Wednesday, 31 December 2008

In my "Inbox"

Hello dear,

I am so happy that you emailed me. I understand that it is not dry or formal, but sometime I myself organize myself better in the written word. Also when we talk face to face we may interrupt each other and lose our lines of thought. I totally agree with you.

Reading your message, I have some thoughts.
First, it came to my mind on the way to Alexandria that you never replied to my words (since i always speak like a machine-gun giving no one room to take the mic :) and only then it struck me that i may have upset you.

I read your email and realize things that I never knew. All I know about your experience about taking hijab off is that the people at the place you worked were really bitchy, you said something about looks from the neighbours and said that your parents and brother especially are OK and fine and understand where you are coming from. That's all I know. I didn't realize that your were preached by others.

I guess my ignorance about this comes from the fact that we have been barely keeping in touch in recent years, and naturally when you said those things to me in the car in Roxy the first time i saw you without it, you were just brief as the moment allowed. Believe me I am totally in the dark when it comes to these feelings and experiences u expressed below.

It is very important to me that you remember that from that day in Roxy till the day in front of berry Cafe, I never really gave you a speech about the matter. Yes, I admit you could sense that my eyebrows were up :), but I asked you out of curiosity "when did this happen?' and similar questions.

Ma3lesh one last thing, please forgive me for getting the feeling that you are confused about hejab. I based it on the conversations we had in the summer about neqab. I made an assumption and I was wrong... forgive me. You told me in the car in Roxy that you had a headache for the diversity of opinions and that's why I kept thinking about it. At times i think what if I had the same confusion, what would be the right conclusive argument.

Believe me I wasn't patronizing you, or painting a picture of the girl who went for haj and seen the light and back to guide the astray. and what i told you was my true thoughts that crossed my mind therein Saudi, not jumping at a chance to preach you dear, didn't realize that you were preached before, I just wanted to answer the question you asked me long time ago about how do we know that hejab is the right thing, that's all.

Discover Islam on your own dear, I am sure you get extra thawab for it. It is also true that nothing is wrong with young people who were bred from birth into Islam without the mental process of disbelief and questioning and then belief, example Osama iban Zaid, and abdulal Ibn Omar. The Arabic below:

ثبت في الصحيح عنه أنه قال: { سبعة يظلهم الله في ظله يوم لا ظل إلا ظله } ومن ضمن أولئك { شاب نشأ في طاعة الله

habibti, No one has the right to be part of this process you are undergoing, because it's between you and God. People should stay away because You NEITHER harm them with hejab or lack-of OR ask for their contribution, advice, or help.

It's unfair that you are prejudiced against because you once wore the veil. What if you were never veiled, no one would then have hovered and hovered, and hammered and hammered on the subject. It is unfair, because what is the difference.

Love for now dear,


One reason I wanna leave Egypt

Today is one of the few days in the year when I go home, walk strait into my parents’ room, say a good evening and say “Do you know what the worst thing you both have done in your life is? It’s teaching us manners.” This is usually followed by a narrative of the incident that triggered my anger and frustration with the way my parents raised me. Today, it was a stupid man at the supermarket who tried to jump line and rudely forced me to raise my voice in a public place for the first time in my life.

Without getting into details of what happened, because it is not really the point here, I have to say that I could have avoided the scene had I asked the cashier to just say who of us came first and not talk to the guy at all. But I had to since he waived hands in my face, shushed me, etc.
It took the usual to calm down. Venting to mom and dad, a shower, dinner, and watching cartoon (Last time it was Ratatouille. This time it is WALL-E).
Two hours later, I'm left alone with my thoughts. Day after day, I'm actually more determined to leave Egypt. You might say "No one leaves their country because of a rude man at a stupid supermarket" and I couldn't agree more.

I want to leave because my brother feels safe walking on the streets any time of day. I don't. He doesn't check his shadow to see if someone is following him. I do. He does not press the central lock the moment he gets into the car. I do. He doesn't pray every day that no one grabs him on the street. I do. He hasn't started the habit of walking with his MP3 on because he doesn't want to hear the nasty things someone might harass him with. I do. He does not get people jump line in front of him because he's a man. I do because I'm a girl. He can answer his cell phone on a cab, the subway, or the street. I don't do that to avoid the double possibility of harassment.

