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I thought this picture I took in Dublin was best suited for the topic

If I had a Pound, (Euro or Dollar) for every time someone asked me ‘Why Aren’t You Married’, I would have a hefty retirement fund!

It has reached a point where, I wonder if this is all people have to worry about?! I meet people for the first time and naturally they’ll ask if you have a significant other, but they shouldn’t feel the need to lecture me on ‘Why I Should, Have One’. Even some of the doctors I’ve had consultations with seem to be more concerned about my marital status than my ailments. I appreciate the fact that close friends and some family members want to see me settled down and happy. What I don’t like is those whom I hardly know appoint themselves to play match maker with determination. (What do they get out of it? Is there some jackpot or prize you get if your match is a good one?)

Let me clarify, once and for all to those who are adamant to find me a significant other (based on THEIR wrong criteria to find me a ‘PERFECT’ match) and to those who can not get their head around the idea of me flying solo. I have great respect for marriage and all that is stands for. I do think it is a beautiful thing to be able to live ones life with another and share the burdens and happiness that come their way together as a team and to justify their union and love by having children, so their family tree can continue to blossom and grow. HOWEVER, I DO NOT believe that I should marry for the sake of being married. Just so that I can have a wedding band placed upon my ring finger along with a nice big sparkly one, have a big party and not be alone! If I want to wear a ring, I’ll go buy one. If I want a party, by GEORGE I shall throw one! If I’m lonely, I can go out to social events mingle with people, invite people over or go visit family or friends.

Marriage is a commitment that I would take seriously and I would want it to be forever, (not to use as an escape to move out of my parent’s home. Which doesn’t apply to me because I don’t live with them anyway). I do not want to marry the first person that comes knocking at my parent’s door asking for my hand, especially if he knows nothing about me, my family or upbringing.

In the past I have had mothers of sons and men see me walk into a store or driving my car and find out who I am through 6 degrees of separation, get my parent’s home number and call my father up and ask for my hand in marriage without ever having spoken a word to me! The last time someone did that my father took great pleasure in telling the caller that I had recently just been released from a mental institution, (NOT TRUE OF COURSE) and that he was a garbage collector. I found it extremely funny, while the person on the other end of the line was not as amused!

I want to marry someone who understands how my mind works (well, to some degree), who appreciates and understand my mixed ethnicity/cultural heritage (and doesn’t want me to change who I am or make me choose one culture over another),  has similar characteristic traits, shares some of my dreams/interests, is a bit adventurous, likes to play sports and can deal with my loony family and relatives! He must speak ENGLISH quite well, (if he can speak more languages, excellent! but he has to be able to communicate with the Irish Clan), likes to hold intellectual conversations, reads, well-traveled, has a playful side, very good sense of humor and doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty, because I won’t be the only one doing all the hard labor around the house and changing dirty diapers. Oh an most importantly is financially independent from his family.

Marriage to me is a partnership, where two people promise to look after one another and share everything. I am not the type to marry and be told to stay home, not work, cook/clean all day long, have children and raise them alone. While hubbiness goes to work, comes home, eats, naps, showers, changes and goes out and socialize with his friends.  (If that’s what I wanted, I would go for Don Draker, from MAD MEN). That is a recipe for my misery and driving me to the brink of insanity ! So, those kind of guys need to be taken off your must introduce her to him lists! That is if you really do have my happiness and best interest at heart.

If you’re miserable in your life and want company… then please don’t set me up with anyone.

If a guy comes from a well-known, respectable, rich family it DOES NOT automatically make him a nice guy and my dream man! Money is great to have, but it isn’t a recipe for a successful marriage. The person’s personality, ethics, morals, values, mentality are things that I find more important than the wrist watch he wears, car he drives, his home address and the size of his PARENT’S bank account.

‘Friends’ of mine, (who have now been demoted to mere acquaintances) wanted to introduce me to a guy who was VERY wealthy and was quite liberal. Now, I am not one to judge a book by its cover, but why would anyone want to introduce a 20 something year old girl (my age at the time), to a guy in his mid 40s who is extremely over weight, has lost half of his teeth, from lack of dental hygiene (due to excessive smoking and drinking) and has little social etiquette? Clearly these people didn’t take the time to know me or to choose wisely either.

I have met, socialized and been out with several guys who fall into this category. I have to say a small minority of them have been raised to be gentlemen of great integrity and are very decent men. While others have been toads dressed like princes.

Players and Cheaters… What can I say? I have been played and burned by both. Not the most pleasant of experiences and I have learned from my mistakes and have grown wiser and stronger because of it. These two are like trying to domesticate a tiger!! Woman can not ‘change’ or ‘reform’ them. They have to sincerely want to and they have to be the ones to take the steps. If/when they are ready, I’ll gladly give them consideration, until then, I’ll Pass, Thanks.

Just because a guy lives abroad and holds a foreign passport like I do, doesn’t mean it’s a match made in heaven! The same goes if he’s of mixed ethnicity too.

