Monday, December 31, 2007

Resolution

My new year's resolution is to finally fulfill a new year's resolution and that's why I decided not to have one.

Ruba

College 10 years back

There they were, a new class studying architecture in college, they were very shiny young people who were full of energy and life. I envied them a bit but I liked them a lot, I got to be friends with many of them later on. There were 2 girls however that always hung out together who were just wonderful to observe. Both had very curly hair, one was blond and the other had dark hair. The one with the dark hair was named Ruba. I've always liked to see them walking around smiling most of the time. I took a class with her brother Ahmad, somewhat the class comedian, always joking around and always up to mischief.

There was something bright about their whole group and whenever I would hear a friend of mine talking about these girls it would put a smile on my face.


A few days back

I called Alaa Al Aswany for an interview I had to do with him. I tried calling him all day but he didn't pick up. At 12 midnight he calls me back. I ask him if he's willing to do the interview and he says he will, but he has something else on his mind. He asked me if I knew about the building in Alexandria that fell down. I did know. Well, he said:

I'm a little preoccupied, I wasn't able to answer earlier because a friend of mine had his whole family in that building, and the building collapsed over them. The city didn't bring in the dogs that can find people till 8 hours after the building collapsed.

Isn't life a bitch we both complained. Since when was anyone treated here in a half decent human manner. Why do they allow people to build things this way, can't they put a little more effort in anything they do.

We rescheduled.



Yesterday

I get a call, it's Alaa Al Aswany, I answer, it's not him on the phone. The man on the other end tells me that he has to reschedule because of the situation in Alexandria, Dr. Alaa's friend lost all his family. My condolences.



Today Afternoon

I'm in a meeting, I get back to my desk to find a message from Nader on MSN. He's left a message saying "Do you know Ahmad .. from college?"



Today Evening

I get a phone call from Nader, again he asks, "Do you know Ahmad from college?"

I say yes.

"Did you hear about the building that fell in Loran, Alexandria?"

I say yes.

"Well Ahmad lost his mother, his father, his grandfather and his sister, they were all in the building when it collapsed."

Stunned, I asked "Ahmad's sister Ruba?"

"Yes," he said, "Ruba's dead."

There was something shocking about this. I've known this very sweet girl from afar and I really had some warm feelings towards her. I felt so much liveliness in her. I didn't know her personally, but I always felt she was kind. I didn't really believe it when I heard it. Not that people don't die, but it was just surreal. I knew him and to imagine this happening to someone is hard enough, but to someone you know is really difficult specially that the person they lost is also someone you know. It's just very sad.

I'm filled with sad sedation, and I don't have the energy to be angry at someone who has cost so many people their lives. Someone who has cost a beautiful girl like Ruba her life. I went through the papers and what I read about finding her made me sick. She was 24.

Does it matter at all how many people die? We're killing us. Everyone trying to live irrespective of other is killing our brothers and our sisters and his brothers and his sisters. We're killing each other, and burying each other alive.

Ruba was a wonderful girl. I wish I'd known her more… but I don't know if I really wish for that. A lovely girl died at 24, someone I used to smile when I saw, someone who doesn't even know who I am. Now she just doesn't exist in this world anymore. Her brother, someone I know well, don't think he'll be the same again, don't know what he's going through and can't even pretend that I can guess.

Wish I had something more to say, but all I feel is a certain kind of loss. Sorrow runs through my body sedating it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

After Eight

Things I wrote at a night out in After Eight, needless to say a few drinks into the night.

"Of all the things I fear, I fear my failure to act my role the most. I have no given role at disposition and therefore I look for one that's not my own."

About a picture on the wall full of stella bottles: "18 bottles of beer on the wall, how many others have counted that?"

"My heart goes out to those lost in the tyranny of their thought, it's the worst kind."

"All of this makes no sense to the dancing folk, they're too busy getting lost."

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Outsider

Yet again I am reminded of how much I don't belong and even more when amidst a crowd. I recognize that it's not the drinking or the loud music that gives me that same feeling of alienation every time I'm somewhere loud with dancing and drinking; it's seeing others having fun. I'm so aware of myself looking upon the scene as if I wasn't there and it's right that I should, I don't belong there.

My alienation most of my life has caused me to put up defensive measures, I knew I could not belong very early on in life and I shielded my desire to belong with a façade. I built a shield perhaps about how I feel in general and it seems that I've perfected my defenses that people cannot see a thing past them.

I've been told recently that I was someone who was not moved by others and that I didn't care much for others. While I actually do care very little for strangers or people who are insignificant in my life, this doesn't extend to those close to me for whom I break all the rules. It seems that the deception has been complete that no one believes anymore that I can be moved. I've also been told that I'm a dispassionate person, I'm an outsider like the protagonist of the story by Camus. I can feel the estrangement from the world but I can't feel the same hopelessness and inertness.

In any case it seems that the person I am is unknown to most people other than me, and there's something good and bad about this. The truth is that the person inside is someone who doesn't belong and if that was all that people saw, they wouldn't look twice. It's not worth noticing that person inside with all the darkness and unexplained sadness although I'm sure that many others can relate to him. The person on the outside is immune to all this and gives off different vibes, he's the one that people can deal with.

My posts don't say very much about me, not when I read them, and yet people can guess all sorts of things about me when they read them and I'm not entirely sure if they're right, because with all that I hold back it seems that so much is missing. Maybe my reality is what people truly see and which I will discover within me later, maybe what I write says more about me than I think. I really don't know and even the person I've become is alien to people, they can't relate to me because they feel I can't feel. The truth is that I have to put a lid on all that I feel; all these feelings and thoughts, I have to keep them under control because expressing everything has hurt me a lot in the past.

I'm not sure whether everyone feels this way too or not, but I know that I haven't helped this feeling by taking my own route with most things. It's not that no one else agrees with me but my own path is motivated by me. I'm not trying to be different, but I just like to know where I am and how I got there. I'm too liberal for conservatives and I'm too conservative for liberals. I'm always out of place because I don't subscribe entirely to one thing. I do things but never feel that I'm part of the club.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Entangled Ropes

When you're in a relationship with someone they become a part of you. Your parts and theirs are entangled together like two ropes knotted randomly over and over. When you break up you get detached from that person and when they leave they take away that part of you. There's no way to disentangle your bits from theirs and so what happens is the equivalence of passing scissors through both strings to let them loose. That's why the person breaking up gets away intact, he's managed to get all his rope and bits and pieces of the other's, it really depends on who cuts where. Sometimes you want no bits or strings of that person at all and even though you're breaking up with them you sacrifice yours. At first you miss that person. The end of the relationship means that you will not have that person in your life anymore. It feels bitter but after a while you can let go and you can accept that this person is not in your life anymore, and there's a void you feel; this void can easily be filled by other things.

But there's a different kind of void that is much harder to fill, it's that part of you they took with them that you can't find. What you were missing all along is yourself and you didn't even realize. That's why not just the relationship falls apart, but other aspects of your life too, because the part that's missing, that has been taken away from you is part of how you dealt with the rest of the world and not just this person. That's why the blow makes your whole world collapse. I think that you'd need to regenerate that part of you that you lost before you can become normal again, but it is not necessarily a bad thing because that new part of you has the chance to grow into a much better part than that which existed before.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Forbidden Fruit

A believer is always the better choice. Aside from the many positive benefits it has when things get rough there's one greatly overlooked benefit. The sin is always so much sweeter when it's a sin. People who don't believe in anything can't see many pleasures as wrong and can never taste the sweetness of the forbidden fruit.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Delusional

I've been told lately by two people that I'm delusional, but in my defence I think that they're both very delusional. It makes sense that we view each other this way since our notion of the world doesn't match. The fact of the matter is that we can both be right about each other, but it's also a fact that we can't both be wrong about each other.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I Found My Strenght Later In Life

I found my strength later in life. As a child I was always respectful to authority and did things as a child should do. I didn’t say 'no' much and I learnt my lessons well. They were the lessons that all children were taught, to be respectful to authority and pass the tests they gave you with good grades. That’s not to say that even as a young child I didn’t show signs of what I am now, on my first day of school I kicked the teacher and only became friends with her when she gave me a chocolate and treated me nicely. Later on I defied my teachers outside the classroom where I thought they had no power over me. But when requested to do things in the classroom I never questioned them and I was innocent and perhaps even naïve not to even think about what was within their boundaries to ask me; like certain donations or certain fees, it was just so much pressure not to be like everyone else. There was no real thinking and just instincts and lessons learnt.

But that’s how children should be; obedient and smart and able to take in all that they’re being taught. The real trouble is that sometimes this is all that people learn, and there are many more schools other than ones with teachers and classrooms, but no one pays much attention. Real life has a school of its own that you graduate to after having learnt those lessons in elementary school. Real life teaches you to find your strength and it tells you something that seems contradictory to what you’re taught before, it tells you that you have the right to say no and to choose when to listen to what you’re being told. I was a good student of both schools and that’s why, after having learnt all the rules, I learnt when I could break them.

