My Alexandrian Nationality

The Arab Republic of Egypt is conspiring against me to try and take away my Alexandrian nationality.

You would say that this is a tall tale as there is no such thing as an “Alexandrian” nationality, but the government seems to think there is one!

I’m Egyptian! To parents with national IDs with place of birth being Alexandria. Growing up my passports/national Ids have always had place of birth be Alexandria as well. I maintain the accent (which btw is faaaaaar more correct than Cairo lingo, 2al nizilt 2al!!). I spend every vacation moment possible on its soil. I dream of the sea. I have an Alex driving license. My car license plates read “Malaky Iskendereya”. We rent houses in Cairo since Cairo is temporary!

See, I’ve got Alexandrian written all over me! Yet I’m stuck living in Qaherit el Mo3ezz! Anyways! My passport renewal was due. I went to the lovely compound in Tahrir, where I’ve renewed my passport once before. Only to be told that she could not oblige. The new electronic government (Rabbena ye7meeha) is HIGHLY decentralized, to the extent that she couldn’t possibly fathom processing my request. Alexandrian? Go renew there! As if by being Alexandrian that no longer entitled me to getting an EGYPTIAN passport from any government outlet.

Me: “Hmm… ok… tab I’m currently living in Cairo, couldn’t you possibly process it, you’ve done it before!”

*Evil smile comes up* “No, this was when the two passports were the same.”

Me, with a very dumbfounded look “Huh?”

“Cairo is now issuing the new slick small computerized passport (which we are very late as is in issuing) which everybody should have by 2010”.

Me:ย  “Precisely what I want.”

Her: “Yeah, but in Alex they are still issuing the old one. So your options are as follows:

  • Go to Alex, issue a new “old” passport, use it for 2009, then go to Alex again, issue a new “new” passport.
  • Go passport-less till 2010, then go to Alex and issue new “new” passport marra wa7da!
  • Go to another entity, have my place of residence changed on my national ID (WHICH I’VE JUST RENEWED) to my temporary Cairo residence. Come back to her and she’ll be more than happy to oblige and issue me a new “New” passport.”

Case in point ladies and gentlemen, an Alexandrian nationality is not Egyptian! We might as well declare independence, raise the flag and hold democratic elections.

So basically, given my need to travel on the spot (work limitation) and the fact that it is difficult to make shuttle trips to Alex on WORK DAYS!

The Arab Republic of Egypt is conspiring against me to try and take away my Alexandrian nationality.

“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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.

Back…

Hallo people,

Back from said project at soul-less city.

Overall things went well, despite personal reservations on methodology.

Dubai in itself is interesting enough. Growing up in a family of engineers and being given the task of arduously photographing the fancy buildings for their digital library I spent the majority of my trip watching the constantly changing skyline.

The pace of life in Dubai puts Cairo’s alleged franticness to shame! Workaholics is probably an understatement in reference to our team. At a second glance though, not all of Dubai residents are all work and no play. Evidence of that are the looooooooooong taxi ques at shopping malls and night spots.

That’s the other thing, due to construction on the mono-rail (and other total random construction) Dubai hosts an immense number of cranes which are constantly working leading to a loud din that’s become part of the Dubai soundtrack in addition to constant sand storms and overall stuffiness. Plus for those of you not blessed with a job walking distance from their home, the endless detours have made traffic near to unbearable. If I never ride in another Toyota Camry until the day I die that would be too soon.

In retrospect I guess the best part of the trip was not the shopping (I’m like soooo incredibly broke and in debt to at least 3 banks, no thanks to credit cards), nor the outings (although Jumeirah is pretty nice people) and definitely not the work. I believe the best part has been the chance to see old friends that I had not seen in years, 10 years in the case of high school crowd and 3 in the case of university pals who’d relocated to Dubai. Having them drive up and/or fly in to see me, was incredibly amazing.

Jouj, i still don’t believe you came through on your “just say when”! I’m touched! I had a blast, hope you all did too!

Can’t begin to tell you how nice it is to be back in this polluted city behind the driving wheel of my car needling in and out of traffic ๐Ÿ™‚ Cairo’s got soul!

