February 26, 2009

My Dirty Laundry

I’ve been tagged on FB by so many people. For obvious reasons, I think it’s safer to share it here hidden behind partial anonymity; after all, my two sisters and two cousins are the only family I have aware of this blog which does not begin to compare to my FB friends list.

So here goes nothing…

1. Barely anyone knows all there is to know about me; each person –no matter how close- knows a piece of me. Of course they have a general idea about what they don't know. Let's put it this way, it won't be a great idea if I sit all those people together and leave them alone for enough time to swap information! No, it has nothing to do with being mysterious, it's just the way it is and I have no idea why!

2. My best friend and I wanted to plan a trip to Bermuda before we got married. By Bermuda, I mean the Bermuda Triangle; we wanted to find out what it was about and we wanted to disappear. She always said I was the one who bailed out on her since I got married first, well, I am almost single now!

3. I never smoked a cigarette. My two attempts plus my shisha attempt included endless coughing and trying to spit air, not to mention a minor vomit incident!

4. I talk to myself all the time. When I was little I had a twin, an older brother, and a bunch of friends, all imaginary! I still remember most of their names. I was an only child for four years and a half; I had to keep myself entertained!

5. I hated my younger sister. I hated her less when we had our baby sister, because baby sis was too darn annoying. Then I divided the hate equally between them. Then one day I woke up to find that I am madly in love with both!!! Girl, I can still hate you back so don’t abuse the love.

6. My first crush still makes me smile when I think of him! I really think highly of him; he's about the only guy of whom I did not come to think less. The secret is I never really got to know him better, but from a distance, he still seems perfect!

7. I never dyed my hair! Ok, I once tried a really dark red, but it barely showed at all, and last time I wanted to go for a lighter shade of brown but I guess I was allergic to the dye and I jumped into the shower the moment it itched. This concludes that my hair has been the same color all my life!

8. I am open-minded to almost all sorts of food as long as it's finely cooked and that its main ingredient is not one that I completely dislike. Of course I had a long hate-list growing up, but I am over it. However, I still hate my mother's cooking and any similar cooking (too much water, barely any salt).

9. I have OCD when it comes to how my hands smell. In my cooking days, it took me too much time to finish a meal because I washed my hands between every task and kept smelling it! I always carry hands gel because I hate cream and its greasy feel; problem is it leaves my sensitive skin rather dry.

10. My defense mechanism when I am intimidated by someone is to intimidate them twice as much! You can only imagine what my defense mechanism is like when I feel disliked by someone!

11. I hate weddings, with passion! I hated my own wedding and I was literally forced to have one by my dad! The only two weddings I have on my to-attend list are my sisters', that is if they ever get married.

12. Strong fragrances give me a headache and make me too noxious. This is why I prefer light perfumes, and even better, natural fragrances. Vanilla and cinnamon make it to the top of my list.

13. I barely ever throw up! And no, it's not cool; during both pregnancies I suffered from severe nausea and had constant urges to throw up but never could, unlike all the other pregnant women. When having a food poison, I barely throw up; my stomach fights the natural reaction to nausea thinking it's doing me a favor, it's not!

14. Growing up, I had two sever head traumas. One at the age of 2 or something, and the other at the age of 13. The first one was because my youngest uncle was tossing me in the air and didn't exactly break my fall, it resulted in temporary paralysis, I think it's one of the reasons why I kinda fear heights. The second one was in a car accident and my seatbelt wasn't fastened, my face was deformed for around two weeks until the swelling went away and my face regained its natural color! Every time I look in the mirror, I feel thankful none of it was permanent.

15. Whenever I meet people for the first time, I just sit there saying the least. I just smile and agree or refrain from agreeing. I mostly concentrate on studying the people, their way of speech, their facial expression and the way they interact with one another. People usually get the wrong idea that I am rather quiet and shy; truth is I am only deciding which side of me they shall see.

16. Everything about blood turns my stomach. One of the things that make me cry for no reason. When I got my wisdom teeth pulled (each on a separate occasion of course) I cried. The first dentist made it clear that I was a wimp! The second panicked and thought I was in pain and took twice as much time to stop the bleeding and do the stitches which resulted in even more crying! The one who pulled the last two kissed me on my forehead; he sexually harassed me a few visits after which definitely didn't help with my whole blood phobia!

17. I hate my birthday. For some reason I always expect spectacular events and somehow I always get disappointed and left to the horrid fact that I am one year older.

18. I am very good at pronunciation, even in languages I don't know!

19. I never liked my grandpa from mom's side, and I mean we were on horrible terms.

20. Both times I was pregnant; my only wish was that my baby would be healthy and smart. Alhamdulilah my wish was granted and that makes me eternally grateful.

