Thursday, June 28, 2007


On three separate occasions, Egyptians have told me I look like one of their actresses, Nelly Kareem.

The first time, within 3 days of arriving in Cairo, someone I met told me so.

Then, once on the metro, some girls poked me while I was engrossed in my iPod to ask me if I was an actress. I looked at them a little strangely, and just said no, meanwhile thinking, “If I was an actress, I would definitely not be riding this metro..."

Then, today, in Al-Omda, while ordering a sandwich, the guy behind the counter babbles some Arabic to me, and as usual I'm staring at him clueless, while he gestures towards my face, "Same, same..." then in the midst of the babble I catch "Nelly" and I finally get it. I aiwa'd myself outta there, go home, go online, and here's what I find:

I really don't think so.

.....Maybe its the big cheeks and way too much eye-liner?

Monday, June 25, 2007


Now, how often do you get the above mix of people in one house?
[top to bottom, left to right: Venezuala, Singapore, Nigeria, USA]

Saturday, June 23, 2007

byebye nomadlife

so the old address had to go. It's time to get rid of a blog that has my first name on it, and it was also time to change my template which I was getting really tired of. Although I'm not sure why i bothered, I don't seem to have any time to blog anymore these days.

Whatever the case, this is the new URL. Created in the name of my child in Egypt. Change your links.

~Image courtesy of my friend, Sagar Ghoting, from a trip in Siwa

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I finally decided to get a haircut — my first in Cairo since I moved here 8 months ago. I’m very, very fussy about my hair and I cherish my tri-yearly visits to the stylist, where I relish in getting my long mane washed by someone else, feeling their fingers massage my skull, and then getting a bangin’ blowdry and walking out feeling like Beyonce. I think these experiences are worth the money I pay for them. In London, I had my salon. Biba’s on Marchmont street, the only place I ever trusted with my hair, in the entire 3 years of living in Russell Square.

So, I asked a colleague for a recommendation, and she pointed me to Villa 36 in Messaha Street, Dokki. She warned it would be expensive, but seriously, compared to 40 quid in England, what’s expensive here in Cairo?

I make the appointment, show up at 3pm and true to their name, it is a villa, a pink one at that. The place is decorated luxuriously, with dark rosewood tables and satin-cushioned chairs (not wheelies, actual solid wooden chairs). The washing room has a mere 3 basins, and is divided from the rest of the boutique by wooden Japanese translucent doors. I’m offered a lemon juice upon arrival, and a Marie Claire, and I immediately love them (I haven’t read a magazine in months!).

I get my hair cut by the head stylist, I presume the owner, a French-Lebanese dude who makes me stand up (now that’s never happened before) as he chops my tresses. The guy is a riot, as camp as a head stylist in Cairo should rightly be, and he beckons his employees with a curled index finger should they happen to slip up. He looks at my hair while cutting it, and asks me in his uber-french accent, “did yoo kolor your hair?”. I nod sheepishly. “At home?” I nod even more sheepishly. Everyone is dressed in plain crème-coloured uniforms, and the simplicity and taste is endearing. They even make me wear a matching crème jacket.

In the end, I am LE 250 poorer (70 for a protein conditioning, 160 for a haircut, 10 for the drink) — but the feeling of being pampered is priceless. And yes, I bounce out feeling like Beyonce, this time, every time.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Soad was looking beautiful of course.

The wedding was in the Semi-Ramis Intercontinental, in an awesome grand ballroom, and all of us (current and ex-aiesecers) sat on this far side where they had these awesome, slick high tables and chairs. Soad and her new hubby came in amidst a big bangin’ dance troupe, playing drums and singing. We only arrived at 10.15pm mind you, dinner was served around 1am, and we left the party at 4am! The whole night was generally eventful, from her grand entrance, to her singing Shania Twain to her husband on a mic in front of the entire ballroom, to the dancing we got to do, to the live band performances and wedding singers, a photo display of her childhood, to the grand array of food served, it was non-stop fun! Free-flow strawberry, guava, and orange juice obviously helped...

I was surprised at how different a bride behaves here though — at home a bride is expected to stay sitting, look down to her lap, and act all meek and shy — my sis got told off once for showing her teeth! And here Soad was SINGING live in front of everyone, and DANCING her ass off — She was so cute, she got up several times to dance to AIESEC roll calls with everyone (I think she requested a medley of AIESEC songs — now that’s a diehard aiesecer) And even during dinner, while sitting with her hubby, she was waving her arms about and singing to every song — hats off to her!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I got invited to my first Egyptian wedding. Soad, an ex-AIESECer here, was sweet enough to give me an invitation to see how the entire thing plays out in this country: from the signing of the marriage contract in a mosque, to the henna night to the wedding reception itself.

Yesterday was her henna night — an all-girls dance party held in her house in Mohandiseen. it’s interesting that in the south Asian cultures and even here, it’s the women who usually get a bachelorette party (mehndi’s/ holuds/henna nights) and the men don’t usually do anything. Whereas in the West, its usually the Bachelor night for the boys that’s a big feature before any wedding.

Anyway, the henna night ended up being a blast — upon entering, I got handed a belly chain to tie around my ass (this made me realize it was a mistake to come wearing my salwar kameez, a belly chain requires something tight to be worn around the ass, like tight pants or a tight skirt).

There are companies here that provide full services for your henna night — from the dj to the henna artist, to a female photographer and 2-3 belly dancers, who also dressed Soad up in different outfits and played the part of egging Soad’s guests to cheer and clap for her as she paraded around and danced for us. There were a few things they made her do which made me wonder where they were derived from, as they didn’t seem like Egyptian traditions. They kept taking Soad upstairs to put on different costumes, with about 5-6 dress changes, once as a Bedouin girl with the niqab on her face, and once she had a Hawaiian hula skirt on (which I’m certain is not an Egyptian custom) and so on. It was pretty funky anyhow.

The belly dancers. One of them totally blew me away. She was probably the best I have ever seen perform. She was totally not attractive, kinda plump, but her constant cheeky smile, her energy and her dancing abilities, totally made up for it. Now I understand why men go ga-ga over fat, ugly bellydancers. I literally couldn’t take my eyes of this woman’s ass, and for the first time ever, I went home wanting to learn to belly-dance myself. I am strongly of the belief though, that belly dancing does not make you lose weight around the belly, contrary to popular belief. This woman must do this routine every single night, and as confident as I am that her abs are probably made of stone, she certainly had a healthy slab of fat above them.

So I went home having attempted some belly-shaking', getting some henna tattoos, eating an awesome buffet dinner, and I also found out that I know a lot more Egyptian songs than I realized! Waiting on train platforms and keeping my window open for street wedding music has clearly paid off…

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

a key to understanding Cairean men

Apparently, fava beans (fuul) are an aphrodisiac for men.

This explains alot of things here in Egypt...... Maybe if fuul was to be banned here, us girls would for once be able to walk the streets here in relative peace.