Thursday, August 25, 2011

Anti Smoking

Even though I have been a second hand smoker all my life, and I quite enjoy the smell of good tobacco, I am completely against smoking, whether it's cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or sheesha. Maybe I feel so strongly because I have my own personal experience with smokers, but I think, despite my personal experiences, there is a global agreement that smoking is not the best habit to pick up.

My father was a heavy smoker, he smoked forty to  fifty packs a week, which sums up to 800 to 1000 cigarettes. He smoked the red Marlboros, known to have higher nicotine than the rest of the types of cigarettes, and he smoked for more than 30 years of his life. He died. Smoking killed him. I'm saying this but that's not accurate, it was his life style that killed him. He ate breakfast in the morning and had dinner late at night. He had a stressful job; a structural engineer, then the head of the planning and execution departments, positions that had him always moving between sites all over the country. He spent all his mornings smoking and drinking coffee. He hardly slept well and he rarely went on vacations. He did not have time for sports even though he played tennis, squash, and soccer. So maybe I shouldn't blame smoking after all? Except I do!

Firstly, smoking increases the blood pressure which does not really help with the stress levels. Secondly, smoking ruins the lungs which leaves the smoker out of breath and thus the idea of sports becomes far fetched. Thirdly, smoking is destructive and the smokers are fully aware of that, but it is their twisted idea of banging their head against the wall, or maybe slowly committing suicide. Finally, smoking ruins the appetite making it difficult for a smoker to eat healthily especially with the busy schedule most smokers claim to have, adding more to their health and life style issues. As for women smokers, I think it's shameful for a woman who goes through pregnancy, labor, raising babies, extreme mood swings and emotional roller coasters to think that smoking helps with the stress. If women were not built to handle the stress, then who was?!

Do I hear freedom, rights, personal space? Every smoker hurts the people around them with every puff. My brother and I developed respiratory issues as a result of my father's smoking, as did my mother, even though he rarely smoked at home, and at some point was banned completely from smoking in the house (I have a very brave mother). It isn’t just the people the smoker lives with and cares about, even pedestrians are hurt from the smoke since they are exposed to multiple smokers throughout the day, every day. So you'll go smoke in the desert away from everyone? Smoking still expels carbon dioxide in the planet's atmosphere, adding to the global warming issues, hurting the earth and everything on it. Just in case you're thinking, dear smoker, that you're just one person, how bad could it be? I will first ask you doesn't that sound eerily like what people said about their votes during elections and we all responded that EVERY VOTE COUNTS? With just over 15 BILLION cigarettes smoked daily, how badly do your cigarettes, dear smoker, are hurting the world?

As for the guys, who I refuse to call men, who smoke because it makes them look, or feel, more manly, and the girls who smoke because it makes them look or feel sexier, probably imagining themselves as femme fatales who can melt a man's heart with a puff of smoke and a lipstick stained cigarette, I have one word to say to you: LMAO!!!!! seriously, get a life!

Dear smoker, with every puff of smoke you:

  1. hurt yourself
  2. hurt the people you love
  3. hurt the people you don't even know
  4. hurt the earth
  5. possibly look like a total idiot (ok not everyone)

So think twice before you light that, every puff counts.

Did you like this?

Friday, August 19, 2011


It's been fourteen years since my dad died. Fourteen whole years. Feels like a lifetime away. I guess it really is a lifetime away. Last time I saw him, it was the summer vacation right before prep school, I was 10 going on 11. Now I'm approaching my 25th year. He missed my adolescence, he missed how my personality shaped and how my tastes got to be what they are. He missed my first relationship and my first heartbreak. He missed how I've come to doubt myself and how I've come to trust it. I wonder if he would have helped me through college, would he have done the same thing with me as he did with my cousins; point out skew lines in their drawings? Would he have convinced me to take architecture or civil engineering instead of computer? I think he might. Funny how before he died, he'd asked me if I wanted to go to an Arabic music concert at the opera and I told him nooooo, that would be so boring and now I actually like and enjoy it. I think with my acquired taste for coffee (any taste in coffee is an acquired taste in coffee, no one gets coffee bottles instead of milk bottles as babies), we'd probably sneak off to grab a couple of coffee shots; him an espresso and me a cappuccino. I wonder how he would have reacted when all my close friends were boys? Would he meet them? Would he trust me?