21. My mind connects dots in a scary way. I can receive irrelevant data on separate and far apart occasions, yet eventually I come to correct conclusions 90% of the time! Thrillers that revolve around a mystery that unfold in the end (movies and books) are not that thrilling because usually I figure it out halfway, this is why I notice and appreciate the details even more. I would like to think it's how my mind makes up for its incompetence with numbers!

22. Despite the above point, my mind blocks out information it should not store; like people's passwords that I might see them type or they give to me to do something for them.

23. I do not wear makeup. I do not completely hate wearing it; I just think I look better without it! Not to mention that I like washing my face too often and I am always putting my hand all over my face to rub my eye(s) or bite my nails (not chop them off, just bite on to them!). Bottom line, I have too much makeup for someone who wears none!

24. I have come to the realization that I generally enjoy old music rather than recent! One of my all time favorites is La Takziby sung by Abdel Wahab, I can listen to it nonstop, ask my sisters!

25. My most brilliant ideas come to me in the shower.

February 23, 2009

The Feather, the Flower, the Tree and the Rock


The feather is so light; its weight is almost insignificant. There is a mysterious beauty about its pale color and its tiny hair and frail curve. It has no roots; air blows it around to wherever it pleases.

It flies all over; it has no home, how can it when it barely ever settles. I am not sure if it’s a slave to the wind or if it’s free of all ties, but technically, it’s not alive to enjoy the journey, and I wonder how it would feel –if it were alive- about never belonging to one place.


The flower is a piece of art with its beauty. It has colors so intriguingly matching its green crown and stem and you can see how each flower belongs to its tree. It is tied down alright, but it moves so gracefully in an eternal dance as the gentle wind carries its fragrance all over the place. There’s always a piece of it flying around making you aware of its existence.

With its beauty and its fragile ties, it can easily be pulled out from its roots by strong wind or a hand that wants to possess that beauty. Its life ends so abruptly, the sadder part is that its death seems to be so insignificant; even to the people who see it, it would be a truth to be accepted and then taken for granted! Shame!


There is some sort of majesty about a tree; it’s a green kingdom in its very own way, it has branches, leaves, little flowers and sometimes even more! Most importantly, it has roots; roots running so deep under the ground tying it too strongly that it would take a hurricane to pose a threat to its existence.

The tree is giving to all its parts, it nourishes every little leaf there is; moreover, it gives people shades in hot summer days that would make them enjoy an occasional gentle breeze. But if a hurricane ever pulls that tree up its root, it is a disaster. Like the fall down of an empire, the tree falls, taking down everything on it, and perhaps even destroying its surroundings. The death/murder of a tree cannot pass unnoticed and cannot be forgiven; you can’t just shake something so strong and not deal with its wrath!


The rock is not much of a charmer; in fact, no one ever stops to look twice at one! It could have a smooth surface or one that’s too rough. It could have a precious core or it could be just another rock inside and out; either way, people hardly care. The rock has no roots, it’s tied down to nothing; it's only held down by its own weight yet it is very stable. The rock is a small mountain; it would take an enormous change of its surroundings to move it, like tides in the bottom of the sea, or the grains of sand around it burying it or brushing away from it!

The rock lives for no one; it doesn’t even have a life for all I know. The rock is affected by almost nothing; it takes years and years to change anything about it, and the change is always gradual and almost invisible to the average by-passer. The rock lives a long rhetorical life simple because it has none.


I think we’re made of all four, I think having them in the right amounts is what makes us survive trauma and stand up on our feet again. But I also think that the “right amounts” are relative; there are no right amount simply because each one of us is made differently despite being made of the same things.

I don’t know which parts of me are feather, flower, tree or a rock, but I surely related to each.

February 19, 2009

Where metaphors go to die!

My best friend sent me an email with the following content earlier this week. Umslopagas's last post inspired me to share!


Funny metaphors used in high school essays

Just in case you need some writing inspiration. Every year, English teachers from across the USA can submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays. These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers across the country. Here are last year’s winners:

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli, and he was room temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in anothercity and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

That beats 25 random things about me, no??

Have a great weekend you guys!

February 16, 2009

Bla bla bla...

I used to love winter, until the last few winters when I started seeing them through the eyes of a mother; kids just love getting sick in winter… and I no longer get to go out carrying just my own extra jacket or shawl, now I carry two tiny jackets, icecaps, and a scarf (Mocha would strangle me with one if I try to make him wear it!).

