Friday, December 30, 2011


2011 is a year of revolution. 2012 will also be a year of revolution God willing, and hopefully will be the year where the revolution succeeds and we as Egyptians get back our rights.

Our revolution is powerful, from its first day the Egyptians had a strong voice, one voice, the voice of justice and peace, the voice of the brave. Their chants rocked Egypt and rocked the throne of the Egyptian president until he fled. it starts with one brave chant, and then rocks the ground beneath our feet.

At first I was just an observer, watching silently, chanting with my heart maybe. I felt the strong voice beat inside my chest, synonymous with my heartbeat, and I was grateful to be there.

In a few minutes, I was chanting with them, the way I sang the national anthem at school; quiet and to myself, in a voice I use for casual conversation, barely hearing myself, not even sure if I’m speaking or just moving my lips.

The next line, I speak out loud. I’m sure I spoke the words, but my voice is still drowned in the crowd. Pausing, waiting for the lightning bolt to strike me, nothing happens. I feel empowered, a little braver.

Louder! I can hear my own voice, and the people around me can hear me. A female voice in the powerful voice of the mass, I am a part of this community that decided to revolt, no longer an observer, no longer a tourist. I belong to this country and I will speak up for it.

Chanting, Chanting! I am no longer me, I am no longer lonely. I am the revolution, I am the crowd. I am the passion and I am the energy. When I hear the chanting I can’t distinguish my voice any longer. We are one, and I am there!

Finally, peace!

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Hello, my name is Dina, and I am 25!
I’ve been 25 for a month now. Can hardly believe I call 22 year olds younger people. Can hardly believe my brother is almost 30 (and still looks younger than me). I just cannot believe I’m 25. It’s such a well rounded number, quarter of a century, quarter life crisis, my life is now divisible by 5, 5 squared! The thing is, I don’t really understand what it is to be 25. What does it mean? Will something great and wonderful happen? Will it be another year in life? Will my world collapse and fall apart, or will I learn a new secret that no one else knows? To me, 25 does not make sense!
The natural question would be: what makes 25 so special? Why is 25 different than 24? Why is 25 giving me the blues in a way that makes blue seem pale? And the natural answer is: It’s all in my head! Dear reader, since you’re reading this, you’re looking into my head, a privilege which only my closest friends are allowed to be exposed to, sort of like radioactive material, and probably has the same effect too! Dina, Focus! Sorry people! Anywho, I can honestly say there are 2 phases of adulthood, or near adulthood, prior to 25:

Phase 1: College

This is where life spins and I spin in the opposite direction! We meet new people, learn new things, have to deal with professors, and learn that a “D” is not the end of the world and it’s actually OK to skip a couple of classes. We learn how to think, figure out what we want, work on so many different things and try new experiences. Not to mention all the exercise we get from running after the bus and the satisfaction of going out without our parents knowing.
In college, I felt like my personality was changing per semester. It was total exposure to a world that I didn’t even know existed. In college, I was in my early 20’s. In college, nothing was wrong because I was experiencing life with the wide-eyed curiosity of a child in Neverland. The world was NOT my oyster, but then again, I finally figured out there is an oyster to begin with!

Phase 2: After College

After college I started working, giving it all I can, learning new things at quite a fast pace, which I owe both to the company I worked for then and I guess to that age’s “pushing the limits” attitude. I wanted all; learn about anything and everything related to my work, which I was totally in love with. At that age also, I was engaged; my first relationship ever! It also seemed like I have a lot to learn and grow into. I wanted to do everything right, move on into a new life with so many new possibilities. 30 looked so far away then, and older people were, well, older people! I didn’t mind being treated as “the kid” because I was “the kid”. A little while later, I learned that loving my job is just stupid, relationships are not as movie like as I thought they were, and that the world had so much more to offer than what I was asking it for.

