Saturday, 24 June 2006

My Summer (Part 1: Dubai, Saudi Arabia)

I’m actually supposed to be packing my bag right now, but as usual I’m procrastinating. It’s been a long time since I last wrote, so I thought I should write a quick update on what I’m doing and take advantage of my ‘break’ from packing.

I’m in Dubai as I write this, where I’ve been for the past week, and I’m packing to go to Saudi Arabia. Suffice to say, my plans have all been changed for the duration of my holiday, but at least now I’m pretty sure what I’m going to be doing until August. Basically this is it:

June 16-22: Dubai
June 23-28: Saudi Arabia
June 28-29: Cairo
June 30-July 2: Ain Sokhna
July 3-11: Denmark
July 12-August 5: England

Dubai was basically just a week long shopping marathon , and my family and I are now going to Saudi Arabia for Umra (the lesser pilgrimage) in Mecca, and then to Medina to visit the Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) mosque. We’re then going back to Cairo since I have to be there for Noha’s wedding, who’s one of my closest friends. Typically this is annoying my siblings, who are incensed that I’m cutting their vacation short, especially since we couldn’t leave until after the 15th, since that was the wedding of Dina, another of my friends. But ma’lesh (never mind), they’ll get over it After Noha’s wedding I may be travelling to Ain Sokhna, which is a couple of hours drive out of Cairo, for a 3 day leadership conference, but I’m still not sure about that since I have a lot of stuff to do in the 2 days before I travel again.

I’m travelling to Denmark on July 3rd for a conference hosted by the DUF (the Danish Youth Council), only I hope my visa will come through ok, because since I’m not in Cairo the embassy has had to make do with a copy of my passport, but I have to admit that they are being very accommodating al hamdulela (Thank God). Omneya, a friend of mine who also went to the conference in Abu Dubai, has been invited to attend this conference too, so I’m glad I’m going with someone I know at least. The flight back home from Denmark stops in London, and since I have to be back in England on the 15th I’m going to stop there instead of heading back home and stay with my grandfather who works there until July 15th when I head to Birmingham.

I’m going there because I’ve decided to join they youth holiday/ summer training program organized by Ebonite Travel and Amr Khaled, and I’m really excited about it; I received the itinerary and it looks like a lot of fun. After that I’ll be back in Cairo for the month of August, probably working (if I can get work), or travelling to Alexandria for more ‘holiday’ time. I know, I know, what happened to all my plans for working right? Oops, my mum has just realized that I’m not packing, so I better go back to work, and will continue this later insha’ Allah (God Willing)…

Ok, so it’s two days later, but totally justified. Being squished on a plane sitting next to my two little brothers (Hussein and Abd-Allah aged 10 and 11) for hours, and then in a car from Jeddah to Mecca (there’s no airport in Mecca) is enough to give anyone a headache. And then once we got to Mecca my dad didn’t like the view from the suite we were in, and so we had to move again, and it’s a really long story I’m sure you’re not interested in. In any case, we performed the Umra, and it wasn’t too crowded al hamdulela (Thank God), but the sheer number of people gathered to pray tribute to Allah has never ceased to amaze me. Mecca is seriously one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.

So where was I? Oh yes, work. Well, alas I never heard back from P&G, and that was seriously the only job I really wanted. I got another interview in General Motors, but by then I’d already decided to take advantage of the opportunities to go to Denmark and England, since I felt they were really good ones that I shouldn‘t pass up. I got an interview as a teacher in a school for 5 year olds, which really isn’t the field I want to pursue, but I love kids and it was only for the duration of June so I thought it would be a good chance to work and still be able to go to Denmark and England. Unfortunately though, it seems the school put my CV in the wrong pile, and it was only at the end of the interview when the headmistress told me that even though she would usually place me a co-ed teacher since I have no teaching skills and then make me a full teacher after a while, she was so impressed with my interview that she was going to make me a full time teacher, and that term started on the 5th of September! It turned out that I was being interviewed for a full time job instead of the summer one, which in hindsight I should have realized since my interview was around mid June, which meant that the summer session was almost over anyway. But it was still an ego booster to realize that I was capable of getting a full time job so easily

My family then started nagging me to travel with them, and in the end I decided to go, since there I didn’t really have any other pressing obligations. I’d already had my interview with Seif (the new SU president) for the position of editor-in-chief of Dimensions, which I’m glad to say I got , so I wasn’t really busy. And speaking of Dimensions, I’m supposed to be recruiting people who are taking summer courses at AUC, only when will I do that? Hmm, I guess I could hold interviews on July 1st and 2nd if I don’t end up going on the leadership conference…

I knew if I travelled I’d be missing out on stuff back in Cairo like the union awards and the first outing for the new SU high board, but I thought it would be a good chance to spend time with my family, since I was so busy during the semester and will be abroad for all of July. So here I am, sitting on the sofa overlooking the Ka’aba (what Muslims believe is Allah’s house on Earth), writing this while I listen to Animal Planet, which my little brothers are fascinated with. Did you know that hyenas are the only animals that have shark teeth? Lol.

