August 28, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 11:14 pm

procrastinating..  procrastinating..  procrastinating.. :))

ser/estar.. por/para.. preterito imperfecto de subjuntivo.. preterido indefinido.. futuro compuesto..

preterito pluscuamperfecto de indicativo.. el condicional..

intencion, causa, consecuencia..

estar sin blanca.. paginas amarillas.. poner verde a alguien.. principe azul.. estar negro.. ponerse morado.. quedarse en blanco..

anduviera, anduvieras, anduviera, anduvieramos, anduvierais, anduvieran..

di, diste, dio, dimos, disteis, dieron.. habre ido, habras ido, habra ido, habremos ido, habreis ido, habran ido…

can’t even put the tildes on the letters……

en el estilo indirecto:

presente becomes preterito imperfecto; preterito indefinido becomes preterito pluscuamperfecto; pret perfecto becomes pret pluscuamperfecto; futuro simple becomes condicional simple; futuro compuesto becomes condicional compuesto; presente de subjuntivo becomes imperfecto de subj; perfecto de subj becomes pluscuamperf de subj and finally imperativo becomes imperfecto de subj!



Random Thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 12:58 am

From the window of our apartment, I can hear “Lissah Faker” and I just realized that it’s my favourite Um Kulthoum song.. it’s as if once I hear it, even if it’s far away in the distance somewhere, my whole being stops. I try to locate the music and the lyrics.. my ears stretch out and I enjoy the music tremendously.  I have to admit that the reason really is because of the Tunisian film Les Silences du Palais.  Hind Sabry’s captivating rendering of that song haunts me every time I hear it anywhere else.

I’m hooked on the PTP PIXStory riddle.  It’s a daily riddle where they show a picture and you have to mention what the picture is and give a little background information on it.  The more personal experience with the photo, the better.  I’m really enjoying it.  Every day I look forward to the new riddle – and to the winners of the previous day ;)  I’ve won three out of 5 riddles so far :D  a prize will be given to the person with the most correct answers.. so we’ll see.  We still have around 24 days to go ;)

I have my spanish exam of the 6th level in a few days.  I’ve been kind of stranded at home trying to study these past few days.  I feel I’m back in college and I have a deep feeling I’m not going to pass this time.  I was lucky with the 4th level and my teacher was extremely generous in the 5th level.  I might not be this lucky this time.  I am reciting verbs like a school child!  In all cases, I feel that even if I don’t pass, I really enjoyed this level.. I read, watched movies, watched the news on spanish tv, listened to some fairy tales on tape, I read my first “non-children’s book” in spanish and I learnt quite a lot of new words.  so it was cool.

August 20, 2009

El Sett at work..

Filed under: Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 3:39 pm

When a colleague of mine put up some Um Kulthoum mp3s on our work music folder, I thought how on earth could one listen to Um Kulthoum at work?  One needs to be in a place where one can concentrate kida and not be doing things so that one can enjoy and appreciate the voice of El Sett. 

The day is calm today and I have some things to write so I figured I’d try the ‘Um Kulthoum at work’ effect and it actually turned out to be quite pleasant – and quite productive believe it or not.  Akher rawa’a!  I’m pleasantly writing my reports.. swinging my head lightly to the music and the songs that I haven’t listened to in ages.. thoroughly enjoying the beauitful lyrics..

As I write this, and in the middle of Aghadan Alqaaq, my colleagues are back from meetings.. and my experience is totally ruined!  We’re back to a normal day at the office and as I had anticipated, Um Kulthoum doesn’t fit in at all.. the phonecalls, the voices, the noise of the traffic outside and the ambulances heading to Kasr El-Einy Hospital around the corner, the telephone ringing incessantly, the noise of each paper emerging from the printer right next to me, the people coming in and out and the mobile phones screeching on people’s desks.. 

Well.. it was good for as long as it lasted :)

August 13, 2009

First Photo Post!

