Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I hung out at the Greek Club tonight after attending Amal Kenawy’s opening at Karim Francis gallery. If you don’t know her work you should check it out; nightmarish, emotionally disturbing and very sensual. Despite its mercurial quality and deeply personal symbolism, her art isn’t complicated. It isn’t a rational process that her work invokes but rather a guttural intuitive connection that leaves you jaded, as though falling in a dream you suddenly awake before hitting the floor. Or perhaps I’m just a dumbass and I don’t know what I’m talking about, either way, this isn’t the purpose of this post.

I was hanging out with some friends, chunking on a Greek salad and sipping on an insipid glass of lemon juice when lo and behold a blue eyed beauty with chestnut colored hair and a shy wandering gaze waded in with HL.

HL is adorable, I love her, but I didn’t move to her table half an hour later to talk about her plans for new years', a fact that didn’t escape her sharp wit. A couple of minutes into the conversation she turned to blue eyed girl and said M this is Jolie. I don’t care how cheesy your name is Jolie, Good God you’re cute! HL asked for the bill, SHIT, they’re leaving; I had to make a move, “So what are you doing in Cairo Jolie?”…to which Jolie smiled, stared into the ceiling with a wide eyed look, sighed and responded in a mousy French accent "I dunt no”… ridiculous really but my heart sank. I said some nonsense about how we’re all confused, realized I was blabbering and ended my remark with a murmur. They said their goodbyes and Jolie gave me a wide smile as she walked away.

I moved back to my table to find M had devoured my salad “Eh mish 2oltelak 7akol ma3ak”. M was wearing her trademark fishnet stockings; I pulled on them for revenge.

The entire episode doesn’t amount to more than being a nice little quaint encounter, except of course Jolie was cute and you see I have this thing for cute women, a thing I recently coined with Gayyash as the Arthur Miller syndrome. Now Jolie could be mentally retarted for all I know, I mean seriously, who has any more tolerance for inane responses to simple questions dressed up as wise and other worldly...did I mention Jolie was cute!

M once accused me of being a superficial git, well not in so many words but that was the gist of her diatribe (if you read the previous post you’ll realize that our friendship is characterized by mutual, slow, gentle, character assassination). I have no qualms with the claim, if simply for lack of energy to refute it. Attraction with me starts with the physical…it doesn’t obviously end there. Indeed if anything it has been my obsession with all the other things that has thus far been the cause of many breakups in my life and that continues to hinder me from meeting and falling for someone...but that's another story.

Now if only Jolie would turn out to be smart, witty, intelligent, fun, humorous, compassionate, available and willing to date a sod like me, hmmm, Arthur Miller eat your heart out!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mamosay Mamosama Makossa

Warning, self absorbed ramblings ahead...

About a week ago, whilst enjoying a pleasant evening at M’s, the subject of my condition came up. M and I almost always approach everything with an air of flippant tomfoolery, so when you consider that we were listening to Disco hits from the seventies at the time, you can be sure the discussion that ensued was anything but serious.

M exclaimed: “You can’t wake up every single morning and re-question the basics of your existence! It’s not sane!” She further elaborated the point with superb comedic flair by impersonating me waking up; a quizzical frizzled look on my face: “This is earth, I live in Cairo, I am human, this is my room, my name is…” get the point?! After establishing initial bearings, I would then step out of my room and begin affiliating myself with the elements that shape my life and identity. The skit was actually quite funny, and not only because M is a scathing comedian by nature, but because her words rang with a particular din of veritas.

We laughed at the idea; it seemed like a great premise for a movie. I’d of course be played by Johnny Depp. I vote Jenna Jameson for M.

My capacity (and evidently M’s) to poke fun at my torrent affair with existence has developed into a sort of self-administered substitute for clinical therapy. In the past however, different reasons forced me to seek professional help, none more imperative than the desire to “get better” and the realization that I was unable to do it alone.

My life has greatly been shaped and influenced by the ongoing dynamic of confronting, dealing, and dancing with depression, and I do believe that I am better for it. I used to question whether my depression may not in fact be a self perpetuated myth, some sort of bogey man I’ve raised and fed to add intensity and substance to my life. Back in my dark philosopher phase in college I actually believed that my depression gave me an edge, an esoteric persona. But somewhere along the way I recognized that my mood swings, my troughs and crests weren’t necessarily symptomatic of a particular possibly curable condition, but an indication of a volatile character. This was a first step towards seeing the truth behind the fiction so to speak, and I eventually learnt to acknowledge and deal with the nature of my character, its flaws and its perks.

I’ve had a successful track record with the battle against depression, but there remains much room for pontification on the frequency of its occurrence…which brings us to M’s little comedy act.

I think I do have a tendency to constantly question my identity…except, not really. True I tend to doubt myself a lot, but that’s just my inbred insecurity not a deep philosophical introspection into the essence of moi…Ultimately, it’s just about being happy. But while I’m aware of how fickle happiness can be, I’m all too aware of the very real possibility of attaining it. I’m distinguishing here between the perpetuation of fleeting moments of pleasure, and the visceral contentment that is the result of making peace with time.

If we accept that there exists the possibility of attaining happiness in life, then it should follow that the attainment of happiness must not only be a worthy goal to pursue, but that it must surely be the ultimate goal of every living individual.

One of the most important steps towards the realization of this goal is the acceptance of one’s responsibility towards oneself, and while I recognize the absolute primitiveness of this notion I find it necessary every once and again to remind myself of it. Perhaps this is what M meant in her skit, “This is earth, I live in Cairo, I am human, and I intend to be happy…!”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"It is not necessary that whilst I live I live happily; but it
is necessary that so long as I live I should live honourably."

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) German philosopher

Monday, November 20, 2006

Land of the brave...