I have this idea that I would have been quite the spoiled brat had he lived on, he always got me anything I wanted... Not a good way to bring up a strong independent girl.

Still I miss him. I imagine what he would do if he were here. Would he forgive my mistakes? Would he give me sound advice? Would he be angry in situations and sad in others? Would my relationship with my family be different? I try to imagine but it's all in my head. My mom tells me he would have been angry for so and so. She's known him more, she knows him better, and maybe she's right in the end. But I've got him in my heart and I know him in my heart, and it is him in my heart that I try to be true to. He is my conscience and my friend when I seem to run out of both. He keeps me company and, as long as I am listening, he keeps me true to myself and others. As much as my mom was the one who really raised me, my dad was the one who planted so many seeds that she helped grow. Come to think of it, I don't think I would have been a spoiled brat had he been alive, but I would definitely have been different. His death was for the best I'm sure, one way or another, and we will never know how or why. But he's not really dead as long as he is in my heart, guiding me.

Please take a moment to read Al-Fateha for him.

Did you like this?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Fiction: The Great Escape

The world is either too much or too little. There's always either too much to do, too many things happening, too much hassle. The world has problems here and there and everywhere, whether it's the silly day to day issues like traffic and prices that get on our nerves, the personal issues with people we have to deal with, work problems, or the really big issues like the failing economy, famine in the African horn, global warming, wars and peace crises, or the world's people getting tired of how we are being led so they riot and protest and overthrow governments. At some point it is all too much to take in at one time. On the other hand, life gets so boring sometimes, maybe even too boring. Sundays feel like Tuesdays that feel like Wednesdays and Mondays. We wake up, go to work, come back from work, eat, sleep, watch movies, hang out. All days look the same, feel the same, and we end up wishing for time to just pass. Sometimes, all we want to do is escape. I’ve always want to escape.

So I have a secret desire to be a fictional character. I have the biggest crush ever on a fictional character (Edmond Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo, who seems to be able to do anything but only wanted peace... And revenge). It just seems all the more beautiful to live in one of the books I love so much, or not even live in them, but observe their world for the rest of my life. To me, the way out has been through fiction. Stephen King's books scare me to the bone, Neverland is absolutely the most amazing place that ever existed even in someone's mind; it has to be, it's made up of children's imagination. Fairytales, quests, and journeys. Magic, strange futures, and new worlds. Thoughts and emotions of people that maybe aren't real but reflect so much of the people and the world around us. Mysteries and murders, ghosts and vampires, everything that you could ever imagine and everything that is beyond your imagination. I open a book and read, live with the characters and become the characters, think with them, sympathize with them, cry for them and laugh at them. And for however long I read, I am not me anymore. I am not at home or at work. I am not sitting in that same old café, or in the car. I am inside the book, inside the characters, and I don't care about my world anymore.

I know people who do not believe in fiction, they think it is a waste of time unless it gives a very strong message to the world. They seem to forget or fail to realize that fiction is the result of great minds at work, people who think and feel and create their own worlds to escape to. Fiction isn't about a message being conveyed, it is about telling a story and enjoying telling it. Other people will enjoy being told because it lets them look at other worlds they never dreamed of, it lets them live in the past or the future or somewhere else entirely. It lets them imagine how the authors think and feel to be able to create such characters, what experiences have they gone through to be able to write down the extraordinary events of their stories. Fiction is the perfect example of how amazing the human mind can be; its ability to create people and situations, and weave them into a quilt with so many different colors and patterns. We enjoy it even if it seems too much like life, because we know it is not life, it is a world in someone's head that has come to life, and we are living it with every word because we enjoy the unreality of it all. We enjoy feeling afraid while reading a story because being afraid in real life is not something to be enjoyed. We love the tragic romances in books because it wouldn't be practical to live a tragic romance ourselves, there is too much in life to worry about than a tragic romance. We enjoy the possibilities of having special powers and we enjoy how the heroes of the stories make their decisions whether if they are going to be good or evil, we enjoy it because we would never want to take that responsibility in real life; to have powers or do magic, or even take a ring across half the world to save the world an endless war that it would surely lose.

