The Security Guy: The Saga Continues…

Today is the fourth day of the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan.

During the Month of Ramadan, for the uniniated amongst you, Muslims are supposed to Fast (refrain from eating/drinking) from dawn until sunset. Having being raised a Muslim, I have always been told that Ramadan is not only about Fasting from food and drink but vices in general.

For Muslims, Ramadan is a time of spirituality. (Yeah, right… but I’ll get to that later).

Today, I am not Fasting. I’m not doing this to make a statement or prove a point (though I have to admit that since I’m a Quasi-Agnostic – still in transition – the social pressure on me to fast is just too great, and I know I’ll get a bitch of a headache if I go around explaining and arguing).

No, I’m not fasting because I’m ill and I’m taking medication. Religion-wise, I’m safe. SupraNatural being knows my body feels like it’s about to crumble to pieces and the anti-biotics and painkillers I’m gulping down every six hours don’t contribute to my regaining my body strength or even presence of mind.

I let it be known that I am not fasting today at the office. I had to. I needed to eat and drink so as not to collapse from the exhaustion my body feels. I did not have except two cigarettes, a cup of tea and two pieces of toast (though in 30 minutes when all the Egyptians are gone I will go down and buy me some McDonalds). Still, when I was about to leave the office (to have my second smoke in the building stairwell), the Security Guy (of “The Jews” fame) asked me how I was dealing with Ramadan today (his shift had just started – he didn’t know).

Obviously, I told him I wasn’t fasting… because I was ill. He gave me this look and said:

“Ana mesh mesada2 ennak mesh sayem. Mesh Faisal el maysomsh.” [Trans: I cannot believe that you are not Fasting.It would not have been expected of Faisal (me) not to Fast.]
Damn!

Why’d he have to go and say something like that? What really annoyed me was my response… I actually stood there and attempted to explain to the man why I wasn’t fasting. I gave him excuses! (I felt extremely ashamed of my behaviour afterwards).

The look on his face said that he still wasn’t satisfied with my response. Thing is, this is the attitude that many people give you when you do not fast. Apparently, nothing short of having Cancer, a Stomach Ulcer, Diabetes, Heart Problems AND a bullet lodged inside your brain should be reasons enough for one not to fast. Yes indeed.

One has to persevere. So what if you are ill?! You have to vanquish the illness through piety… and possibly die in the process (I’m not saying I was going to die).

I do not want to waste my breath ranting on about how I think these people should mind their own business and not interfere. After all, it’s their SupraNatural Being who will judge me, not they. So let’s just wait until Judgement Day and I’ll let them know what I scored on the Ramadan part of my Grades.

Apparently the man was accepting enough to point out that if I smoke my ciggy in the bathroom, and with the stall door closed and the fan on, it would me much better for me.

So I smoked in the bathroom, well aware of his attempts to “hide and protect me” from the wrath of other Muslims who might be traversing the building stairwell, and who would absolutely faint at the sight of a non-Faster.

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A Comment on my comments on Religion

I had hoped that all my previous posts were enough for those that do not know me to realize that I am quite secular in my social and political views. Having said that, let me make it clear that having a secular view point does not mean you don’t care about religion or, at least, theology and/or the idea of religion.

But, apparently, some people think that’s true. It is amazing how, in e-mail correspondance with someone I do not know personally, I was addressed in a radically different fashion when I pointed out that I consider myself an Agnostic.. and I do consider myself an Agnostic. It just pissed me off that were I not an Agnostic (as was thought by the other party) then whatever I say, as someone who is officially considered a Muslim, is just… useless nonsense.

The reason I write this post, though, is that I came across an interesting website. Now, again, I have nothing against anyone attempting to let their plight be known to the world through the internet. I do have problems with something that looks like mere propaganda and totally un-substantiated by fact. The sad thing would be if these claims were supported by facts. Why on earth do they not show them, in some form or another, these facts?! I’ve had Christian friends (and Muslim friends as well, but I suppose that they wouldn’t pass the Officially Reliable Source Inspection) that specifically say that most of these incidents are Christian girls who fall in love with Muslim men and run away.

They also say that sometimes the man doesn’t love them, or wants to steal their jewellery and sell the different rings/necklaces/bracelets for money or just wants to have sex with a good looking chick or whatever. But, that these men don’t force the girls to run away in any manner different from that which a lover (or someone who makes the other believe they love them) would use. Their (my friends’) point is, they don’t believe they’re really kidnappings.

