Life is nothing but a candy crush saga

Life is nothing but a candy crush saga

Why and how to become addicted to candy crush

Generally at gatherings of friends and family, I get really pissed off when someone ignores the whole setting and just pick up his phone and plays on and on some silly game, starting from farm ville to that rail road parkour guy. All until my brother showed me candy crush. It felt so silly at first, you just make a combination and poof the candy disappears. With the interesting sounds and the colorful candies.

Then with all the political insanity that has been going on, the soothing sound of “delicious” became a needed sound barrier from the cries of ONTV and AlJazeera Mubasher.

But seriously, there is a thing or two to learn from something as trivial as candy crush.

  1. Always keep an eye on the bigger picture.
  2. Don’t be afraid in making mistakes, sometimes it ends up in your favor.
  3. If you lose, try again. And if you lose 5 times, take a break, and then try again.
  4. life offers you random treats, use them well.
  5. a combination of 2 good things can change your life forever.
  6. focus on what’s important and what’s urgent.
  7. don’t give up, you might be one trial away from getting the next phase.
  8. you always need your friends to help you in the train of life.
  9. be there for your friends and they will be there for you.
  10. if you don’t manage some problems when they are little, they will evolve and dominate you.

candy crush life lessons

Back to Cairo University

After so many years, I’m back at Cairo University. I studied there from the year 2000 to 2004, which makes me almost 10 years older than most of the faces I see walking around the campus. This didn’t prevent some unfortunate souls to try and harass me, they should thank God that I only gave them the cold reply, and tried silently to smash their heads with my bare fists.

Anyway, back to my normal tone, I felt pretty nostalgic walking around campus, though I usually stayed near Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences most of the time. It’s pretty much the same. The buildings didn’t change much, few alterations here and there, some wall graffiti for the revolution, a couple of new buildings. There were much more cafeterias, which I don’t know if this is a good sign, as the students need something to eat and drink, or if it was a bad sign cause it shows that people go there to socialize more than to grab a bite to eat between lectures. But what astonished me really, was the unbelievable activity of the commercial educational centers selling summaries, written lectures, Q&A,,,, etc! When I was still a student, there were large numbers of such centers on the other side of Faculty of Commerce door, they just bought notes from some students to sell it to those who would rather hang out then get suffocated in the ill-ventilated lecture hall. But now they go much more advanced in regards to selling techniques, you’ll find some standing outside of the campus walls screaming with a microphone with some advertisement for the notes, thousands of flyers across campus, and Baya3een Shanta Salesmen with the backpack!

This is understandable for the Law school, or Commerce Faculty, as the numbers of students is counted by thousands each year, and there is no chance that a sane student would be able to attend attentively all lectures. But to find these printouts for the Open Education Center, that’s ridiculous!

I will talk about my experience with the Open Education Center (El Ta3leem el maftou7) at some other time, but one thing I find it remarkable if having a well maintained website. Using your username and password, you can download lectures (video, 3gp for your mobile, written, summarized), old exams (some of them solved), the book on pdf, final revisions on video. It’s really nice to have your study materials as a soft copy, ma3aleina ba2a of the quality. So what these centers do is simply print out the materials already available for every student with a different header and footer and selling them for profit! Unbelievable!

One thing I discovered is that Cairo University has a distinct smell. When I first entered from the gate, I instantly felt I was on a time machine, and it was thanks to the aroma of the place. I really can’t describe it, it’s a mixture of the smoke of fast food kiosks, the cheap essence of the low-middle class girls, mixed with the general sweat of students who spend the whole day there, plus hints of the occasional shoes “varnish”.

I don’t want to sound pessimistic about Cairo University, I do my best to hide this, but I don’t know how the future of education in Egypt will improve with the current situation. Cairo University was built by enlightened minds who sought elevating the level of education and knowledge of the Egyptian people, many great names contributed in these efforts. They will be happy to know the numbers of students per year, but not so if they talked to any of them. That is not to say that there is no hope. Some amazing professors were still able to surpass these circumstances and provide their students with top-notch curriculum, but at the end, what is their percentage?