So, to sum it all up. I would much rather be single and continue to work on improving upon myself and experience what life has to offer than jump into a marriage with someone who is not compatible with me (and vice versa). I don’t want to be put in a situation where I marry someone and find out 2 kids later, that I can’t stand being around him and be forced to make a decision to either stay in the marriage to keep the family together while I am secretly miserable and hide my pain behind my smiles as a sacrifice for their happiness or break up a family and watch the children go through pain I could have had a hand in preventing.

So, That is WHY, I am not rushing to the altar to get married. Let me live and let live!

If you find someone who meets MOST of the criteria I am looking for then we can talk. If not, DON’T even think about it!

The day I decide to tie the knot and take the plunge and say; I DO. I’ll let you know. Until then, no one should lose any sleep over me being happily single!

Students and teachers alike look forward to the longest holiday of the year, ‘summer’.

In the past summers for me meant packing my bags with all that I would need and move down to Agami, a summer resort just outside of Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea, where my parents had a beach house. There I would spend my days in shorts, t-shirt, swimsuit and flip-flops with my beach bag ready for the beach. Two to three months of swimming, tanning, reading, playing volleyball, running a summer camp for children and catching up with old friends whom I hadn’t seen since the previous summer.

Summer home in Agami- Villa Casa Blanca

Times have changed and friends have moved on. I have not been back to Bianki since 2007. I miss the times, I had there during my teenage years. It is there where I made some of my most memorable memories and met some very interesting people and dear friends.  To date, my summers are split between Alexandria and going abroad to various destinations to get away from the stress that the post revolution has left and the political roller coaster of electorial disappointments we have had to take part in, witness and accept the results of.

The beginning portion of my summer for the past two years has been spent in Alexandria with my parents. My mother and I have been motivating one another to get back in shape and eat healthy. (This as some of you may know has been an ongoing process for me. After  1.5 years of battling the bulge, I am 13Kg away from my target weight!) I would spend an hour working out at home, doing various crunches and sit-ups as well as using an elliptical bike and 3 hours of the day would be spent swimming laps and using various apparatus to help strengthen and tone my arms and legs. For a few weeks, I or we would go abroad.

To go abroad for me is a chance to recharge, re-evaluate, relax and look at things from a different perspective (the change in scenery and climate is also an added bonus). This year my mother and I ventured to London to visit briefly with my sister and to Ireland to attend a family wedding and strengthen family connection with our cousins, whom we had lost contact with over the past few years.

I am fascinated with our family genealogy, especially on the Irish side. I have found that not only do I look Irish, I have a lot of the Irish family traits in me and from listening to stories, I find I learn more and more about myself and why some of the members of our family are the way that they are.

As a young girl London never appealed to me, I had formed an image of it being a dark, grey and gloomy place, much like the Industrial time in England. My opinion changed quickly when I first visited 3 years ago. I look forward to my visits there now, not solely due to it’s undeniable allure but because I actually feel normal there. I don’t worry about what I’m wearing and if I’ll be harassed as I walk down the street or how long it will take me to get to my destination. When I am there the stress of constantly having to be aware of the people around me and looking for signs of possible sexual harassers trying to invade my personal space drops from 100 to 1.

Time spent with my sister, her husband and other members of our family are precious and they always take priority. I try to spend as much time with them as I can, to keep our family bond strong and because I simply love being in their company. There is never a dull moment when we congregate! On extended visits I like to walk around and take in the sights, museums, shows, take pictures and of course shop! (One has to make a contribution to the economy of the country one happens to visit, no?)

It was also exciting to have been there pre-Olympic ceremony. To see the city decorated with flags of the different nations taking part in the games. The excitment and pride of the nationals to host the games. My mum and I missed the ceremony but watched many of the highlights and events once we had made it back to our hotel room and back to Egypt after our trip. The athletes are phenominal in their dedication and inspring!

Family time or giving new meaning to the term, ‘swimming with the fishes’

I have always been very proud and patriotic of my Irish heritage. When I visit I can’t help but be in awe of her beauty. Her beauty, in my opinion becomes more enhanced by her people, who have such a cheerful, friendly, helpful and funny disposition about them. I can’t help but find so many similarities in them and the ‘old’ Egyptian culture that I grew up knowing, ( it saddens me to think that what remains of the ‘old’ Egypt, might soon be lost, if things are not sorted out soon).

During this trip to Ireland, I made sure that I would not be rushing through like a forest fire, but I would actually have time to walk the streets, visit historical landmarks, eat in pubs, shop and talk with the locals, as well as visit with family.

I can not tell you how much I enjoyed touring the capital, learning about how Ireland earned its Independence, driving through the grounds of Phoenix Park, visiting Trinity College and sitting in its grand library of ancient manuscripts and books that were written and read by some of the greatest minds on earth and where some members of my family attended. Although my connection to the country itself isn’t strong, I think this journey has definitely strengthened it.

