Thursday, June 28, 2007

trying 48 hours

There are testy days and then there are trying days, the 25-26 of June was an incredibly trying 48hours . First we had to go and extend Newbies visa which was of course a barrel of joy especially as the day before we had been lying side by side on make shift hospital beds (a.k.a hotel room) taking turns to visit the bathroom with threat of vomiting hanging over our heads. There is nothing quite like standing around while you feel like your dying

We asked our parents to put money into sarah’s account (I lost my card a while ago..AGAIN) the past week we shopped and just generally used up our flight to luxor reserves because we had money. So went to the HSBC as other cash machines kept rejecting Newbies card (should have been the first sign that not all was well)

Anyho we walked in, used the cash machine except it also rejected her card, then we went to take it out as a point of sale and nope! Her card had been rejected by the issuer (bloody HSBC) so after about an hour of trying to sort the situation out the hard fact was we where stranded in Alex with 4oo LE between us!

I have to say though we took it exceptionally well and even laughed about it and joked about how if worst came to worst we could trade Newbie for a few camels On a serious note though we saw a young boy looking through bins for food and that definitely put things into perspective we went home and prayed the prostration of thanks.

Then I got a text saying "salam we are here" from a UK mobile number, Dear lord!!! My little sister and her friend arrived a day earlier then I had booked the pick up from the airport and the hotel for! I have to say I was really panicked the money thing I took in my stride but the girls being stuck in luxor undid me. Older sister responsibilities came flooding through the gate that had been locked for almost 6 months.

I got on the phone and for some reason the lady who sent for the pick up sent the man to the national airport as she thought they were arriving from Somalia, They had been waiting for about an hour and a half now, by the time they were picked up they had been hanging around the airport for over 2 hours!

Newbie called the bank and as she had neglected to tell them she was coming to Egypt they had put a stop on her card incase of fraud so alhamdulilah we have money again.
Oh and to top of our glorious day just as the Aadan for fajr was called our electricity died ( just our room and the room next door) which went we couldn’t see anything and the airconditioning had gone, a not so fine layer of sweat was now our companion. Newbie opened the door and there was a beautiful breaze but then we were woken up again as the sun coming through our balcony had burned our feet!!

Then we missed our train to cairo and when i tried to buy another ticket the man told me that they were all booked. But alhamdulilah he found two tickets on the next train and we jumped on that. Got to liz's in cairo stayed up with her and then 3.30am we hailed a taxi put all our luggage on and the taxi broke down! But alhamdulilah the taxi after a lot of dua it re-started and we jumped on the plane

We are now in luxor ( all 10 of us) phew....

Friday, June 22, 2007

General update

By god its getting hot now! although i can't complain too much its topping up on my tan like nothing i have ever seen. For the first time a few days ago someone asked me if i was Aswani :) that fulfilled on my long sought after ambitions here in egypt!

i have 5 more days before i complete my level 3 and then start travelling around egypt with 8 girls including me. How these trips get so big i have no idea but since i now know its extortionate to go with a tour company i have take it on my self and sarah to lead this tour.

i have been planning the itinerary, the hotels and a flight from aswan to cairo so inshallah its should be smooth but if its not then its part of the experience.

I know its premature and am not home yet but i have been trying to evaluate the crazy girl who came to egypt not knowing a soul to the woman who is now leaving! some of the changes are obvious and am aware of but some i guess only time and the people who know me well will tell.

But taking on this tour is one of the many changes that has taken place. I would never have taken on such a task before but know that i have developed a no nonsense attitute am not actually apprehensive about the possibilities.

All in all am looking forward to just partying with the girls level 3 has been hard on me and incredibly intense so letting loose and just sipping minute tea sounds wonderful.

Monday, June 11, 2007

youml jumm'a wa suratul kahf

Another jumm’a has come and gone and since reading surah Al-kahf on jumm’a is recommended I thought I would become reacquainted with this surah so there I am reading it from my copy the qur’an that combines the English translation with the Arabic text side by side (courtesy of native female, May allah never cease to reward her)

Near the end the surah talks about Musa (AS) meeting with khidr whom Musa asks to go travelling with because of his knowledge. The first thing that Khidr does Musa (as) is shocked by because it appears to the deliberate damaging of someone’s boat. Then it gets worse when they meet a boy along the way and Khidr kills him! Then finally before they part, they come to a town, asked for food but the people refused. They then came to a wall about to collapse and Khidr set it straight when Musa (As) said surely you could have taken wages for that. At this point they parted ways because Musa( As) could not be patient with Khidr and what he was doing.

Khidr revealed to Musa (As) the wisdom behind what seemed like abhorrent acts.

1) In the case of the boat it belong to a miskeen (poor person) working in the sea so he defected it as there was a king who was seizing all the boats by force so as to make it undesirable to the king enabling the miskeen to repair it and continue with his source of lively hood. (Subhanallah I can imagine that from the miskeens point of view this would have seemed like a major disaster, his only source of lively hood was now damaged, what was he going to do, was his life not hard enough etc etc. But inactual fact allah loved him and was saving his means for him and in fact what seemed like a disaster was a mercy.)

