Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Off to Abu Dhabi

I'm off to Abu Dhabi - UAE. Be back on Monday. Will be back to some serious blogging (and photos) when I get back.

Her baby's daddy...

Ok so I thought this was funny...I have been listening to the Evansville (Indiana) Police Department through the online scanner. Yesterday a call went out from dispatch (911 call center) regarding a domestic dispute. The dispatcher said: "Caller stated her baby's daddy was getting in her face." Those were the exact words.

God, I miss the States!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Will be offline for a few days

I am not going to be posting for a few days because my husband is travelling and I have some big surprises in store for him when he gets back. Will be very busy for the next week. Stay tuned to see pictures of the surprises.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Another Apartment in Cairo

Fleeting Glimpse takes you on a tour of another typical Egyptian apartment. This one is in the upscale area in Maadi known as Degla. This apartment - furnished in the condition it is in, and without functioning air conditioning - rents for 4,000 LE (around $700.00).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Michael and Sierra

My son when he was 5

My son, Michael, when he was 5 years old. He was "volunteering" with the Salvation Army Mobile Canteen at an Amateur Radio Field day in Westchester County, New York (1993). He tried to charge someone $30 for a cup of coffee.

Happy Birthday Michael

Today is my son's 21st birthday. Because he had gotten into a little trouble, he was in jail at the time I moved to Egypt and I never got to properly say goodbye or see him. I've talked to him on the phone once since I came after running an ad in the newspaper in Princeton to find him. I told him that I wanted to go home and get him a passport and bring him back to Egypt with me. He was happy about that and said he would love to visit Egypt. But unfortunately, it looks like I won't have enough money to go home this summer or to buy a ticket for him to come. He is out of jail now, and I think he is back staying with friends, but I have been unable to call him yet and my friend in Oakland City has not seen him around town yet. My emails to him go unanswered.

Just want to tell him happy birthday. I love you very much. I miss you and Sierra misses you too. I hope that you are safe and are doing well. I hope you were excited to get the letter from "NJB" and I hope that you keep your promise to stay out of trouble once and for all this time. I also hope that one day soon, I can keep my promise to bring you to Egypt. We would love for you to come. W asks about you all the time and can't wait to meet you.

I don't know if he will see this website - but anyone reading from Evansville, Indiana, in the Oakland City - Princeton area, or Vanderburgh and Gibson County - if you see him or know him please tell him to email me.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What to do if you can't find your seatbelt on a plane

Watch this:

Egyptian National Anthem: Beladi

Egyptian National Anthem as sung by KG students at Sakkara Language School.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

You buy what?

A quick look: Cattle Car

Update on Birthday Cat

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing!"

Rest in peace little Roger

Sadly, the street puppy that A and her mom tried to rescue became very ill over the last 2 weeks. He spent several days in the hospital since last week. Unfortunately, the difficult descision to put him down was made.

Rest in peace little Roger. We will mis you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Living in Egypt: A short walk in Maadi

A short walk in Old Maadi near Maadi Canal School. A portion of the call to prayer (Athan) is heard from a nearby loudspeaker.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A great way to learn and practice Egyptian Arabic

If you are interested in learning Egyptian Arabic, but don't live in Egypt or know any native speakers, a great way to learn and practice is by watching Egyptian movies. When I lived in the States and began to study Arabic, I would play Egyptian movies on my laptop all the time. I especially love the old black and white movies. The language used in these movies is easier to understand then in newer movies. Also the old black and whites depict elements of Egyptian culture that have changed drastically in recent years. Sometimes these movies have subtitles in English which is an excellent way to learn colloquial expressions.

Here is one movie that I particularly enjoyed:

3aelate Zizi (Zizi's Family)

That one comes from Google Videos. You can find more Arabic movies on websites such as or Copticweb.
Coptic Web was a great site which worked great from the US, however, in Egypt I found that I was unable to watch the movies and unable to download them. I have recently looked at their website and noticed that they have entirely changed it since I last used it 2 years ago. Not only does the web site have a new look, it states that it charges $4.95 per month for unlimited access the the movies. If you are a fan of Egyptian Arabic movies, or a serious language learner it is well worth the investment.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Egyptian government urges women to remove niqab

