Friday, September 20, 2013


Asalamu Alaykom

It's Friday.  Alhumdulillah.

It's my first day off from a 6-day week of teaching middle school English.

It's Egypt.  Alhumdulillah.

Egypt on Friday means that there's civil unrest.  I tried to explain to an imam overseas how Friday in Egypt just doesn't have that "feel good" vibe.  He admonished me.  Yes, Friday is supposed to be a time of togetherness.  I get that, however it isn't the case here.

Yesterday, while I was getting ready for school, I walked out to the salon where my husband had on the morning news show.  I wasn't trying to catch any news.  I'm really too busy to do that.  Be that as it may, I saw a man lying down on a dirt road bleeding profusely from his side.  He was dressed all in white so the bright red blood was more obvious and out-of-place.

"Don't be scared," warned my husband.


"Da fain?"  I asked in Arabic.  We have a lot of these Arablish conversations.

"Kerdassa," he answered; never taking his eyes off the screen.


"Live on air," he said not realizing that was the worst thing to tell me.

"Delwati?!" I was trying to understand the situation before I went out on the road.  Kerdassa just isn't that far away.

"Don't be scared.  Don't be scared."

In Egypt, you simply can't be scared and keep going.  You have to focus on getting done what has to get done.  I went to work.  Everyone was talking about Kerdassa.

The man on TV whom I saw bleeding on the road, General Nabil Farrag, was dead.  He had been carried away by an armored vehicle.  His death was, no doubt, in retaliation for the crackdown on terrorism in the village.

Last month, the police station had been attacked.  You can see the burned-out ruins across from the masjid in the photo above.  Eleven officers were brutally slain (for which I can't link to any photos or videos because the images are simply too ghastly).


When I got home from school, I tweeted, "Inna llahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un," for the General who had died.  That phrase is what you say when someone dies.  It's a reminder.  "From Allah we come and to Allah we return."

I was sent an immediate reply that he should go to Hell.  That remark was re-tweeted many times over.


If someone really has done misdeeds, we don't need to wish them to Hell.  They are to be judged by Allah only.  To guess that someone is going to Hell OR to Paradise is dabbling in shirk; making yourself an equal to God.


We don't have to love someone in order to say, "Inna llahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un."  We should be able to say it about everyone since everyone will die.  We will die.  Only Allah Subhana wa Ta' alah will remain.

Today, Kerdassa celebrated for the cameras while more arrests were still taking place.

I've only been to Kerdassa once but it was a nice trip and one that I chronicled on my Facebook back in the Summer of 2010.  After thinking of Kerdassa so much, I had to go back and look at those photos.  I wanted to remember that place before it become synonymous with terrorism, killings and arrests.

Some of the pictures have appeared before on this blog but never were they identified as being from Kerdassa.  The captions are left exactly how I wrote them on Facebook three years ago.

KERDASSA! The Galabiya Capital of Egypt! This is the first pic in a series of shots from a jaunt down the road to this "village" (think small suburb). One whole street is lined with galabiya stores. Then, we went to the weekly (CRAZY BUSY) market---but more on that later. Didn't buy this one, by the way. Too expensive. The one I did buy was 35 pounds and I hope to wear it on Eid inshahallah.

LOL! These painted galabiyas were for the tourist trade. Shikira, Nancy Agram and some village chick with a pot on her head---take your pick!

Happy me galabiya hunting. I want to go back---like NOW! Loved the town and the bargains. Wish I could spend a fortune and buy more.

Love this applique quilting. I adore it really. I just don't know about buying it in dusty Egypt. How do you maintain this? I would feel sad to buy it and ruin it.

Love the lotus design too.

Can you imagine this one? Wow! Too much handwork in this! I would love to gift everyone with one of these.

On to the market!

There is no real way to communicate through these pics how amazingly HOT and tiring it was to be at the market. Add to that confusing and (at times) scarey. I am not normally freaked in large crowds but this was intense.

LOL! OK...the story to this pic: We were going through the crowds and I was following a bit too closely behind Mr. Ahmed and....I stepped on his shoe and the sole came off. He was P--erturbed (we'll go with that word). And he started talking to everyone at every stall and I didn't know what he was asking for. Finally, he stops and goes in a little shop---shoe repair! This pic is him waiting to get his shoe fixed. He forgave me after he put it on again 

So many items and so many people. Really, a market is not a quaint little excursion for the casual tourist. It is INTENSE!