It’s not that I’ve changed, I’ve just developed. College was marked with defiance and voicing out my cases. I wasn’t doing it to get attention or to prove that I could say no, but the lessons I got from real life were equally balanced by those I got from school. I found my strength when I combined both of these lessons and decided to apply them.

Sometimes the problem is that people stop learning. School spoon feeds you so much and when you pause to be spoon fed again, you pause indefinitely. There’s more to life than school. As a child I didn’t possess much thought or doubt about anything, I wasn’t defiant to most things that came across my way. I did not possess strength. Strength came much later in life, when I paused and realized that what I learnt was not enough, what I learnt was not adequate and what I learnt would not get me through. I was sick of being timid and without character, and I was tired of not finding any love or respect. I didn’t blame people though, I blamed myself because I didn’t deserve their love and respect. I looked inside me for those and only found my strength when I found them.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chaos

Chaos. That's what this life is, following a pattern that we just don't want to accept. We're so insistent on seeing a pattern in our minds that we forget that it only happens in our head. We only read in books about the good endings and the great logic of a story, but we see a section of a story, we don't know what's before and what's after. Life's pattern is chaotic but we continue to seek a non existent justice and we have a non existent sense of fairness. Our idea of fairness and justice is linear, sort of discrete where one end should weigh like the other. Why do we insist on seeing things differently? Because of those very rare times in life that things have turned out like we see in books?

Monday, November 26, 2007

If I absolutely had to choose, I'd rather have a cult following than be extremely famous.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Endure

Endure the cold harsh days that offer you no hope, for with endurance your whole soul sublimes and nothing can take away that stand you made to defy the world and take it on by force. The whips you feel from who knows where, they sting you and you search for where they came from and who to fight, but with every time you turn, your back is lashed again. What way to fight those lashing whips but to endure and tell the world you may take my skin but my muscles still remain, you may take my muscles but my bones will endure.

It's easier to talk than to do and like the famous poet said, advice is easy to give for one who has not been afflicted, but for one who has, he has to bear his misfortune and bear the high horsed advice that people give him.

Relentless are those attacks that take you on by storm and leave you not to rest and leave you with much scorn. How much can you fend off from that worldly wrath you have to bear and how can one bear it when facing it alone. How much can one endure when many friends disperse at hardships at every fork in the road until you have too little of them standing beside you for support, and some return to stab you and kill what's left in you. Et tu Brutus and Brutus was the world who you once thought your friend and with the 'r' dropped it became a fiend. Such a deceitful word this fiend, it looks like a friend so close and yet it lacks what makes a friend, that 'r' that stands for reliable, dropped and so is it with a friend if not reliable turns to fiend.

But endure, lest your only friend, yourself be turned against you and forsake you.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Warn me

Warn me if my posts are ever:

Preachy
Pretentious
Boring
Knows-it-alls
Self indulgent
Whiney
Acting wiser than they are
Pathetic
Nonsense
Wrong
Silly
Stupid
Clichéd
Old News
Arrogant
Preposterous
Obsessive
Crude

or just plain uninteresting..

Monday, November 12, 2007

More to Say

There's nothing to be said that hasn't been said as yet, but there's always more to say. There's always a different ear to every thought which words that have been spoken before can't reach. There are always ways that the world has changed that force us to say the truths in different notes and tones. Truth comes close to beauty in one sense, just like the word beauty is one to describe what is pleasing to the eye, the way it pleases changes over time. A woman's desired shape changes across the timeline of man, and changes from eye to eye. The color of skin, the color of the hair, their preference changed from place to place.

So it is with truth. Truth is that which is pleasing to the soul, and from place to place, it differs how that truth is told and needs to be told. In places with science it needs to be told in formulas and in places with spirit it needs to be said with spirit. The spiritual man won't believe science and the scientific man won't believe the spirit. The truth is one, but it needs to be told differently, it needs to be told and told again... it's always forgotten and needs to assure its recipients constantly of it's existence.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Extremes

"The atheist thinks he's a courageous lone rationalist in a world full of superstitious savages. The religious fanatic thinks he's the lone standard bearer of truth in a world full of unbelievers. Or he thinks of himself grimly trudging though life carrying his assigned yoke and resenting all the slackers around him who have it so easy."

~Steve Dutch

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Vocabulary

A vocabulary of thoughts is more important than a vocabulary of words.

Friday, November 02, 2007

It's When

It's when you compromise and watch a movie that you don't like or that you've seen before for the sake of your friends who want to see it, but then when you want to watch a movie that you're really keen on seeing no one around wants to compromise. It's when you go to a place you despise but accept going only because it's just a meeting ground and those you've chosen to meet won't budge a centimeter to meet you somewhere that's slightly not to their taste. It's when you drive all the way across the city in the worst of traffic only to have your friends stand you up, ask you to come another day and pretend there's nothing wrong with that. It's when you choose to stay in a football game you despise because there's not enough people and if you leave the teams will not have an equal number of players while others threaten to leave just to get things done their way. It's when you're there for people during their hard times and their troubles and you stick around patiently trying to find out what's wrong with them and help them and support them but when you're feeling slightly off they just leave you alone completely just because they haven't been used to taking care of you. It's when you put up with so much crap from your friends about things that are very trivial and they make a point that it's not acceptable but when you apply the same principle they've forced on you to them they pretend like you've wronged them fully. It's when you're willing to let go of certain preferences at times but you're expected to let go of them all the time because that's what they're used to. It's when you give and don't receive and you're expected to keep giving. It's when your generosity and good will is abused.

That's when you ask 'Why Should I?' and calmly decide that the side of you that's uncompromising, ruthless and decisive needs to shine having been kept on a leash for long because it shouldn't be that way with those we care about.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Why Should I

Why should I be reliable when everyone else around me isn't? Why should I care for other people's time when they don't care at all for mine? Why should I keep my word when everyone else doesn't? Why should I keep giving if I'm there's nothing that I'm getting? Why should I bear others when they're feeling down when no one will bear me? Why should I be there for people who won't be there for me? Why should I take crap from people in a situation and not give it back to them when roles are reversed? Why should I sacrifice what I want for the sake of the group, while everyone else won't do the same?

Why! Why! Why! Lots of whys and they have no real answers, what if I stop being reliable, what if i stop caring, what if i stop keeping my word.. what if.. what if .. but nothing will happen, nothing will change, the world will be the same, and others like me will want to change. The world's biggest blessing is giving man the ability to care, but it's also the biggest curse. Why should I care? I'm sending this to google as I write and I have no idea what will turn up..

Here is what turned up, a whole list of answers and none of them are much of answers.. guess even google doesn't have an answer to that.

Sometimes you just can't do the best practices in the worst places. Can't ride a bike in a polluted city, can't keep time in a place that respects time, can't be decent in an indecent place. Can't care in a world that doesn't care.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

4am Shot


This isn't the best shot I've taken, and it's a seemingly ordinary shot, but something about this photo is very representative of a friendly enjoyable Cairo in the still of the night. It's that nostalgic feeling this photo radiates that makes me want to come back to Cairo whenever I find myself outdoors in another city in the dead of the night.. maybe I'm saying this cause of how I was felt when taking the shot. The lovely weather, the empty street, the silence and yet safety of the road.. one lone man walking down the street in the middle of the night..

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Egyptian Weddings

The following statement summarizes 95% of all Egyptian weddings:

A group of people dancing around in a circle clapping their hands in search of someone to dance inside that cirlce while waiting for food to be served.

*On another note, to make my last wedding experience even more excruciatingly painful, after the debasing round of clapping around in a cirlce and after all food had been consumed, they brought in Saad El Soghayar who had brought with him a band of over 50 male dancers. Guys dancing like women giving you come to bed looks as if they're stripping for you and giving off the gayest vibes ever is a very unsettling experience for a man.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ezzo

The best ending award goes to Yetraba fi 3ezzo. Of all the Ramadan series, it hasn't been the most spectacular, but I dare say that it had the most spectacular ending. Despite the force fed message and the unlikelihood of dramatic change and the Egyptian effort to always tie up loose ends very neatly, it has managed to remain spectacular nonetheless. This is owed to mostly the great performance of Yehia El Fakharani and the intensity of the situation which brought about his change. The truth of the matter is that this ending is a culmination of all the good change that can be brought about by a slap in the face.

We've had to endure an obnoxious, uncaring and selfish Hamada for the whole of Ramadan. The problem of course being that the character was close to reality and it hit a nerve. Nothing would stand in the face of his selfishness and his blindness. The annoyance of having to watch him for over twenty episodes go down the usual path of self centered actions was unbearable and yet it was worth it to watch those excruciating 28 episodes not for the change that he underwent but for the mere satisfaction of seeing him finally realize what he has been doing. It is worth it to see that he finally woke up to see who he is and to recognize the hurt he's left on all those around him. The change itself is an idealistic ending that should not be expected, but when we meet people who are in total disregard for all those around them the most we can ever hope for is that they open their eyes and that can be their punishment and it's not usual to look for atonement.

