Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Dancing at Bab el Nil restaurant at Fairmont Nile City, Cairo

I've been working here officially two months now... And I am really happy.

The staff and very friendly and respectful- Seems like that should be a given in a five star hotel, but in my experience as a bellydancer in Egypt for the last 8 years respect is something we seldom receive. It is such a relief.

A beautiful venue that I can call home. To be dancing in the same place each time is something I have done in Egypt for years, but at last I feel appreciated and at home in this one. When I am dancing on stage I feel like the audience are my friends. That we are all just out to enjoy our evening as much as possible. That we are all in it together. I feel like I used to feel in Edinburgh when I organised all the dancing at a local Moroccan restaurant, Walima. That it was my place. Bab el Nil is my new home.

I have control. Over when I dance, where I dance, how I organise my show. Again. Such a relief to be trusted in this rather than micro managed. It means I end up doing more, giving more, so do my band, and we all enjoy it more.

I am being paid well enough to be able to treat myself to the pool/gym/spa membership here at the Fairmont. So before work I come to the pool for a couple of hours, then do a workout or stretch, have a lovely power shower before getting ready and resting in a beautiful lounge with a herbal tea or iced lemon water. My quality of life has rocketed up.

Oh and then there are the wedding bookings that are flooding in...

I'm not writing all this to boast or brag. Rather, I am very aware that often my blog posts of late have been quite negative... So I decided it was only fair if I share the bad stuff with you, that you get to hear that those hardships have been worth it. The roller coaster is on the up at the moment. Long may it continue!

Thanks for sticking with me through the lows... Come and join me at Bab el Nil some Tuesday or Thursday night and enjoy the ups too....

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Saidi swing

When dancing Saidi I feel
Tall, strong, empowered
Asaya raised proudly
I swing
You duck

R Kelly tribute

I swear I don't even try
Time stops and doesn't pass by
Like wine fills a cup
Dance fills me right up
And then I feel I can fly!

Shake it.

What is Bellydance?
I'm glad you ask,
There's a lot more to it than
Shaking your ......... Hips.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why I dance. No6.

This dance is from Egypt
But I'm from the North
So I moved here from Scotland
To dance at the source

Photo by Fady Nada

Why I dance. No5.

Dance frees your soul
Dance keeps you strong
Pump up the bass
Rhythm pulls you along

Photo by Aimee Taberer

Why I dance. No4.

I must learn how to laugh
Without shutting my eyes
But then I'd be thinking
Not free
More like lies..

Photo by Aimee Taberer

Why I dance - no3.

Dance is a long journey
Full of work, aches, and pains
The reward? 
See their faces, 
See the joy your art brings.

Photo by Aimee Taberer

Why I dance- no2.

I dance my love
I dance my pain
Dance eases sorrow
And keeps me sane

Photo by Kay Taylor 

Why I dance - no1

Dance when you're winning
Dance when you're down
Dance creates joy
To Banish that frown

Photo by Aimee Taberer

Monday, April 07, 2014

Boredom: depression's friend

It's so easy to complain about things in Cairo... Things never seem easy. I have a tendency to be more negative than positive, which I know isn't healthy, so I will try to remember the things I take for granted and be thankful for them too...

I have done this once before, many years ago, written a blog about all the good things about living here... And here goes again...

Tonight I am writing this on my ipad, in my changing room, - I have a changing room and an ipad!

Waiting between sets for my band to start, - I have a band!,

Between sets on stage - I have a stage!

At Bab el Nile restaurant in Fairmont Nile City Hotel- I have a contract in one of the loveliest hotels in the city and work visa to boot!

It's quiet tonight- but there is still work!

And the people are here are all Egyptian- I have Egyptians in my audience!

The wind is freezing- but freezing is relative,I'm dancing outdoors in April, ie it's not UK.

My labisa (dresser) failed to answer her phone yet again so I am here alone again - I normally have a dresser! AND a very Scottish point here- I have saved tonight the cost of her earnings!

Because I am alone and sitting in costume - a very pretty saidi costume!

I cannot go and tell my band their break is over- I get to decide my running times!

So I just have to sit and wait til I hear them play again.....

......And that was the point they started to play!!!