If the dust does not settle anytime soon, I will probably die coughing my heart out! I’ve always known I have hyposensitive skin; and I refer to Amsheer as my allergy season, but it’s ruining the supposedly good February weather for me, not to mention that I sound like a frog with larynx cancer which was shot and chose to die in my throat, ahem! February is supposed to be the best month in the year God damn it, I wrote a whole post about that but because I am too resentful now I can’t post it!

My tulip is dying. I blame Amsheer. She was beautiful, I called her Leilah, she was all closed up and tiny when I bought her, dark ruby red, beautiful, I wish I had taken a photo. Now, she miserably tries to keep her elegant posture in my vase, the edges of her petals are getting drier and more fragile. I am now contemplating drying her up while she’s still beautiful instead of letting her wither and die! I told you Rasha, I take it too personally when my flowers die, now you have to cheer me up!

I am stress-eating a lot lately! None of my clothes show any significant weight gain, but as always, I know it will sneak up on me soon if I don’t do something about it. I have already went on a shopping spree to convince myself that if I gain weight I will not be able to wear my beautiful stuff; ironically, two of my new work pants are practically falling off, I don’t get it!! Anyways, I can always get too depressed, too happy or too busy and I will lose any extra weight in less than a week! (fingers crossed)

I have a meeting tonight, something really big for me and I am hoping I won’t be disappointed by finding out that I had bigger expectations of how things are, like I usually do. I am basically meeting a new bunch of people to try to help with something of which I know so little but I would like to learn more. It has to do with my personal growth and my potential further studies if any, so I am really excited!

My dad sat me down yesterday and explained that the final ruling in my divorce case is scheduled in May. He said that it’s up to the x if he wants to end things civilly. He also implied so subtly that if the x shows enough evidence that he has cleared his act; I should “stop acting like a man and act more like a woman“, swallow my massive pride and consider going back on my own terms for the kids’ sake. I was too tired of telling him “no way“ so I just smiled knowing I can always count on the x to be the complete jerk he’s always been. They can blame my type A personality all they want, whatever makes them sleep at night. Look at me, I’m all grown up and zen!!!!!

I am extremely confused and overwhelmed by all the school options I should consider for my Beem. I am starting to doubt me French education decision, which is crazy because it would mean that I should transfer him to the English class in his nursery if I want him to do well on English Schools interviews. The responsibility is driving me crazy to the extent that my colon is acting up! Seriously, I appreciate having full say in the matter unlike all my friends who have to spend hours arguing with their spouses about such decisions, but I never said I couldn’t use good advice even if I end up using my constitutional right of disregarding it!

I am literally dragging my lazy behind to work every day now! I don’t know what’s wrong with me! Yes, I never liked waking up that early, but I did like going to work; now, I just sit there doing minimum work and I put off the annoying things like filing or calling people back for previously requested information. I don’t like that, it makes me think about my own shit, and work used to be where I ran away from my own shit!

Speaking of work, why do meetings pop on the days I go to work in my jeans!!! I mean I’ve been abiding by my formal dress code for weeks now and it’s the same day over and over with me in a trance posture in front of my PC or over the phone or even running errands that do not include meeting people I work with! So the day I think I would rather sit back in my chair wearing jeans, I get a call from the new General Manager from the company downstairs asking if he could schedule a meeting, not fair!!

Ok, I can’t think of anything more for now.

February 11, 2009

Like music to my ears…

Some songs have a familiar friendly tune, with music so intriguing and inviting and always making me smile…

I play that music day and night; I just can't get enough of its effect on me…

I hum, I mumble, I sing and I dance… I just can't resist music when it’s so comforting and soothing and not too loud, can anyone resist harmony?

As the song plays over and over again, I know every tune, every moment of silence, and I learn when and how to sing the lyrics; however, it sometimes gets a bit harder when I sing along and skip a breath or a word to catch up with the music…

When I’m on my own, singing the song without the music, I pause to make sure I’m singing it right; it makes me pay more attention to its words, their meanings, and their significance… Sometimes I don’t like the words much; they’re too shallow or perhaps I just can’t relate... Aparently the friendly music was hiding a lot more behind it...

Then, when the same song plays, I think twice before singing along… No, I don’t want to say words I don’t feel; they lost a meaning they never really had; I was only singing along because I was charmed by the music, but now, the meaninglessness takes away the charm from the tune I once liked making

The music becomes an unpleasant reminder... When the song plays, I just skip forward to a familiar tune that I still like, or a new song with a new meaning that perhaps would make me smile…

Sometimes I never let that song play again, sometimes I just smile and let it play in the background without paying any attention, and sometimes I just smile and sing along, for old times’ sake… but never like before…

And you… you’re like that music to my ears…

February 8, 2009

I'm in Love!

