Engineering kills my talent

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, but was really afraid of doing so. I’m always afraid to voice negative thoughts or fears because I feel that if they come out then they become more solid and real.  But I suppose I would like to let people learn something out of my experience. Maybe then they’d double think or something. But before I spill the beans, I’d like to make it very clear that no one ever forced me to do anything in my life. My parents are very accepting and easy-going and I’m immensely grateful for this.

I grew up in a family of doctors, all of which graduated with highest honors from Cairo University including my own father.
When I got to 11th grade – the time when I had to decide what I wanted to do – I was pretty baffled. My dad very casually said that I might excel in medicine-related majors because I was organized and good with memorizing chunks of info. At that time, I didn’t really listen to what he said, and I kept telling him that I’m not going to waste my life. Come to think of it now, I really can’t find the reason behind rejecting medicine.

My English teacher was the first one to tell me that I was good with the language, and encouraged me to sit the Language and Literature AS exam. I took her words mildly but sat for the exam nevertheless, and scored well.

My math and physics skills were average but by the start of the academic semester, I had settled for engineering. I still don’t know why. My parents didn’t interfere, although I felt that behind their supporting smiles, they were worried. I now know why.

That year, I sat Math, Business and English, scoring horribly on Math. This was the second sign because in my Olevels, I didn’t score well on Math, Physics and IT. I resat math and improved the grade and in my last year, I improved all the Olevel grades and sat AS Physics. Parallel to this, I used to study the A2 Math syllabus for the school exam, and I remember hating it to the very core of my being. Sign number 3.

I came to Egypt and started applying around, and a lot of relatives didn’t like my choice. They said it’ll be a tough life. This wasn’t a sign or anything but I did’t listen. I listened to no one, thinking they were just pulling me down.

Then uni started. And things started getting complicated. And I recalled my journey to get here, and what I had to compromise to do engineering. (Well when I was applying I didn’t think I was compromising anything) But I compromised one thing that I later discovered liking: writing. I remembered my teacher and my overall performance on non-science courses. I realized that I’m passionate about writing and I want to learn new skills.

As studies progressed, I realized I was writing less and less, doing the things I like less and less because I was so preoccupied with the workload. I participated less and less in writing contests, read less – reluctantly but unintentionally.

I don’t want to drop engineering, because I don’t hate it. But I don’t like it either, and I’m not really excelling in it. It’s like getting into a new school and struggling to fit in. Except in my case it’s not socially. And if there’s any advice I could give to people is that don’t ignore signs. Listen to your parents and put their words into consideration.

Sometimes the closest people know you better than you know yourself, you just have to keep your mind and ears open to everything that’s happening around you.


Of Ramadan in Egypt

It’s only been recent that I’m spending Ramadan here in Egypt, and I must admit, it isn’t like anywhere else. There are certain things that I love about Ramadan here, but I will keep those for another post.

The amount of Drama and TV shows that are showed on TV are suffocating. Every time you switch the TV on, you’re either bombarded with ads, or some silly shows, sitcoms that aren’t even funny, or ugly drama. I say ugly because everything you will hear or watch will contaminate your ears and eyes, and on the long run, your soul. This is not art. This is a hideous incarnation of what drama should be. It’s shapeless, manner-less, and pointless. Why would I want to watch a woman get raped, or equally inappropriate scenes while I fast the holy month?  Why would I want to hear all sorts of foul language, when I should be hearing Quran?

WHAT IS THE POINT behind serials and TV shows in Ramadan? If they want to entertain the population then why are they doing it in a devil-like manner? Do 90 million people really need to watch such things, given the current state of the country?

There’re allocated budgets for all these things, where does it come from? Why is all this money so inhumanely utilized? When you could spend all the money that Haifaa Wahbe earns during this month to buy new technology for a hospital or a school, when you could use all the money spent on valueless series, then why are we choking ourselves with our own hands?

We’re raising generations that don’t know the value of Ramadan and its religious and spiritual essence because of this. THIS is what ruins the souls of people. THIS is what makes us appreciate good things less. THIS shows us the worst side of us and tells us that we’re bad people who can never be better. When we actually can be better. We are good people who need the right environments to foster.

When all the episodes show the lowest and most horrid side of Egypt and its population, what does the audience think and feel?
When entire families waste precious time in Ramadan watching episodes after episodes of TV that don’t develop any morals, ethics, skills.. Heck, they even destroy the little that we have left in us!

A message to producers, directors, actors:
I, Ayah, and a lot of others, are ashamed, disappointed and angry. You’re one of the reasons this nation is not progressing. You’ve poisoned our thoughts, killed our innocence, and wasted valuable time of our life. We’re going to take a stand and soon, so it’s time you change your business objectives before we do.

