Hallelujah

I have been thinking a lot about what I am most grateful for this year, and I’ve realized that it is the luxury of dreaming – the luxury to dream big and to go after those crazy dreams. Furthermore, the luxury of having a support system that nurtures those wild ambitions, tolerates my madness in going after them, and are all-in for the whirlwind adventure.

I’ve heard there was a secret chord

That David played and it pleased the Lord

But you don’t really care for music, do you?

Well it goes like this; the fourth, the fifth,

The minor fall, the major lift

The baffled king composing Hallelujah

2016 was a heavy year at the macro level, the planet aching under the weight of all the tragedies and disappointments. Yet at a more micro level, I can’t help but feel blessed. So I ask you all to take a moment of silence to pray for all those fallen stars we have lost in 2016.

Professionally 2016 has been extremely rewarding elhamdollelah. I am often driven by the philosophy that “if you are still talking about what you did yesterday, then you have not done much today.” Yet the drawback of that philosophy is that you often lose track of the multitude of reasons you ought to be proud and happy within that time-frame.

2016 was a year of big risks. I’m not much of a gambler, yet 2016 was certainly a high stakes year. I quit the comforts of a regular pay check and a job I know I could do well, to follow THE dream. I am now a very lucky co-founder of a start-up that I love with the same intensity and whole-heartedness that I would my unborn kids. Acumen Consulting is almost one. I dare say that this was a phenomenal first year. It was a year of challenges, learning, growth, patience, and hard work. We saw instant success, suffered the business cycle and fought hard to make come-backs when we needed to. I learned that there is possibly greater layers of multi-tasking than I thought imaginable. I’m greatly appreciative of the collaboration, team-work, value creation and success. I’m proud of us for working both hard and smart to contribute to changing Egypt for the better. I am indebted for all the help and support we got along the way.

Well baby I’ve been here before

I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor

I used to live alone before I knew you

And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch

And love is not a victory march

It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

2016 was a year of great variance, its highs were sensational and its lows were back-breaking. 2016 was filled with health scares, trips to the emergency rooms, time spent in hospitals, clinics, labs and waiting rooms. There were so many funerals as friends and family bid farewell to siblings, kids, parents and friends.  There have also been so many near misses; so many tears; and so much faith and hope that things will get better. Our fears and our pains bring us together. Hugs remain the sincerest (and at times the only) form of support and solace during these darkest times.

2016 was also a year of love! Four weddings and a funeral. All grand acts of love! Four of the closest people in my life got married. I got to be a bridesmaid once, sister of the bride 3 times, best man once and wedding co-host once 🙂

Through it all they were days and nights full of the pursuit of perfection. More significantly they were wedding bashes full of music, dancing, joy, family, friends, surprises and vows. May their lives be everything like those wedding nights: endless symphonies of love.

I remain grateful to all parties who contributed to making my sister’s wedding perfect. I’m thankful to Sarah for managing the customized M&M delivery. I’m indebted to Sandra for re-arranging the first dance. I’m start-struck that the talented Nathalie Alain took time out of her hectic schedule to come in and record it. That studio recording time will forever be a highlight for me.

Mustafa Ghannam’s death has changed me. In a sense it has changed all of us. Yet it has triggered dormant emotions that had originated with Bassem Sabry’s death. (Please remember both in your prayers and your end of year donation themes). I’m once again in an existential phase. I’m obsessing about my mortality, my legacy and what I would like to leave behind. It took a lot of soul searching, yet I have realized that I want my legacy to be education. I want to bring knowledge and science into this world. I want to improve the quality of education in Egypt. I want to provide access to a better alternative to Egyptian talent.

Well, baby there’s a God above

But all I’ve ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

And it’s not a cry that you hear at night

It’s not somebody who’s seen the light

It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

2016 was the first time in 6 years that I got a proper summer vacation. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see some more of Europe before the devaluation. I’m grateful for having such amazing travel buddies to share the moments with. I will always have a special spot in my heart for Tegernsee and Cesky Krumlov. I’m grateful for the ziplining adventure (and that despite emergency room pit-stop it ended well), shopping sprees, lakeside & riverside dinners, high profile oud concerts, Ibrahim Maalouf by the pyramids, and countless other perfect moments.

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I’m grateful to family and friends whom have been partners in crime, back-bones, sounding boards and voices of reason throughout the madness that was 2016. I’ve discovered new facets of these amazing individuals which I appreciate endlessly.