I don’t know what it is that’s gotten to me; but I know for sure it’s not the cheap valentine crap. This song speaks to the romantic in me, everything in it; the lyrics, the music and I am just taken by Andrea’s singing and his tender voice. It’s like I’m in another world, made of nothing but clouds and floating musical notes, only for me! Enjoy…

Bésame Mucho*

Bésame, bésame mucho
Como si fuera esta noche
La última vez

Bésame, bésame mucho
Que tengo miedo a perderte
Perderte después

Bésame, bésame mucho
Como si fuera esta noche
La última vez

Bésame, bésame mucho
Que tengo miedo a perderte
Perderte después

Quiero tenerte muy cerca
Mirarme en tus ojos
Verte junto a mi
Piensa que tal ves mañana
Yo ya estaré lejos
Muy lejos de ti

Bésame, bésame mucho
Como si fuera esta noche
La última vez

Bésame, bésame mucho
Que tengo miedo a perderte
Perderte después

Bésame, bésame mucho
Que tengo miedo a perderte
Perderte después

Que tengo miedo a perderte
Perderte después

February 7, 2009

Unresolved emotional issues

When I was little, I remember barely crying in front of people. I don’t remember or understand why, I just know that whenever I wanted to cry I’d hide from people. Of course, it was always obvious that I cried; I am that transparent, people always knew I was crying, but I always took consolation that they didn’t see me cry.

I was once surprised when one of my school buddies joked saying that I cry so easily; he’d never seen me cry! He said I turn too red, my eyes shine too much he can clearly see the tears, and then I disappear, he said it happened a lot especially when I was angry.

In college, I was only seen crying twice, once after a burst at class, I stormed in the washroom and broke something and started crying. The second time was the day after my late nana died and I went to college for a presentation, right before I started it, I had an argument with a professor and I just couldn’t contain the grief and the anger.

I cried on my wedding day; seeing my dad choking on words and fighting his own tears, seeing my in-laws and how annoying they seemed to be talking about things that do not compare to what my daddy was going through made me want to cry. When D walked towards me to give me a congratulations hug, I told her to hold on to me until I could hold back the tears because I was so determined not to cry, God bless her.

My x was the person who had seen me cry the most; I lived with him for five years. Sometimes for him, sometimes because of him, sometimes he was there and well, I trusted him with my tears even when he caused them. He would have anyone believe that I do nothing but cry, that I have constant emotional outbursts, and he might be right! I just don’t have someone to serve much as a second opinion because no one lived with me that long and the few who had seen me cry are too graceful to complain about it.

Today, I cried. It wasn’t anything special, but it made me think of all the above, it made me reflect on so many things, and the more I realized about myself, the harder I found myself sobbing…

The people I don’t care for, they can NEVER make me cry. There is a thick wall between them and me; however, the only way they can get through is when they make me angry. Anger makes me want to harm them, a punch in the face would do, but neither am I the violent type (even with that temper), nor am I capable of inflicting harm, which makes me feel extremely helpless when dealing with that anger; hence, I cry.

The people I care for, they make me cry so easily and they see me cry so often! This is why I’ve been avoiding most of my friends lately whenever I am feeling blue; I don’t want to burden them, I don’t want to bore them with my emotional crap. I have troubles saying the things I feel to people’s faces, I’ve been working on my emotional expression and I can fairly say I am progressing, with my own terms that is. However, when I am crying, my emotional blabber comes with sobs and incoherent phrases, and I can never risk letting that much out when I have least control over it.

That being said, it confuses me that I cried today because of someone I no longer care for. It is not even the first time; I see it coming every time, and it gets to me every single time! You would think that this happening too often would make me less vulnerable, would make me more able to handle it now that I can predict it, think again! The whole anger and helpless theory does not serve given how often and how predictable the provocation is.

And before you jump to conclusions, it’s not the x. It’s someone whom I don’t have the power to cut off my life yet gets (and has gotten) to influence it big time. I would like to think I have tried working my issues with that person before I declare that I have miserably failed. I would like to say that underneath my anger, I might still care, but I have come to peace with myself accepting that I don’t care.

Ok, I am not sure where I stand emotionally from that person; it’s too confusing. I have strong resentful feelings for that person; everything about them gets on my nerves making me feel like I would wanna beat myself dead before having to spend more time with them! I have come to the realization that the saner choice is to not care, that obsessing over the issue and trying to resolve it will only keep getting to me that perhaps one day I might wake up to find myself another version of that person. I am so scared of one day becoming like that person, one of my biggest horrors.

