„Today we are washing the dishes“, says my German friend as we are sitting in the middle of the desert after a great meal prepared by our two Bedouin guides Sameh and Sayed. „I don’t like being served“, she continues and I know exactly what she means. I have been feeling like that countless times during the weeks and months that I spent in Egypt. After some discussion – and because we were lazy – we figured: If we were in a restaurant in Germany we would also see no reason to help in the kitchen after our meal. Sameh and Sayed are being paid for doing this job. And yet, there is something that just does not feel right about it.
I think about this a lot in Cairo, because my Grandmother has a driver, Hassan, a maid, Mona, and a cook, Soheir, who work for her regularly. I like them all very much and they like me, too. Maybe because I behave differently than other Egyptians that could afford employing them. I always sit next to Hassan, never in the back seat. He is almost like a grandfather to me. I never give orders to Mona. I sit with Soheir in the kitchen and learn recipes from her. And these things are not to say that I am such an awesome, generous person that is even kind to the servants. No, it means that these people to me are not servants, they are people who are employed at my Grandmother’s and who are in every way equal to me. But unfortunately that is not how society sees them, sees us. Continue reading
Recently I watched the movie Cairo 678. It is a great study of sexual harassment in Egypt and its psychological effects. At the beginning of this movie a car passes by a girl, the driver grabs her by her blouse and pulls her with him, then pushes her to the ground. I cannot imagine what I would have done if that had happened to me. But I am afraid that I would have been too surprised to react. The girl in the movie, however, – and it is based on a true story – jumps up, runs after the driver, stops him, starts beating him and eventually takes him to the police station. She was prepared. She was prepared by years of sucked-up anger, ignored insults and bruised honour.
In the book ‘Shantaram’ Gregory David Roberts writes that most of the time when we do not talk back, do not help someone else or defend ourselves it is not because we are cowards. It is because we just aren’t prepared. I remember the first (and fortunately only time) that young boys in the street did not just bother but actually touched me… I was so angry afterwards. Not mainly at them, but at myself, because I had had no clue about how to react. They were young boys of maybe 12 or 13 years. I had no reason to be scared of telling them off. And so – as Roberts says it: “What we call cowardice is often just another name for being taken by surprise, and courage is seldom any better than simply being well prepared.” Continue reading
A few months ago I went to an Arabic film festival in my hometown in Germany. I saw a movie called „Tahrir 2011 – The Good, the Bad and the Politician“, which pictured the different sides involved in the revolution. Most of the film consisted of images from the protests, powerful videos that showed people praying while being attacked with water canons, the make-shift hospitals where volunteers of all types treated the injured and the mentally exhausted, and, especially, it showed those thousands and millions of voices chanting, chanting, chanting for freedom and peace. When I saw those images I was thrown back into the time of the revolutionary climax and I had such a strong urge to go back to that time of hope, solidarity and excited astonishment at what people were capable of. I thought to myself, that if every Egyptian watched these videos once a week nobody would give in to the resignation in the light of unsatisfying politics and the frustration that befalls a country when the revolution ends and bureaucracy starts.
So, with this in mind, I decided that I should try to contribute something to reminding people of what they have so incredibly achieved and what they should not let fade away so quickly. The following series of photos and interviews are the result. Each picture shows one person and their most important memory from the days of the revolution. The title of the series and the beginning of each sentence is: „I still remember…“ Please scroll down to see the larger images (English translation below the picture). Continue reading
Posted in Cairo, Demonstrations, Egypt, Politics, Revolution, Society
Tagged Cairo, constitution, Egypt, Martyrs, morsy, portrait, protest, remember, Revolution, teargas
In my university’s cafeteria the dish of the day always comes with three side dishes. I do not know many people who actually finish their side dishes or even the main dish. Yet, I do not know anybody who chooses to take only one or two side dishes in consideration of the fact that they will not finish them anyway. People do not think that way. If they pay for something they want to have it, whether they need it or not. We live in a pay-less-get-more society, where we are constantly searching for better offers to accumulate more stuff that we do not actually need. Continue reading
This sign from the revolution days just got a whole different meaning…
After the Egyptian parliamentary elections last November, where the Muslim Brotherhood won the majority of votes, I asked my grandmother whether she was going to vote at the Shoura Council elections aswell. She told me that she would not. Why?