Fiction gives us hope and energy to go through this tragic universe with all its problems that never seem to end. Fiction takes me out of my own world and my own mind and keeps me alive, always have, always will. Now Excuse me, I’ll go read!

Did you like this?

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Today is my anniversary, 1 whole honest to God year of being single. Happy anniversary to me! Last year, I came out of a long term serious relationship, my first and my only. Since then, it has stunned me how many advantages there are to being single. It has also stunned me how being single again highlighted all those things that I seem to have not taken note of when I was single before. Naturally, it also highlighted the advantages of being in a relationship although I am by all means enjoying my “singularity” more, pun intended. So here I am, talking about myself as usual, and there is this huge list of amazing advantages of being single that I am dying to just spill. Without further ado, here goes:
  1. This is the most obvious; YOU DON’T GET TO SHARE YOUR LIFE! Everything you do is yours, you do things for yourself, because you want to do them and because you like them. You don’t have to do things with another person if you don’t want to. You don’t have to say everything that ever happened to you or else you’re feeling guilty or hiding information, and you do not have to watch a movie you don’t like because someone else likes it. You own and control your life, no compromises!
  2. You DON’T have to consider someone else in everything. You don’t have to think if s/he likes this or would agree to that, you don’t have to keep something you want to say to yourself because it would get complicated or sensitive or any other word describing a headache.
  3. You don’t have people that tell you what to do and what not to do, or at least you don’t have to care about what they say without getting into a fight. You can always ignore anyone else’s “suggestions” and live your life just the way you want to live it.
  4. You don’t have to nag or be nagged to. Friends don’t nag, couples do. There is always something to be nagged about or you’re always nagging about something. Being in a relationship means your life has become strongly correlated with someone else’s; there are requirements of both parties that end in nagging when these requirements are not met. It’s normal and acceptable but what a hassle!
  5. You don’t have to deal with people you don’t want to deal with outside work. We always have to deal with people we don’t want to deal with at work. It’s ok from 9 to 5. After that, why would anyone want to put themselves in a position where they have to deal with someone else’s cousin or annoying friends’ husbands? Not to mention, you can’t just go say: “I don’t like you” to them. That’s just oppression!
  6. You don’t have to take permission, give a report when you go somewhere, when you get back, do something outside, or even take a friggin’ shower. It may be a bit of an exaggeration on my end but let’s face it; I toned it down for some cases.
  7. You are not tied down. You can go work abroad, travel a lot, and meet new people. You can do things at weird hours like work shifts, go for 3 am walks, play the guitar at 5 am, and have pizza for breakfast. There is no set of rules that humans must follow when you’re alone. You can just live sideways!
  8. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ANYONE ELSE BUT YOURSELF. You don’t have to change your traits, improve your wardrobe, wear makeup, talk about soccer and politics, or change the way you talk. You don’t have to change the way you think to fit someone else’s idea of smart, change the way you act to fit someone else’s idea of appropriate, and you most definitely don’t have to try or change anything in yourself so to get someone else’s approval.
  9. And finally, my personal favorite, you don’t have to flirt with only one person ;) (that was a joke)
So to all you single people out there, enjoy your singularity and take advantage of it as much as you can. To all you people in relationships, enjoy their perks, for they do have quite a few, and be grateful for them. And at the end of this blessed anniversary, I thank God twice as much as I do every day for being single and for enjoying it Smile

Did you like this?