I just want to know how to block that person out, how to stop them from getting to me that way from ruining every moment of peace I get. I am tired of feeling that way and I am tired of reacting the same way over and over again! I wish I could say more about this but I have just dealt with the whole marriage ending issues, I can’t deal with that now.

So, advice anyone?

February 6, 2009

aaaaaand I'm done!

Favourite Colour: shades of blue, ruby red and certain shades of purple!
Favourite Perfume (Guys): Boss Bottle is a classic favorite of mine and sometimes 212, but it mostly depends on the person wearing it!
Favourite Perfume (Girls): J'adore, Curious (I know it's a Britney Spears brand, but it actually smells nice!)
Favourite PJ brand: why wear PJs when you can mix and match?!

Favourite Clothes Brand: No Consistent brand, no brand has uniquely served my taste :)
Favourite Person in the Entire World: ONE PERSON??? No, I have a few and I am not willing to shorten the list… my father, my boys, D, H, my close friends... are you kidding?!
Favourite Country: Italy (looks like a popular choice)
Favourite Car: I am not a car maniac, but I like Jaguar's elegance

Favourite Sport: none; too lazy to play any and can't see the point of watching!
Favourite Sports Player: n/a
Favourite Spot in the World: in the world?! When I check out the whole world, I'll make up my mind (and then change it)
Favourite Animal: Horses (I wish I were a horse)
Favourite Movie: too many to list, but I generally like dramas that make me reflect and I am not much for happy endings...
Favourite Singer: too many to list, TOO MANY!!!
Favourite Day of the Week: Friday... especially the mornings, you can drive all over Cairo abl el sala! AND, it's the one day of the week I can wake up late and stay up late without worrying about work, so much for an insomniac!
Favourite time of the day: night
Favourite holiday season: the time around my friends visit from NA
Favourite number: 2
Favourite food: steak

Favourite chocolate: Lindt Lindor
Favourite Cartoon: Tom & Jerry still cracks me up! I like Shrek too!
Favourite Blogger: too many to list, but basically the regular commenters :)
Favourite Icecream Flavour: anything but mango, and I like the extra stuff in my icecreamlike cookies, dough, choc chips, nuts...
Favourite Mobile Brand: Nokia
Favourite Name: Adam and Layla
Favourite Hobby: talking and learning more about people
Favourite Room in my House: my room, as messy and crowded as it is!
Favourite Fruit: Grapes, Strawberries, Melons, Peaches and Cherries
Favourite Flower: Tulips, Lilies and White Roses
Favourite Qur'an Reciter: I actually prefer my father's voice, it's soothing!
Favourite Ayah: Sooret Yaseen just warms my heart, all of it!
Favourite Website: ahem, all shopping websites make me happy!

February 3, 2009

You’re calling ME to do YOUR job!!!

I was sitting at work, trying to juggle so many activities and spreading myself why too thin to finish as much tasks as possible before I take tomorrow and Thursday off to relax a bit.

I was writing vouchers, filing documents, talking to colleagues about things I will hand over during my days off, typing emails like a mad woman and balancing the petty cash so that I can re-cash it, all at the same time!!

That was when my mobile rang! Normally I would have silenced it, but I saw a number that looked almost identical to that my sons’ nursery, so I assumed it would be a number I failed to register!

Assuming the worst, I answered to find a Vodafone agent so calmly introducing herself!

Her: Hi, Ms. M? I am R from Vodafone, we have talked before about the USB modems you purchased in the name of your company…
Me (getting really irritated that she called me on my cell and not on my land line! So I decided to develop some attitude especially that she was nowhere to be reached when I tried to resolve a pending matter last week!): *a bit aggressively and impatiently* yes R, I know, I tried contacting you weeks ago about an error in your last bill for those but your company has serious issues letting people get through!
Her: *pretending or not noticing my tone* oh, I was calling to ask you about the number your company bought from us…
Me (interrupting): you mean the original subscription number?
Her: Yes…
Me (really shocked and trying to contain my emotions): excuse me, you have your company database right in front of you, you have my name as a contact person and my personal mobile number which is NOT a Vodafone number, and you’re calling ME because you don’t have the first number my company purchased from yours?!!!
Her: yes, I keep trying to enter the sim no. for the last purchased ones but it doesn’t go through!
Me (practically giving her a shovel to dig her own grave deeper): you realize it’s the second time you do that, last time I assumed you were double checking, apparently you were not!!
Her: yes…
Me (interrupting and trying so hard to not let the victory dose seep through my veins): you mean your system failed to gather all these information when you put my company name?? you realize I had troubles settling the last outstanding invoices because your good ol’ system did not record that my boss signed an authorization in my name to handle all matters with you, that I had to keep calling different people in your company and I eventually had to go down the nearest store myself to meet with your representative because he wouldn’t handle the amended invoice that YOUR COMPANY screwed up, because your system does not read those sim nos.! so instead of fixing all that since the time you first called me a month ago, you’re actually calling me again so that you can issue the wrong invoice AGAIN, so that I can repeat the same vicious cycle AGAIN!!!!
Her (realizing it was TOO LATE to say anything that would fix things): ya fandem, we’re a big company and we have over 10,000 big business accounts…
Me (interrupting): then I would like to think you have the efficient system that supports that much business accounts, and more importantly the efficient employees who know how to correct their mistakes rather than repeat them!
Her: Please give me the number…
Me (interrupting with a cold tone): I am sorry, it’s not my job to help you do yours that way, it’s not my job to help you work around a problem instead of solving it, now excuse me I am having another call on hold and it has to do with my real job
Her: so you won’t give me the number?
Me: NO
*she hung up!*

