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I have lived in the Middle East (Saudia Arabia and Egypt) for 30 years now. In both countries I have witnessed and been a victim of sexual harassment. One of my earliest memories is of, going to the Mall in Saudi Arabia with my family for an outing and I would be holding either my mother or my father’s hand and Saudi men would try to pinch my behind or try and pinch me in other inappropriate places. At the time I didn’t understand why they would want to do that, I still don’t know what it is about  10 year old girls that would turn on a man. I begged my father to buy me an Abbaya (long black cloak that women wear in KSA to cover themselves up). He fought me tooth and nail and opposed the thought of his daughters having to cover up at such a young age, but when the situation was explained to him, he gave in and willingly bought it. It’s odd how a black cover would act as a protective shield against unwarranted and wanted attention.

When my family and I moved to Egypt in the early 90s, shortly after the first Gulf War, I experienced different kinds of harassment and on different levels. I remember going for walks with my younger sister and mother (who is blond and blue eyed), and constantly being harassed. The men would walk up to her confidently and ask her “how much?” or offer her “1 pound” for her services. The fact that she was married with children didn’t faze them in the least bit! (What high morals they have and great examples of  ‘Good Muslim Men’-NOT). If that wasn’t enough, some men would be a bit sneakier in their approach and try to follow us home to find out where we lived. Luckily we were very observant and would notice their predator tracking behavior and go in to a shop, where we would know the shop keeper and tell him that someone was following us. He, his sons and employees would come to our aid and go out and ‘greet’ the prowler with heavy slaps on the back and rough him up a bit. Other men in the neighborhood would then join in and descend upon the poor guy like a pack of wolves encircling their prey.

As I grew older and matured, the same would happen to me. I would be very conscience of what I would go out wearing in public. I would check and double check that I was conservatively dressed and wouldn’t attract unwanted attention, (Shoulders covered, check! Cleavage covered, Check! Shirt or t-shirt  is below  waist length, Check!) I became paranoid! (I still am to some extent)

The funny thing about that is, it wouldn’t matter how much clothing I wore I would still get harassed by men in the street. I have had cat calls some very flattering but mostly very degrading! I have been groped, grabbed, pinched, rubbed against, followed on foot, followed in cars by men of all ages (including those who are meant to serve and protect us), pushed up against a wall where a guy tried to smother me with his lips and have had someone jump in to my car window and try and put his hands all over me. I have also ( I think everyone has had) the crank callers, the heavy breathers and the ones who are gutsy enough to describe their dirties fantasies on the phone too.  I have so many stories and instances that the list just goes on and  to this day, it still continues to grow…

The instances mentioned above are mine, but I know of many other situations that have happened to people I know. Can you imagine coming out of a building and having a guy push you back in against the iron gates of the elevator and ejaculating on you?! Now tell me that she asked for that, when all she wanted to do was get to her car and go back to the safety of her home.

After an attack like that, you feel dirty and violated. You just want to cry a river and cleanse yourself, but not matter how much soap you use or scrubbing, you can’t get rid of that feeling. It takes a lot of talking, time and support from people who care to get over something like that.

I am tired of having to torture myself by replaying the events back in my mind, action for action wondering and question if I wore something that provoked the attack or if it was my body language, did I look the person in the eye and did they take that as an invitation?  I constantly wonder if I did something to provoke them. Every time, the answer is the same, ‘NO’. If you are going to debate the matter with me and tell me it’s because I’m not veiled then, please stop reading and continue your web browsing elsewhere. Don’t you dare insult my intelligence and say that the reason it happens is because my hair isn’t covered! Don’t! The truth is even women who are veiled are subjected to the same kind of harassment, if not worse!

When are people going to stop being in denial and face the facts?!

We don’t enjoy it and we certainly don’t provoke it! So, if it isn’t us, then hmmm…. I wonder who might be the problem. Whose brain might need to be rewired?

Why is it that (those kind of) men think it’s o.k. to treat women with such disrespect? We aren’t sexual objects or rubbing posts. That isn’t why we were put on the planet. I know that Islam is all about treating women with dignity and respect. So,  can someone please tell me where are they learning this form of behavior? Why have the women been quiet about this for so long?

Last year Community Times dedicated a page every month to sexual harassment and I was one of the contributors. I took the step to come forward because I wanted other women to have courage to speak up and know that they are not alone!

Before the revolution an Egyptian an Arabic movie 678 came out and hit the cinemas across the country. It’s whole purpose was to shed light on sexual harassment in Egypt and how even when you tried to report the incident at a police station women were be belittled or made to feel that they were the reason behind the act. In my opinion it was a powerful movie with a strong message. I hope women here and in the region will answer to the call and stand up for their human rights and take a stand against sexual harassment and bring an end to the tolerance and the acts.

I still think twice about what I’m wearing before walking out the door to go somewhere, but when I am out. I will not allow anyone to touch my body. It is my temple and I will defend it. I will not allow them to turn me in to a defeated or whimpering victim.

