Friday’s Five:

Five things I love:

  1. My family
  2. The internet
  3. Chocolate
  4. Coffee
  5. Bags


Mandala loosely translated means the “essence” or “circle” and is an Indian Sanskrit word. It conveys the idea of wholeness and our connection with the cosmos.  It is related to Buddhism and meditation.

In common use, mandala has become a generic term for any plan, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically, a microcosm of the Universe from the human perspective.[From WikiPedia]

Describing both material and non-material realities, the mandala appears in all aspects of life: the celestial circles we call earth, sun, and moon, as well as conceptual circles of friends, family, and community.[from]

It is said by Tibetan Buddhists that a mandala consists of five “excellencies”:

  • The teacher
  • The Message
  • The audience
  • The site
  • The time

An audience or “viewer” is necessary to create a mandala. Where there is no you, there is no mandala.(from: You Are the Eyes of the World, by Longchenpa, translated by Lipman and Peterson).[from]

My mother was the one who told me about them maybe a year ago, she thought I might enjoy making them and coloring them, she has always thought of Art as a good way to relax and pass time.  I had seen a documentary on a sand mandala being constructed for peace by the UN and children but I didn’t quite recall it when she told me about them.  A couple of days ago I came across the Essence of rabbit and thought it was the cutest mandala I had ever seen, made by rabbit characters from many sources.

Bunny Mandala
Bunny Mandala

More on Mandals:

Hypothetical Question: Do overs?

Play Button

Play Button

If you could go back and change an action in your life would you choose to do that?  Here’s the catch, if you choose to go back you have to go through your life all over again taking the risk that whatever you change might change everything else that came after that event.  Years ago I read a book called Replay, by Ken Grimwood.  Jeff Winston the protagonist a 43 year old radio journalist dies and wakes up 18 years old again, he gets to redo his life while still remembering his old life.  He gets to “replay” his life several times at different ages too each time starting older than the one before.  He memorizes airplane crashes, stocks, tries to save a friend from suicide and things like that.  The book was one of the most insightful books I have ever read.  I would love to re-read it now and see how I would feel about it.

I used to believe that if you make your own decisions you should have no regrets and that even if you think you made a mistake you should be proud of it, make it right and move on.  I remember having this discussion when I was 23 with someone at work who was 10 years older and he said that he used to think so too and that when you get older you do have regrets even if they are small ones or trivial ones.  I think now I sort of agree but I still think that if you hold yourself accountable for your decisions you should not have many regrets just perhaps nostalgia for what should or could have been.

“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” Harris, Sidney J.

Would you want a do over?  What would you redo?  Would it be worth the risk?

“Pithecanthropic mountebanks” Captain Haddock

Because only Captain Haddock says it best.

Sometimes you want to curse and swear so here are some of the Captain’s funniest curses (which are really not swear words)

  • “Nitwitted ninepin”
  • “Logarithm!” I am not sure how that’s an insult but I hated logarithms when I was still at school.
  • Interplanetary-pirate!”
  • Bashi-bazouks!”

In Arabic the funniest one was always “Alf alf alf melyon la3na” ألف ألف ألف مليون لعنة

Sources: Captain Haddock insult generator (yes there is such a thing) and Captain Haddock‘s insult categorized by book.

My 8 homes

Although MamaMona didn’t tag me she did say she was interested in seeing this done for 8 places in Egypt.  So here it is:

Where Would Your 8 Homes Be?

List them. You don’t have to list your reasons, but if you do at least for a few of them, it would be more fun. And remember that the only rule is: the homes must be within the borders of the United States of America or else, within the borders of the country you live in, so as to utterly emulate the McCains. When you’re done, tag 8 people, so that they may join in the self-indulgence, forgetting about the crappy property market and the equivalent of The End of Pompeii on Wall-Street. You could spend your time hammering your doors and windows shut in preparation for the apocalypse instead, but it would be much less fun.

Alexandria at night

Alexandria at night

AlexandriaAlexandria is the love of my life, it is said that Alexians can live anywhere in the world but will always want to move back and live there.  It is a city with a rich historic tapestry from the Greeks to the Romans to Alexander the great to the Arabs and the Brits and the French.   It is a coastal city and like most coastal cities it is a metropolitan filled with so many different nationalities.  It is lazy compared to Cairo but it overlooks the Mediterranean and its architecture is so filled with buildings from the turn of the century with Parisian design.  It was originally designed like a grid but with todays population and it’s ever expansion it has lost some of its original form but it is still Alexandria.  When you travel the Cairo Alex desert rode, once at the toll station comming into Alex you can smell the sea, feel the salty breeze and hear Fairuz singing.  The weather is nice most of the year except for August which is very hot and January which is quite cold and rainy, but who cares the sun eventually shines.  It is ultimately more enjoyable in the winter when the summer tourists are gone.  I would love to live in one of those ancient buildings down town, the ones that are a hundred years old.  My dream home would have a huge balcony where I would have a swing and a breakfast nook and a comfortable chair where I could enjoy the sunrises and sunsets with a book and a cup of Turkish coffee.

