January 22, 2014

Of Acknowledging History

Posted in English, Places, Reflections, Revolutionary and Politician at 2:28 pm by Rou...

I haven’t written my reflections on any of the trips I was fortunate to have during the past two years since my Tunisian experience back in 2011; partially because I was too overwhelmed to grasp many of the things I came across, and partially because I lost the spirit if I may say, especially when subconsciously comparing to Egypt, and don’t get me wrong, no I am not only comparing the beauty of the place or how your own humanity is preserved there (though I can list tens of personal stories about this), but it was more about comparing the people’s attitude and maturity towards their own history… So anyways, for some reason, I feel myself forced to share what the past two years of travels left me in; specifically the German and Czech experiences…

I have always been a WWII freak; have always believed that up till this very moment, we are still living in its aftermath; however, all what I have read about it, haven’t really prepared me for the experience of walking in those streets and listening to those stories…

When I visited Germany back in March, and throughout all the cities I visited, I planned for a one day visit to Munich, that day I insisted on visiting the Dachau concentration camp, which resulted in losing almost half of the day intended to be spent in Munich, just to see with my bare eyes that place which once hosted prisoners of the Nazi regime from whichever ethnic that does not fit in the Aryan race criteria… That day, only one thing remained still in my memory… A huge stone in the middle of the camp with two words written on it in five different languages… “Never Again”…

Last month, during my trip, I spent two days in Berlin, I didn’t have much time to cover the huge city, but strolling through its streets, I promised myself not to miss visiting two specific places; the Checkpoint Charlie (the crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War), and the remains of the Berlin Wall… I cannot possibly describe how reading personal testimonials from people and events that took place in the places I was standing in made me feel… It has always terrified me; this fact that one day a place was there, and the next day it was divided… Can you imagine living in Heliopolis, only to wake up someday to find yourself enforced to take a permit to visit relatives or friends living in Haram for example…? Can you possibly understand how is it to live in a divided city…? The idea of expulsion and displacement is as heartbreaking as the stories of wars, genocides, and destruction’s of cities, and humans are equally the criminals and victims in all cases…

My German encounter throughout the two visits left me facing one fact… These people have paid the price of the Nazi regime fully… But most importantly; they acknowledged their mistakes, and promised themselves, before they promise the world, that not under any given circumstances will they allow this to happen one more time… and hence the “Never Again”!

But, the thing is, my astonishment was not only related to the German experience and what the WWII left the world in. I was privileged with visiting Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic twice during the past two years… throughout the two times I went, I used to join arranged walks with freelancing tour guides who take us into the streets of the old preserved city, which miraculously survived the WWII, telling dozens of stories about the places, the architecture, but most importantly about the terrible history of the country under the communist regime. Yes, I went to three guided walks, with three different guides, in three different spots of the city, and they all stopped at one point of their history and told us stories about how they suffered under the rule of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia that started by the coup d’état in February 1948 and ended with the Velvet Revolution in 1989…

During the last tour, one of the attendees asked the guide a simple question; why do you guys keep telling foreigners such stories about the ugly side of the history of this beautiful city, and the answer was as astonishing as the stories were… The young guide said that they insist on telling the story to everyone, to remind themselves, the young generation, as well as the whole world, that they lived terrible years because they never said no, that they suffered for accepting what they shouldn’t have, and that they are not intending to forget about it, so as to make sure, it will never happen again, not to them, and not to any other nation if possible… that simple!

To cut a long story short, if it is one thing I have learned that would conclude my whole experience throughout the past two years, it would be how vital self-assessment and recognizing one’s own flaws and mistakes is… that’s the key word I believe…

These people made it through just because they were strong enough to face the reality that they are not angels… that they did mistakes… that they were defeated more than once, but remained believing in the good inside them… and above all, remained humans; realizing they will only move forward when they remind themselves and their younger generations that whatever the price they had to pay was, they can never allow the root cause of their failures to happen again…

I wish that someday, we would look back and tell our children and grandchildren how we failed, how we were mistaken about ourselves at times, and how we managed eventually to be strong enough to work out our own imperfections and allow the good to rise above the bad…

I wish…

Rou…

January 22, 2014

Advertisements

January 12, 2013

A Marathon, Not a Sprint!