In Egypt I often get down. Yes, in a dance way, but also in a mood dip kinda way too. Doing even the smallest things seem daunting and difficult. Even just charging my phone, or paying a bill.  I get wound up by the smallest of things and yet other massive issues will land on me and I'll brush them off easily as if they were a mosquito. Rhyme and reason don't seem to play a part. I am often angry, frustrated, stressed, but never bored.  Never ever bored.

I remember my entire childhood going around saying I'm bored, over and over again.

I found my solution: Cairo.

Heightened emotions, negative and positive, but never boredom- that opposite of emotion. That dreaded, flat, dead state that drains me and allows the depression to grab hold. On the roller coaster of emotions that is Cairo, exhaustion is more likely to hand you over to the devil depression rather than boredom.

I must remember the emotions are good. Even the negative ones: anger and frustration.... And I must keep remembering to search for the good in each situation. That's my challenge. Wish me luck!

Oh, and by the way- when the band did play again, despite my frustrations in the changing room that inspired this blog entry, I went on to do one of the best shows I have done in a while. I felt alive and empowered and full of joy and strength. My band and I were on fire. The audience with us, small in number but large in spirit. (And by that I do not mean they were drunk!!) I left work feeling so much better than I had arriving there.

And that has to be the ultimate upside to all of this;  Doing my job makes me feel great.

Hurrah for Cairo and for dancing, and especially for dancing in Cairo!

And a huge thanks to Kay Taylor of Farida adventures who took this fabulous photo of me on stage at Bab el Nile.  Not the same night, but it's the first shot I have of me in action at my new venue! 

And.... Just in case it needs said... That smile is genuine! 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Shimmy by the sea... 2 !

Here are some more photos which show what a fun time we all had at Shimmy by the Sea...

Week one girls;

 Week 2 girls;

Silly bra time;

More silly bra shots:

And more...

Trip to the chippie in Hastings... 

Saidi workshop:

And the sexy baladi workshop:

Some of us in the Penny arcades after the chip shop visit: 

And me hiding my gammy eye behind some rather glamorous ladies;

Om khalsoum put in a guest appearance to my improvisation class:

In the pink....

And my oriental workshop had everyone warmed up on the first night:

Thanks to all of you whose photos I stole from Facebook to include on this blog. I love you all!!! 

and for your viewing pleasure- another video clip of me dancing at shimmy by the sea... this time a short clip from a rather crazy said inspired shaabi number... Thanks Pauline for filming and thanks June for transferring it to youtube for me to add here!

Shimmy by the Sea dance festival March 2014

It is lovely to see a bellydance event so successful that they have to do it twice! That's what happened to the UK dance festival Shimmy by the Sea where I was asked to teach and perform at both the weekends this year.

I flew over from Cairo, just for these two weekenders (and of course for the week of shopping in between!)

It is a small scale festival through choice, the organiser, Chloe Dent, likes to keep it friendly so prefers numbers of no more than 50. It was perfect. So many lovely ladies all together doing what they love, bellydance!

Everyone was staying in beautiful wood chalets around the grounds of the holiday camp near Battle (which is where the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066) and the classes were held in rooms in the main house. I got to share a chalet with some of the other teachers; Nawarra and Artemisia. It was good to have our own space to sit and relax and chat and we also ended up a few evenings round at Chloe's chalet since she had a hot tub! Much hilarity was had I can tell you. The laughs and chatter of international bellydancers sat in a hot tub must have kept the neighbours awake and entertained! (or they may have hated us.....)

I unfortunately managed to get a nasty eye infection the first weekend, so when I performed at the show night, at which everyone was all of a very high level I have to add, I looked like I was permanently winking at my audience! Thankfully Aimee Taberer managed to capture a few nice shots of me dancing anyway...

It was a lot of fun. Both times. The second weekend was like Dejavu though... which was rather weird, but at least the eye had cleared up by then! I liked the informal, relaxed mood of the whole event and if you are looking for a festival that gets that balance right between learning and enjoying dance and spending time with other women who enjoy it. This one is for you!

here's a wee video taken there by EverythingEgyptian of me dancing Shic Shac Shok;

Arabic in songs- commonly heard words;

It always helps whilst dancing to a song if you know what it means.
Sometimes a translation give you the meaning of the song but not the actually word for word direct translation. This is fine, but it helps if you can recognize a few of the actual words so you can indicate in your dance that you know them. 
Don't however feel you have to mime every word you hear. I've seen that done and it just doesn't work. But occasionally, if you mime a word here and there, it will give the impression to all Arab speakers watching that you understand the lyrics fully! 
This list is by no means exclusive... But hopefully you will find it useful and informative. 

