Thursday, December 9, 2010

Egypt Shark Attacks: So long Diversity!

Shark attacks tourist in Sharm El Sheikh. Egypt attacks shark.
First the pig slaughter in the name of swine flu, and now the shark crackdown for the sake of catching “the killers.”

I should note that I am not at all suggesting that being environmentally friendly is letting your local sharks feed on humans. I am merely pointing out the ludicrous manner in which the Egyptian authorities deal with any animal-related threat whether real or exaggerated, as in the case of the swine flu. If a species is suspected of causing any trouble, they are just simply wiped out of the country by whatever ministry that fancies getting the credit of making people feel safe.

Actually, somehow I suspect that the officials in Egypt would just love to do the same to a certain subset of the Egyptian population *wink wink.* The motto in Egypt is --if it bothers you, finish it off!

Now that the investigation is being held in Sharm el sheikh, many of theories proposed suggest that humans messing up the environment was most likely the underlying cause of this aberrant shark attacks.
Someone was either drawing them to shore with churned-up fish. Or, as pointed out by dailymail, a cargo ship dumped a load of animal carcasses in the sea instigating the hungry sharks to gather. This brings us to another point--hungry sharks. Guess who made them hungry? Humans you say? Yep, absolutely! The depletion of the marine life ecosystem leaves larger predators starving.

But while we are kissing biodiversity goodbye, we should keep in mind that some of these species could hold the key to curing our ailments.  

Language Learning (Part Two)

In part 1, I talked about language fluency as a product of incorporating the new language in your life, not just learning the language mechanics and application of grammatical concepts.  
Now, in the second part of the series, we will look at the first of many practical tips and suggestions every language learner should embrace--not just because I say so--but because they are tried and true. They are also the concepts behind all language learning programs out there.

Immerse yourself in the Language.

You want to learn English?
Then read English. Listen to English. 
Speak English, and above all, write English. 
The rest of this post will tell give you a list of No-No’s, what to steer clear from when trying out this language immersion approach.
    Do NOT read Junk.
When I advise you to read for language acquisition purposes, I will urge you to only read material written by native speakers--or writers at a near-native level. Refrain from reading awkwardly composed fiction or non-fiction written by someone who is merely translating their thoughts from their mother tongue into English. As a rule of thumb, you should stick with material published by renowned publishing houses.

Do not zpeak Inglish Wiz Your Cousins (unless your cousins are cool Americans or funky Brits).
This one has always baffled me. People ‘practicing’ a language by speaking to their immediate family members or friends who are no better than them. The sight of mamas in malls instructing their kids to “bleaze go get ze rice” makes me cringe. Why don’t you just tell the poor kid to fetch you a bag of rice in Arabic? Do you really think this enlightening conversation will turn the kids into a Hemmingway?

Do Not Bother Reading something that bores you.
You should choose a topic that genuinely interests you. Don’t just pick up any generic language learning book and start reading it. These usually are workbooks. It’s true that they have ‘comprehension’ passages, but that is not what I want you to use for reading material. Choose a topic you’re passionate about: a hobby, a certain genre of fiction you like, or even politics. Your interest in the topic will make it more likely that you continue reading, and you will find out that you retain better the sentence structure and syntax. You will begin to ‘echo’ your favorite writers unconsciously as you begin to absorb how to build sentences and use words precisely where they belong.

Read Thoroughly.
Read thoroughly and read well. Don’t skim over the material. Highlight sentences which strike you as pretty. Underline words that are new to you. And, oh, by the way, the dictionary IS your best friend. You have to look up words as they cross your path. If you find yourself not reaching for the dictionary at all during your reading session then maybe the material you’ve chosen is too easy for you. Get out of your comfort zone and look for more challenge! 

If you are looking for specific reading suggestions, email me with your general interests and I’ll give you a few examples of reliable material you can use.  

Next time we will talk about the listening and speaking components of the language immersion program.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Will Be Right Back

I haven't forgotten about part two, or the rest of the 'fluently' series that I promised.

I am just ultra-busy with my grad school work, and will be back --hopefully-- on December 8th. 

Meanwhile, as one of many assignments for my HPM600 class, I started another blog where I will be commenting on a book by the Pultizer prize winning author Paul Starr.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How Can You Learn Any Language Effortlessly

Effortlessly? Did I say effortlessly? Well, almost effortlessly anyway.  Contrary to what many believe, language learning does not have to be a boring, tedious, complicated task.
In fact, the more fun you, or your kids, have while learning a new language, the more successful you will ultimately be. I stare, in awe, at howling mothers sitting in the club on gorgeous Saturday mornings wasting their time forcing their children to etch in wretched notebooks line after line of smothering sentences : " Good morning Hassan. My name is Khalil and I like bananas." Pffff! This is , supposedly, an attempt to teach kids English in Kindergarten/first primary. Then comes of course the endless hours of grammar, whether it be English  'if sentences' or French conjugaison.
After years and years of that in traditional school systems, how many students became fluent speakers of the second languages they were taught? Not enough I would say!

So what IS the secret of language fluency ?
It is as simple as this: to speak a language fluently you must process your thoughts in that language and not perform a literal word for word translation from your mother tongue into that language.
Yes, it is true, believe me. To speak a language well, you have to think in it.
Why? You may ask.
The virtues are too many to count but most importantly you tend to speak faster, hesitate less, and always find the right words. Choice of words, in the context of a conversation especially, is not easy when you try to translate from another language.

I'll give you a simple example. You are a native Arabic speaker. You met an American  friend  and you started chit chatting with him. He asks you a question and you would like to reply mish a'wee or nos nos*, but can't exactly find the right words, so you hesitate and stop to think. If the friend was asking you how you did on an exam for example, and you weren't too happy with how you did,  you could reply : "I did OK, wish I could've done better though." This is a much more eloquent answer than the awkward translation many Egyptians use: "so and so." Or even the Ridiculously literal " half and half," evidently because nos literally means half.

In part two of this series,  I will indulge you in fun and relatively easy ways you can start to think in the language of your choice.

*mish a'wee/ nos nos are Egyptian slang terms used to indicate that things aren't going too well, but not too bad either.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Write Like

So I was surfing the web, not out of lack of  things to do --just quite the opposite actually, where I came across this " I Write Like " gadget.
The idea is simple and quite appealing to someone looking for pointless self-inflating fun.
You insert a snippet of your writing and it gives you a badge telling you who you supposedly mimic in your pathetic attempts of being a writer.
So, I reluctantly chose a piece, cut and paste it, press enter and wait the results:
hah! I thought. So my sentences are choppy, my syntax is rudimentary, and my story line is horrendously spiraling!!
But unlike Mr. Brown, I am not about to diss the Church, or the mosque, or the synagogue for that matter in my novel. So I think that my chances of turning my book into a world wide phenomenon are , ahem, well , next to nil!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Men, Women and the Whole Nine Yards.