From Ha'aretz

The IDF canceled a planned air strike on the home of a militant in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday after several hundred Palestinians barricaded themselves inside the building, an IDF spokesman and witnesses said. Palestinian sources said the protest against the planned IAF strike was first of its kind to have in effect prevented an air strike. An IDF spokesman said the strike had been called off so to avoid inflicting civilian casualties. Hundreds of Palestinians formed a human shield around the home of the militant in Beit Lahia late Saturday to prevent an Israel Air Force air strike on the building, residents said. "The attack plan was canceled because of the people there," the spokesman said. "We differentiate between innocent people and terrorists," he added. The spokesman vowed Israel would continue its strikes against militants, and accused gunmen of using the civilians in the camp as human shields. People flocked to the home of Mohammed al-Baroud after he received a warning from the army late Saturday giving him 30 minutes to leave the house. Barhoud is a commander in the Popular Resistance Committees in the town who is in charge of firing homemade rockets at Israel. Crowds of people stood on the rooftop and in the yard of the home. Israel routinely orders occupants out of homes ahead of air strikes on suspected weapons-storage facilities, saying it wants to avoid casualties. The incident in Beit Lahia was the first time Palestinians have tried to prevent such an airstrike.The crowd chanted anti-Israel and anti-American slogans, and people said they were prepared to give their lives to protect the home. "Yes to martyrdom. No to surrender," the crowd chanted."We came here to protect this fighter, to protect his house and to prove that we are capable of defeating this Zionist policy," said Nizar Rayan, a local Hamas leader who joined the protest...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Last Saturday The US expectedly vetoed a draft resolution for the UN Security Council to condemn the killings of 19 Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip by Israeli Defence Forces.

This is the second time this year the US vetoes a draft resolution on Israeli military operations in Gaza.

Ten of the council's 15 members voted in favor and four -Britain, Denmark, Japan and Slovakia - abstained.

Various news sources reported Rice and Bolton saying the draft was "unbalanced" and "biased against Israel and politically motivated".

The US has a long history of its own "politically-motivated" vetoes and negative votes against resolutions condemning Israeli actions in the Middle East.

The draft called for Israel to cease hostilities and withdraw from Gaza but also urged the Palestinian Authority to act to end violence - including rockets fired at southern Israel. The draft also called the Quartet – UN, US, EU and Russia– to take immediate steps to stabilize the situation, including through the possible establishment of an “international mechanism for the protection of the civilian populations.” It also urged the Secretary Genral to conduct an investigation into the recent Beit Hanoun killings which Olmert and the IDF are claiming was a technical error. A claim which independent United Nations human rights expert Miloon Kothari has rejected saying the attack indicated premeditation. He also urged Israel to stop destruction of homes and infrastructure, and called the international community to impose military sanctions against Israel.

In response to the ongoing crisis, the United Nations Human Rights Council will hold a special session this Wednesday on Israel’s recent military actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

According to Palestine Campaign's website, casualties since 25 June 2006 include:
- 342 Palestinians, mostly civilians, 64 children and 15 women, killed by Israeli Forces.
- At least 1186 Palestinian civilians, 344 children and 49 women, wounded by the Israeli Forces gunfire.

More statistics and in depth information can also be found on the Israeli human rights group, b'Tselem's, website.

On a lighter note, the Arab League announced it would lift the financial blockade on the Palestinians in defiance of the United States. What I'd like to know is what the fuck were they doing endorsing it in the first place!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Beit Hanoun Massacre

I ran with my husband into the road outside. I was hit by shrapnel on my side. There was smoke and dust everywhere. It was like a fog. It was hard to breathe. There were heads decapitated. I saw my aunt Jamila's leg flying. I tried to help her but she said, 'Run for your life'.

Haneen Athamneh, 20, one of the few members of the Athamneh family to escape the shelling with her life.

Eighteen Palestinian civilians, most of them women and children from the same family, have been killed on Nov 8 as they tried to flee a barrage of Israeli artillery shells fired on and around the house where they had been sleeping minutes earlier.

More than 50 people were wounded, 14 of them are in serious condition. All but one of the dead were members of the Athamneh family and included six children under 16. They were killed when they rushed out into the dirt road beside their four-storey building after the first shell struck, punching a hole two feet in diameter through the roof.

Large puddles in the road were still dark with blood five hours after the attack.

Extracts from The Independent



8 November 2006

Prof. John Dugard, Special Rapporteur on the situation
of human rights in the Palestinian territories
occupied since 1967, issued the following statement

On 25 June 2006 Israel embarked on a military
operation in Gaza that has resulted in over 300
deaths, including many civilians; over a thousand
injuries; large-scale devastation of public facilities
and private homes; the destruction of agricultural
lands; the disruption of hospitals, clinics and
schools; the denial of access to adequate electricity,
water and food; and the occupation and imprisonment of
the people of Gaza. This brutal collective punishment
of a people, not a government, has passed largely
unnoticed by the international community.

The Quartet, comprising the United Nations, the
European Union, the United States and the Russian
Federation, has done little to halt Israel's attacks.
Worse still, the Security Council has failed to adopt
any resolution on the subject or attempt to restore
peace to the region. The time has come for urgent
action on the part of the Security Council. Failure to
act at this time will seriously damage the reputation
of the Security Council.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Alexandrian blogger arrested...

Check Karim's blog here. I personally don't agree with a lot of his opinions but his arrest is unconscionable and expressive of the regime's persistent violations of basic rights like freedom of expression. You can find links and more information on the Free Karim campagin website.

Extracted from 3arabawy:

CAIRO, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Egyptian security forces have arrested a student blogger whose writing was critical of Islam and the government, security sources and rights activists said on Tuesday. Arabic blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, a 22-year-old aspiring human rights lawyer, was arrested in the coastal city of Alexandria on Monday. His detention was the latest crackdown on political opposition by Egyptian authorities following arrests and beatings at street protests earlier this year, despite calls from Egypt’s U.S. ally for political reform. “The accusations directed against him are that he published opinions aimed at disturbing public order, insulted the head of state and defamed Islam,” said Sally Sami Program Officer at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRInfo), which is representing him. “It is becoming more and more obvious that the government is not keen to reform or allow true democracy where differing opinions can be voiced.” Security sources did not detail exactly which comments prompted authorities to hold Suleiman, who his lawyers said was expelled this year from al-Azhar University, Egypt’s most prestigious seat of Islamic learning. Suleiman has criticised al-Azhar’s dominance in religious thought and said Muslim clerics were partly responsible for sectarian strife that followed a knife attack on Christian worshippers in Alexandria in April, according to Gamal Eid, Executive Director of HRInfo.

