Monday, November 30, 2009

Another Reader Comment Answered

A reader comment left the following comment on this post

Anonymous said...
dear madame, I'm an italian going to live part of the year in Cairo next january. I found your blog in catching informations about the common day x day life in Cairo, beside knowing egypt (no turistic areas)and seems to me that you, as an newyorkeers have a difficult feeling with the great muslim world of which Cairo is a flag.
Socially speaking, yes, the riots after the match ARE necessary due to the stress of unimployement and poverty. Yours replys to the post about Xmas are a bit arrogant, in my opinion. It's more important that you go around the most poor quartiers in Cairo to see the real life of people and not only going to Carrefour and back (like wal-mart) And, dont take this as a supponent suggestion, the italian rap is quite stupid for two simples reasons 1) Italy has nothing to do with rap and 2) the song is bad (fa schifo!)It's time to rethink the idea that in every corner of the world are imitating the "gringos". The USA are falling apart both economically and social quidelines. Europe is a usa colony as you know and many others countries included Egypt too, but at high level or political-military level but for the intelligent man of the street the way of life of "usacans" like spanish people call the americans (your country have no name even) is becoming more and more molesting. The times have changed. After the disaster of iraq and the bailout of banks managed by the top executives of the "nigger" amministration, american people and people around the world are sick and tired of this kind of supremacism. So, my suggestion is to take thing more modestly and in a critic way of weltanschaaung. I'm professor of philosophy and being italian I know well what means the fall of an empire. in every case take this just a contribution for your blog and meantime have my best regards

My Response:

For someone who claims to be a professor of Philosophy I expected a more coherent argument. I had to read your comment twice to understand half of what you were saying. Granted, English may not be your first language, but it is not the language or wording I have issues with - rather the content.

You indicate that riots after a football match are necessary due to poverty and unemployment. So this justifies Egyptians destroying their own buildings and setting their own trees on fire as well as throwing rocks at people from bridges? I couldn't disagree more. I'm not disputing the fact that Egyptians are frustrated, but why not encourage them to find more productive ways to deal with this stress. If they are upset about poverty and unemployment why then don't they organize protests about that instead of waiting for another excuse - like a football game to come along.

You find my comments about the Christmas tree post to be arrogant. Fine, that is your opinion. But I did not put that post on this blog in order to be proselytized by others. I know who I am and I am happy with that. La cosienza di se e fondamentale per ongi essere umano. I don't take too kindly to others who don't like who I am or what I do telling me how I should be living my life. We are only responsible for ourselves in the end.

I'm sorry that you find Mondo Marcio's song so awful. I guess you won't be buying his CD then. Mi piace. I like it. Italian rap emerged as a genre all it's own. I believe in creative expression by artists and apparently there exists a whole generation of young artists in Italy who are choosing to express themselves through the form of rap music. If it's not your style then feel free to listen to something more to your liking. But don't be so blind to the reality of what is going on in the world to make a blanket statement like "Italy has nothing to do with rap". Judging by the number of YouTube channels in Italy that are supporting Italian rap - Italy does have something to do with rap. The times have changed, haven't they?

When I first saw you call President Obama a "nigger" I considered just deleting your comment. African Americans, and people of color all over the world will be extremely offended by the use of this word. However, I don't believe in censorship. After I thought for a minute back to my childhood in New York it began to make more sense that you would refer to a black man in this manner. I grew up in the Bronx not far from Arthur Avenue - otherwise known as Little Italy. I saw the discrimination and the prejudice with my own eyes. It was reflected accurately in the movie A Bronx Tale. As a young adult out on my own, I was once evicted from an apartment in the home of an Italian couple simply because I was dating a black man. I have never been to Italy, but I sincerely hope that your degree of prejudice is not reflected by the entire population of the country. I'm the type of person who believes there is good and bad everywhere and I don't paint everyone with the same brush.