Could not! Could not! Could not get a pic of one of the many ladies carrying animals on their head. It was a WTH deal. Live birds in a box or in a pan squawking away as the ladies strolled through. This is the best I could do---sorry. It was a duck.

Here are the chicks hangin' out. I took the pic while waiting for Ahmed's shoe to get fixed.

I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this picture. LOVE IT! I am very respectful of people when I take pics. This captured the sense of busy hands without showing their faces. It shows the plenitude and the beauty of the colorful eggplants. I want this blown up and hanging in my home.

Camel toes. LOL! Sorry but this was seriously freaky. I went to take a picture of them and the lady uncrossed the legs. I said in Arabic, "OH NO! I like them the other way," and she re-crossed them. Ghoulish!  I just had to make sure you saw this real-life euphemism.

RUN, CAMELS! RUN! aren't running. Listen, Camels, you are not in town to give rides. The caravan has STOPPED! You must leave town NOW! Or...sigh...ok, never mind. I'll see you around (in the market).

The way this area of the market shows the upholstery fabric is to hang it from up high and create a kind of tent. Very wacky. And what's with the 50's print?

LOL! I was crackin' up about the lady bringing a turkey on the bus ride home. She was getting tight-lipped at my insolence and then I hear a noise. Sure, enough the lady in back of me had a chicken! She was nice about it and I took this photo. God bless 

So, after me taking the poultry pic, the ladies in the bus joked that I was trying to take a photo of a donkey. Ya, they joked in Arabic (like I didn't know) so I made sure to show the chicken lady this pic once I took it. No, ladies, I took a pic of a masjid---now hush up.

LOVED this masjid. This color green is so awesome.

Forgot to say that this is leaving Kerdassa. Almost broke my camera lens trying to take this shot.

Riding in the mini-van. My mom and dad had one when I was a baby. I used to get nostalgic for it when I'd see them in the U.S. LOL! They are all over in Egypt. No more nostalgia! I just want that pic of me as a baby next to the van. This is Ahmed getting the change.

Fields of Kerdasa

Really hard to see the Pyramids but they're there! See them in the distance? Pyramids = home to me. I'm five blocks away from them and seeing them feels comforting for real.


egyptchick7 said...

I have never heard of Kerdassa!! Galabiya capital of Egypt!! I really have to go!! I love Galibiyas and I had no idea that quilting was something that Egyptians did!! Anyways, I always talk about how much I just want to travel within this country or that country- but truly, I really want to spend a good 4 months or so travelling all different parts of Egypt, when it's free from violence, inshallah.

Anonymous said...

The violence is painful to read about. It must be worse to be in the vicinity of violence. Stay safe my friend.

I loved the stylized lotus quilting. Those are works of art! You could keeo the quilt clean even in dusty environs. Perhaps you could spray it with scotch brite before use, vacumm it regularly while it is spread on the bed (yep I said vacumm) and dry clean it every few months.

The embroidery on the galabiya is awesome. How much was it? Would you wear something like that to a party? Do you attend parties or entertain at home, or is it all extended family based entertaining?

The other galabiyas look kitschy and fun. As a tourist I would absolutely buy one. And a quilt too!

The market looks overwhelming. Colorful and a visual delight, but probably hard to ignore the smells and things underfoot. Is merchandise much cheaper/fresher in these markets? Where do you shop for everyday things and groceries?

From time to time, I read about food riots in different places around the world... so many reasons and we wont get into that. However I am curious about how much an average middle class family in a suburb of Cairo spends on groceries every week? I use the term middle class loosely here, because the definition of middle class is different for every country. Where I live an average family (mine included) spends atleast $ 175 every week (which is about $ 25 up from last year), for a very basic diet. with meat once a day and organic milk, fruit and veg. I am trying to figure out how much food a dollar's worth buys where you are, amongst other places in the world. Statistics abound, but anecdotal evidence is more interesting and real.

Can you actually see the pyramids out of your windows? I flew over them a few times and the pilots always pointed them out to the passengers. They seemed very imposing from even afar.

