Pass it along to people you know.

http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

Song of the day: Khaled ~ Didi (don’t ask!!)

Long weekend

Hmm. Long time no see. Got quite a few rants to get out of my system.

Tuesday:Day of the soccer fans’ highly awaited match between Ahly and Barcelona. Needless to say when you have someplace to be, chances are you will have a long night at the office. We wrapped up at around 8:30 making it too late for the stadium and mission impossible to find a cafe with empty seating. Would like to thank Zizo for valiant efforts that day. I am much obliged for picking up – driving cafe to cafe – finding seating -watching match – drop of at car. I really am. I might as well add that Zizo is a devoted Zamalek fan and hence found my misery quite entertaining. To the team “7ara2to dammena” that was the worst soccer I’d seen in YEARS. What happened to the boys we cheered in Japan?? Ma 3alina. Got home at an unearthly hour.

Wednesday:Was double booked, had to be in 2 places at the same time and somehow ended up in the place I’d rather not be of the two. Life is grand that way. I totally blame the MBA, what kinda insane dude gives a 4 hour lecture on a Wednesday. Aaaaaaaargh. Funny thing is, he was hopeless, didn’t get a word. Must find good book on the topic.

Thursday:Went door to door trying to find a bank that can issue an Internet card within a week. Apparently I’m way too impatient for banks in Cairo and the fastest I could get it done was 10 days. Yalla, lets hope that is enough time to buy and ship desired item to friends in the States prior to their flight home. Prayers very welcome. Tried to shop that day – conclusion: I need a raise!!!

Friday was uneventful but my car (you all remember my car 😉 ) needed to go for it’s agency overhaul (maintenance etc.) So basically that simple task took from 7 am Saturday to near 3 pm; that’s almost 8 hours to have the car checked and the air condition recharged. I just love the VW people!!! For all you skeptics out there it isn’t the first time, they are always this slow and this inconsiderate!!!!

Kefaya 3alikom keda.

Update: They’ve located my missing exam and I scored an A- 🙂 (apparently I was better off with it lost)

Song of the day: Mika – Stuck in the Middle

Juka’s Theory of Significance

Rule 1: Don’t worry about the small things.

Rule 2: All things are small things.

Rule 3: Look at the big picture.

Rule 4: Its darkest before the light.

Rule 5: When all else fails, do what you were supposed to do from the beginning, look to the Lord for help.

Rule 6: There are no such things as friends, there are intimate acquaintances, and less intimate acquaintances and all the people you know move in these cycles. (Everyone else is just an acquaintance waiting to happen).

Rule 7: Have high expectations but also be prepared for dire consequences. Then no matter what happens be accepting.

Rule 8: When confronted with a problem… breathe, count to 10, then self implode.

Rule 9: Don’t compromise before a marriage, cause you definitely will be compromising after it.

Rule 10: Nothing matters, no bloody thing on the planet is worth crying over, getting upset over or loosing your temper.

Rule 11: Newton was wrong, every action has a reaction. (The opposite and equal part is highly debatable).

Finally remember, “marrara” transfer operations are costly, so belra7a 3aliha la tetfe2e3.

My car hates me

This was in Ramadan, but thought I’d share in an attempt to make Ravine feel a bit better about our lovely public transportation system.

Today ladies and gentlemen I had me nothing short of an adventure. The day that has started out so ordinary with a twist of fate managed to encompass such a large number of highs and lows they formed the outlines of a marvelous adventure. I had bitched all day about having to be at two places at the same time for iftar, I got an instantaneous reality check and didn’t make it to either iftars and ended up eating in the street. I had it coming.

I had stayed after work to meet up with old friends, one of us headed home and me and the other got into my car and headed for Mohandseen. As we got into my car the engine hum was lightly louder than usual. I didn’t take it to heart, figured it was just the acoustics of the garage. I turned on the AC, cranked up the stereo and took off. I didn’t get far though, at the first traffic light in Tahrir square my car stopped. I tried to start it several times but to no avail. All of a sudden we were grounded in Tahrir square. Cars behind us started to honk and we made friends with the young police officer at the traffic light. We called our friend for help. He was already two metro stations away, he turned and came back. Another I interrupted his stay at Gezira club and he too came to the rescue.

