Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Tweets of 2012


Asalamu Alaykom,




I rejoined Twitter in 2012.  These are some of the tweets which resounded the most with others.


November 21, 2012

History repeats. The Jews have re-created their own Kristallnacht; "Night of Broken Glass" in Gaza and it's many times over.


November 20, 2012

Offering a fun, painless way to really learn Arabic Numbers in 5 minutesafterhardship.blogspot.com/2012/11/learni…

November 16, 2012

I prayed all night for America during #Sandy. I prayed for people I didn't know. WHY? That's the human heart. We care. #LetsSaveGaza

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Egyptian Engagement Party


Asalamu Alaykom,




I have survived another Egyptian engagement party.  One thing we can allllll be grateful for is that it wasn't mine.  It was for my brother-in-law.  If I never have another engagement party, I'll be a very happy woman.

This heavily laddened table pictured above was for the women of our family.  Like truly modest people, the men had their time of eating and the women had theirs.  We did not eat together nor socialize together.  I'm fine with that.

There was some question from my husband whether or not I could handle myself in such a foreign setting.  Would I know what to do?

"YES, OF COURSE!  HOW DARE YOU EVEN SUGGEST I CAN'T!"  

Let's just say that the actual words were much worse and the actual fight was much longer.    

Later, I begin to doubt myself.  Being American, means that I have deeply ingrained beliefs and behaviors which Islam and Egypt can't erase no matter how hard they try.  As the night grew darker, I started to feel sick to my stomach from nerves.  I had completely rebuffed my husband's fears but the truth was that I was nervous.  Would I be be all right come seven o'clock?

I figured out how I could deal with the situation.  I brought my "little friend" to shoot everyone.  No, I didn't do a "Scarface" and bring my gun.  I brought my camera.  I have used my camera many times to hide behind while interacting:

  • when my son met his father's twins
  • when my kindergartners arrived for the first day
  • when the sheep was slaughtered on Eid


This would be equally tough.  I was meeting the woman I would live with whether I liked her or not.  Living in our family house means that we all have our individual space but we're communal.  We eat together at mealtimes.  We come together in times of happiness and sadness.  We bond as we protect each other and support one other reach their goals.  We are a family.  She would be my family.  At the same time, it was going to be tough because I was almost left at home for being not quite Egyptian enough.  I did have to prove myself a bit.

Alhumdulillah, that camera came along.  My husband was right.  I couldn't sit still for very long just staring at the ladies lining the four walls.  I'm not sure what joy Egyptian women find in that moment.  I find none.  I have to talk and laugh and joke.  I have to be active.  Being so inanimate is an antithesis to my nature.

I started with my little niece, the former rent-a-baby now known as rent-a-girlie.  She was standing at the ornate marble table lovingly touching the bouquet of flowers she would present to her future auntie.  Carefully, oh-so-carefully, she would pinch one tiny petal off and enclose it within her tiny fist.  Being three means you can't stop yourself from capturing beauty.




Maybe there's a three or four-year-old part of me which never left me.  I had to capture her.  She was my first photo.  After that, the party was easy.  I could be a participator from behind my lens.  I could get smiles because the camera was eliciting happy responses.  It is a blessing to find such a helpful coping mechanism.

The funny thing is that eventually you remember to breathe and enjoy.  You realize that your fears were unfounded.  You are happy.  You are part of the party.  You are not anyone's focus.  You are simply a participator in the night's festivities because you live a really nice life.  Subhanallah.  



  
All of us are just bumping along together hoping for happiness and wishing the best for everyone---especially for the future bride and groom.  May Allah reward them for their adherance to adab.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Spiritual Starfish


Asalamu Alaykom,




I've been searching for---
no, not for---
I've been searching
with
a spiritual starfish


Among many exes
I was surprised to see
one exo
skeletal friend
supportive; protective;
mine.  For me.


It was injured in the move---
the moves of many---
and from my immobility.
Yet it survived and thrived
ready to grow another limb of
spirituality.


Together, he ---
or she---
(I'm not sure which and
I'm too shy to pry)
We two are going through
these seas to seize
what we might
be.


Just a woman with inabilty
and a spiritual starfish
growing bigger, stronger
each limb growing longer
even if by chance
I break

Together we regenerate




Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Agony Aunt: Her Muslim Boyfriend


Asalamu Alaykom,



Madonna and Brahim Zabat


It's Christmas.