To keep it short and simple, let’s say that one major reason I want to leave Egypt is being "a girl who doesn't feel safe any more." Other reasons are already here in previous pages. You’ll sure hear more soon.

Since I can’t leave today or tomorrow morning, I’ll stay forever grateful for Walt Disney.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Ladies Only Plz

It seems guys that deadlines are my muse. I have a life changing exam in twenty-two days and as usual I’m not studying enough (at all?) Instead, I'm reading a new book, visiting the dentist, chatting with my mom, writing to you, AND started going to the gym! yay...

It is the same place where
coach Nour works. The reason I chose this gym was not to check him out. I haven't run into him yet because he's a gym room trainer and I've subscribed for the aerobics only.

I had phoned them three days ago and an Omar said "Why don't you come attend a class for free and then decide?" I accepted the invitation.

I arrived just in time, got changed, and joined in. It was a very good class, I have to say. The coach knew what she was doing and I didn't get bored. It took me around ten minutes to realize that, although it was an "L.O." (ladies only) class, there was a young lady in her mid twenties wearing tight rather see-through white pair of pants, tight pink long-sleeve cotton blouse, and a headscarf. Yes, a headscarf. If you're Muslim you might know where she's coming from. Ready?

Ok, in Quraan there is a verse
(24:31) that says women should not show their beauty except to a limited group of people among whom is 'their women'. There are two interpretations for this 'their women': either Muslim women only or women in general. So apparently she believed in the first interpretation of the verse. Which she is entitled to and I'm OK with. I myself used to go to the gym room and exercise with my veil on and it was perfectly fine. What I found interesting was the fact that throughout the whole class, especially during the cool down, she was actually showing more than her hair; her back, stomach, and %^&*$# !!

I finished class and went upstairs to get changed. I have to say that the ladies changing room is one of the least place I like anywhere. Although there was five vacant cabinets where they can get changed, they insist on just doing so in the middle of the room. Well, it's just not comfortable, man! Why do you impose your body on others!! Most of them don't have something to show off actually, which makes it EVEN more uncomfortable.

I then went to the reception check the class schedule and complete the registration.
- Evening, Omar.
+ Evening. How was the class?
- It was very good, thanks. So, I need your help with the schedule.
+ Sure.
- Since you know all classes.. errr.. I have no problem at all with mix-gender classes except with those where we have to use mats.

(Silence and puzzled eyes)

- I mean if it is hip hop, jump in the air kind of thing, cycling, etc .. cool. But lying on the floor with a gentleman next to me .. you know?
+ Oh, I see your point.

He grabbed a highlighter and started marking the L.O. classes and those that match my criterion.

+ We have great Salsa and Tango classes.
- Sounds interesting, but no thanks.

hmm, the guy does not seem to get the point. He gave me a look close to 'how non-progressive old-fashioned'

- You can sign me up for belly dancing, though.

He raised one eye brow without looking me in the eye. After all she's not that ...

In my "sent" mail

Habibty Yasmina,

How's Alexandria? I hope you're enjoying your work and stay there :)

The one and only reason why I'm sending you this e-mail is that I love you, so please keep this in mind while reading.

Yesterday, when we were sitting in your car, I was really touched seeing tears in your eyes. I was touched even more by the sincerity of your words; I know you care for me a lot.

There is one thing that you probably don't realize. Like everyone else who has talked to me about that Hijab issue, your urge to advise me blinded you against whether I want to hear it or not. Actually I don't. And starting today, I won't. You realized the truth behind hijab. Why not let me realize it too for myself?

It's been ten months now since I took the headscarf off and incidents of people preaching me or giving me 'that' look hasn't stopped. This all caused me more trouble than good. People just want to push me to do what they think is the right, to dress like them, to eat like them, to talk like them, etc. This has all given me psychological pressure I won’t get into discussing now. People want to advise, to say what they want at my expense, to get anything off their chest and throw it onto mine. And not in a million year will I comply unless I want to.

