Friday, 26 September 2008

The Edge

He stayed near the edge
In his high storeyed home
He stayed there for months and years
He stayed far too long
And if you looked,
You'll find him where he always is
In His high storeyed home...
up at the edge, upon its ledge
Looking down on the city below.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Mad At Gravity

In the past I wanted to be this new member in a team of really hot self centered egoistic jerks that look down on me for being the new kid on the block or taking the holy place of their dead friend or whatever, and they would treat me like crap and all, until I show them how cool I really am and maybe save someone's ass in the process, and then they would be like: "woow this guy is awesome" and I'd give them a "you gave me nothing but shit all these past whatever… but I'm gonna be cool with you guys cuz I'm better than the whole bunch of you faggots" look, and then we'd be friends for life, you know?

I also wanted to be an astronaut, they always looked smashing in their white puffy space suites and their heads held up high and on their shoulders resting the monumental duty towards mankind which I never fully understood, and their extraordinary abilities which I can't quite remember at the moment, and their unending fame, mmm…Armstrong? to name a few.
Plus they get to leave this giant ball of dirt that we are all sticking on and give gravity a nice weightless finger.
Then it came to me, have you ever thought about how astronauts take a dump?...
Well, I have… and let me tell ya, it kept me up nights at a time, and no matter which way you think about it, it can't be pretty. They actually strap you into the toilet seat and then they turn the vacuum on. The brave spacemen have to deal with more than just having a 2x2 living room for 6 months, they have to get their ass vacuumed and then wipe in zero gravity, can you imagine how risky that is?... So I just said "thx, but no thx… good luck with you all folks" and placed a big "X" on Gagarin's picture on the refrigerator.

And I'm totally over all that now.

You grow up thinking life is all hippie and cool, then shit happens and your turtle gets killed by your best friend and your pants get torn at school or you forget your zipper open, and that's it…. Life sucks and you move on.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


I have evolved…
I'm free…
Free from self development, free to pursue self destruction.
No…. it is the one that pursues you, and that's the beauty of it.
I lose myself in its magnificence, the thrill as you fall all the way down.
Hearing a loud thud and seeing a splash of blood just down the road, waiting for it to liberate you. And the farther you fall, the more your worries disappear.
It all sums up to one thing; only from below can one better see the heights.

My left arm will bear the corroded shield of indifference, in my right hand I will grip the dim sword of unattractiveness… and on my shoulders shall rest the unholy cloak of despair. The seeds of Satan sowed onto this very earth, but I will not plant them, I will despise them from far away, I will watch them grow, I will watch them flourish into giant trees of cruelty. Let them feed on my body.
For even the willingness to sin is so much more deserving than what I aim for.

Murder the smiles, all the genuine smiles, the fake ones I can keep… the fake ones are useful. Sacrifice all of my dreams, look down on them.
Sacrifice is the fuel of my journey, how else will my crocked tree of shamelessness bear fruit?

No time for turning back now, a pact with gravity cannot be undone, it can only be obeyed. As you fall, you view things from the bottom up, it's an interesting experience. You get to see everything upside down, Benevolence is a lie, effectiveness is a lie, passion is a lie. From that perspective they respectively equate to, malevolence, incompetence and impassivity. Consistency, forget about the damn word, it is meaningless, this is the realm of anarchy.

What is my intention in all of this, resurrection?
Maybe… if I get that far, but as they say; it's not where you are going that's important… it's how you get there that matters.
Well, I say screw them, they don't have a say in this anymore.

The process is a rapid descent, spawned from weakness?
Sure, that is the first thing you learn on your way down… to accept your weakness, to love it, it is your only reality, the only thing you can cling to.
Will I feel sorrow? Will I feel disappointment?
Unlikely, sorrow and disappointment are up where I left happiness and hope.
Observing the world through glass eyes, rain means the heavens are crying.
Experiencing a little uneasiness is possible, but it is smashed along with everything else as I hit the ground:


Monday, 22 September 2008


  • Metro...
Beat-up guy walks in, he's not a hobo, just your average everyday under-privileged. In his right hand he's holding a handbag that has more holes than the moon , which kinda went well with the couple of small holes in his shoe.
His back is bent and as he's looking at the ground, he opens his bag a starts removing one of those little folding beach chairs that have colorful stripes on the cloth seat, only this one had decayed green and yellow for decoration.
He's not self conscious, he doesn't seem to notice the stares he is drawing, he has done this thousands of times;
open bag, remove moldy chair, place on the ground and sit down.
I look at him and i wonder, why does he have to put up with all this shit and i don't?
but god knows better, so i shut up.
And as I'm counting the holes on his bag, he reaches for it and takes out his pliers... it seemed it was time to trim his fingernails.... with the electric pliers. I wouldn't question his sanity, he seemed absolutely normal sitting there on his beach chair in the middle of the metro with the pliers in his hand, who am i to judge?

