Hello Word and Other Stories

“Hello World” , offered by WordPress as a mere test salutation, just seems so sweet and appropriate that I have decided

Cover Art Amira Aly

expected release date June 2011

to keep it.

Today,  I say hello world with a new voice… my writing voice.

Some of you may be already familiar with my blog Cairote women &other stories  where I blog about whatever strikes my fancy.

And for those of you who are not, check out. There’s lots of interesting stuff on there.

My new darling is in the editing process now and I thought that warrants a fresh new site!

So, without further ado, I would like to introduce to you…

Egypt: The Uprising (Book 1 of the Battle for Ma’at)

Expect more news and story tidbits in the upcoming period 🙂 


>Novel Coming Right Up


Did you notice that awesome new mysterious background I have?

Have I been doin’ something behind your back? ;p

Yes, ’tis true boys and gals, I’ve been up to something …

I have been hiding out writing a novel.

It will be coming out in the beginning of June 2011 *fingers crossed.*

Want a sneak peak?

Here’s the cover… 

>Egypt’s Sectarian Clashes : Same Misogynists Different Shit


It is with a heavy heart that I write today about the God-forsaken events that shook Egypt in Imbaba , a poor Cairo district. Two churchs were attacked and lives were lost. Egyptian precious lives.

Here I beg to argue that the root of all evils in Egyptian Sectarian tension is partiarchial misogynist attitudes that feed on tribal values and male chauvaunistic tendencies.

A woman is always at the heart of it all. Camilia , then Abir, and probably to be followed by many other unfortunate souls who are denied their rights to choose their lives, their destinies– and of course , above all,  fall in love.

The story always goes like that: a woman, whatever her religion, defies the socio-cultural norms and makes a husband, brother or father angry. It is usually the story of  a woman seeking freedom from a shattered marriage; or a young girl looking for love in the arms of someone who happened to be from a different religion.
The angered opposed male figure starts to rally for his cause Matters then escalate into a frenzy.

Men are especially prone to going insane over anything that remotely touches on the hackeneyed concept of “sharaf” or honor– which is coincidentally also our PM’s last name. Their ‘honor’, naturally, is to keep their women nicely tucked away with halos of virtue and chastity , real or imaginary, hovering over their head.

Egyptians… Please grow up before Egypt burns to the ground!

>Children of the Egyptian Revolution


This piece first appeared on the Imperfect Parent,
titled Tahrir Square Presents Children of the Egyptian Revolution

“Mommy! Don’t ‘Oust’ me! I am not an evil president.” Said my six year old as a reply to my “Allez! Oust! Au lit!” which is French for C’mon and get to bed right away. She associated the interjection ‘oust’ with the English verb she heard so many times from me, as well as on Television where news of attempts to ‘oust’ Mubarak, the evil Egyptian president, was all over. She said that to me in English then switched to Arabic to ask me if I can take her to Tahrir Square tomorrow.
The way she pronounced ‘Tahrir’ square made it clear, beyond any doubt, that she was truly Egyptian. The way she formed the “h” of Tahrir, the letter we represent phonetically as ‘7’ in our Arabic text messages, was impeccable. “Tahrir means Liberation in Arabic, is that why we chose this square mommy?” It was, in fact, just a coincidence–a very befitting one indeed. Liberation square witnessed the largest protests in Egyptian history. Protests which lead to the putting an end to the thirty-year reign of the dictator Hosni Mubarak and has set the country on a path for political reform.
Tuesday January 25th was the date it all started. My daughter woke up and sat next to me as I was watching live feed showing the protests. I explained to her that people are demonstrating because they want the president to leave because he is not a very fair person and he had done many things that are very wrong. She heard me talking on the phone to friends heading towards Tahrir and that was the first time she heard the word dictator– or a deektaatoor as we would pronounce it in Arabic. She giggled because a ‘toor’ is a bull in Arabic, so to her, that was a funny way to insult someone. After I was off the phone she said to me, “I know why you call him a ‘tor’. It’s cuz he’s a bully right?” Her eyes sparkled and I did not want to burst her bubble. She spoke the whole sentence in Arabic except for the English word “bully.” She had made an interesting association between the word bully and ‘toor’ which in her mind meant bull. I though this quite amusing and wondered whether I should correct her at all.
“No honey, a ‘deektaatoor’ is called a dictator in English and has nothing to do with bulls. A dictator is someone who likes to hog power and authority all for himself, and he uses them to control people.”
“Aha! He IS a bully then! Told ya mommy.”   This exchange was again in English, and then we went on a discussion, in French, of the differences between ruling a country and being Mayor of ‘Toy Village’–her own imaginary make-belief play land. She did not think there was that much of a difference and so she firmly believed she can be an excellent choice for the next Egyptian president, like Cleopatra. The fact that Cleopatra was not a president did not matter too much to her. A person who rules a country, whether elected or not, should be just and fair. You can hardly argue with that.
Our trilingual conversation is just an example of the multiculturalism that exists in Egypt. We have French, Canadian, British, and American family members in our extended family. In fact, almost every family in Egypt has. And they all have backed up and supported our revolution.
This February, all the children of Egypt, like my daughter, are learning important lessons about freedom, courage and standing up for their rights–values which were only whispers prior to January 25th,2011.