Smiles from my days in my city by the sea

Well, sinceย you kind people have been generous enough and have born with me my disappearance days of fun in the sun, I couldn’t stop myself from sharing this with you.

mokarrar.jpg

Over the course of 10 days I’ve seen this sign on a daily basis and it never ceased to put a smile on my face. First time I saw it I actually had to do a double take. It’s not like they could run out of names.. or numbers for that matter. Honestly very thanaweya 3amma score.

I know the resolution sucks. The sign reads “Shati2 Sidy Bishr 2 Mokarrar”!!!!!!!!! LOOOOOOOOOOOL

Brussels diaries.. as promised

Day 1

We caught our 4 pm flight to Brussels en route Zurich. We arrived at our final destination 10:00 pm Cairo time. Our adjacent seat was occupied by a swiss gentleman who is a scholar of HIV and other incurable diseases, he was such a charming conversationalist. The inflight movie was “Fun with Dick and Jane” funnily enough a remake of Adel Emam’s “Esabet Hammada we Touto” ๐Ÿ™‚

I got to go to the hotel sitting in the front seat of the VW Jetta. GORGEOUS!!! It was 9:30 pm Brussels time and still sunny. So we got to see the city. Feels like downtown Cairo but after going through the washing machine and dryer a couple of times.

We checked in and hit the streets. Our hotel is walking distance from Grand Place. Its a huge square with a giant Cathedral and Parisian cafes and chocollataires right and left.

I thought that the most significant symbol of Belgium would be chocolate related. I was really suprised to find its a young boy relieving himself!!!! Legend goes like this: in the 14th century, Brussels was under siege by a foreign power. The city had held their ground for quite some time. The attackers had thought of a plan to place explosive charges at the city walls. A little boy named Juliaanske from Brussels happened to be spying on them as they were preparing. He urinated on the burning fuse and thus saved the city.

On our walk balk to the hotel a car passed us blaring Amr Diab through its speakers. We got called to a waffle stand by a Palestenian sales man. The selection of waffles was to die for. I had a belgian chocolate waffle sitting on the cathedral stair benet3akes bel3araby fe Belgeeka.

Day 2

My French muscles are being stretched to their limit ๐Ÿ™‚ Norah, how about that class. This was the first day of sessions. I woke up in the morning with an incredible sense of energy. As if I was fully charged, energized and ready to go. I dare say its the cool fresh air.

Sessions themselves are interesting enough, the presentations are good but I’ve noticed an interesting trend. Half an hour before the end of every session they take a very large round of questions, then they go out of their way to dodge answering them.

After the sessions were over we went back to the hotel (once again in My Jetta) and traded in our fancy threads for jeans and leather and were ready to hit the streets. We walked aimlessly for hours stopping to take photos of buildings.

I had ice cream at Hagen-Daz!!!!!!!! The scoop costs around 20 LE but worth it.

We shopped and bargained and discovered there were more Morrocans in Belgium than Belgians. We finally located a cinema, and I regret to inform you that I in an unprecedented act of bravery decided to see “The Da Vinci Code” the 9 to 12 show. This I would never do normally but we had missed the only available show. Here in Brussels you have to be careful or you’d end up watching the French version with Flemmish subtitles. Book much better than the movie. MUCH. I actually slept through the ending So much for “the night is young and so are we”.

Day 3

Last night in Brussels we had Paella, a Spanish dish that has spread through Europe like wildfire, its rice with seafood. Not bad, although in all honesty, highly overrated. Then again once an Alexandrian no seafood is ever good enough ๐Ÿ™‚

A country could be without any natural resources that would attract tourism yet could create a tourist industry with good planning. Following such logic a country with natural god given wonders SHOULD be………

We totally exhausted our finances, to the extent that we were emptying our pockets to see if we could afford one last Belgian waffle. Our Palestenian friend actually gives us one on the house. Arabs are so nice to each other abroad, 3o2bal locally ๐Ÿ™‚

Saw “Faliure to launch” on the return flight. Its a very airheaded movie. “”How to loose a guy in 10 days” is 100 times better.

I had a great time during my 3 days in Brussels but I wouldn’t stay any longer, there is really nothing much to do. I certainly would like to travel again, but perhaps somewhere new.