  • 2:00 am - Ramadan
It's crowded like hell, it's "so7oor" rush and people are waiting for a ride home.
Scene - 1 : A "micro-bus" passes by and people run after it, but it doesn't stop. people turn back... disappointed.
Scene - 2 : A "micro-bus" passes by and the people run after it, it stops and a fierce battle ensues, usually containing a lot of pushing and elbow hitting.
Scene - 3 : A "micro-bus" passes by and the people run after it, a guy in the passenger seat of a car cruising by is yelling "ya fo2ara, ya 3allam ya fo2ara"
Scene - 4 : I frown and watch him, "interesting" i think to my self, i smile and shake my head.
Scene - 5 : I see a couple waiting for a ride, the man is holding a sleeping baby to his shoulders, they can't run after the "micro-busat" and they wouldn't do very well in the pushing and elbow hitting game, so they move back and forth with every stop.
i decide not to go home and to wait and see where all this going, i take a corner and sit down.
Scene - 6 : After a while 3 cars pull up, everybody's got his ride, they practice the pushing and elbow hitting routine some more and then they are all in, they stay some more to get more people to fill up.
Scene - 7 : On the way home, the man behind me says "el sa3a 1:30 we lessa afla?!, Allah yekhreb bet omek!"... he's speaking to the traffic light, and it's more like 2:30.

Sunday, 21 September 2008


Doesn't life ever get tired…. tired of being Meaningless? just for a little bit.
I'm trying to get over this dilemma, wishing for the power to act but lacking the will to act.
Power hungry, overly sympathetic or just bored?
If I'm to survive, I must bury one of them… I must ignore the pain that is sure to follow and I must bury one of them, I have to.
I'm good at ignoring pain anyway.
I'm still immature, I act as though I'm fearless, yet I hide behind my system, A system I developed over the years, it's not fool proof, but it's good enough, it mainly works because it discourages… an archaic form of deception.
Why do I hide if I'm not afraid? To be alone I said before… questioning; avoiding company because of dislike or because of fear?
I'm Diminishing every single second, I count them as they go by, it passes the time, it literally does. It's called countdown, only I count as I fall.
I'm self conscious as I write, I said the first-person singular pronoun in every single sentence, this could only mean one of two things; either I'm telling things about myself or I'm whining… and I know I'm not telling anything.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Prelude To Chocolate Pudding

You wake up… you are breathing heavily and you are drenched in cold sweat. You ignore the lump forming in your throat, you ignore your dry mouth that must smell like a herd of dead elephants… you ignore it all.

Mrs. Evon, my 5th grade English teacher, used to say that you dream about two things only; things that you want, and things that you fear.
Well, I'm sure Mrs. Evon must be long into her grave by now, but what if both were the same thing, what if both were just two faces to the same coin?

So I get to choose to flip the coin and see my trip to the house of horrors, only in frames that flip too fast for me to understand it all. I take a glimpse at my turning fate and convince myself that I've seen enough, because when you really think about it, maybe I even saw too much.
I wait till it hits rock bottom, listening to my thudding heart and observing as the coin becomes one with the ground in sickening slow motion.

People are a lot of things; people are mammals, people are doctors and 5th grade teachers, people are doormen that sit all day long lost in oblivion, but mostly people are consumers.
People are consumers because they want what they fear, and they fear what they want.
Ok, so they call it insecurity…. I call it pudding, white fluffy pudding, sweet soft pudding of the needy soul, that's what I call it. Pudding can be used to make a cake or it can be used to make cinnamon rolls, that's how different we all are.

Fine, forget about the pudding, pudding can be messy. Lets talk about your secret dreams, your juicy stash of dirty little secrets, I bet they involve pudding too, or cinnamon rolls at least, I can tell about these things.
Mine had a lot of snickers, mars-bars, and M&Ms in them…. Oh, well, not "a lot" of M&Ms, too much M&Ms and you feel gassy.