My Colleague (he was standing there the whole time): *with utter disbelief* WHO ARE YOU?!
Me: *smiling*

I am both overly excited and guilty for torturing her the way I did! I don’t know why I behaved that way, I am usually sweet to people who call for help, but I was really upset she called me too often on my personal cell phone from time to time to ask if I need more lines and that she overlooked my polite request to call on the company number. Or perhaps it was that I kept the erroneous invoices from last month hoping Vodafone would screw up again so that I’d give it all back to them and she just called when I was too busy making me feel interrupted! Bad day for her I guess!

Now, I must really concentrate on how I’m doing my job because I can foretell some serious karma coming my way…

February 2, 2009

On Going Local...

Whenever people talked to me about boycotting certain products because of their political or religious affiliations, I always rolled my eyes and said with my most defying tone “give me decent alternatives and I will boycott all the way”! No one could ever give me alternative brands for my list of products, and I think I can pretty much dare whoever feels like it.

My father and my baby sister boycotted for a couple of years (my dad still does to his best knowledge since he has no idea the kinds of products ma gets into the house). My sister ended up changing her mind because she thought it was futile since she was the only one in her big circle of family and friends who took the matter that seriously. My father still says that I have no principles “ma3andeesh mabda2”, truth is, I have my own set of principles, only they do not serve any of the well respected causes; they serve my own benefit.

Yes, I said it, I am selfish and I have every right to be.

So this post could either be a logical way of tackling the whole Going Local campaign*, or could simply be my own way of rationalizing not being able to completely support it. Either way, please take the time to read this through without prejudice.

First of all, I am not a 3o2det el khawaga kinda person; I am however a quality freak kinda person yet I don’t like overpaying for whatever I get. This could be very hard to prove (the not 3o2det khawaga part) since most of my stuff are not made in Egypt, but I think I will make my point clear as I go, or at least try.

Please take the time to observe the Egyptian market, and then take more time to observe the Egyptian brand names more closely. I know I have!

The Egyptian quality has no standards whatsoever. International franchises have issues with maintaining quality control over our Egyptian production. Compare any Egyptian made product of an international brand to that made in a Gulf country for example, you might feel the urge to cry! Moreover, go check all the "stock" stores, you'll find tags of international brands with the phrase "made in egypt"; in case you never wondered, those were attempts of those brands to produce in Egypt for cheap labor only the quality of the products were too bad to leave the Egyptian lands! That being said, you can imagine what it must be like with Egyptian brands that undergo less strict supervision!

In textiles, if the fabric has any sorts of stripes or patterns (God forbid), it’s almost impossible to follow that stripe or pattern from the front through the back with the side sewing (I am not sure of the technical name). Not to mention how recklessly buttons are "not" fixed, or how some sewing just un-sews for no reason whatsoever! And please, do not get me started on how un-standardized the sizes are; you can easily find a Medium item of clothing twice as big as the next Medium one, OR you can be a size 12 (US) and find your Egyptian brand pants to be size 48!!!!

As for shoes, although shoemakers all over the world (at least the hip and fashionable ones) hate feet, Egyptian shoemakers hate both feet and fashion! Poor leather, extremely poor “glue” or whatever it is they use to keep the shoe together! And the whole structure of the average pair of shoes looks just abusive, not to mention how shoemakers go to extremes to make a pair of shoes look tacky and cheap!

When it comes to food, we all go by buying Egyptian fruits and vegetables, and truth be told, they taste a lot better than those I’ve tasted elsewhere! But let’s talk about the manufactured foods, the whole biscuit and chocolate industry comes to mind, bringing along too much shame; yes yes, I know it’s good enough for its price, but can you see how Cadbury and Galaxy decreased their prices once they started producing locally, which of course will take us back to how different the products of both brands are when compared to their equals made in KSA for example!