Filed under: Photography — by AmiraAK @ 9:47 am
Kathmandu, Nepal: A man performs yoga as another meditates in the courtyard of a Buddhist shrine

Kathmandu, Nepal: A man performs yoga as another meditates in the courtyard of a Buddhist shrine

Photograph: Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP

I like to check the 24 Hours in Pictures in the Guardian every day, or whenever I can.  They often have some beautiful pictures.  This one I found to be a bit surreal!  The monkeys, the pigeons, the dog, the umbrella and the two men sitting on something that looks like a ledge, looking so peaceful!  

August 12, 2009

Oh my friends, my friends, don’t ask me.. what your sacrifice was for..

Filed under: On books and reading,Quotes — by AmiraAK @ 4:01 pm

The minute someone mentions A Tale of Two Cities I remember the opening lines of this amazing book: 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—

How can one not fall in love with this?  How can one not fall in love with Dickens, his style and his colourful complex characters?  How can one not fall in love with A Tale of Two Cities and Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay? 

Carton’s sacrifice and his sweet heartbreaking words at the end of the story:

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

These two characters, together with Madame Defarge sitting in that shop knitting the names of those who will be executed, will remain with us forever.  The ingenuity of a book such as this is one where the characters are persons.. people you recall from your past.. like ghosts from your childhood. 

I think A Tale of Two Cities will be the next book I read.  I’m nostalgic.  I want to read it again in detail. 


I am also in a Les Miserables mood.. On my way to and from the coast last weekend, I felt a deep urge to listen to the songs of the musical, and with it go through the whole story again.. again the sacrifice, persistence and perseverance, faith in fighting for a cause you believe in.. and utter love.. How can one hunt a person down for so long over a loaf of bread that he stole?  The sacrifice of the people who made the revolution happen..

Oh my friends, my friends, don’t ask me
What your sacrifice was for
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will sing no more

The musical in my opinion is a masterpiece.  If it were still running in London or Broadway, I would still go, even though I’ve watched it twice already.  I wasn’t going to put it all up, but this is such a beautiful song; it always, always brings shivers down my spine and throughout my whole body:

There’s a grief that can’t be spoken.
There’s a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.

Here they talked of revolution.
Here it was they lit the flame.
Here they sang about `tomorrow’
And tomorrow never came.

From the table in the corner
They could see a world reborn
And they rose with voices ringing
I can hear them now!
The very words that they had sung
Became their last communion
On the lonely barricade at dawn.

Oh my friends, my friends forgive me
That I live and you are gone.
There’s a grief that can’t be spoken.
There’s a pain goes on and on.

Phantom faces at the window.
Phantom shadows on the floor.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will meet no more.

Oh my friends, my friends, don’t ask me
What your sacrifice was for
Empty chairs at empty tables
Where my friends will sing no more.


The two volumes I have of Les Miserables cannot stay on my bookshelf unread much longer.  I will have to bring them down and read them sooner rather than later. 

August 10, 2009

Old Age

Filed under: Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 3:35 pm

I think I now know what it is I fear the most in this world.  Old Age.  It’s not as much growing old as it is old age in itself.  This trip to New York has helped me to realize that.  Seeing old men and women, frail, pink and blue from all the visible veins, bent, barely standing, walking and crossing the streets of one of the busiest cities in the world, shopping, going into a cafe or standing in line in a supermarket carrying a bag of groceries, walking in the park…etc. all alone, with the aid of a push cart/support, or a stick, or in the company of a dog, or no aid at all.. It’s not an easy thing.  I fear for them.  I fear that they will break.  They might get pushed, they might be run over, they could easily get mugged or robbed.  Just like a little child.  Helpless.

I think of my grandmother, my aunt, of my father – shopping for his 70th birthday card.  I fear for them, and I fear for what we become – what I may become – at that age.

Middle Age

Filed under: Quotes,Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 3:18 pm

Middle age is the time when your broad mind and narrow waist change places.

