Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Loosy Goosy

I tried to let this slide but I can't...

About 3 years ago, I believe after breaking up with Mad N (who is now incidentally married and with child) I ran into R at the Heliopolis club. This was during my healthy jogger phase so we kept running into each other, no pun intended, completely coincidentally, which was nice. We knew each other from school but had never really developed any real friendship despite the fact that she briefly dated a very good friend of mine (who later broke her heart and who is now incidentally married and a father). She was energetic, quirky, smart, funny, in short I began developing an interest in her. After the second or third week it became obvious I liked her and I decided to invite her out for coffee, (and dessert , always dessert), to test the waters.

It was disastrous. I had just about as much charm as a cup of Cole slaw; I was nervous, sweaty, anxious, my timing was all screwed up, everything about the night was off. To make things worse, R, who apparently was still quite scorched from her previous experience, decided to shoot down all hope by bringing up the ever morbid topic of marriage. She didn't have time for any advances she said, especially those made by gits I thought. We spoke a little about relationships in general and the conversation dwindled into the usual flaccid statements people make when things get awkward. She knew exactly what my intentions were and she made it quite clear she wasn't interested. Ok, got it, thank you very much, moving on. And I did, but obviously not before trying to reach her a few more times just to make sure that I embarrassed myself adequately enough.

Fast forward two years, Jester receives a phone call in the early hours of the night, the voice sounds vaguely familiar, she jokes and giggles refusing to let on, he finally comes to, "Yekhreb beitek elhlly fakkarek beyya"!

They talk for a half hour, her questions are precise invoking details she'd apparently retained for two years. He's flattered and asks to see her. They decide to meet the following Friday. They go for a walk, he guides her through his favorite Heliopolis side streets pointing out favorite buildings, trees, and "quaint pockets of beauty amongst the rubble". They talk about African music, she dreams of Mali, he perspires as he recounts his trips to Dakar, Cape Town, Accra and Stone Town, obviously trying to impress her. It's almost romantic.

She tells him she's leaving again to continue her doctorate, shame she didn't call earlier, he thinks. He tries to see her again, sending seemingly casual messages inquiring whether she has time to sneak away from family obligations. Her response is curt, brusque, almost impatient "Brother and wife coming to visit...", no harm in being flexible he thinks "I'm free later... let me know...", "Very busy, will ring you". She doesn't.

She does manage a farewell message before she flies out, Jester feels a little redeemed, a little disappointed.

There's a dream sequence in the Hulk where the Hulk and Bruce Banner stare at each other through a mirror and suddenly the Green Behemoth punches through it, shards of glass flying, he grabs a terrified Bruce by the neck and with loathing exclaims "Puny human!".

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Petition for Academic Freedom

On December 14, the Egyptian State Security Police conducted mass arrests of students and faculty members associated with the Muslim Brothers organization at al-Azhar University in Cairo. Reports about the number of those arrested vary between 140 and 180 people. Under the current emergency laws, those arrested could be detained indefinitely. It is common knowledge that the State Security Police often use torture in their investigation of political detainees. The arrests were made in the wake of a demonstration organized at al-Azhar University on December 10 in which the demonstrators wore headbands that resemble those worn by members of the Palestinian and Lebanese Islamic resistance and demonstrated their skills at Karate and Kung Fu. The government press has presented the demonstration as a militant and violent act and has called thestudents “al-Azhar militias.” Not a single act of violence has been proven against the students and the disputed government claims revolve only around minor property damage. The demonstration was part of a larger series of protests by Egyptian university students on many campuses, including the two largest, Cairo and Ein Shams. These protests, which have included other demonstrations, strikes, sit-ins, and petitions, are directed against the persecution and harassment of active students and faculty members critical of the current regime, and their exclusionfrom student unions and university faculty and administrative committees. Such persecution continues to be carried out by security personnel on and off campus. We, the undersigned students and faculty, express our solidarity with the detainees and affirm our belief that university studentsand faculty are entitled to freedom of expression, regardless of their political views. We demand the immediate release of the detained Egyptian students and faculty of al-Azhar and other Egyptian universities and the exclusive use of due legal processesin their prosecution should it be proven that they have been involved in illegal or unconstitutional activities.