Your summation of the "state of the union" appears superficial and illogical in places. I also detect a hint of bitterness in your opinion. It seems as if you spend a great deal of time watching CNN and FOX News and forming all your opinions of USA based on their reports. Or have you travelled and lived in the United States of America? Seriously, a country with no name? Blaming everything wrong with the world on the economic crisis and bank bailout? Empires falling? "Gringos" (another derogatory term) and Spanish people? What ever are you going on about? And what, pray tell, does any of this have to do with me living in Egypt and shopping at Carrefour (which by the way is nothing like WalMart)?

If this is the brand of "Philosophy" you teach to your students then God help them. But if you want to wax philosophical then keep this in mind:

La realta e ben diversa da quello che pensi tu. Tutto e relativo a questo mondo.

Translation: Reality is quite different from what you think. Everything is relative in this world.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Italian Rap

I discovered something about myself yesterday. Apparently I really like Italian Rap music. Check it out:

He could be talking about the stock market and the economic crisis, but it still sounds great.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is This Necessary?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

If I Can't Be Myself - Who Can I Be?

I only follow three celebrities on Twitter. Bill Paxton, Demi Moore, and Kevin Spacey. I'm not really that big into the whole celeb craze. I added Demi Moore not because I'm a huge fan, but because after having a look at her profile, she seemed to be saying interesting things. Kevin Spacey was added as a result of watching him Tweet on David Letterman. Bill Paxton was added under slightly stranger circumstances. I became a huge fan of Big Love after MBC 4 began showing season 1 of the show earlier this year. No matter what I was doing, I would drop everything on Tuesdays at 11 pm and watch Big Love. One Tuesday at 11 pm, I sat down on the couch and prepared to watch the show, but much to my surprise and dismay - it wasn't on. How could that be? The episode from the week before was the one where someone exposed the family after Barb's run for some "mother of the year" award. A cliff hanger at best and now I was left hanging on a cliff. Turns out it was the final episode of season 1 and in true fashion of watching TV in a foreign country that meant it was time to change the programming.

My husband had a solution to the problem. He would download season 2 and season 3 for me. He started the download sometime in July and it took (I kid you not) 2 months to download. I went to the US for 5 weeks arriving back in Egypt at the end of September only to find that the download still had 3 days to go. When it was finally complete, and after having waited with bated breath to find out what had happened to the Big Love family - I watched season 2 and season 3 in their entirety over the span of two days. That's an awful lot of Big Love. One of the side effects I suffered as a result was a momentary lapse from reality in which I felt as if this fictional world I immersed myself into had somehow been real. I felt as if I somehow knew Bill Paxton, so I followed him on Twitter.

Bill Paxton does not Tweet much, but when he does he says profound things. I like profound. The other night he Tweeted this:

I told my wife that a guy on Twitter asked me if I was the real thing. She responded by laughing and saying, "Who would pretend to be YOU?"

Who would pretend to be you? That's so profound. But really, haven't we become a society in which we are running scared that there is someone out there who does want to pretend to be us? Aren't we being bombarded with information from the media and commercial after commercial about how important it is for us to protect our identities from the throngs of people who can't wait to get their hands on our identities and become us?

When I was twenty years old in 1986, I did not have any identity to protect. There were no passwords to memorize, no emails to guard from hackers, no FaceBook - no Internet period. I had only two things to protect: my bank ATM card pin code and my AT&T calling card. But we were still taught to be afraid that someone was after us. We were told by the media that when we use calling cards at payphones there were men in trench coats with binoculars standing in the crowd behind us waiting patiently for us to enter our pin codes on the touch pad. I heeded their warnings carefully. Making a call at a payphone became a covert operation for me. First, I had to slide my calling card out of my wallet being careful to keep the front of the card out of sight. Next, I had to look over my right shoulder and my left shoulder and survey the crowd. Was anyone staring at me? Was anyone standing too close? Were there any shady looking characters nearby or lurking in the shadows? When I had completed my surveillance and determined it was safe to continue, I would carefully cup my hands over the numbers on the phone while I dialed in my pin code, all the while being careful to move my fingers in such a way that would distract those with prying eyes. Fortunately, my pin code was never stolen and eventually the calling card was thrown in the garbage to make room for the cell phone.