And when we talk about hope for Cairo University, I dare say that the best schools are Faculty of Law (English section), Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences, and Faculty of Commerce (English section). At least this was how it used to be in the year 2000. I will tell you about my visit to FEPS, one of the remaining good spots for governmental education. I won’t talk about the educational part itself as I didn’t have the chance to check it, or the proper expertise to judge it, but I will talk about primitive things that any woman will notice from the first glace. Mostly the cleanliness, general atmosphere and little specifics. I was greeted first with the unpleasant bombardment of announcements on A4 paper at the entrance, which definitely ruined the look of the place. Aren’t results, notifications, and that sort of messages supposed to be posted all in one place? And not thrown like this randomly?

Then I decided to go find a place to pray inside, cause I still remember the powerful smell of the women section of the nearby mosque, and would not like to repeat the experience. First I went to the lavatory for my woudou`, the place was ok, decently cleaned. But there was not a single drop of soap or a single tissue. I wonder if the Dean or the professors used the public lavatories, will it be the same quality?

Then I asked a girl if there was a prayer place for girls, as I remember we used to occupy any unused room and tell each other on prayer times, but she pointed at a corner dedicated for girls. It was a corner below the staircase in the new building, hidden with a big wooden board, with a couple of prayers rugs, and a poster talking about the proper form of Hijab. There was some cigarettes butts thrown on the ground, most probably were thrown from someone climbing the stairs on a hurry (despite the no smoking signs), there were a couple of discarded books on what looks like an old night stand. And the ground was purely filthy. I had second thoughts on where to put my bag, or where to take off my shoes for that matter. By comparison, I wouldn’t have any problem praying on the asphalt, at least the dust will be much more sanitary…

I wonder if this was the difference of 10 years since I was a student there, how was it 10 years before I go there? And how will it look 10 years from now?

Abstractism & Symbolism

الأصل في الرمز هو أن يجئ لاحقاً لما يرمز له، إذ تعرض لنا حالة أو فكرة، نريد تمييزها مما قد يختلط بها من أشباهها أو أضدادها، فنبحث لها عن رمز يميزها، و الأغلب أن تكون الحالة المرموز لها مجردة، و أن يكون الرمز المميز لها شيئاً محسوساً يجسد خصائصها و معناها……

و إذن فنقطة البدء الطبيعية في عملية الرمز هي اختلاجة النفس بحالة يراد التعبير عنها، ثم يتجه طريق السير من باطن إلى ظاهر، من حالة وجدانية داخلية إلى شئ محس في دنيا الأشياء الخارجية.. لكن هذا الترتيب الطبيعي -فيما نرى – قد انعكس أحياناً عند ابن عربي في ديوانه “ترجمان الأشواق” لأنه بمثابة من وجد نفسه أمام طائفة من الرموز المجسدة، و أراد أن يلتمس لها من الحياة الشعورية الداخلية ما يصلح أن يكون مرموزات لها. ـ

زكي نجيب محمود – قيم من التراث

I don’t want to compare between sufism & photography, this is not what this post is about. This post is concerned with one specific issue, the process of incorporating symbols in photography.

When I read this paragraph, which focuses on specific poems by Ibn Araby, whereas Zaki naguib Mahmoud says that generally speaking a poet would ponder on a thought / feeling he wants to express, then he will go outwards and finds the proper symbol to express it. But in a book by Ibn Arabi, he described some symbols first, then followed it with what could be the original thought / feeling.

In my opinion, there a lot of similarities between these 2 scenarios and photography, which is evident as both are forms of expressive arts. One in words, and the other in images. In some aspects, a photographer will have a certain message / idea he wants to transmit, and then he will build up the composition of the photo in order to make the observer feel it too. And this is one of the most popular fields of photography, especially in commercial photography whereas it focuses on building a certain image of the product, happiness, freshness, excitement,,,, etc.

Then there is another field of photography whereas the photographer would find a captivating scene, shoot it, and then after looking at it on his laptop or printed image, he will try to describe how this image has impressed him. This reverse way of symbol-then-symbolized can be also found in different types of photography, but for me (and my limited experience in photography), it is most evident in the field of abstract photography.

