Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bothaina Kamel

I am ambivalent about Bothaina Kamel, the journalist & host of the TV program "Argouk Ifhamni". I strongly agree with most of the ideas she expresses bravely on her program or in her articles. I also have a lot of respect for her involvement in political and social work, her strong support of worthy causes such as "The Egyptians Against Corruption Campaign", and her genuine concern for the well fair of my beloved Egypt.

On the other hand, I have a huge problem with her. No, it's not that she sometimes interrupts her guests (although she really needs to work on that), it's a more serious problem. Well, to avoid being called a Dram Queen, here is my confession (and you can consider this "I3terafat Layleya") . I am jealous of Buthaina Kamel since my husband thinks that she is really really hot.

So you can imagine the scene in our TV room on Thursday nights. My husband & I are sitting in our favorite seats in front of the TV waiting for the program to start. The anticipation is high. I want to find out:
  • What is the topic of today's discussion and who is her guest?
While my husband is dying to see:
  • What is she wearing?
You guessed it right. My husband prefers to watch the program when Cairo is hot.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Did you say EZZ??

Following the Egyptian Evening TV Shows over this past two weeks, two topics kept coming up.

The first is the seasonal misery and heart ache contracted by all families with kids in the Egyptian school system. It is the Thanaweya 3ama exams (Egyptian Diploma).

The second topic is that of Ahmed Ezz. And I am not talking about the Egyptian actor by the same name. (I wish I was. The guy is really cute.)

I am actually talking about Ahmed Ezz, the STEAL, sorry I mean STEEL Tycoon. For those of you who don't know who he is, here is what is written about him in Wikipedia:

"Ezz is an Egyptian politician and business tycoon, he is the Chairman and Managing Director of Al Ezz Industries, a leading company in the manufacturing of steel and ceramic industries in the Middle East and North Africa Region. He is also the Chairman of the Planning and Budget Committee of the People's Assembly of Egypt as a member of the National Democratic Party of Egypt. Opposition parties, other parliamentarians, and groups including the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement is accusing Ezz of monopolizing the steel industry in Egypt by holding more than 60 percent of the market share, describing it as an act that is backed up by the government when the dominant share of monopoly was raised from 35 percent to 65 percent, an act that was described by the active parliamentarian Aboul Ezz Al Hariri as enhancing the proliferation of monopolies rather than fighting them. The groups mentioned are even blaming him of increasing the steel prices of as much as 70 percent. But Ezz does not seem affected by the almost daily drubbings he gets in the press. He dryly told reporters that a competition law would at least provide a legal framework preventing everyone from making accusations."

I don't have much to add to the above, except that Ezz's domination of the Egyptian news and his unprecedented political power, remind me of my favorite comedian Foad Al Mohandis. In one of his 60s movies, every time the name Ezz was mentioned, his wife Shwikar would say: " Did you say Ezz??? Then you must be my dad's murderer!!! Oh dad!!"

In yet another occasion were life imitates art, I am starting to get the feeling that this "Ezz" complex is slowly but surely inflicting all Egyptians.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mabrouk ya Masreyeen!!!

"President Mubarak is the MOST popular president in the world."

This is the exclusive front page headline that Egyptians woke up to, on the morning of June 18, 2008.

Click on the image to see a larger snapshot of the front page in Arabic.

On this joyful occasion I would like to highlight the following points:
  • When I used the term "exclusive" I actually meant it since, in spite of trying very very hard, I was not able to find any mention of this great achievement anywhere other than Al Ahram. Not even on the Newsweek or the World Opinion Organization sites mentioned in the article.
  • The headline says "Most trusted leader in the world", but the poll was only conducted in 20 countries.
  • I used a couple of sharpening filters in Photoshop to try to decipher the other names listed in the chart, but was only able to recognize Assad, Abdullah, & Abbas who came in second, third and forth place respectively. Does that mean the top four trusted leaders in the world are all Arab??
  • Congratulations are in order to President Assad for coming in second place even though Syrians were not surveyed.
  • I would like to meet the Egyptians surveyed to congratulate them (of course only if their physical and mental conditions allow it)
  • One final note: Eat your heart out Robert Mogabe

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mohammad Naguib & 1984

George Orwell completed writing his most famous and influential novel, 1984, in 1948. Yet, I did not read the book, until the early nineties. Orwell highlighted the main responsibilities of the Ministry of Truth, where Winston Smith, the protagonist works. They are the continual rewriting and altering of history, destroying evidence, amending newspaper articles, deleting the existence of people identified as unpersons, so that the existing government would always look perfect.