                                                       
                        The scene from the brige where my cousin wed his bride. Tintern Abbey-Rosslare

My cousin whom I had only reconnected with over the last three years and hadn’t seen in twenty, invited my family and I to attend his wedding. The place in which the nuptials took place and the ceremony itself was unlike any wedding that I have ever been to or seen before. It was a Humanist Wedding/Ceremony, filled with spirituality, tradition and love. It was held on a bridge on a beautiful summer’s day with beautiful landscape encompassing the couple and their families and friends. Nothing could have made it more magical, meaningful or beautiful in my opinion.  The two-day event was packed with entertainment, food and great times. Most importantly it was shared with people who truly cared for the couple and genuinely wished them nothing but happiness in their future life together. It was at this event, where I made new connections and bonds with members of our family whom I had lost contact with and those I had never met before. (Now, I know where I get my energy, drive, motivation to succeed, love of learning, sense of humor and love of partying from, The McSorley Clan)

The third part of our trip was spent visiting the area of where my grandmother and generations before her had come from. In some strange way, Wexford, a small county by the sea reminded me of Alexandria. It is here where my mother attended boarding school as a young girl and where she spent many summers with her aunt, uncle and cousins at a nearby resort called Rosslare. As I walked the quay and breathed in the fresh Irish sea air and took in the scenic views, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the opportunity to have traveled to the land of my ancestors, to see where half of me is from and to be able to pass down the stories that have been told to me by my aunt, mother and cousins, so, that our history isn’t lost or forgotten.

In Wexford we strengthened existing ties with family we are in touch with. It was also a second opportunity for my mother to spend time her aged aunt of 97 years and to thank her for all the wonderful summers she had spent with them as a child and all the other things she and her late husband did for her growing up. (Moments like that should be seised, because they may never come again).

There is so much more for me to see and learn of Ireland but I have an itching desire to learn as much as I can about my family as I can. I hope to be able to go back there again soon in the near future.

Upon returning to Egypt I couldn’t help but feel depressed. Ireland might be in dire straits economically but the people have the drive to rebuild the country to get it back on its feet again. Egypt, a nation of great potential and historical as well as cultural wealth seems to be sinking before our eyes and very few seem willing to get their hands dirty. I have said it before and I will say it again. I fear for Egypt’s future and her children. I pray that I am wrong and that she will not suffer in the hands of men like Rasputin. Perhaps the Egyptian Olympians who preformed so well at the London 2012 games, might inspire their country men and women that hard work does pay off and that they can not only achieve great things but be recognised for them in the long run, if they pull together and move forward in rebuilding the country rather than pointing the finger of blame.

 

Anywhere in the world, you’ll find that every place has its good and bad points. For the upper crust of society and expatriates who are working over here on contracts they’ll find that there are many perks to living in Egypt.

Egypt is like a treasure trove when it comes to historical landmarks, artifacts and sights. It’s rich in history and culture too. Living in Egypt can be quite comfortable if you are from the upper tier of the social ladder and if you hold a fairly good job that earns you around 7,000LE a month      (~ $1166). Grocery shopping, clothes shopping, shoe shopping, eating out at restaurants and going to the movies is affordable (when you buy mostly Egyptian made products.) If you compare the prices to Europe and North America, you’ll find that you can spend and save here.

Another upside to living here is hiring cleaning help is affordable, which is great because homes get very dusty here, quite quickly, due to sandstorms and the pollution. It saves a lot of your time and energy having someone to help in the dust busting battle. Like everything in life it can have its bad points too.

Cleaners here can be very heavy handed, so if you don’t have a house laden with antiques, glass, and family mementos or other objects that can break you have little to worry about. If you do, then put your most prized things in a display cabinet away from their clumsy hands. My parents on several occasions when they have come to move the place of one of their statuettes or vases have found them to mysteriously collapse in their hands. One of our former help had taken the broken pieces and skillfully put them back together to make it look as though it was still in one piece and intact. She wasn’t made to pay for the broken item because 1-We don’t have proof that she actually did it. 2- She wouldn’t have been able to pay us back.

When you hire a cleaner you need to make sure that for the first few times that they come, you are guiding them through the motions of how you want things cleaned and done. You also need to show them what cleaning products you want used on what. You need to mold or train them to your preferred way of cleaning, otherwise you will find that many surfaces don’t get dusted and lots of corners get cut. After 7 years of living in Cairo and cleaning my 2 bedroomed apartment on my own, I have finally given in and decided to hire someone to help me once a week around the house. I have to admit that it takes a lot of chores off of my to-do list because by the time I come home I’m too exhausted to do it myself and on the weekends that last thing I want to do is clean!  I only hired my cleaner recently and I have to follow her around making sure she cleans and dusts everything properly. The first time she came she used Pledge (wood polish) on glass and would ‘forget’ to clean the mirror in the bathroom.

Cleaners here are quite thorough, so if you find them rolling up carpets and lifting and moving furniture in the different room, and throwing soapy water all over your tiled floors you can be sure that your floor will be shining by the time they’re done! Be sure to help direct them to where things go once they have dried the floor and are putting things back, or better yet help them return things to their rightful place, (I do, it helps speed up the process).