Cairo at night

Cairo at night

Cairo.  Cairo or the city that never sleeps as it is often called is over populated, polluted, noisy and very crowded.  It is crazy over there, you can easily get stuck in a traffic jam for literally hours, if you live in a crowded area you can not open your windows and if you want silence buy some ear plugs.  That doesn’t mean it is not amazing.  Imagine a really old lady, she was very elegent when she was younger and pretty, she has aged gracefully but you can see her wrinkles, her joints are old and painful but she still has a sparkle in her eyes.  That is Cairo, I would love to live in one of three places; an appartment overlooking the Nile in Zamalek, a house in Maadi or a house in Garden City.  I love Zamalek it has my favorite bookstore (Diwan, not to mention a couple of really nice used booksellers), culture place (Sakyet el Sawi), my favorite pasta place (Didos, it’s really small like two tables but the prices are really funny cheap and its a fun hangout) and my favorite pizza place (Maison Thomas).



Aswan. We spent our honeymoon in Aswan so I have a soft spot for it.  It is a super lazy city.  We were the youngest tourists when we were there, most of the tourists were senior citizens.  But it is a haven for nature, islands in the nile, sand dunes, temples, Pharaohs , Nubian heritage, the High Dam and amazing scenery.  I would love to retire here and live on a small island surrounded by the Nile and enjoy long walks and buy a small rowing boat to move across the Nile banks.

Port Fouad

Port Fouad

Port FouadPort Fouad is across Port Said on the other side of the Suez canal, it looks like an old English town actually with lovely small houses, trees and lots of green areas.  I visited there once when I was younger and thought it was one of the prettiest towns ever.  We stayed at relatives and they had a lovely garden and mango trees, so I think that explains why I fell in love with it

Old Siwa

Old Siwa

Siwa. The first time I visited Siwa was back in 1997, it was my mother’s idea (haven’t I told you she’s a visionary)  it was in February and it was the Smaller Eid and she talked the whole family into going, rented a bus and made reservations at Siwa’s only hotel ( at the time it was the only one available ).  So there we were, cousins, second cousins and my grandmother’s cousin who had been to Siwa in the fifties and is a photographer and had these superb pictures from the fifties and wanted to see it again, on our way to Siwa and the trip took 12 hours because a tyre went flat and we stopped in Marsa Matrouh.  By the time we got there it was night so it looked boring.  In the morning we were surprised to find this oasis in the middle of the desert, palm trees everywhere and everywhere they dug a hole water would come gushing out.  You could find hot water springs with boiling hot water next to cool water springs.  It was incredible.  I would love to live there and open a little health spa for relaxation and just live the simple life.



Fayoum. In an attempt to recreate the Siwa vacation, my mom decided that we should see Fayoum, and again rented the bus, made reservation and convinced everyone to come.  We got lost getting there and had a mix up with the hotel but it was all worth it.  It is so beautiful out there.

Red Sea Coast

Red Sea Coast

Red Sea Coast. If you have ever driven on the Red Sea Coast you will know what I mean, there are places where the road is sandwiched between rock cliffs and the sea, it is just gorgeous.  Just a one story house that opens directly on the sand and the sea with the backdrop of the mountains would be heaven on earth for me.
Number 8. I can’t decide on number eight but I like Sidi Abd El Rahman, it’s on the Med again and it’s a resort more than a city or town.  Hurgada would be great too, you are in a city but it’s a small one and the kids would have lots of fun and I think it is quite safe too.  Luxor is like Aswan but more lively so it is an option.  I’ve never been to Ismailia but from what I’ve seen on TV and read it is like Port Said and Port Fouad so I might like to live there too.

Where would you like to live?

Marriage in movies – Le3bet el 7ob (The game of love)

I am not a romantic movie fan in general, I find them soppy, sappy and boring and it usuall has an unbelievably happy ending.  That said I watched Le3bet el 7ob, starring Khaled Abou El-Naga and Hend Sabry a couple of days ago and I liked it.  Since I am not going to spoil it for you I’m not going to tell you what happens, but I did like how they depicted marriage for the new age Egyptian couple.

