A Cairenegirl's Blog

September 28, 2013

Egypt Through Time: Photographs From 1800-2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — CaireneGirl @ 6:58 pm

Egyptian Streets

Since the 2011 revolution, old photographs of Egypt and classic films showing an elegant and prosperous Egyptian society have sporadically appeared on social networks. Essentially, many are searching to learn and be inspired by the past in order to build a brighter future.  Below, is a collection of photographs of Egypt (mainly from Cairo and Alexandria) taken between the 1800s and present day.




Present Day

[Photographs sourced from various locations – many without credits. Some sources include Egypt Zaman, The Denver Post, LIFE, and The New York Public Library]

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September 21, 2013

Once You Drink From the Nile, You are Destined to Return

Filed under: Uncategorized — CaireneGirl @ 9:16 am

Marilyn R. Gardner

At our goodbye party in Egypt, fifteen years ago, we gave out tiny bottles filled with water from the Nile River. Written on the front of the bottle were the words of an Egyptian proverb:

Once you drink from the Nile, you are destined to return

Cairo is a city that gets into your blood, under your skin, becomes a part of your DNA and every other phrase you can imagine to describe the connection that is Cairo. For all it’s dirt and chaos, our family loves this city. I think it’s because we are like the city. We’re loud, we’re chaotic, and we’re complicated; we can’t be put in a box.

We arrived in Cairo in 1989, just a few months shy of my thirtieth birthday.We were fledglings, learning to walk, talk and live as a family. We were described as “that cute young couple with all those kids!” After…

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May 11, 2010

My teddy bear

Filed under: Creative Writing — CaireneGirl @ 6:26 am

Its velvety touch, so comforting, so smooth, it took her back to those days of innocence that carefree time when she was so happy. The highlight of her day was riding her bicycle, exploring the woods, and feeling the wind in her face. She was so naïve, so young, so open to conquer the world. She was seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses and she didn’t even realize it. She had Snow White for a caretaker and thought that this was what everybody had. She had more friends than she could count and more family relatives than she could name. She thought all relationships ended up in happily ever after and had never noticed even her own parents having a fight. She didn’t realize that she was average or maybe even below average at everything academic. She didn’t worry about her grades, being the best or even failing. Everything she did was rooted from pure desire to do it; who she played with, where they went, what they did. Sports were for pure pleasure not competition.
The food she ate was for pure love of it. No thought went to the amount of calories that were in it or its nutritional value, just the simple untainted fact of loving it and therefore eating it. She didn’t think twice towards how much money it took to get that dinner on the table nor did she feel a glimpse of shame for not knowing. It’s not that she was royalty; it was just how it was.
She possessed the most beautiful canopy bed with soft pink cotton sheets, the most treasured books with their unique sent, and the most portrait like family. She believed that anything that was wrong could be changed. She trusted that good would always conquer evil. She felt the security that all her problems would go away with a fatherly hug and a motherly kiss.
There wasn’t a questioning of God, of rituals. Everything she believed to her core without the possibility of doubt. She couldn’t fathom the notion that religion can incite fear and hatred, not simple love and compassion.
She had an entrenching steady love for her home, for the country of her birth, for seeing it as the best and most perfect place on earth. For seeing her people as the most kind, most clever, most humble people on the planet.
She had never had nightmares nor had she ever feared that the world would overheat, explode from a giant meteor, or fall underwater because of a giant endless tidal wave. These were unimaginable ideas, that the human race and she included were causing or could ever cause the earth’s destruction.
She assumed that all the people you loved would never get sick and would never leave her.
She had relentless ambition, insurmountable dreams and endless scaleable mountains to climb.
She never thought that being a woman was limiting. She didn’t even have a glimpse that with race came certain disadvantages.
Today, she craves that naiveté and she wishes she could live by that untainted view of the world.

April 11, 2010

Is success measured at 13?