I am against sexual harassment and you should be too!

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A few nights ago, I had logged in to facebook and was half mindedly scanning through my friends’ status up dates when I came across one that really caught my attention. To read it in more detail I clicked on my friends profile page to see what had gotten her feathers ruffled. It read; “I also wear a swimsuit and whoever doesn’t like it can stuff it…balad weskha we nas weskha… (Dirty country and dirty people)”. I had no idea what she was on about until I read the explanation and comments that she had written and people had left.

Apparently some individual formed a group on facebook to try to turn people away from supporting the much favored potential Presidential Candidate, Mohamed ElBaradei. The group had uploaded images of his married daughter Laila on a beach in a one piece bathing costume and more or less implied, ’How can we even consider voting for a man who allows his daughter to wear a swimsuit in public”.  They also apparently mentioned that at his daughter’s wedding Alcohol was served and the man she married doesn’t have a Muslim name.  Another claim was that the Egyptian Nobel Peace Prize winner also has Swiss nationality. I haven’t been successful in finding the group or seeing the pictures but I did search on-line to find out how true it was. I came across this article on-line;

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100904/wl_africa_afp/egyptpoliticsoppositioninternet

Personally, I wouldn’t put it past anyone to play dirty when it comes to politics especially when it’s the presidency! The tactics that are being played are aimed at trying to turn the Islamic extremists against ElBaradei and anyone else who will listen. I personally think it’s a pathetic attempt and it’s very childish. If you want to launch an attack on someone then attack that person by creating elements of doubt and question in people’s minds in relation to what he/she claims to stand for. You don’t drag their children through the mud!            

I think these amateurs need to go to Washington for a crash course in how to play hard ball.  I can think of far worse things than a daughter wearing a swimsuit on a beach that would ruin a person’s chance for running for president! Like a criminal record, bribery, money laundering, high treason, being related to Bush or Sarah Palin or committed murder, just to name a few! If a presidential campaign was based on family members personal attire at the pool or beach, then I don’t think anyone world-wide would be eligible to run for president! Before you even think of using ‘Egypt is a Muslim Country’ as a point of argument, then please go back and check your history and look at what previous first ladies wore and all the movies and music videos that are aired on Egyptian television and Satellite stations!                                                         

Which makes me raise a couple of questions, does that mean that the ladies of past presidents and the current first family, have never worn or been caught wearing a swimsuit at their vacation spots here or abroad?  Have they never been at an occasion where alcohol was served? I was a wedding guest at the Grandson of a former Egyptian President and I can tell you the alcohol was flowing like the river Themes!

Please don’t insult our intelligence!

Who ever launched that despicable and childish attempt at denting the man’s integrity and chances at running in the up coming presidential elections, that was a cheep shot! The only thing that person succeeded in doing was feeding and fueling the brain drain and ignorance that this country seems to be feeding off of! How are we ever going to emerge from and shed the classification of ‘Third World Country’ if people like that keep poisoning the minds of the Egyptian youth and population!?

To learn more about Mohamed ElBaradei click the link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_ElBaradei

The month of fasting known to the Muslim world is coming to an end. With less than 24 hours to go we eagerly wait for the sun to set and for the four days of festivities of Eid El Fitr to begin.

Eid El Fitr ‘The festivity of purification’, I think is the best way to translate the name of the occasion. If you haven’t read my previous writings about Ramadan or know nothing of the month, then this won’t make any sense to you. So, I will try to give you a brief summary. Ramadan, is a month where Muslims world-wide fast from sunrise to sunset, (are not allowed to consume any kind of food or beverage during sunlight hours), this strict act of discipline is to remind them of their blessings, to relate to those less fortunate of themselves, as well as time for reflecting on one’s acts and behavior for the past year. This month is special and sacred to Muslims because they are able to ask for forgiveness and erase their sins for the past year. Hence, the celebration of being ‘purified’.  

How is Eid El Fitr (or the small Eid) celebrated?

Days before the end of the fasting month, families go out and buy Eid clothes, to wear on the first day of the feast. For Non Muslim’s the best way to interpret the act is as new clothes that you receive for Christmas or wearing your Sunday best. Traffic in Egypt after Iftar and the Taraweeh Prayers is always manic! People will be shopping for gifts and clothes.