Ever notice how women are the only ones to ever read a how-to relationship manual? Women are also more likely than men to read how to please advice. Who do you think "Men Are from Mars Women Are from Venus" was written for? Do you think men care to know where women come from, let alone to please them?
In Muslim countries, the man-pleasing quests take on the form of righteous and pious religious behavior. In the west, it is the quest to be PHAT and sexy--but it is all one and the same. Look the way men want you to. Act the way men want you to. Make them happy. Why?? Because maybe then they will care about your happiness and needs.

All this women-power propaganda is just a thin veil of smoke hiding the ugly truth. It is only the women who are willing to go the whole nine yards. They work and earn money and put on make up. They learn how to cook better, dance better, be better in bed. They learn to be nice and motherly and 'appropriate.'

When was the last time you saw a man Google "how to please your woman" rather than indecent pictures of Carla Bruni?

A woman , on the other hand, Middle eastern or otherwise, will seek to understand and please a man even if it meant turning into a bleached, painted, Silicone sack. I am not saying it's wrong, rather I am wondering why this isn't reciprocated. Forget the why-- maybe it is too obvious.
I guess the question should be will it ever change?

The All-Egyptian Grand Night: Best Puppetry Show

Neither blinded by mere childhood nostalgia or a soft-heart for puppetry shows, I have deemed 'The Grand Night', or el layela el kebeyra as the best puppetry show that was ever made.
I was surprised to learn today while reading the Egyptian Chronicles: RIP Salah El-Sakka that this little operetta was directed by Ahmed El Sakka' s father. To all those who don't know, Ahmed El Sakka is the Kevin Costner of Egyptian cinema-- well, the "Bodyguard" Kevin Costner not the Swing Vote Costner.
This el leila el kebeira show then brought together 2 Salahs a master puppeteer, Salah El Sakka, and a master poet, Salah Jahin.
It is an authentic, funny, witty, larger than life, show. I wonder if anybody has ever translated it into English .... maybe I should try one day.....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Islam The Politically Correct Religion and Racism in Egypt

Racism in Egypt is back by popular demand!
Seems like  racism will always be a popular topic-- be it in Egypt or elsewhere.

There are basically two types of responses:

a) Non Egyptians (of all colors of the rainbow) agreeing with my observation and some recounting their bad experiences with racism in Egypt.

b) Egyptians who are mad at me, and who utterly deny that any of this is true.

To all those who claim that Egyptians are not racist, I offer them the definition of racism from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
"1. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.
 2. a belief that race is the primary determinant of traits... and confers superiority"
So does that ring any bells? Superior race anyone?? Yep, as Egyptians see it, whites or khawagas are considered inherently superior.

While, like a dear friend brought to my attention, racism in Egypt does not have 'evil' manifestations--just harmless mocking and "slight" discrimination --mind you I don't know if discrimination can be trivialized--
I just find it a behavior not becoming of Muslims. To see a woman in a burqa or a niqab call her Sudanese neighbor "ya sawda" , i.e. black, to insult her, just makes me utterly mad.

Islam was the first politically correct religion. The Quran instructs muslim to abstain from derision, mocking, and name-calling against other 'peoples' -perhaps the Arabic word kawm can also be translated as race ?? It also says explicitly in the Quran that God has created all humans equally, but made them into tribes and 'people' so that they can get to know each other. And he let them all know that the most superior or 'best' people are the ones that fear him and act in accordance with his orders -- you know,  the ones that are generally good people!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Egypt The Land of Oil Spills

YAY!!! We got our very own oil spill-- aren't we lucky!
But oh wait-- didn't  we just HAVE an oil spill off the coast of hurghada last June? Yeah, but this oil spill is just way cooler.
It is 110 tons of Diesel spilled right in our drinking water supply-- THE Nile. Call me pessimistic but TWO oil spills in the span pf two months is just down right outrageous.
What exactly are we waiting for? Where is our "ministry" of environment?

While authorities have graciously announced that most of the Diesel has 'evaporated', they failed to tell us anything about the long term implications of this ecological disaster. The Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency stated that the Nile is 'free' from contamination --because the diesel was ' immediately sucked by hoses.'

The no-contamination article preceded the closing of five water treatment plants , this does not give the authorities much credibility does it? First you say that there is no spill, then you say that it has been sucked away, later you announce the closure of water treatment facilities and that the Diesel has evaporated away
Well, here's a bit of Environmental Science 101 for ya:
There is such as thing as fate and transport of contaminants. When contamination occurs, the contaminant does not just vanish in thin air. Evaporation is not ,by any means, nature's way of cleaning up the water. Evaporation , correctly termed volatilization in this instance, means that part of the compound has switched compartments, from water to air. The   Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency assures us that Diesel is not very water soluble. While that is, at least to a certain extent, is true, it presents a problem of that not many people are aware of . Contaminants that are not very water soluble tend to stick more to particles and deposit  in sediment. This simply translates to polluting the Nile, and the Red Sea before it.

But why am I elaborating so much on this topic? Well, the first time an oil spill occurred I thought to myself :"let it go accidents happen!" But now I am just worried that there may be a pattern about to develop here.. you know, much like the electricity blackouts, water shortages, and soaring meat prices!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Seema Jilani Journalist Extraordinaire!

Want an example of a kick-ass activist, journalist, and humanitarian worker who writes about things that matter not just topics that are right-wing friendly and demeaning to third world countries, and ,either directly pr directly. glorify the west? Look no further, you can read Seema Jilani's great article in the guardian's comment is free section.
Seema Jilani dares to challenge the ill-mannered expatriated party animals drinking their woes away at brand new luxury bars in Afghanistan. She is ferociously attacked by the "free thinkers" who support the right of  their poor fellow colonials in partyin' til dawn.
This reminds me of the scenes from old Egyptian movies where brit soldiers are swaggering drunk at the early hours of the morning in Cairo streets. But I think that what's happening in Afghanistan is worse.
 Back in Colonial times, it was not claimed to be a war on you "for your own good." The British Army did not march into Egypt claiming to free its women and help human rights prosper. They knew they were the big bad wolf, and they didn't care! Ah, it was easy back then. Now things are more complicated. There is terrorism. There is Bin Laden. And there is of course the post 9/11 world of shiny bombs and sticky ambushes and dead civilians in a handful of countries in the name of the war on terror.
People like the pediatrician Dr Seema  Jilani humble me tremendously, but they give me hope. Hope in honest, fair, and enlightened  journalism

Two thumbs for sensitive, eloquent souls like Seema Jilani!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

When Radio Silence Is All You Need

Yes, it's true! Radio silence has been broken and I'm out and about again.

