Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Discussion About Marriage Proposals in Egypt

A comment was left on the post Email from an Egyptian Guy:

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks so much for your comments, and I know it's very much about 'carrying on the family name and having children to look after you when you get older'. By the way, I don't live in Egypt, but have known my man for 2 years & gone back twice to see him - we are in process of doing his immigration papers. Believe me I was VERY CAUTIOUS at first(so many bad stories western woman & Egyptian men), but after all this time and what we've gone through it's finally sunk in that he really does love me genuinely. Last time I was in Egypt we married at lawyers office - his nephew is a lawyer (I guess you call it Orfi style). We could have done properly at Embassy / Ministry of Justice, but alot to organise and just didn't have the time etc. He always says to me that the worst mistake he's ever made in his life is that he didn't marry me properly the first time and that in his words 'he doesn't want to have an experience with another woman, only me'. Because of his past experience with women he is so cautious, especially about 'arranged marriage'. He is a lovely man - real honey! and always very honest with me about what his family put him through. So I would like to say that there are some really good Egyptian men - not all are bad, just unfortunately some (especially some in the resorts etc) give you guys a bad name (but this happens throughout the world, not just in Egypt. Can someone please tell me exactly what happens at first 'salon meeting' when you men have to meet a woman. Do you actually have to propose to her at first meeting, or do they just meet and say 'yes or no'?, then go back for a yet another meeting? We have talked about this, but not much as he knows it upsets me. He says he just has to go along 'to please his mother'. He has assured me not to worry & has promised he will not marry another woman. Even though he doesn't live at home (he has just moved to a flat), he still depends on his family (takes his washing to mother's to do) - that's when he gets 'hassled' about finding a wife - it's a bit like bribery - unless he marries an Egyptian, then he can't take his washing there! (Can you understand? They make him feel so uncomfortable and not nice to him. He says he will get a washing machine very soon - so hopefully that will solve the problem! Would love to have some more comments from Egyptians (men or women) about all of this. PS I'm from New Zealand (not United States or United Kingdom). Hope to hear from you soon - take care!!

October 31, 2009 9:26 AM


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Our reader wants to know about "salon marriages" and what happens during the first meeting when the man goes to the girl's family for presumably the first time.

It appears from her comment, that the man is being pressured by his mother to make these visits. Is anyone else (male or female) going through this experience now perhaps being pressured by the family?

What is your feeling and opinion on this?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Life in Egypt 2010 Calendar

Check out One Fleeting Glimpse's 2010 Life in Egypt Calendar

Available in 3 sizes.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cairo Hash House Harriers

Walking or running in the desert might not be your cup of tea, but anyone living in Egypt for any length of time should check out the Cairo Hash House Harriers at least once. It's not for everyone, and certainly not for the faint of heart, but you might be pleasantly surprised at just how much you enjoy yourself. Bring your children, bring your dog, and bring LOTS OF WATER. Some of the trails can be quite long and grueling, so if you have any doubts about your ability to complete the walk you may want to hang back in the parking area and just enjoy the socializing afterwards (as I had to do on one occasion). The Cairo Hash House Harriers is a great way to combine exercise with meeting new people, and enjoying Egypt's breathtaking desert scenery.

Below are some photos from the 18th Annual Rehydration Run held on October 23.



































































Finding Love Online

Do you think it's possible to fall in love with someone you have never seen?

Would you fly to another country and marry a person you only knew from the internet?

Do you think a person will be different online than they are in reality?

*** *** ****

Tell me your opinions on these questions. Tell me your experiences GOOD and BAD.






:)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Forget about Baloon Boy - America's next REALITY SHOW STAR is the HeHeHe Woman!

EDIT: This post has been updated to include links to the videos of various events sited. If you have the time, you will enjoy this post even more if you click on all the links and watch them. Read it through one time first, then go back and watch all the links. And remember - We watched all 69 episodes so you wouldn't have to!


Disclaimer: I am not by any means making fun of this woman. I actually enjoyed her movie and thought it would be fun to give it an actual "review".

******************************************************************
What would you do if you had been in Egypt for 3 weeks, had only 8 days left, an endless supply of battery power for your video camera, and your children were back in the US? Well, you would do what Aisha Hossam did and film your every waking moment for the duration of your trip. The result would be a 69 part documentary uploaded to YouTube in increments ranging from 17 seconds to 9 minutes and some odd seconds. Very odd seconds. "A Trip to Egypt an American's Point of View" is the title of this masterpiece and my husband and I sat through the entire saga in what turned out to be a seven hour marathon session complete with 4 cups of coffee and 2 bowls of popcorn. Anyone who has ever sat through Schindler's List, Reds, or the Green Mile can tell you that it's not as bad as it sounds. Or is it?