As we waited for our knights in shining armor to show up every single driver and taxi driver in the neighborhood stopped and took a look at our stranded situation and put their 2 cents in. The policeman made considerable effort to inform the other cars to stay clear of us because our systems were down. We tried to get the car to start “amricany”; push and leave (like learning to ride a bike) while executing a complicated maneuver with gear shifting and turning the ignition while hitting the brakes. That kinda got us moving for a while. We got halfway around the square and ended up in front of Kentucky.

My other friend arrived at this point with jump start cables and we tried to jump start the car, needless to say that didn’t work either. We were threatened by the local police, given the option to have it towed to the nearest parking or removed entirely because the Minister of Interior was passing through. (I’d comment but I’m fasting). We had sent for the local mechanic, a young swindler who turned out to be a complete jerk and a total ignoramus (IDIOT). He tinkled around my engine for 2 hours before iftar. We then had to push the car to his shop, close it and go eat at Mc Donalds.

Ever seen Tahrir square empty in a way that you could walk in the middle of the street. I have, its 5:20 on a Ramadan day. It was actually nice, in the middle of this madness, strolling in Tahrir square while they messed with my engine, enjoying the sunset. What a sunset it was, the blazing sun descending into the clouds and casting shadows of red and orange on all the building.

I am anything but a McDonald’s fan, I really hate the place, I’m a devout Burger King/ Hardees fan. For years I’d heard AUCians claim that their McDonald’s is better than any other in the country. They could be right, I couldn’t tell, we were so tired and so hungry we would have ate anything.

After our meal we went back to the mechanic for another hour, he failed at the mission to fix my car. We had him close up and called a tow truck. The tow truck couldn’t reach us, so I had to meet him at the square and maneuver him to my car arriving high and mighty riding that tow truck. It was a fun experience, I felt like a young kid riding on a fire truck.

What happened next was even more interesting, 2 ramps descended from the truck and we pushed my car up to be sitting on the truck. We then climbed up and into my car. Never before in my life have I had such a royal view. We sat in my car with the windows down and stereo on. It was amazing fun, I was constantly hitting the brakes out of habit and we were driving from our high and mighty seat by signally to the driver. We were quite the attraction, people stared as we drove by and some even commented and tried to make conversation.”

My adventure ladies and gentlemen, mind you, is anything but over. I have to get up tomorrow at the crack of dawn to look for a mechanic with a brain and a very pricy spare part.

Special dedication and great thanks to Amr, Dina and Sherif. My partners in crime and the co-conspirators of this adventure. Thanks for coming through for me. On a final note, chivalry is not dead, it has just retracted and become concentrated in a small number of select individuals many of whom I’m proud to call my friends.

Sorry for ruining your day guys;thanks a million.

Abandoned

This post is re-posted from my old blog, it is also my only physically published writing. Would love feedback.

Steps echoing on a marble floor.

A gust of wind blowing through the open window.

Curtains flapping eerily in the cold chilling air.

The ramblings of a disoriented mind. I am making little to no sense. Then again you can’t really blame me.

The building seemed absolutely abandoned as I walked in. I could hear the sounds of my steps a million times louder as they echoed in the marble hallway. My heels sounded like an entire army was charging and yet their loud sound reminded me of the emptiness around and how entirely alone I was.

It was daytime yet the building was dark, it had a dreary air to it. All the neon lights have decided they needed a break and were striking for shorter working hours and maternity leaves. It was either that or a major power failure. For it seemed the only light in this endless greyness came from what little windows there were.

I walked in a quick brisk step, partially because I was afraid, engulfed in a feeling of discomfort and anxiety. Yet another force was taking over. Strong nostalgia, to the building that once was, to the way we were. I stretched out my right arm and let my fingertips stroke the whitewashed walls as I breezed by them. They felt cold and harsh to my touch. Yet there remained traces of memories embedded in the atoms of the walls. I could almost feel them transferring through the wall and my hands to my head. A rush of images triggering a flood of memories.

Suddenly the corridor seemed transformed, to the bright lively office space it once was. I could hear the laughter and the loud discussions coming from up ahead. I sped faster, reached the door that the sounds were coming from. My trembling hand clasped the door knob and I swung the door open.

The room was completely empty. The desks were cleared of all the papers and belongings that were once there and dust was settling on them systematically. The cabinets were empty, the files and phones no more.

The voices started again, only this time I knew better than to hope that the next room would be any different. I had to face the painful reality. The building was, very much like the rest of us.. abandoned!!