I don’t want to leave Cairo but I long for the quietness in London.. the ability to hear my own thoughts.
August 11, 2012
June 17, 2012
For years I have travelled with three dear travel companions: The Prophet, Letters to a Young Poet and Le Petit Prince. I always also carry my little pocket Quran. Today at Shabana’s funeral, I realized how little I have read – or listened to – Quran since I got here. When I left for the UK, I only took my Letters to a Young Poet, and I have needed to go back to it twice in the past few months.. Today’s play on Gibran brought back a whole era of my life where I lived and breathed Gibran. Today’s funeral, yesterday’s talk at the City Circle, my new circle of friends and the Thursday Threshold meetings have made me realize how much of Rumi I used to read and have forgotten. His wisdom was a true guide and a pathway into my soul.
What is it that has happened? Have I outgrown my travel companions? Do we ever outgrow our books?? Have I suppressed my feelings and emotions so much these past years that I have eliminated the very words that give me solace when I travel, when I experience a new beginning, when I make a new friend, when I feel the need for company, or when I just want to share a part of me with someone. And for what? For a relationship that didn’t work, or a job that took up all my time, or simply because life now robs us of precious moments when we can read and reflect and spend time with a friend reading passages and poems and discovering new realms together.
It is these words that made me who I am.. that reminded me constantly of my humanness.. I feel devoid now, and empty.. simply not me. And I long to be me again.. I long for Rilke and Gibran and for the little prince to be by my side again.. my companions who made me feel that there is still some humanity in this insane world we’re living in.
May 2, 2012
After almost a year of not posting, I have rediscovered my blog :D
I was intimidated by the amount of blogs out there with which I have been out of touch, the new forms of websites that I still don’t quite understand such as tumblr and sound clouds and what not, and by my mother’s insistence that I write!
I attended a talk the other day and wrote a little review about it, and since it has been posted and with all the comments I’ve received, I decided, it was time to break the barrier and get writing again.. small steps, one at a time.
Let’s see what happens..
July 9, 2011
Today is the independence of South Sudan. After decades of civil war and struggle with the North, the people of Southern Sudan have earned their freedom and their right to a country of their own. Through various peace agreements, the latest of which was the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, leading to an overwhemlingly successful referendum last January (2011) favouring secession from the north and which culminated in today, the day of independence and final separation from the Republic of Sudan, the newest nation in Africa and the world, the Republic of South Sudan, is born.
Though themselves diverse in race, religion and ethnicity, the people of South Sudan are very different from the North. Their struggle after the longest civil wars in Africa, decades of marginalisation in terms of services and resources, displacement of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes because of war and conflict, and more than 1.5 million deaths, this independence is well earned. The road however is still rough and long. Conflicts still abide, and health care and education are minimal. Most of the neglected tropical diseases known in the world are endemic in South Sudan, maternal and infant mortality rates are amongst the highest in the world and enrolment in education is very low. Infrastructure and institutions need to be built from scratch. However from the happiness and relief of the people that I have witnessed this past month and especially yesterday and today, from the large numbers of displaced Sudanese who are rapidly making their way back to their country and from the speeches of the dignitaries who were invited to the international celebratory event today and the support they showed, there is a strong will and desire to reconstruct this country and develop it and make it a nation worthy of the struggle of its people and those who gave their lives for its freedom. The country is still treading its first steps but I am optimistic and its people are confident that it will rise to a beautiful nation that recognises the rights of its citizens and respects their diversity and humanity.
July 8, 2011
Here’s the link to how you can help :)
It’s been a long time since I had the chance to follow blogs and read what my friends and fellow bloggers have to say on their websites. Today after spending the day following the news of Tahrir and of South Sudan, I logged into some blogspots and felt a deep nostalgia.. Apart from the immediate news about the revolution and following millioneyas, I hadn’t followed any blogs on the events in Egypt, any updates of my friends’ blogs, nor much online reading in general actually. I’m happy to see that some have resumed writing after periods of silence and I’m ever so glad to touch base again with the bloggers I’ve always enjoyed reading. There’s so much catching up to do.. reading and writing, and more sites to discover..
March 5, 2011
Yesterday I bought some Nag Champa – something I’ve been meaning to do since I got here but couldn’t find anywhere. This morning I dug up some Quran audio files from an old disk drive I had. I hadn’t listened to any Quran since I got here.
Now my room is full of the beautiful smell of incense and the soothing voice of Mishari Rashed and I feel at peace.
February 4, 2011
2 February 2011:
I’m glad I’m not in Egypt. I’m glad, not because I’m afraid or because I don’t believe in the cause. I’m glad because I know that if I were in Egypt, I would have been electronically cut off from the world for a week and I know that I wouldn’t have been able to go down to the street to protest – for various reasons.
Up until 10 days ago, I had been contemplating disabling my FB account because I didn’t really like it and saw it a waste of time and energy but most importantly an invasion of my privacy. Up until two weeks ago I had heard of Twitter but felt it was too complicated and too time consuming to follow. Up until three weeks ago I had no idea what was happening in Tunisia and my political knowledge was limited to a utopian desire for a better world, a knowledge of corruption in my country, a nostalgia for stories of the days when students and nationalists protested and went on hunger strikes and were imprisoned for ideals that they believed in.
Ten days ago my world changed and I became glued to my computer. I felt an imperative need to reach out to the world where my friends could not. And I felt a need to read and forward links and learn from what was happening. Through talking to friends and acquaintances I gradually developed my own point of view without being vulgar and without heated arguments. I tried to find a voice for the people in the streets and I made late-night friends. We forwarded links and information as we received or sought it and we stayed glued to our computers and television sets flipping channels and closely following the news. I believe I tried to do online what I could not do on the ground.