I've been told by a sheik on TV not to wish anyone a, "Merry Christmas," but I certainly wished it with my mother last night.  If you are celebrating Christmas today, then I wish you the best as well.

I have an "Agony Aunt" question from a Non-Muslim mom:


I want to know whether or not you believe a Christian can be happily married to a Muslim man.  My daughter has a Muslim boyfriend from Turkey.  It seems to be quite serious.  They are very much in love.  I would not be surprised if they are discussing marriage.  I'm not against her having him as a boyfriend but I do worry about them getting married.

I've heard of other Christian girls marrying Muslims who then get very strict with their wives.  I don't want this for my daughter.  I don't think this would happen with this particular man since he is very well-educated and modern.  However, I'd like to know your feelings on it.



First of all, I think it's great that you are open to whatever direction your daughter's happiness seems to take her.  You are truly a good mom to allow her the freedom to explore life to the fullest.  It is hard to see our children go onto paths which could lead them into heartbreak.  I really can relate to that.  However, you are not an alarmist about her choices and that's really positive.  



Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed


There's an oxymoron we need to deal with straight off the bat.  An "oxymoron" is a contradiction in terms.  You simply cannot have "a Muslim boyfriend."  There is no such thing.  Sure, men can allow themselves to be thought of that way but it's not possible.  The only person able to call him or herself, "Muslim," is a person who practises their faith. If a man is a practising Muslim then he can't be having a dating relationship with a woman outside of marriage.

My brother-in-law is a practising Muslim.  He just got promised to a local woman.  Thank God!  He really deserves some happiness.  I find his courtship of his new lady to be really interesting.  He didn't know her.  The families knew of each other.  My husband accompanied his brother (since their father is deceased) to make their family's interest officially known to her family.  The two possible spouses were then allowed to talk to each other.  They agreed to marry.  Now and only now does my brother-in-law go to her house for dinner on Fridays.  They do not go outside of her home.  It is a gradual process of about a year.  That is Islamic and it has nothing to do with being modern or not.  It has to do with being modest.

Obviously, there can be other ways of being modest with a marriage proposal.  I'm not suggesting this example from Egypt is the only way.  However, dating, sleeping together, taking trips together and living together are not allowable in Islam before marriage IN ANY COUNTRY.



Miss Finland finalist Anni Uusivirta with Mohamed Khalid Tukholmassa


Non-Muslim women wishing to marry a Muslim man should not be that man's dirty little secret.  There should be communication with his family; not just him with your family.  He should be treating her the way he would want his sisters treated.  Would he want his sisters to be sexual with a man before marriage?  No.  If he is not, "making an honest woman" out of your daughter then he is not valuing her as much as his sisters.

You are classifying your daughter's man as "Muslim" probably more than he does himself.  He's from Turkey. Turkey is not really sure if the European Union will allow it to be an actual Muslim country.  It's happy being Western and thinking that it's more advanced this way.  Is he believing he's Western?


Perrie Edwards with Zayn Malik and his family


Is he a practising Muslim as far as his prayers, Fridays and fasts?  Allah knows better than anyone.  My guess is that her Muslim boyfriend is not.  She hasn't, therefore, really seen or felt what it's like to be together with an actual Muslim man.  If they marry and he stays on the same course there isn't a problem for their relationship (though Islamically, there would be a problem for his soul).


Janet Jackson and Wissam Al Mana

Click here for an interesting explanation of who is a modern Muslim man from his own point of view.  I think it's good to be very informed; both for your daughter and you yourself.  Understand that her man will not drastically change from the the traditions his family holds dear.  How much do they practice their faith?  As he grows older, he is more likely to embrace the practices of his faith.  Do not bet on him converting to Christianity (though it's happened to others, it's unlikely).  Do not expect him to meet your daughter halfway.


There are five icebergs ready to sink their relationship
To know them means that she can navigate the waters better.


Papers  Yes, he could only be interested in her for papers.  That's sad and I'm sorry to bring it up.  The truth is that there are a lot of desperate men out there who need a way out of poverty or lack of opportunity.  They use their good looks and charisma the same way desperate women have used theirs throughout history.  No one is using anyone else; it's simply a trade-off.  No one gets hurt as long as it's understood...however it's often not understood by the woman.



Renewed Faith  Muslim men feel Islam in their core---even if they deny it for years.  This core feeling gets reignited at times of deep pain like grieving a death or experiencing illness.  Often, when a non-practising Muslim searches for meaning at times of uncertainty they re-find Islam.  If he were to suddenly enter into observance again, could she handle that?