I will just do what feels right for me. I've forever taken myself out of stupid fake social frames: "the polite girl", " the girl who drives in the right lane only", "the straight-hair girl", "the future submissive wife", "the honor of the family", "the hijabi girl". I'm redefining myself according to what I want only. I'm going to do this at my own pace and no one else's. Let the rest of the world keep fooling each other and themselves.

Back to the hijab issue. For me it's the least of my worries. Apart from the fact that there's a God out there, I'm questioning every single thing in Islam because I want to understand and base my faith on what I believe, not what family, sheikhs, TV programs, and books tell me to believe. I also know that God gave us brains to use them

I've starting a journey and know that God will give me guidance. Even if I may seem to you and others like someone who is heedless or confused, I know I'll come out a much stronger Muslim than anyone else. I'll have based faith on conscious efforts and not on what’s written in my ID (female, Muslim, single)

Why I'm telling you all this? Because I really care for not having any hard feelings against you the way I do for some others. In no way was this message meant to be dry or formal. It’s just a piece of my mind we never get to talk about because we’re always busy talking about shoes, purses, and men :))

Love xxx


Tuesday, 23 December 2008


I was at school this morning. Heading to the library with a carry mug of hot tea. Although I had decided to boycott university food because it was unhealthy and OVERpriced, it was too cold to stick to principles.

I stopped by an unhealthy-packed-stuff stand to get cookies.

-- Afternoon, do you have milk or butter cookies?
~ Yes, here you go.
-- How much? A hundred pounds? :)
~ No, 99.95 only ;)
-- Oh, that's less than Mubarak's 99.99% votes
~ You, see? We're better than other things in life.

I handed the guy the 4.50 pounds for the cookies.

It struck me how people who may have nothing in common turn out to have something in common. An bitter understanding realities.

Saturday, 13 December 2008


Cairo, 1.35 pm
Library. Second floor.

Looking for an Arabic radio station. I couldn't find a good one, or have I developed a westerner ear?

I'm not in the mood for heavy gulf 'g' and 't' if you know what I mean.

Thirsty but will drink later.

Poor Matt is reviewing my writing sample.

I should be telling you what has been going on since I last blogged but don't have time now as you can see.

Back to searching for an Arabic radio station. Can't find any.

It's about time to start writing this damn last paragraph of the paper.
No, work on the summary table first.
Deadline in four hours.

Quraan station. That's better now.

If only the guy at the computer next to me stops munching crisps!

Alright! 12 Times New Roman, double spaced. Make it 11, 1.5 spaced. Looking good.
"In this literature review I deal with the efficacy.." Efficacy? Where did i get this word from? Stupid GRE!! Effectiveness? Efficacy?
"In this paper I have reviewed three studies that deal with.."

I am not really in the mood for analyzing Quraan verses now. AOL will do.
Hmm, Jazz Latino is fine.

Mocachino is the right thing to do now.

Going down the stairs.. hop! hop! hop!

Five little firemen standing in a row....1, 2, 3, 4, 5 they go
Up on the engine with a SHOUT .... Quicker than a wink the fire is out

Here is the smiley librarian. Smile and walk strait out. It's not time for that "Whassup!" chat plus he doesn't know I'm probably at least six years older.

Where has the sun gone? el gaw bard (it's cold).

- One mocaccino please. Here you go, LE 12.

Mmmm, warm and chocolatey, but the best part is the small cube of chocolate they hand you with every cup. Cafe Tabasco, you're the best! I hear thier branch in Mohandessin serves beer. Is it wrong to buy from them, then? Well, it'll be haraam (forbidden) to stay at hotels then. Long story. Let's not get into this now.

Climbing up the stairs.. up! up! up!

Five little monkeys jumping on the bed .... One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said .... "No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"

Man, I'm out of breath. I need to start believing in sports before the end of the year.

Sneakers off, cross-legged, hair down although you may not be able to figure that out.

"In this literature review, I deal with a question that all teachers have to answer every time..."

Gosh, ending a paper is as hard as ending a relationship.

"In this DAMN literature review, it was clear that the decision regarding whether to provide feedback on writing or not, in what form, and how often..."

Cairo, 4.56 pm
Library. Second floor.