To people who sit and watch all these stuff:
Don’t.  You’re not benefiting, others are not benefiting, no one is. If you continue to watch it, they will continue to produce worse. You’re important and valuable, so don’t stoop to that level. It will not do you any good.

And TV/Radio channels and newspapers that advertise for this:
If you think you’re going to get away with the fact that you just made money out of ruining our mentalities, then you’re wrong. Every time a person is negatively affected with whatever they see or hear on TV, you’re the ones responsible for it. I hope you feel better about yourselves now.

5 baby sitting tips

*Breathe in* Whatever I say here and now will sound exaggerated, but it’s not. Believe me.

The past few days have been a roller coaster, but to sum things up, some family members were seriously ill, some passed away, some just delivered, and some are still in a bad state.. And in the middle of all of this, I’ve been baby sitting my cousins while people have been in and out. If you know me, you’ll know I’m not a kids person. I don’t like them, and I have no idea how to deal with them, and so having to sit with a 5 and a 7 year old, was treacherous. I mean it. Here’s what I learned.

1- Do your best not to shoot them in the head

Be VERY patient. Be shrewd and calm and composed and all the synonyms in the world. The will climb everything they can possibly climb, they will want to “watch the cars” from the balcony. They will want to use your phone, iPad, whatever technology you have to play games. They’ll ask for food, when you haven’t prepared anything, and they won’t eat when the food’s ready. They’ll nag, cry for their parents, make horrid loud noises and do everything in their hands to drive you mad. Stay calm.

2- Don’t shoot yourself either

Often too, they’ll want you to play with them. Whether it’s an awful car that doesn’t even work, or a Barbie/baby born that needs some sort of “care”, they’ll want you to be part of their make believe game. Very often, you’ll play the role of a sick person, a servant, or an equally demeaning role. Hold that gun aside and do not shoot yourself. It gets better.

3- Bathrooms

They want to shower. Now. At 2 am, they’ll just randomly out of the blue, get into the tub and ask you to shower them. They’re already half naked, so you can’t really say no. So now there’s a dilemma because they’re shy but they need help with warming the water, shampooing etc, so you have to find middle ground. You have to. Before it turns into melodrama and the neighbors think you’re slaughtering a kid in the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Speaking of bathrooms, you’ll also get called a few times during the day to do some dirtier work. You should be close by, and ready.

4- Phone calls and parents
The reason why I stressed on “keep calm” is that their parents will know everything. Every single breath you took will be reported to their parents in phone calls. They will use your phone if you’re distracted for a minute, call their parents, and complain about anything you did. Whether because you hid that lollipop because they were getting too hyper, or lowering the TV’s deafening volume, the whole family will know.

5- Questions?
You’ll  be bombarded with all types of questions when they’re bored. They will get up close and personal at a point. Why aren’t you married? Do you have a boy friend? Who are you texting? Is that a picture of your friend? How many kids do you want? Why do you lock your laptop? Why are you so fat? Where is your mother? How is so and so related to us? Tell me a story. Don’t you have anything to do? And it goes on. Try to distract them when they’re at this phase to save yourself some serious consequences. (See number 4)

Lastly, try to survive.

The silver lining

If you’re a “Stuart Little” enthusiast like me, you’ll probably know what this is about. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not but I basically live for the silver lining. Sometimes too much that it gets out of hand.

– I’m in the middle of a funeral, and one of the things I want to say to the family of the deceased that, well, hey, at least he doesn’t have to see all this life’s miseries anymore. But of course, who says that in a funeral?

– A humongous car accident is blocking the highway, and I’m thinking “If the passengers are alive then all else doesn’t matter, but if they’re not, at least people would know to be careful next time.”

– Some world war is happening somewhere on the globe and I’m like, if the dying people are dying for a cause, then good for them, if they’re not, then good for humanity.

– I’m performing horribly in a course, well, that’s because I’m still learning and it’s okay to make mistakes. (note: I’m only like that when the course is miserably difficult)

– I’m losing my eyesight and going oh okay, glasses are not so bad after all.

Yeah… You probably get the point now.

And I can’t deny that it provokes people sometimes. I even provoke myself sometimes with the silly linings. My mom hopelessly shakes her head when I start a sentence with, “At least..”

I can’t help it.

Is it normal to be like that? Does it even have a word- this attitude- other than hopelessly optimistic. Because, honestly I don’t think the problem is in the fact that I use a yellow hat, I think the problem is that it sometimes distracts me from the main issue that needs to be handled and responded to.

Although I tend to think of myself as a very organised, logical thinker, when I start behaving like The Littles, I just turn into a sentimental, unreasonable person.