I tend to claim that my universe often treats me like my success is inevitable/easy/expected. While their faith is extremely flattering, given how tough this year has been, I’m realizing the extent to which divine pats on the heads & “bravo”s have re-energized my stamina through it all. I’m grateful for every opportunity we have had to raise Acumen Consulting’s name. I’m grateful to RiseUp’s overbooked workshop. I’m grateful to the ICT Khales application launch. I’m grateful to the YEEL events and conference. I’m grateful to the “thank you” that our clients share. I’m grateful for having gotten into Stanford. I am grateful. A thousand times over.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

3… 2… Awesome !

Since our measurement of time is quintessentially arbitrary, I have decided to portion time differently, I have abandoned decades in favor of countdowns. Hence whenever your age is a countdown then this marks the start of a new era.

Think how big of a fuss we make over a child’s first birthday (1…lift-off). It marks the start of your learning years, during that time you experiment, acquire tastes, build information reservoirs and learn to fend for yourself.

Then you turn 21 (2.. 1… fireworks), you are old enough to be considered an adult world round. It is your time to venture out into the world and discover yourself. This is the time where you career hop, backpack through Europe, fall repeatedly in and out of love with partners, hobbies, careers, friends, ideologies, choices, commitments at large. Alas, enjoy these years and remind people that “Not all those who wander are lost”.

And now ladies and gentlemen, I am turning 32 (3.. 2…1… ka-boom). I believe this marks a key milestone, I am on the verge of the era of making a mark on the world. At 32 I am at peace with who I am and my self awareness is as good as it will ever get. Now this blog is full of random musings and “things I have learned along the way” type posts. You can check them all out here.

Yet that is not what I will seek out to do today. Instead this is a post for me, a mandate for this new era (till I am 43 that is), I shall seek greater balance at life. I shall continuously strive to be a human being of value, of high moral fiber, of honorable character. I shall invest more time mentoring and investing in start-ups. I shall spend more time coaching subordinates and listening to those who come seeking my help. I will be a better confidant, advice giver, career adviser and tutor.

I shall write more proactively and share knowledge with a wider circle of humanity. I will once again attempt to make economics more accessible to the masses. I will keep travelling and snapping photos and bringing God’s beauty and mankind’s fragility to you. I will keep sharing and high-lighting positive examples whenever I come across them. It is sad how scarce they are becoming, yet we all need to remember that they exist, and we ourselves can become said examples.

I shall seek to be a better daughter, sister, friend, colleague and boss. Yet more significantly, a positive influence, a quality role model, an inspiration, a smile in a crazy day, the voice of reason a-midst madness and strife.

You are all loved dearly and appreciated to no end. You are the music to my early morning drives, the sunsets on otherwise cloudy days, the dazzling smiles in my lens focus and the smell of freshly brewed coffee on this chilly day.

I wish you all great books, rich coffee, supportive partners, fulfilling careers, honest loves, successful projects, healthy kids, fresh music, obedient pups and year round birthday festivities. May all your eras be truly magnificent ones.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of 2014

2014 has been harsh… it has been a year of great volatility and major drama.

The highlight reel:

  • Sailing down the Aswan Nile in the still of the night, star-gazing while relaxing on the sailboat’s roof.
  • Quitting my job.
  • Reaching the limits of my tolerance & capacity.
  • Becoming friends with people I didn’t think I would want to get to know. They are now amazingly good friends of mine that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
  • Revoking my resignation to turn a fresh page.
  • Mourning the loss of a friend who was going to change the world.
  • Sitting through a Moroccan Ramadan 7 course Iftar meal.
  • Walking through the old family household in Marrakech, which is now a shooting location for multiple US blockbusters, and hearing all the family stories about my grandfather’s childhood.
  • Screaming through roller-coaster rides and extreme water slides in the September Dubai heat.
  • Watching my baby brother get engaged.
  • Chilling pool side with partners in crime that I hope to keep forever.
  • Seeing recommendations materialize into actual activities by the clients, realising we got through to them and had a real impact on their business/lives.
  • Buying a UPS upon getting tired of spending my summer evenings sitting in the dark wondering how long my phone battery was going to last.
  • Post work world cup games 🙂
  • Having an existentialist crisis and complete meltdown following the loss of our real life Batman.
  • Finding support through the madness.
  • Losing any sort of work/life balance.
  • Working hard in an attempt to find greater balance.
  • Saying goodbye a lot.