Ladies of many house holds will be preparing and baking traditional desert, (which is HIGH in calories, but very tasty) to offer visitors. The desert is called ‘Ka’ak’, which means cake in English. It doesn’t look or taste anything like the cakes you may be familiar with. Each Arabic speaking nation has its own unique way of making it. In Egypt is best described as a cookie/biscuit made out of semolina and stuffed with ground dates, nuts or some times Turkish delight. On the outside it is sprinkled with powdered sugar.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ka’ak)

On the dawn of the first day of the month after Ramadan, (Shawal), there is a special prayer, most commonly known as ‘Salat El Eid’ (Eid Prayer). “Eid prayer is performed in congregation in open areas like fields, squares etc or at mosques. No adhan or iqama (call) is to be pronounced for this Eid prayer, and it consists of only two rakaʿāt with additional 6 Takbirs. The Eid prayer is followed by the khutbah (sermon) and then a supplication (dua) asking for forgiveness, mercy and help for all living beings across the world. The khutbah also instructs Muslims as to the performance of rituals of Eid, such as the zakat.[9] Listening to the khutbah of Eid is necessary (wajib) i.e. while the khutbah is being delivered, it is haraam to talk, walk about or offer prayer.[10] It is then customary to embrace the persons sitting on either side of oneself, whilst greeting them. After the prayers, people visit their relatives, friends and acquaintances.”  (The above quoted paragraph is from wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eid_ul-Fitr )

The greeting that is said to those celebrating Eid is ‘ Eid Mubarak’, (Blessed Feast), ‘Eid Saeed’ (Happy Eid) or ‘Kul Sana Wa Inta Tayib’ (Happy New Year).

Traditionally after the prayer families will go to the cemetery to pay their respects to their deceased family members and then go home to enjoy breakfast together. Once home, families either exchange gifts or give money. Children often receive money from their adult family relations; this is known as ‘Eideya’. People will go and visit relatives, neighbors and friends often taking with them ka’ak, other deserts or gifts.

On the second and third day of Eid families usually go out for a meal. In Alexandria the restaurant or meal of choice would usually be fish. The reason for it is because for a whole month Alexandrian’s have avoided eating it because it’s salty and would make them feel very thirsty the following day and it would make their day of fasting more difficult.   Another popular out would be to go to the cinema, to watch the newly released Arabic movies for the feast.  A word of warning to those whom may consider venturing outside their front doors, the food courts, cinemas and arcades in the Malls will be busier than ever!

Now a days fewer people spend time visiting relatives and go away for the Eid vacation. Popular vacation spots are Alexandria and the beaches along the Red Sea. I personally try to avoid the popular vacation spots because, it will be overly crowded. When I go away, I like to go somewhere, where I can relax in peace and not have to worry about bumping in to colleagues, students and other people I know.

During the Eid most shops, banks and all businesses are closed for the first three days of the feast, much like Christmas and New Years in the West and Europe. If you aren’t going away and intend on staying in town, then I suggest you do your shopping before the holiday begins.

For those of you who celebrate Eid, I wish you all an Eid Mubarak and for those of you who don’t, just enjoy the time off!

I am a huge fan of the popular CSI TV series. I enjoy watching the actors solve the crimes that have presented themselves. I like trying to piece the clues together to solve the crimes as I watch everything unfold.
Last night my mother came back from an Iftar with her former colleagues and told me that Egypt now has their adaptation of the American TV series. Her colleague said it’s a poor and comical attempt at trying to compete with the American series and only watches it to have a good laugh. When Mom relayed this new-found of information to me, I couldn’t help but laugh. I honestly didn’t believe her, so I went on-line to see if I could find out anything about it. Lo and behold, it’s true! Egypt’s leading lady Yusra, plays a medical examiner by the name of Fatma!
Don’t believe me, read for yourselves!

http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/news/ramadan-tvs-usual-suspects

I just have one question, when will the entertainment industry here in Egypt stop copying the ideas of the west? Come on! I’m sure if some serious collaboration and brain storming is done with script writers, directors and producers, we (as in Egyptians), could come up with a unique and original idea of our own. It would be unique and something to be proud of! To this day ‘The Yacoubian Building’ still ranks number one for me!  It was written by an Egyptian and the story was captivating and had its audience talking and debating about it for weeks after it premiered. That is the caliber of work that we should be producing as the leading nation in cinema and entertainment in the Middle East.

It was suggested that I write a TV series. I am seriously considering it!

I went to London for the first time in my life! I know…it’s taken 32 years, but I got there eventually. It wasn’t what I had expected. I had such a gloomy image of London in my mind, where the food was bland and lacked taste! I have to say that it definitely exceeded my expectations!

I had hoped to be able to go sight-seeing with my Mum, but unfortunately she wasn’t well enough to walk around the city. So, I didn’t waste any time! Armed with my cap, camera and map I made mental routes in my head to get to the places that I wanted to go and visit.

The first thing on my agenda was to go to a park and enjoy the foliage and open space.
To walk around and enjoy nature and not have to constantly be on high alert expecting to be harassed or followed by men was such a treat. Unless you have lived in Egypt or the Middle East,you will not understand how liberating it was to be able to sit in a park and listen to the birds chirping away to one another, ducks and swans swimming in a lake, children running around, pet owners taking their dogs out for a walk in the park and being able to hear your own thoughts!! Another bonus to the park was people minding their own business, no one watching you, people spoke in low voices AND they threw their rubbish away! What made the experience even better was that the weather was perfect, it wasn’t too hot or too cold and hardly any rain at all! BLISS!