Fear has a smell to it, I'm sure I heard someone talk about this before. People have always used scents to either mask their body odour or to express and emphasize their moods or appearance. And fear, well… Fear arises in stressful situations that are subjectively perceived as threatening. Research goes back to the 1940s about fish using alarm pheromones to inform other fish of stress or fear, that's how fish are really… smelly. Yet to this day all they came up with is a "hypothetical fear pheromone" whatever that may be, it could even be pudding for I know. And that's it; a hypothetical nameless pheromone that resembles cake pudding is their best shot at it. Well, so be it, although I thought scientists had this eerie ability in dealing with jargon, I'm sure even pudding has a scientific name.

That reminds me of Mrs. Evon, because the way I remember it, Mrs. Evon had a particular scent, not of the hypothetical fear pheromone, but of something else, another hypothetical unknown pheromone I suppose.

You think about the car you bought, parked and left somewhere, and now can't remember what it looked like. You think about the cup of coffee that you went to have at 6 in the morning when in fact you were going only to see the girl that sits there reading a book everyday. You think about how you bought the car just for this reason, just to drive at 6 in the morning to go drink coffee you don't want while watching a girl that is reading a book drink her own, then you go home and forget about what the car looks like, but you don't forget about the girl. You think about these things and you sweat, strange how you sweat so much water and yet your mouth is so dry.

Considering whether to go back to your juicy stash of dreams, to go back to all the snickers and mars-bars and pudding and cars you bought and forgot and girls you saw and never talked to, or to give in to your shaking limps and just let it be.
After all, we just said that fear is a nameless pheromone that resembles pudding, how scary is that?

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


Pay the price you have to pay
For nothing is free
And if you try to dig your way
What a fool you will be
For when you leave the light of day
Darkness you will see

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


I'm lost in a sea of dark thoughts. I cannot seem to reach a shore, not knowing if there is a shore to start with.
Although i understand that it's only virtual, it is real enough in my mind.
It's opaque and calm. How tempting to just relax and give in as it sucks you into it... drowning you, drowning all of your second thoughts, drowning all of your attempts to fight it, drowning all of your hopes.
As i lay on my back, thoughts threatening to engulf me, i can see people passing by; Some look at my lying carcass with interest, others hardly see it at all.

Some don't say a word... sometimes i see them whispering to each other.

Some just wave and move on, i smile and wave back.

Some stop and ask if I'm okay, i smile and say "I'm fine" while wondering in my head: "what do you think I'm doing here, having a bath?", I wish they would just let me be.

Some stop and tell me how their friend at work fell off the carpet and broke his damn head, i show my sympathy and say something about how horrible that must be.

Some seem very affected by my state, a minute and they are gone. but i can still see them with the corner of my eye, pointing and laughing... i can still see you morons.

Some insist on getting me out, "helping me" they call it. What would i have if i just left all my thoughts behind?.... "I'll be o.k." i tell them "go find a damsel in distress or something"

Some people tell me that i need someone beside me... Why? so we could drown together?

Some come and some go, but all in all it's just like the animation on your screen saver, the same view repeated over and over again. If you want you could lose yourself in it, it's hypnotizing... It's not helping.

Monday, 15 September 2008


Who are you?
I'm no one.

What do you have?
I have nothing.

Why do you live?
To finish.

Why do you write?
Because i can.

Why do you breathe?
Because i can't stop.

Who is your friend?
No one and everyone.

Who is your enemy?

What do you want?
Only what i can have.

What do you need?
A reason.

What do you seek?

Why do you work?
Because i should.

What is your life worth?
A pack of cigarettes, an array of books, and a lot of pasta.

How do you sleep every night?
I close my eyes and wait.

Do you believe in miracles?
Yes, i believe that miracles never happen.

Whom do you love?
What is love?

Whom do you hate?

Where is your home?
Wherever I'm.

Where are you from?
I'm from the backwaters.

Where are you going?
I'm not going anywhere.

Why do you smile?
So that others would.

Why do you care?
I don't.

Why do you hide?
To be alone.

Why do you listen?
Because i have nothing better to do.

Why do you speak?
Sometimes i can't help myself.

Why do you go out?
People keep calling me.

Do you think you are smart?
I'm smart enough to know that it's an illusion.

Do you think you are kind?
I'm as cruel as any man.