In one scene Khaled Abo El-Naga goes home turns on the lights and throws his jacket on the chair in the hallway, his wife immedeatly calls out to him telling him (in a very annoyed voice) to switch off the lights and not to leave his jacket on the chair because that’s not where it should be.

It was one of those “Aha” moments as Oprah calls them.  This kind of behavior is what gets you in marriage rut.  In every marriage there are those annoying things that each spouse does and it gets on the other person’s nerves.  I know firsthand because we have that same “turn off the light” conversation most days, my husband likes the lights really bright and I don’t.  There’s also “why can’t you pick up your dirty clothes” talk everyday.  A few months back I decided to totally drop these little nags and just do the things myself without feeling angry or petty.  The interesting thing was that the pesky socks eventually learned to find their way to the laundry basket on their own and the lights are at medium brightness most of the time.

Along the way we forget what brought us together and remember only the small annoying little things, we stop looking at our spouse as a partner, a friend, a confidant and an amazing person and we see a husband and a father.  I think that is what turns many marriages sour.  If there are things that bug you, talk to your other or should I say better half nicely, explain why this thing bothers you and tell him clearly what you would prefer he or she do without being accusatory or aggressive, then drop it.  If this thing is one of those little things don’t nag, eventually it will fix itself.

Nagging just annoys the person being nagged, they feel belittled and usually get on the defensive or passive aggressive side.  For every bad habit your partner has thing of 2 good ones and you will definitely realize that they are just great and your need to nag will go away, so will your feeling of martyrdom too.

Enjoy your relationship instead of focusing on the flaws and it will all work itself out.

The Poison Tree, planted and grown in Egypt.

Poison Tree

Poison Tree

I just finished this book by Marwa Rakha called The Poison Tree – planted and grown in Egypt and still can’t decide on what I think of it.  The first few pages were tedious, boring and felt like I was reading a teenage girl’s hidden diary; full of anger, frustration and hate towards her mother, men and society.  I stuck through and it is as if you can feel the teenage girl grow and mature as you go along.  Still every few pages you find her again, voicing her anger and feeding her frustration.

Marwa Rakha was the relationships expert on OTV and I always felt her ideas were balanced, fair and quite mature, perhaps that was why I felt the book was not what I expected.

I did enjoy reading it once I got past the first quarter.  Although I don’t agree with the over generalization that men are bad, life is unfair and women get the short end of the stick all the time; I do agree that our society needs lots of change. I do agree with her ideas on not settling and doing our best by choosing happiness.

I am not pleading for drastic measure like divorce, imigration, the great escape or 180 degree career changes; I am defending our human right to choose.  Our lives do not have to come to a standstill if we are in the wrong job with the wrong boss or in the wrong house with the wrong partner.  We do not have to settle!  We do not need to settle!  We should not settle!

Jerks Until Proven otherwise

Jerks Until Proven otherwise

She also talks about dating, online dating, divorce, marriage and prostitution among many other things.  I’ve always hated the over generalization that men suck.  I’ve always disliked negative generalizations in general.  I don’t believe all men are out there to cheat, double cross, abuse and be in control of women.  Yes, there is a number of those out there, but as usual those are the ones that are the most talked about.  Do your friends usually come and say “My guy is wonderful”?  No, you usually just hear the “he is trying to control me” or “he won’t take me out” or “he doesn’t do whatever”.  As a society is it because “ben5af men el 7asad”, we always want people to only know the bad things to protect ourselves from “the evil eye”? Or is it because we are not used to changing things we do not like.  I don’t think Egyptians like change.  We like things to stay the way they are, the way they have always been, even if that means we are not happy.  In the current crazy economy why are we still so insistent on holding on to things like expensive weddings, large apartments and unnecessary furnishing?  I sometimes think that the main problem with marriage is that men are unable to financially make a marriage work.  But this does not explain why many marriages fail even though they do not have financial problems.  I am sure that like every problem it is caused by the two people involved.  Even if one person is the main reason, then the other partner was passive,  definitely it takes two to tango.  When a woman complains that all the men that she has met in her life are losers, I am compelled to think maybe she is looking in the wrong place.  People who call themselves “loser magnets” are usually just making the same mistakes over and over.  I am not trying to judgmental but we can all fall into that trap of attracting “losers”, the losers could be men, friends, financial decisions, careers, or whatever.  Accountability is very important, and we all need to understand that before we move forward we need to know who has ownership of what and who will be accountable for what.  I think i went off on a tangent there.