Posted in English, Reflections at 11:10 am by Rou...

I am relatively late this year in having my annual talk with myself; considering last year’s happenings on all levels, analyzing my successes as well as my failures, contemplating and reflecting, looking back and looking forward, and finally building some new resolutions for the New Year… It’s almost mid Jan, but I finally did it; better late than never!

Well, if there’s only one lesson I’ve learned, it would be this: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint!

If it’s only one immediate action that I need to take, it would be this: I have to shift gears into the mindset of a long distance runner instead of a sprinter; some things are better taken slowly but surely!

I haven’t done much of my last year’s resolutions; one of my biggest failures… Yet, I am determined to take this year’s ones more seriously…

Have a good year ahead, hopefully! 🙂

Rou…

December 10, 2012

I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!

Posted in English, Fav. Movie Quotes, Revolutionary and Politician at 5:36 pm by Rou...

I don’t have to tell you things are bad; everybody knows things are bad… It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job… The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter… Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it…

We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be…

We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy…
It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore… We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’ …

Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone… I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad…

You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!’…

So I want you to get up now… I want all of you to get up out of your chairs… I want you to get up right now and go to the window… Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’…

I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!’ …

Things have got to change… But first, you’ve gotta get mad!…
You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!’, then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis…

But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

— From “Network” movie

September 13, 2012

Egyptian Banknotes – Mosques III

Posted in English, Places at 9:34 pm by Rou...

Remaining banknotes, including 2 trials for Mohamed Ali mosque…
25 PT: Sayeda Aisha Mosque

25 PT: Sayeda Aisha Mosque

50 LE: Mosque of Qajmas al-Ishaqi (Abu Hariba Mosque)

50 LE: Mosque of Qajmas al-Ishaqi (Abu Hariba Mosque)

20 LE: Muhammad Ali Mosque (Inside Citadel of Salahdin)

20 LE: Muhammad Ali Mosque (Inside Citadel of Salahdin)

20 LE: Muhammad Ali Mosque (Inside Citadel of Salahdin)

20 LE: Muhammad Ali Mosque (Inside Citadel of Salahdin)

September 1, 2012

Egyptian Banknotes – Mosques II

Posted in English, Places at 2:08 pm by Rou...

Second Trials 🙂
50 PT: Al-Azhar Mosque

50 PT: Al-Azhar Mosque

1 LE: Sultan Qait Bay Mosque

1 LE: Sultan Qait Bay Mosque

5 LE: Ahmed Ibn Touloun Mosque

5 LE: Ahmed Ibn Touloun Mosque

Egyptian Banknotes – Mosques

Posted in English, Places at 12:28 am by Rou...

Today I started some first trials for photos of mosques on our Egyptian Banknotes… I started with 3 mosques in the same area, to be continued very soon insh’Allah with the remaining banknotes… Enjoy! 🙂
200 LE: The Mosque of Qani-Bay Al-Rammah

200 LE: The Mosque of Qani-Bay Al-Rammah

100 LE: Sultan Hassan Mosque

100 LE: Sultan Hassan Mosque

10 LE: Refa’ie Mosque

10 LE: Refa’ie Mosque

May 19, 2012

Heliopolis…

Posted in Arabic, English, Places, Reflections, Slang at 1:05 am by Rou...