I would recommend she read up on the obligations of Muslims.  She should know the five pillars of Islam, what a real Ramadan entails and what a Muslim husband expects from a wife and children.



Children  Often there isn't a big problem in a marriage---and I mean ANY marriage---until there are children.  Why?  Because children represent our highest hopes.  Those hopes, once again, emanate from that core of our being.  He might seem like a regular Joe but he isn't.  He has hopes residing in him from a long line of Muslim family members.  Your daughter does not have this in her.  There are clashes with most couples when it comes to raising children.  It is even more so with cross-cultural, interfaith couples.

She should know that he expects the children to be Muslim.  There is no, "giving them the options and letting them decide for themselves later."  That's very Democratic but not Islamic.  These would be your Muslim grandchildren.  Are you ready for that?  Even if your daughter gets to name them something Anglo, they would have to adhere to some of his family's deeply held beliefs.

You might not be able to have some of the times you dreamt of:  decorating a Christmas tree, having an Easter egg hunt or taking them to church.  You might! But be prepared for not being able to have everything you wished for.  It would be his right as the father to raise them as Muslims.

She should read and understand what raising a Muslim child is all about.  What are the differences?  They should discuss options, ideas and ideals BEFORE getting married.  If she doesn't agree with him about children then she shouldn't marry and therefore should stop seeing him.


His Family His family might not welcome her.  That doesn't mean that they are closed-minded bigots.  They simply might view reality differently than you and your family.  Being open to new ideas in some cultures is asking for ridicule and harassment.  They probably never dreamt of having a Non-Muslim daughter-in-law (and this is doubly true if she's divorced with children from before).  

If they had a deal with another family to marry him to their daughter, then be prepared for that to be a burden on him that he might not be able to break.  A lot of "starting a family" the Muslim way has to do with strengthening bonds between families not individuals.  It starts with the parents' decision and not the children's.  

Many Muslim men, like many men in general,  fool around before settling down.  They have their fun and then have their families pick the mother of their children.  No one wants discord or divorce.  There is a feeling that a "love marriage" can end when the love fades whereas an "arranged marriage" lasts forever.  "Arranged" doesn't mean that the man goes kicking and screaming to the ceremony.  Many men view the intervention of their mothers, aunts and sisters to find a bride as a helpful blessing.



Reverting  Lastly, I am going to mention what sunk my "Muslim boyfriend" boat.  It was increased faith---mine not his.

Once upon a time, AbuBoo was my Muslim boyfriend.  I came to Islam independent of him because of my beliefs in Allah.  I thought, however, that by me entering into Islam we would become more unified.  It had the opposite effect.

Often, women who are drawn to Muslim men are actually trying to find Islam.  They get introduced to the faith through faithless men.  That's the reality and it's from Allah Subhana Wa Tallah.  However, once interested in Islam, these same women research it, explore both the religion and themselves and come up MORE connected to Islam than to their husbands.  At that time, the marriage could succeed or fail but it's up to their man to change for the better.  Men rarely change for someone else (just like they rarely ask for directions or read instructions).  Only a Muslim man who wants to grow in his faith with his more religious, revert wife can hold a marriage together .

For myself, I can explain the six years I had like this:

The first year, 2001, I dated my Muslim boyfriend.  It was the big love; the crazy love; the love of my life.  He already was getting his American citizenship so it had nothing to do with papers.

The second year, 2002, I reverted to Islam and we married.  His family did welcome me.  We were now halal in many ways but not all.

The third year, 2003, I was fully in Islam as a praying hijabi.  He then made the choice to follow me into a deeper, more meaningful Islam.  As much as he had helped me to come to Islam, I also helped him.

The fourth year, 2004, was feeling like our best year together because we were connected to each other and to Allah.  We were both working meaningful jobs helping the community.  It was at this time that we agreed on having a child.

The fifth year, 2005, our son's impeding birth brought out the Muslim boyfriend from the man I had married.  I had lost my Muslim husband even as I was pregnant with his child.  His attempt to stay rooted in Islam had failed.

That last year together, 2006, was very painful.  It was full of hope for what I wished our lives to be and what was reality.  I had to face the fact that my son's life needed me even if I felt I was inadequate to raise him alone.  I had to be alone.  We had been left to fend for ourselves.  That was December, 2006.  Six years ago today, I remember being very, very alone in my new apartment with my baby and my faith.

