Flipping the Page

I am moments away from closing the chapter of 2007. Everybody seems to have thrown their darts on 2008. Many have already evaluated 2007 for themselves. They are now waiting for the 12 o'clock of tonight to tick so that they welcome 2008 with the new resolutions that are freshly baked.

And I am still sitting there without my 2008 cake.

Neither I am ready to welcome 2008 nor am I excited about staying in 2007. I am stuck in the void. This is the first time that I have not yet audited myself beforehand or drew a plan for the New Year.

It is going to take me days to wake up and realize that it is time to achieve new milestones.

Meanwhile, I know there are two thing I could start with.

First, is to do something tonight rather than sit at home. Even if I know I could not have a special new year Eve and that it will be a normal one. It will never be like my last 2 exceptional New Year Eves.

The eve of 2006 was unique as I was among the crowd in Ethan Square in downtown who celebrated the night outdoors with alot of music, interviews with the public, parties, fireworks andthe whole countdown process. What a great memory it was as we were freezing under a temperature of -7 degrees. I still remember how the cold got to my sore feet. I still remember my numb purple fingers and the coldest hot dog I ate in my life.

The eve of 2007 was unique too. The 00:00 ticked on my watch as I was throwing the 5th or 6th pebble in the last pillar during my Hajj last year. After I threw my stones, I stood for a while and gazed at the thousands of pilgrims around me as they keep on walking . I look at my cousin and whisper: "happy new year". He responds with a smile and keeps on walking.

Second, is to make sure that I should get stressed out more often. 2007 was about discovering more about me by adopting a self-realization thinking practice. I have become a bit selfish by blocking those stress-inducing activities especially those ones caused by external factors. I think that 2007 was one of the least stressful years for me. However, I noticed that whenever I see myself in a stressful situation, even if it was a minute one compared to challenging ones I faced in my earlier years, I begin to panic and exaggerate unnecessarily about it. In addition to that, with each year that passes, it will be normal to start burdening more responsibilities, whether they are family obligations, work-related issues, or society expectations. And with this, comes new challenges and alot of decision making to do, thus up scaling my stress meter. Therefore, I need to tame myself back to those good days where I was capable of handling stressful situations calmly and in silent.

Nobody knows what 2008 has for us. But I will be there like you; standing in the queue waiting for 2008 to share its spoils of joy and sorrow. I hope I will be among those with the larger share of joys. J


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Egypt Trip (part 1)

Our flight to Egypt was scheduled on Monday Morning. This caused me quite a mini-problem since Monday was an official working day that I couldn't take as a leave. I wanted to avoid salary deductions by doing a single clock. So I drove to work at 7 a.m. Clocked in and just went straight to the airport. With a single clock, I can contest the fact that the machine didn't register my clock-out because its faulty and I'll start bitching about stupid technology.

(what the hell did I just say? What if a colleague at work reads this and start blackmailing me….Remove that part idiot)

We arrived at around 11 a.m. the first disappointment hit me when I discovered that my cellphone carrier was not roaming in Egypt. Not a big deal. We bought two temporary prepaid SIM cards to stay in touch.

we stayed in the NOVOTEL hotel . Considering the quality of 4 star hotels, The rooms are below average with bathroom doors that cannot be locked and a non-operational TV. On the other hand, It is near the airport (2 minutes away) which means that it does not have a Nile View. But other than that, the lobby is nice. The morning buffet was good. The hotel won its reputation for two things; the dancing nights organized in the tent and the infamous wedding hall.

I was excited that we still have the day ahead of us and we could do something more exciting. However, I wasted the rest of the day catching up on the lack of sleep that piled up; especially since I didn't sleep the night before.

By the time I woke up, (around 5 p.m), our traveling family friends had just came back from a trip to the pyramids. A trip that I already took twice before; one with my family 10 years ago and one with my University colleagues 5 years ago.

At around evening time, we joined with our hosting family friends and we went for a night out in down town, in Khan El-Khaleeli which I cannot describe it better than wikipedia. A touristic marketplace that's always a pleasure to walk in. I bought all my artifacts from the last trip from this place. I still keep in my book of memories that distant night that's 5 years old where me and my friend escaped the curfew imposed on us by the Head of our department. All he cared about was a respectable position in the regional programming competition in North Africa & Middle East. For us, it was a tourist trip that we wanted to enjoy. On that night, we went to a sliver shop that could carve our names in Hieroglyphic letters on silver pendants. I only enjoyed mine for one day before I got scolded by my muslim friends back at university who bashed me by saying that wearing necklaces is prohibited. I gave mine away to my younger sister but it didn't last more than a year as the silver polish faded away revealing the big scam that it was not pure silver after all.