I video tapped this home-made documentary as part of a presentation I did in May 2010 for a cultural group I am moderating and part of (Pen Temple Pilots), in Diwan Heliopolis. It was my first time ever to edit a movie, so forgive the bad quality of voice at some parts; I am just an amateur after all…

The first 2 minutes of the movie are a Documentary by ON TV called:
(مصر الجديدة: درة الرمال (دقيقتين في مصر الجديدة

My lovely family gave me the honor of being part of that movie, sharing with me their memories in beautiful Heliopolis…
– د. نادية خليفة
– د. منى خليفة
– أ. هدى خيري
– لواء منير عباس

References and Photos used in the presentation (couldn’t upload it here) and the movie goes as follows:

Music Background:
– 3rd-Movement track from Marcel Khalifa’s album: Jadal Oud

Books:
-Heliopolis; Rebirth of the city of the sun, Agnieszka Dobrowolska, Jarostaw Dobrowlski, AUC Press
-Mémoires Héliopolitaines, Centre Français de culture et de coopération de l’Ambassade de France en République Arabe d’Egypte
-Retour d’Egypte: Ernest Jaspar (1876-1940) D’ Héliopolis à Hyderabad, Anne Van Loo, Figures de l’orientalisme en architecture
-عطر المكان وعبقرية الإنسان: مصر الجديدة حي له تاريخ؛ سيرة شعبية وإجتماعية من إعداد عبد الله بلال

Papers:
-Memories of the East; From Henegovia to Heliopolis, Scientific Institution of the French Community in Belgium
-شيماء سمير عاشور، “إطلالة على المعماريين المصريين الرواد خلال الفترة الليبرالية بين ثورتي 1919 و 1952م”، رسالة ماجستير غير منشورة، كلية الهندسة، جامعة القاهرة
-سمير حسني، رسالة ماجستير عن عمارة القرن العشرين، جامعة عين شمس
-مجلة البيت ملحق بعنوان حكاية في مائة عام
-مجلة مصر المحروسة

If you are a Heliopolitian, I guarantee you will love it… 🙂

تمضي مواكب السنون… و يتوالى تدفق الأجيال… لكن يظل عطر المكان فواحاً…
و تبقى مصر الجديدة… دٌرَّة الرمال…

Rou…

May 15, 2012

Of Borders and Human Beings

Posted in English, Fav. Lyrics, Quotes, Reflections at 2:40 am by Rou...

Last Saturday I went to a concert in Genena Theatrein Azhar Park, as the last night of the Spring Festival which is held every 2 years and Egypt had the honor of hosting it this year… a worth mentioning incident happened which is that 2 members of Ajam band (which is an Iranian band based in the UK) were not granted Egypt’s VISA, and the only reason was; they are Iranians! WoW! What a reason that forbids artists to share their art! What a reason to prevent the 2 oldest nations in the history of the world to connect culturally… I didn’t have time to write about this in time, but my dearest friend Ola who was my companion in this event did, and I am very much thankful she put that in words… and now that I read her post and how heartfelt it is, I find myself obliged to write about it despite the workload I am stuck into…

Do you know that song of Wust el Balad; “Magnoon”? It has a part that says: “عواصم مافيش مافيش.. مافيش جوازات سفر.. حدود مافيش مافيش سدود بين البشر”… That was actually the first thing that crossed my mind listening to the words of Amin during the concert, that Ola mentioned already in her post: “All those who have studied ethnic music, have discovered that when you go to a border area, you find music crossing smoothly over border, it doesn’t stop over that line drawn by governments.”…

And it makes me think… geographical borders sometimes exceed geography and creates border between nations, a border that flows from past to future, while it shouldn’t… I never understood the concept of borders actually… not only between different countries, but also those inside the same country, so you find yourself crossing the border from Cairo to Alex, or from Minia to Sohag …etc…, as if it’s a checkpoint to put you in the mindset that “others” are different, no matter who those “others” were… Borders should not limit a cross-cultural collaboration whether it is within a cultural, artistic, or a social context…

And in fact, it is one of the missions of such events, festivals, exchange programs, workshops…etc… to cut across boundaries and form unique dialogues that holds us as human beings together, crossing both musical, cultural, social, political, and geographical borders.

Thanks Ola again, and in all cases, that was such a beautiful inspiring night, so much needed in such tough days! 🙂

And last but not least… يسقط حكم العسكر!

Rou…

November 3, 2011

Sama’khana – Of Self Peace

Posted in English, Places, Quotes, Reflections at 1:10 am by Rou...