INTERNET FREEDOM Suleiman was the latest of several bloggers to be arrested in Egypt, where news of his detention came shortly after rights group Reporters Without Borders added Egypt to a list of worst suppressors of freedom of expression on the Internet. Egypt joins 12 other countries on the list including Cuba, Myanmar, Iran and Turkmenistan. RSF said it was also concerned at an Egyptian court ruling that an Internet site could be shut down if it posed a threat to national security. Suleiman was due to appear before prosecutors on Wednesday. His arrest was unusual in that he was arrested solely because of comments made on the Internet, activists said. Other bloggers were mostly picked up during anti-government protests earlier in the year. Several have spent weeks or months in jail.

The early bird catches the earthquake

It's 6:30...can't sleep, all of a sudden I feel dizzy and my head twirls, I think ok this is it I'm finally collapsing from weeks of insomnia...then I see the lamp-stand next to me wobble, I can't be imagining that!...yep, it's an earthquake. It was short but I reckon no lower than 5.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Monthly Rant, otherwise known as Insomniac Detention

Many recent events, twists and turns, have all led me to the writing of this post. The Downtown rabid eid attacks against women, Sheikh El Hilaly’s comments likening unveiled women to naked flesh devoured by wolves (or cats or dogs or something), posts by Forsooth, Amnesiac and Freedom for Egyptians, and my own preliminary meditations are all to be blamed for the bellow rant.

Although it is incredibly misguided of people to characterize and judge others solely based on their attire, it would be equally naïve to completely disregard it. Since the time humans began exercising choice in the design of their clothes, garments began to represent and signify things beyond their initial function of protection. Dress codes were applied to primarily distinguish class and social/ political strata. Eventually, religious notions expounding the sanctity of the body, particularly that of the females', stressed and enforced conservative attire as an exigency of righteous adherence to the faith. Colonialist exploites also strengthened the belief that nakedness resembelled backwardness, the civilized world took pride in their elaborate and exquisite garments for they distinguished them from the savages. Gratuitous display of flesh has thus been for many years, by many cultures, frowned upon; denoting some sacrilegious irreverence to the holiness of the human shrine that is the body.

Thanks to the sexual revolution, liberal movements, and Larry Flynt, these notions have been heavily attacked and in many cases torn down. Yet dress codes still persist, and women, for the most part, whether through personal choice or societal pressure, wear, cover and/ or reveal themselves, to express something of their identities. Nevertheless, regardless of how much time women, or men, spend delineating what to wear and what it may say about them, there will always be room for incongruity between the image they think they’re portraying and what others perceive. The clothing and fashion industries, TV, cinema, religious canon, tradition, upbringing, etc, all play an influential role in manipulating and determining, the parameters of what we perceive as acceptable, in social, cultural and now more than ever, religous terms. Specifically when talking about women's attire, the lines between sexy and slutty, conservative and provocative, etc, are all played on, blurred and continually explored and negotiated, to feed an age old fascination and obsession with the female body as "a thing of beauty"; something to marvel at, covet, seek, reveal, cover, etc… In conservative societies such as ours, class, liberal or religious values are to a great extent reflected in, and hence distinguished by, attire and outward appearance. To consider a woman who dresses provocatively a slut, is a gross misjudgment. To consider that she may be a little more liberal, than say a veiled woman, is a valid assumption.

However, the problem doesn’t specifically lie in the perception and subsequent assumption of a woman’s chaste or immoral nature based on her attire. We can’t hold people accountable for their perceptions and opinions, but we can and will hold them accountable for their actions. The real crisis lies in it somehow becoming acceptable and legitimate to justify violations against women using culturally biased perceptions to draw relative moral judgments on the chastity or immorality of the victim. To hint that a woman shares blame for an attack against her, of any sort, because of her attire, is as preposterous and malicious as blaming a victim of a race related attack for the color of his skin. It is truly disgusting to witness vile actions be tolerated by the assumption of some moral high-ground that under the guise of guiding women to safer living does nothing more than remove the burden of shame from the perpetrator and place it on the victim. The roots of these remarks lie deep in patriarchal misogyny and they ultimately provide further cover to sexual offenders and rapists.

Harassment is not acceptable, rape is not acceptable, any malignant action whatsoever aiming to harm another individual is NOT ACCEPTABLE. And while we’re at it is equally unacceptable to preach with feigned love or chastise with violent indignation a woman for not veiling; infringements on freedom of opinion and expression are NOT ACCEPTABLE. The door to moral equivalency has been wide open for far too long and it is time to seal it shut. Misogyny, intolerance, and the oppression of dissent should all be consciously rejected and actively fought against. We must strive for another world for it is possible.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"He who would do good" wrote William Blake, "must do so in minute particulars. General good is the plea of the scoundrel, the hypocrite and the liar." It is also the plea of most political ideologues who do not hesitate, and often in the name of "the People", to persecute in minute particulars for the sake of the general good. The idea that heaven on earth is possible through the implementation of a political ideal is one of the most destructive ideas we have ever played with: Extract from Jeremy Taylor's Book - Ag Pleez Deddy - a South African musician

Thursday, November 02, 2006

...On the dynamics of Egyptian living

Posted on 3arabawy

EGYPT: Urban poor turn to the street to make a living
31 Oct 2006 13:19:35 GMT
Source: IRIN

CAIRO, 31 October (IRIN) - The poor in Egypt's heaving capital city, Cairo, are increasingly turning to selling cheap products in the street as a means to survive despite its limitations, say specialists.

"We have a 'street society' in Egypt. So when families need extra money to survive, street selling is one of the easiest ways to get it,"said Dr Sarah Loza, a sociologist who runs SPAAC, a social policy NGO in Cairo.

Street vendors have become a major part of Egypt's large 'informal sector' – unregistered employment without taxes or benefits – which some experts say makes up around 30 per cent of the national economy.

"If you can own your own farsha, you are better off. Maybe in 15 or 20 years you can get your own shop," said Galal Ibrahim, a 19-year-old unlicensed street vendor in Cairo's crowded Ataba district."

'Farsha' is street seller parlance for their merchandise, which can range from food to shoe-shine products. Street sellers usually lay out there wares on a wooden table on the pavement.

Ibrahim works for someone else who has the capital to buy the men's socks and underwear that are his farsha. His boss pays him 20 Egyptian pounds [about US $3.50] a day to hawk these clothes on the streets.

Ibrahim's hopes to save the 200 Egyptian pounds [$35] or so that he needs in order to buy his own farsha and start making money for himself. On top of that, he says he will need some money to cover all the bribes and fines that are a normal part of a street seller's outgoings.