I made sure that every route I took went through the park, so that I could satisfy my craving before I had to come back to Egypt.
People in Europe and the West have NO idea how lucky they are to have parks that are well maintained and respected by their locals. I wish the few that we have were as well looked after.

Another desire that had to be satisfied was going to Art Galleries and Museums! I was so starved for culture that I went to three museums  in one day! I walked through Kensington Gardens, to Albert Hall and continued on towards the Science Museum. As I walked from one exhibit to another I was over come with a wave of mixed emotions. I was so excited to be there and to learn as I intently read the signs and listened to the explanations but I couldn’t help but feel very deprived. I would give anything to be able to take my students in Cairo to a museum like that. They would benefit so much from them. Getting information from a text-book is great but when you are in a place where what you are learning about is in 3D and visible to you, it can make a HUGE difference. Another benefit is for the students is to be able to experience and take part in the experiments that they have there.
From there I went to the Natural History Museum and I have to admit that I was BLOWN away!!! It was fantastic!! I am pretty sure that I went to every single exhibit that they had! I loved everything about that place! It’s a great place to take children to learn about Volcanic Eruptions and different species of animals. Once I had felt that I had seen everything that I wanted to see, I went across the street to the Victoria and Albert museum. By this time I was pretty tired, I had done a lot of walking, stair climbing, reading and picture-taking but I trudged onwards!

The Victoria and Albert Museum wasn’t what I had expected it to be. I thought it would be about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert but it wasn’t. It was more of an Art museum, which suited me fine, but there was SO MUCH to see!!
I wasn’t too excited at first but once I went from one room to another and saw the sculptures, paintings, furniture, traditional costumes from around the world, I was hooked and needed to see more!
I have to admit that I was exhausted and I toyed with the idea of walking to Buckingham Palace from there but I didn’t have enough steam to make it there. I hadn’t eaten or drank anything since 9am that morning and I was exhausted but I decided to go and see Harrods. I wanted to see what the fuss was about.

Well…, I wasn’t very impressed to tell you the truth. I live in North Africa and I have lived in the Middle East and when I walked in to the renowned building I felt nauseous. It was SWARMING with overly doused cologne smelling ARABS!!!!  It was as though the place was infested with them! It didn’t matter what floor you were one, they were everywhere! I didn’t spend very long there as you might have guessed. Don’t misunderstand me, I have nothing against the Arabs, I just can’t deal with too many of them in a confined space smelling of Gucci, Aramani, Hilfiger and other scents at the same time! It turns my stomach! . From there I walked my weary feet back to the Hotel and spent the rest of the night downloading my 400 something photo’s on to my memory stick and showing my Mom the adventure I had been on that day.

While I was in London I had hoped that HRH Queen Elizabeth II would have at least asked me over for tea, but she mustn’t have gotten the message that I was in town, so I decided to walk over to Buckingham Palace and pay her a visit. Well, apparently a few hundred other people had the same idea, because I couldn’t get close enough to the gate! I had gotten there half way through the changing of the guard ceremony! I think her Majesty must have only just seen Mama Mia, because the band only played ABBA!

My colleague and friend Nora, (aka Falafel and Chips) was able to find me amidst the crowd. We used our Giraffe technique to take pictures of the changing of the guard, (standing on the tips of your toes, reaching ours arms high above our heads and aiming in the direction the music was coming from). Once the crowd dispersed we made our way to Westminster Abby and Big Ben. We didn’t linger there for long. We decided to take the tube and make our way to the Tower of London. (I had never been on the tube before either!)

* If you are going to go to London, YOU WILL NEED an Oyster card. It’s a prepaid pass that you can purchase at the tube station. I recommend you get it for all the zones! It saves standing in line to buy a ticket and when you’re almost out of credit, you just top it up with more money!

I had been watching the show the Tudors here in Egypt before going on Holiday and had previously taught some ‘English’ history so I wanted to go to a place that I had heard so much about. I have to admit that the entrance fee is worth EVERY penny!! I thoroughly enjoyed going around with one of the Beef Eaters and learning about some of the most famous events that took place there! It was fascinating to learn what went on in one place! So Much History!! We spent the entire afternoon there walking in and out of buildings, up and down winding stair cases and going from one exhibit to another!
I really enjoyed having Nora there.

I didn’t go to a single night club while I was there. The thought just didn’t appeal to me and who was I going to go with? All of the people I know who live in London, were either away or far to busy to meet up with me! So, I just kept myself entertained!

My Mum had hoped that I might run in to my future husband there…but NO SUCH LUCK! I have to admit the men in the UK are aesthetically pleasing to the eye!

I hadn’t expected to do much shopping there, but I did. I did some clothes shopping but most of my luggage carried DVDs! I am a movie junkie and HMV just fueled my movie addiction! They have a great collection of films and they have AWESOME special offers! I bought DVDs from EVERY HMV store I went in to! Collectively my mother and I came back with almost 30 DVDs and 3 box sets!