Do you think you are free.
Can't you hear the chains?

Why not break free?
Why should I?

Do you think you are righteous?

Do you think you are evil?

What do you think you can achieve?

What do you think you will achieve?

How do you atone for your mistakes?
I change.

What would make you complete?

Do you have any regrets?

What do you fear?
To hurt someone.

Why do you look up?
To see the stars.

What lies in the stars?
Hope, mystery and loneliness.

How will you end your life.
Wait, let me get my crystal ball.

Why are you special?
Because i choose to be.

What are your possessions?
Things I'm forced to carry.

When will you give up?
Very soon.

Why will you give up?
I always do.

Saturday, 13 September 2008


Would an infinite circle have an endless number of straight lines as a circumference, or just one endless straight line?
And if an infinite circle is just a straight line, would that mean we are living on one side of it?
If so, then what lies on the other side?

Friday, 12 September 2008

de'ja' vu

A crowded room,
A lot of chairs,
A lot of people.
Each waiting his fate.... Each fearing his fate, though why should they? Isn't fate the one who brought them here in the first place?

Back ranks as usual, it is always a good spot to observe, a pointless activity that is never indulged.
Repeated sounds, repeated voices.... repeated simply because there is no better substitute for silence.
The den of the familiar, once again... once more.
Waiting is the name of the game, waiting i can live with, at least waiting i can control.

He too is waiting, a white transparent t-shirt... seriously under dressed?
There is more to it. Played with the thought of walking up to him:
"Dude, your nipples are showing."

Making friends with shadows on the wall, they reveal wonders to the searching eye.
Ominous whispers, silent as the breeze. "We know what is in your soul" they seem to say.

A lapse of silence, the lax feeling of time in slow motion.
Distracting for a moment... and then you know it, you have seen all of this before.... you have lived all of this before.
There is a voice inside your head, resurrected from it's slumber.... outrunning reality by just a fraction, taunting it.
"Oh yes... i know, there will be three of them. I knew that" "how?"
"The little voice in my head just told me, why do you ask?"

It is not a revelation, it is the dullness of hindsight, the tedious soul of knowledge that murders uncertainty.
You live with it for a while and then it is gone, back to it's slumber.

A phone call:

"What's going on over there?"
"BS, just a big pile of BS"

Thursday, 11 September 2008


There is this old theme about waiting for the phone to ring;
In it you would get worried, but the phone won't ring.
And you would get depressed, but the phone won't ring.
And you would go crazy, but the phone still won't ring.
And of course it doesn't.
I'm waiting for the phone to ring, for a long time now I've been waiting, but it's very outside of the main theme, I'm not worried that it's not ringing.
I'm not hurrying it to ring, it will ring in it's own time.
I'm good at waiting, I can wait forever..... i have faith.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Back to the 80s

SaRaH from "Partum Vixi Solus" had a post about "Death Magnetic", metallica's newest album, where she claimed that it was Metallica back in the good old 80s...
I was skeptical of this at first, as they have been off track for so long.
but after listening to it, i was taken back by the thrash sound Metallica was so famous for back then. I have to be honest, not all of the tracks were thunder driven, but it's a start.... another one.
This got me thinking about what a friend of mind told me:
"Back to the 80s" he said.
I'm thinking of his words in light of listening to "Airbourne", i discovered them a few months back when i was "clean" off metal, and didn't have any clue about what was news.
They gave my heart a jolt, a pleasant one i might add. They sounded so much like "AC/DC" and "Motley Crew" that they gave me a brain freeze from all the good tunes they brought back...... "back to the 80s" he said.
Then there is "Cavalera Conspiracy" which somehow witnessed the reunion of the cavalera brothers, and i can't but help remembering the old "Sepultura" music, less tribal more thrash...."back to the 80s"
I wonder if there are others out there, is the metal scene sounding more like it did back in the good ol' days?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008