If the jerky strobe cam does not make you feel like vomiting after the first 3 episodes, every other minute or so Aisha unleashes a shrill laugh that is a cross between Fran Drescher and Beavis and Butthead. Seriously, this girl cracks herself up over everything. Even sexual harassment and hymen restoration surgery are laughable topics for her. There is no script here just fantastic ad-libbing skills with very little dead air time. Aisha effortlessly coaches her supporting cast Ahmed, and uncle Nabil from Sweden through their dialogue with prompts such as "Say Hi. Say Hi again. Say bye. Say bye again. Say hi to America." She often talks directly to the camera addressing her children - an approach that not only gives the film a documentary feel, but engages the viewer. The banter is so mind numbing that when she falls down the stairs in Episode 25 you find yourself breaking out into an inappropriate hysterical laughter. Interestingly enough it is the only point in the movie where Aisha herself, does not laugh. She is a lovable, jubilant, perpetually perky woman (who I pray I never have to sit next to on a Transatlantic flight).

Despite a slow start, the movie slowly but surely sucks you in like a vortex and makes you care about the characters. Aisha guides us play by play on a tour of Cairo including a trip to the Mogamma building, the the airport to pick up Uncle Nabil from Sweden, and the telephone office. Along the way she imparts pearls of wisdom such as:

- The buildings are older than my great-grandfather.
- The whole country of Egypt is nothing but a big desert with some buildings and trees added.
- Big boats come into the Suez Canal and make waves.
- The buildings are made of stone, the pillars are made of stone and the streets are made of cobblestone. So if there is a fire it would be ok.

As the days progress and her time in Egypt winds down, we will ride a micro bus with Aisha to Ismailia where she will convince her co-stars to take off their clothes and run into the Suez Canal (what she thinks is the Mediterranean Sea) in March. In the most daring and dramatic move in the film, Aisha removes her higab and abaya and runs into the water fully clothed. She then proceeds to make sand angels and bury herself up to the neck all while worrying about being drowned by one of the big waves. Afterwards, the entire cast winds up in a club where they chow down on Koshery and Aisha poignantly observes that "everywhere I look I see Lipton Tea".

As the end approaches and her last day in Egypt is upon her, the emotion increases to climactic levels as our characters fight to repress the tears as they prepare to say good-bye to each other. An in-depth discussion about public beheadings and Sharia Law in the final few minutes of the film seems grossly misplaced and anti-climactic. The ending was a sweet, touching and sincere good-bye delivered beautifully by Ahmed. However, I found it to be a bit abrupt leaving us wondering what happened when she got to the airport - perhaps leaving the door open for a sequel. I would have liked to have seen her off at the airport with the leading man waving as she passed through the metal detectors.

Despite the frequent outbursts of hysterical laughter from our hero, there are several genuinely laughable moments in the film like when she says her name wrong and states on more than one occasion that she travelled 4,000 miles from the US to get to Egypt (this would have put her somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic). Uncle Nabil's character makes an appearance late in the film and although he does not have much screen time, he has impeccable comedic timing and animated responses that make you wish he was in more scenes. His broad range of acting abilities were further demonstrated when he was called upon to play the straight man in the scene in the coffee shop downtown where he gets Aisha to open up about the real reasons she came to Egypt.

Throughout the film there are strategically placed moments where Aisha declares that "this is why I don't want to live in America anymore". One such moment was in a small park in Cairo where she looked around then declared matter of factly that "there is nothing as beautiful as this place in America". Although she claims to be well travelled (even revealing some of the destinations at the end) she often appears provincial and overly obsessed with re-enacting scenes from Titanic.

All in all the movie delivers what it promises in the title: a trip to Egypt an American's point of view. If nothing else it gives you a real time glimpse into life in Egypt. When you start watching though make the coffee and popcorn first. Once you start you won't be able to stop.