Dr Alia el-Mahdi, a professor of economics at Cairo University and a specialist on the informal economy, says there are around 300,000 street vendors trying to make a living on Cairo's choked and polluted streets. "The numbers of poor street vendors are not getting smaller, at best they are staying the same," she said.

Severe limitations

However, street vending has severe limitations, according to those who have been plying their trade on the pavements for years. Education, healthcare, and even basic personal security are often out of their reach.

Ibrahim is one of many thousands of young Egyptians from the poorer southern region who left school for low-paid informal jobs. Many feel that even if they could afford to continue their education, there would be no well-paid jobs for them in the end.

"I dropped out of school in Luxor to come here. The 'work-hard-in-school-and-you'll-succeed' thing doesn't work there," Ibrahim said. "I've been here [on Cairo's streets] five years, and it is better than working for 50 Egyptian pounds [about US $8.50] a week in some factory near home, if I could even get that kind of job."

While Ibrahim has aspirations for further commercial success, others count on street trading as a job for life.

Umm Magdy, 72, has been selling her farsha on downtown Cairo's al-Bustan Street since her husband died 15 years ago. She makes ends meet by selling batteries, insoles, plumbing tape and various other accessories that passers-by might stop for on their way home.

"I rent a shack [to live in] for 100 Egyptian pounds [$17.50] a month," she said. "I have three sons to provide for; the first is mentally ill, the second is in jail, and the third is unemployed. I get 65 Egyptian pounds [$11] a month from my husband's pension. Apart from that I have no healthcare or pension, and I have to make everything else from what I can sell. It's hardly ever enough."

According to most analysts, Egypt's recent economic growth, which has averaged 5 per cent annually over the past five years, is not benefiting these informal workers.

"Economic growth doesn't mean equality or equal distribution. There is still no mechanism for transmission to these parts of society," said professor el-Mahdi.

With an unemployment rate of around 12 per cent, and significant bureaucratic obstacles to setting up a small business, when extra cash is needed many families and individuals simply step onto the street and start trading.

However, street vendors in Egypt are often arrested and harassed by police and security services. The law nominally requires vendors to pay a fee of 50-100 Egyptian pounds [$9-18]for a street trading licence. The licenses are hardly ever granted, however, for fear of inviting a new influx of vendors from the countryside.

Instead, a constant cat-and-mouse game ensues between illegal vendors and the municipal police – known as the 'baladiyya'. Vendors say they pay regular bribes to the police to ensure their continued tolerance.

"When the normal police come round, we have to give them money," Ibrahim said. "If we don't give it, they send for the baladiyya. If the baladiyya come, they take all your farsha and you have to pay a fine of 110 Egyptian pounds [$19]. You don't get the farsha back."


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Culturally specific protocols and the dynamics of Egyptian living

Egypt is a state where ultimately law and logic are either enforced, or suspended, depending on the whims of those who wield and hold the reigns of power. Centuries of oppressive governing, with its single purpose of perpetuating existing power structures, have embalmed the culture with faithlessness in the judicial system and an overwhelming sense of helplessness in the face of tyranny. Anything can happen, at anytime, anywhere, to anyone, and for the most part, there's not a damn thing you can do about it. Zowar ElLail for example, a euphemism for state security officials who raid homes in the dead of the night, is but one example of government practices that serve to instill a sense of fear, weakness and vulnerability amongst citizens. Laws are disregarded by the very arm of the law whose job it is to uphold it, by association, people have lost any trust in the justice system and have thus taken matters into their own hands. From market disputes, to civil affairs, to government/ citizen relations, power, in its diverse forms, and the will to exercise it, is what governs the land.

Ostensibly, Egyptians seem an apathetic languid bunch, a popular notion that continues to gain widespread appeal, especially amongst the bourgeoisie and the ruling elite. Egypt's woes, be they illiteracy, unemployment, pollution or its growing intolerance with its self, is frequently attributed to its apathy and ignorance. I believe there is some truth to this accusation, although I decline to slam it on a particular segment of the population alone. However true it may be, it is equally true that Egyptians have for centuries exercised wit, intuition and the accumulated heritage of thousands of years of experience to circumvent, maneuver, exploit and demolish the many obstacles and barriers implanted in their path to self determination.
Tangling with the regime and its imposed “barriers to self determination” is not simply a struggle for political freedoms but more importantly, a primordial survival instinct for sustenance, shelter and security. From this tango, Egyptians emerge as some of the craftiest most creative people on the planet.

To be continued…

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

See no evil...

When prompted about the incident, the Ministry of Interior stated they received no formal complaints. I don't deny their claim, which if anything is testament to the people's complete lack of faith in the security apparatus, but what is infuriating is the knowledge that the police were there, at the scene, witnessing the carnage, and decided to do nothing. But in their defense, the perpetrators weren't chanting against Mubarak.

Anyhow, Dream TV apparently did a story. The coverage is mild at best; mere mention of the incident and a few brief eye witness accounts. I’m hopeful the story will pick up more steam, perhaps even encourage a nation wide awareness campaign that will eradicate misogynistic attitudes…!

Ps. Video is in Arabic and was posted by Wael Abbas

Friday, October 27, 2006

Who let the dogs out?

URGENT: Based on recent reports (English/ Arabic), we are compelled to issue the following health and safety warning to all Egyptian females:

A vicious mutation of a virus commonly known as "Rabid Heat" has been recently detected in downtown Cairo and is giving experts reason to believe that it may have spread into a full blown epidemic. Found in all males, the virus remains harmless in its dormant state. Under certain conditions of mutual consent, the virus has even proven useful, however, if left to ravage the body, the virus causes excess releases of testosterone which disrupts the flow of oxygen to the brain, closing off nerve synapses and shutting down all brain activity which inevitably leads men to behave like rabid dogs in heat.

Scientists cite strong moral fiber and respect for women as the only deterrent to the virus's horrid symptoms. As Egypt's stock of these remedies are in short supply, Downtown is hereby declared an infested zone and women are urgently requested to carry mace and exercise extreme caution for the remaining days of the eid holiday.

The writer of this warning is, saddened, sickened and enraged but most of all sorry for the inconvenience caused; we're hopeful that newer modified versions of the Egyptian male will hit markets soon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

El Eid Far7a!