That apartment is six homes ago---and on a different continent no less.  That handsome boy is now seven years old.  Mashallah.  My faith has grown.  Alhumdulillah.  I am married as a Muslim to another Muslim and "yes" it is easier though marriage itself can be a very difficult gig.

So, to you, the mother of the daughter with the Muslim boyfriend, keep loving your girl.  Stay open to her path even if it causes her pain and takes her in directions you never would have chosen.  My mother never would have chosen my life for me but she loves who I am in this moment...

and so do I.

I am who I am from a sum total of everyone and everything I've experienced...

including my Muslim boyfriend.



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Melody Makes Me Laugh


Asalamu Alaykom,





It's been a long week, hasn't it?

For me, the week is done---and because God is the Greatest, I have the next two weeks off.  Alhumdulillah!

It's time to laugh a little so I'm going to share some Egyptian commercials for Melody, a satellite network.  This series comes under the heading, "Tatahda El Mallal".  Its nothing new.  I think these were playing on TV back in 2009 when we first arrived here in Egypt.  Then as now, you absolutely don't have to know Arabic to get the gist.

The first one I've posted above is of an annoying taxi driver.  Basically, every commercial focused on eradicating a different kind of annoying Egyptian.

This is one of my favorites.




This next one, even though I'm a teacher, makes me laugh.  This isn't a teacher but a tutor.  Egyptian kids have hours upon hours of tutoring to make up for their inability to learn at school.



Man-on-the-street interviews are a staple of Egyptian TV and so are annoying people in the background.



These crack me up!

Oh, and the shortest one of all---





What I find the funniest part of that elevator scene is hearing the Bee Gees as the man gets pummelled.

There are more.  Some are too inappropriate for me to share here.  Search if you wish.  I hope you get a laugh.

Don't we all need one?


Friday, December 14, 2012

The Real on the School


Asalamu Alaykom,




I've made it through the first week of teaching at my new job!  The last time I got to a Thursday on the job was back in September when I was informed that my class was going to be closing.  Three days and BUZZ!  You're all done with those kids!  Alhumdulillah, that didn't happen this time.

I'm teaching English for 5th, 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th.

I verge on nervousness about my job performance.  Sure, I'm an old pro...but it's been a while since I've taught the big kids.  It's also been a while since I've had this much mandatory reading.

I've got to get through the rest of The Wheel on the School  written with a lot of honesty by Meindert DeJong.  It's an enjoyable chapter book.  I'd recommend it as a nightly bedtime story for first grade and up.  Shora is a quaint Dutch village without storks and the school children are spurred on to solve that. The pictures are by Maurice Sendak.  The only problem with reading it to Mr. Boo at bedtime is that I'm not hitting my deadline.  I have to finish in order to write up comprehension questions before Winter Break.

Can you believe (subhanallah) how great it is to have two weeks of work and then two weeks off?  Really, that's a blessing!  I can get my big toe in and then figure out how to dive in after perhaps better digesting what I've bitten off.

Alhumdulillah, I'm enjoying my time.  I'm able to read texts and construct lessons around them that are on a level which really stretch me.  I feel I'm growing in new ways.  I have had some success in teaching and no known goof-ups (yet).

Mr. Boo re-started second grade this week.  He is very freely telling anyone who asks that, "I don't really like it."  AMERICAN HONESTY!  Yes, I wish he'd work on his Egyptian cordiality a bit more.

He actually wanted to run away during his intensive Arabic lesson.  He's fine in English and Math (alhumdulillah) but Arabic was lagging behind.  I hadn't been able to study that with him.  So, this school gives extra lessons in a smaller setting until he catches up.  I teach an intensive English class which does the same thing. I think it's a great method of handling struggling students.

One of the biggest blessings is that I finally have a place to pray at work.  This has never happened before in Egypt; not at the international language school and not at the Islamic school.  No....NOT at the Islamic school.  When I toured that school, I had been promised a designated prayer place which never materialized. Men and boys, along with very young children, could pray en masse on the lawn but women and girls had to ferret out a random pray spot around the "Islamic" school.

Now?  I can go into the little carpeted station at the end of the hall, shut the door, kick off my shoes, and pray.  It is a glorious feeling.  Alhumdulillah.  It means that I've found a home.  Thank God!