But now we have the Internet to contend with. We are given advice such as: don't use your real name, don't show your picture, don't tell anyone who you are because there are people out there who want to pretend to be you. Really? So instead we hide behind avatars and cutsie screen names afraid to reveal a single factual thing about ourselves. I'm not advocating that we all publish our social security numbers and blood types, but common sense should tell us not to do this anyway.

When I first started this blog I did so anonymously. I was very careful never to show my name or real identity. But that quickly changed. After all, one of the reasons I started this blog was to showcase my photography, and how do most photographers copyright their photos? With their name. I poured over countless other blogs and photography websites to see what everyone else was doing. I found that the majority are using their real names. So I added the creative commons copyright badge to my blog complete with my real name. This was certainly easier than adding a watermark to each photo individually. Over time I became more comfortable with talking about myself and showing who I really am online.

Now, my blog has a feature that allows me to see the IP address of each visitor. I can also see what links they clicked to find my blog or what they were googling to be led to my website. There were a few that were slightly humorous. There was this one: dog fucks waife (which led them to this blog post). Then there was: sexi egipt gurl free porn (sic). That one still has me baffled, but I suppose I should be flattered that googling sexy Egypt girl leads directly to me! The number one thing that people google to find my blog is: showering without soap. They end up on this blog post. It concerns me slightly that the world is full of people who are considering giving up bathing with soap, but I suppose it is good for the environment. However, a few nights ago I found that someone was googling my name. Iman Satori. I stared at the screen in shock for a minute before the panic set in. Oh my God! Someone is googling my name. Instant fear began to set in. What should I do? Notify the FBI? Call the police? Is someone trying to steal my identity? After all, who the hell am I that someone should be googling my name. I am nobody.

I immediately woke up my husband from his nap. "Quick! Get up! Someone is googling my name!" He stirred briefly. "That's nice honey." He murmured as he rolled over putting the pillow over his head.

But then the words of Bil Paxton's wife came back to me. "Who would pretend to be you?" And she was right. Why would anyone want to pretend to be me? In order to completely understand the absurdity of that scenario you would have to understand who I am. So who am I? Well, let's see - I barely graduated high school by the skin of my teeth. I failed the SATs. I never went to college. I don't have a job and can't find one. I filed bankruptcy twice. I lost my house to foreclosure. I don't own anything (I don't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of as my Grandmother used to say.) I live in a third world foreign country and can't get back to the US to save my life... So why would anyone want to steal my identity or pretend to be me? Maybe they would have better luck with my identity than I am having with it.

And while we are on the subject of putting our lives on the Internet - I am appalled that this teacher was fired because she had some pictures of herself sipping wine in Italy on FaceBook. Come on. Are we to believe that before the invention of FaceBook teachers did not sip wine in vineyards? Why the hell can't she post classy, tasteful pictures of herself enjoying her vacation and her life for her friends and family to see? I have friends who are paranoid about showing their pictures online. Not me. I know there are sick people out there, but my photos? What's the worst that can happen - someone will take a photo of me and superimpose my head over Pamela Anderson's tanned and airbrushed body? I would consider that an improvement.

I would not feel ashamed to show a photo of myself sipping wine in Italy. If I were fortunate enough to have taken a wine tasting tour of Italy, damn right I would put pictures of it in my FaceBook. I'm not ashamed that there are videos on my YouTube for the world to see. Videos that show my dog humping my leg, or me crying over losing my house, or even the one of me making a complete and utter ass out of myself lip syncing Yanni's Aria. This is me. This is my life. And what other legacy do I have to leave behind. Have we become so paranoid that we feel it's OK to live our lives but feel that we have to hide these same lives from the world because someone might see it? That's picayune.

Granted, identity theft is a horrible thing and a horrendous ordeal for those who go through it. But isn't worrying about it happening to us akin to worrying that a plane will fall out of the sky and land on our house? Sure they both can happen, but what are the odds? For the majority of us, our lives are so mundane that why on earth would anyone want to pretend to be us? If we can't be ourselves in real life and ONLINE then who can we be? Bill Paxton? Not that I wouldn't mind being Bill Paxton for a day...