Before or half way through their cleaning they might ask if they can have a cup of tea. They like to have it in a glass and some will ask if they can have something to eat. Usually they prefer to have bread and cheese or bread and egg. My cleaner likes her tea sweet and to have cigarette breaks on the balcony. When she comes to me its late afternoon and her last meal was probably at breakfast time, so I usually offer her something to eat. If I have food made I’ll heat it up and give it to her or make her a sandwich of some kind.

I think the normal routine with most people is to pay their cleaner after every time they come. Give them the exact amount; it will save you a lot of hassle. Don’t be surprised if they ask for advances, and don’t be surprised if they keep asking for more. The best thing is not to get yourself in that situation because you might end up giving more than you had agreed on.

Every cleaner has a sob story and they always have drama going on! Hollywood should come and listen to them for script ideas! Most of the help my parents have tell tales that pull at your heart strings and my parents, like myself are quite generous and helpful to a point. When we start to feel that we are being taken advantage of we slam on the breaks and start dishing out a little tough love. How do you know when they are REALLY in need of help, you don’t. Sometimes you can hear contradictions in their stories or their actions don’t reflect their words.

For examples if someone claims poverty and can’t feed their children, they are going to make sure that they will come to work on the days that they are meant to be there to earn the money  they need to feed and look after the family and not call up and say ‘I can’t make it I have a visitor’. One of the help our parents had would say there had been a death in the family; I sincerely hope that that person she claims to have died 5 times is well and truly dead because if she isn’t, I’d be worried about her health. If you say you can’t afford to buy a water heater for your house, you will scrimp and save to gather the money together and not go to a dietician to lose weight. (I swear I’m not making this up)

It goes without saying; don’t leave money, jewelry or anything of value lying around to tempt them. It is always better having those things out of sight and locked away in a safe place. Most cleaners are honest; others will jump at the opportunity to take what they can find to sell for more cash. A friend of mine had live in help, but the young woman someone how found the keys to all the cupboards, had them copied and when the family was out took thousands of pounds and thousands of euros along with mobile phones, IPods and other expensive items and gave them to her ‘boyfriend’. You need to be careful. You have to understand that the house and life you live in is probably what they dream about having.

Some of the cleaners will iron your clothes and prepare food too. As much as I hate ironing, I still prefer to do it myself. If an item of clothing gets ruined then the only person I have to blame is myself and I can replace it. When I also prepare and cook my own food because I find that most Egyptians use a lot of salt and oil in their food and I don’t like either.

If you do have clothes, shoes or other items that you have out grown or are no longer in need of, before throwing it in the trash, ask them if they would like it. Chances are they will take it for themselves or give it to someone they know who needs it.

 

As the famous saying goes; everything comes at a price. The question is how badly do you want it?

Former President Hosni Mubarek in the cage

History was made today in Egypt, when Mubarak, the former Egyptian president actually appeared in court in a white jump suite lying down on a hospital bed with an I.V. in his arm, (contents of IV are unknown). He appeared in court along with his two son and other accused. One of whom was the former minister of Interior and security Habeeb El Adly (who is already serving 12 years sentence for corruption and could be facing the death penalty if found guilty of having a hand in the murder of the victims of the uprising for allowing the security forces to use weapons and live ammunition).
Lawyers from both sides took turns speaking in to their microphone, declaring whom they represent and what requests they would like the judge to consider during the trial. For the prosecution there were over 130 lawyers, many of whom were not permitted to enter the courtroom. Most of who represent the people and the families of the martyrs from many different governates in Egypt.
The lawyers when speaking were reciting verses of the Holy Quraan and would harp on and use fancy words and phrases, which the judge didn’t care for and insisted that the lawyers got straight to the point. At times the circus of lawyers fighting for the right and time to speak in to the microphone looked like a classroom scene where eager students were trying to answer questions to impress their teacher. At one point in time the judge insisted all the lawyers be seated and come up to the microphone one at a time in an orderly fashion. There were a few lawyers who stood out, some demanded that Gen. Tantawi be brought testify as well as Anan former Vice President Omar Soleiman. Another brought charges against the phone networks Mobinil, Vodafone and Etisalat for cutting phone lines, one lawyer pulled out and ink pad and demanded the finger prints of the former president and his sons to open a criminal file against them. The lawyer that stood out the most was the one who wanted a DNA test because he believed that the man in the cage wasn’t Hosni Mubarak but an imposter who has been posing as him since 2004, because he believes the real Hosni Mubarak is dead.
The momentous moment for me was hearing the Prosecutor read the charges against the defendants gave me chills. To see the country’s former giants in a cage in a courtroom in jump suits hearing the charges brought against them was surreal. Never did anyone in this nation think they would see the day when a former leader and his crony’s being brought to justice. Mubarak’s sons who remained standing beside their father’s bed blocking the cameras from getting a clear shot of their father were chocked up and emotional when they heard the charges against them being read.
When the judge (Rifaat) asked for the defendants to show themselves and prove that they are present and asked them how they plea to the charges that were read and brought against them and hearing their answers of ‘not guilty’ to me was a moment to remember. I didn’t think that I would ever live to see a trial of this magnitude or significance take place in Egypt.

