Project: Human Being

Things that happen, from my perspective, as they happen.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


This is a short blog about Egyptians abroad. I don't know what it is, but every time I meet an Egyptian abroad, I remember why I left, well, at least partially. Take this nut case I met in South Beach. Walking with my brother down the strip, speaking in Arabic, we get confronted by Ramadan. Short, bald, Caucasian, the only man on the street with thick gold chains and gold rings, as if he was shooting a rap video, bling and all. Anyhow, Ramadan starts speaking about how he's working "temporarily" for a valet parking company. We nod out heads in appreciation. But for some reason, he was compelled to go into a tirade of how he went all over the world and used to own two towers in Spain that magically fell a part, costing him 735,000 Euros. Then he boasted that he was an illiterate, and that he is the only one from a family of 10 to "make it". All this of course is very believable, and it was just nice seeing another Egyptian in Miami. Until he made up this ludacris story about how he was a "Brogrammar" in Telemundo and how he speaks fluent Spanish and that he won to "Ammy" awards. God.

Or that other Egyptian doctor I bump into every once in a while. Who keeps on preaching about the world from his point of view and every time I say something he has to fire back with an "old saying". Like when I told him I got a GPA of 3.7 he was like, "Man talab al 3ola, sahar al layali" and stuff like that. Hey grandpa, you're only 27 years old. So don't preach. Then there's the inevitable speech about homosexuality and the decadence of American morals.

Or the old Egyptian fart I see at Friday prayers who tells me..."Why did you come to the US? Why didn't you stay in Egypt?", ...well, why didn't you? I wish I had the guts to just shout it in his's none of your business!

I really don't know, why as Egyptians, do we have to act "cool" in front of each other, do we have to pull each other down, and be the first to offer each other all the wrong advice.

Oh well, looks like I'm going to use an old Haitian saying. "When you put crabs in a bucket, watch them fight their way to the top."

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The end of a dictator, faux reality?

It's official. Former Iraqi president and dictator Saddam Hussein has been hanged to death at 6:00 am on the first day of Eid (feast). People have been split about the subject and for good reason of course. Some argue that he had it coming, he was a mass murderer and put his people through decades of endless misery. Some say that he still was an Arab leader and that the American administration didn't have any right to execute him. As a friend put it, "not now...not that way."

Although I agree that the timing is a bit conspicuous, and the execution style was rather a bit off, given that he was still in a military position he should have been shot to death, I still feel happy he's gone.

Just to get things straight, I personally oppose capital punishment and see that they should've sentenced him to life in prison instead of letting him hang, like an old-style western movie.

But I just find it a reasonable ending to a dictator who killed tens of thousands of Shiites and other minorities just for faith-based differences. A person who pushed his country into a losing, unjustifiable war with Kuwait, a person who was basically a muppet.
Saddam, like Bin Laden, had appointed themselves as the Arab nation pimps.
Selling us very cheap under fake religious labels and a bad image.
I'm sorry, when people say, he was lured by the Americans, I say, that is nothing but bullshit. Even if, just the idea of him being lured doesn't make him guiltless! It actually takes me back to an old elementary school saying that my teachers used to tell me, "if he told you to jump out of the window, will you do it?".

Of course, one cannot help but wonder if all this was staged, and he'll be living a life of luxury on a secluded Island after playing the role on television.

In all cases, Saddam's death is only the start of elimination of the rest of the old-guard roster. May the picture remain in the minds of those who refuse to let go.

*Picture from Al-Iraqeya TV

Happy Holidays!

What better time to pick up this small project than now. Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Christmas again, Eid and New Year! May this year be much better for all of you than the last one.

It's time to make your New Year's resolution. Mine? Live long and prosper, if you're a trekkie. Seriously though, I have so many resolutions it's not even funny, lose weight, follow set schedules, finish the masters, find a job, and the list goes on and on. I hope this time I can fulfill at least 1/10th of what I want.

What about you? What's your resolution?

Whatever you decide to do on New Year's eve, it better be good.


Monday, July 24, 2006

London, The Big Apple and the Cheese-Steak Land!

Ok, here we go.

I have to apologize sincerely for being late about this blog, I think I was, and still am, in some sort of utter amazement and shock at my presence in the US.

Let's kick this off with my beautiful, relaxing, first-class journey to the "land of the free".

It was Sunday, July 20th and I haven't really slept for a k then, going through tons of paperwork, licenses, packing and painful good, I thought I'd stay up with three of my buddies for one last shisha on the ahwa, one last long drive in my then powerful yet minute Citroen AX allure, and so it was, we stayed up until one hour from check-in time at the airport.
After a teary farewell with my parents, I head to the airport at 6:30 am, checked in my bags and sat down in the newly renovated Egypt International Airport. They really made it work this time, excellent duty-free area and food court believe it or not. Anyhow, I ordered a pizza slice and an ice-tea lemon. But as soon as I had my first bite, they called for the passengers to board the plane. I left the pizza, bought a sandwich and boarded the plane.