Ana - I / me
We- and
Enta- you (m)
Enti- you (f)

Habibi- my darling (m)
Habibti- my darling (f)
Hayati- my life
Omri- my life , enta omri- you are my life
Hob- love
Baheb to love
Bahebik- I love you
Howa- wind, but also another word for love
Zay- like, similar to.
Zay il howa- like the wind

Elb / qelb- heart
Add an i on the end to make it possessive. elbi - my heart
Eid- hand, eidi- my hand
3Ein- eyes, eyouik- your eyes, eini- my eyes

Shams- sun
Amar- moon
Donya- world and also means life
Nour- light

Ouli- tell me
Sibni- leave me
Khalass- finish
Gambi- beside me
Ta-alli- come to me
Yalla- let's go
Shuf- to see
Bos- to look
Bosa- kiss
Faakir- to remember , lissa fakir- I still remember

Shwaya- a little
Fein?- where?
Taht- under
Foq.- above, on top. Min taht le foq.- from down to up (sexual connotations)
Mish/mush- 'not' - put in front of any word to negate it. Hinna- here , Mish hinna- not here.

Zaman- a long time ago
Dilwati- now
Abiden- never
Teni- again

Washtini- I miss you
Magnoon- crazy
Nar- fire/hell
Walla/ wallahi- I swear to god

Aywa- yes 
Ayoo- yes (Alexandrian)
La'a- no

Helwa- sweet/ beautiful
Gameela- beautiful
Gamda- strong (in sexy way)
Moza- sexy (In a curvaceous way)
Awii- very

These next two are popular in shaabi;
Ashra alla ashra/ sitta illa sitta/ maya maya- 10/10, 6/6, 100%
Coca- coca cola, ie shape like a cola bottle.

Bint- girl, Binet- girls
Waled- boy, 'ya waled'- an exclamation 'oh boy!'
Ragal- man
Sitt- woman
Besha- sir (from pasha)
Allah- god
Layla- night
Yom- day, ayam- days
Kool- every, kooliyom- everyday
Sena- year
Bahr- sea

As you can see, it's a bizarre vocabulary list for a language, but go see how many you can hear in the Egyptian songs you are dancing to! Hope it helps! 

I do not speak Arabic fluently by any means, but if you have the odd word or two you would 
Like me to translate (or ask someone better qualified for advice) please do leave a comment... 

Please do not ask me to translate entire songs... There are some fabulous sites already where you can find this, eg  www.shira.net 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

These past 6 months have been hell... Here's why.

Ok.... Here's the story that only a few close friends know already... Of how difficult the time has been for me since last summer. As a public figure I have tried to stay upbeat on Facebook and here on the blog throughout that time. It was horrible. Feeling like my entire life was a lie.

Now there I have reached the light at the end of the tunnel, so I can share the darker days too.

Back in April, I was with Ellie and Ahmed Harfoush in the Fairmont hotel, just having a wee beer and catch up. A head of marketing came over to ask Ahmed if he knew any female singers he could recommend. Fate was being kind! Ellie did an audition for them that same afternoon. In addition to a couple of jazz songs, She sang one salsa song, so Ahmed and I got up to dance, and I danced with the managers too. At the end of the audition they said "yes, Ellie, we want you, and Lorna, we want you too". "Me?" I asked, "but I'm a bellydancer". "Yes, we know we need a bellydancer and we want you to do that and also perform with Ellie when she sings".
Just like that. We both were offered work and a double act was born. We were both so very excited.
That was April.
Egypt wasn't exactly politically stable at that time, and Morsi was still in power. Nothing happened about our contracts or work visas for months. I lost all hope that it would even happen. When we returned from UK after Ramadan, the evening curfew was imposed, so no one was working in our industry at all. We sat home night after night. It was a difficult time.

In September we signed contracts and in order for the Fairmont to process the work visa, I had to resign from the Pharaohs.