I've always loved the eid morning supplications "Takbir" sang after fajr right up to the eid prayer. Like a siren's captivating song they enchant and beckon sleeping souls to the mystical source, and with the rise of the waking sun, the chain grows more resonant, more resolute spiralling as it were all the way to the heavens. I sat with my eyes closed hugging my knees to my chest swaying as the words took form and danced within the endless sea that stretched before me...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Illustrated Fantasies

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Falaky Theatre to attend the premier of Attar's new play. It was a delicately constructed high budget sham, but that's besides the point. After the reception I saw a guy sitting in a chair, alone, hunched over a notebook, sketching. I'd been recently very intrigued with illustration and animation and occasionally fantasize about a project that renders Cairo life into a comic book, graphic novel or a cartoon. After doing a little research I found a couple of interesting designers, Mohammed Fahmy in particular came to my attention through an ad campaign I was recently part timing on. I like him because he utilizes both photography and illustration and is stylistically eclectic. He also publishes an online design-based magazine that invites graphic designers worldwide to submit works centered around a particular theme. Another group is File Club who a member of which I believe was at a time related to Nermin Hammam's design arm Equinox. All of the aforementioned epitomize a sort of a new contemporary funky Arab cool design that draws inspiration from traditional, orientalist, cartoon and pop art concepts.

But this post isn't about them, it's about an illustrator named Essam Abdulla, who I saw sitting in a chair, alone, hunched over a notebook, sketching mad patterns gnawing on his membrane. Campus Magazine did a small exposé on him in their last issue, (the very same one Forsooth graces the pages of ) and printed a couple of his images, one of which has Mickey Mouse, amongst other things, emerging from a guy's penis.

His work draws faint but really interesting comparisons to Gazzar's nightmarish sketches. Check out his animation below called "Assortment of Undigested Seafood" on youtube. If this link doesn't work then go directly to youtube and search Undigested Seafood. It's disturbed, violent, nervous, haunting yet cheeky and strangely endearing...I love it!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Cultural boycott and misinformation

This is a response written by Anne Marie Jacir to Elia Suleiman's boycott of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Felt obliged to post it...

Many of the opponents of a cultural boycott of Israeli institutions have been spreading misinformation about boycott and dismantling the hard work of many people. The most incorrect and most harmful fabrication is that the boycott is directed at individual Israelis. Elia’s Suleiman’s recent letter brings up some very important points, namely that certain Israeli individuals have indeed been mistreated at film festivals recently by people who also believe in boycott. This reality is a shame and should be addressed. To be clear, the call for boycott has always been very explicit –always directed at institutions or organizations that receiveIsraeli government funds and/or remain silent on Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinian people. It has never been directed at individuals. In all the letters, petitions, calls and information about boycott, this has been made absolutely clear. That is not to say that some people in the world, some who have happened to sign the boycott and some who probably don’t even know acted in ways that are harmful, racist or unfair.

Secondly the boycott is not called for "by Palestinian and Lebanese artists". The boycott is, in fact, called for by Palestinian artists and asking for the support of the international community in this struggle. If you look closely at the signatories of boycott, you will see that the call is from 123 Palestinian artists. In the longlist of non-Palestinian endorsements, you will also see that infact, more Israelis and Jews have signed in support of boycott than Lebanese. As a supporter of the boycott, I believe in what it attempts. As Nelson Mandela said, boycott is not a principle but a tactic depending on circumstances. For many, boycott is a non-violent method to resist the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Especially at a time where, after 58 years of resisting Israeli oppression and apartheid, nothing else has worked. So when certain individuals act in ways I may not agree with, I know they do it as independent people. And certainly not in the name of the boycott I signed and believe in. And with all respect to the Israeli filmmakers who were mistreated, the case for boycott is much bigger than the random incidents that made them feel isolated. As true supporters of the Palestinian cause, I would hope they would understand that and that thei solidarity is not so fragile or based on what happens to them at film festivals but rather at what happens to the millions of Palestinians struggling for their freedom every day.

Annemarie Jacir

Galloway on visual communication...and much more

Not to linger on the whole Jack Straw/ veil diatribe, but I think Galloway, albeit a bit radical, is a brilliant and powerful speaker... felt like sharing. I personally don't much like the niqab and refuse to place it in the balance with the veil, but again this isn't so much a statement about what I believe in or stand for...I just simply like the guy's thought process, his humor and his commanding presence.

ps. Thanks D for emailing this to me. Keep 'em comin babe!

See Galloway video here

مش عاوز استحماااااااااااااا

I have a feeling I can spend hours delineating the many overt and covert meanings at play here...but mostly I'd like to know why they're so determined to give him a bath, and why he's so adamant against it?! Is it perhaps not a bath at all and they're going to drown him in broad daylight, and if so, would the egret in the background be considered an accomplice if he doesn't notify the police?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

...What dreams may come

Is anyone else offended by the new Ministry of Tourism ad campaign? Have you guys seen the print ads and outdoor lightboxes displaying images of chamber maids, waiters and street sweepers with the message "Tourism creates jobs for you and me" brazenly written underneath. I'm not mocking the service industry, but to present these menial jobs to the people as part of a national unemployment project is not only rude, it's short sighted and just plain bad economics. In their rabid pursuit for foreign investments the NDP have sold our dingity to the highest bidder, and managed to reduce us to a nation of panderers whilst trying to convince us that it's all for our own good. I think we should come up with a counter campaign that demands more for our children. Begad A7a!

ps. if any of you have pictures of these ads please let me know and I'll send you my email so you can forward them.

A commentary on commentaries...

This is my comment on the post Issue of the Veil on Basil Faulty's blog "Ramblefish" which discusses Jack Straw's latest call for the removal of the face veil. The post is essentially a comment by a Maggie and Basil's very articulate and balanced reply.

I had been pining for a while over what I perceive as the need for critical engagement that goes beyond reflecting phenomenon but rather analyze, critique and produce further knowledge. What this entails is first an understanding of the issues then mounting an intellectual and creative challenge on the paradigm of acceptable vs. deviant. I consider this post an initial modest attempt on my behalf to begin this process and utilize it for further projects.

First of all, FGM is a custom that predates Islam and has roots in African tribal culture. It is practiced in only some corners of predominantly Muslim countries and still in some parts of the African continent. There is mostly general consensus about its ills in Muslim societies, be they medical, social or psychological, in fact, the highest religious authorities in Egypt have condemned its practice and the government has taken real steps to eradicate it. The fact that many still perform FGM is due to ignorance, which drives this, as well as other equally detrimental social practices.