2) And as for the boy, his parents were believers and we feared that he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief so we intended that their lord should change him for them for one better in righteousness and nearer to mercy. (Subhanallah, I can’t imagine anything worse then losing a child and the pain and grieve that must accompany that, Yet the all mighty who gives life and take life only wanted to spare these believing parents long-term suffering but was also going to replace that which he took with something better and more comforting for them. What ordinary person would consider the death of their child a mercy or a blessing but that is what it was.

3) As for the wall, it belong to two orphaned boys in the town; and there was under it a treasure belonging to them and their father was a righteous man, and your lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure. (subhanallah but here were two orphans seemingly without any protection but they had the greatest of protector looking after their interests and regulating their affairs)

So all in all what seemed like calamities were in fact Allah bestowing his mercy and blessing upon these people and when we make du’a for Allah to grant us the best of this world and the next do we really understand that what is best for us in this word and what will gain us the best of all prizes in the next world may not always appear to be good and may infact appar to be a disaster?!

I guess the true manifestation of “allah is the best disposer of affairs” to be thankful and pleased with your lord even when it would appear that all is lost or that something terrible has happened to you. So be it the loss of your job or the loss of a child or the loss of our parents allah is truly the best of all providers.

May he make us of those who are continuously patient and thankful….Ameen

Monday, June 04, 2007

Visa madness

I was speaking to one of the girls from the institute a couple of days ago and she was telling me about the horrors of extending her visa here in alex. Which reminded me of my fateful morning when i happily walked to the “al-jawaazaat” to extend my visa. Now I have to admit that I was a tad late and was prepared for a slap on the wrist fine for flout Egyptian law etc but what I did not expect was the 3 hours ahead of me. In fact It was so bad that I dug my pen and pad out of my bag and kept a note of the preceding for the intention of blogging but never got around to it so here is my experience.

I walked into the building asked the guy sat next to the door where I needed to go, he looked at my passport and directed me upstairs. i had to pass a crazy number of booths mostly with French and Arabic words on top ( the Arabic looks like a scribble so that’s no help)

I asked a guard when I went upstairs where I needed to go next he directed me to window number 7 entitled “Resident Touristique” so I bobbed along happily, gave the woman one of my ecstatic smiles (which usually makes people so much more amiable) only to be met by a hard unsmiling, scowl wearing face of an elderlish woman. The next 3 hours proceeded like this.

1) window number 7 ( most unfriendly woman I have ever met)
2) sent to window number 10 ( to buy 2 stamps and a form)
3) sent back to window number 7 ( was told to fill in form, proceeded to fill the form in, was told by the hellion to move off her window and fill in my form across the room, how rude)
4) filled in the form, returned to window number 7 ( were she practically took my arm off whilst trying to take the form from me, at this point I was forced to raise an eye brow)
5) She then sent me to window number bloody 10 to get another stamp, at this point I had a 100 note was the woman at window number 10 was getting irritated with me but a smile and a sorry was enough to restore her humour (normal human there then)
6) Back to window number 7 except she is not there, I had to stand there for 15 mins while she held a rather heated conversation with one of her colleagues ( bless the poor man)
7) She returned, snapped a few words of ammiya far beyond my grasps at me, at this point am contemplating if prison would be more pleasant. She throws my form back at me and sends me to window number 8
8) Window number 8 is now occupied by the man she had that scathing argument with ( oh joy) so I stand there and try a smile, old man isn’t affected by my attempt at civility but he doesn’t swear at me so am thankful (she conditioned me to expect abuse in under an hour)
9) Window number 8 the man takes my papers and picture, I brought two but they only need one. He had read over my details and asked me if my mum was Egyptian, then I try and joke with him by responding with “if I say yes will it speed up the process”. He said nothing and continues scribbling on my form ( note: never smile or joke with a government official)
10) Then its back to window number 10 to buy more stamps
11) To window number 8 again to be handed a letter and was told to take it, go downstairs and pay my fine then return.
12) As I am descending i ask a man which window I needed to go to pay my fine, he points to a window entitled “cassie” window number 6.
13) I paid and was then told to go back up, a return to window number 8 and was told to go and photocopy the receipt and the letter he gave me. ( by now am ready to punch the first non- government official to cross me)
14) There is a convenient photocopy guy just outside the building (praise the lord) so I stand there queuing like a polite Brit when people start pushing in front of me ( wrong day) so now am telling people to move out of my way! And when the photocopy guy took the papers of the guy behind me I took a step towards him, I must have looked really angry because he took my papers from me and copied them promptly J
15) Then I return to window number 8, he scribbles a few more things and then sends me to
16) window number 7 ( at this point she is the one who is met by a scowling non-smiling face, serves the wench right )
17) She hands me my growing papers and tells me to get the “Captain” to sign them, she directs me to a room, I turn up and find the captain, give him my wad of papers he asks me a few things, I look blank, he shouts for a Hasan (by now am not contemplating the merits of prison over this ordeal, the captain looked like he could pull of all ten of my toe nails without flinching once)
18) I go back to window number 7, she tell me to return in an hour without any explanation as to why so I stand there demanding why and she says to collect your visa and passport. At which point I mutter a strained shukran and exit.
19) Found the nearest coffee place and grabbed some well deserved tea passed my time there, regain control of my temper.
20) Returned! Took my passport with my visa and left the place ( alhamdulilah)

For the love of all that is good if this is the system is Cairo as well anyone thinking of staying in Egypt for longer then a month please get your visa from your home country, it’s a matter of downloading a form and posting it!