Here is an excerpt from my diary in December, when I was in Shanghai teaching. Feeling low and alone.. Warning- it's highly emotional stuff;

I quit my job at the Pharoahs after 7 years because I had a dream job offer. Contract signed the whole works... And now, 4 months after contract signed, 4 months of no work, they tell me they can't get me a work visa. I have been rejected.
I am distraught.
I'm kicking myself for thinking that something wonderful would happen to me. How naive and stupid. I should have heeded my mothers words;
"Life is not fair, Lorna, get used to it"
Life in Egypt is NEVER fair.
I'm still not used to it. It still hurts like hell. Every single time.
They tell me it's been rejected, but not the reason why.

You must have a dream. Everyone tells you that if you have a dream, then you have something to strive for. What they don't tell you is that a dream is worthless if no one else believes in you. Or If the government is against you.

it's not fair.
I want to kick and scream and slam doors.

All that and I still can't help blaming myself. The guilt. If I had just been content where I was at the Pharoahs with low pay and the lack of respect they show for artists, at least I would still have a job and work papers. Why did I have to be so greedy? Why did I have to aim my sights higher?

I just really don't want to listen.
I don't want it to be over.
I want that feeling when on stage with my band felling like I own the world. That the music and I are one. I've not had that since, well, 5 months at least. I am already having withdrawel symptoms and was 'just' coping cos I thought it was all going to happen bigger and better very soon.

 Now? Now, I am losing it.

There- so as you can see, my actual mental state was pretty shockingly low.
When I returned from China, I had to sit though Christmas and New Year, the busiest time for dancers, without work or work papers. Since I was still trying to somehow get my work papers, I also had to stay in Egypt, so couldn't even go home to my family (even if I had had the money for the flight!)

Then, on Hogmanay I had a conversation with one of the senior managers at the Fairmont who expressed confusion as to why I no longer wanted to work there. This was like an electric shock. What? Of course I want to work there! That's why I quit a job I'd had for over 7 years for it! Seemingly, something had got lost in Chinese whispers... Thankfully on hearing this and realising there had been some misunderstanding, they decided to reopen my case and try for a third time for my visa!

To do this I would have to be outside of Egypt when they put in the application. But there was no point going straight away due to new year, Coptic Christmas and referendum's meaning government offices would be closed and busy a lot during this period. I was also warned that there was still a high chance my visa would be rejected. Those were a long 3 weeks, sat at home without work and not even able to dream. At the end of January I headed back to UK, not knowing how long I would be there for, and not knowing what the outcome would be. It could all still be for naught.

Thankfully I was able to at short notice organise a few workshops and performances, which helped keep me sane and also helped cover the cost of the flight to be there! Huge thanks Elspeth, Katy, Tracey, Laura and Adele for your speedy support in doing this for me!

Friends who had to listen to all these emotional rantings during that time- thank you for your patience and care. You helped!

Then I get the phone call from Ellie. I had just finished my workshop in Belfast. She just said- "come home. It's done. You're approved". I burst into tears, right there in front of my students! Not sure what they must have thought of me!

So then I had to get back to Egypt ASAP to finish the visa process which of course takes longer than it should and much longer than you want it to!

I started work at the Fairmont on Feb 25th 2014.

10 months after the initial job offer.
6 months after I resigned from the Pharaohs.
4 months after Ellie had started there.

I couldn't believe it was actually real. That I was at long last there. That all my distress and insecurity of the past 6 months were just that, my insecurities. Not fact. That at long last I could get back onto stage with my band and do what I love.

Then there is of course all the usual band drama- but that can be another blog entry, this one is already way too long!

Of course there was then 'the glitch'. After performing for one week the mosanifat police told the hotel that if I continued working with only the receipt for the visa rather than the actual card, which they still hadn't issued, then I would be arrested. This could have been readily fixed by an under the table payment, but one of the reason why I do want to work at the Fairmont's is because they have higher morals than that and refuse to do anything unless it's done in the right way. Frustrating when I'm sat home without work, but admirable and I can't help agree with them.

So, we had no choice but to cancel last week shows. I stayed home with all these fears and stresses revisiting me. That I had hoped too much and that somehow it was all going to be taken away from me again!

Tonight I have work at Bab El Nil, in the Fairmont.
My papers are complete.
I am legal at last.

It has been a hell of a journey.
Thank you to those of you who have stood by me through it all. My show tonight is in your honour!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The amazing case of the stolen iPhone by Sherlock hol....... Ok, by me!

The story of my stolen IPhone, as requested by the 200+ people who commented on my Facebook update! 