„Last time we all went to vote. And now see what happened: the Muslim Brotherhood won anyway.“
At that time I told her: that’s democracy. It happens that the party you support does not win in the end. But resigning and not voting again because of that will make it even worse. Like in the Shoura Council elections, where the Brotherhood was even more successful than before – with a very low turnout of less than 20%.
So, with this in mind, why have I decided not to vote in the run-off for the presidential elections? Continue reading
ياللى بترمي علينا نار
مهما ضربت و مهما قتلت
العصافير في الهواء أحرار
دم الشهداء على الأسفلت
Those attacking us with fire,
no matter how much you shoot and kill
in the sky the birds are free
and the martyrs’ blood is on the pavement
From what I learned in history class or books of historical battles, I always understood that he who kills most of his enemy’s men is the one who will be victorious in the end. It seemed to me that victory depended on the ability to diminish the opponent’s army or people, therefore making them too weak to continue fighting.
However, what we have been seeing in the Arab spring’s revolutions suggests quite the opposite. Here we have the aspect of martyrdom, that turns every death from a weakening of the „troops“ into a reason to fight even harder. Continue reading
Just kidding. They aren’t. But I am pretty sure that this header will get my blog a lot of views. That’s just about the same technique the Western media have been using in the last few days. Most of the times, when I write something, it’s because I’m angry. And reading the news or listening to people commenting on them has in fact made me very angry. Words like „Sharia“ and „Islamistic party“ are used to cause panic and fear of what comes after the uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. These in no way objective pieces of news are causing an „I told you so!“ mentality in the heads of Western so-called democrats, who believe that they have a monopoly on democracy. I hear them talking of the Arab revolution attempts as a ridiculous effort that has hardly any chance of succeeding. Continue reading
Posted in Cairo, Demonstrations, Egypt, Islam, Politics, Religion, Revolution
Tagged Cairo, Demonstrations, Egypt, Islam, Politics, Religion, Revolution
We all know the problem: Sitting at the breakfast table you have all these delicious things in front of you but you just aren’t hungry enough to eat them all. And then you are forced to pick ONE or maximum TWO things to put on your slice of bread. But don’t worry, this problem will no longer make your life miserable! Why choose just one if you can choose four instead?
I would like to present to you the greatest invention ever invented and – not surprising – of course it was invented by me. It is the Nuhojawa Sandwich that combines Nutella, honey, jam and Halawa in an incomparable orgasm of yumminess. Of course there can be variations of it. How about a Japeatelloney Sandwich (Jam, peanutbutter, nutella, honey)? Or would you prefer a Cheemarmonella Sandwich (cheese, marmite, honey, nutella)?
Now the unique experience of this culinary treat is that the first four bites are dedicated to every ingredient by itself. You may take in the full pleasure of four delicious spreads right after eachother. Have you ever experienced something like that before? Will you ever experience something like that again? I think not. (By the way, it’s all legal.) Continue reading
Moving out of a room is hard but leaving behind a whole house is harder. As my mother and I are preparing to move out and the rest of the family already has in the past years, I watch my room become less and less of a room and more and more of just an empty space. It looks like I will be the last one to leave the sinking ship at the end of next week. I am scared of the moment where I will leave the house for the last time and know that I will never come home to it again. Who knows, I might visit the new owners one day but after twelve years of living here it will never be my home again. I feel like every single fibre of this house belongs to me or is even an extended part of me. I can’t imagine anybody else living in here, using it in a different way, developing their own memories in it when it is already soaked with mine.
It is unbelievable how much stuff one piles up in four floors or even just a few squaremetres over the years. That makes it really difficult to empty a whole house at once. Sometimes I wish I had a huge trash can to throw everything into. All that stuff that you will never need again but because you needed it once, you just can’t get rid of it. Well, I guess the more things you take with you, the faster your new living space will feel like a home, too. Continue reading
Posted in Family, Home
Tagged Family, Home