Thank you Mrs. Bill Paxton for the words of wisdom.

Christmas - Cairo Style

My husband and I both love Christmas. It is our favorite holiday. When we met for the first time it was over Christmas in Colorado. However, since we have been together we have yet to spend a Christmas in Cairo. It's becoming a tradition to go to the US every year at Christmas time. Last year I wanted to get a tree after seeing them for sale at the florists around town. Having a real tree is out of the question since we won't be around to take care of it. I was willing to settle for a fake one, but for some reason we never got around to buying one last year. We spent Christmas with my mother in Florida but she does not "do Christmas" so there was no tree.

When we were on our way to Carrefour this evening I imagined how it would be if I were shopping in the US at this time of year. The aisles of every store would be filled with Christmas decorations and holiday items, cookies, wrapping paper and Christmas music. (In Egypt you can hear Christmas music by the pool or in the movie theater in July, but you don't hear it at Christmas time.) But we were headed to Carrefour in Cairo to buy cat litter. I told myself that it just wouldn't be the same and reminded myself that in just 30 days I would be in Colorado surrounded by snow and lights and the smells, sights and sounds of Christmas.

We walked into Carrefour and it's usual crowds and got our shopping cart and started to head to the back and over by the pet supplies. Suddenly in front of me I saw a whole aisle of Christmas trees and decorations. Ok, they were slightly cheap looking and pathetic but I started jumping for joy and squealing "Let's get a tree! Let's get a tree!"

The trees came in 3 different sizes but I liked the littlest one. I got one box of ornaments and a stocking. Overall, the stuff is way overpriced for the quality. I didn't buy lights because the tree is way to small for the strands they had available. I figured they probably wouldn't work anyway. Returning things that don't work in Egypt is quite a hassle.

So that was it. One aisle. A hand full of trees, lights and ornaments. They had a few tiny wreaths but they were also quite pricey for the size and quality. No wrapping paper, no musical cards, no fruit cake or sugar cookies or life size Santas and Reindeer...but it made me happy if for a brief moment. For a brief moment I was able to feel that familiar Holiday spirit.

So here it is - my Charlie Brown Christmas tree:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Egypt vs Algeria

For my foreign readers who want to know what it looked like in Cairo yesterday after the football match between Egypt and Algeria, here is a video from Daily News Egypt with great footage of the festivities. You can read more about events that transpired after the match here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Still need a Halloween costume?

Sexy Policewoman or sexy devil...hmmm...I just can't decide.

Wanted: Window Dressers

Must have experience and be familiar with fashion and current trends. Duties include: Dressing and styling mannequins, preparing mannequins for window and storefront displays. Experience with HAIRSTYLING a definite PLUS.

Please submit photos of your recent work.

NOTE: Humorous advertisement and not an actual job posting.

Shut Up and Drive

Or if you are in Cairo: SHUT UP AND PUSH

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What Regulations?????

TRANSLATION: There are no rules in the parking lot either.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Step Parents in Egyptian Culture

Wow. Over 100 hits on the blog in the last 8 hours - Thanks Visa Journey and Nice sites to visit by the way if you have questions about immigration.

An interesting point has been raised recently due to some comments on another post. Step-parents. When a divorced man or divorced woman with children remarries, his or her new spouse becomes a step-parent to the existing children. Well in most cases.

But let's look at this from an Egyptian (or Middle-eastern Islamic) perspective. In Islam, when a couple divorces the mother remains the primary caretaker of the male children until they turn six years of age and the females until age 12. After which time the father gains full and often physical custody of the children. While divorce is quite common in the Middle-east today, especially in Egypt, the concept of step-families is slightly different than it is in the West. Because of family ties and Sharia laws regarding inheritance, culturally speaking, it is harder for men to form strong bonds of attachment and loyalty with children who are not biologically their own.

In the West it is not uncommon for small children to start calling their mother's new husband "daddy". However, in Egyptian culture, it would be considered disrespectful to call another man your father. It would be more common for the children to call their mother's new husband "uncle" or a similar term that shows respect for elders.