At least I wrote about it now.

One of THOSE moments


Airport Lounge, 3:15 am

The people crowd around the kiosk and the screen display flashes DELAYED for the one millionth time. I sit close by and watch the people’s low anger and frustration as they complain among each other about the delay.

For some reason, time slows down when things are delayed and I yawn with exhaustion.

Till some check-in staff appear with their walkie-talkies, and the people become louder and suddenly everyone is around the kiosk, and I can’t even see the man anymore. People standing at the back are yelling that this is chaos, and that people should line up. Typically, no one’s listening to anyone and everyone wants to get their boarding pass checked. I’m still an audience to all of this, I haven’t yet moved from my seat, my eyes are barely open, but I do something that is very unexpected, even for me.

I stand, take a deep breath, and very loudly I say:


I literally take each person by the arm and line them up, apologizing firmly to them, but saying that this ought to be done to make the process faster. In a few minutes, everyone was lined up, and I was right. Everyone checked in quickly. I was the last one to check in, and the officer thanked me for saving his “life”.

In another hall, people were already lined up for their passports to be checked, and this went pretty fast too. I was too tired to even be happy about what I did.


The Airplane, 3:35 am

I’m walking in the airplane aisle and a tall man in front of me starts verbally fighting with an older man in front of him because he’s taking too long with placing his luggage in their compartment. The argument was heating. This time I really hesitated.
“Excuse me sirs, we’re all going to find our seats, we’re all going to be seated, a bit of patience will do no harm. I apologize on behalf of the two of you for interrupting your argument, but people behind me need to walk through too, and it’s unfair that you fight, while we wait.”

I said this, and swallowed, because I knew it might not end well. Miraculously, it didn’t. Both of them spat some words and moved towards their seat, saying nothing to me. Phew, I thought.

Needless to say, I slept through the whole flight. And upon arrival, what had happened felt kind of surreal. But it happened, and when I saw the people quietly line up to take the bus, I realized that no matter how small something is, seeing its positive effect is always nice.

Those who wish to leave.

This will not be as poetic.

I honestly don’t understand people who wish to leave Egypt and migrate to another country. To them I say, “what’s stopping you?”

Being a very whole-hearted Egyptian who loves Egypt, it is very hard for me to comprehend people who think differently.

Why do you people dislike the country? No, really. Didn’t you like Egypt during its golden days? And when you like something, don’t you stick with it through thick and thin? When a dear one needs help, do you leave them? Do you?

For once, don’t be selfish. This is a place that needs us. This is a country which has given us so much and the least we can do is return the favour. Maybe Egypt hasn’t done for YOU in specific, but it has done for your ancestors. And don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with politics or regimes. I’m a strong revolutionist. This has to do with me, and you, and us.

This is our future we’re messing with here. If WE don’t change, if WE don’t become better and BE the best versions of ourselves then who will? WHO will?

I speak to you, person who wishes to leave, will you be a different person in another country? Will you be more contributing to a land that isn’t yours***? For how long can you escape?

I’ve been away from Egypt all my life, it’s not nice. The constant worry, about how my family is, the fear that I’m not doing enough to make it a better place, my persistent urge to fly to the country at every happy and tragic event that happens. It really is a detaching experience.
If you wish to detach, ask yourself why.
Is it because you can’t find a job? But going to a new country guarantees the job?
Ask yourself. Will this benefit Egypt if I go? Are you going to make change? YES, YOU.

There are many reasons, you would want to leave, but just don’t make them selfish. This isn’t about you only. Think about the Egyptians who can’t find food or shelter. Do you want to see them suffer for the rest of their lives? No, the government won’t help them. They need the help of people, like you and me, and us.

Think about education. If YOUR child were to be educated in Egypt, would you feel completely satisfied? If you wouldn’t take it on your children then don’t think that others would take it on theirs. DO something about it. Don’t just leave the problem hanging there.

If your parents were ill where would you take them? Why not Egypt? Well, make Egypt a priority then! Don’t just rant about how hospitals suck here and leave. What have YOU done?

There are a gazillion ways to be a hero in Egypt. There are a million ways to establish yourself, just don’t make it about you. There’s nothing like living for someone or something.

If you don’t like something, do everything humanely possible to make it better. Just don’t leave it.

If, after reading this, you’re thinking,
“This is a naïve girl” or
“It’s not worth it” or
“What’s the use of this” or
“Hahaha what?”

Then it’s probably better that you leave.

*** If your argument is that you have no ownership/control over the land, or you no longer feel a sense of belonging, then DO something about it. When you produce and help and work and contribute, you gain belonging and control.