The Ministry of Religious Endowments held a series of seminars last month in effort to convince 16 of it's female employees wearing niqab that the full face veil was not obligatory in Islam. One woman removed her niqab immediately after the first seminar, two others followed suit after a second meeting. The 13 remaining niqabis admit that they are aware that niqab is not a requirement in Islam, but have stated that they are unable to remove their face veils simply because they have been wearing them for years and have gotten used to it. This move by the Egyptian government actually began over a year ago when they began distributing booklets at mosques trying to encourage women to remove the niqab. However, many women felt as if their rights were being infringed upon by this move.
To the average westerner, it appears that these women are oppressed and forced to wear the niqab by their husbands or families. Actually it is the exact opposite. Many women have chosen to wear niqab against their husband's or families wishes. Some women wish to become niqabis, but their husbands have forbidden it.
Take a look at what the women themselves are saying in these two Facebook groups HERE and HERE.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I never thought I would see this day

This dog has been a cat chaser since she was a puppy. When we found the kitten the other night, I was a little hesitant to take it afraid of how the dog would react. But check it out - she loves the little guy. When I feed him she comes and puts her head on my lap and even tries to help groom him. When he cries, she sits outside the bathroom door and cries, too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Quick Look: Break time

Members of a construction crew taking a break at the end of a long day of working during a sandstorm.

Say hello to Birthday!

Friday was my husband's birthday. We had a small party but A and M were unable to make it so instead they took us out to dinner last night. We walked to Mediterraneo on Road 9. On the walk back home we found a newborn baby kitten crying by Maadi Canal School. It's eyes are not opened yet and it was shaking. There was numerous police officers standing around who said it had been like that for one day. Someone had put sheets of newspaper under it. A small crowd had gathered around it and it was struggling to get to our voices, rolling off the newspaper and onto the sidewalk. We looked around to see if we could find a mother cat, but there was none. Either the mother abandoned it or someone picked it up and took it from the mother.
A has already rescued 3 cats since she has been in Egypt. Last week she rescued a street puppy. W and I decided to take it home. I went online and found a recipe for bottle feeding kittens. We went to Metro and got evaporated milk, mayonnaise, plain yogurt, and powdered baby formula. The recipe called for plain gelatin, but I could not find any so I got the powdered baby formula for vitamins. We had the pharmacy bring over some syringes and I mixed up the ingredients in a pot with boiled water. He ate a good deal and then went to sleep in a box curled up with a towel and stuffed animal. I'm happy to say he made it through the night. I got up several times throughout the night to feed him. Today we will take him to the vet and check to see if the pet store has kitten formula.
When we picked him up A told my husband "Happy Birthday! That is your birthday present." So we decided to name him Birthday. They might have been born on the same day.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Quick Look: An Egyptian bulletin board

In Egypt everything is God's will - even H1N1 and H5N1

Riots broke out in Cairo yesterday as pig farmers trying to prevent their animals from being slaughtered clashed with police. All this while governments of the world argued about what the change the name of "swine flu" to. "Mexican Flu" and "North American Flu" were names being considered by pork producers in Brazil, while Israeli officials objected to the use of the word "swine" because pork is not kosher. U.S. health officials associated with the agricultural industry have opted for the more generic sounding "H1N1 flu". But it all comes too little, too late for the pig farmers of the world who have seen countless animals slaughtered needlessly and rapidly declining pork sales. As far as Egypt is concerned, I seem to remember the same thing happening with "Bird Flu" back in 2006. But take a look at what what people in Egypt said after 2 recent cases of "Bird Flu or H5N1 Virus":

Don’t Blame The Chickens For Latest Bird Flu Death Say Egyptians
"It was the will of God that she died. The chickens had nothing to do with it," says Husseini Ahmed Amine, 54, a furniture maker who employs a son of the dead woman, who was aged 50.

Bird flu blamed in Egypt child's death
"The police have seized the chickens from the market," said Hayem Mohammed, a heavyset woman with gold looped earrings and an aluminum cane. "Why should we be scared? We all believe in God and God's will."

"People aren't scared," he said. "They understand this bird flu scare is all a trick to kill the business of local chicken producers so importers connected to the government can make big money. That's what this is all about."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Will Big Love in Egypt prove to be a big mistake?

I was quite surprised to see that MBC4 will begin airing the American TV series Big Love on Tuesday. As an American living in Egypt, my life revolves around MBC4 (a channel headquartered in United Arab Emirates available around the world via satellite) which broadcasts predominately American shows, and MBC2 its sister station which shows American movies. I find myself happily watching shows I had never heard of or would never consider watching in the States - like The Gilmore Girls, Desperate Housewives, or Dr. Phil. But watching TV in Egypt is often not an enjoyable experience. For one thing it's all about repetition. If you fall asleep during the movie Speed - not to worry - it will be on again when you wake up in the morning. And if you oversleep and miss it in the morning, just wait a few more hours and it will be on again.