I've seen him today, it's the first time. Told him i had him figured, i have no idea if he understood that, why should he.... because he's more like me?
... oh come on!
Hormones talking in place of whatever should normally be there. Chemical imbalance.
I told her once, about love and chemical imbalance, i wanted her to think i was witty.
As it turns out, all emotions are related to chemical imbalance. She had all this figured, long before i did.
A virtual node, followed by verbal confirmation and a farewell axiom, and that was it.
I think i hate him... why?
Because he shows me that I'm not unique, the next mass produced gadget in the line.
"i would like the one on the left please... no, no... the other one.... yes that's it"...."look what i bought from wall-mart daddy, for just nine niny nine"
How could i put up with that?
And yet where is that damnable capably for hatred when you need it? where is spite, cruelty and malice?
I possess non of it, the poor soul that writes what he feels but never what he wants others to read. This old curse that i seem blessed with.
Envy, red bloody envy, pure undiluted envy, piteous envy, wretched envy!
Is he the cause of my insanity? Not more than a catalyst, i blame myself for being his pawn. I'm in the shape of a child, but I'm not the child, I'm not the bastard that he would willingly endorse!
I understand him all too well, although the two flowers did not bloom from the same branch, but after all nature is our mother, the blue blue sky inspires all those who stand beneath it, and god watches over us both.
Meaningless arguments that revolve around revolving, taping on the advantage of having somewhere to go.
You meet the dead wall of a tired mind, blood refusing to stimulate the cells.
Wasted time that is readily available, just at the tip of your fingers.
So dangerous to have things so easily within reach, yet so tempting.... a trap.
Indecision about the nature of oneself, indecision about how to go on.
The marking of a weak personality?, the marking of a wuss?
So very maddening not to have a style, the endless tumbling between the conformity of others. A dark, pulp mass. In search of oneself.
Breaking dominions through bloodshot eyes, a daring adventure, an unhealthy one... a failure.
Surrendering to the unholy demands that float aimlessly in the mind..... they make claims over all of this.
They peremptorily request, if we - the words - are so corrupt, then who could possibly read us?

Monday, 8 September 2008

Reflections on my past

She was my best friend.
But it was more than that, we spent the whole day together and we spent everyday together. We did everything; study, play, eat, drink, watch t.v., hang out, build our forest shack, everything.... she was everything short of life itself.
the world seemed to stop in its tracks back then, there was nothing but our talks and walks and laughter.
We were no more than children me and her, unknowing and uncaring about what that could mean, what it implied. Two souls that found serenity in each other company, a rare thing to stumble about.
Only after a time that i think of it and realize that we were worlds apart.
we were two different creatures, totally unrelated. sometimes i look back on us and i think that the whole deal had to steam out of necessity rather than our mutual interest.
we lacked most common points, not of interest, but of essence.
But then i was different back at the time, i smile when i remember how i used to be.
i did not dwell on our shortcomings, i couldn't, i had no place for it in my heart...i did not care. It would be tempting to think that she felt the same way, free of criticism.
It is funny how i used to be the unyielding one in the relationship and she the one trying to set things on a more sophisticated level. She was my mentor, even if i didn't realize it back then.
Somethings haven't changed though; my randomness, my disregard for opportunities, the memory gaps.... my apathy.
Don't get the wrong idea about this, it was simple, as simple as it could get. No pretensions, no hiding, there was no need to, we had nothing to hide.

I can't say i remember everything, but i do remember that i didn't understand the meaning of the word "lonely", i didn't.....
My english wasn't that perfect. I read in Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Cruise", that robinson was lonely, but i couldn't figure it out. So i asked about it and after hours of explanations that included a lot of facial expressions and confusing hand gestures, all i understood about the word that it somehow was related to "alone", but couldn't quite make the connection, when is someone "alone" and when is he "lonely"?
It was a mystery and no amount of explanation could clear that up for me.
Today i understand the difference, how and when this came to be, i have no idea, i don't remember....somewhere along the way.

It came to an end like everything else, and we both had to step out of this cocoon that was rapped around us for so long, each to a different place.... each to his own life.
like travelers we were, that met somewhere to rest from the weariness of travel,their lives touched for a moment but soon were on their way.
We both hated the simple fact that we had to leave, at least she did. I sometimes entertain the notion that i did too, but i'm not so sure i was as passionate as she was. We knew in our heart that this moment would come. Even at an early age, people know that life is transient.
We parted, me with her address and she, with a promise that i would write.
But the way i used to be was the way i always am, and by the time i was starting a new life, i discovered that I've lost her address and with it, i lost her and my promise.
How ironic that it ends this way...... for everything ends, relationships faster than anything, and they don't need a reason to expire, they just do.
sometimes i think about this.... betrayal?

Sunday, 7 September 2008

am i turning into a zombie?