I really enjoyed my 9 days in Lond and I was sad to have leave and return to Egypt. I wouldn’t mind going back to London to visit. I really enjoyed the freedom that I had there, it was very liberating. Another reason why I HAVE to go back is because there are a lot more places that I would like to go and visit. In some ways it reminded me of Montreal where there is a diversity of nationalities and languages spoken.

One of the most popular outings other than eating out at restaurants in Cairo would be the cinema. If our eyes aren’t glued to the television you will find us at the cinema. Egyptians love watching the latest Hollywood Block Busters and Arabic Box Office hits.
            Going to the cinema most of the time can be a pleasant break where you don’t have to think about work, the kids and other day-to-day dilemmas and stress. It gives you a chance to zone out and just focus on the surround sound and the images that flash before your eyes on the big screen, now a days that isn’t always the case.
Over the past decade people’s social etiquette and consideration for others seems to have been totally abandoned. There have been a countless number of times where I and many other acquaintances and friends of mine have come out of the theater fuming at how thoughtless and irresponsible some people can be for not switching off their mobile phones, taking the call in the middle of the film and having a loud conversation while others are trying to concentrate and enjoy the movie, also constantly hitting the back of the chair among many other things.
         An old friend of mine, brought this issue to light by posting it as his status on face book the day after he had gone to watch a movie and had not enjoyed the experience, due to parents having brought their young children to a late night showing. His status read;

Can anybody with children please explain to me what the pleasure (for the parents or kids) is, for bringing kids to a drama movie at the cinema from 10:00 pm till after midnight? Because I wonder why children seem not to like it that much… of course, as a single person, what do I know??”

Karim’s status started a flood of comments on his status that a semi debate began.
Some of the responses that he received were the following;

 Ahmed wrote; “It is very simple ya karim …the parents want to watch the movie and they have no place to leave the children in .so they are ‘obliged’ to take them welly ye7sal ye7sal :))) (what happens, happens) “

Loutfi wrote; “I experienced the children during a movie from midnight to 2.00 am. In Europe they will not allow the children in at all”

Nancy who is a mother wrote; “I had a big fight in the cinema once because of that and talked to the cinema management, but they treated me as I am the crazy one!”

Mai, a mother of two wrote; “This is totally wrong I don’t agree that kids go to movies with their parents.”

Tamer ‘s response to the debate was; “I think the parents are envying the singles that they still can enjoy their time and go for a movie. It is not only for drama movies but also for those that definitely doesn’t suite children at all, and not only from 10pm, but also @ midnight till 3am where it is not healthy @ all to take children where they should be sleeping……so the parents … doesn’t care about their children neither about their health nor how they raise them as definitely what they will see will affect their character @ that age………one last thing, they don’t even bother themselves to keep them still, but they just loose them like demons in the cinema playing and making hell of noise!”
Aysem’s input was; “Kimo I applaud you! I would have thought EXACTLY the same thing. I think we live in a society where having children is revered to the point that other people’s needs and personal space is overlooked at times. I’ve encountered this in so many situations, I always laugh to myself when I see an army of mothers and babies congregating next to me in a cafe, whilst the offspring wail like hyenas and basically cause a riot, much to the discontent of the other patrons. It’s especially irritating when I’m trying to spend half an hour to myself, reading the paper or a book…Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to sound like a ‘Bah Humbug’ scrooge character, but I think that sometimes, people with children feel that they transcend social confines of what is proper. I.e. there is ‘them’ and ‘everyone else’ and Boo to you, if you don’t accept that. Regarding your cinema experience, I’m sorry, but if it’s past a certain hour, and they can’t find someone to watch them, maybe they should just stay home?!”

          I, like Karim am single and I don’t have any children of my own therefore unable to give a reasonable explanation, as a parent but because I am a teacher and I do work with children and a long side parents. I may have the ability to see things from more than one perspective. So, here is my take on the situation.

