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


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.