While I pray, I ask God, the same God who gave me the job in the first place, to give me strength.  Obviously, Allah knows the strength I'll need to get through the challenges of a new workplace.  Allah knows my weaknesses.  If I ask for humble help in my prayer then I can feel strong enough to continue inshahallah.

I need to continue.  By the Grace of God, I will.

After writing this, I checked my Twitter feed before turning off the computer.  I half expected to find some bad news from Egypt; of protests, polling, and dissent.  Instead, I discovered sad news from an American school.  Though I know no one in Conneticut, my grief as a mom and a teacher rose up inside me.  I looked through the photos which the principal, Dawn Hochsprung had once posted.  She's gone now.  The photos remain.  If you want to see an idyllic school where children study with their teacher underneath a big tree, then take a moment to cherish what was.  And then, because we are people of faith, please send another prayer for those children, their families, America and the world.

May God reward the heroic actions of those teachers and school leaders who fought for goodness until the end.  May God increase the faith of the parents in that small community and in the country.  May God guide us to the righteous way so that we may protect those who need us the most; the children.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Another Friday in Egypt


Asalamu Alaykom,





It's another Friday in Egypt.

Normally, we wish each other "Jummah Mabrook," because the day of congregational prayer is a happy one.  Since the Arab Spring, Fridays aren't always anticipated with joy.  The day has become a time of protest.  For me, that's sad.

Back in 2011, there was a joke going around that Libya's dictator Maumar Ghadaffi had found a way to quell his country's uprising.  He had ordered new calendars to be made which eliminated all Fridays.

Don't tell President Morsi this joke.  No one is really sure if he would take it in the same vein as it was intended.  Even those who voted for him wonder who he is now.

Yet, we know who we are.



Mashahallah.  Look at this hard-working man.  This is the spirit of Egypt.  It's not all about who can stand in front of the Presidential Palace the longest.  It's about who can show the most resilience in the side streets.




Mashahallah.  It's the woman who rides her donkey as it carries her mint to market.  She is quiet and unassuming.  I wish I could run down the stairs, fling open the door and hug her tight as my sister.  Don't worry---I won't.  I don't because I've learned to simply admire all these familiar strangers from a distance and pray for them.  I pray for so many people I know by sight but don't even know by name.  They don't know how they build my faith in Egypt's future.



Mashahallah.  It's the dependable people who make the effort every day of their lives because it falls down to them.  No one else will help them so they've got to help themselves.  This man selling the foul medamnes; the beans for breakfast, is met all over with hungry hands and empty bowls.  He fulfills a need for so many.  He is a simple hero.  The world needs more simple heroes.



Mashahallah.  It's the caregivers of Egypt I adore.  They care tirelessly for families, homes, animals, their community and their country.  It's not easy to raise a family in Egypt.  It's long hours and it's backbreaking.  Yet, the beautiful women of Egypt do it every single day of their lives.




Mashallah.  It's the girls.



And it's the boys too.  Mashahallah.

It's the hope for the future I have every time I talk to the children of Egypt.  I teach them because I have hope.  They can be what we couldn't be.



Mashahallah it's a little boy like this who can save Egypt from itself.  He can catch up to his Baba and even surpass him.



So, on this Friday (yet another Friday in Egypt), I leave you with this hope for the future.  It might not fully materialize itself today but it absolutely WILL NOT be extinguished today.  I will not let it.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Modest Mobiles


Asalamu Alaykom,



Whenever possible, I use pictures of covered Muslim women to illustrate my points.  I have a couple of reasons for this.


First, I want to promote the idea of modesty as an ideal.


Secondly, many of my readers are Muslim women who want and even need to see themselves in the illustrations.  Now, the women in these pictures might actually be Muslim----for real!  I have no idea.  They simply don't look Muslim because they are not covered.



In addition, I also attempt to balance out the pictures I post so that not everyone is white and blond.  


Have you figured out what the common denominator is with these photos?  They are all of women on cell phones; mobiles.  They're all out in public and taking a call.  Covered Muslim women do that too, of course, but I can't find a photo to prove that (so just take my word).

What I find interesting is how a woman's face changes when she takes the call.  I see it on the streets here in Egypt.  No matter how composed her features were before, they suddenly shift so she becomes an open book.  You see the beautiful smile and the glint in her eyes.  If you're close enough you'll hear her smooth voice as she talks to someone she cares about.  She becomes very attractive and even desirable.