Part 1 of 69 appears below. To continue viewing please go the Aisha's YouTube Channel and click on "view all" for her video uploads then scroll all the way down to the bottom.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Quick Look: Wading Pool

A water main break on Monday flooded parts of Road 9 and left many residents and businesses in Old Maadi without water all morning and most of the afternoon. This young girl took advantage of the Indian Summer weather and cooled herself off splashing around in the water.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Scenes Around Cairo: City Stars Mall - Nasr City








A Guy's Perspective On All This Kissing Stuff

A few months ago I did a blog post that included a link to And Far Way's Guide to Arabic Greeting Cheek Kisses. In response to that I got this email from a Lebanese male friend. He shared this funny story which represents a male perspective on the whole kissing confusion thing.

I was reading the guide to kissing you posted on your blog and I just HAD
to share this story with you ...As you know I studied Medicine in Lithuania,
Europe ... people there have different customs ... they see 2 Lebanese (or Arab)
guys kissing on the cheek and they get disgusted and call us gay ... guys greet
guys with a shoulder-bump ... girls kiss each other on the lips (a quick smack)
... but girls kiss their guy friends on the lips as well ...!it took me a little
while to start doing that without a minimal sense of self-consciousness , not
that I thought lip-smacking is Haram or anything ... I just went to the cheeks
first (out of habit) ... but they don't prefer it ... so I joined in and I
started lip-smacking everybody , even those I met for the first time, he he he
... I even stopped kissing Lebanese/Arab guys in front of Europeans (in the
street or club) unless they forced themselves on me , which is usually the case, then I start kissing them INTENTIONALLY in front of Europeans just to tick
them off ... :D ...

OK ! 7 years later I'm back in Lebanon ... sitting with my family and some family friends on their balcony ... a young , cute girl of about 22 joined us. I vaguely knew her ... she kissed everyone , including my brother who was 18 at the time ... they were good acquaintances ... she shook hands with me last and leaned closer to my cheek but surprisingly , I was going for her lips !!!!!! ... The look of horror on her
face froze me and she barely touched the air next to my cheek and backed off
like she was bitten by a snake :D ... AWKWARD !!! did
anyone notice ? I don't know , but if they did , they let it pass ... The rest
of the night went without a single look exchanged between us (naturally) ... and
when it was time to leave she shook my hand ... I tried to lean a bit forward
and she almost responded ... but then I hesitated and froze again and she
stopped after moving an inch or so ... another AWKWARD moment ... it's hard to
describe unless you see it yourself .. ha ha ha ... I mean so much fuss about a
simple cheek kiss !!!For the rest of the summer we restricted ourselves to a
slight handshake in the rare occasions we met ... and when she flew to France I
wasn't even there to say good-bye and I haven't seen her since ... I don't know
what she might have thought of me ... but it was one of the most embarrassing
moments of my life !!

(Oh and I later knew that at some point , our parents were
trying to fix us up ... but I think that incident messed everything up ... even
though we both didn't know we were getting fixed up ... I don't know what else
would've happened if we DID know something was being cooked .. I'd have probably
head-butted her or something ... but that's an entirely different story) ...

Signed : Clumsy

A Convincing Argument?

There has been much debate swirling around Sheikh Tantawi's recent decision to ban women from wearing niqab at Al-Azhar universities.

Dalia Ziada writing for Bikya Masr gave this commentary which I think brings up some points worth further consideration. Have a look and tell me what you think:

Click here to read article on Bikya Masr website

****************************************************************************

It’s not about Niqab, it’s about credibility

Dalia Ziada
11 October
2009 in Women

Hoda Ramzy, another student, was expelled from Al-Azhar
Institute in Shoubra, today, for merely wearing a niqab. She and her colleagues
who face the same problems with the administration decided to file a complaint
to President Mubarak in protest. On Facebook, a new group was launched to defend
women’s right to wear the niqab at school. Their argument revolves around the
fact that if you gave the right to “motabarijat” [i.e. the uncovered women] to
go around freely, then you should give equal rights to covered women.

On
local state-owned media and independent media channels, the controversy over
niqab is endless. There is a huge verbal battle between Salafi sheikhs and
Al-Azhar scholars. The latter is viewing the niqab as harmful to society, while
the former believes this is the ideal dress of the Muslim woman. Both have very
persuasive arguments.

I visited Alexandria couple of weeks ago. One of
the most shocking scenes I saw there was the huge number of women in niqab. Some
of my relatives wore it too. They are very convinced that this is how Muslim
woman should look. Some of them told me that to “show more gratitude to Allah,
the creator of our precious bodies, we should be covered from head to toe with
three layers.” When I asked her who told her this, she said a Sheikh on Al-Nas
TV (one of the most popular Salafi TV channels in Egypt).