I can't tell you how thankful I am for all the wonderfull people who emailed/texted/twittered me to ask whether everything is fine. It is nice to feel like you are not alone in cyberspace!

It's not just that I've been extra super busy lately.
I also felt really down since that freedom flotilla incident. I felt like the world is generally a very depressing place; a place where writing and words have very little meaning if you do not own a lobby that controls the media ( hint..hint).

So I will steer clear of politics as of now-- I don't feel like sinking into the deep pits of depression just yet.

Next posts will be more on the light-and-breezy side!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Read A Book And Stop Watching Tom and Jerry

The verdict has been out for eons people... Tom and Jerry is NOT a kids cartoon! It is too violent, too mischievous, and too downright pointless--hey, it's not even politically correct!!

You would not let your kids watch "South Park", so why let them watch Tom and Jerry?

What I can't understand though is the Egyptian obsession with Tom and Jerry. It's like a cult 'round here. People tell me :"C'mon we all grew up with that stuff!!" No we didn't, not all of us anyway. Some people were watching the cuter, but much less entertaining I admit, Mickey Mouse.

And then again, why do we have to watch anything at all? Whatever happened to the idea of snuggling up cozily with a good book? Nobody seems to do that anymore...

I wanted to start a book club--I was sneered at whenever I suggested the idea to people I know. "We just don't have the time for that sort of thing." They'd argue; but these same busy bees follow religiously at least THREE different TV shows.

I do read for my own pleasure, of course. But I miss discussing books, and analyzing poems.
 The way you revel in the subtleties and finess of a book you are reading with a willing companion is a pleasure I have been denied for so many years now. The moment I stepped into Med school actually. The literary artsy types are not exactly a dime a dozen over there. Sure there are some--but I was part of the elite" awal el dofa" gang of the class. So mark-hogging was all we cared about; not exactly the setting for discussing our literary inclinations!
I wonder if there could be an "online book club" of some sort-- I'll look into that. *making a mental note*

This was meant to be a post about not watching violent cartoons, like Tom and Jerry, and maybe instilling the love of reading in your children; but we got a little side-tracked...yeah just a little *wink*

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Muslim Miss USA Is No Cause For Celebration - Culture - Blogcritics

My article on Rima Fakih is an Editor's pick A Muslim Miss USA Is No Cause For Celebration - Culture - Blogcritics

I have nothing against the girl; but she is no messenger of cross-cultural negotiations!

Check it out and leave a comment!

UPDATE so miss Fakih says that she is 'proud to be Muslim', but she , unfortunately, only states so in an Arabic newspaper yom7 and not in any of the American media !!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Florida Mosque Bombing A Hate Crime

I hate hate crimes, especially the ones that escape the mainstream media radar.
AOL has an article about the bombing of a mosque in Jacksonville, Florida. The explosion shook the mosque at the time of the evening (isha) prayer, and luckily none of the 60 Muslims inside were hurt.

The FBI has some leads--including a video recording of the incident, and the The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)has put out a monetary reward for anyone steps forward with information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator.

This bombing took place May 10th, and media coverage remained mostly local. CAIR says that there has not been adequate national media coverage.

This is again a classic case of  use/misuse of media power that I talked about in my previous post.

Media, journalist, and bloggers skillfully choose which hate crimes to ignore and which ones to dwell upon for months--depending on what suits their purposes of course!

So what are your purposes?

P.S. Special thanks go out to Naaila Hassan and Dena Shunra for bringing this to my attention through their tweets.

Selling Your Soul To the Devil And Sending Out Hate Mail

Apparently many were insulted by my post. Some have been successful in 'tracking down' my email--that's the way they put it, as if my email is a runaway rogue!--and have gracefully showered me with insults. So I now provide a direct link to my email, just in case anyone else wants a piece of me.

I have been called : backward, conservative-not an insult, but they used it as if it was--, and retared. That tells more about them than me.

 Still, I'd like to make a few things clear.....

 I have not disabled comments on this post, or any other. In fact, I do not even moderate comments. That was a blogger glitch (and it has happened before!)

I am not an a rigidly conservative person; I am quite open-minded and I do support freedom of speech; but what I do not support is the dichotomy of the media, best illustrated by the article "Bashing Islam is Freedom Criticizing Israel is a Hate Crime" There just seems to be too many Muslims/Arabs out to get the faults in our countries, and not nearly enough people that care about what's wrong with the rest of the world.
Marwa ElSherbini and Mohamed Aldora were faces brought to the attention of the world through the media.  Writers , in choosing what to write about, exercise choose the fate of nations. And they do so in either through love or hate.

You can spread love, equality, and hope through your writing from time to time. Find a positive example and interview them. Highlight an accomplishment. Write a piece suggesting solutions once in a while people, it won't kill ya!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Journalism And Selling Your Soul To the devil

I am sick of Egyptian/Arab/Muslim  writers and journalists selling their souls to the devil, and giving up every tiny-winy inch of self-respect they might have had one day to please the 'crowd'. There is of course the premise of fame and perhaps making a living out of bashing your own country. Stirring up a storm sells! Who cares what the consequences are!

You know the type? They write article after article listing all-the-things-wrong with Egypt, make Islam look bad, and then they look the other way and say :"but Islam has nothing to do with it. It is a great religion REALLY!!!" Well, why don't you write, at least once in your lifetime, about something positive in Islam.

I am not suggesting to follow the lead of Al Ahram newspaper's writers and sing the praises of the government but COME ON , honestly, you think nothing is wrong with the West? No human rights violations by our dear neighbours the Israelis??? Diversify, dear writers! It does not only suck on our end of the globe. It sucks everywhere. 

Of course, If you feel like you have a calling, a cause you are fighting for, then by all means focus on that. But your focus should not be what ever pleases Mr.Editor  (pictured in Blue-Gray above)

You think I can't back my case up with evidence, think again. I will not even begin to discuss the pieces written by Egyptians/Arabs in 'International' newspapers/magazines. For now, at least in this post, let it be local.
A couple of months ago, Al Masry Al Yom ran a feature on Nubians, Great people. What was not so great was that the paper had an article about the Nubians 'religious beliefs.' It stated that they believe in, and practice, an esoteric religious mixture of Islam-Christianity-and-Judaism. It also stated that they  keep it a secret for fear of persecution. Well, guess who got the secret out!!! I was appalled by the piece. I could not think of one reason why anyone would want to write about that, except to fuel further discrimination against Nubians. I wondered whether this was ethical. Did they decide to reveal their 'secret' via this article, or where they duped into spilling their guts out?