The Naqshibendi, Sheikh Necmeddin said: “When you are everywhere, you are nowhere. When you are somewhere, you are everywhere.”…
I always enjoy strolling around old Islamic Cairo… especially at those cozy days preparing for PTP walks with Alia… it’s always different you know… seeing things you didn’t notice before, or getting the chance to sneak around and enter closed places like what happened in the citadel a couple of months ago allowing me to see, for the first time in my life, the place where the Mamluks’ massacre took place at Bab el Azzab, and seeing the famous eagle of Saladin at the side wall of one of the citadel’s huge towers…

Last Saturday we had PTP walk visiting several places in Saliba and Suyufiya streets… We started our walk at the awe-inspiring Sultan Hassan, then headed towards Saliba Street where we got to know about three different eras of Egypt’s history; Mamluks, Ottoman, and Tulunid, visiting Sabil-Kuttab of Sultan Qaitbay, Amir Shaykhu Mosque and Khanqah, then entering Suyufiya Street at the corner where Sabil Um Abbas stands, where we visited Amir Taz Palace, and ended our tour at the Mawlawiyah complex that includes Madrasset Sunqur Al-Saadi, the Mausoleum of Hassan Sadaqa , an Old Tulunid fountain, and the brilliant Sama’khana…

I have to say that this was one of the most enjoyable walks I’ve done in quite some time… Beside the beautiful company, it was the challenge of talking about Mavlana Jalalu’ddin Rumi, and the purity the Sama’khana brings to one’s heart that affected me the most…

Farid al-din ‘Attar says: “If you are possessed of discernment joined with knowledge, seek the company of the dervishes”… isn’t that true…?
I cannot remember when was the last time I felt that relaxed, staring at the board in the middle of the circular dancing floor of Sama’khana that says “يا حضرت مولانا”, enjoying the experience of looking within and undercovering the buried treasure within oneself for those few moments, and contemplating in the inspirational feeling that place brings to the heart…

Rumi says: “Appear as you are. Be as you appear”… let it be so…

Have a good day,
Rou…

April 17, 2011

Of Power and Pharaohs…

Posted in English, Quotes, Reflections, Revolutionary and Politician at 6:05 pm by Rou...

A friend forwarded today an email from AUC’s president Lisa Anderson notifying the AUC community that starting April 17th 2011, the Suzan Mubarak Conference Hall of the AUC will be changed to Waleed Building P071… He was mainly wondering if history is repeating itself by removing Mubarak’s names from Cities, Bridges, Underground stations, conference halls, and his pictures from all the public places, comparing this to the aftermath of the 1952 Coup d’état which lead to removing everything related to King Farouk for years from Egypt’s history…

Personally speaking, I am pro removing the Mubarak Family names from any official or non-official venue, because it was not right having their names put in the first place… take one famous example of the Police Academy, why on earth would it be called after a president’s name…?

However, the interesting point to me was tackling the idea of removing the whole history of this era, not only the names… One of the very provoking scenes for instance was watching the picture of King Farouk in Black and White movies with scratches over it, as if they wanted to remove anything related to this era by just removing a picture in a movie… the thing is, no matter how dark a period seem to be and whether we liked it or not, it is part of our history, and it is only by understanding our mistakes during this era, that we will be able to lead a better life…

In his email, my friend said: “I hope we will be removing them, not replacing them with pictures and names of our new ‘elected’ enemy”… His words left me wondering actually; why do we need to have a picture of the president or his name put anywhere… I can only see it as our way of creating our own Pharaohs… but, now that we are – hopefully – going to have an employee in the president’s vacancy and not another Pharaoh, so I hope we will not do the same mistakes all over again… Egypt’s name, flag or any other portrait can be hung on walls, and not the coming president’s picture… Places can someday be called after somebody’s name, but not while he is in power, and only if he had done something exceptional, not his basic job…

I always keep this quote in my mind: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”… so, in short, the last thing we need is overrating those in power once again…

Rou…

Next page