On my latest
shopping tour, about one month ago, a newly married friend of mine joined me. We
had not seen each other for more than a year. She is an ordinary young woman who
has always been open-minded and loving life. When she got engaged to her current
husband, she wore the hijab (scarf) which most Egyptian women wear. I was
surprised when I saw her shopping for Abbayas (long baggy dress). She then told
me that upon the command of her husband, she will change her dress to wear the
niqab. She is not convinced that the niqab is a divine order; but she “loves her
husband and wants to obey him.”

It is true the number of women wearing
niqab in Egypt is increasing daily. Every woman has her own reasoning for
wearing it. This is not a matter of question now. We are not arguing whether it
is a basic right for women to dress the way they want. This is absolute and no
one can deny it. We are not even searching for the reasons or key players behind
this unexpected change of Al-Azhar policy from the extreme right to the extreme
left. Everybody knows that Al-Azhar played a great role in fueling religious
“piety” in Egypt over the past five years. They were pushed by the state to do
so as an attempt to re-attract the already religious Egyptian public who were
highly influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood group.

The Muslim
Brotherhood represented itself as an independent voice defending moderate Islam
versus the state owned voice promoting another version of Islam tailored
according to the wishes of the regime. The political Islamist group succeeded in
attracting a large number of supporters by emphasizing Islamic principles as the
solution for Egypt’s economic and political problems.

The question,
which we all should consider now is why Al-Azhar scholars are not obeyed by the
public any more? The simple and direct answer to this very complicated question
is because Al-Azhar lost its credibility in the eyes of Egyptians. Al-Azhar has
been used as a tool in the hands of the regime to satisfy personal and elite
interests at the expense of Egyptian’s religious sympathies. Under the claim of
defending Islam, Al-Azhar committed some unforgivable violations against
open-minded intellectuals and fighters for freedom of expression and freedom of
belief. They cracked down on Bahai’s for merely calling for the right to have a
national ID card and other official papers that prove them being ordinary
Egyptian citizens. They also cracked down on Shiites and Sufis and distorted
their image in an unacceptable way.

Yet, the most unfair and shocking
violation was committed against 22-year-old blogger and student, Kareem Amer.
Kareem is now serving four years in jail for allegedly insulting Islam and
President Mubarak. He wrote an article criticizing Al-Azhar scholars’ pledge to
Mubarak to be the “prince of believers” and how this will make us – the people/
believers – deprived from our right to hold him accountable for corruption,
wrong decisions, etc. Kareem simply wrote this on his own personal blog. As a
result, he was expelled from university, interrogated and sentenced to four
years.

Al-Azhar now is looked upon as a state owned tool. It is no
longer the independent religious institution respected worldwide. That is why
the Salafis have the upper hand in the niqab battle. And that is why our society
will grow more and more extreme.

BM

Anti Littering Commercials in Egypt - It's About Time!

I recently saw an ad on MBC4 in which a family was out in the park having a picnic. They threw their trash all over the park. Later when they went back to their house and opened the door they were shocked to see the entire house trashed with garbage all over the floor. There was a voice over in Arabic but I imagine it said something to the effect of "you don't throw trash on the floor in your house - don't do it on the street". It was a brilliant piece of advertising and kudos to the agency that produced it. I tried to find it on YouTube but no luck. Maybe it is too new. But when I searched for "anti littering commercials" I came up with this oldy but goody gem infamous in the US. I remember seeing it as a child while I was watching The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island. It is knows simply as The Crying Indian. Those of you who are as old as I am will remember this one:




If anyone knows where I can find a link to the anti littering commercial currently running on MBC channels (shown in Egypt) please let me know.

How effective do you think these campaigns will be? What is your opinion? Let me know in a comment.

Unusual fashion trends?

Tuck the bottom of your dress or skirt into your wrist. It's the hot new trend for the fall.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A comment on marriage and immigration (Cairo, Egypt)

Someone left a comment on THIS POST. I posted the answer here because it was too long for the comment form.

THE COMMENT:

Anonymous said...
Thank you, again! Now, more questions! Here, on this blog, you have mentioned the neccessities for which is needed, for this process... But these forms are SOOOOOO confusing!!! What USCIS forms, other than say, the obvious I-130, I-864 etc... should I have prepared? As I mentioned previously, I'm getting married in Dec, and I plan to be there for 6 months or so, until his visa is accepted... and the whole, K3/Cr1 form is a big confusion, as well. Do you think you could help me on the specifics of my situation? I know each case of marriage is unique in its own form, but the more I can find out the better! The closest Homeland Security for me is no less than 6 hrs away... So my trips here have to be limited, due to financial reasons. Your help is greatly appreciated! P.S- My Fiance and I did meet online, but I've done research and taken steps to make sure our relationship isnt fraudulent. I have met his family through web-cam and this has been our main correspondence. Any additional information you can share with me, that I should expect or prepare for? Thank you!