I read on one of the comments on a blog that Salé Sucré has competitive chocolate delicacies, but it does not compete with the price of a locally made Galaxy Bar; I would go for Salé Sucré any time of the day, I would go for quality over price any time of the day, but that would not be competition; for me it would be a matter of preference, but it would be abuse for people who simply can’t afford decent quality and feel obliged deal with Corona’s sad and sorry excuse for chocolate just to support local brands!!

Now, that brings me to the other factor, price. I am not millionaire; in fact, I spend much more than I make and I maintain a certain living standard with my father’s help whom I know also maintains a higher living standard than his real income, like most of the upper middle class that seems to be diminishing. So I hate paying more, even though a lot of my friends say that I get ripped off on daily basis buying the things I buy.

The Egyptian products don’t give me any sort of satisfaction not just because of the quality issues discussed above, but also because the ones with quality that live up to my relatively high bar seem to overcharge for it! Yeah yeah, quality should cost more, I agree, but no one said a locally made brand should cost as much as an imported one. That would only tempt the average Egyptian consumer to buy an international brand, and then I wouldn’t blame them; if my country men are screwing my wallet for the quality they SHOULD provide, then screw them, I’m giving my money to the international brand.

I know it sounds selfish being said that way, but come on, any customer is entitled to serve their best interest, they taught us that in our first economics class! Which reminds me, competition is there for a reason; to best serve the consumer. International competition should teach local brand owners to live up to the same quality standards and yet offer their brands for a competitive price especially that they do not need to take into consideration factors like customs, shipping charges, currency value, that’s why international brands cost less than its price in Egypt when you buy them from their country even with the exchange rate and the ridiculous value of the Egyptian pound.

So if we decide to overlook all the above and go local, what would that do to our economy, aside from all the other political and religious reasons people keep throwing around? Would that mean that we endure the abuse done by owners of Egyptian brands who either overlook quality** or overcharge? Would that be our surrendering to the way things are? What would happen if everyone goes local and international competition diminishes to a minimum that would make Egyptian branding a scary monopoly? (speaking of monopolies, can't you see how monopolized brands terrorize a couple of sectors in our market?!!)

Before answering all those questions, please bear in mind that the distribution of wealth in Egypt is majorly screwed; successful business owners are not necessarily successful because they are the fittest or the best (with all due apology to the actual fit and good ones here). Moreover, keep into consideration that the Egyptian market is not as transparent as it should be and that some of the “Egyptian brands” are no longer owned by Egyptian owners (Chipsy comes to mind), which makes me think of how non-existing the consumers' rights are, but I can't get to that now!

I know the economies do not change between day and night, and I know that the core of the idea is really good, but I couldn’t help but wonder about all the other implications and all the potential consequences of such change taking place; is that the change we want?

So yes, the idea of going local is pretty, but only as pretty as utopia I’m afraid and let’s face it, the way things are run in Egypt is anything BUT utopia!

Finally, I realize I only ranted without giving any alternatives. I hate doing that, but I'm afraid there is nothing for me to do that would change the way most of things are; my little part is to go local when I all my terms are met and to demand the level of quality I think I deserve when I can. I wish there was more for me to do, who knows, perhaps this will be read by someone who can do more!

* The idea is originally Juka's whom I've been following for almost a year now but without any contribution!
** I first read Will's lines on Global Voices of Egypt (don't have the link for that article now) and it I was glad someone spoke of it; it's the same as my point of view but it's only fair to give Will as much credit for it since he said it somewhere before I got to write that post.

Disclaimer: My above post does not by any mean deny the existence of good Egyptian products for affordable price; there are of course some. I couldn't help but think of that when I took off my shoes to find my Egyptian-made socks. Point is, there must be other good products out there, God help us all find them and may He help their owners maintain the quality and price!

February 1, 2009

Ordering food, the Egyptian way and so much for going local!

Months ago, while heading to my office, the security man gave me food delivery flyers. Apparently someone in the building made a delivery and the delivery guy left more flyers for people, quite an efficient way to market for a place if you ask me.

So they were for two different subsidiaries owned by the same company. An Egyptian brand if you may; however, it sounded promising to try out!

I will refrain from using the names until I see how the story turns out, since I refuse to give my support to brands unless I am 100% sure of their quality.

So anyway, the two brands are as follows: X is for burgers, and Z is for soups, salads, and juices. I had already tried X more than once and their burger is just GOOD, and not for a too high a price especially that they didn’t start charging for delivery until recently.