Reading 1984 reminded me of my first realization of the presence of what could only be described as Nasser's own Ministry of Truth in the late sixties. One day, while discussing what I learned in the social studies class with my dad, he got really upset (at the time I thought with me) when I told him that Gamal Abdel Nasser was the first president of the United Arab Republic (aka Egypt).

I was truly shocked to learn that for almost two year, Egypt was ruled by someone by the name of Mohammad Naguib. I wondered how could the smart and knowledgeable people who wrote my school history books could make such a mistake? I had no reason to suspect that this omission was intentional. When I look back at this incident, and in spite of the negative effect of such a shock on an innocent, naive, and angelic young girl (if you remember me as being a little devil, then please, balash fadaye7), I have to admit that I learned several useful lessons:
  • Never blindly trust any piece of information that crosses my way, no matter how trust worthy the source might seam to be at the time.
  • Never mix politics and the emotions of love or hate.
  • No one, especially politicians, is perfect.
The next time I heard of Naguib was in 1972 when he was released by Anwar Saddat after the 18 years of house arrest imposed on him by Nasser. Sometimes I wonder, what could Egypt be like today, if the democratic wing of the revolution lead by Naguib and Khalid Mohieddin had prevailed? The answer is similar to that of all the hypothetical questions in history:
We will never know.

For more about Naguib click here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Again, just watch this,
curtsy of my friend Pinky (aka Einas), and MSNBC's CountDown with Keith Olbermann show.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The customer is always right. NOT!!!

I can think of a plethora (not sure of this is the correct usage of the word, but I just wanted to use it anyways) of stories to prove that most Egyptian workers who deal with customers have never heard of or came across the phrase: "The customer is always right". But here is my favorite one:

My husband, his sister, and his cousin went to have dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Two of their orders were Chinese noodles and Cashew Chicken. After no less than 3o-minutes, their dinner finally arrived. They were unhappily surprised to see that the the noodles dish was actually spaghetti and the Cashew Chicken was Peanuts Chicken.

My husband, who almost never complains about whatever he is served (except at home of course) because he once watched an American or British program were cooks and waiters confessed that they do undesirable and disgusting things to the orders of who they conceive as arrogant or trouble making costumers.

The cousin, who I am sure never saw the same program, felt compelled to object to this rip-off, especially that she was the one who recommended this restaurant. So she called the waiter, then tried to explain to him that what they were served had nothing to do with the Chinese dishes they ordered .

The know it all waiter, respectfully but surely, explained to her that what was in their plates was Chinese, all Chinese, and nothing but Chinese. This went on for at least 10 minutes. And when she finally saw how hopeless this was, she asked for the manager.

The know it all manager, respectfully but surely, more or less repeated what the waiter had tried to explain all along, that they had no idea what Chinese food was, cause what was in front of them was carefully prepared based on the cook book by chairman Mau Tsi Tong himself!!

10 minutes later, and only because he got worried that other naive and well mannered customers might over hear this dispute, and realize that spaghetti and peanuts are not in any Chinese recipe, he finally gave in and with a wide smile, explained to my husband and his companions that they are the first customers to actually complain about the rip-off. He actually told them that the 50 pound dish would cost the restaurant about 25 pounds to prepare, but with the Egyptian Fahlawa, and some imagination, the modified dishes only costs about 5 pounds, thus doubling the profit.

After 10 more minutes, freshly and properly prepared dishes of noodles and Cashew Chicken arrived at their table. Needless to say, in spite of the appealing presentation & smell, and the sounds of approval and enjoyment coming from his sister and cousin, my hubby did not touch either plates. Later in the car, when he finally confessed the true reason for his refusal to touch the new dishes, he was verbally and physically attacked by the two upset and nauseous ladies.

3amar ya Masr.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My late Uncle

I always wondered, what is the secret to a good movie, or rather, what I conceive as a good movie. My late uncle also wondered about a similar phenomenon. But his quest was much more painful. He wondered, what is the secret to a bad movie. And accordingly, as soon as he heard that a movie was really bad, he went to watch it!!

I think the only reason he survived this self torture was his excellent sense of humor and his bright view of life. He always saw a positive aspect in any situation. This is even true with his imprisonment, back in the 50s, at the tender age of 17, a first year law student, accused of being a member of the communist party.

All students arrested with him were released a week later, cause they all cooperated with the security interrogators, condemned communism and denied being members of the party. My dear uncle, when questioned, claimed he did not know anything about communism, and asked his investigators to first explain communism to him. He added that only after he learns enough about communism, will he be qualified to either condemn it, or to actually submit an official request to join the party in question. If the later is true, then the authorities would have a good reason to keep him in their custody. What a guy!!!