However Hamada is a very likable guy and we really hope for a change, we like him and care for him no matter how much we despise his character and perhaps that's why his atonement was something we were waiting for. I suppose that's the difference between Egyptian drama and other sorts, Egyptian drama has to offer punishment and atonement rather than stop at punishment alone. Indeed in most cases real life drama does not offer either and some arts that claim to reflect reality will give us neither.

In any case back to the last two episodes, there was genuine feeling and had Yehia El Fakharany taken upon himself to participate in these series for the last two episodes alone I would certainly not blame him; for very few series offer artists this great challenge of displaying genuine emotions to a somewhat complex character. The build up was a little exaggerated but the swift ending and dramatic change caught us off guard and I'm not sure if those final episodes alone can stand out as brilliant performances but I do know that even with the previous somehow frustrating episodes it was worth it.

To be honest I hadn't expected a great turn around, I felt all roads closed, and I felt the incapacity for the character to change. That's why Yetraba Fi Ezzo had it been done without the dramatic turnaround it still would have been a good reflection of reality that offered no solution. I've always held a firm belief that for everyone there's a certain slap in the face that can bring about dramatic change, we can never imagine where that slap comes from but that's part of why it's the only thing that can bring about change. While change in general is difficult this is the only exit for people trapped in their ugly habits. The thing is that anything less dramatic wouldn't have been believable and in all fairness we see Hamada at the end retaining some of his flamboyant and boyish traits that nothing can erase. This is what makes the ending believable in my opinion.

So that's why the best award goes to Hamada Ezzo for changing the pace along the way. With Yosra, the show had a constant and consistent build up whose ending was inevitable, but with Hamada I was tricked into thinking that nothing could ever change, and in most cases I was right. I won't say that the ending of this dramatic change was a surprise to me, on the contrary, I had expected it from the start. I only expected it to be a gradual change of a man and I wasn't offered that right up to the very end. The reason I discounted a dramatic change is that I wouldn't have believed that a big change can come about so suddenly or in so few episodes.

Okay maybe I'm just writing this after being affected by moving performances by those involved in the show, but I decided it was best to express what I thought. I also like that Yehia El Fakharani works in silence. He doesn't try to add much unneeded propaganda to his show and speaks to us through his work.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Enduring Gov

So Nafeza 3ala El 3alam had one of the lousiest last episodes in the Ramadan TV Series. Somehow the last episode was the usual Egyptian attempt to tie up most loose ends and to clarify the whole message of 29 previous episodes or something. In any case, the one question that it did pose, although it has been answered by the series itself is this:

Are there more honest people in this day and age than there are dishonest?

It's not much of a question, as the obvious answer is that there are more dishonest people in this world and they've become more powerful, but since when has the fight between good and evil very fair? Usually evil seems more powerful than good but in the polished up version of most stories we hear good somehow finds a way to overcome evil. Rashad Ghazal has a theory though, who said that being honest is right? After all it is trendy these days not to say there's wrong or right. The thing is we somehow know that this swindler isn't right, but the thing is that no one can actually prove it, because wrong and right can end up being very subjective these days.

So my real point isn't right and wrong, the point is that I believe that there are more dishonest people than there are honest people today in Egypt and considering this answer I realized something. I realized that the government we have today really does represent its people. The greater majority of Egyptians have become hustlers and swindlers by nature, they would take away what's not theirs and they would put their conscience at ease. They would trick their brothers, sisters, family, relatives and friends for an extra buck. They would lie, protect their interests, try to get ahead no matter what the cost and get away with what they can.

The government is a cross-section of this community, with a few honest faces and many dishonest people who hide and lie and do all there is to do. How can we complain about a government that actually represents its people? How can we argue that the government doesn't represent the majority? It's my opinion that over half of the Egyptian population are living in some sort of denial. It naturally ensues that the government should live in this sort of denial and pass it down to people too.

No wonder there's lots of distrust between people and government, and the reason is that there's lots of distrust amidst people themselves. If one can't trust his neighbor how can he trust the neighbor after he's elected to represent him. I suppose one can't even trust himself to do good for the others around him, so how can he trust another?

I know it's the duty of a government to look out for the best interest of its people, but what if the people don't want to look out for the best interest of one another? The truth is that there's no sense of ownership of this country. If you're not in the government you don't own it and if you are in the government you own it, but in an entirely different way. If you're in the government you own the country as a master owns a slave. A master that does not care for the well being of his slave but rather all he can gain out of that slave. There's no long term investment in the slave, the slave should serve till it drops dead. The slave should be kept oppressed enough so as to become powerful and satisfied enough as not to rebel. The people become the country and the country becomes the slave. This is the sort of ownership if you're in the government.

Walking down the street you can find that it's dirty and depressing, it's easy to throw away that snickers bar wrapper, it ceases to become your problem, it's someone else's. If we don't care about what we burden others with walking down a common street, how will a government care about what they burden us with? I've always drawn a line between government and people here in Egypt due to how the government was so detached from its people and in a certain sense I was right because of how remote the actions of the government are from the good of the people. But lately I've thought about it some more and realized that the government in Egypt may very well be the people. People are so detached from each other in a sense that they don't care for the good of one another in general. The sad truth may be that the government in Egypt is the people. There's just no way we can separate. There's no one we can stand against or fight, it's a civil war and we're fighting the wrong enemy. As long as people's attitudes don’t change, there will be no change in the government no matter how we fight it.

I think that's a form of democracy, but democracy on its own cannot guarantee goodness. Democracy is just a reflection of the will of the majority, stripped of goodness it can by just as tyrannical as dictatorship. If you have a group of terrorists democratically electing their leader what good does that do?

We may as well have been a complete democracy and nothing would have changed, we can't fight for democracy as the source of good. There was an interview on the BBC with a Saudi prince and the lady interviewer was asking him why don't you allow democracy in Saudi Arabia, and he replied, because if we allow democracy the people who are elected are the same ones you want to put behind bars, the same ones who want to obliterate America. Democracy isn't the sole answer to the problem despite its importance, the real fight is with the people from the people.

Would a person who would not fight for his freedom deserve freedom? I haven't thought this question through, but I know it goes past human rights, it's a question regarding the laws of nature. Do people who let others walk all over them deserve it? And most importantly do Egyptians deserve their government?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tax Ads

I'm really getting tired of these cute and funny tax ads. These ads are so polished up that they give you the impression of professionalism. From a marketing perspective they've done what they set out to do which is con people, but enough already, the more they show them the more I feel tricked wearing that '3emma' they're talking about. The problem is that they're trying too hard to be sincere and it's the same old corrupt, beat down offices that don't do anything for the people.

I wish the government were as fancy as those ads with all the well thought of script, sound and picture quality. The trouble is that they're approaching those advertising companies with the promises that can hardly be delivered and the ad companies who are the real professional makes sure that people believe those promises. But it's all fake, the government never puts our interest first, and sure we should pay taxes in order to get services, but what's changed? The ads might change the attitude of tax evaders but where are the equally powerful ads to change the attitudes of those who spend our taxes? There's just too much distrust in me to believe that those taxes aren't making rich corrupt people even more richer.

So this is the new trend, more lies from the government using trendy means. It is foreseeable that these ads will develop to encompass more messages and will take on the same style of soda drinks with Nancy Agram singing for the government or showing us some sort of sex appeal to being in bed with the government.

I much preferred the old crappy government ads that were as fake as their promises, that way it was at least more honest. I prefer them when they're preachy because that makes them more remote and somehow more sincere. Isn't it enough that they're trying to polish up everything? Why should they be better at looking shiny and invest all their resources in that rather than serving people?

They're funny ads and it annoys me that I find some of them funny because of the cops that would beat me up if they chose to and the annoyance they can have me feel if they desired. By time the illusion will be complete for those who don't deal with reality. Too few people care already, and with time even less will care. In time our casing will be beautiful and who knows what will be inside.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Worst Argument Ever Made

Perhaps the worst argument that any human has ever said, adopted or suspected of being correct is :

It doesn't matter what you believe in as long as you are sincere.

I don't even know how this most nonsensical argument ever came to cross my path, it should have been bashed right there and then by the first person to ever say it, or the first person to have ever heard it at most. It displays a very big short circuit to thinking surrounded with an air of fakery that people refer to as tolerance.

It's actually a big waste of time writing about it or even reading about it but unfortunately the first person who heard it was a bigger fool than the first person who said it because it appears he must have repeated it, and somehow those words made their way to me. The one and only context that people will use this sentence is religion, or to be more abstract anything they don't want to think about or want to link with reality. It fails miserably and it contradicts itself. It's one small sentence and yet has the amazing power of contradicting itself.

I would agree about the first part, sometimes it doesn't matter what you believe. I can accept that because what you believe can on occassion not matter at all. The trouble is when adding the 'as long as you are sincere' part. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't what you sincerely believe totally determine what your actions are going to be? Isn't all the drive for our actions a result of what we believe? How about our decisions, aren't they based on what we sincerely believe?