Filed under: Parenting — CaireneGirl @ 1:37 pm

Is success measured at 13?
It sure feels like it.
My 7th grader son came up to me and said: “Guess what Mom?”
Game over. I’m never gonna be special.
We had a talent show at school and I can’t sing, dance or play any instrument other than Guitar Hero!!! So scratch talent in those areas.
As for Art, I have problems making a straight line so don’t even try and convince me that I can sketch something- that mom is a mere impossibility!!!!
As for theater, I don’t mind it but I really bomb at it. You should see so and so. She can memorize whole pages in minutes. As for so and so, he acts any part out of any movie spontaneously at the snap of a button.
As for sports, I am not bad, I’m never the first to be picked in any team, nor am I the last. I like tennis, I’m ok but I’m not good enough to compete at varsity or junior varsity levels.
So that leaves me with grades I manage. I get good grades, but I’m nothing close to those guys who have everything figured out and are always prepared and always on top of things. Those 4.0 straight A guys. They are real geniuses. Mom I’m not.
O.K. Mom I got it. I love computers and I love gaming, but so do all my friends. I first thought. This is it. This is gonna be my edge. I’m gonna do game programming and I’m gonna get really good at it. To my surprise so and so have already published four games on the iTunes Store!!!
Mom I give up, it’s pointless, I have zero talent, I’m not super at anything, and I’m just average at everything. I’m not special. I’m boring. I’m never going to be successful. So what’s the point in trying?
And Mom don’t try to convince me that I’m wrong ’cause I know I’m right.

April 2, 2010

Does having two boys mean you’re always the odd man out?

Filed under: Life,Parenting — CaireneGirl @ 6:47 pm

Does having two boys mean you’re always the odd man out?

Between monopoly, PS3, Golf, Tennis and Soccer.

I have to scream- help!

I have to admit, I am the worst Monopoly player ever. I never knew that someone could suck at a monopoly as much as I do. I have really created new standards for how fast someone can lose!!!
I lose in 30 seconds tops. I don’t know why. I used to love board games.
My husband and my sons are far better players. When I lose, which is every single time, I stick around to be the bank, sometimes I make them snacks. Then, I get bored and leave them because their game drags on for hours!!!

In sports: It’s always about what game is on? Or did you check out the latest PS3 game?
I know I’m a girly girl; I love pink and shopping and manicures.
But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be included.

As much as I want to tag along and enjoy, the truth is I don’t. It’s not that I’m anti-social or that I don’t like spending time with my family; it’s just I feel like I’m in a man’s world.

I like watching sports – just maybe not every night!

PS3 is fun, I get it but the killing and the blood really bother me.

Even when it comes to fast food, I am a bore- my husband and the boys love KFC, Burger King, and Pizza and I’m always calorie counting!!! They seem to eat it and digest it entirely- but if I splurge and eat with them- it goes straight to my thighs and I need two weeks to make that burger vanish!!!

I like to work out, do aerobics but not competitively. So I don’t really comprehend why it always has to be about who won? And the testosterone of “Oh! I totally crushed him!!! Etc…” I comfort the defeated, I praise the winner, and I tell them life isn’t about winning and losing, it’s about doing your best. “Mom you’re so lame”.

When it comes to going out to the movies, or renting a movie at home, the choice is usually “Action movies”. Don’t get me wrong I thoroughly enjoyed Avatar, Terminator Salvation, G.I. Joe and Star Trek. Really, really I did, it’s just that I wish we could go to the girly stuff too. My husband, bless his soul, took me to see the Blind Side and Up in the Air, so I truly don’t have any reason to complain.

It just seems now that they (my sons 13 and 10) are growing up, and our interests are growing apart.

Does every mother of boys go through this? Or is it just me? Where is the common ground for boys and moms?