>Speechless in Tahrir Square


Blog about it Amira… write about it.
Well sometimes, the fact is, you are just speechless and utterly at a loss for words.

When history is being written, and we are there, we live it. I could not write about it while it was happening, I was too shaken–and too bitter at all those trying to abort the revolution.

When Mubarak stepped down, I wrote about it on Blogcritics.

And now there is so much to do–and so much to write about.

So let the journey begin….

>Egypt Shark Attacks: So long Diversity!


Shark attacks tourist in Sharm El Sheikh. Egypt attacks shark.
First the pig slaughter in the name of swine flu, and now the shark crackdown for the sake of catching “the killers.”
I should note that I am not at all suggesting that being environmentally friendly is letting your local sharks feed on humans. I am merely pointing out the ludicrous manner in which the Egyptian authorities deal with any animal-related threat whether real or exaggerated, as in the case of the swine flu. If a species is suspected of causing any trouble, they are just simply wiped out of the country by whatever ministry that fancies getting the credit of making people feel safe.
Actually, somehow I suspect that the officials in Egypt would just love to do the same to a certain subset of the Egyptian population *wink wink.* The motto in Egypt is –if it bothers you, finish it off!
Now that the investigation is being held in Sharm el sheikh, many of theories proposed suggest that humans messing up the environment was most likely the underlying cause of this aberrant shark attacks.
Someone was either drawing them to shore with churned-up fish. Or, as pointed out by dailymail, a cargo ship dumped a load of animal carcasses in the sea instigating the hungry sharks to gather. This brings us to another point–hungry sharks. Guess who made them hungry? Humans you say? Yep, absolutely! The depletion of the marine life ecosystem leaves larger predators starving.

But while we are kissing biodiversity goodbye, we should keep in mind that some of these species could hold the key to curing our ailments.  

>Language Learning (Part Two)


In part 1, I talked about language fluency as a product of incorporating the new language in your life, not just learning the language mechanics and application of grammatical concepts.  
Now, in the second part of the series, we will look at the first of many practical tips and suggestions every language learner should embrace–not just because I say so–but because they are tried and true. They are also the concepts behind all language learning programs out there.

Immerse yourself in the Language.

You want to learn English?
Then read English. Listen to English. 
Speak English, and above all, write English. 
The rest of this post will tell give you a list of No-No’s, what to steer clear from when trying out this language immersion approach.

    Do NOT read Junk.
When I advise you to read for language acquisition purposes, I will urge you to only read material written by native speakers–or writers at a near-native level. Refrain from reading awkwardly composed fiction or non-fiction written by someone who is merely translating their thoughts from their mother tongue into English. As a rule of thumb, you should stick with material published by renowned publishing houses.

Do not zpeak Inglish Wiz Your Cousins (unless your cousins are cool Americans or funky Brits).

This one has always baffled me. People ‘practicing’ a language by speaking to their immediate family members or friends who are no better than them. The sight of mamas in malls instructing their kids to “bleaze go get ze rice” makes me cringe. Why don’t you just tell the poor kid to fetch you a bag of rice in Arabic? Do you really think this enlightening conversation will turn the kids into a Hemmingway?

Do Not Bother Reading something that bores you.

You should choose a topic that genuinely interests you. Don’t just pick up any generic language learning book and start reading it. These usually are workbooks. It’s true that they have ‘comprehension’ passages, but that is not what I want you to use for reading material. Choose a topic you’re passionate about: a hobby, a certain genre of fiction you like, or even politics. Your interest in the topic will make it more likely that you continue reading, and you will find out that you retain better the sentence structure and syntax. You will begin to ‘echo’ your favorite writers unconsciously as you begin to absorb how to build sentences and use words precisely where they belong.

Read Thoroughly.

Read thoroughly and read well. Don’t skim over the material. Highlight sentences which strike you as pretty. Underline words that are new to you. And, oh, by the way, the dictionary IS your best friend. You have to look up words as they cross your path. If you find yourself not reaching for the dictionary at all during your reading session then maybe the material you’ve chosen is too easy for you. Get out of your comfort zone and look for more challenge! 

If you are looking for specific reading suggestions, email me with your general interests and I’ll give you a few examples of reliable material you can use.  

Next time we will talk about the listening and speaking components of the language immersion program.