I can not claim to be older and wiser or better for the kind of year I have had. Yet for 2015 I shall seek greater adventures and greater discoveries. Moreover I shall strive for greater self-awareness and truth. For at the end of the day, as 2015 comes to a start, the best piece of advice anyone can give you is to be true to yourself. So be yourself, unless of course you can be Bassem Sabry, in that case by all means be Bassem Sabry… our Gotham needs more of him.

The Namesake

Take your first impression and acknowledge that it is probably wrong. She is not the girl you see nor the girl you perceive. Take a moment and look beyond the facade of bravado and indifference. Give it a chance, she will smile, if you are really lucky she will let you in. If all you got was a shrug and a “3ady”, don’t give up, try harder, wait…. the best things in life are worth the wait. This is coming from the epitome of impatience. Yet trust me, you want to wait, you want to meet the girl beneath it all.

Pray, don’t judge, it isn’t an arrogant air. She isn’t snubbing you. Nor is she claiming to be too cool for school. She is merely taking you in, sizing you up, attempting to understand how much damage you are capable of inflicting and the extent to which you would be inclined to inflict damage. She is working overtime trying to avoid getting hurt, she isn’t about to take a chance on you or me.

It was inevitable, the tough girl act, you see our twisted society has given her no other options. Be tough or get trampled over. Be tough or get abused. Be tough or get cheated. Be tough or die. Be tough! So tough she had to become.

Incidentally, I have this quote running through my head:

“I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t pretty, or smart, or young. They’re still princesses. All of us are. Didn’t your father ever tell you that? Didn’t he?”

I am angry at her universe for not telling her enough, for not re-enforcing the message at every opportunity. She IS a princess. She is worthy. She is important. She is loved. She is perfect. She matters.

Moreover, she maintained the classiness and attitude of princesses against all odds. She remained clean, pure and genuine in a society that ostracized you for all of the above. She repeatedly lost all sense of security and stability. Life as she knew it was constantly being torn from under her feet and radically altered before being thrown back into her lap. Even the constants in her life held that change against her, defined it as a shortcoming, accepted it as an unchangeable reality, sought to bury her spirit under these faulty realizations. The fallacy of realism, of protection.

She decided she didn’t need them. She could be a nation of 1, closed up from all the madness. She embraced the tasks at hand diligently, striving every day to be independent… to be bigger… better… smarter… stronger… tougher. She didn’t need them. She could take care of herself. All she had to do was work harder and embrace life without them.

Yet a decade later it will fully hit her… the extent to which she is exhausted, the scale of what she has attempted to take on, the futility of doing so in a society like ours. I have tremendous amounts of respect to who she is and what she has done. Yet I fear that in seeking to be independent she has excused them from their roles, given them a guilt-free way out. I feel she ought to call them on their bull shit and have them own up to their responsibilities. Perhaps then she would feel less strained, less tired, less abandoned and more pampered. Perhaps then society would give her a break because she would be better conforming to their norms.

May she get to be treated the way she deserves to be treated. May we miraculously mature as a society. May she realize that she is a princess, that she is loved, that she is worthy, and that she doesn’t have to do it all on her own.

Human Progress

For the majority of my tween years I abused a John Nash quote like a mantra. “To find a truly original idea, it is the only way I will ever distinguish myself, the only way I will ever really matter.”

Yet, what if John Nash had it wrong? What if the ideas are only as good as the minds that accept them and implement them?

What if it is about the people after all? Does it make ideological, philosophical and scientific progress any less significant?

The imperatives of the human progress. *Sigh*

Before I’m Gone

Bassem’s departure has me obsessing about my own mortality, my own life choices and my own legacy.

I find myself circling the drain with regard to the topic of bucket lists, circles of influence, legacies and impact.

So I decided to dust off and update my old bucket list.

The last update of the list can be found here.

Here goes nothing:

  • Travel the world. Safari in Kenya, dance in the streets of Brazil, snorkel around the Australian reef, pray in Palestine and take a photo sitting cross-legged on the floor in the square in front of the Kremlin.
  • Write and publish a book that means a lot to me and which becomes a worldwide (ok, fine! regional or local) best-seller in the field of economics or business. Extra points if it has an awareness and/or local flavour.
  • Jump out of a plane (preferably with a co-conspirator who understands the beauty of that experience).
  • Start my own firm. Indifferent between a boutique management consulting firm and a VC.
  • Write a hit song. Get a friend to sing it. Record it in a proper studio. Get the radio to air it.
  • Study abroad at an Ivy league school (and get the highest GPA of that class).
  • Hold a photography exhibition. Work on my craft to be worthy of hosting one.
  • Speak at an international (economic) forum.
  • Teach university.
  • Become the policy maker.
  • Be the best boss that I can.
  • Be a positive influence.
  • Strive to learn something new every day. Seek to spread that knowledge and coach and teach others every day.
  • Inspire people.
  • Make Egypt a better place.