Khan El-Khaleeli was not different than the last time I encountered. The attitude of the salesmen is still the same. They try to sell you an artifiact for 90 pounds but you end up getting it for 20 pounds. An artifact that they charge 60 pounds could be easily purchased with 15 pounds. I think Khan El-Khaleeli is the best place to start practicing your negotiation skills as much as it's the best place to profit from non-Arab foreigners who rarely negotiate prices.

Cairo in general is still the same. Once you unveil your camera to start taking photos or as early as you start speaking, you would be tracked by a herd of the locales who'd jump at any chance to serve you, give you a cheesy smile or even mutter the cliché "kol sana winta tayeb ya basha" (happy eid). But of course this does not come free of charge. The expected response for that protocol is to go out and give money (or eideyah as they call it) for those sad beggers. And if you don't follow their drift, they'd bluntly spill it out for you with "3ayzeen negeeb la7met il eid" (we want to bring some meat for eid) or "mafeesh 3edeyah ya basha?" (no holiday charity this year..?)

Day 2 was much better. After having breakfast, we decided to spend the rest of the day in Pharonic village. It was much different and better than last time we visited it. They took us back in time and made us live the culture of the Pharoahs, the industries, the agriculture and their lifestyle. I hope that the slideshow below would provide the best virtual tour.

One of the interesting things out there is the stick of Pharoah Tutankhamun. IF you look at the picture, the handle of the stick has statues of slaves. The legend says that he used to hold the walking stick the other way so that it shows the level of his pride and that slaves were always under him and equivalent to his feet level.

Other interesting things were the different museums such as the Alexander Museum, Jamal Abdul Naser & Sadat Museums, the history of pyramids and the mummification process. But the problem is that they know the process but they have not discovered the right volume and quantity of amounts to use. So the idea of being mummified at death is out of the question for me.

We completed our day with an outstanding night in a 2 hour boat trip on the Nile River that was featured by the Belly Dancer and the Tanoora Man show.

I went to sleep that night not knowing that thrilling events hidden for me on the dawn of my 3rd day..the Eid day.

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The prelude and postlude of my Egypt Trip


Just finished catching up on the things I've missed during my 10 day vacation; especially my cyber-related activities such as reading blogs, emails, checking facebook, organising pictures and many more. I am the only awake person in the house. Rest of the family are asleep. I can't blame them especially after having one of the worst flights ever.

Our flight was scheduled at 19:30 p.m on Thursday. But because of a silly mistake, Saudi Airlines sent a smaller plane that could not contain all the passengers for the flight. Unfortunately, we were among the victims who have been told to wait till the next plane that's scheduled at 2:10 a.m.; 7 hours later. Thanks to my dad's negotiation skills, we let them partially compensate us for the delay by letting us sit in the first class lounge.

Things didn't go as anticipated and the plane boarded at 5:30 a.m. We arrived at Jeddah at 8:30 a.m and we spent another damned 2 hours and half waiting for our bags to be transported from the aircraft to the shuttle. With the equivalent time wasted (almost 18 hours of airport time), I could have travelled to Canada.

But I won't this last day ruin the joy of the fabulous 10 days of my holiday. Such vacations help in recharging my batteries for at least 3 months of the routine life I am coming back to. I hope it lasts longer this time since my next vacation is in June.

The only drawback of this whole journey was the wintery weather. I swam for one day in Hurgada but only for 20 minutes. The water was so cold that it felt like swords piercing through my guts. It was the first time I swim in such cold water.

I was a bit hesitant about this whole trip. First, I am going with family. Second, we are going with family friends - who I never managed to tolerate despite the long friendship they have with my parents – since the day I was born i.e. more than 23 years of friendship. Third, our invitation to Egypt was by another close family friend that we have not seen for the last 12 years. So it was kind of awkward to see them again after such a long period especially since we haven't stayed in touch with their kids. So we were clueless to how they look like and how their characters have developed. Thankfully, none of my concerns were an issue. The Hosting family showered us with their generous hospitality and entertained us with their joyous sense of humour. I managed to get along with the annoying family and communicating with them only when necessary. And finally, I thanked God for travelling with my own family. Why would I complain when I have a father who pays, a mom who organises and packs, a sister who relieves me of my photographing duties by her obsession of capturing every single moment of our journey (for your information, she filled the camera's SD card (2 GB) twice...i.e. 4 GBs of pictures), and a brother who I bully to provide me with other services I require?

There is so much to tell. I'll post about them later. But right now, I need to get some sleep.

