June 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 9:52 pm

Sitting at Greco after an arduous day at work.  I have some editing jobs to do and though there were plans to go to the gym and to do some necessary shopping, and paying of bills, I chose to go to Greco, my favourite coffee place with my laptop to unwind, to smell the aroma of coffee and to finish the work I have at hand.

The music and the songs bring in nostalgic memories of times gone by.  Sweet times.. first love times, first outings, special concerts, times spent listening to newly purchased CDs at home, listening and pondering every word, every verse.. a time when music was bought from abroad, and every CD purchased had its own flavour and uniqueness.  Things were not downloaded as easily as they are now.  Everything had a meaning.  It was the era of letter-writing. Regular emails that had meaning.  Not just an insignificant word or two or a plethora of forwarded emails.  Even if the email contained one sentence, it was usually written with love and with care and thought; not absent-mindedly as a reply to hundreds of received messages every day.

It was a time of friendships and emotions.. I feel that now we know too many people, and we’re superficially in touch with too many people.  And yet, we’re really not to blame.  I can’t keep up with the weddings, the babies being born, the birthdays, the events, people coming and going.. I have over 450 friends on facebook.  If I met with one person every day, I would see my friends once a year at the most and I would have no time for myself nor for my family.  Many of my friends I want to see, truly, but I don’t have the time to.  Even phonecalls consume time.  I can only make one or two phonecalls a day to friends.. the call lasts for 20-45 minutes.  It’s a lot when you come to think of it.  By the end of the call, your ear hurts and when you come to think of it, when you finish work at 5 pm and get home or go to any activity or event or even simply go and buy groceries, and then you have a couple of half hour phonecalls, your day is over.  You barely have the time to get ready for bed or watch something on tv to distract your thoughts of the stress of the day and then you’re off to bed.

We hardly have time to read or to play sports or to simply go to the cinema and watch a film we long to watch.  What has become of us and the world we live in?

And how on earth did I get into this while I was simply sipping some good coffee and listening to some amazing songs?


June 14, 2009

A Dream Deferred..

Filed under: Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 9:33 pm

I’ve been hearing this poem by Langston Hughes in my head today over and over again.. I can see and hear Radwa Ashour reciting it in class.. I can hear the total silence of an otherwise noisy and disorderly classroom while she stresses every word.. every syllable..

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

June 9, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 11:48 pm

It took me almost an hour and a half to get home today from Dokki. I drove all the way alternating between first and second gear! I can hardly feel my knee. Literally. And that was at 9:30 pm on a weekday, so supposedly no rush hour. There was a bumper sticker on the car in front of me that said: God grant me the serenity to ignore the damn traffic. Despite everything.. that, and the radio kept me company :)

June 8, 2009

Filed under: Quotes,Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 10:47 pm

If there’s magic in boxing, it’s the magic of fighting battles beyond endurance, beyond cracked ribs, ruptured kidneys and detached retinas. It’s the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you.

From Million Dollar Baby
(I just felt I needed to read that..  again.. and again.)


Filed under: Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 10:24 pm

I’m usually not a quitter.  Or am I?

mmm.. maybe I am after all.  But then I only quit when I know I don’t fit in a certain place and it’s usually for a better or higher opportunity.

Or do I?

Now that I think about it, my whole life has been about leaving places.  I left a secure job that people would kill for to go and work in an NGO with no guarantees.  I left a master’s degree in a field I love to pursue another in a field I had very little knowledge of.  I quit endless other jobs, activities, opportunities, so many relationships.

And yet, I know my limitations.  And I know what I want in life.  I don’t know it when I venture into the thing.. I try and then I discover that it doesn’t work for me and so I leave.

I don’t like to call it quitting then.

Unfortunately, I also have a reputation for running away from things.  But it’s not really running away.  I find that the best way to deal with problems is to go to bed knowing that I’ll wake up in the morning and God will have sorted everything out in His own way.  Things usually actually get sorted out that way, no kidding!

So is it running away?  In the Sound of Music, Maria von Trapp tells Liesel that you can’t run away from life, you have to face it!  I choose to go somewhere far far away until they get sorted out on their own – or at least until I can think clearly enough to be able to take a sound decision.  I have the luxury to travel, or to endeavour on a new quest, take a course that takes up my time, read a book.. things that help me to not focus on the problem or issue at hand.  Does that make me a coward?  It helps me to take on other things that may not be so enchanting and it helps me to take on the toils of life – not that I have many, hamdul’Illah – but at least it makes things easier to deal with.  I need to recharge my battery every now and then and I need to do so away from stress.. usually away from people.  I need to do it on my own.  It gets overwhelming when I have too many things on my plate.  There usually are too many things on my plate.. so I find myself going into cycles of beginnings and then too many activities and then overwhelmness and then stress and then letting go or ending and then calm.

And then we start all over again.

Such is the cycle of my life.