Through the lens you might find attractive composition, and you don’t know exactly was made it so captivating, you just feel like it talks to you, or moves you in some unknown way, and afterwards (maybe even during editing), you find through its lines, curves, colors that it talked to you specifically, in its own mysterious ways. The fact remains that this feeling was interpreted after you took the picture, and that you had no intention when you left your home to take that specific picture. And this is the thing I love most about photography, spontaneity of expression.

At the end, whether you are building a certain composition, or are just walking around with your camera, just keep your mind and your eyes open, and enjoy!

10 Things they don’t tell you about motherhood

As most women do, the moment I knew I was pregnant, I started my research about everything I can know about this new phase of life. Starting from books, websites, videos, articles,,,, etc everything. Yet despite all of this, I was still surprised with some stuff that no one warned me about. And I assure you that even after reading this, you will face something different that you didn’t hear about from the doctor or your research.

1- The Standard Inconveniences 

Anything you feel out of the ordinary, it’s because of preganancy. Pain in weird places, nasal congestion, sleeplessness, tiredeness, hemorrhoid, ear humming, breathlessness, weird dreams, you name it. After knowing the symptoms and checking out what it is, you will find pregnancy as one of the symptoms. It messes the balance of your whole body. So don’t worry, and look for how to deal with these inconveniences.

2- Saving up some zzz,,, HA!

People told me to sleep as much as I can in the last phase of pregnancy to “save up hours of sleep for later on”. It’s true that you won’t have a deep enjoyable 8 hours of sleep as you used to (for me I can count the number of 8-hours of sleep nights on one hand and I gave birth in January!). BUT no matter how much rest you had in the last phase of pregnancy, these hours of extra dozing won’t do a thing and you will be dead tired in the first few months. Motherhood tax.

3- Paiiiiiiiiiiin ? or pain pain pain?

Choosing whether you want a natural birth or C-section  ultimately ends with just one question. Are you capable of withholding one extremely intense pain for one day, or would you prefer milder pain for several days. Your pain, your choice.

4- Goodbye old me

The moment you know you are pregnant, your whole life has changed. Your relationship with your parents, in-laws, family friends will be different. You will appreciate more the challenges your mum endured to raise you and you will feel sorry for every time you had a fight, cause at the end of the day you won’t be able to imagine that your baby, for whom you have suffered so much, will get angry on you for an extra hour to sit with friends. You will feel the importance of family ties and extended family meanings. Your discussions will ultimately resolve around child care, which is not very interesting to your single friends.

5- Can I offer you some Tea?

The second & third months of pregnancy, and the first two months after giving birth are the hardest. God be with you. And be a sweetheart and don’t impose your visits on new mothers during this critical period, unless you are close friends and you’ll be able to offer help, cause new mums won’t have the mind or the energy to play host.

6- Humm Num

This is a repeated advice, but here it goes. During pregnancy, if you can make food & preserve it in the freezer, do so. Or else collect all home delivery menus you can, make a mental list on where you can get fast, yummy lunch. You won’t be able to step in the kitchen for a long time, and thinking where to eat will be an added nuisance. Plus, eating the same take out food over and over again will be boooring. So prepare ahead.

7- Doc Talks

Your doctors will be provide you with all the details you need to know to go through pregnancy. Talking with family & friends might give you further information, but your research is indispensable. On my first doctor visits (& I have tried more than one), I expected him/ her to go through pregnancy step by step, with all what I needed to know on what to eat, what to expect, what to fear, what not to fear, but even the most experienced doctor can’t possibly give you all that you need to know. There are lots of resources on this subject, and elhamdlelah God provided with the tools to understand more and face less surprises, so why not use it.

8- S, for Surgery

During the C section, my body was shivering, I felt extremely annoyed, I wanted to throw up, and ill at ease in general. And for a few days afterwards, my neck and back were killing me. NORMAL.

9- Scale issues

I was very concerned about pregnancy as I am already overweight. But I discovered that it is not necessarily that pregnancy will make you fatter. I kept track of my weight, and surprisingly I didn’t gain that much after I gave birth. But the doctor mentioned it with a certain tone a couple of time, namely while looking on the sonar screen, after the surgery, looking after the stitches. So fat is not really helpful during pregnancy, but it is not to be feared.