If anything it matters what you believe in as long as you're sincere. All answers in a test are a result of what you believe to be true and sometimes sincerity isn't even an issue. The only things that don't really matter are things you aren't sincere about, these are the things whose resultant actions are not fixed in stone and can be rather random. If anything and not to be too Wildeian I will have to rephrase that erroneous argument:

It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're insincere.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Liberator Wardens

Once in a while I forget who I am and I start being politically correct. It's at times like these that I feel like a total sell-out for not saying the things I want to say in the manner I want to say them. I feel like I'm going with a flow that will end up down the drain. It's ironic that saying the right things and freedom of speech are both usually advocated by the same people. The irony is that expressing yourself makes little sense if you can't express yourself outside the box and yet you're expected to remain in a box called political correctness. People who advocate freedom of expression are against expressing some things, and in a way, they're saying that it's okay to express yourself as long as you don't touch on certain subjects. On some occasions it is those who condemn the moral vilification based on religion that morally condemn people using private sources.

The problem with conformity with the times we live in is that these times will pass and all that will remain will be a dogma inherited from political correctness or fashion or the morals of the time we lived in. There's so much pressure from the times we live in to conform and believe in some things. There's so much pressure as well to not believe in some things under the pretence of freedom. All the while even the liberators are asking you to believe in something enslaving. It scares me when I'm being pressured into thinking I believe in something while I don't. In matters I truly believe in I may be right and I may be wrong but it shouldn't matter as long as my belief comes from within. It's only when it comes from within that it can evolve to something truer otherwise it will be a large chunk of lifeless stone that pulls me down. If thoughts that come from within are wrong they can be corrected, but when the come from external sources they will either remain immobile or they will suddenly shatter.

It scares me when I'm accepted and welcomed because it means I have to reciprocate and accept ideas of those who welcomed me. I'd rather not be accepted than conform to what can be accepted. It's always easier and even less courageous when saying things from a distance, but when you say things up close there's always the risk of losing your pace amongst people who have taken you in. Nothing comes for free and that precious feeling of belonging which human thirst for comes at a price. The price is too steep for me, the price is conformity and an end to the rebellion within; an end to all that which has kept me going through my years of estrangement from those around me. And now after my rebellion has lead me to you you're asking me to let go of it? What will I be or where would I reach without it?

There's nowhere to go without my thoughts and if I get too cozy and speak what's expected of me I start feeling like a sell-out . I don't need to rebel without a cause, but I need to rebel as long as there is a cause.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Shallow Gal

I find difficulty relating anecdotes which don't have any added value to them. I can only be sarcastic and angry and I have no sense of humor that satisfies me, generally because I find others' humor not so satisfying either. The things that go through my head are not as trivial as thinking how absurd women look in nineties tights, I mean they do go through my head but I don't feel the need to share it with the world. I would have loved to be funny, but somehow the way my mind operates does not allow me to reproduce the humor going through my system.

In any case, it goes to show that I’m one of these people who think about life, abstract values, and emotions and like to analyze things to get a better understanding of life and so on and so on and the bla bla bla that come along with all that. This may seem a bit of work for others who have got life figured out easily without need for this mumbo jumbo, but it doesn’t work for me. I like to explore the gloomy side and the alternate side of life.

I think it would be a blessing to be what they call ‘shallow’, which is taking things at face value rather than trying desperately to dig down to the mantel and core. It would be an easy life to think I got myself figured out and others around me figured out too, but I’m just not built that way. ‘Shallow Gal’ said I have issues and that I’m disturbed or something of that nature and I actually cracked up.. I can’t reproduce the humor of why I laughed so hard, but perhaps because I found Shallow Gal too shallow and because she just doesn’t know much about life, she thinks anyone who gives things a second thought must be disturbed.

Well after I thought of ways to tear down Shallow Gal on account of her superficiality and her naïve yet satisfactory understanding of the world (her satisfaction that is), I decided that maybe I’m only making myself feel better thinking that I’m somehow better just because I care about the dark and gloomy side of the world. Maybe I’m just incapable of being what they call shallow and my consolation for certain miseries I encounter on account of that is that I think of others as wanting or ‘shallow’. I mean if you can get by and be happy without going through the dark thoughts I go through, then I think you should be commended rather than mocked.

What do I know, I might be disturbed indeed, but at the rate the world is treating everyone, I’m guessing I’m not alone out there. Many may have no clue what I’m going on about, but some others may know that this has become our lives, to think of something further and look for something deeper.

This is who I am, after a party, I can’t just write about the scandals that happened and who was too drunk to do what and other bizarre incidents which I find interesting by the way. I would write about solitude, about that most lonely feeling you can get while you’re in a crowd. I would write about how you’re left with yourself even though you mingle. I would write about how I’m so conscious of myself when I’m drunk and realize I’ve been so isolated from the crowd around because I’m trapped in a shell called me. That’s what I would write, but I suppose others would write about a man drooling over them or an insanely funny drunk conversation.

I don’t think it has anything to do with being better, it’s just how people are built... I’d rather live miserably in what I perceive is the truth, than live happily in a lie... That about sums up my build. I'm not saying that others are only happy because they're living in a lie, I'm just saying that I personally find many truths a cause of some sort of misery and I'd rather continue digging them up than discarding them along with their misery.

I think if I were 'shallow' I would find such things utterly boring and if I were as they say ‘deep’ I would find this utterly useless because people want to search for themselves perhaps, but maybe for those few who have similar thoughts it might be interesting since they feel understood.

I write about what it feels like to be forgotten as a person and unappreciated, but why should popular people think of these things? I think about outcasts and people who are not socially capable of making good friends. I think about people who conform to society so much that they forget to be themselves and lose any natural chance they had to be special. I think of people fighting inner battles with themselves to change something that only sheer will can change. I think about how to take the fall in the way that best makes you strong. I think about how certain ideas that are generally accepted can be wrong. I think about what I can do to correct whatever misguided perceptions I may have.

Yes… all in all I think I’m just disturbed rather than dark or deep or any of that, I’ve seen some of life’s darker side and have no choice but to continue dealing with it. Would I have been less disturbed if my life was all great and perky? I don’t know. Would I have been Shallow Gal if things were different or is it just the way people are built? I don’t know.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

We're Fine

She looked at her husband lying on his bed barely able to move after five operations and four days in a coma. He was barely able to move but was aware of everything that was important to him. He was happy to see his wife but he was concerned about his son Hussam who had been in the accident with him. She greeted him with joy in her heart and told him how glad she was that he's doing well. He moved his lips to say Hussam. No sound came out but his lips said it.

His wife looked at him and said, "We're all fine and we're waiting for you to get well."

Again with his lips he asked, "Hussam" and though he said it with no sound it was very audible to her. She replied, "He's fine, he's just a bit shook up from the accident," she put on a smile and went on, "he's just waiting for you to get a bit better and it'll take him some time to get better himself." Her mouth could not hold the smile anymore, "we're all fine," she said, "we're all fine."

She became thoughtful for a moment and stood up and repeated, "we're all fine." She paced about the room still thoughtful and saying as if to herself, "we're all fine," then she looked at him and said, "your daughter gave birth to a boy." She watched his reaction and then said, "we called him Hussam, like his uncle." Her eyes gave her away and she paused and calmly said, "Hussam died." Her broken spirit oozed out of her whole body. "Hussam's died, Hussam died." She kept repeating it and broke into tears as she said it. He stared into her eyes as she looked back at him, his body unable to move. She looked at him with so much love; "Our son died… Our son died."

His face didn't move and tears slowly started dripping from his wide open eyes and slowly covered his sad, sad face. His face muscles hadn't twitched but his face was soaked with sadness nonetheless. She flung herself into his arms while she said, "our son died," and theirs was a long warm but sad and bitter embrace.

There are things between those that are married that are born with them that create a sense of attachment they never thought possible. How do they cope with such a loss, the only way is through each other, and oddly enough they're the source of that loss.

"Our son died." These words were powerful enough to sculpt Everest. That Hussam died was hard enough to hear but to see his wife who had shared with him his entire life share that insurmountable loss was more than he could ever bear. Yet those same words, "Our son died," coming from his wife contained his salvation too; those same words, "Our son"; "Our" was the only thing that could make him imagine that by some miracle he could bear it, because he wasn't going to do it alone.



Sausan Badr has proved to be such a superb actress. This is a scene out of the ramadan series 'Eldaly' where Sausan Badr delivers a very powerful and elegant performance. I haven't been a great fan of Nour Elsherif however in this scene he's done a fabulous job, he expresses himself perfectly with his eyes. It was such a touching scene and I have no idea why I wrote what I wrote except that it moved me. It adds nothing and it's better to be seen with Sausan's tone and expressions. Her performance is very sincere and heartfelt and I could really feel her broken spirit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Too Many Regrets

From the movie Human Trafficing

She: Thank you sir, I promise you won't regret this.