Katatonia knows about this more than anybody i think, it's a dead house, repeated silly.
The absence of emotions is troubling, eerie and so very unhuman.
Hell is repetition, these words are said over and over again.
You blame and criticize, least you criticize yourself, but amidst your ravings you can see your own insecurity, so very revealing.
The child of boredom, a bastard that persistently calls out for misery.
Plain facades, how can beauty exist in the complete absent of ugliness?
Inaccurate exaggerations derived from lunacy incarnate, how can anyone defy this foul karma?

Saturday, 6 September 2008

On the state of the people

There is always this talk about "What's wrong with us?"
Every Egyptian knows this theme, the ever mystical question and the quest to find the hidden answer.
And I'm not talking metaphorically; I even saw a blog-post that was actually titled:
"What is wrong with us?"
It seems Egyptians consider it a Holy Grail to dissipate the mystery that these set of words are so shrouded in.
Theories and theorems and corollaries, drugs and potions and pills, all promise to answer the question and make it all go away.
It would appear that the only thing anyone needs to start discussing this issue is the Egyptian ID card and well........sometimes not even that.
So... since I do have the above needed documents, I therefore qualify to present my views on the matter.
And in the all pre-eminent "Monkey see, monkey do" spirit, I think it's about time that I took a shot at it.

To get things started, some of the problems so commonly proposed by other authors are the following:

And the list goes on...

Before continuing, I would like first to get one thing clear....
We are not unique, we are not snow flakes.... and yet we are not monsters.
We are people like any other set of people, thinking that we - Egyptians - are special in some way is but a romantic gesture, the world has seen it all before... countless times.
There is an unjustified notion that the average Egyptian somehow possesses a soul which is unlike any other, that there exists something - be it good or evil - distinguishable in nature from all humanity, most cultures encourage this type of illusions.
This mode of thinking is unacceptable.
That being said, I can go on to say that while all these traits mentioned above might truly be our problems, they are not unique problems in any way, and cannot be explained with the complex analysis of our culture.
It might be tempting to delve into complicated analysis of our situation and our special circumstances and our peculiarities.
But the truth of the matter here, is that we are in no special situation, we are but a poor third world country (and I'm not using a developing nation label, because it's deceiving) suffering from the same malice that seems to affect all other third world countries.

Allow me to give the first two points special treatment as they are fundamentally different from the others, and it can proven with little effort that they are not the real motivators behind our decadency.
Hypothesizing that religiousness or irreligiousness is to blame is easily refuted by observing that there have been nations, us amongst them, that have been doing well during the course of history while being fundamentally religious.
In fact, there are countries at the present time that are religious and faring better than us, and there is little doubt that there will be countries that will be both religious and developed in the future.
The same methodology can be applied to irreligiousness, as there have been civilizations that have been at their height without the backing of religion, and most of the developed counties today are undoubtedly irreligious in nature, and I can see no reason why there wouldn't be irreligious countries still in the future.

The rest of the list made above consists of elements similar in nature, meaning that they all have one thing in common, they are outcomes and not causes, and if we need to understand rather than just find any set of answers to the title question, we need to deal with root cause problems and not just with secondaries.

If we can stop entertaining the notion that we are somehow uniquely different from all the other nations, and that our problems are somehow not those faced by everyone else, then we can move forward and find the root cause problems....
i.e.: the ones that are the roots of all others, the ones that if cured, the others would cease to exist.

I mean to deal with two of these:


We are in a country where 30% of the population are illiterate, and this is a huge improvement from the 50% ten years ago.*

These are the official figures, but anyone in Egypt knows how these things are, this is does not represent the real literacy rate.
I'm here studying the case of a population where not more than 40% can actually read and write adequately.
Those we sometimes refer to as our "educated" middle-class.
But we have to be careful now as to whom we call "educated", as educated implies a different thing altogether, these 40% are simply literate.
And when those who read and write well, hardly ever actually choose to practice the two trades, you have to ask:
How many of them are truly educated?
How many read books - any kinds of books - on regular bases and what good is literacy if you choose not to use it?
I can say with confidence that no more than 2-3% of Egyptians are truly educated.
Meaning they read regularly a variety of books on different subjects, and maybe even write something every once in a while.