10- It’s all worth it

Finally, and this is something all books, and advice columns mention, despite all the hardships, pain, nuisance, sleepless nights (and days), frustration, headache and general exhaustion , you will feel the true sense of happiness and peace.

Welcome to motherhood. Enjoy the ride!

The Bastard of Istanbul

This book was recommended to me by inji, and as I trust her book judgement, I did my best to find that book , and finally made the order from to deliver it to me in Albania in 3 weeks.

I was encouraged by the front page review, comparing it to Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, which I enjoyed tremendously (novel and movie). So It became my companion after finishing Dune. 

It’s true that there are some resemblance between the two books. Both of them focus on women, immigrants, taking the views of different personalities, going from the past to the present swiftly. But they are also very different in their mood and style. For example, the Bastard of Istanbul also included the stories of some of the men, though they are few. Plus, it aimed at highlighting some aspects of the Armenian tragedy in the beginnings of the 20th century, and the sensitive relations between Turks and Armenian.

The story is about 2 intertwining families, one is Turkish living in Istanbul, and the other is Armenian living in the US. A girl of the Turkish family is a nihilist and doesn’t know who her father is, she is rebelious against lots of things, on top of them is her family (mother, aunts, grandmother and great-grandmother). The other girl from the Armenian American family, wants to know more about her “Armenian-ness”, so she embarks on a secret mission to discover her grand mother’s roots in Istanbul.

As for myself, I am feeling guilty that I didn’t know much about the Armenian tragedy, though I know some Armenian friends, and I know that there are lots of Armenians who live in Egypt, and they are famous for their delicate work, especially in jewelry making.

Because of this novel, Elif Shafak was put on trial in 2006 for “denigrating Turksihness”, due to some of the Armenian rhetoric some of the characters express in the novel! But eventually, the charges were dropped.. Elhamdlelah, it would be a shame to go to prison for such a novel.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“It is so demanding to be born into a house full of women, where everyone loves you so overwhelmingly that they end up suffocating with their love; a house where you, as the only child, have to be more mature than all the adults around….
But the problem is that they want me to become everything they themselves couldn’t accomplish in life…..
As a result, I had to work my butt off to fulfill all their dreams at the same time.” 

I totally understand what she means, and I try (will try) not to impose on my daughter paths in her life she doesn’t necessary like, but she might push herself to do just to please me, because I would not have accomplished them myself… Complicated, hein? That’s why I will do my best not to dwell too much into the role of the all-sacrificing-mother, partly to feel accomplishment myself, and partly because it’s not fair for a generation to work hard only to accomplish what the previous one didn’t.

“The Iron Rule of prudence for an Istanbulite Woman: If you are as fragile as a tea glass, either find a way to never encounter burning water and hope to marry an ideal husband or get yourself laid and broken as soon as possible. Alternatively, stop being a tea-glass woman!” 
“You see, unlike in the movies, there is no THE END sign flashing at the end of books. When I’ve read a book, I don’t feel like I’ve finished anything. So I start a new one.” 

A bit bibliomania?? 😉


Though books were potentially harmful, novels were all the more dangerous. The path of fiction could easily mislead you into the cosmos of stories where everything was fluid, quixotic, and as open to surprises as a moonless night in the desert. Before you knew it you could be so carried away that you could lose touch with reality -that stringent and solid truth from which no minority should ever veer too far from in order not to end up unguarded when the winds shifted and bad times arrived.