He: I have many regrets, don't promise me this.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Dangerous World

The modern world has forgotten what the world is really like. The world isn't a safe place to be and it never was. The world has always been dangerous, chaotic, unpredictable and dismal. When those of the first or second world countries visit those from a third world country they are shocked and sometimes even appalled by what they see. They see poverty, and with poverty a very low standard of living, and with that they witness survival, and with survival you can always tell it's a jungle and with a jungle there's always danger. They see a family of three or four on a motorbike and might even condemn the danger of this situation. The father doesn't have many alternatives and risks his family's life to survive. The world has always been this dangerous from the times of the jungle. We try to shield loved ones from the horrors and dangers of this world but we cannot protect them from the world.

They see a government that has deprived its people of many of their basic rights, but it's still a jungle where the lion as the king of the jungle retains his right to devour a weaker victim if he so chooses. Yet lions kill when they want to fulfill their appetite for food rather than their appetite for power. How can governments do that to people they might ask, or how do people let them get away with it, but the means to fight back themselves have been taken away a long time ago and the new generation is left without even the memory of what could be done to fight back. What they don't realize is that we've become toothless beasts, full of energy but without anything to bite into.

The world was harsh, and is so even now. It's harsh for animals and harsh for children. People from first world countries may come into a country much like this one and wonder why animals are being treated with cruelty. The fact is that children are treated with the same kind of cruelty in this country. People are treated with the same cruelty. Children have to be independent just like they were in the old days. They walk the streets and count on themselves while their parents either work themselves to death or give up hope of living a decent life. When kids walk alone down streets evading cars and crossing the road it's considered crazy, where are their parents, how can they leave children unobserved? Yet the world is a dangerous place and third world countries are not blessed with a social system that safeguards people.

Yet even with an advanced social system like that we see in first world countries the world remains dangerous. The danger takes on different forms but the world remains constant and consistent in its danger. Instead of poverty there's crime, and instead of children being unsafe on the streets, they're unsafe in schools where shootings have become close to a regular activity.

The thing is that the world with its naked face is very scary and ugly. Society, government and family try to cover it up as much as possible and sometimes that love and protection from our families and friends makes the world less scary and less ugly due to the presence of true virtue. But nevertheless, the world remains scary. We can sometimes live in denial but that will make it all the more shocking when the world shows its true face. We have to realize that there are situations where we just aren't protected by anyone.

The man on his motorbike with his family doesn't need a defense. He's a survivor and no matter how advanced some of us have become, there remains a few primates that are present to serve the community.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

What Moves You

What is it that moves you? Money, Power, Mercy, Love, Kindness, Friendship... What is it that is left after you've had all your success? Everyone has an answer I'm sure, but in my own opinion some are right answers and some are answers to be re-assesed.. I was just thinking if you told a greedy person that all that he wants in the world is his, what more would be his purpose? I'm just thinking out loud; the luxury of having thinking time.

5 Years ago I was reading about how Socrates was arrested and condemned to death, he was offered a chance to escape, but he didn't. He believed in the system that condemned him to death unjustly, and that's why he didn't run. I thought him very stupid not to save his skin, but later on after thinking about it, I realized he was lucky to know exactly what he would die for. For one to be worth something, he has to care enough about something to die for.

So what is it that moves you? What would you die for? That's a question I asked myself and I ask you, because only by answering this will we know what is truly important.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hinder Me Some More

Hinder me some more because when the time comes to act I will explode. I’ve been tired and worn down for so long that I’ve almost become immune. But with my feeble strength I shall explode. With my malnutrition I shall fight and I shall be strong. For years you’ve oppressed me and stamped on me and my kin you’ve wronged. I can’t stand another rich man making more money and forcing me to pay what little I have. Hinder me some more before I explode into a revolution. I cannot stand to see another figure of power abuse me and beat me, hinder me some more before I avenge myself. I cannot stand to see injustice upon injustice from those who swore to give me justice, hinder me before I explode. I’m already dead, and so if you care for your life, stop killing me more.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Monk Episode

I was watching an episode of the TV series Monk whose obsessive compulsive disorder is extraordinarily intriguing. In any case, one particular scene is why I'm writing all this which was in a way surreal and in a way out of place.

Monk was sitting on a bench in the park while a garbage collector was passing buy with a long stick that picks up garbage on the floor. So he picks one and moves on but Monk is bothered, he points to another and the garbage collector picks it up. He then points to another and the guy obediently picked it up.

Finally he points to something else on the floor and the garbage guy tells him, "But it's just a leaf," but Monk tells him, "Just thought while you're at it." So the guy picks the leaf and places it in the garbage.

He then looks to Monk and says, "Do you think you're better than me? Pointing at all the garbage from your bench? I used to make 210 grand a year."

So Monk asks, "And what happened?"

The garbage collector says, "I took a week off, it was enough time for them to realize they didn't need me anymore."

It's odd that things can turn around so easily and you can find yourself in a lesser state. You can find yourself suddenly obsolete and the very thing that you've given all your time to has taken that time and more. It's a situation similar to that described by Rudyard Kipling ,"[to] watch the things you gave your life to, broken,And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools." But how many of us can stoop and build and use our worn-out tools.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Disappearing Things

At my house we've been facing a very abnormal phenomenon. Things disappear. One of the cats disappeared the other day. The house was combed with the efficiency of a forensic team to find out where he's hiding but to no avail. We used almost all senses known to man to uncover the location of that lost cat, touch, hearing, speech and sight. We searched all places, and specially the dining room and the reception. A few hours later, sitting at the dining table with my laptop I heard the sound of a cat, and out he comes from underneath the table.

That he reappeared after a long while is in itself not so puzzling, for as a cat, he could have probably moved to several locations and there was probably a plausible explanation for all of this. But what really compounds the effect of this disappearance is that it has happened before with various other objects.

We were missing a pair of glasses that disappeared in a similar manner, we searched the house thoroughly, but since they were a pair of glasses they could have been lost, I grant you that. The trouble is that they reappeared after several months, and the manner in which they did is enigmatic. While my mom was vacuuming the house, the vacuum cleaner found in its path those glasses, and the place where we found them was the corridor that joins the reception to the bedrooms. Now this is a corridor that we use a lot needless to say, and the fact that no one saw them or even stamped on them is ridiculous. What makes it even worse is that sometimes we need to collect some cat hair from the ground and look intently to see that it's been cleaned.

But if that's not enough, the same incident happened again with a pair of sunglasses. Lost for several weeks, the reappeared again behind the computer table. This is a place where most of the photos I hang with blue tack keep falling and I have to collect them and put them up again. Again it's one of the places we've searched for cats, photos and the sunglasses. The manner in which the sunglasses were found is that we looked and found them. They weren't hidden and there was no possibility of them having been there all along.

In any case, after having described flatland to my mom, she's convinced that there exists a forth dimension that these objects visit. I keep telling her that we're not inside a movie for these things to happen, but her counter argument is better… they did. Sometimes logic is illogical based on evidence, and maybe it's incomplete evidence and there's a plausible explanation but to be honest the constant reoccurrence of these incidents is a bit troubling. Not that I'm troubled as in worried, but it's just nice to see that there's more to life than we can really see.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Value of Latte

People are suffering, and I don't mean the upper middle class who suffer from expensive coffee shops or quadruple the price of electronic equipment when compared to the rest of the world. The average person is suffering greatly, and in effect we don’t really have an average person, we just have a huge base of poor people who are receiving inadequate education coupled with private lessons that only enable them to pass nearly obsolete tests which give them no chance of working anywhere competitively. The average person has disappeared and has been obliterated from existence. For every one thousand people getting poorer, one man gets a thousand times richer.

The real trouble is not just the suffering of these people, but their deterioration that will become our doom. The result of all the eighties movies where problems such as education, private lessons, jobs and housing were all discussed are starting to bear fruit now as we can see that the country has produced a fine bread of bitter opportunists along with helpless citizens and of course, the cream of the crop, terrorists.

I would imagine that those running the country have no love or compassion for anything or anyone around them, not even their children, for if they had some sort of compassion, they would not let the country fall to this dark and harrowing destiny. It is almost certain that their children or grand children will suffer from this chaos that they've helped create. Maybe they just intend that their children inherit their power and money, but history has shown us that the weak one now will later be strong and the strong one now can even rot in a military prison when his time has come.

Injustice breeds injustice and we've bread a lot of that. We're now harvesting some of the bitter fruit, but in time more will come. The fashion back in the day was organized revolution, but these days the fashion is some sort of vigilante revenge. I don't know where the future will take us, but what I do know is that now, the average man is suffering greatly. In one visit to a café from any of the upper middle class the amount spent is enough for one man to support himself and perhaps his family for a month. That 12 L.E cup of coffee that will soon cost 30 is a million light years away from the thoughts of those average people. Even milk purchased at the store has increased in price, and what we will have in the future is a fine generation with weak bones who are not even able to do the physical jobs that the government wants them to do.

The prices are killing people. They're struggling for the sake of the rich, and for what… for no reason. The rich are getting greedy and asking the poor to be more content with less. The country has become a consumer, it consumes all the imports and produces nothing but overpriced coffee places. The country is consuming all its resources but worse yet consuming all its people.