Until next time,
Salam Alaykum (Peace be upon you),

Wednesday, 7 June 2006


Ok, so it’s 1 am and technically 7/6, but that date is not coming around for another 1000 years; I have to “preserve” it somehow, especially with the scary connotation to it. I just came back from watching “The Omen” with my brother in City Stars, which is the only mall worth going to in Egypt if you can stand the hoards of tweens running around. Really creepy movie, but the original soundtrack still beats the new one hands down; that “TA ra ra RA” music shall haunt me to the end of my days. But kudos to Egypt for releasing it on the same date as it is worldwide; gone are the days when we had to wait months for the release of a new movie…

So I’m FINALLY done with the semester, and my grades were pretty good elhamdulela (Thank God). I went to the Student Awards Ceremony (SAC) and I got voted as the best member in Dimensions, which was pretty unexpected, but very welcome nonetheless.

Speaking of Dimensions, I’m running for editor-in-chief, and my plan is actually due on the 8th, but as usual I’m not even half way through. I will finish it though, no worries There are two other candidates running for the position, and one of them is the senior Arabic editor. He’s a really great guy and really qualified; even if he gets the position instead of me I’m sure he’ll be great. Don’t really know much about the other candidate, but good luck to him too. And me of course

I’ve basically been lazing around for the past week, staying up late and sleeping till noon to compensate for all the sleepless nights I went through. I’ve had an OC marathon weekend, and I’ve FINALLY gotten around to reading those books I ordered from Amazon and cairobookmark (Cairo’s version of Amazon) weeks ago. I had a big party when semester ended to celebrate, and the only sad thing was saying goodbye to so many of my friends. That’s the worst thing about having study-abroad friends; they’re only here for a semester and then they leave to all four corners of the world. I’m gonna miss you guys soooo much

The one thing I have accomplished this week is that I’m finally driving alone!! It doesn’t sound like much, but trust me it’s huge. I’ve had my license since November, but have always had my driver sitting next to me when I drive. You see, in Egypt people:

1) Never signal
2) Cross 4 lanes in under 30 seconds
3) Don’t even know what those red/ yellow/ green things are for
4) Never pay attention to stop signs
5) Think a slow driver is one who isn’t going 20km over the speed limit

and so on and so forth. Plus it’s always SO crowded, and I think the most telling sign of this is that people always refer to distance in minutes and not in km. And no one EVER sticks to lanes—it’s like they don’t exist. And if you signal that you’re switching lanes, the people next to you speed up to overtake you before you do. Seriously, driving here is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, especially since I’m so bad with parking and with directions (which as Egyptians people have to give you, regardless of whether or not they actually know where you’re going). I got lost in Tahrir my first day on my own, which was kind of scary since it’s so crowded and it was so late and I found myself in these really run down alleys. But I found a nice taxi driver to show me the way, so all’s well; hopefully, I’ll get better with time Now I’m only waiting for a new car as my (very late) birthday present hehe.

My “lazy time” is now officially over. My little brother is turning 10 tomorrow, and I’m in charge of organizing his birthday party at Mirage City, which is where (according to him) “everyone” has their parties. Two of my friends are getting married this month so I need to start choosing material and making dresses which I’m really bad at FYI. There’s also the Dimensions issue coming out at the graduation ceremony which we need to get started on, only most of my reporters are on holiday so I’m not really sure how we’re going to go about it, but hopefully it’ll be ok. I also really need to clean out my desk, if I leave it any longer I’m sure I’ll discover some hitherto undiscovered species living there lol

I still haven’t decided how I’m going to spend the rest of my summer, it’s just that there are so many options it’s difficult to choose the one that will be the best for me. I got offered the chance to go to another conference related to the Litaarafuu one I was on, but this time in Denmark. It would be a great experience, but since everything (jobs, trips etc) all start in or around July 3rd, I need to pick only on thing. But until I do, I will of course keep you updated on my life, as messy and unorganized as it may be

Until next time…
Salam Alaykum (Peace be upon you)