Elif Shafak – The Bastard of Istanbul  (the logic of a family who doesn’t approve that the daughter is a bookworm)

“الأدب الجيد قد يعلمنا الكثير عن الآخرين والحياة .. قد يمنحنا لحظات جميلة من الراحة بعيداً عن المشاكل ، وحين نفرغ منه نكون قد صرنا أفضل وصرنا أكثر استعدادا لمواجهة الواقع ”  – أحمد خالد توفيق
Is fiction important? isn’t just a waste of time?
Many times I felt so guilty reading all these novels. I sometimes felt I was wasting time, and instead of sitting there reading the imagintive world of some author, I should be reading something more beneficial, say political, scientific,  history books.
Lately I met these two different thoughts on the importance of fiction (one direct, one indirect). Both are reassuring (in their own way) that fiction is good.
Is it??
I understand that through fiction, the author can easily transmit his thoughts, analysis and message. This type of fiction I appreciate. But they are quite rare, and it all depends on the depth of the author’s analysis and his way of presentation.
Plus. fiction generally has a longer life span than non fiction. It records the thoughts of a nation and transmits it through generations, preserving and solidifying the communities values, and maybe even exporting the way of living.
still, isn’t fiction such a waste of time?

ما بين العرض و الطول

روى أن إبن ” سينا” كان يسأل الله أن يهبه حياة عريضة و إن لم تكن طويله ، و لعله كان يعنى بالحياة العريضة الحياة الغنية بالتفكير و الإنتاج ، و يرى أن هذا هو المقياس الصحيح للحياة ، وليس مقياسها طولها إذا كان الطول فى غير إنتاج ،فكثير من الناس ليست حياتهم إلا يوما واحدا متكررا ، برنامجهم في الحياة: أكل وشرب و نوم ، أمسهم مثل يومهم ، و يومهم كغدهم، ، هؤلاء و إن عمروا مائة عام فأبن سينا يقدره بيوم واحد ، على حين أنه قد يقدر يوما واحدا طوله أربع وعشرون ساعة – بعشرات السنين إذا كان عريضا فى منتهى العرض ، فقد يوفق المفكر فى يومه إلى فكرة تسعد الناس أجيالا ، أو إلى عمل يسعد آلافا ،فحياة هذا – و إن قصرت – تساوى أعمار آلاف الناس ، بل قد تساوى عمرأمة ، لان العبرة هنا بالكيف لا بالكم .

أحمد أمين – الكيف لا الكم – فيض الخاطر ج1

Some people live their whole life without having a goal, just waking up, going through life then sleeping. Their utmost legacy is being remembered through their names of their offspring. While others through their short years leave some marks in history, and enlighten us for decades.
It doesn’t matter what sort of achievemnt they have accomplished, it is just they left something, and their contributions were felt (حياتهم لم تضيع هباء). Regardless of the achievemnt they wanted, may it be the discovery of a galaxy, or raising and educating great men and women, this is a life worth noting, and worth living.

يا رب اعطني القدرة على استغلال وقتي في ما يفيد، و الحكمة في اختيار أفعالي، و ابعدني عن ما يضيع الوقت و يذهب العقل بعيداً عن طاعتك.

Not a Happy New Year

I can’t fully comprehend what has happened. People were praying and some brainwashed venomous worm stepped forward and turned prayers into moans.

At the same moment people were having fun in the warmth of family and friends, celebrating the start of a new year in our calendar, other people in my home country were crying, suffering and dying.
while SMS’s were flying all over the globe in celebrations, and phone operators facing an overload of happy calls, other families were receiving other calls, incomprehensible news about their loved ones. And then the mourning starts.

I wonder who is the responsible. Who thought about this plan, who put it together and who executed. Didn’t they think that they are going to inflict pain upon believers? Why would they choose people praying as their targets?
It is just so painful to even imagine….

I wanted to write happy thoughts here, review about a book I enjoyed, personal thoughts and happy events in my life, but how could I do that?

God, please help us, and help those in pain, and strengthen our fellow Christians, and punish those who caused this tragedy. Ameen.

On Education

No one denies the importance of education, and its significance in building the  proper elements leading to the development of societies. And at the same time, it is often associated with obligations and eventually with a pile of conscious or subconscious resentment from the recipient side, especially if the purpose of all of the exerted efforts were not made clear, and its results were not effective. This is something very noticeable in our schools, and I dare say it is also repeated to some degrees in many societies, even those deemed more progressive.