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Monthly Digest -End of Year special


and who said we don't have a cool king? ;)


It is always tragedic to hear about lives lost in an accident...or is it?

I was into action movies lately. The 4 movies I watched were those high-ticket movies such as:

Die Hard 4.0:

Maybe I am not a qualified person to comment on this movie as I have not seen any die hard movie before. But in general, the movie does not fail to bring something new in the world of action to the field. Die Hard 4.0 creates its own distinctive environment by showing how humans became fully dependent on technology. It shows how severe and damaging can the impact of "e-terrorism" induce.
One major thing that I didn't like about the movie was the villain. I never felt that the villain was evil or powerful enough. You always feel like he is an amateur geeky kid who acts on ad-hoc basis and never plan ahead. Throughout the movie, the villain always get humilated by the hero John Mclane even when Mclane is put in life or death situation.
Other than that, the script is well-written. The action scenes were well directed and you can already see creative ideas and new moves. Overall, I give this movie 7/10

Here again, I ask you to spare my life coz I never saw the original movie or series. Maybe that's why I didn't have the advantage of understanding some of the "inside" jokes that the original fans would enjoy.
I nominate this for the action movie of the year. Admiring the transformation that each one of those autobots go through is enough to leave you drooling.
The movie starts slowly or let's say normally with a quiet atmosphere. In the first part of the movie, they are setting up the plot and slowly building up to reach the climax. By the end of the first half, you already reached that scene similar to "armageddon" movie scene when they wave goodbye to their country and board their space shuttles.
The first piece of action triggers a chain reaction of action sequences that put you on a mind blowing roller coaster ride varied with battles, transformations, hide & seek strategies and many more. I think this is the first movie I unintentionally held my breath for the longest time and that's mainly because of the massive continuous action sequences that follow each other over such a significant period of time. All in all, this movie gets an 8/10.

Hostel 2:

I was a bit hesitant to go for this one considering my experience with Hostel 1 (a one that I didn't enjoy much..maybe coz I didn't watch it in ideal condition...it is very hard to concentrate when the only two people with you are making out and letting all their hormones out)
For those who didn't watch Hostel 1, the whole concept can be classified to two themes; Porn & Gore. there was no story at all and the relation between these two parts is non-existent to the extent you feel that what happend behind the scenes were as this movie was script written by a porn movie script writer who'd put nudity scenes for no reason at all. and then they fired him and they brought a fetish bloodthirsty psychopath to continue the job.
With Hostel 2, I think they corrected their mistake by bringing a schizophrenic person who'd use hostel 1 as a starting point to write a script based on his multiple personalities that are known for its satisfactory work in blending pornography & gore together in a reasonable way that justifies it.
Other than that, Hostel 2 was much better because the story is furhter developed. More information is shed on the origin of the cult and how do they select their clients and the process that the "contractors' go through. Moreover, the movie contains multiple huge twists that flips the movie 180 degrees to conclude with a shocking ending that makes you question how much humans are willing to sacrifice to survive even if it means losing their sanity and their morality.
It would be unjust to classify the movie under "horror" as it rarely has horrific moments. The movie is for strong hearted people who are willing to withstand alot of gore that are worse than SAW series. Yep, you heard it. some of the scenes are worse than SAW. In fact, there is one scene that kept haunting me in my nightmares for 3 days. So be careful. Overall rating 6/10.

Ocean's thirteen
Ocean's crew is back. Unfortunately, it is without the feminine touch of two of my favourite actresses, julia roberts and catherine zeta jones.
the plot of the movie refers to heisting a casino (similar to the story of Ocean's eleven). Again, the motive is personal and the heist could qualify to be considered the smartest heist plot ever existed. I so wanna talk about it but I don't want to ruin the movie.
Compared to Ocean's eleven, and ocean's twelve, I think that the prior movies were better. the dialogue in ocean's thirteen lacks depth and sarcasm. Although each crew member plays a crucial role in the heist, you feel that the plot focused on developing some specific characters and giving less credit for others as if their role was for support only. Overall, I give this 7 / 10.


I first heard this song as a soundtrack to an episode in smallville. It such a short track but really it is one of my favourites...

