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As I mentioned in my previous post, there is too much going on for me to go in to great detail, so I am posting the e-mails that I am sending to family and friends abroad with the summary of what is going on.

If you want to follow-up to the minute updates, i suggest you get on to twitter or get an account. To follow the events of what is going on in Egypt, do a search for Jan25, it will give you all the latest updates of what is going on, on the ground, pictures, web sites to see videos. Please retweet information that is confirmed and reliable for people on the ground.

I have been following reporter ianinegypt and benwedemen from CNN on twitter, they are very reliable.

There is a very high possibility that lines of communication will be cut, facebook, twitter, Blackberry messenger, phone lines and internet maybe down. If you hear nothing from Egypt tomorrow, the action will speak for itself.

Last night was a long night in Cairo and Egypt.
Protests across the nation took place.
In Cairo there were several protests in different places.
In comparison to Tuesday, Wednesday was a louder cry and the police
were a lot tougher than they were before.
As one CNN reporter said, ‘NO RESTRAINT’ was being used.
100s of protesters were detained and some are still missing. 6 deaths in total.
The area that was the worst was Suez. It got out of control, police
station was burned as well as another government building.

Thursday (today) has been a quiet day, thus far.
People took the day to sleep, rest and stock up on supplies.

Others have purchased another mobile line, bought extra phone
batteries, gas masks and a few other necessities.
Instruction on putting a locator (GPS) on your phone, so that your
family and friends know where you are at all times have been
circulating in case of being arrested, so that people know where you are being held.
Other instructions are how to behave during the march.

A warning went out earlier this morning that Blackberry messenger
would be suspended, and this came true not too long ago.
Twitter is also down at the moment. Facebook is down.

*Blackberry Messenger and twitter are back up and running on Blackberrys. (for now)

Mohamed El Baradei is returning from Europe today, to join the
Egyptian people in the March scheduled after Friday Prayers tomorrow
at around 1pm Cairo local time.

Another strong rumour circulating is that shops have been instructed
to close tomorrow and mosques have been told/warned to suspend
Friday prayers. I have just come back from getting some extra
groceries, just in case the rumour is true. I will go out and get
batteries, candles, flash light and a box of water shortly.
(I could be over doing it, but I’d rather be prepared). All of this
brings back memories of drills in Saudi Arabia during the 1st Gulf
War.

I am expecting more actions will be taken to limit civilians
communication with one another.

Everyone is being encouraged to take part in the march. I would love
to join, but I know my parents would be worrying themselves in to an
early grave and it just isn’t worth it.
Secondly…with the way things are currently going in Suez, I suspect
things might turn ugly here. I’d rather be some where away from tear
gas, bullets and the risk of being beaten.
From here, I can communicate with people inside and outside of the country.

I will try to keep you all updated on my well-being 

Much love,

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?

 They say; “If you can drive in Egypt, you can drive anywhere in the world!” I used to laugh when I heard that phrase, but once I learned how to drive, I knew exactly what they meant.

 If you have ever dreamed of being a race car driver, loved playing bumper cars at the fun parks and enjoyed playing tag as a kid. Driving in Egypt is the three games rolled in to one BIG experience!

To be able to drive in Egypt you must have the following;

1- Excellent Reflexes. (to avoid cars, animals, pedestrians, objects)

2- Balls of Steal (courage) or a Guardian Angel

3- Judgment, (speed, distance ..,etc)

4- Working Seat Belts.

 5- Breaks.

If you have those five things you’re good to go! When you look at the roads from a bird’s eye view, it looks like anywhere else. The rules however are very different to most places in the world. Yes, you have the pretty traffic lights that change colour and nice white and yellow lines painted on the road, but that means SQUAT! The traffic lights are changed by a traffic Cop who is stuck in his light booth all day long. If the drivers are restless, they will inch their way forward until they have blocked the flow of cars, (who have the right of way). Their license plate numbers won’t be written down unless there is a Cop with a booklet in hand. If the cop with the booklet is accompanied by a Cop with stars on his shoulders then you are in BIG trouble. (Cops with stars on their shoulders are high-ranking officers, don’t mess with them.)

Here are some pointers to get you on your way,

Egyptian Driving Logic for Dummies

– Driving is simple, you put your foot down on the gas pedal and go!

– Your license has expired or you don’t have one? No problem, just don’t get caught.

 – Don’t worry about traffic signs the majority of the population doesn’t know what they mean and if they do, they don’t abide by them.

 – If your side mirrors are broken or closed that’s fine, you don’t really need them. You only need to see ahead of you.

– The speed limit in the City is supposed to be 60 Km/H, but there are those who like to exceed that and drive like bats out of hell. Drive quickly like you have some where important to be.

– Weaving from one lane to another is a popular past time. As is weaving between cars while they are moving.

– When you come to over take a car, over take from any side you please. Left or right, it really doesn’t matter as long as you are on the side you want to be on.