And here we are, sitting at cafés using the wireless internet and sipping on latte. I wish there was something more that we can do but there's a certain air of hopelessness because our worlds have been separated, we don't live in the same Egypt that Egyptians do. I'm not entirely sure how Egyptian we are because we're so distant from each other. I'm certainly very distant from that poor man who survives on what I pay in one day for going out, and I'm distant from those who seem to earn a hundred pounds for every ten they spend. We've been alienated from one another, we don't feel that we belong with one another and very soon we'll start to hate one another.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Flatland

I've just finished reading Flatland, a book by Edwin A. Abott. It's a great book, but who am I to review a book written in 1884 that has been reviewed to death I suppose. The thing is that I hadn't heard about the book or even the story, and having read it, I think it ought be more well known for its brilliance. If you're a mathematician or a computer science, it's an absolute must, even if you're interested in sociology it's one of those books that's worth reading.

In 1884, this was a book way ahead of its time, describing a flat land where all people or shapes are just two dimensional. He describes their limited view and life, which is exciting for them nevertheless. It mirrors our own world in many ways, and the class system we have, only explained more explicitly. Shapes with six sides are superior to those with five and so on. You cannot acquire an extra side, or an extra standing in society, only your children do, unless you're a working man, which means you'll never prosper. That limited view, being described depicts our world that can seem meaningless if only described. It only has value when lived or experienced.

There's more allegory there and the whole book is just like a big review of society. It's amazing that not much has changed since then, all our prejudices and all our discriminations and disbelief. Besides the mathematical brilliance and the social brilliance, there's also a philosophical depth to it. The protagonist, a square, stumbles on the existence of a third dimension. It's not something he can perceive but only something he can deduce and have faith in. This reflects a bit of our faith in only what we see, which may not always be valid because there is a certain sort of reasoning, or analogy, or something else we never notice that points us to the existence of something beyond our imagination and senses.

The third dimension is not something the square can comprehend and with reason alone he fails to see that it exists. Only a visit to that third dimension convinces him. He also visits a one dimensional world that cannot comprehend his two dimensions. He then decides there must be a fourth dimension and for that matter a fifth and sixth.

The idea of many dimensions is present amongst physicists who are working on String Theory. In 1884, that theory of many dimensions seems to have been in existence and it's amazing how hard it is we still find it to believe there's some dimension we don't know anything about. I think the book simplifies this point of view if one is struggling with it.

How often have we refuted things on the sole basis that we cannot see it? It seems all too numerous. Often we say that things don't exist just because we haven't experienced it, but it seems that this is slightly narrow minded, since we can definitely not see that much.

The book is a very short read but certainly, in my humble opinion, an underrated classic. I'm not so sure it's underrated really but I know that I hadn't come across it except by chance, and I'm glad I did.

Looking forward to seeing Flatland the movie.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Compromise

Two kinds of people strip the word compromise of meaning; those who can't compromise at any time and those who compromise all the time.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tailored Morals

He tailors his morals according to who he is, rather than tailor his actions according to morals he has chosen.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Confidence

What Confidence is, is that which cannot be explained. It is as mysterious as all other words that link the tangible with the intangible, the physical with the spiritual, the seen with the unseen, as mysterious as faith, for it is a kind of faith, faith in yourself. If you don’t have it, then you have no power but when you do have it, then you have a vast power that is not supported or justified by anything except the fact that you have that mysterious faith in yourself.

It is very strange; to be worth nothing at first, but just by having confidence and nothing more, be truly worth something. It is both a feeling and a quality simultaneously, not a very common combination but in it is where the magic lies. It can’t be taught and no one can convince you of it, but it has to come from where it will reside, from within.

But sometimes a really honest and penetrating look towards yourself can help you. Questions arise like, do I want people’s approval? Do I desire happiness? These questions are answered usually by a ‘Yes’, but then the most logical question is triggered, “How can people love you if you don’t love yourself? How can people believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself?”. You don’t have to be smart, good looking, funny or with any outstanding qualities to love and believe in yourself. You have to be honest and have confidence, that’s all there is to it.

But how can this be? Not having anything and yet having faith in yourself? Does it not seem slightly impractical?

You are Adam and you are Eve for whom this world was made. You are God’s creation and with all your flaws and all your virtues, you exist. No need to be shy, no need to grumble, you have to enjoy the world that was made for you. Before you start loving your virtues and qualities, love your flaws and who you are. Change what you want, be who you want but love yourself and have faith in you.

On a day, long ago, I despised what I was and how I looked and how I acted and what I was worth, and I deserved all that because I hated me, and I had no faith in me. But in a day I changed and loved what I was and how I looked and how I acted and what I was worth and though nothing had changed about me, I deserved that love that I bore myself and that faith I had in myself, and all that I deserved just for having confidence in myself. It changed what I was worth from nothing to everything.

Confidence is not what the strongest, the prettiest, the fastest or the smartest people have for there is always someone who is better, bigger, stronger, prettier, faster, smarter. Confidence is what Adam and Eve have, God’s creation, beautiful in their imperfection accepting what cannot be changed and changing what can be bettered.

21st June 2003

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Capitalist Democracy

The manner in which America spreads democracy is a manner that suites her very well. America spreads her democracy through capitalist means and ideologies. Any democracy that America spreads must serve her own interests and any democracy that doesn't must be crushed. This is the capitalist way, to accept market players that server the interest of an organization and to crush the competition. America only accepts a majority that accepts America. A truly original means of spreading the seeds of democracy and capitalism simultaneously.

Monday, July 16, 2007

2 Boys 2 Thoughts

On my way to football, while heading towards my garage I was munching on an apple. I looked for somewhere to throw the remains after I was done eating it. As is usual in the streets of Cairo there were no bins, and the only one that was available was tied to a pole and its bottom hinged downwards making it like a basketball hoop that cannot contain anything. I moved towards it and I saw a little boy moving at the same time, as I looked at the dysfunctional bin, I saw the boy fixing the bottom by attaching a hook that should hold the bottom in place. The cute little boy looked very worn down and he looked like a mechanic, with an air of grease and oil about him. I was very pleasantly surprised by his gesture, he had nothing to throw in, but the image of all the garbage underneath the bin provoked him to do something about that. I also felt sorry cause this good gesture is what we will definitely kill in him if he continues to live in this country.

On my way back from football I saw a young family. Young man, young wife and a little boy walking along side. He stretched out his hand to hold his mother's and she refused and gave him a slap to the shoulder as well as a very aggressive look. The boy looked very disappointed and his eyes were so meek pleading his mom to hold his hand, but to no avail. I'm not sure what could have happened to make the mother react this way and I won't judge. All I will say is that moment seemed like a moment of utter cruelty. I cannot judge because with those we love we have those moments. We have this air of cruelty and disregard when it comes to those we supposedly love most. We pass through moments like these when we hurt those closest to us and if a snapshot were taken we'd recognize the extreme cruelty we display to our loved ones that we dare not bestow upon strangers.

It's very easy to be cruel to people we're close to and sometimes love really is blind, it blinds us from seeing who we've become and how we take others for granted. It is on the account of caring and loving that we give ourselves rights to mistreat those close to us. Any stranger on the street would have smiled to that kid at that moment rather than slap him across the shoulder, but the mother didn't. That's why I think it's better if we sometimes treat each other as strangers.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Hisham

Hisham is a friend of mine who I've known for 12 years. We lived together and went to college together and have been very close ever since we met. There are so many things we did together and so many jokes and situations that have developed between us; there was a real kinship. A few months back he disappeared. He didn't disappear from the face of the earth, he just ignored my calls, my SMS, blocked me on msn, had his mother tell me he wasn't home and basically just decided to cut me off completely for no reason.

You can tell I was very upset by the whole matter and I could have drove to his house or work and confronted him or done something of that sort, but I didn't. In the very end the problem with friendship is that it's like an AND gate, both parties have to be willing to continue this friendship. Turns out later that he cut all of his friends off. It got me wondering, what can make a man make that dramatic switch, cut all his friends off and just start something new.

People are sometimes driven to the very end of their capacities and they break. I wonder if that's what happened to Hisham. He was going through a very rough time before this incident and it seems that he was thinking of escape for quite some time. Is this a legitimate escape or is it just denial, I can never tell. I've been told by someone that everyone has their own circumstances and that I should be more understanding. Lately I haven't been understanding at all. I've been a bit more egocentric and more worried about myself than others. Like this whole affair, I thought about Hisham acting like a girl, only a girl would not answer calls and escape confrontation. Perhaps that's part of the reason why I didn't force a confrontation, because he's not a girl I'm pursuing or interested in. Girls in general have their own way of dealing with things that are not common to men. Men can talk to each other and confront each other and just cuss all night at each other before such evasive actions. Girls can be more problematic and expect you to understand them without them having to explain. I think the least you owe to a friend whether you're a boy or a girl is an explanation.