The Egyptian Identity

It seems that so many people are trying to prove that their identity represents the Egyptian identity. It hardly seems fitting that this should happen in Egypt of all places because we have a very unique identity. Egyptians share a mixture of traits that is hard to come upon anywhere else, we combine toughness with a sense of humor and the ability to smile under the most difficult situations. We are all humble and down to earth, immediately rejecting the condescending people as if they are not part of us. We all share a sense of street smarts that we call “fahlawa” which is always taking us in the wrong direction. We love to make up stories and spread rumors, stretching the truth more and more as we go along. We are patient, even though we complain a lot, we’ve always been patient and we’ve always trusted the world maybe a little more than we really should. We are deeply rooted, attached to our history, proud of all that was and dreaming of all that’s coming. I think the best expression to describe us is that we come from the earth, the humblest of all things; we have all the goodness of it in us along with all its patience, we take it all, good or bad, and bear it with light hearts. We are a beautiful people and I still don’t understand how we are looking for an “identity”.

History speaks for our identity. We have been the oldest and strongest people, with the brains to rule the world yet we kept to ourselves mostly, with wars coming to us instead of us going to them. We’re fighters by nature and we’re stubborn as hell, we will not give up on what’s ours easily. The stories of good versus evil are rooted in our history and mythology where good always wins. Throughout history, we were able to stay “Egyptian”, and we forced the world to accept Egypt as it is. We’ve had a million different invaders and Egypt has been ruled by so many different entities. We’ve had the Greeks, the Romans, the Ottomans, the French, and the English, yet we remained Egyptian. When Alexander the great passed through Egypt, he was the one who absorbed its culture not the other way around, mapping his own gods to the ancient Egyptian gods and worshipping them as such. He was able to win over the people so that he was titled son of the gods. Cleopatra, the Greek queen who had ruled Egypt as the last of the Ptolemaic dynasty has embraced the Egyptian language and traditions; she was able to win over strong allies as Julius Caesar without letting go of the Egyptian identity to the Romans. Throughout the Greek and roman rule of Egypt, Egyptians had stayed loyal to their identity and their religions, not letting go to the occupants identities and holding on to what they really are in essence. During the 18th, 19th and 20th century when the world was divided between the English and French, we were able to stay Egyptian through it, unlike the rest of north Africa, who have adopted so much of the French culture into their own.

When Christianity came to Egypt, the Egyptians accepted it for its nature of compassion and mercy that fit into the Egyptian identity. When Islam came to Egypt, it was also accepted by choice because of the same nature that spread equality, mercy, and humility. Egyptians have accepted religions that fit them; they weren’t forced into a religion that did not go with their nature.167626_10150402853370296_534940295_17061432_1305680_n

What’s happening now in Egypt is an attempt to manipulate the Egyptian identity, turning it into something hateful and nasty, something that is not Egyptian. It has always been happening except now there are more marketing techniques that work on showing sides of the Egyptian identity that are secondary at the very least like anger and rejection. More dirty politics are involved to play on the simpler minds of the people that are so very trusting of whoever seems “nice”. We are at a point in time that we have never witnessed; the amount of diversity existing now in Egypt is something we have never seen before and we do not know how to handle. It is natural now that every entity, being Egyptian, is attempting to unify the ranks, only they believe they are right and everyone else is wrong, their misconceptions fueled by corrupt media and power hungry entities. The point is, we’re trying to come back to our identity, rejecting the extremes outside, whether they’re the extreme liberals or the extreme “Islamists”, in the end, we’ll come back to the middle ground where all Egyptians, liberals, conservatives, whoever, are just plain Egyptians, unified in Egypt, having the same traits and the same basic conceptions. In the end, the Egyptian identity will shine through all the differences, and maybe for the first time in a long time, accept diversity.

Did you like this?