In Egypt, it is less common for a father to lose any of his rights than it is in the United States.


Since many of my readers are Egyptian or involved with Egyptians - I want to know what you think about this subject.

If you are Egyptian how would you handle this situation if you were divorced and remarried?

Men, would you allow your children to call your ex-wife's new husband daddy?

If you married a woman who had children would you want them to call you daddy?

Women, would you encourage your children to call your new husband daddy?

Would your new husband ever replace their biological father in any aspect of the children's lives?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yankees Win the World Series 2009

Found out from friends on FaceBook the New York Yankees won the World Series 2009.

A proud moment for New Yorkers and all Yankee fans. Congrats to my hometown - the greatest city in the world, and all my friends in the Bronx and New York. Wish I was there to celebrate with you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Truth in Advertising

While walking in Maadi today I came upon a scene which I found very funny. Because the picture is not clear (I snapped it with my phone camera), I will describe it to you. There were two driving schools located right next door to each other. Parked directly in front of each was a run down dilapidated car, one of which had it's hood up. Talk about oxymoronic juxtaposition. Or maybe it was very fitting. I don't know. Those cars might not have anything to do with the driving schools - but it's hilarious seeing them parked right in front. I was tempted to go inside and ask them if those were the cars they use for teaching, but I didn't. But I guess if you are going to learn how to drive in Cairo, you might as well do it right. If you click on the picture you can see it a little better.

It's a "Cin"

Found these bottles of Egyptian made Spirits in a back corner of a market. You kind of want to avoid these types of alcohols and stick to the stuff from the Duty Free or Drinkies. In typical Egyptian fashion the label contains a spelling error. What is even funnier is the screw cap correctly reads "Gin" while the label displays "Cin".

Anyone for a Cin and Tonic?

Buying Dog Food in Cairo

When I first thought about moving to Egypt there was no doubt in my mind that my dog would come with me. But there was only one problem I could foresee - on my previous visits to Cairo I could not find any dog food. I went up and down the aisles at Carrefour and Metro and every other grocery store I went to, but the dog food section (if it existed at all) was relegated to a dark and dusty area consisting of about 3 square feet. In this space I was able to find cat litter, cat food, cat toys, and a one pound bag of dog food. That one pound bag was about 30 LE. This would not work for me by any means. My Rottweiler eats about one pound per day!

Typical American rationale: the dog food will be sold at the same place the people food is sold. Whenever I went to WalMart to shop for myself I could pick up a 35 pound bag of Purina Beneful. For a long time I would feed her Canidea brand that I would purchase from a feed store in Newburgh which was a 50 minute drive from my home. Once a month I would make the long journey and pay $35.00 for a 35 pound bag. After a while the money got tight and I had to switch to the Purina from Walmart since it was a lot cheaper. Now would I have to go back to paying astronomical prices in Egypt? Would I have to make her home cooked meals? I moved to Egypt with a 5 pound bad of dog food in my carry-on luggage. I would worry about what to do next after I got there. At least I had a 5 day supply with me.

In Egypt I discovered, in typical Egyptian fashion, there are stores that specialize in selling only pet food. I also discovered they have big bags of dog food after all. I decided to go for the economical brand that seemed to be widely available. A Purina Dog Chow imported from Spain. I don't remember how many Kilos the bag was, but it was 140 LE (around $24.00) and this would last for about 3 weeks. So it must have been approximately 12 to 15 pounds in weight. Similar in price and size to the bags of Purina I would buy in WalMart for $12.00. One thing I did not like about it was that it was packaged in plastic. Not good for the dog. She stayed on this food for her first year in Egypt. After that time, she began to develop digestive problems and changes in her bowel movements. I decided it was time to take her off this food and in retrospect, I wish I had done it earlier.