        As an educator I deal with children on a daily basis and in the midst of class discussions, I am often shocked to find that most of the children in my class (7-8yrs) go unchaperoned to the cinema and have also seen movies that I go to watch, which in my opinion is appalling. Films are rated for a reason. The reason being that the material shown is not appropriate for them. I can understand that parent’s want to go to out and enjoy life and not feel imprisoned or bound to their children and want to break in their daily routine. Parenting is one of the most tough stressful and demanding jobs. Therefore understandably they need a couple of hours of release. That is what date nights or girl’s/boy’s nights out are for. So why don’t these parents organize or preplan a day ahead of time so that they can have someone look after their children while they spend quality time with their significant other or with their girlfriends/guy friends.
       I am completely opposed to the idea of parents taking little ones to the cinema; they don’t take in to consideration the viewing pleasure of the other cinema patrons who have paid good money to watch the film of their choice. Never mind the poor unfortunate children who are most probably tired, bored, scared and shocked. These parents are being just plain selfish in only wanting to please their own needs and desires. They also don’t think that children at a young age fully comprehend the material that is being shown, WHICH IS PURE DENIAL!!!! Children are more aware and alert than adults and which is proven by the behavior of the younger generation today by their actions and vocabulary they use in the playground and amongst themselves.
Taking children to horror, ROMANTIC or action packed films can lead to nightmares and have them waking up in the middle of the night terrified for days and weeks on end. This surly just adds to parental stress, it can also lead to developing phobias.
For example, my parent’s were very careful of what they permitted my sister and I to watch when we were younger, but my sister some how with out my parents knowing watched the horror movie ‘Jaws’ and twenty years later she is still terrified of swimming in the sea because she has a fear of being attacked by sharks.
     Another thing that is totally wrong is keeping young children up past 8 or 9 pm which is extremely unhealthy for their physical and mental development. It is a medical fact that children need at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. As a teacher I have had children fall asleep in class, grouchy and unable to concentrate because they haven’t had a decent nights sleep. The problem is a lot of parent’s are not privy to information about what is and isn’t good for their child’s development and the MAJORITY don’t give a toss anyway. Similarly when going to a restaurant or public place at any time of day and find children are left to their own devices and are tearing through the place like Tasmanian devils. This behavior happens for 3 reasons a) they are bored and need to be kept occupied. (b) Their parent’s haven’t taught them how to behave or corrected their behavior (c) they are craving their parent’s time, affection and attention.

So, the question now is; “What do we do about it?” Do we walk away from these instances, just complain amongst ourselves and throw our hands up in the air in defeat because we doubt no one is going to listen to us or do we be assertive and take some form of action like Nancy did?

Karim’s response to his many posts was ‘I really respect Nancy who talked to the management of the cinema. a friend of mine told me I should do the same yesterday and of course I didn’t, expecting to get a reaction such as the one she got.  So, should we stop going to the movies and buy them on DVD or just accept the fact that there is selfishness, no law or consideration for others and get used to having kids around us if we want to go to the cinema?”

Nirvana’s response to Karim’s question was; “Like Nancy, keep talking to the Management and make an issue and maybe they will do something one day; like enforcing some laws.”

Jacqueline added “Be positive, complain to the management, hush the annoying children and parents or anything else that shows your disagreement with what’s happening but never let them lock you at home 🙂 I always hush the others and I always complain though it was useless most of the time but it makes me feel better than just accepting the fact.”
Change never occurs if we sit around and do nothing. If you take a stance, like Nancy did and let your voices be heard and if the management of the movie theaters are flooded with complaints or a boycott takes place, they will be left with no choice and will have to take your complaints seriously and make some changes if they don’t want to lose their paying customers. We could also suggest to the management to have a viewing once week where all children under the age of 18 are not permitted to enter the cinema after 9pm and have it posted at the ticketing desk so that parents know not to bring their children and people like ourselves are assured of a peaceful and stress free night of watching a movie without kids running up and down the isles or wailing and squirming in the their seats.

I would like to thank Karim for bringing this discussion to life and to all of those who permitted me to quote them.

I have to be totally honest! I was late getting on to the Twilight bandwagon. I kept resisting reading the books for months because I didn’t want to get caught up in the whirl wind of yet another fad. When a few staff members started reading and discussing it in the staff lounge at work, it caught my attention. I thought, ‘what the hell!’, It’s supposed to be about vampires and I am fascinated with the mythical beings. So, I went and bought the first book. Not realising what I was getting myself into. I was expecting something similar to the Chronicles of Narnia or J.K. Rowling’s, Harry Potter, but The Twilight series was very different.

When I read a book,  and become engrossed in it, the world that I exist in disappears and I dive into the world that I am reading. The words that describe a setting or a world become visible in my mind’s eye. The characters in the stories become clear too.  (not to the point where I can’t differentiate the difference between fiction and reality). When the Potter series started my family and I would have reading marathons. There would be three bookmarks in the book at one time. Once I started the first book by Stephenie Meyers I couldn’t put the book down. Hours would fly by and I wouldn’t even notice that the sun had set. I enjoyed Meyer’s interpretation of the vampire world. After finishing the first book in less than 48 hours, I was hooked and had to read the rest of the series. So, I made a hard choice between buying groceries and the next two books of the series. Pages have no calories, so, I went with the books! The more I read the more addicted I became. I read all 4 books in 5 days!

I think the reason why I became so interested in the book and characters is because, it’s set in the present time and the way Bella felt about Edward was how I felt about a person at one point in time. I felt like I had found my soul mate and hated it when we were apart from one another and very often I knew how he was feeling or if something was troubling him. The scene in ‘Full Moon’ where Edward broke up with Bella and told her that he didn’t love her and didn’t want to be with her anymore and she fell to the ground in the forest. That is almost a carbon copy of what happened to me. The only difference was he never came back to be with me. Then you have the all to familiar situation where a girl is torn between two good-looking young men whom are seeking her attention and devoted affection. I remember being in that dilemma a few times back in my late teens and early twenties.