What is on your bucket lists?!

You will notice that some under-achieved items from the last update have been dropped all-together in favour of different pursuits.

Counting Stars 2013

In an attempt to revive this abandoned fluff of cyberspace, bringing back an old tradition of mashing up the year’s review with a hit that stuck with me throughout it.

Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Yeah, we’ll be counting stars

I can’t really tell if 2013 was generally positive or negative. It has most certainly been educational. I feel I have ended it as a deeper and darker shade of myself. Who was it that said that as you grow older you do not change, you merely become more of who you’ve always been? Yet I leave this year a darker version of myself, less optimistic, less willing to compromise, less forgiving…

I see this life
Like a swinging vine
Swing my heart across the line
In my face is flashing signs
Seek it out and ye shall find

I saw some great losses in 2013. I have lost to death some individuals who had a profoundly positive impact on life as we know it. They vary in proximity, yet share their greatness. I trust that they are in far better places than we, yet I am still pained by their loss.

2013 was also the year of discovery, new pursuits, new cities, new facets of people I had known for years. Challenge and travel tend to bring people together. I am thrilled at all my discoveries and shall carry these cities in my heart fondly and will honour these new friendships.

Old, but I’m not that old
Young, but I’m not that bold
And I don’t think the world is sold
I’m just doing what we’re told

I spent 2013 being the anti-social workaholic. It has negatively impacted my health and has cost me nerves, friendships and the missing of some very important occasions. I vow to regain work-life balance in 2014.

I feel something so right
By doing the wrong thing
And I feel something so wrong
By doing the right thing
I could lie, could lie, could lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

I learned a lot in 2013. I learned that you can be MVP all season and still get benched. I learned that there is no rest on that bench. Ultimately there is no rest full-stop. I’m having to operate outside my comfort zone 24/7. Wonder how long till the zone adjusts or the revolution happens.

I feel the love
And I feel it burn
Down this river every turn
Hope is our four letter word
Make that money
Watch it burn

I still carry the dream with me. Its flame burns fiercer than ever. Perhaps 2014 is the year. I remain cautiously optimistic about the outcomes.

Take that money
Watch it burn
Sing in the river
The lessons I learned

This wasn’t very engaging to the reader, I realize that now as I wrap it up, yet it is more for personal archiving, for remembrance.

The Thing That Irritates Me Above All Others

is when people don’t respect my time. It is one thing for you to have no regard for your own time. Yet to disrespect mine is a very grave offence in my book, to disrespect my time is to disrespect me. It carries the implicit assumption that I have nothing better to do in my life than to wait on you to show up or not show up at all. Don’t get me wrong, I have no delusions about punctuality in Cairo yet if you are going to be late or decide to pull a Houdini at least have the courtesy and the common sense to call or text. I understand that things come up and emergencies happen, yet all I’m asking for is a LITTLE courtesy, some respect. Even more frustrating is when people decide not to show and not to call and offer any sort of explanation, like it’s all good and its all to be expected and normal.

Just the other day a friend calls, I’m out, tells me she has something she really needs to take my opinion on and asks me when I’ll be home. Worried I actually do head home. I call her to tell her I’m home she says that’s perfect, she’s in the area and will be arriving shortly. 4 hours later I’ve still not heard from her. I sms her asking what’s up, no response. Have not heard from her since last Saturday and I know she’s alive and kicking cause common friends spoke to her on Sunday. But really?! Four freaking hours and not even a text apologising for the no-show.

Decisions… decisions

Will spare you lengthy self-centred introduction on my view of my ability to make decisions.

Yet for the lovely young people who have such aggressive, provoking, self-righteous input on my decision-making:

1) You are not in a position to pass judgement (period!).

2) You don’t have all the givens. Nor am I in any way obligated to provide people with all the givens weighing into any of my personal decisions which will impact my life and my life alone.