Of course, and as any guy would think, I hoped I'd be seated next to a beautiful girl, or even an interesting guy working in a utopian business, but as usual, I was wrong. I took the window seat and as I sat there wondering who'll sit beside me, this beautiful girl, looked spanish, came towards me, only to deviate in the last second and sit right infront of me. I was pissed, but not as much as seconds later when I found out that my next seat neighbour was a 70 year old lady that smelled like she ran out of toilet paper and that held three mini vodka bottles. Oh God, Not Again, I thought to myself.

Anyhow, the plane took off at around 8:20 am and it took us 5 hours to reach the Heathrow Airport in London. The trip was nice, was impressed with the little personal tv's you have on the plane, food was shit (chicken and scrambled eggs - weird combination, or better yet - gas-inducing combination) the flight attendants were average and the old lady's smell was unbearable, especially when she got to the drinking part.

In all cases, we did land, and I was greeted by one of my close friends Mohamed Hani, who was just relocated to London and had only been there for a month or so. He was kind enough to give me a quick tour of the city. We went to Harrod's and saw the crappy Egyptian section, but other than that, it was beautiful. We walked a lot downtown and ate at a Lebanese restaurant and even got the chance of riding the two-storey bus.

I really loved london I have to say, such an austere city, yet very advanced, with a diverse cultural-range from all over the world. The metro-system is superb yet a bit complicated. Hmm, what else....the women....Londonese women are top-notch, that's a fact. I pitty my dear friend for having to deal with this kind of tormenting pressure on a daily basis, leek el ganna ya hani.

We ran short out of time as I only had an hour to go for the plane, I should've been there two hours earlier for check-in, but we arrived at Heathrow only five minutes late, the plane was still on the ground, but the doors were shut. We pleaded one of the ladies to help us and she radioed the plane, but they told her that it was too late. I was going mad. Five minutes. I turned to the American Airlines check-in counter. On the desk, were two lovely ladies both in their late 20's, early 30's, I asked them about the next flight and as they were checking I looked at one of the one and said, "You remind me of Jodie Foster". In the same instant that the lady blushed, the other one said, to my shock..."YAAA SALAAAAAAAM".

I was stunned, how could this beauty be Egyptian...anyhow, she was really nice with us, she put me on the next plane two hours later at no extra charge. I said goodbye to Hani and headed to the bathroom to wash all the sweat that I produced during the run to the airport.

Check-in time, it was time for me to board the second plane, after I missed the original one. This time I wasn't even thinking about who I'll sit next to, I just wanted to sleep. I've been awake for almost 30 something hours. I found out that my seat was in the middle lane of the plane, on my right were a typical american family and I got a vacant seat to my left.

10 minutes in waiting and enters a Rabbi (kahen yahoodi), and of course and as usual, to my luck, he's sitting right next to me. With a Kippah, two hair horns behind his ears and the talmoud. Rabbi Samuel sat beside me. He was quiet the first couple of hours, obviously he recognized my middle-eastern features, although I know I qualify as a Hindu. But half-way through the flight, we started talking and we even started talking about religions and stuff like that. It was a superficial conversation, but it was nice. I was testing my handling capabilities for the first time on-hand.

The flight took around 7 hours to reach New York (The Big Apple). Ahhh...I always dreamed about going to New York, spending Christmas there and all that. I was in utter shock as soon as I set foot at JFK International Airport. What a piece of shit, I thought to myself. Low-lifes scattered all over the place, garbage, puke bags, what the hell is this? And for God's sakes, where are all the Americans?

All I saw were Nigerians, Jamaicans, African Americans, Indians, Pakistanis, Latinos and Latinas, Egyptians, Chinese,, you have got to be kidding me...had edalak 3ein kaweya 3al safareya dee.

I stood in a line for almost an hour to reach the passport control unit which had a huge sign in front of it saying "We pledge to welcome you warmly into the USA". I was thrilled, I enthusiastically handed over the passport to the agent and said Hello...he didn't reply. He didn't even look at the passport before giving it three stamps. I said Thank You, all I got was a NEXT! I looked at my reflection in the unit glass and whispered...Welcome to America!

I grabbed a taxi to take me to the bus station in China Town where my brother reserved me a ticket on a bus company like West Delta aw El Sahm El Zahaby. New York is cold...not in weather, it's a cold, lonely city, with beat-up buildings and lots of slums. It was nothing like the New York I always dreamed of, but I did later see the only place I recognized...Manhattan.

Anyhow, I reached China Town only to miss my bus heading to Philadelphia and there I was, stranded in the middle of the infamous Chinese district with four bags, dragging them for a whole hour while asking for directions but with no result. The problem is that in China Town, there are no english speakers which I think is really weird. The chinese have successfully integrated in the American society without even speaking English, unlike us.

I finally reached a gas station where I asked the Indian Sikh worker about another bus station, he told me to go to Port's Authority, some sort of a 24-hour bus service station. it was 11 pm (New York Time) and my bus was at 3:30 am. I sat down for all the time just looking at the people.

I took the bus for 3 hours to Philadelphia and from there I took another cab to reach my brother in the suburbs to reach him at 7 am Tuesday. July 22nd.

Reactions, Observations and Wise-Cracking in the next post...

Until next time...

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