مذكرة من مذكراتي عن حياتي في مصر

March 11, 2009

أنا باخذ فصل خاص مع معيد عشان اتمرن على العامية فطلب المعيد مني ان اكتب كذا مذكرة عن حياتي في مصر ففكرت ان ممكن يكون مثير لبعضكم اذا كتبت بعضها هنا بس مش عارف اكتب في وردبريس كويس والنقطة اللي بنحطها في اخر الجملة مش شغال فمعليش حنجرب بقى

بعدما خلصت البوكس النهارده رحت اقعد مع صاحبي حسن اللي بيشتغل في المحل جنب شقتي فكنا نتفرج على القناة الثانية المصرية ومسلسل مصري مش عارف اسمه بس على اى حال كان كذا مشهد في المسلسل مع ستاتا كانوا بيرقصوا مع رجال في دسكو وبيلبسوا هدوم مش محترمة قوي ولمحت الى المحل قللى دامنا وشفت علامة مكتوب عليها “اذكر الله

فكنت اتامل المشهد دا قياسا الى ما شفته على الشاشة فقلت لحسن ان ساعات انا متلخبط في مصر عشان مش فاهم الناس بيتصرفوا ازاي وساات اذا هو بتشوف حاجة من التناقض مع المشاهد دي مثلا في ناس كثيرة متدينيين في مصر بس في نفس الوقت في معرفة عن تصرفات زي اللي شفناها في المسلسل

فتكلمنا عن الزبيبة وحاجة زي كده وقلتله ان في امريكا عندنا ناس متدينيين كمان وناس مش متديتنيين وناس مؤدبين وقليل الادب كمان وانه بس الدين مش موجود يعني في الشوارع زيه موجود في مصر وانني بس شايف الاختلافات دي بشدة وواضحة قي المجتمع المصري

حسن قال انه فهم اللي قلته وان هي كده في مصر وطبعا فاهم دا وقال كمان ان بغض النظر عن كل دا اهم حاجة ان يكوم المتدين مؤدب واذا حد ميهتمش  بالدين قوي لازم يكون مؤدب كمان وانا مش شايف ان دا تبسيط الامر وانما حسن بيشوف الامر زي كده وهو مش غبي ولا مش متعلم بس وبافتكر انه زي مصرييين تانيين اللي ما لهومش دعوة في الموضوعات الغريبة اللي باسال عنها ساعات

وانا مش عايز اقول انه مش واخد باله على حاجات او قضايا مهمة بش انه غالبا مش بيفكر في نفس الحاجات وعلى نفس الطريق اللي بافكر فيها انا كامريكي ساكن في مصر

في الحقيقة مافيش قصد لعرض دا بس كنت عايز اكتب حاجة انا متاسف


It’s Official! The King of Pop is a Muslim

November 23, 2008

Michael Jackson has converted to Islam


The Same 20 Questions

November 19, 2008

If you were an American wandering the streets of Cairo these days, you might be asked the following questions upon meeting Egyptians:

1. Where are you from?
2. What is your religion?
3. What is your name?
4. What do you think of Obama?
5. What do you think of Israel?
6. What do you think of Bush?
7. What do you think about the invasion of Iraq?
8. Can you teach me English?


Salman Al-Farisi and Identity

October 18, 2008

This weekend’s novel is called The Seeker of Truth by Mohammed Abd Al-Halim Abdullah, an historical novel about Salman Al-Farisi, a Zoroastrian Persian who converted to Islam and became one of the Prophet’s companions. The book is a little slow but it focuses on Al-Farisi’s literal and figurative journey towards Islam. I have just read the chapter where Al-Farisi meets a pagan Arab on a boat en route to Greater Syria. Upon first meeting each other, Al-Farisi asks the Arab of his religion. The undertone of their ensuing relationship revolves in large part around their differences of religion (Al-Farisi at this point has converted to Christianity) but in the end become good friends. I suspect they meet again later on in the story.

So far, I have empathized with Al-Farisi’s yearning to be close to God, and have noticed that despite the plot of the book, religion in those times seemed to play a different role in people’s lives. In the United States, and possibly in the Western world as a whole, people to me seem less defined by their religion as they are by their citizenships, their jobs, or their personalities. Back then, it seems, one’s nation and one’s religion were all that mattered. Al-Farisi, at this point in the story, is defined solely as a Persian and as a Christian.

Maybe in Western society, and I realize I am making generalizations here, we do not usually define ourselves this way because it is 2008 and we have Ipods and mortgages and all that other globalized, consumption, modernity, “one world” jazz. There is nothing wrong with this, and to me it is just the way it is and people are free to make their own choices about whom they want to be.

In Egypt, however, and I would venture to say other places in the Middle East and quite possibly around the world, though I don’t have the experience to say so, nationality and religion are still defining aspects of one’s identity. I have spoken before about how common it is for Egyptians to ask a person if they are Muslim upon first meeting them. I do not mean to insult here by saying that Egypt or the Middle East today is lost in a 7th century mentality. However, there is something to be said of that, and although this mentality can have obvious negative consequences which I won’t touch on now, it has positive ones as well.

Personally, I feel something calming about the simplicity of this way of forming one’s identity and it often makes me stop and think about who and what I really am.


Falafel Stand

September 17, 2008

My roommate and I went to our usual ful (fava beans stew) and taamiya (falafel) stand around the corner after the gym tonight. As I was standing waiting for my sandwiches to be made I turned my head and smiled at the guy next to me, just as a kind of friendly gesture. The guy turned to me and here is the exchange which took place:

Guy eating taamiya sandwich: Please, have some (referring to his sandwich)
Me: No, thank you. Is it I good though?
Guy eating taamiya sandwich: Yes, very good. Are you Muslim?

This type of exchange is very common in Cairo. People are very friendly, and if you express any interest in something they have, they will often offer it to you, whether it be the food they are eating or the shirt they are wearing. When people offer you food, and they are eating a bag of chips for example, you can take a chip. My roommate, however, once took a sandwich from his taxi driver. You are not really supposed to do that. You also obviously don’t take the shirt.

Your religion is also public knowledge here. Unlike in the United States, the first or second thing people here might ask you when they meet you for the first time is if you are a Muslim.