The only time I asked him about the 18 months he spent in prison, he just mentioned the great time he had meeting interesting intellectuals such as Ihsan Abdul Kodous and other writers and journalists. I think his only regret regarding this period, was the pain he caused his mother. Otherwise, and if it was up to him, he might have asked for an extension.

BTW, if anyone from the State Security is reading this, please note that unlike my uncle, I know that I will not enjoy your accommodations even if you put me in the same cell with Hussein Fahmy. Well, if you are really .... no never mind, I am still not interested!!

I just realized how much I miss Khalo. And I pray, that if he is watching us and his beloved Egypt, that his sense of humor would still help him find something to smile about.

God bless you Khalo.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

If I Were a Terrorist

Just watch this.

Yeslam bo2ak ya ostaz Khalifa!!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Submission vs Surrender

To me, submission & surrender meant the same thing. I guess I was wrong (enjoy this rare occasion cause you might never hear me say so again. EVER). So I always accepted the translation of "Islam" to "Submission", that is, until I read Amina Wadud's Inside the Gender Jihad.

Wadud writes: "We often translate this word as "one who submits"; however, the concept is pro-active, spiritually ripe and dynamic and might be better translated as 'engaged surrender'. Engaged surrender involves an active, consciousness participation in our social lives, family lives, economic lives, community lives, political lives, by the heart which is always open to the will of Allah and which always gives precedence to Allah’s will. The concept we have been inclined towards – submission – sometimes gives the idea that there is no will; but the one who willfully submits to the will of Allah is engaged in surrender."

The name Amina Wadud should ring a bell if you follow controversy among Muslims. She is the first Muslim women to lead mixed Friday prayers. More than 100 men and women attended the service and sermon given by Wadud, professor of Islamic studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. The location was moved to an Anglican Church building in New York after mosques refused to host the event. The service has been criticized by a number of Muslim leaders, who say it goes against Islamic doctrine.

As much as I love arguing, I have no argument with Wadud. Neither about her understanding of the word Islam, nor about her leading the Friday prayers.

To watch & listed to Wadud, click here.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Barack Obama at AIPAC

I received the following YouTube link of Obama in AIPAC from my Noona. I had seen a small portion of it on TV hours after he won the nomination of the Democratic Party but I actually switch channels cause it was just painful to watch.

In case you don't know what AIPAC is, please allow me. AIPAC (American - Israeli Public Affairs Committee) is the most visible organ of the 'Zionist lobby' (I insist on calling it Zionist and not Jewish) which has a vast influence on US foreign policy, and that in consequence US foreign policy is pro-Israel to the point of absurdity.

If any Arab or Muslim had any doubts about Obama's position regarding Israel, this video should put those doubts to rest. He made it very clear which Mecca he faces when he is praying in the House of Politics.

So watch for as long as you could but do quit if you start feeling nauseous. In any case, the first couple of minutes summarizes it all, so there is no need for excessive self torture : Click Here.

If you are in a real hurry and would like the highlights, here are some remarkable quotes:
  • Today I'll be speaking from my heart as a true friend of Israel (keda 3ala balata a7san)
  • I understood the Zionist idea, that there is always a homeland at the center of the story (but he cannot understand that there is also a homeland at the center of the Palestinian cause??)
  • We must mean what we say when we speak the words "never again" (but that does not apply to Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghani,....women, men & children??)
  • Not when there are maps across the middle east that do not acknowledge Israel existence (but it is OK to erase and deny the existence of 5 million Palestinian People??)
  • I long understood Israel quest for peace and need for security (Why didn't anyone wake me up?? When did this happen??)
  • I spoke to Israeli troops who faced daily treats (BY WHOM??? Stone throwing kids?? As far as I know, the Egyptian army is busy making bread!!!)
  • I talked to people who wanted nothing more simple or more illusive than a secure future for their children (and none of those stupid Arabs want this for their children too??)
  • I am proud to be part of a bipartisan consensus that stood by Israel against all threats (laka antafkhara!!!!)
Sorry, I cannot do anymore.

To end on a positive note, I have to say that I loved Eisenhower's idea of ordering Germans to tour the Nazi concentration camps to see what was being done in their name, and of ordering the American troops to tour the camps so they can see the evil they are fighting against.

I wish we can organise similar tours to teh Palestinian territories for the American people so that they can see what is being done in their name, and to the Arab leaders so they can see the evil they are befriending.

One final note. On winning his party's nomination, the first thing that Obama did wasn't assuring middle and lower class Americans who are hit hard by the economic crisis, that they will be his first priority, and that he will turn things around for them, he instead went to AIPAC to assure his Zionist friends that Israel interests are his highest priority. Yet, I am not aware that this offended any Americans.