– When an ambulance is trying to get by, if you don’t let them pass, someone else will.

– If an ambulance is getting through traffic, follow it. You will get to where you want to go faster.

– If the road is a three lane road, you can squeeze between the cars and make it a 5 lane road. The objective is to be at the head of the pack.

 – If you want the person in front of you to move out of your way, you get as close to their bumper as possible, while flashing your head lights and honking your horn simultaneously. Scare the driver, so he will move to the next lane so that you can pass.

– Indicating, is such a civil way of letting drivers know what you plan on doing. In Egypt it’s all about pushing your way to where you want to go. When you indicate, that tells other drivers they need to speed up before you move in to that lane. You have to indicate and push in to the lane at the same time; otherwise no one will let you pass.

– Drinking and driving is a popular Thursday and Friday night sport. (No Breathalyzer tests here! Hit and kill a person and you go to jail for a long time and pay the family blood money. If the person is hit and injured and the injury takes more than 21 days to heal, you go to jail free!)

– Honk at a STOP sign or any intersection. If you don’t hear a honk back then no one is coming and it’s safe to pass. You don’t even have to look to check!

– OPRAH’s ‘no phone zone’, doesn’t apply here! Text and talk while you drive just don’t let a cop catch you.

 – You do not stop for pedestrians or animals. You swerve out of their way. (Just don’t hit the pedestrians, animals are ok)

– Play your music as loud as you want in the car, sharing is caring. Let everyone hear what you are listening to.

– Only break if you have to.

– Stay clear of buses! The BIG public and micro buses are the rulers of the roads don’t mess with them.

– Ask a taxi for directions while you are driving and hold up the traffic behind you.

– You took the wrong exit on the bridge, that’s ok. Just reverse and beep at the same time!

– Someone has really ticked you off and you want to swear at them, don’t waste your breath! One long blow on the car horn and they will know exactly what you want to say.

– Radar/ speed detector warn other drivers in the opposite direction of traffic by flashing your head lights.

– You see a cute guy or girl in the car in front of you and you want to tell them, move your indicator from left to right a few times and flash your head lights.

– Can’t find a parking space, just stop in the middle of the road and put your flasher on! (it may get towed, it may not)

– Park any way you like. Diagonally, horizontally be creative! (you could get a ticket on your window, but if the cop with the pocket-book and no stars is writing it give him 5Le and it will be forgotten)

Before, you go out and buy yourself a BMW, Jaguar or a Mercedes and tear up the streets with your Formula One driving skills, I think you might want to buy a second-hand car to get around in first before you buy brand new wheels. Drivers in Cairo can be ruthless and they can smell a rookie on the streets. If you aren’t fearless then say a prayer and turn on the ignition.

Dear Grade 2 E of 09/10,

 Congratulations on getting through yet another year of learning. I hope you enjoyed it as much as Mrs. Sherine and I did. You should all be very proud of your achievements and the lessons you have learned this year. This year was certainly a tough one that didn’t start off as smoothly as it could have due to the Swine Flu scare. Once that passed the work and challenges of our school year began for you, your parents and your teachers.

Although the year was turbulent (bumpy), as a class you came together as a team and taught the other three classes what it meant to have sportsmanship. You were very gracious, you didn’t gloat and took their feelings in to consideration and you praised them on their efforts during the game. It takes people years to learn that lesson, and you learned it in less than a year. When a member of our class would be awarded a certificate or praised for improvement, you would cheer and clap for them like they had won the Nobel Prize. I couldn’t have been prouder of you.  In those instances I knew that I was the lucky one. I had been given a class of 20 unique and special individuals to teach, but it is I, who also learned from you.

This academic year has been unlike any other I have experienced in my ten years of teaching. My class had a high percentage of individuals who lacked self-confidence and didn’t believe that they were very smart. I have watched you all grow in confidence, character and you are definitely more the wiser. Each one of you brought a special presence and ingredient to our class. When one of you, were absent you could feel the void that was left. It may have been a bit quieter but there was an element that was missing.

I have enjoyed every lesson, week and month of being with you, even on the days where I was stressed, angry or upset. I was especially touched when you decided  amongst yourselves to give me the name ‘Mommy Nadia’. That to me is the biggest and highest praise any teacher could get. It’s better than receiving an Academy Award.

The hardest part for me is when the year comes to an end and our time is up. It’s time for me to release you and let you be on your way to continue your learning adventure. I wish you all the very best next year and all the years to follow. Remember one thing…that you CAN DO and BE anything you want to be. The only, thing that can prevent you from achieving your dreams are you. So, you need to believe in yourselves, work extremely hard in order to succeed.

I have compiled a DVD of all the pictures and video I have taken of you during your year with me. I hope you can look back on them in the future and remember the year you spent in Grade 2 with Mrs. Sherine and I.

  Your teacher always,

Miss Nadia El Abdin