I also have to come clean and admit that I am on team Edward. The character of the teen vampire is very close to what I like in reality. (Suave, intelligent, preppy, musical, romantic, protective, kind….etc) Except I would prefer the guy to be living, breathing, have a beating heart and not be tempted to bite my neck every time he got a whiff of my blood. Robert Pattinson brings an air of an old-fashioned ‘English Gentleman’. He himself I don’t find that irresistable, I prefer a tall mediterranean looking guy myself. Having said that though, if God was to through a man like that in my path with those hypnotic blue eyes & English accent…. well, what can I say? Beggars can’t be chooser, I would find it very hard to say ‘No’. (Just please…..let him be closer to my age and not 5-10 years younger)

Sadly though the movies are not living up to my expectations.  I know i’m going to get booed for saying this, but be very corny and sappy, (don’t get me started on the merchandise). The problem is that when I read any books before having watched the movie, it ruins the images that I had created and formed in my mind.It’s quite disappointing that the actors don’t fit the silhouettes that my mind has conjured up.  I know that if the movie to depict the books exact as they are written that would add to the cost and the movie would be almost 3 hours long. I think the location where the movie was filmed was perfect!! The characters who play Charlie (Bella’s Dad), Edward, Alice, Jasper, James, Elizabeth and a few others fit the bill (in my opinion). What baffles me is why the hell is Carlile’s hair peroxide blonde! It looks so fake!

I liked both the movies but I think I prefer the second movie to the first. I am looking forward to seeing ‘Eclipse’, the third movie in the Twilight series. I know it’s crazy, but I would have liked to audition for the part of either the Irish or the Egyptian coven. It would be nice if an Egyptian could be represented and played by a native from the country. unfortunately, the auditions have already taken place and living thousands of miles away on a different continent doesn’t help either.

I’m actually looking forward to her 5th book written from perspective of a new-born vampire!

Just days before 2009 was coming to an end, two of my work colleagues decided to come to Alexandria for a day trip. There trip was to just get out of Cairo to have a change of scenery, see something new, have a fish meal and visit me. I truly enjoy it when colleagues, family or friends make a trip to Alexandria, it gives me the chance to be a host and their guide in the city that I have fallen in love with. I try to show them the hidden beauty of what is buried beneath the modern Alexandria of today.

Mariam and Radwa wanted to go some where ‘authentic’, I racked my brain and finally came up with a place that has a lot of history and was probably where the elite of foreign society used to have tea. Delice still know for its bakery and view of Saad Zaghlool square and the sea is where I decided to take them. My sister and I love to go there and buy their giant-sized macaroons and mini meringues. My elderly neighbour ,Mme Yamna Souccar  who used to live on the floor above my parents flat, loved their jam biscuits and when ever I could, I would go and buy her a box when I would go and visit her. My friends really liked the place because it had an air to it and it’s noticable in its fading decor. I bet it was  a spectacular place back in its glory days. The three of us ate our brunch, caught up on each others news and discussed where we were going to go next.

The Biblioteca Alexandrina was our next destination. We decided to leave the car in the parking area across from Delice and walk along the Corniche (sea) to the Library to work off brunch and to breath in the sea air, (plus, parking near the Library is a nightmare!) Along the promenade I pointed out some landmarks and told them stories that had been told to me and they in turn shared their experiences and memories of Alexandria.

We bought our full pass tickets to enter the Library, turned in our bags with our cell phones got our number and began our journey back in time. The first museum that we went in to is below the planetarium to the right. It was one I had never been to before and I have been to the Library many times, (that’s what I love about the place, no matter how many times I visit, I always see something I hadn’t seen the time before). The first was of Egypt’s assassinated President Anwar El Sadat (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/515786/Anwar-el-Sadat), looking at the items in the display cases and reading the explanations of what things were for and what he did and accomplished, I but feel sad. We as a nation lost someone great, some one with a vision and direction for the future of Egypt.

* One of my great Uncles from the El Shindy side of the family was a politician and before Sadat came to be president,  he and Sadat were imprisoned together, (I’m not sure why). It’s strange to think that members of my family were and apart of the Royal family and others worked alongside the president. That personal history is lost because some greedy putts sold a tapestry of our family tree and now  we have no chance of ever being able to retrace our lineage or ancestry. The only thing we have are the stories passed down from generation to generation. The problem with that is that they facts changes.

As we continued through the library and visited other exhibits, we came to my favorite. The Awad collection of maps and pictures of Alexandria. Looking at the framed maps and pictures deepened my sadness the city was breath-taking. No wonder so many people chose to leave their homelands to come and live here. It had a mange of European and Oriental feel to it. Now the city as well as the country is in shambles if I was to compare it to what it used to be like,’ The pearl of the Middle East’. You would think that with all our technology and education that we as a race or society of people would have advanced and improved, but I honestly think that we are moving backwards.