(this was a comment to a status by someone on facebook. I cracked up laughing!)

August 6, 2009

Good Ol’ College Days

Filed under: Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 5:25 pm

I was searching for something in my old emails and stumbled upon this.  I wrote it back in 2007:

College days were the best days of my life!
I felt that the windows and doors of knowledge were opening up to me (literally).
I read and read and read and had fun and went on trips and protested and learnt about politics and literature and arabic writers and met with superstars of the literary world and fell in and out of love and went to conferences and saw movies and made tons of friends and felt so free!


Filed under: On books and reading,Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 10:48 am

Every once in a while a book comes along that touches you deeply.  Farag is such a book.  I was hesitant on Goodreads to give it a four star rating, “really liked it” or a five star rating, “it’s amazing”.  Because I can’t really say it is amazing.  I really really liked it.  But it deserves a five rather than a four, but I can’t treat it like a book where I’d say, ‘oh wow, man, that was such a read, I’m thrilled!’ kind of thing.  It’s subtle.  It’s simple and it can seem like any story of a family in Egypt living in the 50s, 60s, 70s and up to our present time.  But it’s more than that.

The author always brings in a part of him/herself into their writings.   Radwa Ashour often mentions that, and she always brings parts of herself into her writings, even when they seem purely fictional, though Ashour’s writings are never purely fictional.  How much is fictional, how much is autobiographical and how much of this happened to people she knew very well is not important.  If you know anything about this era, you will be able to pick out the bits and pieces you know to be close to home.

What I love about this book is that it lingers with me.  I didn’t read it in one shot which is nice because that way I kind of lived with it for a while.  I read a third of it on the plane to the US – a long flight – a third on my way back three weeks later, and a third three weeks after that.  I felt like Nada’s life story was close to me and I was following her life and that of her family as if I was visiting her while she was a child and growing up, and then I went to visit her later when she was going through her own youth and raising the boys and then afterwards when they had grown up and graduated from college, all the while the social and political events surrounding her and them provided the context to the story.

What moved me was a nostalgia to that era of student movements, to the story of Arwa, Siham, Hazem.. her father’s imprisonment, her own, Foucault, Durkheim, her visit to the prison that reminded me of Robben Island in South Africa, where the guides who take you around, are among the ones who were imprisoned, the faith these people had, their disillusionment..  When I first graduated and started working, I was a part of those stories.. I knew the people who had participated in the movements, who had been friends with Arwa, who had gone through the tribulations and turbulences of that era, I read the philosophical, psychological and historical theories related to that.  My feelings while reading the book was a nostalgia to those post college days when I was learning so much about my country through personal experiences that you never learn in books or in college or at school, and a nostalgia to have been a part of that movement, a part of that conscience or consciousness that has almost totally evaporated now.

Radwa Ashour’s writings are not just works of prose.  They’re not just novels and articles and stories.  They are ‘living’ writings.. they pulsate while you’re reading, you feel with the characters, the events, the descriptions of the surroundings and you live with them.  Long after the book is finished, you find yourself thinking of what you’ve read, you turn and see one of the characters walking in the distance, you hear a conversation, you sense a pang in your heart when you remember a certain something that happened.  You even sense feelings of pain, of regret, of happiness.. but most importantly, a feeling of being energized, a rendering of faith and of hope for change that could still happen if we really worked hard for it; if we really believed in it.  I was sitting there in the train with Nada in that final chapter and I could see her life passing before her eyes.  I felt I was there with her, like an alter self.. I’m not really.  My life is nothing like Nada’s, but I sometimes wish it had been similar.  I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had been a part of that era.  Through Nada’s personal experience, I get a glimpse of that and through Radwa Ashour’s beautiful style I become almost a part of it.

August 5, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — by AmiraAK @ 10:36 am

Two perfectly healthy bodum coffee plungers break in one week! Both at work.  Either God is forcing me to slow down on coffee since Ramadan is approaching fast, or…

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