Now, again, I’m not saying that no one gets kidnapped… not at all! I don’t know who or when or how many people get kidnapped. It just gets pathetic that even those times that girls say they weren’t kidnapped, I hear claims from Christian Blogs and websites that they were “drugged” or “not fully aware”. What? Were they drugged with super-coke? Did they remain in their drugged state forever? So let’s say they were drugged… why not interview them after the drug’s effects wear off. It’s just amazing how these girls that say they weren’t kidnapped ALWAYS manage to make it into the news whilst in a drugged state.

It’s also quite amusing to think that the kidnappers are adept at obtaining and using the type of drugs that put the girls in a delirious state for days.

Finally, I am not saying that there aren’t Muslims who attempt to convert Christians to Islam (and/or vice-versa) in Egypt. I just want substantiated stories. Not 3-4 vidoes which are apparently irrefutable proof that this is a phenomenon as opposed to isolated incidents. Damn! Most of the videos aren’t even videos of the girls. They’re either telling us that this happened or they interview Egyptian Christians who describe how the girl in question failed to show up somewhere after leaving or going somewhere. I suppose that if she runs away, she’ll come back home for her dinner and her bed then up and run-away in the morning again, won’t she? These videos say nothing concrete and can be interpreted in any way that anyone wishes. They sure aren’t concrete proof. Well, unless you’re the sort of person that just needs to hear someone to tell you that “something” occurred for you to believe it.

I’ve heard it being said that the only reason families believe their girls have been kidnapped is because they cannot conceive of the idea that their girl ran away with the male in question. Not only that… but because of Egyptian culture… it would be quite dis-honorable and shameful for the family. I’ve also heard that the families say their girl was forced to convert to give her a chance to use the same argument with the Church so that she could claim that being forced to convert (for probably a completely silly reason) means that she shouldn’t be excommunicated. Personally, I can imagine this happening in a variety of issues in Egypt that have nothing to do with Religion.

I have to say though that I don’t know how the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt, and other Churches here, treat Christians who willingly convert to Islam and them want to return to christianity. Personally, I’d take him back; They were probably thinking about the whole thing.

Honestly though? People should take this religion thing with a grain of salt. If only they’d confine their feelings towards whatever supranatural entity they believe in to the private domain (and by this I mean anyone who follows any religion/way of life) we’d all be better off. You can leave”Missionary Notes” on bulletin boards and those interested can pick ’em up, read about your religion and then choose if they think it works for them or not.

Oh and one last thing, and this goes to both sides: If you’re going to quote scripture (Qur’an or Bible) then at least get your god-damned meanings right and stop this half-assed out-of-context bullshit that infuriates the hell out of anyone that understands the language and doesn’t even follow the faith!!!

Here’s hoping people grow up. Academically as well as psychologically/emotionally.

The Egypt I live in

Not the best of places for people who aren’t well off.

“When my daughter tried to buy some clothes some time back, she came back home with a shocked expression” , exclaimed the cab driver in a low, but angry, tone of voice. “I asked her about what was wrong. She said she couldn’t afford to buy clothes with the current prices and the amount of money she had.”

Strangely enough, what sparked off this topic was my excuses to the man for having to sit in the back seat of the cab (it was a small vehicle and I was wearing a suit and already running late for a morning meeting). I do not remember how it developed into a discussion of the man’s, and the average Egyptian’s, life… but that it became until he dropped me off in Manial, where I work.

His complaints were many… but he was not whining. He was merely indignant.

He told me that beta’at el ta’min are slowly being stopped. Even though they only mean half-a-kilo of oil and sugar… and bad sugar at that. He told me that the price of a kilogram of meat is now pushing 40 L.E. A chicken… is for 20-25.

He said that he isn’t a rich man. That he cannot afford to buy chicken anymore.

We discussed the Malek el Saleh bridge that had been under maintenance for about a week. The cabbie commented on the fact that they were hammering and placing whatever substance they were using to “fix” the road… using manual equipment. (From my own personal experience, I can say that many of them looked like the kind of equipment that street sweepers use here… except they had more, and tougher, bristles).