Today, given my new diet plans, I decided to give the Z a try. I tried to tempt one of my coworkers to join me, but he said he felt like eating something “yeshaba3”; so I told him they were the same place from where we get our usual burgers, he said he was in for a mushroom burger.

I called them and here is how it went…

The guy (who was really friendly and polite): is it your first time to order?
Me: yes, I think I use another number, and I always called the X brand, so to save you time I can just give you all the info all over again and then you can merge them on your own…
*after giving him all the necessary information*
Me: so this is my order, cob salad, and I want to make a burger order, so how does it work, do u put me through to a colleague or I just tell you??
Him: no, you will need to hang up and call the X number
Me: oh! But it’s only one number different from yours, so I am assuming you’re in the same location, no???
Him: yes, but it’s a different concept, we offer healthy food while X offers burgers
Me: yeah I get that, but I want both orders to be delivered at the same time, since I don’t want to start eating and have my colleague watching me or the other way around!!
Him: yes, I understand, don’t worry; I will make sure they are delivered at the same time…
Me: no, I meant to say you should make sure they are delivered by the SAME person!!!!! It’s cost efficient for you, you know!!
Him: yeah of course, but… ok, I am so sorry, but the owner clearly stated that deliveries from either brands should be separate….
Me: ok, I understand it’s probably because you want to charge me for the delivery TWICE, no???
Him (really embarrassed about it): I am so sorry, owner’s order, it’s a branding thing!
Me: look, you don’t have to give me any invalid justifications, I really like your burgers and I have a good feeling about your salads, so I will assume you don’t have the authority to change the owner’s rules and let you charge me twice for the delivery, each order in a separate receipt, ok, but make sure they are delivered by the same person… and you can leave a remark in my name that this rule is rather silly, ok now??
Him (seemed to be relieved that I didn’t start a fight, and really appreciative of my calm tone of voice): ok ya fandem, ana asef geddan 3ala el ez3ag.
Me: wala yehemak!

I hung up and called the other number to order my friend’s burger….

The SAME guy: alloo
Me (pretending not to notice it was him): hi, I want to make an order please…
Him: is it Ms. MA?!
Me (pretending to be surprised): omG, it’s you again
Him (embarrassed): yes
Me (jokingly): you gotta be kidding me!! Tab khaly 7ad gheerak yerod 3ashan el manzar 7atta!!!
Him: I am so sorry, walahy owner’s orders…
Me: ok, I am even more serious now; please tell the owner that he really pissed off a customer that way…
Him: I am really really sorry!
Me: it’s ok, I am not upset with you, I just think this rule is LAME

Him: would you please log on our website and leave a comment in the customer feedback area, I know the owner checks it on daily basis but he wouldn’t listen to any of the staff unless a customer leaves a comment!
Me: ok, I guess I’ll leave a piece of mind there for him…
Him: thanks, and I am really really sorry again…
Me: it’s ok, you don’t have to keep apologizing to me!

So, I hung up, and I logged into the site. I left a brief comment to the “owner” stating that it’s more convenient to allow his agents to place orders from different subsidiaries on the same receipt since otherwise, the average customer might be more tempted to call another restaurant and make a salad order from a more familiar place since either way they will be charged for extra delivery charges!!

Now, I am really questioning the owner’s IQ! Well, not to offend, I am questioning his Business IQ! There are online stores who would not charge you for delivery if you buy from more than one subsidiary, even if the items you choose are not available in the closest store, they ship them from a different branch on their own expense for your own convenience!! And that guy is getting two orders from the same kitchen and charging you double the delivery!!! I will stop criticizing him for now; perhaps I would get a positive feedback on my note.

However, is it the kind of service Egyptians offer! I mean with the whole campaign of going local, is that the kind of treatment I should expect from local brands!! I was really thrilled that I have local alternatives for all the junk food on which I spend most of my money. Yes, the food is of good quality, but the service has its own set of flaws! And it worries me that one day; the quality will also decline just like it always declines as far as Egyptian brands are concerned.

It makes me question the whole concept of going local; most of the local brands in almost any product/service is of low quality, and those who provide half decent quality overcharge you because they are supposedly targeting the “elite”!! I always wanted to have a discussion with those brand owners and tell them something that perhaps they never considered; the “elite” do most of their shopping from Europe and North America, or at least from European and North American brands in Dubai or other Gulf countries, and if they travel regularly, it costs them a lot less than to buy half decent Egyptian brands for the same price!!

It could be the case for a lot of people who read this, or I could just be justifying my way into placing that online purchase that’s been saved on my mailbox for weeks now!

Oh, the salad was ok, but I can so make my own salad before I leave to work if I wake up half an hour earlier; so no, not so exquisite, at least not the way their burger compares to other burgers!!