My years of studying in an average Egyptian environment during the years 1989 – 2004 (4 years university, 3 years secondary, 3 years preparatory and 5 years of elementary), were not especially pleasant. I passed by them as an average student, excelling only in selected subjects, and skimming through the rest in order to pass the exam. Part of my annoyance of my schooling was related to the administration itself (on micro and macro levels), the curriculum, the studying atmosphere (including the society and the family impacts), the teachers and the students. So in a nutshell, it was everything.

Despite all this, there was always some sparkles that got my attention, and they kept me going, and the credit mainly goes to some brilliant teachers who were able to surpass all the educational annoyances, and were still able to deliver a substance with passion and dedication that I understood its meaning when I grew up.

For instance, Mr. Momtaz, teacher of philosophy in thanaweya amma, he was a legend in the maadi. He taught my brothers who were 12 years my senior, and in some cases he taught a girl and years later her daughter as well! I only met him in the private tutoring in one of the thanaweya amma centers, so it was basically a profitable for him, yet he was very passionate about teaching us, it was very easy for me to love this subject, and ace it. And even after passing the course, I remember passing by him more than once just to say hi, and I was not the only one to do that. He combined a great sense of humor, patience and accumulated experience to ensure that his students got the final grade in this course.

I also remember fondly Prof. Hamdy Abdel Rahman who specialized in African Affairs in the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences in Cairo University. He was another example of passion and dedication, his lectures were genuinely interesting and his writings are always engaging. He gave me only one course introducing political sciences in my first year, yet his impact was more than this course and I made sure that if I read his name I had to read what he had to say. Inevitably I compare him to another professor, who also specialized in African Affairs, but attending one of her lectures was more of an ordeal. I asked her once in a friendly conversation why she chose this specialty in particular, she just said that it was a matter of availability when she had to choose an academic specialty! Can you imagine! She spent most of her life studying a subject she didn’t particularly love, and transferred this lack of enthusiasm to hundreds and maybe a couple of thousands of students! Why would a person do that to himself and to others?

In a nutshell, passion and dedication play a vital role in the transfer of knowledge process. This means that if an individual was in a position of teaching, first he should choose a subject he genuinely love, otherwise it will not only be a waste of time and resources, it will be a waste of potential energy and creativity that might have otherwise helped in shaping a better future.

الحكاية علامة شفاء الراوي

My father passed away on the 8th of March.

I was at work, just returned from a hiking trip with a group of people I didn’t know, and on that morning I actually discussed with my boss that I will be asking for an extended unpaid leave from work to spend more time with my family. My older brother called me, he was crying and it hit me.

I rushed back home, with the help of a coworker, hugged my mother, went to his room and looked at him for the last time. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji3un. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji3un.

The first few days after that were quite hazy, with all the tasks to be done in these sad occasions, following on the paper work, preparing el na3i, salat el ganaza, el dafna, receiving visitors… etc  I felt that there was something invisible that is pushing me to perform these duties so I don’t stop and think about the significance of what happened. Then at the first time I mentioned him, and followed it with “allah yer7amoh”, it suddenly hit me. My dad passed away.

In the following weeks, when we visited my family’s cemetery on a Thursday morning, I suddenly felt that this is all ok, and this is where I will come one day, to be buried on the adjoining underground chamber, and surprisingly this thought actually brought me some peace.

Now after almost 3 months, and despite all efforts to give the impression that everything is alright, I miss him terribly. I ask God to forgive me for all the times when I could have been a better daughter and showed my father how thankful I was. He was the one who embedded in me the love of books, music and movies. And despite our different tastes and opinions, we always had some common favorites. He was the one who took me numerous times to the French cultural center to borrow from its selection of books and comics, and he was the one to introduce me when I was very young to sour el azbakeya, and showed  me so many interesting novels and movies.

Now, every time someone mentions a movie he liked, or a Spanish tune he used to hum, or even a book he was interested in, I remember him, and an invisible tear falls down.

Allah yer7amak ya pa.

* The title is from ألم خفيف كريشة طائر تنتقل بهدوء من مكان لآخر , I couldn’t stop crying when I read the final chapters talking about the day his father passed away. And when I read this phrase, I decided that when I’m ready, I will talk about him.