I like journalism with goal, purpose, and --like I said-- a calling. I wish there were a few more peace-loving writers out there. You know, the type that don't care much for spreading hate and negativity, and perhaps highlight the positive once in a while.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Top creative uses for you blog

Writing an article on how you could blog for money, or using blogs for marketing,  is just so banal; there is no way I would want to do that. Some bloggers blog for money—or at least HOPE that someday they might be able to generate cash out of it. Some bloggers blog for a cause; animal rights, women rights, human rights, or convincing others to go green.

But what about you, creative but not ready to rally for a cause just yet? How can you put your blog to good use?

 Get back at an old Ex. 
your ex is zoo-worthy, and should never have another relationship?
Let the world know what an ass he/she is!
Maybe you should even start a blog to gather testimonies from his/her previous EXs as well, to further prove your case.

 Diss your current partner.
This one is definitely more tricky. but a lot more therapeutic. If you wanna do it the easy way, you can be anonymous of course. But where's the fun in that!! When you're pissed at your current partner , they'd better know that you are--lest they soon join the EXs ranks. You have to figure out a subtle way of letting them know what you think.

Send hidden messages.
Here's the scenario: your birthday is coming up, and there is this hot new gadget that you are dying for. In order to be 'subtle', write a lengthy post discussing why this gadget is better than its market competitors and why it is a must-have!

Share your vice with the world anonymously.
No you are not alone. Start a blog about it, and enjoy the company of mad chocoholics like yourself.

Introduce your alter ego to the world.
Alter egos tend to get quite cranky if they are not noticed. Introduce yours to the blogosphere from the comfort of your own home and watch him/her thrive!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Cairo House

I reviewed The Cairo House on Blogcritics and the review is featured on Seattlepi

I have always been intrigued by autobiographies and memoirs in our culture. How many women can actually retell their lives in all honesty and truth without having Fatwas issued against or without getting disowned by their family?
For the already controversial, a bellydancer with a sex tape or an actress who lured a famous politician, I suppose it is easier. But for the rest of us, the ones who appear so harmless and innocent to all those around us, it is a different matter.

The fictional autobiography is nice; many things can be left unsaid. Yet still, there is a liberating power in saying everything like it truly was. I feel like it is a first-rate cathartic experience.

But then again, who am I to know. I have never written a memoir-- at least not yet!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vegetarianism: Why Egyptians are not Big Fans

The relationship between Egyptians and meat is quite complex. Unlike many other places in the world where meat is consumed merely for carnivorous purposes, meat in Egypt is a status symbol.

Meat-consumption, red meat that is, in Egypt goes beyond the occasional juicy steak. The traditional method of cooking vegetables in Egypt is a stew with onions and tomato sauce. The rich add meat cubes to the mixture; the poor make it meat-less.
Egyptians even have a term for this 'meatlessness" . They call it 'ordayhi'. To cook vegetables ordayhi is ,in essence,  signaling  that you are poor and  can not afford meat.

Poorer Egyptians have a staple diet of Koshari (a dish composed of rice, pasta, and beans), Mahshi (vegetables stuffed with rice), potatoes, green salad, and bread. Meat is a luxury, especially beef. And because wealth goes hand in hand with health; meat is assumed to be a 'healthy' food. Kids who don't eat, or like, meat are considered 'weaker', and in need of supplements.

The traditional media, doctors, and even medical education, does not focus on healthy alternatives; or concepts like alternative sources of protein. And not much attention is given to the health benefits of reducing meat consumption.

Addressing these issues is paramount to the health and the economic welfare of Egyptian society. People who can not afford meat should no longer feel deprived of a privilege. It is a cornerstone of a healthy/wealthy diet.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Time: 1995.
Place: Biology class. Video running, showing us the movie Outbreak.

This was a defining moment in my life; I had been hesitating whether to honor the family tradition and be a doctor, or pursue my writing/literary aspirations. Outbreak glorified combating disease. I want to do THAT. It was just so unbelievably cool, and majestic, and idealistic.

What I failed to realize that I wanted to be an epidemiologist; not a physician who treats individual cases. I wanted to solve mysteries, study disease patterns and natural history.

I wanted to be the Sherlock Holmes of medicine, not the guys that get information handed out to them on a platter -- the clinicians. But I will only come to that realization 14 years later, after an enlightening trial and error game with medicine.

Epidemiology, as I am studying it now in my postgrad years, is fascinating beyond belief.  I fell in love with it from day one!

As I was reading some articles now, Outbreak flashed back in my head.... and I wondered how my life would've turned out if I skipped school that day.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"We Are Not Egypt"

As I was flipping through the channels, and I stopped at FOX NEWS --which is something  I often do if I am in a mood for a laugh at the stupidity and sheer ignorance of these right wing Bush-loving farces.

The host was none other than Glenn Beck whom I rarely have the stomach to listen to for more than 10 seconds; but he was talking at the failed Time Square bomb and the arrest of  a Pakistani-American who was 'fleeing' for Dubai.

Glenn Beck went on and on , for at least 5 minutes, about how it was no surprise that the bomber is a Muslim. Then, he was contemplating what should they do to him to make him confess and rat out the rest of his buddies. Shahzad, the wanna-be bomber, is an AMERICAN, to the dismay of GB: " we are not going to tie him down and torture him into confession. He is an American Citizen. We don't do that to our citizens." Then, unexpectedly--and totally uncalled for-- he added :" We are not Egypt. They do that to their citizens. But not us; being a citizen of the United States of America is a privilege."

Yeah GB, you just send them down to Guantanamo Bay where they do that for you!

As for the part about Egypt, well, umm, I think I will just stick to "no comment".

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Justice: Lebanese Kitrimaya Style

The story of the murder and mutilation of the corpse of an Egyptian worker in the Lebanese village of Kitirmaya is all over the news.

According to Al doostor newspaper, the deceased had been previously charged with the rape of a 13-year-old girl from the same village ?! So either this guy was a Bona fide monster, or this is the same scape goat mentality we have here in Egypt--except of course Egyptian officials use the 'insane' and the mentally-challenged!