That being said, I would like to go back to the different educational levels in our society....
First Let us discuss those who can't read and write.
In a world that is wrapped in global immensity and complexity, how are they supposed to understand the world around them and interact intelligently with it?
What are their sources of information, the T.V., the movies?
Maybe watching "Noor and what's his name" will give them some perspective?
Or maybe after watching "7a7a we tofa7a" they will more wise and thoughtful?
No... They are simply missing the essential tools to educate themselves, they can't open a newspaper and see what news there is, and they can't even read a simple book and reflect on its meaning…
Their concerns revolve around finding their next meal, and maybe how many goals did "El Ahly" score in the last match.
As for those who can actually read and write but are hesitant to do so, I consider them not without some ignorance, for will the mind grow and compare between all variety of things if it has been denied its juice?
As for the merciful rest.... they are too "few" to make any big contribution to society.
Yes, they are not "few" in numbers, we are a big country and even a small percentage equates to a lot of people, but they are relatively few to cause any major change.

As for poverty, it's even simpler.... with 44% of the Population living below US$2 a day, how is it that we demand from them to act in good manners?
'Ali Ibn abi-talib' was a great man; he understood a lot about life...
Speaking about poverty he says:
"law kan al fakr ragollan, lkataltooh".... "If poverty was a person, I would kill it"
I imagine he said this while he had the devastating effect of poverty on people's morals, manners and personalities in mind.

I'm not being judgmental, I'm making observations on the population as a whole, the same outcomes cannot be assumed with singular cases.
A poor, illiterate man might well be lacking all the negativities I have cited above, and a well to do, educated man, might posses all of them.
But based on the rules of societies and populations, that is not a practical outcome.
It cannot be the dominant outcome in any form of society; it's rather a peculiarity, something that isn't so common.

Now, is it any wonder that a poor, hungry, uneducated society would have, oh, let us say the following maladies:

Passiveness, cowardness, tyranny, stupidity, greed, corruption, close-mindedness, and prejudice?

As you can see, they are nothing but a disease that appears in the society only because it has been weakened by ignorance and poverty.

Governments, colonial foreign powers, tyrannical regimes.... all understand this basic fact, the population ceases being any real threat when it is sufficiently ignorant.
That is why we were kept uneducated under British colonial rule in the past and that is why we are being kept uneducated till this day.
No imperial rule or occupation has ever been known to evade this pattern.
It is a troubling prospect, an action and it's set of consequences.
But fact is, there can be no separation between action and reaction, one may well bring the other, and we are stuck in this mud-hole.
We cannot aspire to have a better country and a better government with the masses being ignorant, yet at the same time the regime will never allow the people to get educated.
It's a closed circle, we can drive around in it all day, but until we can break this cycle of ignorance there can be no hope for us.
It is nothing more than a loop in the much observed rise and fall of civilizations.

It has been said before, "Don't criticize something, without offering a solution"
The solution presented here is like many others, to change from the top of the pyramid.
The reason for this not being the impossibility to actually change the society without executive power, but because executive power will not allow society to change except if it is itself changed.

*figures taken from the CIA - World Factbook.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Life, Risk and Probability

Who likes the risk game?, Who plays the risk game?
OK, for those of you who don't know it, simply stated it's the world conquest game.
It's just a board game before someone comes around and accuses me of trying to take over the world.
In the better days me and my friends would gather and play all night long, all six of us.
I would light up a nice big Cuban cigar, and play with my huge 17th century "sawalef" that i once had.
"Let's go General" they would say, and the game would start.
Basically each has his own army which is deployed around the world, and when a battle is underway a roll of the dice decides the fate of your armies.

The system goes like this:

For offense : Attacking with one battalion the player gets to use one die
Attacking with two battalions you get two dice
Attacking with three or more battalions you get 3 dice

For defense : Defending with 2 or less battalions - one die
Defending with 3 or more battalions - Two dice.

It's game of wits, and the enrolling of dice in the game makes it dependent on luck, much like real life.
It was something, contrary to life though, that i excelled at.
Close to the completion of my mission and the winning of the game, i had only one territory to occupy.
A territory(japan i believe) occupied by B., who was by then in a weak position with only a few battalions left intact. In fact he had only one battalion to defend that territory.
I attacked with 3 battalions, a number which i thought sufficient to crush his one battalion defense.
This means that i was throwing three dice and he was throwing only 1.