I have  been to Saudi Arabia & Jordan and I am ashamed to admit it, but they have more pride in their country and make an effort to keep it clean. Egypt compared to them and to what it used to be like is a garbage dump. The streets are littered with trash because people throw their tissues, crisp packets, wrappers and cans from their car windows as they drive by. The garbage cans are over flowing and no one seems to care! WHY??? Don’t give me crap about it’s because our country isn’t governed by a sovereignty, what’s that got to do with being clean?  Islam promotes cleanliness of self and home….then surly that should also include our country too.

I have no idea how this problem can be rectified. I don’t know if campaigning would work. I think reprogramming peoples brains maybe the only solution.

Please don’t mis-understand me. I am not against Egypt. I am very proud of my heritage and where I come from, but I find it so frustrating that we were once ‘the it spot’ in the Middle East and Mediterranean and now we aren’t when we very easily could be! I guess you could say I am just venting!

Yesterday, I was quite bold. I had been  waiting for an appointment to be confirmed and to be totally honest, I was beginning to run out of patience, so I gave the people a dead line. If by 5pm they hadn’t made their minds up, I was going to make other arrangements. 5pm came and six minutes later, I told the parties that the deadline had passed and I was going to go and watch Alice in Wonderland.

 I went to the cinema alone, (it’s unusual for a female to go alone in the Middle East). I got there just minutes before the movie started and bought my ticket and 3D glasses (you have to pay 15 LE  for your 3D glasses here in Egypt). The ticket price was a bit steep too 50LE!! I did go to the new cinema on the ground floor of the extension of City Stars, but I didn’t expect it to be that pricey.

I sat in my seat (seats here are numbered, you can’t sit where you like. It’s not the same as  North America, where you sit wherever you please) and put my 3D glasses on bracing myself for disappointment.

Why would I brace myself for disappointment? Well, I’m a bit of a traditionalist. I don’t like it when classic tales are adapted and they don’t meet my expectations. It really aggravate me. However, disappointment never came! I was pleasantly surprised and won over by the angle that Burton took in making the movie! I hail his efforts, now let me tell you why as best as I can without ruining the plot of the movie.

The approach he used was a lot like ‘The Return To Oz’, it wasn’t exactly The Wonderland we had read about as tiny tikes growing up. The characters that we know and love are pretty much the same and they stay true to their form and character. Alice goes back to Wonderland, not recalling that she had been there before. While she’s their she is told that she has a purpose that she needs to fulfil.

The girl who plays Alice in the movie is SENSATIONAL!! I can’t think of anyone who could have placed Alice better. Johny Depp and Helen B. Carter don’t let you down with their performances! They are almost unrecognizable! If I had not known going in to the cinema that Depp played The Mad Hatter, I wouldn’t have guessed it was him. He became the character, in fact I think the best way to describe his performance was,  ‘MAD’! (I think it’s about time he wins an Oscar!) Anne Hathaway played the ‘White Queen’ and she did a wonderful job playing an annoyingly gentle, kind, prim and proper Queen. It’s no wonder the Queen of hearts hated her so much.

The 3D effects of the movie were noticiable from the moment the film started! I thoroughly enjoyed it! The moment I came out I started tweeting and texting everyone I knew to recommend that they go and see it.

Have you ever wanted to just lock yourself up in your house and shut the world out?

That’s how I felt yesterday, I woke up still peeved from Thursday Night. I had invited a group of my female friends over to my house a month ago, for a girls movie night. ( I like to plan ahead) 11 out of the 20 odd people I had invited had RSVPed that they were going to attend. So, I had paced myself with the preparations for Thursday night.

I’m a little old-fashioned, I like to take people for their word and I like to make and prepare everything from scratch. I enjoy cooking and occasionally spoiling my friends so they know and feel how much I appreciate them.

I made special dishes for the vegetarians and those that are watching their calory in take, had the house in tip-top form and only 4 people showed up! The people who came bless their hearts were GREAT and made the best of the evening and tried to eat as much as their stomaches could hold. Those that canceled at the last-minute REALLY ticked me off and some of them seriously didn’t have a good enough reason in my opinion. Leaving me a message on Fbook on the day, when they know I’m busy getting everything ready is a cowards way out in my opinion. They could have at least had the decency to call me and tell me in person.

I have a fridge full of food and tub-aware full of home-made backed goods sat on the buffet of my dinning room. I don’t feel like sharing it with anyone, because in the current frame of mind I’m in I don’t think anyone but myself deserves it! (immature I know)

I woke up Friday morning and I was so out of it that I put my phone on silent and didn’t answer anyones calls or text messages. I just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want to see or speak to anyone. The only person I did speak to was my Mom, If I didn’t the police would have been sent to knock on my door to find out if I was o.k.

So, I stayed in doors, washed all the serving spoons, dishes and pans that I had used the day before, took a nap, had a warm bath, watched a couple of movies and went to bed.

Today, I still feel like I want to stay incommunicado and out of the line of people. It’s a bit tough when you have to work and interact with those around you.

I’m sure this will pass, but I won’t be hosting another event at my place for a while.