Vigilante-style justice is one thing but utter brutality is another. I would like to draw a few comparisons between what happened in Kitrimaya , and the infamous Nag Hammadi massacre.

Both were perpetrated because of , supposedly, heinous crimes. I say supposedly because , again supposedly, 'innocent until proven guilty' still applies as far as I know. The Nag Hammadi crime was supposedly , according to the ministry of interior, incited by a rape of a Muslim child. Mohamed , the tortured deceased in Lebanon, has also been implicated by an anonymous Lebanese official in a rape of a girl in the same village; how this ties in with the other crime, no one seems to be sure. In Kitrimaya, the angry mob took revenge into their own hands, making the act --even if Mohamed was guilty-- disgustingly barbaric. In Nag Hammadi, angry men took out their wrath, and turned it a vendetta into a hate crime; something that happens often around here: generalizations are very popular. I am just afraid that one more generalization could come about: Kitrimaya villagers killed an Egyptian; therefore a political crisis is in order between Lebanon and Egypt!
Let us not forgot that Lebanese officials, including the president himself, have  condemned the crime; and assured the public that it will not go unpunished.
Please, let us not turn this into another Algeria/Egypt face off situation. it did NOT happen because he was Egyptian; it happened because these villagers, who are not necessarily representative of the Lebanese population, are barbaric savages.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Floppies are obsolete

As I was reading the google news last night, I was disheartened to find out that floppy diskettes are officialy out! Not that I actually own any, or even know anyone with a floppy drive , but still :(

"Prince of Persia" ,"King Quest", even the first encyclopedia I ever owned was on diskettes.

This signals an end of an era; there is a certain bitterness in things you used and enjoyed as a kid becoming obsolete. You feel antiquated yourself. But I guess with the technology nowadays nothing should be taken personal; mobile and cell phones become obsolete within a year.

It is not a world for sentimental technology fools!

Technorati verification

Ummm, I have no idea how to do this but I'll just post the code here U4QBTNSJ46KA and hope one day I make their top 100!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Olfactory memory

So I was back in Kasr alAini med school for some business; I was walking down the sidewalk by the anatomy 'mashraha' --the morgue-- when I was suddenly hit with the unbearable stench of badly-ventilated, partially decomposed, formalin-soaked bodies.

But instead of eliciting a powerful gag reflex, which it most rightfully should, the smell just transported me years back : to my first day of medical school.

I could, literally, feel 18 again! The black pants I was wearing that first day, the mauve taupe silk blouse I wore--and of course had to throw out because of the stench that wouldn't get out-- flashed back in my memory, uncalled and uninvited but most certainly welcomed.

The excitement and the rush of being a doctor, with my brand-new white coat dangling on my arm, was so refreshing. The premise that I might change the world, or at least the medical practice in Egypt, and the dreams that I will be saving lives each and every step of the way all came back to me.
What was strange is the happiness and sheer bliss that I felt. I was not disillusioned. I was not sad that none of that had happened. It was as if I was transported back in time, to that moment, and I was that hopeful, idealistic girl again. It was magical!

Before, I had never been a firm believer that olfactory memories can be so vivid, but let me tell you this belief is long gone...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Girl Vs. President

Standing up against a sea of troubles is never easy. But how many people have the courage to do what this young woman here did?

I am not about to discuss the political aspects of the picture, because this is not what struck about it. My first impression, like many of you, was 'WOW! This girl has guts!!'

Not too many people have the courage to stand up against their oppressors; the beaten woman, the abused child, the underpaid employee usually end up just taking it laying down.

We always need little inspirational tidbits, be it a quote, an article, or a picture. I think this is as moving as the 'Shoe' journalist who tossed at G. W. Bush what he deserved.

The imagery of it is beautiful too. Look at the girl, veiled, so small, and standing up against a huge crowd, a big car, and the one of the most oppressive b political forces in the world: the Iranian president. Ahmadinejad is looking as pretentious as ever, arrogant, and surrounded by bodyguards who could not protect him from this woman's courage.

I received this in an email titled "woman of the year". Well said.

This girl SERIOUSLY got game!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Water Politics and What Citizens Should do

I like what Helmy Sharawy wrote in Shorouk newspaper about the water geopolitics being far from a 'football match' where Egytians will just go about the streets ranting and raving and the government will let steam blow over. This is a serious matter that needs serious interventions; nothing is more ridiculous, in my opinion, than the whole israel-is-behind-this-all sharade.
Conspiracy theories aside--although I myself am a HUGE fan-- our fellow African neighbours are pissed! And if we were in their shoes, we would be pissed too. They think the Nile is theirs, and they want to capitalize on it. We think the Nile is our God-given right; hey, just because Herodotus thinks so doesn't mean the whole world has to agree!!
Compromise is in order here, and real negotiations on our part.
It is imperative to re-educate citizens on the vital importance of reducing wasted water ; there were many campaigns in the past, which I vaguely remember from my childhood,  that unfortunately stopped, for some unknown reason. We tend to view the Nile as infinite, well, it is not!
Stop taking the Nile for granted!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Shoot Em Down : MPs in Egypt

As a sort of a twisted come back at the esteemed MPs suggesting that Egytian protestors should be shot down, I will argue that these members of the so-called Egyptian 'parliment' should be hanged in public display. Why you ? Well I have a whole bunch of reasons:

  • 1. Legal grounds:  Since we have the death penatly in Egypt, it should be applied here in this case, with no reluctance or regerts because the above mentioned MPs have caused political apoplexy in Egypt for the past 3 decades or so.

  • 2.Religious:  "al ifsad fi al ard" which translates to 'spreading mischief/corruption in the land', what corruption is worse than killing a bunch of innocent protestors??

  • 3.Added bonus: there will be many more 'treatment at the expense of the state' decisions available for other MPs to fiddle around with!
So, what do you all think?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Herd Theory: When to Follow and When to Lead

My bestfriend and I used to spend countless happy hours at the water fountain on campus contemplating what we thought was our 'herd theory.' We marvelled at the seemingly endless capacity of our fellow medical colleagues to  just follow the herd and stick with the crowd.

There is a total reliance among university students on word of mouth. They follow in the footsteps of those who came before them: which 'notes' to study from, which private lessons to take, whether to skip class and not give a damn or attempt to bribe to bribe the person in charge of attendance. Do you know why they do it? They are not necessarily dumb or uncreative. They do it because they know it works.
There is no room for textbook reading, note-taking, or even deducing facts from information. There is no room to try to be different, or approach things differently. If you want success, you have to follow the herd.