I am glad that the Judge has split the cases, Mubarak and sons will be tried separately from Adly and his aids. Adly and aid’s case will resume tomorrow, August 4th and the Mubarak’s case will be brought back on August 15th.
Mubarak has been ordered to be held at a hospital on the outskirts of Cairo, on the Cairo Ismalia road. I know that many people felt sorry for Mubarak and believed him to be seriously ill. I am skeptical and think it’s part of an act. I do however admire his sons standing by his side and trying to block camera’s view and showed unity, (that doesnt change what I think of them though).
We have to wait and see what will happen until then…. Never the less it’s all history in the making and possibly a significant step towards true democracy.

As I may or may not have mentioned in previous posts my little sister was getting married. It didn’t look as though it would happen with the recent events that took place in Egypt, but we were able to pull it off and celebrate the union of my sister’s marriage to her husband.

I was bestowed the title and the responsibility of Maid of Honor. One of my responsibilities was to organize a bachelorette Party or Henna Night, but due to dodgy security and safety issues in Egypt, I decided to host it in my flat in Cairo. The only problem was that I had never attended a bachelorette or henna in my life, so I had no idea what the hell to do!! I asked a few friends and the grooms sisters for some insight as well as the brides in put. I didn’t want it to be a cock-up…, I wanted everyone to have a cracking good time with lots of laughter!

So, I decided to go with more of a (tame) Western approach to the bachelorette. I sent out an e-vite to all her friends and colleagues, came up with a menu, (which was partially catered) and the only thing left to do was to come up with a theme and entertainment… easier said than done! It’s a good thing I plan ahead of time… because I started a month before the party date!  I decided to go with a blue and white theme, which was a lucky choice, because I was able to find plates, napkins, place mats, cake, cookies and flowers to match. Bachelorette Parties are not popular here, so decorations were none existent, but being a teacher and having some creative talents I made them myself along with streamers hanging from the chandeliers!

With the security situation in Egypt being close to none existent for civilians throughout February and March, I had been suffering from insomnia. People’s homes were being robbed at all hours of the day, people being kidnapped and held for randsom, making sure I was home well before the curfew hours and school buses being attacked by bandits during the early hours of the morning, robbing teachers and students on the buses. Many of which were close to where I worked. So, as you can imagine it was a  tough time! As tired as I was of being on high alert all the time, I didn’t want to let my sister down, she had been through enough, with having the excitement of buying her dress buried under the events that followed  January 28th, so I pushed myself through the exhaustion to make her party a memorable one.

On the 1st of April it was party time! I had done everything I could possibly do and I just prayed it would be a night she would enjoy as well as remember. The party was due to kick off at 3pm, but due to Egyptians and their terrific sense of time, the guests started to arrive at around 4pm, which was probably a blessing in disguise because the caterers were late too and that was the day we had a mild Earthquake…talk about getting things off to a shaky start!

When the guests and the food finally arrived, I got the party started with an ice breaker and then when straight in to the games! I wish I could go in to juicy details, but, what happens at the bachelorette party stays at the bachelorette party. What i can disclose is that my sister and her guests had a hysterical time. The enjoyed the entertainment, the food and the company, which in my opinion is all that matters!

The week that followed was the signing of her marriage certificate (registry) or as it’s known in the Middle East, Ketb Ketab. I took 2 days off of work to be able to help out and attend the civil ceremony. Which was touch and go… My sister for some odd reason decided to go to the bank that morning and got held up, which made her late for her hair appointment and their was a protest on the street we lived on which made traffic build up, which made her very late getting home to get ready for the ceremony which (luckily) was being held at home. She arrived 3 minutes before the groom and the registrar! When the ceremony commenced she realised she didn’t have her I.D, so I had to run down the corridor to her room to find it in a dress and high heels, I felt like a penguin on stilts. (for those of you who don’t know me… dresses, heels and I don’t go well together. Why you ask? I don’t think I do dresses justice, high heels kill my feet and are super uncomfortable I don’t care what it does for posture! THEY HURT LIKE HELL) Once that was settled the groom had a look of panic on his face and he kept mouthing something to me, he had forgotten something in his bag, which meant I had to do another high heel marathon down the hall way! From that point on, it was smooth sailing!