Blogospherian World

if we wanna talk about a post that I enjoyed reading every single word or (punctuation to it), then it is definitely Hani obaid's Killer Commas, Camp Horror Stories, Good Intentions, and Other Minutiae

Comically Illustrated:

Eid mubarak to all. Don't forget "kharoof El-eid" (Eid sheep)

Hamzatizing Moments:

I am racing with time as I write this. In 3 hours time, I'll be on a plane to Egypt to enjoy my eid vacation there. the plan is to stay in Cairo for 3 days. and then go to a new area called Ain El-Sokhna (literally translated to "hot eye") where its supposed to become the next Sharm El-Sheikh. and finally, we'll go to Hergada for another 3 to 4 days. That sums up a 10 day trip.
the weekend was extremely busy with the usual last minute shopping spree that we go through everytime. In addition to shopping for myself, I had to become a part time driver for my sister who drove me crazy by making me tour all the malls in the city.
I packed most of my stuff with the exception of my handbag. I am still debating with myself whether to pack the laptop or not. On one side, I don't wanna take it so that I can take a break from the technology world. Plus I don't want to waste my precious holiday moments hooked on it reading blogs or playing videogames.

Other than that, all I need is to put my camera (which I am charging right now) and a couple of the books I got from amazon.com AND speaking of books...

Since I am the only male guy existing in the current cyber book club, I announce myself as the Leader of the Club (hey I had the idea). No, just joking. We have no leaders. I am just a mediator.
Our club has prestigious members such as 7aki Fadi and her infamous book reviews . Sincere thanks to asoom for her continuous support for this initiative. I encourage those interested in participating in our club. the floor is open for anyone who is interested.
So, over this vacation, I am packing two books "love in the time of cholera" - our first reading assignment and a book many of us are interested in- and "Shadow of the wind" a book recommended by a fellow blogger; "Kinano" who efficiently utilizes his sick leaves by the huge magnitude of books he consumes. I hope he gets sick more often so that he'll have more books to review. Any other suggestions in the future will be welcomed.

Let's pull it together guys. We are gonna be the next big thing. We are gonna kick the butt of Oprah's book Club. :D

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Housemaid wanted

Around last eid, our housemaid gave us a notice that she is leaving and going back to Indonesia forever. It is not that she hated the country or hated working with us. On the contrary, we loved her. She was clean, humble, co-operative and her housekeeping was outstanding. It is very rare to find someone like her. But you gotta respect a woman who worked hard just to raise enough money to get her daughter to university. And when she did, it was time for her to go.

Ever since that day, we were searching for a decent replacement. We were extremely patient in finding someone who'd at least meet minimum standards. Instead, we dealt with bizarre situations with the ones that we tested during these 11 months. And I am willing to share with you some of the cases we had over that period:

Case 1: before I start talking about Maid 1, it is worth sharing with you my mom's theory when it comes to maids. Mom knows that each maid will eventually end up stealing from us. Mom has lost hope in finding an honest maid. Her main concern with each one we hire is to catch her steal the first time so we teach her a lesson and make sure she never repeats. This has been a very effective approach. Unfortunately, this was proven right every single time with ALL the maids that have served us during those 21 years. The best maid we had stole from us the first time but when mom caught her, she never did it during the rest of the 8 years she kept serving us. I've always rejected her hypothesis as I am an optimistic person and a believer in people's good intentions.

With Maid 1, mom caught her the first time and gave her the usual warning. Weeks later, my dad was irritated by some of the burnt light bulbs in the living room's chandelier. While he was changing the bulbs, he discovered that one of our old cell phones; (my sister's backup phone that she lost a couple of days ago) was just hanging in there. Now some of us have our crazy moments. But why would someone hide a cell phone among chandelier bulbs with a SIM card full of Philippines' contact names. The maid refused to admit it when we confronted her.

Days later, I wake up to go to work. Like every morning, I shower and shave. And when I shave, I usually tend to lock the door of the washroom. It just so happened on that day that I got an SMS message before I wanted to shave and went to my room to check it. And what a nice scene I see especially when I find her there mingling through my wallet. Oh man, for how long has she been stealing from me? How could I've been so careless?

I asked the obvious question "what are you doing"? and she defended herself by saying "she is arranging my business cards and money". What kind of a silly reply is that? Do I have a big "LOSER" sign on my forehead? That's enough, it was time to show her the door.

Heh..and here I thought I could disapprove one of my mom's theories.

Case 2: nothing beats network communities among housemaids and word of mouth. When searching for maids, the first people you'd ask are the maids of family friends if they know someone who would be interested. We Got Maid 2 which is apparently a friend in the same community that our ex-maid was part of. She came and she impressed mom with her clean work, her organisation and her attention to detail. We all liked her...except my sister.

Now that came to me as a surprise, especially since my sister becomes socially active and is always the first one who'd befriend new maids. Hmmm...maybe that explains the VIP treatment and special room delivery service she always had. Ah smart sis..

Anyway, back to the point. So My sister didn't like her. My sister justified her concern by saying: "Hamza, she is too cool. Look at those stylish jeans she is wearing. Look at her expensive cellphone. Look at her thin sexy body. She is no maid".