I remember that before the bridge, at the bit where the Corniche joins the Helwan Agricultral Road “Helwan el Zeraee“, a two-door, dull blue-grey Suzuki Swift was speeding and he swerved heard in front of us, in the process of going from the right-most lane to its partner on the other side of the road.

The Taxi driver said: “Mesh Kol sawa2 ma3a rokhsa… we mesh kol wa7ed ma3a rokhsa sawa2. Aho el 7omar da mabye3rafsh yesoo2“. [Translation: Not every driver has a license and not every person who has a license knows how to drive.] When the cabbie noticed that the car had the blue “Government” Registration plates (secretly, I was sure that was bound to bring forth some form of comment from him), he immediately said: “Mahee mesh beta3tak… mesh 7atkhaf 3aleiha“. [It is not yours (the car)… you’re not worried about it.]

And he was right.

He asked me, rhetorically, why there still remain people who are either affiliated to the government or are government employees, whilst their pasts are “black with infamous deals, actions and crimes”. He asked me whether this was fair, or just, or even humane.

I saw him go through many emotions; indignation, anger, exasperation, sadness and trepidation during a twenty-minute ride.

Reform?

They all deserve to be tried for their crimes against the Egyptian people.

It must have been Yuri!

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction.

Depending on how busy my workday is, I always manage to spend a bit of time everyday readings news and opinion articles, checking out blogs, watching some of those YouTube videos, using Google Talk (strongly recommended by me!) etc. In short, well-developed and researched time-wasting schemes.

Moving from site to site and click after click on the ‘net, I generally manage to come across a number of articles and blog posts written by the group of people I like to call Neo-Cons; basically a large group of people that believe in George Bush. These NCs can get quite irritating. Not only because the always seem willing to discuss and comment on Martian International Relations, but also because they get quite upset when, Supranormal Being forbid!, regular humans wish to talk Earth Politics with them.

In fact, I’ve gotten quite used to their reactions that, over the preceding months, I used to indulge myself by inserting my various, and humble, Earth opinions and watch their blood bubble and boil (that must have been how all the water from Mars evaporated all those years ago). Finally, boredom overcame me and I promised myself never to discuss Martian Politics again.

A couple of weeks ago, an Earthman sent me links to a number of jokes, practical jokes and some sad attempts at humour. Turns out that these were, in fact, the latest headlines of some of the Martian Newspaper (Still not able to find their Earth distributor, but I hear that they’re opening up a Galaxy-wide outlet soon). Fancying myself a buff on Martian jokes, I ploughed straight in, only to discover that these were forgeries, and pathetic ones at that.

Alas, I later discovered that these were authentic pieces. Apparently, Martian News headlines no longer had gossip stories as features… they had moved on to pornography. I sighed. Nothing I could do about it. I had realized a long time ago that the Universe was not going to change because I wanted it to.

What always frustrated me is how other Earthmen tribes, as well as those Martians, just simply refused to listen to what I had to say. The Martians, and some of those tribes, continued to insult many of the other tribes as well as each other. Having left my first tribe, albeit without telling them, and camping on the plains, I thought I understood that most tribesmen were not bad people… but it seems that, as with all the different tribes through the ages, all you need to start a war is throw one stone.

I keep thinking of all the things I could do to end those wars… and then I realize that I’m frustrated by having to talk nice to all those different tribesmen. Some of the more naive, less intellectually-endowed of my former tribe call me a traitor to my tribe. Other tribesmen just won’t listen and like to make up scenarios of how my former tribe started it all.

The Martians seem to have up and decided that Earth should follow Martian rules and learn from the Martian past or they will declare themselves our legal guardians and tell us when to go out, go to sleep, watch television and even… give us our pocket money!

I still can’t talk mean to any of those people! At the back of my mind there’s this voice which keeps telling me: Be logical. Be Coherent. Don’t be mean or rude. They’ll listen to you if you talk slow enough. They’ll listen to you if they figure out you’re not trying to kill them.

I think the voice in my head is wrong.

I think that they need to think that I will hurt them for them to listen to me. I think I might want them to think that I will hurt them. I think I won’t be able to talk slowly. Or logically. Or Coherently.

I think I won’t care about the violence anymore.

Heh.

Maybe I’ll just start a big fire. BIG BIG FIRE! Maybe I’ll start dancing naked around the fire and kill anyone who comes near me.

Or maybe I’ll just hurt them.