Now, while some of us here are fighting to expand dialogue on notions of nationalism and identity, the west ironically continues to speak with the tongue of extremists like the Muslim Brothers who consider Muslim countries a single homogeneous bloc, completely forgoing the rich cultural diversity of over 52 nations sheltering over 1.5 billion people. In places like Egypt even elements in the Christian minority practice FGM, is that also Islam's fault? Consider if you will how Tunisia has banned polygamy, or how Turkey bans the hijab in official spaces of work. Are these not countries that continue to consider themselves Muslim? Yet the west chooses to remain conveniently ignorant of the diversity of Islamic interpretation and remain steadfast in its accusations of Islam as a terror wielding female oppressing religion. We blame ignorance for the spread of HIV AIDS in Africa and not a sort of cultural vice specific to Africans. When someone has the audacity to blame gang violence in America on an African American cultural penchant for violence we don't hesitate to call them racist, yet it’s become acceptable today to berate Islam, as religion and culture, and call it aggressive, irrational and oppressive based on erroneous and ill informed western constructs and perceptions motivated by xenophobia and intolerance rather than genuine interest and intellectual engagement as
Mr. Jack Straw will have us think. The circular discussion over the veil represented for the most part by the equation “religious oppression vs. freedom of choice” frankly bores the life out of me. The truth is, there are Muslims who consider the veil a “farida” (religious exigency) and there are others who don’t, and while it is taken for granted that unveiled women are more liberal than others, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the camp you choose determines the degree to which you oppress women or the number of your relatives who have flown planes into buildings. There are also far more interesting intellectual debates taking place in Muslim societies and some very progressive stances being taken, but the west, and the defunct religious pundits who make it their life’s work to reply to the their inanities, are completely blind to the dynamics of our culture which continues to shed skin and re-invent itself, finding new ways of expressing itself, like the phenomena of young veiled women’s fashion in Egypt, which circumvents prevailing conservative tendencies while still upholding their traditional values; because regardless of what the veil may represent or symbolize, at the end of the day people just want to fit in, women are no exception.

It is difficult for a person from the west to have access to locally brewed critical thinking, let alone grasp the multilayered nuances of the region's rich cultural fabric, yet it is no excuse for someone to insinuate that only people in "free societies", meaning the west of course, are offended by oppression as Maggie suggests in Basil’s post The Issue of the Veil. Let's look at this statement in light of
a poll recently conducted by BBC which revealed that in Israel, where the largest percentage endorsing torture worldwide was found, the majority of Jewish respondents (53%) favor allowing governments to use torture to obtain information while in contrast, Muslims in Israel (who represented 16% of total responses in that country) are overwhelmingly (87%) against any use of torture. I wonder if people will now infer that Judaism encourages the use of torture…

Like the late Edward Said explained, the world needs humanists who truly pursue emotional bonds with one another that transcend differences. It would do all of us a favor to pursue a balanced and critical understanding of the topics before launching vituperations and ill founded criticisms, there are those who practice Islam and yet (lo and behold) believe in justice, equality and compassion...

Friday, October 20, 2006

It's the people stupid!

New generations of affluent Egyptians bred to believe that wealth is the benchmark of good governance have been roaming Cairo extolling the virtues of Gamal's "development" policies and the wisdom of assigning the reigns of government to business men and entrepreneurs . They believe that the NDP and Gamal's entourage are truly spear heading the movement for reform in Egypt, and frequently refer to City Stars, tax breaks on cars, Carfur, airport renovations, new gated suburbs, etc... as positive steps towards a "better" Egypt. I get so mad I can hardly form intelligible retorts to their sodding flagrant stupidity. Which is why reading Maria Golia's recent op ed is like balsam 3ala alby. It's a lucid and sincere commentary on the importance of prioritizing social justice over the NDP's insidious and corrupt economic development programs which further propagate Egypt's class prejudices and the hoarding of national public assets to the benefit of the rich. My one consolation is that come the grand rebellion, and it is coming people, their heads will be the first to roll.