This is by no means applicable only to medical students. This scenario is the basis for our whole 'higher' education system. And, of course, it goes beyond education. You are also expected to follow the herd as you move on with your life. If you want to be accepted by society, you have to live as they do, marry whom they approve of, and follow the career path laid out in front of you.

Don't believe me? Just look at anyone who wants to get married to someone out of the norm. It is considered ok for Egyptian men to marry 'foreigners' as long as of course they are white. What if one decides to marry a far Easten/Asian, or a black woman? What about Egyptian gals?  Marriage Herd theories here allow them only to marry younger Egyptian men: marrying a guy from another culture--even if Muslim-- is generally not acceptable, neither is marrying a younger guy.

I am not claiming this phenomenon to be purely Egyptian, au contraire. It is charateristic of the human condition: straying away from the pack is dangerous for the pack, therefore, it is frowned upon.

But honestly, who cares about the pack??? Following the herd sure is a lot easier than exploring the undiscovered paths out there in life. But you know what? It's a lot less fun; and less rewarding. Happiness and achievements stem from putting yourself in challenging situations and conquering that challenge, and ,again, conquering INACTION.

So next time you want to stray away from the herd (make a wild career leap or  try out something new) by all means do so. The world is a better place because of those who innovate, not those who copy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Recap on Racism and The Khawaga Complex

By definition, if you are discriminated against because of your race: that's racism.
Does it happen in Egypt?
Just read one of the replies to my first post  about racism , a reply by a foreigner living in Egypt,  and you will get the picture.

What I find striking is the fact that we agree that there is prejudice, yet we disagree on who the Egyptians discriminate against. People from the Far East? Yep. Black? Definitely...

But when it comes to Europeans and 'white' North Americans I beg to differ. Being white IS considered superior in Egypt. The locals here think themselves inferior to the white 'master'. Being blonde can get you a job as a teacher--even if you make spelling mistakes writing in your own native tongue. While a highly qualified African-American college graduate gets repeated rejections!

The 'khawaga complex' (khawaga: is a term slightly similar to 'agnaby .ie. foreigner' but carries a positive connotation, and is usually reserved for whites) is an inferiority complex, no doubt about that. Does that make the Khawaga happy?  Definitely not. I am not suggesting that; I understand that no one wants to be labeled, and treated on the basis of their skin color.
And this is really the essence of a tolerant, modern society. A society that does not discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, race, or color.
But we are a long way from that whether in Egypt, or in the even-less-tolerant Arab world!

More Reasons to boycott meat in Egypt

Al masry al youm in today's issue has uncovered yet  another health scandal in Egypt.

The ink used for meat inspection stamps used in most slaughter houses in Egypt is internationally banned!!
Instead of a food-grade vegetable dye, we are getting a lovely carcinogenic methanol-containing dye.

You wouldn't scrub your toilet with it, so would you eat???

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Meat Boycott Update

It's officialy THE hip-and-happening thing to boycott meat now in Egypt....
The Egyptian Consumer Protection agency,
the Giza Governorate ,
even the minister of agriculture are urging Egyptians to boycott meat.

Cattle breeders, farmers, and traders--along with butchers of course-- will have to do something about the prices if nobody buys meat from them, wouldn't they?

Meanwhile, what other creative culinary options are out there?

  • The un-creative options are fish and chicken--don't just give in to the urge to rely on these only, or their prices might soar!
  • Have Koshary once a week-- we'll call that 'Authentic Egyptian' day. 
  • Mac'n'Cheese will also provide a hefty serving of proteins (Macaroni and cheese is quite simple --and utterly delicious!)
  • Mexican-inspired day: cook some rice and eat it with a side of red kidney beans and salsa (chopped tomates, spring onions, green peppers). 
  • Sauteed mushrooms with pasta ('al funghi'), or served with potatoes and green beans. 
  • Lima beans with tomato sauce and rice. 
  • Yellow lentils cooked with spinach and rice. 
  • A nice warm Cheese souffle (also very elegant to serve).
  • Shakshouka -- if anyone needs to know what that is let me know, I'll give you my grandma's recipe!
  • fattet-hummus. Cook regular fatta but instead of meat on top, you add a scrumptuous mixture of hummus cooked with onions, cut-up tomatoes and tomato juice. Serve it with a side of tabouleh .
  • Mushroom and onion quiche with a large mixed salad.
You should take this opportunity to tantalize your taste buds with an array of dishes  from all over the world...

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Meat Boycott in Egypt: A call to Action

Several Facebook groups, television programs, and journalists have issued a call to action. Opposing soaring red meat prices in Egypt is now definitely a necessity. Meat prices have increased 25% in the past month!!! And of course, this is expected to continue if the vicious cycle is not broken somewhere. Our precious Minister of Agriculture came up with the ingenious idea of importing more 'frozen' meat, and some more 'live' cattle (hope they don't turn out diseases like the batch we got last year!!) In my humble opinion, the government-has-to-solve-everything mentality has to be challenged here.

There is truly a chance for the citizen sector to be mobilized into doing something that will be VERY effective. For the skeptics, I invite you to  let market mechanics , i.e. supply and demand , regulate the price. If no one's buying, prices WILL go down.

Boycotting meat goes beyond market mechanics. It sends a message to the butchers/cattle raisers/whoever-is-responsible that we, the Egyptian people, are NOT going to take anymore of their crap. They can't live withour us buying meat, but we can live without eating meat, This message is EXTREMELY crucial.  We , the consumers, are going to stand up for our rights.

I found this great link on the boycott meat Facebook group. It tells the story of a triumphal  meat boycott in Amman. It was organized by the Consumer Protection Society and they achieved what they were set out to do: meat prices went down.

So, in a nutshell, what's the deal......

  • GOAL:  1.Reduce Meat prices.
                  2.Show them who's the boss (the consumers).
  • HOW:    Boycott fresh and frozen meat.
  • BEST CASE SCENARIO: meat prices will go down.
  • WORST CASE SCENARIO:  meat prices will stay the same, but you will be much healthier without all the red meat you usually eat!!!! After all, 3 oz (85 gm)of beef  gives you around 300 calories vs. 120 for a much healthier (lower in cholestrol) chicken breast.

See, it's all good!
So why don't you hop on the meat boycott wagon in Egypt?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Racism and Prejudice in Egypt

There is nothing in the world I hate more than racist bigots, and unfortunately most Egyptians are both. Being a racist is one thing, but NOT admitting that you are one takes the issue to a whole different level.