1st round - The probability that he would win this round is the following:

1/4 * 1/3 * 1/2 = 1/24 = 0.0416 = 4.16%

The probability that i win is therefor: 95.84%

You can guess where all this is going, he DID win the round, surviving somehow on the tiny 4%.
But there is more to the story, after my loss i had to wait another round to try to occupy the territory.

2nd Round - I begun suspecting that lady luck might not be on my side, so i increased the no. of attacking troops to 6 battalions.
The probability that he would win:

1/4 * 1/4 * 1/4 * 1/4 * 1/3 * 1/2 = 1/1536 = 0.00065104 = 0.064104%

and taking the probability of the first round into account, the probability that he would win BOTH rounds is:

0.00065104 * 0.0416 = 0.000027082 = 0.0027082%

.'. The probability that i would win: 99.9972918%

And yet again he won and i lost....... blowing my 99.99% into oblivion with his 0.0027%.

3rd round
- I yet attacked with 6 battalions, being all i had left near the battle ground.
The probability that he would win:


taking the 1st and 2nd rounds into account, the probability that he would win ALL three rounds:

0.00065104 * 0.00065104 * 0.0416 = 0.0000000176605 = 0.00000176605%

which means that he had 17.66 in a billion chance to win, and he did!

The probability that i would win: 99.99999824%

which by any reasonable approximation would amount to 100%
Probability says that i would win, 100% sure i would, but i lost....

Through the exuberant cries of B., the disbelieve so generously drawn on the faces and the puzzled lump of my psyche, i thought about probability and how dangerous it really is.
Just a virtual aspect of it all, life clearly does not believe in it.
Who would put faith in something so deceiving??

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


On my wall i have one of those wall frames that have a little piece of wisdom written on it.
Mine is an old one, it belonged to my grandfather and i found it shortly after he died.
I remember my grandfather well enough, he was the one who taught me how to play chess.
A man with many quirks but i loved him nonetheless.
It has a worn out brown wooden frame, and inside on the tainted white paper is written in bold capital letters just one word :

........and then in small font it says "compliments of IBM corporation"

I'm not sure why i chose to hang it on the wall when i first found it. Old, dusty and worn-out, it was something you kept in the attic.
But it was something my grandfather left behind, it was this one word that he was able to deliver to me from beyond his grave, and it seemed to be beckoning to me.
Short, unpretending and mystical....... it all but revealed the secrets of the universe.
Simply put, i thought it was a good idea at the time (......and we did not have an attic)
I would have liked to say that it has been an inspiration for me, that it has guided me through difficulties, but years it has been where i first placed it and i have hardly looked at it all that time.
Know a thing too well and you become blind, The eye does not waste time on what it already knows.
It became what it really is, a worn out frame on a wall....... Nothing more, nothing less.
Today i came home late, and as i was changing, i faced the wall like i always did and suddenly it grabbed my attention, a relic from my past attached to the wall :
"THINK" it told me boldly "THINK!....."
And i thought....... i thought about this little dirty wall frame that demanded that i think.
"Think about what exactly?" my mental voice beamed back at the word.
I stood there, waiting for some kind of answer but it simply repeated again :
"I AM thinking..." i thought to myself "now I'm thinking"
I thought about the power of a word, the way it could be influential, the power to change my mental state.
It stimulated my brain and a flood of thoughts came rolling into it.
Random thoughts that revolved around nothing, tiny electric charges that sparked... and the current was havoc.
Until they condensed into this one spark, this one thought that said repeatedly :
"Think, and keep thinking!"
"Think, and keep thinking!"
"Think, and keep thinking!".......

Monday, 1 September 2008


Today was the first day of Ramadan.
Yesterday i was speaking with a christian friend and he was high up and giddy because it's Ramadan....
"I just love Ramadan, its got this special something" he said, while we were walking around.
"Ofcourse you are happy with Ramadan," I told him "you get all the short work hours - all those late nights on the "ahwa" - for free. You don't even have to fast for a minute!"
Nothing new, everyone keeps talkin' about that mysterious Ramadan feeling but i never could tell.
Is it because People are amassing in the streets late at night like half crazed non-sleeping night zombies?
So this is Cairo, it's always like this over here, that is not Ramadan...
Is it the decorations?, the "fawanees"?
The insurmountable phone calls from people?
The absence of swearing in the mornings?
People at mosques?
Absolute stillness at sundown?
Freaky over politeness all day long?
"Boggy we Tumtum"?, yeah right, not anymore......
Off to "taraweeh" I'm!