I have received notes from friends around the world supporting us and telling me that they’re learning about the situation in Egypt through all these posts. Friends I hadn’t heard of in months, even years. And then the president gave a speech on the night of the 1st of February and on the 2nd of February the internet was switched back on and Tahrir square was transformed into a battle-ground. People from all over Egypt including our families were telling us to stop the violence and to get back to our normal lives. I have no excuse. I was not in Egypt, I did not stay up all night guarding the streets making sure no-one came up to my house. I was not waiting for a salary I couldn’t get a hold of, or money I couldn’t access, or food I couldn’t get. I was “sitting comfortably” in London ‘with no idea of the reality of the situation’. I think of all the people (Egyptians) in England, South Africa, the US and around the world who just packed their bags, booked tickets and tried to make it home so that they could be a part of this revolt. I think of them and I think of all the people here I encounter who tell me “Oh, I bet you wish you were back home right now”, “Don’t you wish you were taking part in all this?” I tell them I believe I’m a bit more useful staying here. I can write or forward what I want online and I can go and protest in front of the embassy when I want. I don’t need anyone’s permission and I don’t have to feel guilty for doing so.
The day the internet got back on and Egypt started watching what the world had been watching for a whole week before, I began to be criticized and confronted for writing things that would cause more havoc and more chaos. I really didn’t actually. All I did was forward articles that I found to be very interesting. Clean articles, with no insults or direct confrontation, but articles that showed the situation on the ground, as I heard it from my friends.
The 2nd February was not an easy day. Last night, the night of the 2nd of February was a terrible night. Our friends were fighting for their lives and we were up writing and tweeting and facebooking and talking on the phone and on Skype and trying to do whatever we could to keep the morale of the protesters in the streets high and to call the national and international community for help.
Now, the morning of 3rd of February, most friends I hear are okay and have survived the night, determined as ever to stay on in the square. And I have to step down from my FBing. I believe in the revolt heart and soul and my heart is with the protesters till they all conquer inshaAllah and we have a brighter and better Egypt for us all.
November 11, 2010
I used to be an avid fan–atic of everything Lloyd Weber. I used to breathe, dream, eat, sleep Phantom of the Opera.. Sarah Brightman was the best singer of all time, musicals were the only thing I listened to, and I knew them all.. though I hadn’t seen ¾ of the musicals I listened to, I knew the lyrics to all the songs and the names of the characters and the singers and where they were playing… I could hear them breathing, I knew the pauses in their songs, I could imagine the stage, I practically lived in the musicals and was a part of them.
I don’t know if I outgrew them, or I did everything in my power to avoid them, but I have tried to keep away from Phantom of the Opera for years now.. maybe because it is closely associated with my ex. And since my ex and I split up I don’t go down that musical path.. and it’s been Phantom, Andrew Lloyd Weber and all the musicals associated with him and that ‘era’.
Now with my friends going to watch it, talking about it and sharing lines from the songs, I find myself drawn to You Tube, listening to the songs, watching videos of Sarah Brightman, Glenn Close, Michael Ball, stolen excerpts from the musicals, clips from the Royal Albert Hall celebration of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s 50th birthday… it’s a journey that takes me back 15 years… not just 15 years back.. it starts 15 years ago and progresses every year.. remembering what and who introduced me to the Phantom, and then step by step, learning about other musicals, buying CDs and videos myself, or asking people to get them for me, finding an album at a flea market, or stumbling upon one in the strangest of places, and the bittersweet memories of recognizing, discovering, singing, learning, travelling to watch the shows, learning the lyrics of every song, listening to them over and over and over again.. my own love developing with each new musical and each new song I hear of and listen to and learn…
All the money and time and effort I invested in my collection, my memories…
And then.. a disappointment in the rendering of the film of the Phantom.. and a disappointment in my first, and maybe only, love.. it all stopped.
And now the coals that had died down are rekindling again and I’m not sure I’m happy with that feeling..
July 22, 2010
It’s another Thursday night alone at home and I just finished watching Innocent Voices. Last Thursday I watched Las 13 Rosas. Ahmed, I love you for introducing me to those movies, and I thank you for it, but I am deeply and acutely moved by them. Las 13 Rosas is the story of 13 young women (minors) in Madrid who were wrongly gunned down in the Almudena cemetery in 1939 in the early years of the Franco regime because of a political crime they did not commit. It’s a beautiful film, despite that last sentence. Innocent Voices talks about the civil war in El Salvador through the eyes of an 11-year old boy. They are both very strong material to digest, and as I embark upon a journey that will change my career and my life, I pause to think a little about what I am about to do.
My whole life I have wanted to do something useful.. to help people. I’m not the corporate employee, nor the teacher, nor am I one to work at a 9-5 job that won’t bring some sort of change to myself and to the people around me. I need to be doing something useful and after 14 years of work in development that has in my opinion grown stagnant, I need to look for something that is more in the line of fire. Well, not in so many words, but at least something that has more action to it, where I feel that my mark will leave a stronger imprint. I have no idea if that is a wise decision, nor a rash one for that matter, and I have absolutely no clue what the outcome of this year is going to be, more so, what the future holds for me, and I don’t know if I will be able to take the life that I am choosing for myself. But I know that I have my faith, my thrill and thirst for knowledge, my desire to travel to the 70 thousand corners of the world, and my need to do some good in this world.
I also have a strong urge to understand what it is that makes people live in the circumstances that they live in, to suffer the way they do, to fight for what they believe in, to lose members of their family and their community one after the other, to lose everything they own, and still believe that their cause is just and that there is a certain solidarity that unifies us all as humans. I know I don’t have to work in countries where there is violence, but I need to understand this resilience and this solidarity.
And I hope that this coming year will be a step closer towards this understanding and my own realization of what it is I truly want to do in this life.