5 days later, 15th of April was the BIG Wedding reception. By this time I am so sleep deprived that the night before my Mum insisted I take a sleeping tablet or I would burn myself out which was one of the best suggestions she could have come up with because the day of the wedding I was running around the hotel grounds like a quarter back out on the field, from one block to another. By the time the bride was dressed, with her hair beautifully styled, pictures had been taken and we were ready to get the party started I could have curled up next to Rip Van Winkle, but no… Dad wasn’t answering his phone, so I had to go ahead of the bride and groom to find my father to tell him to be at the stairs waiting for my sister. Again trying to run across the hotel compound in an evening dress and heels isn’t an easy thing to do and it slows you down considerably…. so, there was only on thing to do, take off the damn shoes, hike up the dress and hold it one hand along with clutch and camera, while carrying the shoes in the other dashing to the building where the reception party was being held, (I am not making this up! I have scores of witnesses!!).  I run in to the hotel reception and to the left is the bar where many guests decided to go and wait because they got tired of waiting…wedding was due to start at 6pm and bride didn’t get there till about 8pm! I run in to the bar barefoot, dress hiked up, shoes in one hand and yell ‘She’s coming!!! Yella!! Everyone up stairs! Let’s get this party started!’ only to spin around and run up the spiral stair case two steps at a time to the hall and come face to face with my father’s cousin who sees the sight of me and falls about laughing as I rush past him and burst in to the hall, my poor father seems me just as he’s about to put a handful of nuts in his mouth and takes my uncouth entrance as a cue that she’s ready and needs to go and stand in position. I run over  to my mother to tell her we are starting and she just grabs me by the arm and says…’NADIA, that is not the way to make an elegant entrance, PUT YOUR SHOES ON NOW!’ After that it was a good, good night! All the guests had a fantastic time, everyone was up dancing, singing to the songs and the people who attended genuinely were happy for the Bride and Groom! I have never seen my sister so radiant and happy. I’m going to miss not having her in the same country…but at least now I have a valid excuse for leaving the country to go and visit her!

You would think that after all of that I slept right?… WRONG! The party went on till 5am, I opted out at 3:30, only to be locked out of my room because a power surge canceled my key card and I had to get another one. I was up later that morning at 9am, at the dining hall for breakfast and out lounging by the pool by 11am. It wasn’t until Sunday after having taken my sister to the airport and my parents had gone back to Alexandria that I finally slept a full night after almost 2 months of surviving on maybe 3-5 hours sleep a night or a week.

I love my sister and my new brother – in -law dearly and being given the title and duties of Maid of Honour is truly flattering to have bestowed upon you, but trust me, it isn’t what it’s cracked up to be!! I don’t understand why people get their knickers in a twist if they weren’t chosen for the role!

So, as you can imagine with everything that has been going on, it was hard to find time to blog with everything that I had piled high on my plate.

A week a go today, in Zamalek, a solidarity concert was being held at the Sakkia El Sawy Cultural Wheel to raise money for the victims of the explosions in Alexandria.
It was organized and put together by the cast members of the newly released Arabic movie, Microphone, directed and written by Ahmad Abdalla.
The MC for the night was the very talented and well spoken Khaled AbulNaga. When he took the stage he spoke of the unfortunate event of New Years Eve in Alexandria and of the ‘Egyptians’ who had unjustly been taken from their families and lost their lives.
He asked all the attendees as a sign of respect to turn off their mobile phones and anything else that had a light and would be of a distraction while we gazed upon the faces that we had lost in a minute of silence, as their photographs appeared and faded off and on to the screen. It was heart wrenching to see the faces looking out in to the audience. When the minute had passed Abul Naga continued to talk to the crowd of supporters and said ‘I hope that we can come together and stop this from happening again. This was a slap in our faces, a wake up call to stop the seeds that have been sown and growing over a long period of time. What happened was not God’s will, it was the terrorists and their interpretation of God’s will.” As the actor spoke out in to the crowd he was greeted by a mix of reactions. Some people hung their heads in sadness; some had tears welling up in their eyes, while others nodded in agreement. “Egyptians have been around long before any religion came to be’ he continued ‘ “I Am Egyptian” was a phrase used not only to identify where you were from, back then it was a feeling, it was a state of being” The brothers and sister’s that we lost were Egyptians, they were one of us”. This statement was received with applause, cheers and with members of the audience repeating the phrase ‘Ana Masri”, (which means, I am Egyptian).
He went on to explain that the money from the tickets and the half the price of the solidarity t-shirts were to go to the victims of the attack, he encouraged everyone to buy a t-shirt before the night was over.
From there the majority of the bands that appeared in the movie Microphone took turns coming on stage to perform in front of the Egyptians who came to stand in solidarity. I stayed to just before the end. I can tell you that the ambiance although relaxed was a roller coaster of emotions for the musicians and the viewers. The performances were well put together, but one song stood out the most. I didn’t catch the singer’s name, but he moved everyone to tears with the song that he sang and the emotion that he put in to it. He himself had tears running down his face as he sang out the words that there is no difference between Muslim’s and Christians. When his song came to and end the audience had fallen silent and were just blown away by the lyrics as well as the performance that no one could speak. When they did come out of their trance like state they not only applauded, whistled and cheered they demanded an encore! The artist, although drained and out of breath, granted their request and sang it again, with even more gusto and emphasis than his first performance. It was, a moment to witness.
Between each band members of the cast or other fellow supporters from the entertainment industry took the mike to say a few words and to encourage everyone to help put an end to sectarianism. I just hope and pray that those attended took their words to heart and truly understood the fight that we are up-against, because if we do not stand as a united front, this will undoubtedly happen again and I fear the devastation will be on a much larger scale.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the cast of Microphone, for being so quick to respond to the aid of my fellow Egyptians and Alexandrians. I would also like to applaud them for taking the initiative and setting an example for their country men and women.