Here's the problem:  there's got to be a difference between the public and the private.  We women should not allow every person on the street to see our most open selves.  We are warned to cover ourselves when we go out.  Even if you aren't a hijabi, you still wear more when you go out than when you're in your bedroom.  We protect our tenderness.  We shield our softness from those who are coarse and rough.

Yet, when we hear a ring, we drop our guard and grab the phone.  The caller can't see our smile but everyone else can.  They don't deserve it!  It's not a good idea to flash these private looks to the public masses.

Why?  Because those moments someone is calling you actually calls attention to you.  We don't want to be showing our bedroom face at the bus stop.  We don't want to be flirting with our honey and unaware that a male passerby got interested in us as well.  No matter what we put on our heads, if we put that phone up to our ear and start forgetting our modesty then it's a fitnah.

Let's limit our talk time to PUBLIC talk and not private talk while we are around others.  Remember to keep your face from flashing love, lust and excitement.  Stay composed.  Hide your conversation from the masses.  Make it so private that someone glancing over at you couldn't tell if it's your elderly aunt or your fiance on the phone.

Yes, there's a thrill to an incoming call but when you get that thrill----CHILL!




Friday, November 30, 2012

Cairo Traffic is Ballet for Cars


Asalamu Alaykom,



This Thursday morning, I spent from 9:00 until 10:30 going from Al-Haram to Maadi.  On a normal day, the trip across the Nile would take 45 minutes at the most.  Yesterday?  An hour and a half.  Even a normal person would get a case of claustrophobia from such an experience.  There are no off-ramps.  You are stuck.  I truly relied on remembrance of Allah to get me through the ordeal.  

I have spent a lot of time here sitting in traffic---we all do in Egypt!  When I stare out my window I notice things.  I love to see the decorations on the cars and truck.

Do you see the carved back to the truck's cab?  It's maybe a little confusing to your depth perception with the truck behind it overloaded with cauliflower.  It's cauliflower season now.


This has the decoration in the vehicle.  Micro bus drivers live many hours behind the wheel and create a home away from home for themselves.


Many have small LCD screens playing a video right next to them as they drive (which is not the most comforting thing to see as a passenger).

I enjoy seeing the artistic choices an ordinary person makes which turns the mundane into something extraordinary.  No one forces the driver to personalize his or her vehicle but they do.  They want to stand out in the crowd.


Every truck driver wants the proclaim they've got a Mercedes or a Chevrolet.  They all want to label their truck as, "JUMBO"  but many mislabel it as "JUMPO".  One truck yesterday was writing a Swahili greeting with "JAMBA"

If the driver is a dad, you'll see ABU or ABO and then their child's name.  This is their honorary title.  I can imagine how proud they are the day they tell the detailer to paint it across the front of their truck.



I love the name of Allah on vehicles.  I love that I live in a country where that is respected; not hated or feared.  No matter how long I've been waiting in traffic, I smile when I see Allah's name.




I also smile when I see the Quran on the dashboards.



If I see Arabic then I spend time trying to read it.  This says, "Bismallah".

Mr. Boo and I have a game of spotting English.  It helps us pass the time and hopefully improves his reading abilities.
I'm forever seeing an outline of a cool dude with the word xmen on his T-shirt.  I can't find an image for it on the 'net.  I don't think it has anything to do with Wolverine.

There's  Bushee '01 which is all over the place but I can't find an example of that either. I might have to go take some more pictures.  I don't even know what or who Bushee is.  I can't figure it out!


"Cowboy Up!" is one of the most popular decals you'll see.  It's slang which means to toughen up.  What's kind of amazing is that it's appropriate for anyone trying to brave the streets.

Many of the decals are not appropriate.



You'll see many variations of Calvin peeing.  I always hate getting into a taxi with a man who thought this was a great image for his business car.


Fido Dido is another favorite.


For some reason, the Apple Computers logo is considered cool.  It's all over Egypt as if someone created an app called "the car".



There's also a hand imprint, with the pointer finger a dot of red,  I don't have the exact graphic.  It actually says in English, "Hurt Hand" underneath.  To place a bloody hand print from the blood of a slaughter is considered a blessing on the object.  Not sure if that has anything to do with it.




There are pictures of a thumbs up.  No blood on this hand!





There are footprints.

All of those are plentiful.

Every now and then I'll see a logo I recognize from my life before.  It always makes me chuckle to see some old friends.

 I've sat in taxis with "Mrs. Fields"




 and with "Lysol".