The transformation

Filed under: Creative Writing — CaireneGirl @ 6:19 pm

I am becoming an ugly, old, dirty turtle. I don’t know when it happened. I think it’s something that happened gradually. The transformation was slow indistinguishable by the naked eye. It was creeping on. At first, only I could tell. I ignored it for a while. I buried it to gain more time. Then, the changes overloaded and happened. All I know is that I’m stuck and I’m tired. I can’t feel any of my toes. It’s not that I’m paralyzed. I am not sure if they went numb or if they’ve fallen off. All I know is that I don’t feel them. They have made my ability to move even more challenging. I find it so difficult to move, so tedious. One step feels like I am coming back from the dead. It’s hard, difficult and pointless. Yet I must move to get my food. Although, I no longer care for it. I also need to move to get out of harm’s way. Yet it is so tiring and so painful. Sometimes, I feel that if I lay completely still, motionless, dead-like, I will avoid endangerment. I will hide inside my shell and all will be well.
People don’t like me because my skin is prickly, thorny and foul. They feel I’m waspish and I must admit I am. The minute I get an opportunity, I attack, and I am ruthless. Why shouldn’t I be? No one has been merciful to me. Why must I be the compassionate one? I am scared. I don’t like being scared. I don’t like feeling threatened. This is why I turn dark and angry.
I am trapped, enclosed. Sometimes, I feel like I cannot breathe. It would be easier if I stopped breathing. But the merciful God has another plan; he wants me to continue. To trudge on because what is life, if it is not to learn to bear the unbearable. So I learn to like my confinement, my incarceration. I have made it pretty, I have made it tolerable. I can stay here forever. I can limit my wants, my needs, my ambitions to fit in here. The problem is that people keep approaching me, expecting me to be the butterfly I used to be. She is not here. I would like to put up a sign saying “Moved out- Gone to Siberia- No Replacement- No forwarded email-Please leave ugly miserable turtle alone”.
I am inaudible, and mute. This helps me go unnoticed. I have no color either, I know most turtles are grayish green but I am translucent. It’s because I have been diluted. I have been put in water on a daily basis ever since my transformation and soon I hope to be empty, a nothing, a shell. It is possible. I know it can be done. I will then attain my happiness; I will be heartless, bloodless and soundless.

March 27, 2010

Am I the only one that thinks Dubai US$9.5 billion is too much of a loan?

Filed under: Uncategorized — CaireneGirl @ 3:52 pm

We read everyday about the horrors that our planet is facing from climate change to world hunger.  Every week there is a natural disaster somewhere in the world like the recent ones in Haiti and Chile.

When you live in a city like Cairo, it is so easy to see the poverty and the struggle that so many millions of people have to go through to get basic sustenance like food, shelter and health care.  Yet Cairo isn’t even the worst off.  There are many places in the world that have to deal with wars and a struggle to stay alive.

There are so many reminders that the planet’s biggest and worst plague is the human race. Though, it is not all darkness. There are many humans who have gone above and beyond to ensure greatness and continuity of life.  Alfred Nobel is one that comes to mind, Bill and Melinda Gates, Greg Mortenson and so many more.

These people throughout time with their philanthropy and their investment in the planet make us believe that there is hope. We can benefit our planet with a fantastic piece of art, a sensual piece of music or a foundation that devotes itself to eradicating disease or poverty or illiteracy.

As a world we have progressed so far technologically, and we cannot wait for the newest gadget or the latest phone or application that makes our life easier, faster and more efficient.

We just seem to be lacking on the other scale: call it spirituality, global consciousness, morality, whatever it is for each individual. We are definitely as a world not up to par.

So shocking things like Dubai receiving a US$ 9.5 billion loan so it can continue its Palm resort, among other development projects, makes me compelled to write about it and say “Don’t you people read the papers!!!”. Is this really where you want to put all this money? Is there no one else who has a more worthwhile investment opportunity? Ask Muhammad Yunus I’m sure he has some ideas?

Really? –  Building some luxurious houses in the shape of a palm in the middle of the sea. So important. This is the ultimate project. This is what human kind has been waiting for? Yes I know, we will be able to see it from the moon. Great. Those of us who survive the devastation of the planet and make it to the moon are going to be really proud of all of you who signed this deal. This is what we will say “we are so glad that we can see a palm shaped island from up here”.

Thank you Dubai. Now I really don’t feel guilty about my Gucci bag.