3) Each person is free to prioritize the different aspects of their life in the way you see fit. The fact that you don’t agree with my priorities doesn’t make them wrong.

4) Opting to select between options is normal and rational. Some choices are more difficult than others.

5) Opting to de-prioritise an objective for a short-term duration doesn’t qualify as quitting, at least not by my book. I’m amazed really at the high horse from which people seem to be able to claim otherwise.

6) There are times when people need pep talks, encouragement and to be pushed. There are other times when people are just exhausted and stressed and pulled in a million different directions and they just need a break. Know when to push and when to lend a hand.

7) If you want to help… actually help. Don’t sit there in the comfort of your living room suggesting how the person with the problem can bend over backwards and accomplish the impossible at questionable quality within unrealistic time frames.  Given its their target, don’t you think they would have thought of all the solutions you threw at them? Probably even tried them all.

8) If you are going to apologise… actually apologise… rather than use it as a pretext to make your point again.

2010 Take Aways

  • Life is short.
  • Good health is never a given.
  • We are more blessed than we’d ever realize it.
  • Experiences are what you make of them.
  • A stroll in light rain is equally invigorating anywhere on the globe (Alexandria to Xiamen).
  • Human beings are gifts, appreciate them and enjoy them.
  • Don’t defer dreams.
  • Take chances.
  • Live on your own for a while, it’s educational.
  • Share your room with a teenager for a while, it’s equally educational.
  • You’d be surprised at the quality and scale of events you take in stride.
  • Always enjoy what you are learning or don’t bother.
  • A good teacher is a Godsend.
  • Anything is achievable to some degree.
  • Work environment trumps job description any day (I love you guys).
  • Take life at face value.
  • I want to teach university for a living.
  • I enjoy Arabic poetry (who knew?!).
  • Twitter is fun.
  • My friends are amazing, loving and supportive. I’m very blessed to have them.
  • People in Egypt are very excitable when the question is “What constitutes the Middle Class?”
  • I love travelling; yet there is something about coming home to one’s mom that is beyond!
  • It is possible to overdose on shopping and lose all interest in the activity.
  • I abuse “retail therapy”.
  • Having a sister is cooler than you’d imagine.
  • Don’t hold others accountable for your perception/interpretation of their actions.
  • Music makes the world go round.
  • Always carry a good book and a killer playlist because you probably spend at least 2 hours a day waiting.
  • I seem to get a high out of quitting jobs.
  • Experiment! Go swim with dolphins, ski, skate, watch an Arabic musical, attend an obscure band in concert, eat of a street car, try new cuisine, travel somewhere exotic, read outside your comfort zone LIVE A LITTLE EVERYDAY.
  • Finally, God works in mysterious ways. The intricateness and perfection of the series of seemingly random events that lead up to grand finales that totally rock your world is just mind-blowing. It is humbling, belittling and spiritually enlightening.  Pray more and with greater sincerity.

    Stardust

    They are remodelling the shop at the entrance of the building where we live.  The process has been generally very noisy and quite the inconvenience with workers blocking garage entrance/exit and building stairway and scaffolding everywhere. Not to mention the machine they use to cut marble which sounds like it is fresh out of a dentistry inspired horror movie. My gums ache every time I walk past them.

    That aside, they were cutting mirrors a couple of days back, not sure if they were just going to use them to line the walls or as shelves or something, yet they went through quite a lit of them. By the time they were done, the entire pavement in front of our building was covered with tiny fragments of mirror shavings, or mirror powder (not sure what you’d call it). The entire pavement simply shimmered, as if covered in stardust, the tiny shards reflecting light in a gazillion different directions, lighting up the entrance and looking utterly magical. I failed to capture it on film, yet it looks so beautiful I just had to share the mental image.

    Beauty truly is everywhere. Sob7an Allah.

    Bad Romance

    A bad romance is as bad and as comparable to a cocaine addiction or to a steel pike through your chest cavity. You are in pain, constantly.

    You are bleeding or are craving your dose.

    The pain involved with trying to pull out the steel pike or to give up cocaine feels unbearable. Those we ask to walk away from bad or abusive relationships act like we are asking them to take a knife and cut out their own hearts. So caught up in immediate gratification or the need to dull or numb the current pain, they have lost sight of the big picture, of the reality of the matter.

    In the long run drugs will kill you. In the long run the hemorrhage and internal bleeding will kill you. In the long run this bad romance will only get worse and you may end up taking your own life.