I wonder why & how is it OK with educated, intelligent, proud, hard working, tax paying American citizens that their political leaders repeatedly put the Zionist lobby ahead of them.

And if any wise guy suggests that Arab people are not their leader's highest priority either, I simply say: "we never voted for them!!"

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Federer-Nadal rivalry

I can think of a number of interesting sports rivalries such as:

  • Mohamed Ali vs George Foreman - Boxing
  • Brazil vs. Argentina - Football (Soccer)
  • Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadians - Hockey
  • New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox – Baseball
  • Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics - Basketball
  • Barcelona vs Real Madrid - Football (Soccer)
  • Ahly vs Zamalek - Football (Soccer) - ayam zaman
and we had a number of great rivalries in tennis too:
  • Martina Navratilova vs. Chris Evert
  • Steffi Graf vs Monica Sellas
  • John McEnroe vs. Bjorn Borg
  • Andre Agassi vs. Pete Sampras
  • Boris Becker vs Stephan Edberg
but nothing as intense or enjoyable as the Federer-Nadal rivalry which has been going on for the past couple of years.

Many think that Federer is the greatest Tennis player ever. He is unstoppable on hard & grass courts. But Nadal is just amazing on clay. What he does time after time defies the laws of gravity, physics, and logic.

I am looking forward to their Roland Garros final tomorrow. The only other time the same two players met in a Grand Slam final three consecutive years was from 1988-90 with Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg at Wimbledon.

If Federer wins, he will have amassed 15 Grand Slam titles, and will definitely be crowned as the greatest tennis player ever. We would join the following greats as a Career Grand Slam winner:
  • Fred Perry (1933-34-35) [26]
  • Don Budge (1937-38) [23]
  • Rod Laver (1960-61-62) [24]
  • Roy Emerson (1961-63-64) [27]
  • Andre Agassi (1992-94-95-99) [29]
  • Maureen Connolly Brinker (1951-52-53) [18]
  • Doris Hart (1949-50-51-54) [29]
  • Shirley Fry Irvin (1951-56-57) [29]
  • Margaret Smith Court (1960-62-63) [20]
  • Billie Jean King (1966-67-68-72) [28]
  • Chris Evert (1974-75-82) [28]
  • Martina Navratilova (1978-81-82-83) [26]
  • Steffi Graf (1987-88) [19]
  • Serena Williams (1999-2002-03) [21]
If Nadal (who is now unbeaten in 27 career matches at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament) wins, he will definitely become the king of clay courts.

I will be cheering for Federer. (why do I always go for the under dog, although I do not like animals at all??) But a win by Nadal is fine by me too(NOT).

BTW, if you are wondering which players achieved the impossible Calendar Year Grand Slam, here they are:
  • Don Budge (1938)
  • Rod Laver (1962 • 1969)
  • Maureen Connolly Brinker (1953)
  • Margaret Smith Court (1970)
  • Steffi Graf (1988)
I did not follow many women's matches in this tournament but I definitely missed Justine Henin massive presence. She announced her decision at a news conference 1 1/2 weeks before the start of the French Open, where she has won the past three titles and four overall. Put simply, she realized she was burned out, and became the first woman to quit the sport while atop the WTA rankings.

The women's final is scheduled for this afternoon. Ivanovic of Serbia will meet Safina of Russia. I will support Ivanovic and hope I won't be 0 for 2.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Favorite Parisian Attraction

If you were wondering: "Where the heck did she go? Sick? Jailed? Retired?" Then you are 0 for 3. I was actually in Paris on a short visit to see my son Mo.

In spite of being busy with his school studies, he did a great job as a tour guide. He took me to each and every Parisian attraction, and actually did that in just three days!! And we did it mostly on foot!!! I guess he was hoping:
  1. Once I see them all, I would change my travel plans and leave early
  2. My back would kill me from all the walking and I would just lie in bed for the rest of my stay
Mai zut non. His wicked plan did not work. Anyways, what I just wanted to share with you is, no not a delicious macaron, but my son's favorite attraction in Paris.
Guess what it is???
  1. Eiffel Tower
  2. Arc de Triomphe
  3. Louvre Museum
  4. Notre-Dame Cathedral
  5. Sacre Coeur
  6. Champs-Elysees
  7. Place de la Concorde
  8. Madeleine
  9. Palais Royal
  10. Moulin Rouge
  11. All of the above
  12. None of the above
Well, if you know my son well, then I say you guessed # 10.
And if you have ever been to Paris, then I say you guessed # 11.
Unfortunately, my son is too messed up and the right answer is # 12.

Don't even try to guess, just look at the pictures below. Enjoy.