Really, a lot of the reason for a logo appearing doesn't have to do with meaning.  It has to do with the look of the writing.  Actually, the fonts are cool.

For those of you who want to laugh at those stupid Egyptians, let me remind you of all the Chinese and Japanese lettering we Americans find fascinating---yet we can't read it or make sense of it.  There is a way to appreciate lettering for the artistic value alone.  Islam teaches us to value the written word and to honor those who write.  Subhanallah, I never thought I'd look at American logos with this appreciation.

One of the amazing parts of traffic in Egypt is the variety.  It isn't just trucks laden down with produce (and a man sitting down next to it to guard it).



It's live animals zooming past you like these sheep...



or these cows.



When Mr. Boo and I would exit our former school's gates, sometimes we'd see these animals heading down the road.  I'd tell him it was a, "sheep taxi," or a, "cow taxi," and that we could catch a ride if we were able to baah or moo.  He didn't believe me (smart kid).

I need to get a picture of camels in a truck.  That's an amazing sight.  They are all sitting down and the only thing you see are their long necks rising out of the trucks as they look about with their inquisitive eyes.

Close your ears if you don't want to hear me but those camels are not going to be a tourist's ride at the Pyramids.  Just like the sheep and the cows, the camels are going to get slaughtered.  We eat camel meat at our house on average once a week.  It's a real mild flavor.

As an aside, the Prophet Muhamad (pbuh) told the Sahabi to make wudu again after eating camel meat.

In addition to animals, there are earth movers...


school buses...



and tour buses. 


When I see those tourists looking out their windows at the place I live, I feel sorry for them.  They don't seem to be enjoying their experience.  I rarely see anyone smile.  Mostly, they look scared or tired.  I tell Mr. Boo to wave to them.  I told my husband not to wave to them as I knew that would only worry them more.  When they snap pictures of me I have to laugh since I'm not a good example of an Egyptian.

This is what I wish the tourists could see. 



I wish they could see the smiling children of Egypt riding their horses.  It would be unheard of in America to allow these young boys to ride in the middle of traffic, yet somehow it's fine here.  It's carefree and fun.  It's a huge amount of independence.  Honestly?  Just for a moment, wouldn't you love to be one of these happy kids?

The roads are filled with these carts too.



Egypt has so many hard-working men and women who eek out a living by selling what they can.  I'm really proud of such people.  They aren't in Tahrir.  They don't have time to protest.  They simply make a life by doing what they can to earn halal risq; blessed earnings.

Here's a picture which needs some explaining.  


Do you see the donkey?  It's pulling a cart with two huge bags but they aren't heavy.  Those bags are filled with plastic bottles.  The boy on the cart is recycling and he will dig through the trash to find what he needs to help his family survive.  It's dirty work for sure yet I really respect him for saving Egypt from itself.  Without recyclers, I believe that our landfills would be double or triple in size.

There's another story in the picture as well.  Do you see the trucks waiting by the side of the road?  They are waiting in a wedding caravan.  The trucks are piled high with the goods that the fiance has been slowly stockpiling for months and even years.  It isn't easy to get married in Egypt.  The man must have purchased an apartment, the furniture, the appliances, and all the household goods.  This shows the women and children sitting amongst the goods ready to go.

Right after this picture, yelling erupted.  There was one woman who was very mad about something.  I think it was about which truck back she had to commandeer.  She wouldn't listen to anyone no matter how much they shouted at her.  Someone in the group called over the family elder and he quietly reasoned with her.  She got out of the truck and the caravan then started on its way to the new apartment.

Egypt!  Really, I find Egypt fascinating.  If people utter a sentiment like that, usually they mean Ancient Egypt.  For me, I find modern Egypt just as worthy of study.

Many visitors to Egypt lament the traffic.  It's a problem to be sure.  Yesterday, I had to deal with the traffic up close and personal.  However, I also found a way to find the beauty in the moment and to remember and praise Allah.  

There's a kind of Divine choreographing going on with so many people and plans coverging.  Thousands of people want to be in the same place at the same time.  To someone else it is a chaos.  To me, I see the artistry in the moment.  Cairo traffic is ballet for cars.  Everyone finds a way to make it work and to keep flowing through the crowded streets.  There's a kindness towards each other and an acceptance of fate because we're all in this together.    

Alhumdulillah for journeys and for returning home safely.  May all your journeys help you find your way.