Ah, someone is jealous but that's an interesting theory. Maybe I can...and a running stream of ideas flush their way to my head.

36 hours later, my mom wakes up and finds me dying of laughter. It took her a couple of minutes to realize that the maid has just escaped, opened up the door when everybody was sleeping and just ran away. I just couldn't stop myself from laughing. This is the first time that a maid escapes form us. Till now, they don't know what happened.

Case 3: maid 3 didn't last too long simply because she had attitude problems. She was not doing her job right and when we criticised her in a constructive way to clean better, she starts arguing. All what we did is ask her to clean behind couches and to swipe the dust over the edges. When she actually did it, she came to me and said "Go check it. I hope you like it now. Now you have no excuse for anything". I was like what the? Is she trying to brag about herself and insult me?

Later, we asked her to clean windows but she refused on the basis that she never had to clean windows in her life. Well, excuse me if you served dirty families but we are not. She gave us another excuse that she has shoulder problems and her doctor does not allow her to strain her shoulder!!! Oookay fine

Next day, she wakes up and complains about her sudden tooth ache and how she "urgently" needs to go see the doctor. Now that's it. It was time to put a stop to this crap. So we just paid her for the 3 days she served us and discharged her.

Case 4: unlike Maid 3's mediocre work, Maid 4 was good. However, she had an annoying problem. She was toooo social. I rarely saw her cleaning without her cellphone. She'll be ironing the clothes, swiping dust, washing dishes while she is on the phone. Well, we can learn to survive with the gibberish Eritrean noise.

2 days later, she asks mom for half a day leave. She is doing shopping with her sisters. Permission Granted. Next day, she asks for another day leave; she has a wedding to attend. Permission Granted. 3 days later, she wants another day leave; a funeral to attend. Permission Granted but now we are pissed. That's 3 leaves in one week.

When it was time for her 4th request (her mom is sick and she wants to take care of her), we were extremely generous as we granted her a "permanent Leave".


And the search still continues...

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Mom and her new hobby

What a great life I am living. Within this week, I got only 6 SMSs. Ever wondered what were they?

Two of them were from MOBILY (my cellphone network provider) who for some weird reason always keep sending me a notification in both Arabic and English telling me to pay my bill. I mean just send it in one language. Not both.

The other four were from the hospital. I gotta admit. I admire the hospital's initiative in utilizing technology and sending SMS notifications of the next scheduled appointments we have. But honestly, I feel a bit uncomfortable when I get one of those messages because I know it's not for me. It's for my mom.

Apparently, mom has developed this hobby of visiting dcotors or, putting in other words, abusing our medical insurance. It all started with "Hamza, let's go to the hospital to check my blood pressure". "Mom you are ok. There is nothing wrong with you" I say, but she keeps telling me that I am not the doctor and she might have something and she wants to be diagnosed early rather than late. So I listened and I did.

3 days later, "7abeeby, take me to the hospital...I wanna do an ECG".

Me feeling a bit worried "Mom, your doctor said your blood pressure is not high but you gotta watch it. He didn't ask us to do an ECG"

"I know, I am just being cautious"

And So I took her one more time. Thankfully, the results were ok but she needs to constantly monitor herself and be cautious. So far so good, but something inside told me that my mom was not satisfied.

A week later, the same request pops up. This time she wants to check her thyroid glands. She argued that her family (her mom and her sisters) suffer from Hypothyroidism and that it might be hereditary and she wanted to check it up. As usual, I kept hiding my increased anxiety towards her excessive obsession about her health.

This time the results disappointed me. The doctor's latest diagnosis concluded that she indeed suffered from "Hypothyroidism" and she has to deal with the fact of using lifetime medications. Such news could never ring well in my ears.

So up to now, my mom has committed herself to 3 separate doctors that she deal with on a regular basis. To my surprise, I feel that my mom is a bit satisfied as if she is enjoying taking care of herself. Well, I don't wanna blow her bubble but I hope her obsession will not become paranoia. If she ever asks me to take her to the dentist, then we are going to have a serious talk. I'd have to explain to her the concept of medical insurance and that it is not fully FREE, and that I have to pay a portion of each invoice and check-up.

But I know I will never do that. If she knew that I pay a portion of her treatments even if it is insignificant, she'll feel guilty and she'll only go when it is an emergency. At the same time, I don't want her to surprise me with further unanticipated symptoms of old age. Because this means that she will soon start giving me the "talk"...

the taking care of my brother & sisters talk. A one I am not ready for yet.


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