My husband found a pet store in another part of Cairo that had a brand imported from the US. He took me to check it out. It was a brand I had never heard of but it was manufactured in Evansville, Indiana of all places. I had always tried to stay away from "Dollar Store" brands with her and being this was a brand I had never heard of in the US, I was a little wary of it. But at this point I wanted her off of the imported food that was causing her problems. This was American made so I decided to try it. Now here is where the whole story gets funny. The store had three 50 pound bags. We were afraid that we would not be able to find this brand again because it is hit and miss with many imports in Cairo. The stores get one shipment and have the item one month, but when it gets sold out you may never see it again. So my husband made a deal with the shop owner to buy all three bags. A six month supply for us. 900 LE for the store owner. We loaded up the car and lugged all three bags up the four flights of stairs to our apartment. One of the bags ripped in the process and I had to quickly shovel the food into a trash bag. I introduced the new food slowly into her diet, mixing it at first with her old food, and gradually increasing the amount of the new. But her reaction to the food only got worse and not better.

In the end, we took the unopened bag back to the store and traded it for the Purina Dog Chow. We gave the opened bag away to a neighbor who has a large dog. The food in the trash bag was carted out to the street, little by little, and was strategically placed around Maadi for the street dogs.

After this fiasco we tried her on Royal Canin and she adjusted well to it (after eating cooked rice for a week). It is packaged in a foil bag and not plastic. The Royal Canin is available in a 17 Kilo bag (38 pounds) for the hefty sum of 480 LE which translates to a whopping $85.00. Nearly 3 times what I paid for the fancy organic food in the US. But she's worth it. :)


We also found a great pet food store on Road 9 - Amin Pet Food & Accessories. They are very knowledgeable about pets and pet care and have a wide variety of foods and supplies for cats and dogs of all sizes. If they don't have something in stock they will try to get it for you. Of course, delivery is available.

Amin Pet Food & Accessories
76 Road 9 (across from Beanos)
Maadi, Cairo, Egypt

Telephone: (202) 23582857 - 23596182
Fax: (202) 25167837

A Quick Look: H1N1 Prevention

An H1N1 prevention banner hangs outside a school in Maadi.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Dream Dinner Party

If I could have anyone to dinner I would like to have:

Sharon Osbourne
Paris Hilton
Victoria Gotti
David Lettermen

and I would take them to the Thai restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo.


If you could have dinner with anyone (living or dead) who would it be?
Where would you take them?

Hijabs and Marriage in Egypt

Recently I was out with a group of women in Cairo. The discussion eventually came around to hijab when an American (who had only been in Egypt for a few weeks) asked "why aren't any of you Egyptian women wearing hijab? It seems like every woman in Egypt wears it."

Our group had three Egyptian women in it. Two who were full Egyptian and born and raised in Cairo. They were both young and unmarried and neither was veiled. The third woman was half Egyptian and half British and had spent most of her life living in the UK. She was in her mid 20's and had recently moved to Cairo on her own. She admitted to being veiled in the UK but had removed it upon moving to Cairo and was now unveiled.

We began talking about why women wear hijab and the point was raised that many women believe being veiled will help them find a husband. I mentioned the time that "G" and I were walking around in Tahrir one night in August randomly interviewing people on this very subject. We asked men: would you marry a woman who was not veiled? Surprisingly enough the overwhelming answer from men was a resounding NO. One young man, selling books on the street, said he would not even marry a woman who was wearing less than Khemar. In case you don't know what Khemar is, take a look at this photo. The two women on the left are wearing Khemar. This young man seemed to think that if his wife was only wearing hijab or not wearing it at all it would be an indication that she was "unreligious" and would not pray or fast.

"G" and I walked around Tahrir for hours that night trying to find an unveiled woman so we could ask her if she would become veiled if her husband requested her to. But we could not find any unveiled woman in Tahrir that night. So I asked the three women in my group.

Their response was all the same: No. But the one who was from the UK said that when she was previously veiled she had been proposed to by a man who told her he would marry her on the condition that she remove her veil. She refused. She did not want a man telling her what she could wear, but also did not want him telling her what she couldn't wear.


What do you think about this subject? Women, would you become veiled for your husband? Would you stop wearing it if he asked you to? I want to get opinions from Egyptian women as well as foreigners. I would also love to hear from Egyptian men. Tell me how you feel about marrying a woman who is unveiled or how you would feel if your wife chose to stop wearing hijab.