    I understand that it feels good now. I understand that once the doctor has stopped trying to remove the steel pike you feel better because you are used to its presence blocking massive external bleeding, blocking your wound. I also understand that the need for the fix is sooo strong that you are willing to overlook the downside to Cocaine because the withdrawal symptoms are too hard and too harsh.

    It is easier to cave in. To seek that preferred spot of comfort. To return to the addiction. To avoid and evade the critical, painful yet absolutely necessary terminal solution.

    I want you happy. I couldn’t want anything more for you than to see you happy. I wish you all the best. We all do, as your friends should. You seem to think you are happy now. While we wouldn’t wish sadness on you, we can’t help but worry, live in fear that some day, you’ll overdose and you’ll wake up dead. That someday the internal bleeding will get so bad that it is too late for any doctor intervention.

    Please choose the difficult route. Choose to be miserable now but rid of addiction later. Choose to walk away from this relationship. Please.

    Whatever you do, just don’t choose to take your own life.

    “To Each Her Own” book discussion (via Saray publishing)

    Would have loved to tell you about it earlier but it has been a crazy week. My baby cousin has midterms and I’ve been playing tutor. Yet I assure you, this week has been nothing short of sensational.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sara AB, my publisher and friend, and one of the three lovely young ladies behind Saray Publishing for all the awesome work she’s doing. You’ve made being a published author a care-free aspect of my life.

    This Sunday, Diwan Zamalek, one of my favorite spots in all of Cairo, was generous enough to host us for a book discussion to celebrate “To Each Her Own” sales in their various branches. Carmen, the charming store manager made us feel extremely welcome.

    For those of you who made it, it was a pleasure meeting you all. I am touched you enjoyed the book and took time out of your schedules to come discuss it with me, to share what you liked and what you didn’t quite agree with.

    For those of you who couldn’t make it, you were missed, would have loved to have you join the discussion and share your views. I’m actually quite pleased with the variety of the questions we had. Even more with the versatility in the parts of the book that people related to or that readers requested that I read out loud.

    I was overwhelmed by the attendance and the intensity and left the event on cloud 9. This was followed up by an extremely interesting event on Monday, more on that in a separate post.

    Meanwhile, I was telling the attendees at the event, that in books, much like in movies, once you’ve identified that you share someone’s taste, you can trust in their picks and recommendations in the future. Accordingly, if you all loved/liked my book, chances are, you and Sara share a taste in books. Now Sara isn’t done. She’s actually picked out two more books for you. They hit the shelves this Eid. Be on the look out for “Little Pearls” by Sarah Ayman and “El Toota” by Al Sayed AL Badawy.

    Once again, I had an amazing time this Sunday. Event photos in the post I’m reblogging.

    Also, to stay updated with upcoming events, join the facebook group, Thoraia does an amazing job of keeping you all updated on signings, discussions, press interviews etc.

    Have an awesome Eid vacation people. Kol 3am wa 2antom tayeboon.

    "To Each Her Own" book discussion Last Sunday, November seventh, Diwan Zamalek hosted a little get together of "To Each Her Own" writer for a hearty book discussion. Fans and readers came and discussed the book with our very own Inji Amr, who was glad and intrigued by the insightful questions she received. Other future writers of Saray Publishing also attended; Sarah Ayman, whose book "Little Pearls" should be out very soon and Al Sayed Al Badawy, whose book "El Toota" will be th … Read More

    via Saray publishing

    Cairo Time (via Tales of a Fattractive Egyptian Woman)

    Watched this movie on my laptop as my car was being serviced last weekend. I was about to write a review, but I honestly couldn’t top hers (see link below). I fully agree with her take on it.

    Plot line super flimsy and pace a little dead, yet Cairo sure does look pretty. Also, I have to admit, I’m kinda grateful that their take on Egyptian music was Kalthoum. I was half expecting something as westernised or as cliche as Karl Wolf for instance!

    Finally got around to watching Cairo Time, supposedly the first real 'hollywood' movie that takes place in 'real' Cairo (compared to bellydancers in harems accompanied by some good ol' oriental music). Here's the trailer: I absolutely loved that for once, Cairo got to be captured in a Hollywood movie, rather than in barely-watched documentaries. It's always amazing to read a book or watch a mov … Read More

    via Tales of a Fattractive Egyptian Woman

    “Writer” (via Tales From the Hood)

    Went through an existentialist crisis a week or so ago. Friends of mine were falling ill with cancer and heart attacks and we are not even 30 yet. So went berserk and all freaked out about the fragility of life and how oblivious I am of my mortality. Super-size that with an obsession with saving the world, dubbed God or superhero complex. During that time, I seriously contemplated quitting my day job and taking a job in development. You know, the cliche cinematic type of development, where your roll up your sleeves, stand knee high in flood water and move food and medical supplies, or where you relocate to remote locations for months at a time teaching young girls about financial independence and boosting their morale. So on and so forth.