Deanna Troi

Marie Harmony said...

This is a place I will remember when time comes for me and my little man to visit Egypt. When I don't know. One day Insh'Allah.

I do agree Yosra, we should never take God's place. It's up to him to decide where we will go once we are dead. We should always say a prayer for the departed ones, whether they did good or bad things. It's not for us to judge.

Hope you and your family are keeping well. Take care and stay in peace always.

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom EgyptChick,

Yes, yes and YES you've got to check out all the places you have never been in Egypt...when it's safe...which isn't now...but hopefully will be some day sooner rather than later.

Come in the winter or early spring to reap the greatest travel rewards. Coming in summer is just stupid because it's too hot.

Hope to see you!

Love and Light!

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Deanna,

I should know by now that if some "Anonymous" is writing A LOT and asking really astute questions then they are actually YOU! LOL!

Yes, to staying safe. I can't always stay home but when we do go out we do our best to keep aware of what's going on.

I'm glad you liked the quilting. My mom is a quilter so I originally took the pictures for her. I thought she'd really like them but she wasn't as taken with the applique as I thought she'd be. Saved me some money!

I still think I'll buy some even if the dust is sooo bad here. I like your ideas on keeping it clean. I just don't know if that's enough for this location. I don't own a vacuum. I wrote in my Making Hijrah series how the taxi driver stole the one I was getting from a friend. Oh well...

That first galabiya would have been around 125 LE for a tourist. 75 for a local. If it doesn't have much to it, then you can get a galabiya for 45 LE. The ones I buy are all under 100 LE. I wear all different kinds. I'm wearing a batik one from Indonesia right now. I own two of those. I like that it's cotton. Funny but you can't find many galabiyas that are a soft 100% cotton---even in a cotton-producing country. I have maybe 5 that are embroidered with designs. You get them at Eid and wear them with all the other people in their new clothes. Later, you wear them for everyday use around the house. I wear the fancy galabiyas out in my neighborhood but not the plain ones (which are more for around the house).

I don't attend too many parties. We've had some social obligations due to the recent wedding of my bro-in-law. Parties here are all about marry, baby, and bury.

Yes, to the market being overwhelming. Ahmed flipped at one point (about the time I broke his shoe) because I was following him so closely...too closely. You feel swallowed up in the crowd. It's surreal. There were eels in a vat. There were those camel toes. Lots of flies were buzzing around. As I said, I was amazed at the amount of squawking animals on women's heads. Yelling vendors. You name it! It was SUPER HOT. I think I might have been making up a Ramadan day too. Ya, I think I was fasting during all that. I remember coming home a flopping in front of the fan.

I'm not sure what an average family spends on food. I can tell you that we went to Spinney's (a supermarket chain) and I spent about 700 LE stocking up on some ex-pat essentials like German rye bread, mayonnaise, Herbal Essence shampoo, Always, and so on. I hated spending that much. We don't do that but every 4-6 weeks if then. We can go for months without buying those items. It's only if the chance arises.

Otherwise, in our local area, we can spend 300 LE on a cart of food that lasts for about two weeks. That food is just for our breakfast and lunch. We eat dinner downstairs with the family. I don't pay for that so I don't know the cost. It's maybe 1,500 LE to feed the three families and my mother-in-law. We eat big meals with meat at maybe 5-6 out of the 7 meals. We keep chickens, geese, and a sheep on our roof.

To figure out what the cost is in dollars, just divide by 7. However, remember that it FEELS like those hundreds and thousands to people here.

I can see the pyramids from my roof. I put a video on the blog of that. Look for the tag, "Yosra's Videos" on the sidebar.

IF I could have put a kitchen window in, then I would have had a a gorgeous view of the Pyramids. It was not to be. Our kitchen is hot enough so no window and no view. It's OK. I see them enough as it is.

Thanks for writing!

Love and Light!

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Marie,

Inshahallah. I'd like for you to visit with your boo. Have him connect with this place and his people. It's not all bad. There's a lot of good :)

"Not for us to judge" is where it's at. Yes, you are a good soul, Marie.

I'm doing my best to keep safe and sane. You do the same! Inshahallah we'll meet up some day---if not in this life then the next.

My Best,