If you would like to see pictures taken at the concert, go to The Irish Alexandrian group on facebook;

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=217138771946

The Rat Pack Tribute Show Comes to Cairo

I am a big fan of the ‘Arts’ and the Entertainment Industry. I haven’t been to the Cairo Opera house as frequently as I would have liked to this year due to my efforts in trying to complete my Master’s in Education. Once I had finished one of my 8 weeks courses of total focus and dedication I became a bit of a bum and recluse. I seem to be coming out of that lazy frame of mind and want to attend more exhibitions and performances.
Last Tuesday, which was the 30th of November, I heard that there was a Las Vegas group performing at the Opera house and they were Rat Pack impersonators.
I have always been a sucker for Sinatra and I quite like Dean Martin too, so I convinced four other people to join if I could get my paws on tickets.
Luckily I didn’t have to go all the way to Zamalek to get tickets for the show. I was relieved and over the moon to discover that the Thomas Cook travel agents in Korba, Heliopolis sell tickets for all the shows at the Opera house.
Luck was on my side and I got the last five seats in the house at 200LE a pop on opening night! I just prayed that the performance wasn’t going to be as disappointing as the so-called Broadway dancers that had come to perform ‘Take the Floor’ the previous year.
Thursday evening I’m dressed to the nines and excited about going to the Opera house. I don’t know what it is about the ambiance of the place, but I can’t help but feel classy, feminine and cultured.
When the lights dimmed to signal the start of the performance and the curtain rose to reveal a band playing an interlude, my feet couldn’t stop tapping to the beat.
Dean Martin’s look a like; (Andrew DiMino) was the first of the pack to grace the stage. He had a very good likeness to the legendary performer and he won the audience over with his adapted saeedy jokes and his experiences since he had arrived in Cairo.
He sang many familiar tunes that we have heard in movies and weddings. Members of the audience were tapping their feet to the beat; some were swaying to the music and the majority, were lip syncing the words to the songs.
There were fours ‘show girl’ dancers too, but they were as one friend of mine aptly described their presence ‘decoration’. The choreography wasn’t up to par and it looks as though they had only just learned the steps.
Allen Gregory was the artist who had an uncanny and striking resemblance to late Sammy Davis Jr. watching and listening to him, you could have sworn that Sammy himself had come back from the dead to perform on Cairo’s stage. He was terrific.
He sang one of my favorite childhood songs ‘Candy Man’ among many other hits.
When Old Blue Eyes tribute artist took the stage, he didn’t look like Sinatra but he could belt out the tunes almost as good as the man himself! Gary Anthony who performed as Sinatra had the audience clapping loudly until their hands hurt!
The trio sang a few songs together and their final song ‘New York’ had the audience clapping and singing along to the very end.
Friends of mine who went to see the performance on different days were just as impressed with the show as my friends and I had been.
An entertaining night and money well spent!

P.S Follow me on twitter for daily up dates

HELLO, ONE AND ALL!

I have finally completed an eight week course in Action Research towards completing my Masters in Elementary Education. It was very tough going, especially with having to work full-time and without the aid or a co-teacher/assistant. I was close to being burned out and I was very miserable! Thankfully, I was able to earn myself an A-!! I honestly didn’t expect to get that. I was praying for a ‘B’. I know have one more course to complete and a comprehensive exam and I will be done!

Within the past two months I attended two weddings, had a meal at two restaurants that I had never been to before and went sandboaring! I have a lot of topics that I have been wanting to write about and now that I have some time to dedicate to my writing again, I will be posting more regularly.

The editor of ‘Moments, Life Style Magazine’ sent me the link to view a digital version of magazine. The magazine is due to launch (inshaa allah) in December. You can view my monthly column ‘Nadia, In The City’ on page 62. Have a skim through and tell me what you think.

http://www.momentsmagazine.net/
You can now view a digital version of the magazine on line. Click on the ‘Digital Magazine’ button on the top right hand corner of the page. Fast forward to page 62, to check out my page. Let me know what you think!!!

I’ll write more soon!

Be well and stay safe!

Last week was a national holiday in Egypt. It’s a date that will forever be remembered in Egyptian history. It’s the day that the Egyptian army won a battle against Israel.
On Oct. 6th, 1973 the Egyptian Armed Forces assaulted the Suez Canal
after the Air Force strike against the Israeli Forces positions in Sinai,
the artillery also made the most massive preparations known in history.
Hereafter, the Armed Forces crossed the Suez Canal and seized
“Barlev Line” destroyed the Israeli sequential attacks and managed
a group of air, sea and land combined operations efficiently,
the matter that led to the glorious victory of the Armed Forces.
 
         http://www.mmc.gov.eg/History/gg3.htm
(I don’t think I could have explained it better myself)