    So, I went on a search for NGOs in Egypt, those who called back did because the thing that jumped at them off my CV wasn’t my education or work experience, instead it was the book, I was a writer. To them that spelled “text bitch” to quote Tales From The Hood. I was someone they could hire to write proposals, status reports, white papers and what not for all stakeholders and relevant parties. They would hire me to do development, but not in the way I dreamed of doing it. They would hire me to utilize my skill set in the best possible way for the greater good. How’s that for a cliche mouthful?! Basically they would hire me to write and apparently, according to the post below, that’s not that bad people.

    At one point early in my aid career, it was my job to be based in an HQ cubicle but to travel frequently to the field for the express purpose of writing primarily USAID grants. It was one of those jobs that was all about “customer service” out to our country offices, “empowering local counterparts”, and “flowing accountability downward.” Which meant, basically, that I was the fresh-faced, fresh out of grad-school, fresh meat thrown to the country … Read More

    via Tales From the Hood

    The Downside

    Those who know me personally will tell you that I’m generally quite the grateful individual.

    Yet these days, despite all the amazing things going on, some minor things are still irking me. So given that this is my little bit of personal digital space, my venting outlet per say, here it goes.

    • I hate how non-anonymous this piece of cyberspace has become.  Much as I’m grateful for the book, the publicity, the fans and how fabulous everyone’s been and how fab things are. I feel so incredibly restricted…. like I can’t breathe anymore….
    • I have things I need to say to a particular someone, a grievance, and I’m not saying them and it’s bothering me.  Funnily enough there are multiple people in my life who will think this is dedicated to them. To that someone, some food for thought, I will only communicate if we do it the mature and adult way. When you have something to say please do call, otherwise I’m not interested in hearing from you through a multitude of digital media sara7a. The issue seems so simple to me, so obvious, that I’m finding it extremely difficult to entertain an alternative point of view, to imagine where you are coming from. Any allusions to the contrary contain an implicit insult to our respective intelligences.
    • I’ve been asked not to do what I believe is right on an issue on the grounds that not everyone is like me. I’ve never felt more like an alien species in my life. Moreover, I refuse to accept that as a justification to not do what feels right and what deep down I believe is true/just/right. I was told that in the pretext that doing what’s right by me will impact the way I die. Silly me, focusing on doing things that impact the quality of how I live.

    Makes mental note to start another blog or a hardcopy diary.

    Oh and in case those of you have not heard, if you have read the book and would like to banter about it with me or have a qualm or grievance about the book or its contents, please do join us on October 30th. Details on the FB group.

    Makes mental note to have a separate tab for book related issues.

    Book Signing @ Diwan Alex (via Saray publishing)

    Saray Publishing’s roundup on Friday’s Alexandria event!

    I would like to take this opportunity to extend my greatest appreciation and sincerest gratitude to all those who made the event possible.

    Thanks to the Saray family, authors and friends.

    Thanks to my extended family for their awesome support and for totally making my day.

    Thanks to Mr. Ashraf Othman and the entire Diwan Alexandria team and staff for their lovely hospitality and great organisation.

    Special thanks to our very own paparazzi Amy ElShaarawy, Haidi Amr and Thoraia AB! Photos are AMAZING!

    It was great meeting everyone who showed up. Friends, friends of friends, new friends, awesome readers.

    I really appreciate those who came all the way from Cairo or the North Coast.

    Alexandrians rock!!

    Shout out to the DSB 😉

    Book Signing @ Diwan Alex The book signing of Inji Amr's "To Each Her Own" at Diwan Bookstore next to Bibliotheca Alexandrina was a great success. We were joined by many fans and friends, thank you all for coming 😀 The beautiful Alexandria happens to be Inji's birth city and so she was welcomed with great warmth and  friendliness. Before signing books, Inji read an excerpt of the book. Special thanks goes out to the team of Diwan Alex's bookstore manager "Ashraf Othman" … Read More

    via Saray publishing