Some prejudice is expected, because of cultural/religious norms, such the prejudice against homosexuals, atheists, and other people who do not abide to the norms. Yet, some other forms of prejudice are just mind boggling: like the 'color' prejudice in Egypt. Yes, it is a color prejudice. If you are not a certain hue of white, you are inferior by Egyptian standards—God forbid that you might actually be black!!

The irony of it all is that Egyptians are not Nordic Aryan descendants of Vikings. We are Africans, among of course a wonderful and exotic mix of races that our DNA has picked up through thousands of years of foreign invasions of the land of the Nile. I suppose that therein lies the problem, foreign invasions! Through hundreds of years of Turks ruling Egypt (who have fairer skin than the native population), fair skin became associated with superiority and dark skin with the working slaves! And hence was born the infamous 'khawaga complex'. No matter how pathetic this may seem, it is true. The Egyptians identified more with the oppressors, instead of wanting to break the cycle, they were eager to mate with the invaders so that they would have 'whiter' kids. To this day, having 'Turkish blood' is supposed to be a sign of superiority!! Heck, come to think all of the invaders were white: Romans, the Brits (C'mon, you can't count the French-they didn't stay long enough!)

This might just seem like a lesson in pseudo-history (or at least my interpretation of history); when in fact this little tale has modern day repercussions. Kids at 'International' schools, with highly educated parents, play 'who-is-whiter' games. The 'fairest of them all' gets to be Cinderella or, appropriately, Snow White. And the darkest? Well, one of the evil step-sisters or a maid in the palace of the princess. This is , albeit psychologically damaging, small-scale discrimination.

The true victims of overt racism here are the Nubians. The quite, peace-loving, people down South who have been screwed over and over again for years. Their villages were drowned; their heritage sunk to the bottom of Lake Nasser, and the whole of Egypt just celebrated the building of the high dam. They are taunted on the streets. Their kids are made fun of, if dare to live up North. Even when a half-Nubian president, Anwar El Sadat, came to power, the word on the street was that he was 'too brown.' Zahy Hawwas came out a few years ago assuring Egyptians that Tutankhamon was Not BLACK! Being black is grounds to get you harassed on a Subway .

I still do believe that the problem goes beyond that. It is a problem of self-acceptance, of wanting all-things European, and turning away from who we truly are as a people. Parents, inadvertently, through all their subtle little comments and messages teach little 'brown' kids that they are somehow defective and inferior, that they should feel bad in their own skin—literally!

When my daughter came to me with the story I wrote earlier in the post, I told her that next time some kid talks about that in front of her she should say :'mommy says, we are not supposed about skin color. It is haram. And God doesn't like people who do it.' And then I showed her pictures of very beautiful black women, as pretty as Cinderella, to prove to her that beauty has nothing to do with skin color.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Top Ten Things to Do While Pulling a Baby-All-Nighter

The first three months of babyhood 'or more for those unlucky few' revolve around  staying up all night fighting sleep, and finding things to do when all you really want is sleep!
Hope this list helps.......

10. Watch muted Television.

This is by and large my favourite. You just have to make sure you are not watching something that "flashes" a lot, or you risk to hyperstimulated an already sleepless little soul.
You need , of course, to choose something with subtitles-- or learn how to lip-read!

9. Practice mental math.

Not fun, I admit. But if you stick to it you can turn yourself into an everyday mathematical whizz in no time.
Start simple: add and subtract, review your multiplication tables, then on to more complex operations--like figuring out how fast you need to lose weight to be able to get back into shape before summer (then decide of course which summer you're talking about.... the summer your baby turns 1, or 2, or goes to college!!)

8. Meditate/Pray.

If the idea of turning into Al khwarizmi does not appeal to you, maybe you fit more in the Ghandi category. Meditation is quite successful at these unholy hours when everyone is asleep.
You can also Pray , or repeat daily Azkar. Being with a baby is a nice opportunity to count your blessings, and thank God for them.
7. Use Visualization techniques.

You know these nasty habits you've been trying to kick? Try and use visualization techniques to conquer them. Or better yet, try and ease your stress through relaxing mental scenery.... your baby sleeping soundly and cuddling up in your arms on a Hammack in the Maldives.

6. Make a mental list of your chores for the next day.

Less relaxing, but definitely more productive.

5. Listen to your iPod.

Who says a sleep-deprived mama can't enjoy her tunes?

4. Recite/Rehearse

Have you been dreaming to memorize something? Poetry, Soliloquies, Quran? No better time than now. Just wait until the little one is quite enough for you to focus and concentrate.

3. Think of ways to make it up to your hubby.

No doubt that your morning grouchiness, combined with your late-night tiredness, has taken its toll on your marriage. Try to think of all the nice little ways you can be nice to your husband. Telling him that you miss your old self is sometimes enough!

2.Open Up a Facebook account.

This could keep you entertained for hours. Cooped up in a room with baby on your lap, Facebook gives you a window to the outside world where you can safely envy all those who have a life while you water your crops and feed you Farmville cows!

1. Doze off.

Ahhhhhh... the least glamorous but most desired! Assume a position that's safe for the baby (ie. that won't make him roll off your lap), rest your head on your shoulder, or back on a headrest, and get some shut-eye. You may find that even 10 minutes might invigorate you.

And remember, this is just a phase and it won't last forever! Think of all the blessings of motherhood. Not easy. But truely puts things in perspective. Think of all the happy-squealing months you have ahead of you, and all the 'I luv you mum' cards you will be getting, and the little hugs and kisses and you might just feel a little better.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

International Universities In The 6 Of October

According to  Al Masry Alyom,  residents of the sixth of october city might finally be able to compete with our 'New Cairo' rivals!!

It's true that the American University in Cairo has moved far far away from us, but there maybe branches of The Sorbonne, Nottingham University, and even Georgetown University in our neighborhood sometime in the future.

Needless to say, these are not the educational institutes themselves, they will operate under affiliations. Unlike other flimsy 'affiliations' that did not offer much to attending students in profit-making private universities, this is supposed to be different. They will be affiliated with various faculties of Cairo University.

Currently, I have not been able to find out whether this has anything to do with the land Cairo University owns next, and is building upon, next to Hyper One market.

Does this translate into a glimmer of hope for Egyptian Higher education?

I believe so. Let's not forget that the Sorbonne-Faculty of Law affiliation in Cairo University (what is known as 'Faculty of Law, French division') was quite fruitful to Egyptian graduates.

My only concern is: will they recruit a teaching staff up to the job?

I guess we shall see....

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chinese Geely Buys Volvo: or how China will rule the world

In Egypt, our story with Chinese products goes back a long way.