Another really annoying thing about watching TV in Egypt is the censorship. Although I have not quite figured out what their guidelines are yet. One Egyptian station broadcast the movie The Exorcist uncut in its entirety. While another station butchered and chopped the movie Babel beyond recognition. I have seen stations broadcast every curse word under the sun (although the Arabic subtitles do not reflect what is being said), and then edit and bleep things like: "mother of God", "pray the rosary", "in the name of the father", and "Jesus Christ". So apparently it is OK to say "fuck" and "shit" but it's not OK to talk about religion.

Censorship of movies does not end with TV, it gets even more absurd in the cinema. S and I went to a movie back in January. Wanting to see something English and funny we chose Jim Carey's new movie Yes Man. There were parts that were choppy and obviously something had been cut out, but when the movie abruptly ended with Jim Carey standing in a truck giving out clothes to homeless people, S and I just stared at each other in amazement. "That can't be the ending!" We both said in unison. Later I had W download the movie just so we could see the end. For all of you who have not yet seen this movie my apologies for spoiling the ending, but here it is: 500 people standing naked in an auditorium. The scene was shot from such a wide angle (the perspective of the man standing on the stage) that you could hardly see anything but a sea of people with muted flesh tones. It was so unbelievably silly that this scene was edited from the movie.

But starting Tuesday a large audience in Egypt will be bombarded with episode after episode of Big Love, the series now in its third season on HBO. The show is about a fictional fundamentalist Mormon living in Utah with his 3 wives and 7 children. When I was in Florida in December I caught a Big Love marathon on HBO in preparation of season three beginning. It was my first time to see the show. I have to admit it is not a bad show. It has some pretty big name stars in it and the acting lives up to expectations set by previous HBO series like The Sopranos. However, I can't help but wonder how a show like this will be received in Egypt, a country that takes religion ultra seriously. In Egypt, religion is very black and white without all the shades of grey we are used to in the States. You are either Muslim or Christian. I don't think a majority of Egyptians have ever know a Mormon, or Jehovah's Witness, or Seventh Day Adventist, or Christian Scientist, or Scientologist (with the exception of Tom Cruise) , or Pentecostal... Well you get the idea. And don't Middle Eastern countries already have the wrong idea about Americans due to negative stereotypes in the media? How is it going to look when they start seeing a show about an American guy and his 3 wives who practice a strange religion that borders on a cult. I don't know about you, but I also think polygamy is also a sensitive subject in a Muslim country. I have lived in Egypt for over one year, and have yet to meet a man who has more than one wife. It's just not all that common in the modern mainstream. It is often only the fundamentalists who you find boasting about their right to have more than one wife - 4 to be precise - in order to use religion as a tool to further exploit women.

Speaking of fundamentalists, my best friend from high school became a Mormon for a period of time in her life, but has since left the faith. I sent her an email asking her opinion of the show Big Love and her opinion of Mormons in general. Here is what she had to say:

"First of all (and I don't have to watch my language, right?), Big Love isn't
about normal Americans. It's about the fucked-up Mormons who disregard American laws and do whatever the hell they want to do because they said "god" told them
to. There is no bigger group of psychos in the atmosphere than the Mormons.
Their men are controlling, abusive, manipulative assholes who couldn't care less
about laws because they follow a COMPLETELY different set of laws. They do as
they are told (by other men) and the and female children women suffer. But those
are the polygamist Mormons. The sect of Mormonism I was in were more cowardly
than that. They had the control & manipulation down but they didn't practice
polygamy. That was the only difference. Big Love was actually a great show. It
depicted polygamist Mormonism in its true light and Tom Hanks is one ballsy
genius for doing it. I'm an even bigger fan now.

I can understand your concerns about the show being aired in Egypt. But maybe you can mention in your article that this is not America. This is Mormonism. It is not exclusive to America. It is worldwide, it is dangerous and it is disgusting.

Somewhere right now, God is shaking his/her head in his/her hands
saying, "You people just don't get it."

I just hope everyone watching the show in Egypt gets it.

© HBO Photo Credit: Ron Batzdorff
Dinner every night is a family affair. Pictured: Ginnifer Goodwin, Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Chloe Sevigny.