Anyway, I can't be sure what drove Hisham crazy. I'm not even sure if he has gone crazy but he's still at his work, talking to people and that is an indication he has some level of sanity. One time a friend of ours came from Saudi Arabia and I told him this scenario, he was convinced that I had done something wrong. He called Hisham and when he picked up, he and acted very natural and friendly during the call, but after it was over, Hisham never picked up again; another friend cut off.

I've always knew that people can snap. Even me. The reason why I say even me isn't because I'm any better, but because it may be hard for a person to admit that he can lose his mind one day. I’m usually not easily shocked, cool headed, rational, a realist and can keep my head; I don't know what would drive me to snap, but I'm sure there's something that can, that's why I can expect it for others.

Hisham has always been a kind, good natured guy who you can sometimes trample over. He was very forgiving and slightly innocent and his kindness gave the impression he was a bit naïve. Along the road, some life changing events have happened that made him realize that he was actually losing by being kind, good natured and forgiving. I suppose that's what he wanted to change and did not want any of the old guard to be around to remind him of who he was. I think he was pushed around and silent far too much and then he exploded, or imploded not sure which. In any case, he decided to start anew and go towards a new and improved state.

My reaction now is different. I knew the old person in him, and I was that person's friend, in a way, that person is still in there and I have to wish him the best of luck even after having forfeited my friendship. I realize that people snap.

The hardest question was, do I let go, or do I hold it against him. It's tough cause both are strengths and both are things I can do. Letting go has a few drawbacks, and one of them is that you're viewed as a weak character, but in effect it's the best thing for anyone to do. Letting go is the key to a better life for anyone. It's being resilient in the face of calamity and being the better person and being the happier person when nothing negative resides in your heart. Letting go is also the key to not snapping. If you can't let go, you'll snap. I think that most people hold on too dearly for things that they can't get, and that's why they snap, because of expectations held on to with much more vigor can pull you down till you break.

I choose not to hold a grudge and that dims my shiny 'strong' qualities. I've been harsh and strong for so many times, and I don't need to prove it anymore and I don't need it to shine anymore. What I need now is to be able to let go and not let things affect me. Forgiveness is very powerful because its strength lies in the ability to liberate one self from negative feelings. But one thing remains… it may be easy to forgive but it is very hard to forget.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Evil and Free Will

Some people say that God doesn’t exist because of how much evil there is in the world. That God would allow so much evil to dominate, proves that there is no God, or at the very least that God is not good.

I find this argument somewhat logical when inspected in isolation, but when integrated with any other element of reality it fails miserably. One such element is free will. The trouble is that if we choose a God that will not allow any evil to happen, then we cancel out free will. Canceling out free will is canceling the existence of morality itself. For if God controlled everything, what then is the point of morality or even choice? If good and evil do not exist, how can we say that evil has prevailed?

But we all know that we choose. We think of temptations and succumb to some of them and resist some of them; we feel good and bad about our choices and we change our choices at every fork in the road as a result of our experience.

So let’s take free will as a premise. If we have free will, then we have the choice to be good or evil. The world was designed to sustain itself and in that design, there is cause and effect. If we choose to be evil, then evil will come, and if we choose to be good, sometimes we can fight off a bit of that evil. If we believe in free will, then we have to believe that the world can produce so much evil.

What I’m saying is not a proof that God exists, but I’m just pointing out that this argument can by no means disprove that God exists because it is has the one element that can obliterate any argument, contradiction.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ethical Question

If you had three necessary items that can't be split and can't be shared, to give to your five children, would you give it to three of them and risk the mental damage it would cause the other two or would you not give any of them anything to treat them fairly?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Awaiting a Day

Happy birthday to me…

Seems that everything is better when it's not my birthday really. I've been thinking about it and I don't see the need to celebrate one's birthday. After all what am I celebrating? I'm celebrating something I had no hand in. I'm celebrating my parents' accomplishment of bringing me into this world. If there's anyone who should celebrate it should be parents. They should be proud of bringing me into this world. I will remain a bystander on my birthday, just as I was when I was being created, just as I was when I was being born. I think birthdays are to be celebrated by people other than me.

But the real reason I don't think I should be celebrating is that every year, during these days that commemorate my birthday, my life seems to be a constant and consistent turmoil. I write the same thoughts every year. I've kept a journal since 3 years back and I looked through the dates that are closest to my birthday and they've always had something somber or disrupting to say.

I'm not much for self pity, every year I find out that my family are those that are constant and are closest to giving me unconditional love. Every year I realize that friends, specially the closest ones are the ones you're closest to losing. Those other friends that are never too close and never too far, they remain, those who know you well are most likely going to flee. If they don't flee, then they don't know you well enough. The real secret, which I haven't really been able to learn that well is not to reveal everything about myself. I don't think it's a lesson that I will learn though, it will be something I have that always gets me close to people very quickly and kicks them out of my life even faster.

This year, like many others before it I find myself lacking those close friends that may be present at different parts of the year. It's not that I want someone to tell me happy birthday, but it's that during a birthday my thought drifts to what I have at this moment. I have very strained relationships with some of the people who were closest to me, and the other close friends are splattered across the globe.

I vary between extremes as a person, I can be a great friend and I can be a great enemy. I think I'm a worthy adversary to those who dislike me which is in itself and accomplishment and despite how well I can be an adversary, it's very difficult for me to be that uncompromising person to people who meant something to me in my life.

What I'm trying to say is that like all other birthdays, this one has some issues and I suspect next year will have similar issues and so on. Into the world I came screaming and every year I celebrate it by mentally screaming even more.

My memories of myself are pleasant ones, but whenever I check my journals I realize how disturbed my emotions were. Even the times when emotions would not be so turbulent, my birthday would occur during exams and it would stealthily pass me by just as others have.

I'll plagiarize an idea out of Insomniac and add to it a little. Since my birthday wasn't as pleasing as it ought to be, I will dub the next good day my birthday and celebrate it. I'm not going to ask for too much, just a good time with a good friend or a satisfying accomplishment or a new friend who can make me smile,or a friend who brings me an unexpected present, modest hopes, but they keep a man alive.

Double Standards

Which one of those two can come out justified?

Man : Those Chinese are bastards and deserve to die for what they've done to the country.
Woman : Anyone who says that a set of people are bastards and deserve to die is in fact a bastard who deserves to die.
Man : But you just said that some people are bastards and deserve to die.
Woman : Yes, only difference is that I'm right.


This is not some Oscar Wilde or Joseph Heller absurd conversation, this actually does happen.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Void

Must be odd to have something that you need to tell a certain somebody, but they’re out of your life. You look at a piece of news and you feel the need to share it with that somebody who will react the same way you do, but they’re not around. You see a funny video at which you laugh hysterically but others laugh casually and you know that the only person will see what’s hysterical is not around and is not in your life anymore. You notice something that is so insignificant to others but to you and your friend it holds a great value and you can talk about it for hours, but you reach for your phone to tell them all about it and realize you can’t call that person anymore.

The things you appreciated together you now have to appreciate alone, the things you thought you’d do together you now have to do alone. It feels very strange to keep those things you wanted to share just for yourself. It feels like there’s something missing, a void that was once filled by a presence. I think it can also feel like a wound. When freshly cut there's nothing there, it's almost hallow, and by time where perfect flesh once was, a cut that’s irregularly filled. After a while flesh fills that void, but it’s never the same kind of flesh that was there before. It’s always a different flesh and it stands out, but it does the job. Whether time will completely erase that wound or not depends on how big the void was and how well your body adapts.

So when you see the things of a sharable nature, the first time you forget and you think how great it would be if you share it. The next time it takes you less time to realize that you can’t share it, the next time you get sadder and sadder until you have to make a choice. Do I let all of this go or do I keep it just for me?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Definition

Lately, the feminist activities that took place in Egypt have forced me to come up with a politically incorrect, yet frightfully accurate definition for feminists.

Feminists are victims looking to victimize any possible female and to vilify every possible man in the hope of some sort of empowerment.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Thou art a Miracle

"Because thou art a miracle of deafness. It is not that thou art stupid. Thou art simply deaf. One who is deaf cannot hear music. Neither can he hear the radio. So he might say, never having heard them, that such things do not exist."

Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What If..

What if you had the most interesting and intruiging book in the world, but you knew the day you finish reading it would be the day you die, what would you do?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Bill

He was sitting in a bar sipping wine together with his ex girlfriend and her girlfriend along with some others. The three of them were drinking wine and enjoying the cheesy music that the bar was playing. It was obvious that the ex girlfriend and her friend were getting along fine despite how different they were. He was trying to find peace with the whole situation.

At one point in the evening he leaned over to the friend and stated, "You do know that we broke up because of you, don't you?"

"Yes, I know," she said with smug smile and a sense of self satisfaction.

The feeling he felt was indescribable, but he decided that he wouldn't waste another minute of his life feeling that way. With this decision he had some clarity, he left his share of the bill and more on the table, and left.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Liberals And Conservatives

I must have written those same thoughts a thousand times but every once in a while they get to me in different ways. I'm basically very disappointed in liberals. Why am I not disappointed in conservatives you might ask, it's because their name makes no promises. They are conservative and their thinking is implied to be conservative and somehow that implies limited. I'm disappointed in liberals because of their deceiving name. Liberal unfortunately implies liberal thinking and liberal views. They deliver on some of the views but when it comes to thinking most are limited. The trouble is that a liberal doesn't always have a liberated mind.