Egypt's development projects only benefit the rich

The centerpiece of successful - i.e. long-term, organic - town and city development is usually a community enterprise or institution, concretized by a structure that declares the community's primary need or intent. For example, a harbor serving fishermen, a marketplace for farmers or craftsmen, a place of worship serving a spiritual ideal, a university serving the acquisition of knowledge, or a town hall, where citizens can agree upon their priorities for growth. In Egypt, however, the prevailing belief is that the centerpiece of urban development is the luxury resort, serving tourists, or gated residential communities, serving the rich.
Although developing relatively empty tracts of desert requires a decision regarding a future town's raison d'etre, choosing to cater to foreigners or the wealthy limits the town's growth from the outset by its exclusionary nature. But the choices of Egypt's decision-making elite are not designed to be inclusive, and are therefore neither organic nor wise.
Instead of responding to the needs of the larger community - for good schools, medical facilities, affordable housing, proximity to viable employment - the decision-making elite that has successfully monopolized Egypt's direction for decades tends to choose the quickest, most self-enriching path. Moreover, it tries to sell its self-aggrandizement to the public as altruistic economic progress. The most commanding feature of Egypt's real-estate development since the onset of the 1990s reform is the fact that it couldn't be less real.
It started with a series of compounds in Cairo's satellite cities whose names reflect their aspirations - Dreamland, Utopia, Beverly Hills - many still awaiting a prosperous clientele. Concurrently, a burst of seaside building resulted in the aesthetically and environmentally disastrous development of the mainland Red Sea and Sinai coasts. The last intifada slowed or stopped many of the smaller Sinai projects; their concrete shells dot the coast from Taba to Sharm el-Sheikh. But the deeper-pocket investments are works in progress, luxurious resorts with residential elements, none of which appears to have achieved 100 percent occupancy or sufficient permanent habitants to justify claims of town-building.
Last year, President Hosni Mubarak endorsed tourism-related development, since tourism is Egypt's biggest hard currency earner, and it employs 10 percent of the work force. This year, Tourism Minister Zoheir Garranah announced a commitment to add some 15,000 new hotel rooms annually, since every room under construction yields five to seven jobs; once built each represents two to three direct, and numerous indirect, employment opportunities.
But these jobs are mostly menial, and top management positions often go to foreigners. The tourism sector involves only a third as many workers as agriculture, which contributes 25 percent of GDP and exports, yet there are no plans of equal enthusiasm to develop that.
Presumably the many subsistence farmers obliged to sell their land as real estate can serve foreigners or rich compatriots as chambermaids and bell boys. Half of the country's poor live in the ramshackle villages of Upper Egypt, the area with the country's highest infant mortality rates - 36 percent above the national average. Will tourism help salvage these towns, indeed any of those in provincial Egypt?
Admittedly, the possibility of developing vast tracts of pristine coast is more alluring than addressing the messy problems of existing urban settlements. But when the choices for development ignore the latter to such an extent, one wonders if it deserves to be called development at all. Tourism relies on uncontrollable factors, i.e. foreign visitors who may or may not come by the millions. But supposing they do, it's hard to see how more beach resorts will benefit the Egyptian majority, or create attractive living alternatives for the population of approximately 30 million concentrated around Greater Cairo. http://www.dailystar.com.lb
Nevertheless, a new wave of luxury resort building, billed as town development, is under way. It differs from the previous one in that the targeted land includes the northern Mediterranean coast and Greater Cairo, and it is being sold in large parcels, not to Egyptians, but to Gulf investors. The latter need new destinations, not only for their "surplus wealth," but for themselves. Gulf tourism in Egypt is up around 20 percent over last year. Gulf investments valued at $200 billion have been withdrawn from the United States post- 9/11, and aside from Europe, Egypt offers a comfortable alternative.
A Dubai-based group called Emaar recently acquired over 6 square kilometers of prime coastal land around Sidi Abdel-Rahman for $28 per square meter, with plans to invest $6 billion. Investment Minister Mahmoud Moheiddin says the project will include two five-star hotels, a marina, a golf course, a shopping center, a mosque, a helipad, and sports facilities. Emaar also acquired several other major parcels slated for upscale development, one in the Qatamiyya district in eastern Cairo and another in the city center.
Qatar-based Barwa Real Estate also has city-building plans for a huge plot in Qatamiyya, with an investment of over $1 billion. The upscale, Saudi-financed City Stars Mall occupies almost a square kilometer of the Nasser City district in eastern Cairo and represents $800 million in investment. The Kuwaiti Kharafi Group had the jump on the above mentioned investors. It purchased an 18-kilometer strip of Red Sea coast near Marsa Alam in 1998 for just $2 per square meter and its five-star "town" called Port Ghalib is already receiving guests.
Moheiddin says that other important sales will soon be announced. He also tells us that part of the proceeds from the Emaar sale will help fund restorations of Egypt's historic hotels. Great. Assumedly, they will also help fund the removal of some 12 million land mines left over from World War II, whose presence, paradoxically, protected parts of the Mediterranean coast until now.
Although the government trumpets these investments as economic achievements, it is nevertheless selling a priceless patrimony out from under its citizens' feet, as if it owned this land by sovereign right. Its willingness to award high-bidding foreigners with key developments that cannot significantly better the lot of average Egyptians betrays a failure to prioritize, conceive and finance its own infrastructure improvements. These major sales and their proposed developments should be seen for what they are: not seedling towns or economic cure-alls, but the last resort of an ethically and imaginatively bankrupt elite.

Maria Golia is author of a book on Cairo titled "City of Sand." She wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR.

Ya Nakhletain fil 3alaly...!

Forbes conducted a survey to identify the top 40 Arab brands. Al Jazeera came in first followed by Emirates Airlines then Al Maraie Dairy products, whose milk brand incidentally constitutes one of my favorite childhood memories. The list is dominated by Gulf based companies but four Egyptian brands managed to make it on the list. Not that I give any credence to these kind of surveys but I heartily enjoyed seeing El Nakhla shisha tobacco outshine Orascom Construction which came at the tail end of the list. Check out their website for kicks and learn how "moassel" came into being http://www.nakhla.com.

To boycott, or not to boycott is not the question...It's how to boycott

Boasting more flair than talent, I'm personally not very fond of Elia Suleiman's work, nevertheless he has a point...

To whom it may concern,

I hereby suspend my signature from the petition of Palestinian and Lebanese artists, which calls for a boycott of, what was supposed to have been, all cultural activities participated in and sponsored by the state of Israel. I signed and vehemently supported this petition against the barbaric Israeli war of destruction of Lebanon and its continuing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. My suspension comes in protest of the practices of certain artist petitioners who recently participated in cultural activities around the world. Such practices involved the boycott of filmmaker (individuals) known to these petitioners as(individual) artists who strongly support Palestinian and Lebanese resistance, align themselves with these struggles in political and cultural domains and whose artistic work testifies to nothing but that; artists whose moral and intellectual stands and artistic production haunt segregation walls and promote and engage in Palestinian and Arab culture around the world. Yet these filmmakers have been boycotted, ordered away, deserted as people of the plague because they happen to carry the Israeli identity. Whether misguided by anger and frustration due to the latest episode of Israeli military’s monstrosity, by nationalist sentiments, or even by sheer ignorance, I am nevertheless appalled that these Palestinian and Lebanese artists, themselves victims of Israeli military policies and layers of occupations, can turn at such ease and mimic the power of authority of their own oppressors and conduct exclusionist policies, excommunications and random intellectual lynching, all of which is tinted by chauvinism and other heresies that stem from the dark side of nationalism. If the involved artist petitioners suffer from a shortsightedness that reaches only the frontiers of identities, they should be aware that they now themselves have commenced putting up checkpoints and demanding IDs to select who goes in and who goes down on his or her knees blindfolded and facing the wall. Given who these Israeli artists are and the nature of their political work, in the name of whom and for what sacred collective cause did the respected petitioner artists and filmmakers line their fellow Israeli artists and filmmakers on the wall for a cultural execution?! And after the easy to reach easy to frame ‘comrades’ are sacrificed and gotten rid of because of who they happen to be, one cannot but wonder who will be next on the witch hunting list?!I wish that the suspension of my signature will not itself become the centre of debate or finger pinpointing. I also wish that I am neither approached nor reproached for my decision by my fellow petitioners. I rather hope that the suspension can raise question sand initiate an evaluation of the text of the petition and the course of its application. And rather than an immediate response for my decision, I call upon the petitioners to take time and reflect upon themselves the issues raised here. I call upon them as I will call upon myself to enter a process of self evaluation enhanced with a critical approach of one’s own consciousness as to what composes the red lines of moral and political boundaries. I say this because I believe that should one extend his or her sight beyond one’s own checkpoints, and should one’s vision pierce through the walls he or she reincarnates for him or herself, she or he might find that it is not at all a question of identity that one should uphold in the quest for truth and justice. It is instead a question of identification. It is a quest coated inside out with the pleasures and pains which extend and communicate our individual humanity with the rest of humanity. Isn’t that after all what art is all about?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Lest we forget...