It all started back in the late eighties and early nineties. Egyptians, who happened to work in the Gulf or go there for pilgrimage purposes, used to scout the markets for gifts to bring back home. People used to search far and wide for products 'made in the U.S.', or U.K, or France, or even India for that matter.

What did they avoid like the plague?? Yep, you guessed it! Made in China. Now that was just THE ultimate insult: getting your in-laws made in China gifts was just another way of telling them that you think they are worthless and deserve no better than cheap, tasteless, scraps of merchandise.

As time went by, it was getting more and more difficult to find these no-made-in-China items. In fact, now it is next to impossible. Want to know why? It is because of YOU. Yes, you! If we had cared about quality as much as we do about price, or about the condition of the workers that make all our little gadgets, or even the environment, none of this would have happened.

China will rule the world through a very simple premise: sell cheap, you sell a lot. When you sell a lot, you make money. And when you make enough money, you can drive your competitors out of the market—and then you will be free to do whatever pleases you. It will be all you, and no one to answer to.

Let's take a look at the case at hand: Geely vs. Volvo. Geely, originally a refrigerators parts supplier, was literally born yesterday. It started making cars back in 1997. Yet, in 2010, it sealed a deal to take over the Swedish giant trade name: Volvo.
 What started as operation building bon-bon colored flimsy cars, now has its eyes on Opel.
Some people might just disregard this as a David and Goliath story, but it is far from it. The implications are quite dim.

What do you think will happen if a country with an atrocious human rights record , and isn't too keen on the environment , continues to replace the more regulated manufacturers?

Well, so much for green living! We will have to welcome living a la Chinese instead!
Not so pretty huh?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Egypt The Land Of Unfortunate Events

I had promised myself at one point that I will try and keep my blog light and breezy. That is why I try to stay clear from all unfortunate events that strike us here in Egypt. Yet, I am overwhelmed. It just seems that Egypt is no longer the land of mysteries, nor even the land of the pharaohs. It is the land of 'crisis'—or azma in Arabic.

But I just can't stand this any longer! Our life here in Egypt is just a series of unfortunate events! One 'crisis' after another: the 'black cloud' crisis, the lack of bread crisis (aka tabour el eish ), and of course the all-time star azemet elzebala: the 'garbage crisis'. Honest to God, what decent nation, in the twenty-first—no heck, even in the twentieth Century—could have a full blown garbage disposal SCANDAL with rubbish lying around everywhere?

But never mind that, let sleeping dogs lie. The last of the unfortunate events is the diesel 'crisis' causing line-ups in front of gas stations, and creating ever-more increasing traffic jams!! As if we needed that here! This 'crisis' shortly followed the Butane distribution shortage—in fact that was only two weeks ago. Well, things aren't going so well in the Petroleum ministry then!! And, as usual, don't expect any explanations or answers from any officials. The scenario goes as follows:

1. The responsible authorities deny the existence of the problem.

2. The media does not stop howling about the non-existence problem, and they coin some catchy 'crisis' term to it.

3. The government newspapers urge the president to personally intervene.

4. The problem disappears into thin air, and no one ever gives an explanation as to why this happened in the first place.

5. Conspiracy theorists have the time of their lives coming up with potential causes.

6. People try to catch their breath, and of course, prepare for the next crisis!!!

Personally, I've just about had it! What about you?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Only Fools Rush In: How To Find The Courage To Be

Yes, the wise men said it. Elvis said it. And everybody knows it: only fools rush in!

We are programmed as children, by our parents and our society, to avoid hastiness. We are always told to 'take our time' and to 'think about things carefully'. As we grow older schools, universities, and even our employers want us to assess and reassess every decision before we take it. We are asked to relentlessly think about our decisions. We are required to contemplate, ponder and ruminate lest we take a wrong decision or say something we shouldn't have.

You may wonder, what's the harm?

Well, let me quote my alter ego,  Hamlet, on this:

"And thus conscience does make cowards of us all,

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought.

And enterprises of great pitch and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action.—"

Dangers do lurk everywhere. It is our consciousness, our awareness of these dreads that makes us coward. When the ultimate indecisive tragic hero Hamlet says that our thoughts cast a 'sickly' shadow over our resolution, his wisdom does transcend the ages.

Please, try to humor me and forget for a second that he was actually contemplating suicide . Notice how resolution is referred to as 'native'. It is innate; we are resolute by nature. If an infant had dwelled over his first step, nobody would have walked the face of the earth!!!

Want another modern day example?

Brainstorming! The reason brainstorming is so effective in generating good, creative ideas is the way the process flows, without much interference from the conscious mind. You don't think, you just "do".

Inaction makes your life turn 'awry'.
Take my word on it, sometimes you need to rush in, just dive in and let what is meant to be happen. Over calculation sure makes life safer, but you risk being trapped in your own head, shackled by your own inertia while the rest of the world goes round.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Romantic To The Bone: A not so modern take on Valentine's day

Article first published as Romantic To The Bone on

With Valentine's Day around the corner, we should revisit the definition, and the very essence, of the word romantic.

One thing I am sure of is that St. Valentine is tossing in his grave.

Romance now is just yet another opportunity for businesses to capitalize on.

Everywhere you go: buy this, buy that. Take your girl here, then out and about over there. Wine and dine the night away, at the finest five-star restaurant that will charge you double 'cause its V-day.


Whether you fall for this depends on your definition of romance. I say V-day is for wussies!! You heard me, ladies.

Want true romance? Go back to prehistoric times. Picture this:

Prehistoric mama is snuggling with her baby cozily in the cave, by the fire, roasting some mammoth leg her man had hunted for her and the kids a few nights ago. Hunter-man has been out all day, going about his hunting-gathering business to feed his lady, his children, and their newborn.

As Hunter-man was coming home, he spotted a saber-tooth tiger lurking, blocking the entrance to his cave, posing a definite threat to the little ones and the Mrs.

Lo and behold, Hunter-man attacks the saber-tooth, stabs him two hundred times, slices his head off, skins him, and takes the fur to his beloved to keep her warm at night. Now THAT's what I call romance!

That's romance as it once was, and forever should be; not some measly guy bringing in a box of chocolates and taking his woman out for a restaurant he worked so "hard" to find a reservation at. Heck, he may even have her pay half the bill – or worse yet, she may be the one doing all the planning and in the end getting none of the fun.

Guys, romance is about taking care of your women, and fighting off the predators!

Gals, guys who buy chocolates on V-day are suckers. They should be getting you chocolates every day of the year!