Monday, September 24, 2007


I'm generally a fan of anything or anybody who opposes the hegemonic dictators of this world, but what? what the HELL?

"Sayed Askar, an Al-Azhar cleric and Brotherhood MP, says the bloc will also oppose any law that might aim at banning female mutilation. "Cutting must be upheld because it is an Islamic practice," he said. []

Where does this idiot come from? Al-Azhar itself has deemed the practice un-Islamic. So where does this idiot come from?

Sorry — but my general frustration at the warped gender relations in this country, coupled with this migraine brought on by hunger is causing me to feel extreme fury at the slightest thing, but unable to express myself more articulately than mere repetition of angry questions.


Friday, September 21, 2007

ram kareem

It's my first ever Ramadan in Egypt. I approached it with excitement, and so far its meted out nicely. The first day started off with a big bang, after an entire day of starvation, my colleague and friend, Tom and I cooked a big South East Asian iftar for like 20 of our friends. I did Tom Yam Squid Noodles and Tom did Peanut sauce chicken with nasi goreng and fried noodles. I scoured 3 separate supermarkets in Zamalek trying to find all my ingredients, and by the end of it all, when everyone had been nicely fed, I just collapsed. Went home, fell asleep early and totally missed sohoor with my friends.

But since then, it's been more low-key. Eating with friends at 6pm everyday is quite nice, leaving work early at 3pm is even nicer. Trying to plan your day around the increased traffic isn't so nice. Before Ramadan, all these horror stories kept circulating about how the grabbings and hassle increases proportionally to the hunger of men in this country. A friend of mine apparently got grabbed more during the holy month than any other time of the year. Clearly, the frenzy must have culminated with the hushed up mass assaults that occurred downtown last year. What is it about Ramadan? Does the hunger make you more desperate? Is it boredom from not being able to fuel up on fuul? I say it's quite disgraceful, but with an air of nonchalance — I've never been physically assaulted (except for that 10 year old running past me and slapping my ass) myself, so maybe its hard to feel the fury until it becomes personal. Or maybe I've just become numb to the cancer that clearly exists in a society which attempts to hide mass sexual assaults on its streets rather than confront the deep-seated problems it needs to deal with. Bah humbug. Not really a topic I wanted to get into in my 'Ramadan post,' but I guess its a given. Note to oneself: Don't go downtown during Ramadan and definitely not on Eid.

Anyway, really, so far, the horrors of Ramadan I was warned about, traffic/molestations haven't really materialized. If you're clever and time yourself right, you dodge the traffic. If you live on Zamalek with all your friends, you walk everywhere. It's been great really. Fanous lanterns everywhere (still dont get their purpose), the mosque next to my house (which btw I only noticed when they started building the tent) started building its Ramadan table tent 2 days before Ramadan and now it serves free food to any passer-by. Even the Marriott sets up tables on its sidewalk! Ramadan here is definitely a different experience. People are so much more conservative here than in Bangladesh, and eating is a serious no-no on the streets during the day, something I haven't really come across (or am i just experiencing amnesia? Nabilah, is Ramadan this intense in Dhaka?)

And best of all, the weather has eased up. There is a chill in the air in the evenings, and even wearing a cardi, I no longer leave puddles behind everywhere I walk.... A little sad to say goodbye to the summer and hopping about on beaches, but its temperate-season-weekend-getaway time! Beach time is over, but it's time to go to the desert, where the night will be not too cold, but the days are not too hot, and the freshwater lakes dont turn your hair into straw! wahey!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


My levels of gluttony in Cairo have reached new heights.

Yesterday, we went to Lucille's for lunch from work, and had probably the most spectacular burger I've had so far in Egypt. It was also humungous, I couldn't finish it, so it was packed up and brought back to the office to be reheated and chomped on some other hungry time. Unfortunately, me being me, I forgot to refrigerate it and left it on my desk overnight. Woe befell me for the rest of the evening. Tom Gara and I analyzed what could possibly happen to a spectacular burger overnight on an office desk where the temperature we estimated couldn't possibly get as high as it did outdoors, and would perhaps (luckily) hover around 15 degrees.

I come back to the office today, and lo and behold, the burger is still there, and a sniff or two suggests all may not be lost. I dump it in the fridge and count the minutes until lunchtime. 12 noon, and the half eaten, probably half-decomposed, pound of meat goes into the microwave and is zapped beyond recognition. It scalds Gara's tongue, its smoke raises noses in the office. I wait to see if Gara the guinea pig keels over dying from his minuscule bite, and when he doesn't, I chow down the rest.

It sits in my tummy now. With every churn and turn, I await bravely any possibility of doom. If I survive this, and live to blog tomorrow, it will be the ultimate test and indication of whether my tummy has reached peace with the parasites of Cairo.