Bullocks, I can't sleep...perhaps watching a video about the IDF's tactics in Gaza and Rafah had something to do with it. Dispatches: The Killing Zone is a harrowing look at the Israeli army's indiscriminate killing of civilians through the lens of a British reporter investigating the death of international activists and journailists in the Occupied Terretories. Although a little too scripted for shock appeal, it manages to translate some of the horrors of living under Israeli occupation. Not for the faint hearted.

Just a thought...

I've discovered that I enjoy commenting on other people's blogs more than I do writing my own. Not sure if there's a name for this condition...Maybe that's what jesters do?!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pure Egyptian fun!

Couldn't translate it...!

The trials and tribulations of J. Alfred Prufrock

I was diagnosed once as clinically depressive... This was a while ago when I was going through my existential crisis thing as an undergrad; in a strange warped way it gave me a sense of accomplishment; "clinically depressive" I wore it like a badge!

The Doc. administered a concoction of anti depressants that turned me into a turnip. I remember falling asleep once in a restaurant right between the main course and dessert; just put my head down until khkhkhkhkh……..It didn't take long for me to quit the meds and the quack...

Since then, and over the course of 10 years I've intermittently visited psychologists, psychiatrists, and councilors, who have managed to add adult ADD (attention deficit disorder) to the roster, but from what I hear there isn’t a person on the planet not suffering at least one symptom of this condition.

I’ve been thinking recently of seeing a therapist again. I don’t ask myself many questions anymore about why I might need therapy; I just follow my instincts when they tell me I need some kind of help. I believe in therapy, but I hate dependency so I usually don’t last very long on the couch, which probably explains why I keep going back.

Guess I’ll be posting about that soon…

Monday, October 09, 2006

I ♥ Hizbolla

There's something to be said about Nasralla's ability to rally the various Lebanese political/ religious sects under the same banner. If like me you spent July, Aug and Sep of 2006 absorbing nothing but news and analysis about the war then you must've realized his sheer brilliance; the man's a master orator and a PR genius!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sir they have kitchen knives

Print Ads from the 30's and 40's

Personal Space

Ok, so I live with my parents, yes I still live with my parents! And no I haven't seen Failure to Launch! Been contemplating moving out for years, but both family issues and monetary constraints have played equal roles in making that an ever elusive dream. As a guy in Egypt I have no 'seroius' obstacles to moving out but alas I was born with a tender heart and after a spaced out adolescence that almost cost me any real chance at making it in this world as a coherent aware individual I set out family as a main priority. Truth be told, they're great, not only do they provide me with the shelter that I have hitherto been unable to provide for myself, they really care and have proven themselves as worthy parents and friends, I am truly indebted to them with my life (and I really mean that too!)

So what seems to be the problem? Well, I've chosen a very difficult path for my life, for starters I gave up studying Economics at university and decided to take up Literature instead. I gave up the corporate sector after peddling lies in the advertising world for a while, then chose to work in 'development' but not the megabux USAID version rather the real 'get your hands dirty-on the ground' civil society version, and in arts and culture of all fields. So after a couple of years of exciting work with with various international and local organizations, reality strikes again; I'm turning 30 soon, I got no job, I live with my parents, and oh can't find the right girl.

The question is, is it at all possible to find that job that will make use of my passion for creativity but will also allow me to live a comfortable life.. I mean, many of my comrades, either artists, writers, curators or arts managers face the very same issues but we all get by, project by project, rabbak karim. Trouble is I don't want to live with this insecurity anymore, I had grand plans for a family with lots of kids, a decent home, a dog in the back yard, trips to exotic locations, a good education for my children...I did mention I lived in the Gulf right?!

Anyway, I'm not very rational right now, just had to vent after a seroius clash with the powers that be...can you believe they're asking me why not work in a bank! It's not their fault really, they just have no concept of what I do, or why, they just keep repeating it could still remain a hobby on the side while I work somewhere that'll pay me lots of moneeeeeyyyyyy!

The fucking rat race man...

Saturday, October 07, 2006


What I want to achieve, what I have been striving and pining to achieve, is self realization to see God face to face...All that I do by way of speaking and writing and all my ventures in the political field are directed to this end

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I remember a time when I transcended the line between wakefulness and sleep. My dreams informed my conciousness and my wakeful existence fed my dreams. There was a harmony of being and clarity of sight that carried me through life with amusement and certainty. I look back now and liken that phase to the few seconds on the crest of a ferris wheel's curve into the heavens. As the cabin slowly rises above the park the cacophony subsides and the smell of metal, sweat and candy corn give way to a thin jasmin scented breeze. You reach the top and suspended in mid air high above everything you've left behind, the shimmering colores of unexplored rides beckon...and you almost feel special.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Private Clinic
Neon lights shroud the room in an austere sterile white canopy. An old blood red carpet lies massacred over the dusty parquet in the middle of the room. On top of it a pile of magazines vie for attention over a rectagular glass table. In the corner, a gigantic lamp with a metal stump and an orange shade sits atop an antique wooden chest with bite marks on its corners and the fading memory of a tea glass on its surface. In front of him a large painting hangs choking on the weight of a golden baroque frame. Underneath it an oversized green leather reception chair seats an impish man puffing nervously on a cigarette, his face hardly discernable from within the shroud of smoke. The man's left arm rises and falls to a silent rhythm, his hand contorts violently digging its nails in the armrest when it falls and its palm when it rises. He stares at the painting instead. A woman draped in white linen sits on her knees, half turned, smiling coyly over her left shoulder. He thinks he can spot a nipple peeping out of her left breast. "Ustad Mohammed", he pounces startled, the book on his lap falls to the floor. “Aiwa” he says clumsily raising his right hand as he bends down to pick up the book with his left. “Etfaddal”, the nurse says ushering him down the dark corridor.

Monday, October 02, 2006