March 22, 2010


Filed under: Creative Writing — CaireneGirl @ 10:18 am

She was unenvied by the masses because she was uncomprehended. How could she have thrown it all away, they thought? She was unaccustomed to their unforgiving eyes. She didn’t want to undissapear  to unscream and to unfail but she already had and there were no second chances. Everything possible had already happened. She uncontrolled the past by unexplaining what had happened even to herself. Why she was this way. She wanted to unlose herself from her addiction but it was too late all had been destroyed. She could not unturn the wheels of time. She undeserved the attention and wanted to uncreate the horrors of her past. The past events were unreachable and unchangeable. She wanted to unfeel them. She wanted to be unashamed and to unrid herself of the guilt. She was undriven to continue to pursue life. Yet she continued to breathe in and out. She wanted to unbreak her life. How could she put it back together? The days and hours unshortened and everything seemed like a blur. How many days or years had gone by? Why was it so unproblematic to stay alive, to go through the motions of the day? She wanted to unmarry and unbear her children. She wanted to undrive her car that day. She wanted to unsurvive. Every day, every second was unbearable. To undecrease her miserable exixtence she became sober and has been every second since. She wanted to unreward herself. She dragged herself to work to continue the unlife.  She was an unbeliever now but if there was any greater power. She believed it to be unexisting. Because if it existed it would have equated the balance by making her unlive and unbreathe.

Growing Stairs

Filed under: Creative Writing — CaireneGirl @ 10:13 am

I woke up to find myself moving towards the noise. I didn’t know where it was coming from. I grabbed a book, as if whatever would harm me, would be or could be, stopped by a book. I reached the stairs of my house to find them growing. I started to go up and to my surprise another step got added. Where are these steps leading me? To a glowing warm light, and miraculously bright. I want to get to it. So, I patiently wait for each step to appear. What is up there? I wonder. It is definitely supernatural, not of this world. Is God up there? Is it an angel? Are there aliens? Or am I just in a dream waiting to be woken up? The stairs seem endless now. I look back and I can’t see where I started. I only know that I must continue, I must find out. It didn’t feel that long ago to get to where I am. Looking back, I realize how much I’ve climbed. My curiosity is killing me and I know I have to find out what is behind this light, these growing stairs. So I journey on, I am not tired.

My favorite Erma Bombeck quotes

Filed under: Life,Parenting — CaireneGirl @ 10:09 am

This woman is my favorite author of all time. She really helped me make it through the most difficult times in my life. She always manages to get a smile on my face. She always gives me that much-needed perspective that we need at so many points in our life. God Bless Erma for having shared with us her gift so we can enjoy it and cherish it forever. A great book to buy is “Forever Erma” which has a collection of her most memorable writing.

Here are some of my favorite quotes which I would like to share with all of you:

“Have you any idea how many children it takes to turn off one light in the kitchen? Three. It takes one to say, “What light?” and two more to say, “I didn’t turn it on.”

“Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery.”

“When mothers talk about the depression of the empty nest, they’re not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They’re upset because they’ve gone from supervisor of a child’s life to a spectator. It’s like being the vice president of the United States.”

“When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it’s a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway.”

“Why is it when you want a nice souvenir, you find a great shell in a gift shop, but some yo-yo has affixed a ten-cent thermometer to it?”

“Youngsters of the age of two and three are endowed with extraordinary strength. They can lift a dog twice their own weight and dump him into the bathtub.”

“I just clipped 2 articles from a current magazine. One is a diet guaranteed to drop 5 pounds off my body in a weekend. The other is a recipe for a 6 minute pecan pie.”

“You become about as exciting as your food blender. The kids come in, look you in the eye, and ask if anybody’s home.”

“Shopping is a woman thing. It’s a contact sport like football. Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase.”

“The art of never making a mistake is crucial to motherhood. To be effective and to gain the respect she needs to function, a mother must have her children believe she has never engaged in sex, never made a bad decision, never caused her own mother a moment’s anxiety, and was never a child.”

Forever Erma

“I love my mother for all the times she said absolutely nothing. . . . Thinking back on it all, it must have been the most difficult part of mothering she ever had to do: knowing the outcome, yet feeling she had no right to keep me from charting my own path. I thank her for all her virtues, but mostly for never once having said, “I told you so.”

“I have always felt that too much time was given before the birth, which is spent learning things like how to breathe in and out with your husband (I had my baby when they gave you a shot in the hip and you didn’t wake up until the kid was ready to start school), and not enough time given to how to mother after the baby is born.”

“Mothers are not the nameless, faceless stereotypes who appear once a year on a greeting card with their virtues set to prose, but women who have been dealt a hand for life and play each card one at a time the best way they know how. No mother is all good or all bad, all laughing or all serious, all loving or all angry. Ambivalence rushes through their veins.”

This one is an all-time favorite, I’m sure many of you have gotten it in emails:

“If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love you’s”.. More “I’m sorrys” …

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.”

© Erma Bombeck

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