The thing I disliked the most was the book’s cover, it looked childish and I didn’t get it , what’s a huge chocolate bar doing on top of the female symbol?  Women are chocolate?  Compared to the illustrations which are inside the book it is just rubbish,  the illustrations inside were fantastic, funny and quite artistic, so I don’t really understand why they didn’t have the same style on the cover?

Overall, the book is interesting and is worth the time if at least for starting conversations in your head.  Even though I didn’t agree with the general gist of the book I have to say the author put lots of effort and emotions into it.

From my Inbox: How old is Grandpa

Sometimes I get really interesting emails, this one from rJay was really nice.

How old is Grandad??

Stay with this — the answer is at the end.  It will really amaze you.
One evening a grandson was talking to his grandfather about current events.  The grandson asked his grandfather what he thought about the computer age, shootings at schools and just things in
The Grandfather replied, ‘Well, let me think a minute, I was born before:

  • television
  • penicillin
  • polio shots
  • frozen foods
  • Xerox
  • contact lenses
  • Frisbees and
  • the pill

There were no:

  • credit cards
  • laser beams or
  • ball-point pens

Man had not invented:

  • pantyhose
  • air conditioners
  • dishwashers
  • clothes dryers
  • and the clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air and
  • man hadn’t yet walked on the moon

Your Grandmother and I got married first, . . . and then lived together.  Every family had a father and a mother.  Until I was 25, I called every man older than me, ‘Sir’.  And after I turned 25, I still called policemen and every man with a title, ‘Sir.’  We were before gay-rights, computer- dating, dual careers, daycare centers, and group therapy.  Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment, and common sense.   We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions. Serving your country was a privilege; living in this country was a bigger privilege.  We thought fast food was what people ate during Lent.  Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins.  Draft dodgers were people who closed their front doors when the evening breeze started.  Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and weekends-not purchasing condominiums.  We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CDs, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing earrings.   We listened to the Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President’s speeches on our radios.  And I don’t ever remember any kid blowing his brains out listening to Tommy Dorsey.  If you saw anything with ‘Made in Japan ‘ on it, it was junk.  The term ‘making out’ referred to how you did on your school exam.  Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, and instant coffee were unheard of.  We had 5 &10-cent stores where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents.  Ice-cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel.  And if you didn’t want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail 1 letter and 2 postcards.  You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $600, . . . but who could afford one?  Too bad, because gas was 11 cents a gallon.

In my day:

  • ‘grass’ was mowed,
  • ‘coke’ was a cold drink,
  • ‘pot’ was something your mother cooked in
  • ‘rock music’ was your grandmother’s lullaby.
  • ‘Aids’ were helpers in the Principal’s office,
  • ‘ chip’ meant a piece of wood,
  • ‘hardware’ was found in a hardware store and
  • ‘software’ wasn’t even a word.

And we were the last generation to actually believe that a lady needed a husband to have a baby. No wonder people call us ‘old and confused’ and say there is a generation gap… and how old do you think I am?
I bet you have this ‘old’ man in mind…you are in for a shock!

Read on to see — pretty scary if you think about it and pretty sad at the same time.

Are you ready ????
This man would be only 59 years old!!

I don’t necessarily think that our generation is worse than the one’s before it, I truly beleive that technology  and improvement has enriched our lives but has taken from it too.  We have forgotten some values and added new ones.  Here is to the next 50 years, when our children will call us old, behind and living in an old world.

From my inbox: Ele ba3 el tram.

Seriously one of the funniest con jobs in Egypt.  The article is dated 3-1-1948.  A young man sold the public transport tramway to an unsuspecting simple man.

Article Title

Article Title



The three roles in life



In life you can play one of three roles; the victim, the bully and the winner.  In every situation you can choose which role you play.

“I hate victims who respect their executioners.”  Sartre, Jean-Paul”

We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.”  Fuller, Buckminster

The victim, is the kind of person who allows others bully him or her.  This person always finds a way to blame other people.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”  Rohn, Jim

The bully, is someone who enjoys torturing, annoying, manipulating and hurting others.  He is not necassarily stronger, smarter or better in any way.  On the contrary, he is of a weaker soul, who find strength in other people’s weaknesses.

“It’s easy to have faith in yourself and have discipline when you’re a winner, when you’re number one. What you’ve got to have is faith and discipline when you’re not yet a winner.”  Lombardi, Vince

“Every winner has scars.”  Casson, Herbert N

Finally, there are the winners, who keep trying, the winners who do not let failures or obstacles stand in their way.  Those who fall down and learn to pick themselves up and brush themselves off with a smile and strong determination.

Life is not always easy, the choices are not always obvious and no one hands you the gold medal easily.  It is your decision to keep going, to fight for your beleifes and to make sure that you are a winner.