Unlike other countries, there are no huge parades for the public to see, it’s just a day off for everyone to enjoy.
‘Weekend Trips’ decided to honor that day in history and organized something very fitting for the occasion, A PAINT BALL WAR! The venue was at Al Rehab Club, in Rehab City. The last time I played, was last spring and I had a great time with my friends, so, this time I persuaded a couple of my colleagues to join.
‘The Weekend Trip Team’ did a great job of organizing the day, they divided the 33 people into teams and kept score. ‘Weekend Trips’ co-founder and team leader, Yehia El Decken, has a talent for breaking the ice and making people relax and enjoy the moment. The Staff and Ref’s who work at the paint ball place were professional and sincerely had the participant’s safety in high consideration! They took their time explaining the rules of the games, safety precautions and demonstrated how to use the equipment.
The great thing about the place is that, you really do feel like you are in some kind of boot camp. You get to wear the full green camouflage suite, padded chest protector and helmet. When you are handed your gun, you can’t help but get in to ‘Character’.
There are two playing areas; the smallest playing zone is made up of bails of dry straw and palm trees. There are lots of great hiding places to shield yourself from the shooting pellets aimed at you. The other playing field is a bit bigger and has huge blown up barriers to hide behind, but can be a bit tricky to get to because they are spread quite a distance apart. So, if your feet are not quick on the sand you’re an easy target.
My colleagues and I along with 3 other girls were on the same team. A team of women who decided to call themselves ‘The Expendables’ after the testosterone action packed movie. I only wish I could report that we did Stallone proud by using his film’s name.
We lost every game we played and even though we were beaten badly by our opposing teams we took every paint pellet like a brave soldier would!
My colleagues, who had never played before, came out dripping in sweat, covered in bruises and smiling! They had a GREAT time!
I have to admit that even though we lost, I had a ball! I got to meet some new people, run around shooting colored paint pellets out of an air pressured gun, which released a lot of pent-up aggression I had been harboring and shared many laughs!!
Like my colleagues, I can’t wait to go and play again. I might have to wait a bit before my bruises fade though, I look a mess. If someone who didn’t know me saw me walking down the street, they would think either I’m accident prone or I’m in an abusive relationship!

Paintballing gets a high 5 from me!

I feel like a fish out of water! I can’t believe it has been over a month since I have posted anything. I have been caught up in whirl wind of events. Let’s see what, have I been up to?

Well;

I started one of my final Masters courses last month and I have 3 more weeks to go before it comes to an end! It’s a bitter sweat feeling. I am bitter because it’s taking up so much of my time and when I’m sat with my face glued to my lap top reading the material required for completing my course work, my friends are out enjoying themselves, while I have to force myself to be disciplined and get on with my work and convince myself that it will all be worth it in the end! The sweet sensation is knowing at the end of the journey, the money I saved up to be able to complete this and endless hours of writing, researching and reading I would have earned the title of ‘Master’ and the salary increase is always an added bonus too.

 On top of that my sister FINALLY got engaged! So, in the midst of my studies, there was a lot of planning, drama and celebrating. I am really happy and thrilled for her, because the groom to be is a really nice guy and he is going to be like the big brother I never had, but always wanted!

 I recently had to bid farewell and good luck to a dear friend of mine. He has been offered a position in the UAE and I’m feeling a bit lost without him. He was my confident and sounding board. I’m finding it rather difficult having to come to terms with the idea that I can’t just pick up the phone and call him when ever I like, or arrange to meet up for lunch to vent or to get some sound advice. I have to text, email or Skype now to keep in touch. I know everything I’m mentioning is quite selfish. I am genuinely happy that he is starting a new adventure in the chapter of his life, but apart of me wishes that I was one of the characters in that new adventurous journey.

 I can’t remember if I had previously mentioned this but, I was approached by an editor, who is launching a new magazine in Cairo, he had been reading and following my blog and thought I had an interesting perspective of what life in Cairo/Egypt is like from a half Egyptian, half Western point of view and would like me to write a column every month! So, look out for ‘Nadia, In The City’! The Magazine that is set to launch in November is called ‘Moments, Life Style Magazine’, keep a look out for it at a news stand near you!

In addition to all of that I am working full-time! The school year has finally kicked off and my new students have now been with me for the past 4 weeks. I have to say that I it’s good being back in the classroom. I don’t know what it is about being in a classroom, but to me it feels like it’s my stage or domain, where I can make magic happen. This year’s batch of second graders are a handful! They are very opinionated, have fascinating characters and are full of ENERGY!! To keep up with them, I have to get up earlier than usual and do at least half an hour on my elliptical bike to get my endorphins jumped started for a day of teaching!

There are times when I just need to drop everything I’m doing and have some ‘ME’ time. Which either means getting out of Cairo and going up to Alexandria and visiting my family OR doing something fun and joining ‘Weekend Trip’ for an adventures day of fun and some times spontaneity. The owner of Holiday tours and co-founder of ‘Weekend Trips’, Yehia El Decken, has asked me to blog about EVERY ‘weekend trip’, I go on with his team. So, you’ll be reading a lot about my adventures with them this year.

 My romantic life you ask? Emmmm…..Well, what do you think? Do you honestly think with all that I’m juggling right now, I have time for a romantic interlude!??! I will say this though, since I’ve started focusing on myself and looking after myself more, I seem to have re-ignited ‘The Old Me’, which is attracting some attention. Other than that…there is nothing to report!

How about you? What have you been up to?

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