On my 24th birthday, I panicked! I had one year to do a ton of things before 25, which sounds so much like a milestone for something which is in itself a mystery. The ton of things included learning to play the Cello and ride bikes, write more, bungee jumping, figure out the secret of life maybe, or even discover the fountain of youth. I created an Un-bucket list; a list of things to do in life not things to do before I die. I decided to take life to the limit using all the free time 1 whole year before 25 can give me. I wouldn’t have done it without a friend like Eini, who knows how to push me, and who so horribly left me to pursue his future as a PhD student in USA (I wish him all the best and most of all to come back soon, but it still sucks that my best friend is not here).
So my actual achievements during the 24th year of my life were more like trying to find happiness, discover my simple pleasures, and come up with a favorite place in Cairo which I will not tell about because it’s my secret place and I don’t want it to get crowded. I learned to enjoy my own company. I started reading about architecture and book publishing and tried editing, very briefly. I tried to make a magazine and failed miserably due to lack of content, and to be perfectly honest, lack of stamina. I was finally able to come up with a new plan of where I see my life going. Oh, I almost forgot, I also killed a man in a car accident.
Not bad for a year with a revolution going on, right? Wrong! Now I am 25 and it still flies over my head and I just don’t get it! To me, last year was somewhat pointless; or in technical terms, more like the rework done after messing up the last release of the software Dina, version 23! Not something to regret or feel bad about, as a lot of people have told me, I’m going through a quarter life crisis (with all the 25 and quarter of a century, anyone mentioning quarters even a quarter of a pound will probably hear words that should be censored my blog). So without further ado, you will finally read why 25 is so horrible…
At 25, I’m closer to 30. I’m starting to get wrinkles, and my maternal instincts kicked in. I can see that there is more to life than work and play. More importantly, there is more play to be played in life! The world is so much bigger than my house and my work, Maadi and all its venues, Cairo, and even Egypt! I don’t know how to work with people who see me as “the kid” because I’m not the kid, far from it, not to mention, I cannot tolerate people doubting my knowledge and experience because of some belief they have in their heads. I don’t accept advice as easily if it sounds patronizing. I cannot live in the same house and be treated by the same people in the same way that I used to be treated 5 years ago, or even 3 years ago. I have run out of room to grow because my world has all of a sudden become too small. Things that were important before, including ambition, do not seem as important now. Even though everyone seems to think that what I need is a marriage, I believe that what I need now is life BEFORE marriage; I need space to see the world from a more adult perspective as opposed to how I used to see it as a young adult; wide-eyed, and star-struck. I cannot take it that experiences seem to have diminished so much after they have been all over the place, just waiting to be collected. I can feel my priorities starting to shift into more responsible and more mature ideas, I am growing up, and I am growing old, and I am definitely not ready!

At 25, I should be seeing the world, learning new things, meeting new people. My experiences have to come from more than just books, but from my interactions with the world. At 25, I am at the prime of my youth; my mid 20’s, which I should be making use of as the best years of my life. It is those years that I will look back to when my purpose in life involves my children, not me. At 25, I should be learning the meaning of being an independent adult so that when I am finally 30, if I live that long, I would feel more secure about the decisions I will be making now that I would be older and wiser. It seems that growing old is like death; we all know it’s going to happen but we never prepare enough for it. I’m 25, and I want to be prepared to grow old.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lest We Forget All Those Eyes Lost!

It seems everyone in Egypt is talking politics, even though they don’t get it much. I’m one of them and I wish to God I stop talking politics but I can’t. I can’t because talking is all I can do now. There are people braver than me, stronger than me out there, People who have strong beliefs and use them like batteries to fuel the revolution inside them, and use these beliefs to spread the revolution to the rest of Egypt, not just Tahrir square. They believe in being human, and having rights as humans. They believe in Egypt and its history but more importantly they believe in its future. They believe that it’s their duty as Egyptians to make sure that no one takes advantage of Her, that no one mugs Her, that no one makes Her look bad, and that no one takes away Her dignity. I believe in Egypt and I believe that the soldiers of freedom who lead the revolution will protect her.