MY RESPONSE:

First of all, this post was mainly dealing with issues of getting married in Egypt. These questions are about immigration, which for the record, are two entirely different things. But here is what I know about immigration:

- You will have to establish residency and remain in Egypt for a period of 6 months prior to even beginning the filing process. Once you meet the residency requirement you can file for immigration visas DCF (direct consular filing). This means you file the I-130 and other forms in Cairo instead of through the States. It sounds like this is what you plan to do. However, the filing is only the beginning of the process and you are still looking at a minimum of a year till approval. So are you planning on staying in Egypt only till you are eligible to file or until the visa is APPROVED? Because approval will absolutely take longer than 6 months. It could even take 2 years. You can find out more about the process on this website for the US Consular Section in Cairo.

- Do you have a co-sponsor in the US? If you do not have a co-sponsor you must have a job making $18,500 per year in order to even be considered as a spousal sponsor. If you are planning on living in Egypt to wait out the process it is highly unlikely you will meet the income requirement. So it would be in your best interest to make sure you have a co-sponsor lined up. The co-sponsor must meet income requirements as set forth by US poverty guidelines for family sizes. The co-sponsor must be a US citizen and submit proof of employment, plus tax returns for 3 years prior - among other documents.

- If you do not have anyone who can act as a co-sponsor, you can meet the income requirement by having savings (cash) in a bank account that preferably is a joint bank account with you and your husband. For a family of 2 (that is you and your husband with no children) the amount of savings needed to waive the income requirement is approximately $54,000.00 (US Dollars). Basically for every $30,000 you have in the bank they remove $10,000 from the income level. So for example, if your income requirement is $18,500 and you have $30,000 in the bank - you will only have to have a job proving $8,500 in income. Which will be easier to do if you need to work in Egypt. However, since technically (even with marriage residency) you will not be permitted to work in Egypt - this income may not be valid.

- K3 vs CR1: from what I understand about these (and I'm not an expert) the difference is one allows you to enter the US and remain there ONLY on the condition that the alien remain married to the US citizen. Also, your husband would not be eligible to work right away upon entering the States. He would have to apply for an adjustment of status. If you were ever divorced he would not be eligible to remain in the US.

The other allows the alien spouse to enter the US on an immigrant visa thus allowing them to seek a social security number and employment immediately. Also with this version - they are eligible to become a US citizen after being married to you and living in the US for a period of 3 years. If you were to divorce, your spouse would still be able to stay in the US and would still be able to be naturalized (as long as you remained married prior to the naturalization).

I recommend you look at and join Visa Journey. This is a very important and informative website/forum regarding immigration through marriage to a US citizen. There are sample forms on here as well as an explanation of each visa K1/K3/CR1 and the differences between them.

- The fact that you met online will make it harder for you. You must start an immigration file which should contain things like: W-2 forms, letters from your jobs stating how many hours you work and your salary, tax returns for the last 3 years, birth certificates, translated birth cert for your husband, have his college transcripts translated, certified copies of his degrees and certificates, photos of the two of you together, copies of boarding passes from flights to and from Egypt, printouts of your conversations online (msn, skype, etc.) Unfortunately due to the way you met, your relationship will be scrutinized.

I'm not sure why you think you need to go to Homeland Security if you are planning on filing through Cairo? Did you just want to go there to get information? A good place to start would be here with the website of the US Citizenship and Immigration.

My second piece of advice to you is take it one step at a time. Get here and get married first before you worry about immigration stuff. I would also recommend talking to an immigration attorney. You cannot afford to make critical mistakes at any point in this process. It can result in a denial. This process is not an easy one and marriage is not an automatic guarantee of approval. There is also a limit on the amount of times you may try to apply for a visa.

A Quick Look - Snow in Indiana

I was talking about snow and Christmas this morning so I went and dug up these from the hard drive. I don't have any of my pictures from the Nor'easter blizzards in New York, but these are from Oakland City, Indiana circa 2004. Just to get you all in the mood for snow. Enjoy.