I was thinking actually about that issue of perfection and the pieces of music that I like.. those that soothe me and it suddenly hit me as I was listening to Cavalleria Rusticana this evening that the types of music that I like follow that same scheme.  I don’t know much about classical music or music in general to be able to identify whether or not that is a style or a method.. but there are pieces that go round and round along the same tune while getting higher and more powerful (but always in a calm way). Examples – that I consider examples – is Bach’s Concerto of Two Violins, Cavalleria Rusticana (that piece in the final scene of Godfather III – I don’t know which scene of the opera itself it is), and many of Nyman and Morricone’s works, Beethoven’s Ninth and many of Tchaikovsky’s ballet love scenes.  They revolve around the same theme.. rising and emphasizing rhythm and tempo very subtly, and I think this is what calms me when I’m not in the best of moods.  Some of them are a bit heartbreaking.. like the music of Cinema Paradiso and Million Dollar Baby, at times also the English Patient, The End of the Affair and The Piano, though I’ve become accustomed to The Piano.  I listen to it now ‘in general’ when I want to listen to good music, or when I’m working on something and want something beautiful and subtle in the background.  Coming to think of it, how can it be subtle when the film was so poignant!?  The Hours is another.  Ah.. they rarely do soundtracks these days like they used to.  But that’s another story.. another entry.

I’m barely holding on till my next move!  Am I cursed with this cycle of life, or am I blessed that I know what I’m worth and I know where I stand and I won’t live my life in a place or moment that I know won’t get me anywhere?  And yet my course of life doesn’t seem to be at all linear.. it is in a sense, but in the process it goes round and round like a spring.. I can only hope that in some way, it will resemble what the gymnast does: a series of twirls and somersaults rising high high up in the air and then coming to rest firmly on the ground in a perfect position, arms up, head held high and a beautiful smile upon her face.  A smile that carries all the hard work she’s put into the effort and the amazing result she has accomplished.  I know this running around will somehow, someway lead to something good.  I’m sure of it.  It’s all part of the Master Plan; the Plan that will reveal itself sooner or later.

I know all this is not in vain.

June 2, 2009

On Death..

Filed under: Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 11:21 pm

(I wrote this a couple of months ago.  I made some modifications and added some more today)

In the film The Hours, Virginia Woolf says “Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more”.

I believe it is one of the greatest blessings of life that we go about our lives as if there was no death. We forget about it temporarily until we are struck by it… suddenly. Whether personally, in our closest circles, or through what colleagues, friends, relatives and newspapers tell us.

Yet, one cannot be totally distant from death, no matter how much you want to shut your eyes to the fact that we all die. A few days ago, I heard that someone I know had lost his daughter. As far as I remember, she could not have been more than a year or two old.. this morning on the internet, I read that a man killed his 5 children – shot them with a rifle before killing himself. They were aged 7-16. We hear endless accounts of war and conflict, but these are not always the ones that affect us.. it’s the personal stories that affect us.. the people we have talked to, laughed with, touched and held… the young ones mostly. Other people you expect to die very soon and they live on and on for months and years defying all predictions and propositions.

We do not ignore death.. we fail to interpret it because there is no way you can interpret it. It is a mystery. In my opinion, it always will be. Some cultures celebrate death by celebrating life.. mourners wear black, or white, or colourful clothes even, to show their sympathy.. people die through natural causes, or accidents, or are killed, or kill themselves.. it’s always a mystery.. how? when? or why? – always why.. are questions we cannot, must not ask, because no matter how much we try to understand, we won’t really be able to comprehend the truth behind it. All we are left with is acceptance.

If you remember the famous saying.. live for today as if there were no tomorrow and live for tomorrow as if today were the last day. That’s how we should live our lives.. enjoy it and work hard for it and do all the material things that take up our time and energy, but always keep in mind that we all die.  We will all die and there is no escape even if you’re in the highest tower and have taken all your precautions.

I have thought about death a lot.  I think about it often.  In an attempt to understand it, or make some sense out of it.  I have been blessed that my immediate family is still with me.. that I have not truly ‘experienced death’ or the loss of loved ones as much as other people.  and yet I have lost people close to me.  Death, however, does not bother me.  I consider it a step to another life..  a step we all must pass through.  I feel content, (not happy, but calm and serene) when someone passes on.. it is a stage like all other stages.. birth, adolescence, maturity, old age, death, afterlife.  I feel it is a moment of rest before an eternal life free of worries.

We feel pain and agony at the loss of our dear ones.  We miss them dearly, but I always think upon them with a smile.  Small things remind me of those who have passed on.. a wandering cloud in the sky, a flower, a certain scent, a word someone says, a piece of music.. I thank God for having known them, and I know I am a better person because they have touched my life in one way or another.

I write this in memory of a friend who passed away this time last year, in memory of my great uncle whose birthday was yesterday, my other great uncle, Tante Mirette, Bonne Maman, for Hoda and Yehia, and for Azza.  May God bless them and rest their souls and rest the souls of all our loved ones.   

This poem by John Donne (16th century English poet) is one of my favourite poems by him.  What I like about it the most is that in the end death will be conquered – and this in itself always brings a smile to my face when I think about it. For, as Dylan Thomas says, death shall have no dominion.


DEATH, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so:

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death; nor yet canst thou kill me.

From Rest and Sleep, which but thy picture be,

Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow;

And soonest our best men with thee do go–

Rest of their bones and souls’ delivery!

Thou’rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke. Why swell’st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,

And Death shall be no more: Death, thou shalt die!

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