A call to demonstrate was made for November 18th and it was glorious, with people finally moving down to Tahrir square to nudge SCAF, the current military administration to move up the presidential elections to March or April, deliver the country into the hands of an elected civilian president, and to prevent them from giving the military unjustified privileges. The reaction from the military was an attack on 200 members of a sit-in in Tahrir square the next morning. Attacks continued as people flocked to Tahrir to try and stand by the people in the sit-in, getting more and more vicious with a feeble excuse that the security forces were protecting the Ministry of Interior which was around 300 meters away from the square. The detailed description of the entire event is all over the internet so to cut it short, front lines were formed by protestors at a street called Mohamed Mahmoud where the security forces used as the point of attack. They used tear gas and shotguns to attack the protestors, some injuries were gunshot wounds even though SCAF denied using live ammo. Truces were negotiated but never kept as attacks continued. The square contained no less than 7 field hospitals to handle the huge number of injuries. The people in Tahrir were crying for help and supplies as the injuries kept flowing in. the Egyptian people, although slow to react responded with numbers and supplies, moved by the sights of the horrible attacks, and the number of fatalities rising.

I was able to sneak to Tahrir, even though my mother found out eventually (yes, all Egyptians are afraid of their parents more than they’re afraid of bullets, even for people in their 30’s who are married with kids, not just people like me), and to see the beauty that is Egypt and what it really means in the eyes of the people there, smiling despite the horrors they are witnessing. Routes were formed to facilitate traffic for ambulances and motorcycles acting as ambulances. Ultras Ahlawy, football fans, were lighting flares in the middle of the front lines, singing and chanting against SCAF and the security forces that dare attack Egyptians, banging drums to raise the morale of the civilian soldiers on the front lines. Groups of protestors, mainly the girls, were calling out to the men in the fight to stand their ground. Chants and political discussions; anyone talking with anyone else about the current events for they all belonged to Tahrir and to Egypt. Girls and women were in the field hospitals, doctors, surgeons, helping the injured selflessly, standing their ground even with gas attacks on the hospitals.

I went into a pharmacy to buy some medical supplies. A man walked in and noticed what I was doing and asked me if I was buying supplies for the people in Tahrir. When I said yes, he told me that his son is there and that he hasn’t seen him in a few days, he gave me money to buy supplies for them because it was the only way he could help. When the pharmacist found out, she gave me a discount on the stuff I bought as a contribution from the pharmacy. In Tahrir, as I was talking to a friend, I was surprised by a man in his fifties wearing an expensive suit as he stopped to talk to us, he said he believed there was hope and moved on. A seventeen year old was holding up a paper with “Martyr Wanted” written on it in Arabic as he dashed towards the front lines. Lines of people formed around the field hospitals protecting it from chaos and attacks, just as they formed around protestors who were praying. An older man who looked to be of below average social standard, wary but determined and definitely not a thug, responded to someone warning him not to go into the fight by “this is why I am here!”

On those last 2 weeks of November, Egyptians were called to arms and Egyptians responded. The people on the front lines got shot at, were injured, some died, and some have to live their lives with one eye instead of two and they have no regrets. They were fighting because they refuse to have their dreams taken away from them; the only thing that gave them hope after 30 years of desperation. Those 17 and 18 year olds believe that they will grow up in an Egypt that will allow them to make an honest living and not sit on the unemployment lines for the rest of their lives. Those fathers are fighting so that their children would be able to live in homes that have roofs, running water, and sewage. Before the revolution, they had nothing to lose because everything was lost, and now they won’t lose the dream of a better future and they will fight for it until they see it come true.

People seem to have forgotten why brave Egyptians got hurt for them, lost their eyes and their lives for them. They’ve forgotten about the torture in the prisons, about the military trials that don’t give the detained person the right to even defend himself, and about those girls who were molested and harassed by those who call themselves our protectors. People seem to have missed the idea that change hasn’t really happened, that the dignity of the Egyptian people was never really returned. People seem to have not noticed how some so-called Egyptians still think they are above the law, and even beyond its reach. Finally, those people seem to have decided to give up on fighting injustice at the one time they get a free pass to fight injustice, which is now! I haven’t forgotten those who were fearless enough to stand in front of a shotgun and lose their eyes for me because I’m not strong enough to fight for my rights as an Egyptian citizen and human being. I haven’t forgotten because the moment I forget is the moment I lose my right to being Egyptian, and I am not planning to lose that which I am most proud of!

As an after note, the people at the prime ministry were the ones who didn’t forget about the dead and the injured and so they do represent me. The people who were putting out the fires and saving the books represent me. The people who are getting beaten and shot at because they want real actual change represent me. Finally, those girls that were stripped, dragged on the streets, and beaten while they’re half naked could have so easily been me. Lest we forget those as well!

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