There's no big difference between liberals and conservatives in how dogmatic they are. Liberal does not mean open minded although it implies it. Liberal and conservative are adjectives describing views rather than thinking. Unfortunately neither side practically means an open mind capable of thinking matters out fairly.

The vigor with which liberals hold on to their views is appalling and disappointing. If anything they stand for more freedom of expression and more rights, and yet the amount of dogmatic stances that give no other voice a chance are in contradiction of what they stand for. It's far worse to be a liberal with conservative thinking than it is to be a conservative with liberal thinking. The true gauge is how much your mind and your thinking is liberated rather than the views you've concluded.

At first, with the flexibility of thought that comes with a young age, there is room to hear both sides and understand what they're all about and take decisions. The ability to listen is something of value. I never thought I would say this, but I've found a use for ignorance. The real use of ignorance is the ability to listen. Ignorance gives people tolerance. They have to tolerate others because they don't know better.

But why stop at liberals and conservatives, that's just the nature of people. When they're young they're flexible and open for ideas, and as they grow older they grow more and more rigid. They stop believing in change and rightly so, for the inflexibility alone is enough. All there is to be heard has already been heard, so why waste time?

It's hard to express, but what I mean to say is that more ground is covered the older we grow and the more wise we appear in our own eyes. It is never about us not understanding things clearly, it's about us understanding it and rejecting it, no matter what blind spots.

But there's something else to do with ignorance, and not ignorance of facts. I said that ignorance breeds a sort of tolerance and it counts most when you're ignorant of people. When you don't know someone, you don't bother to stop them from whatever crap they're saying, you listen and maybe you justify it by virtue of politeness. When you get to know people better the tolerance ends. You can no longer tolerate certain views or even bear to hear them out as a sort of self expression from the teller; more than that you have the power to disrespect them, interrupt them and shut them down. We're far often more courteous to strangers than we are to close ones. It's as if when we first know people we're like children, and as we know them more we grow older and along with the increase of age a decrease of tolerance.

Views are liberal and conservative but thinking isn't. Thinking might be the ability to throw all you've thought about far behind you and be willing to reconsider things. When you have the patience to reach a conclusion similar to where you're at now, then that's tolerance; if you reach a different conclusion, that's open mindedness.

A little bit of ignorance would help specially with the people you know. A little less taking for granted and allowing them at least the courtesy you allow a stranger. One of the perks of working with mundane computers is that they give some of life's most valuable lessons. No matter how perfectly you think your approach is or how well you've covered all the angles, there's always a new perspective, always a new approach that's, in all likelihood, better. Sometimes you encounter people saying something that seems naive to you, but upon further inspection you realize that they're actually one step ahead of you.

Of course all these computer lessons apply to the computer world where actual thinking occurs, but when it comes to people it might not apply. After all everyone's just voicing out an adopted opinion that can be dogmatic and have no basis of thought, but you just never know when you'll hear a genuinely intelligent comment that might alter your perspective and better your approach.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007

When People Know You

The worst thing you’ll ever face in this life is when you let people know you well. It’s not ‎that it’s horrible for people to get to know you well, on the contrary it’s very rewarding, but ‎with all the merits comes the demerits. It’s not when they know you well that it’s horrible, ‎it’s when they step away from that knowledge. Somehow all the advantages of having ‎someone know you so well turn into disadvantages.‎

This life is deceiving, the moment is blinding and the people you’re happy with today give ‎you an illusion that this happiness can never be affected. But time has a way of turning ‎things around and changing everything. It changes circumstances, it changes people and it ‎even changes you. ‎

The people you know well have a way of knowing the good things about you and loving ‎them and ignoring the bad things. The only problem is that they get to know your lesser ‎qualities along with the better. This doesn’t seem to be a problem really because people who ‎get close to you get to focus on the good things and keep assuring you that your bad ‎qualities are irrelevant. They encourage you to open up and be yourself and show even more ‎of these bad qualities and get them off your chest. They still remain irrelevant, your friends ‎make you feel good about yourself and feel that your good qualities outweigh your bad ones. ‎The more you spend time with them, the more you even accept yourself, until one day…‎

Yes, one day comes when your bad qualities are noticed or pointed out. That is a sign of ‎distance, and more and more the distance grows and your bad qualities become magnified ‎and your good ones fade in the distance. The focus is on your bad qualities and all the events ‎from then on are to provoke the bad qualities you have. You’re completely off guard and ‎your good qualities disappear and even if they show they’re irrelevant. It becomes a ‎nightmare when someone knows you so well and focuses on your bad qualities. Like a ‎girlfriend who liked your body pointing out its flaws or a friend who liked your thinking ‎accusing your thoughts of being idiotic. It’s all a downward slope from then on, and it’s a ‎price to pay for having been admired or liked for some time. ‎

Everything comes at a cost, even intimacy and friendship. It has little to do with qualities ‎though, it has something to do with distance. Knowing someone well is a point of no return, ‎you can never have a bird’s eye view anymore, it’s all intimate perspectives with different ‎focuses. The only answer to it is change.. change of friends, change of self, or change of ‎others.. doesn’t matter, it’s a dead end. ‎

That too shall pass, but the worst part is before it passes.. the worst part is when you’re hurt ‎by those friends and you call out the usual ‘Et du Brutus’ … Being good or evil is irrelevant, ‎it’s a sort of inevitable treason. Being good shouldn’t invoke pity and being evil shouldn’t ‎invoke a feeling of justice. It’s just something that happens.‎

It’s not fair that I claim this to be the case for everyone, some people don’t go through this ‎at all, but I would say it’s my case. I’ve never cared for people’s opinions, everyone is a ‎clown in someone’s eyes and lion tamer in the eyes of another. I sometimes though make ‎the mistake of caring about what close people think of me. I know it shouldn’t be the case ‎once they’ve distances but it’s a reflex response to get hurt as you realize that this is ‎happening. ‎

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Babel

Non Spoiler warning, if you’re looking for a review that tells you what the heck is going on, then you’re not getting it, this is just my reaction to the movie with some observations.

Babel is following the now known mould of movies like Crash, Magnolia and Three Seasons, many characters interconnected and their story slowly unraveling. ‘Slowly’ is a keyword when it comes to Babel. It is a very good story, that’s been told well with all the tools that cinema has to offer, but perhaps its length was an issue. With movies like Crash, Magnolia and Babel, there’s always the dilemma of keeping things short or making them long. When they’re short, you feel you haven’t spent enough time with the characters and that all aspects haven’t been covered, like Crash. When it’s long, it tends to give you more of the characters but it drags, like Magnolia. Babel, was more like Magnolia.

There’s always the problem of keeping the user as interested in the different characters who are all taking major roles, and the switch of story and scene sometimes turns off the hypnosis. In Babel however, I can assert that the scenes were all well made and interesting, though not necessarily pleasing to all tastes.

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu did a great job with 21 grams by cutting it up to pieces that took a bit of time to put together, 21 grams while being a great story, if ordered would be a long dragging tale that would have been harder to follow, if that’s possible. He made the mistake of putting things more together in Babel. The movie still happens in different timelines, but it’s more comprehensible and slightly more predictive since the timeline is not that extended.

That’s not to say that Babel is not a good movie, it tells a particular story very well. The scenes seem to have been made patiently and a lot of work has gone into making every shot special. The music is non invasive and brings across the right feelings for the scenes and the moods. There are so many cultures brought to the screen and they come across as genuine. The stories are reflective of the cultures they represent, the despair and triumph for Americans, sorrow and depression for the Japs, oppression and death for the Arabs and fleeing and undermining for the Mexicans.

The problem isn’t that the story isn’t told well, but that the story was overtold. Despite great scenes, it seems as if the director wanted us to wait for his story to unfold and instead of adding more events, he stuffed it with artistic scenes that shifted the focus from the main areas of concern. Independently the scenes are great, but they hinder an already slowly moving rhythm.

It seems that there is a trend of telling more than one story of one person. In books about writing books it’s always advised against writing with a God view. But it seems that these days the story of one person isn’t enough, people are more concerned with the big picture. Books and movies alike are turning towards telling more stories about more people, such as Alaa El Aswany who keeps taking us from character to character and movies such as these. I’m not sure if people are now concerning themselves with the ‘greater’ good where greater refers to a greater number of people, or if their intellect has absorbed all kinds of singular stories that they’re looking for more brain food through a multitude of stories rather than one.

Babel is well made and has some very compelling scenes. At the very start it looks like a foreign movie (as opposed to American) because of the focus is on characters that are stereotyped usually and are of no concern to Americans, and it does well to combine that authenticity with the more modern scenes in Japan.

If you’ve seen the movie, you don’t need to read this and if you haven’t, you probably haven’t understood what I’m going on about, I should have included this in the warning.