On Monday I went to mohandiseen to buy bow ties for my band's uniform for the new job. (They look very chic!)

When I left the shop I hailed a taxi, and as soon as I sat down, realised that the man in the shop had wittingly, or unwittingly (I suspect the former) given me one empty box. He had done me out of a bow tie!

I stopped the taxi instantly and asked if he wouldn't mind waiting for me. He said no problem.

I went into the shop got my missing bow tie  and returned to the street to find my taxi had not waited. This is unusual in Cairo, usually once a taxi has a fare, especially a foreign one,  they hold onto it. Taxi's usually like to wait since their meter keeps running, but they are not using petrol, so they end up better off. I looked around, couldn't see him and so hailed another cab.

 Instantly I realised my iPhone wasn't in my bag, that I must have dropped it in the previous taxi and thus worked out the reason why the driver hadn't waited! He had driven off with my phone, intentionally!

The new taxi driver was lovely and tried calling my number for me numerous times... It just rang out. I drove to meet Ellie, which was where I was going and she instantly managed to get onto the 'find my iPhone' app and mark my phone as lost ( so the theif couldn't make calls or access info and only incoming calls would go through). We also initiated tracking. He (or at least my iPhone) was in the center of Imbaba, a relatively poor area of Cairo. We jumped a new taxi, explained the situation to the driver, Sayed and asked if he was with us on our quest. He was. We were heading into imbaba on the heels of the theif!

This is when I realised that maybe this wasn't such a wise idea. Ok, it was 2pm and daylight, but still, two white chicks in that neighborhood, accusing someone of theft, would attract a lot of unwanted attention.

I called my labisa (dresser), who lives in that area, and she called round her two brothers who met us to join the search and act as our bodyguards. One jumped in our taxi with us the other drove his toktok behind. Yes, we were doing a taxi and toktok sequence from a Bond film, driving through tiny dirt streets against the clock, blocked by cows, trucks, people, souq's you name it.... It was like going into another world. Not the Cairo I live in, but a much poorer, busier and more colourful one.

We were following the theif's movements via the map on the ipad... He kept stopping along the way, we presume trying to sell the phone at various mobile shops. Time was ticking. We were scared he would find someone who could unblock the phone and we were scared the battery on the phone would die thus stopping the tracking!

He  (taxi driver thief) stopped at one spot for a while so We tracked him to a narrow side street. The brothers and I walked down the street, asking people if there was a taxi driver who lived in this street. One boy answered there are about four! So close and yet so far. I felt our chase was for nought. There were women hanging over their balconies, having a good look at the foreigner who was accusing one of their own of being a thief. It was rather intimidating.

Kids crowded round us, interested in the ipad and how the map worked. The app allows you to sound an alarm, which I did, but the area was too full of people and noise. It couldn't be heard, but we knew we were in the right place. The tracking spot on the map hadn't moved.

Thankfully the thief was not too bright, to say the least. He had taken the phone home to his wife and when we tried to call again, this time she answered!

She tried telling us that yes she had the phone but she was in another area of the city. We explained to her that we knew the phone was in the same street we were standing in, ie in her home.

 We offered her money for return of the phone. We said 50le, she said no way, it's worth more than that, however she then agreed to 100le (approx £10 sterling). She couldn't bring shame on her family though by bringing the phone out Into the street while we were there because all her neighbors would know what she and her husband had done, so she suggested to meet one of the brothers at Medan kitkat to exchange the money and iPhone.

So the tracking began again.... We headed towards kitkat.

And so did she, with the phone.....  until she didn't. Instead of turning towards kitkat she took the imbaba bridge over the Nile to a different area of town. It was quite an educational tour for Ellie and I, but spoiled by the sick realization that she wasn't going to meet us to do the handover after all.

This is where we have to curse iPhone battery life. We were watching the % run down, 20%, 15%, 10%, 8%..... And shut down.... It never gives you those last few % does it?

Yes, the battery ran out and the tracking discontinued. If we had just been 10 mins earlier... Or if I hadn't used that alarm so much, or or or... I was kicking myself and at the same time as being happy with Apple for developing the tracking system, also being furious with them for not doing sometime about their battery life!

Gutted we questioned the locals in the last reported site of the phone, and went to the local police station there. The police were far more interested in how this imbaba man would know me a foreigner, and in what my job was. It was intimidating. We were scrutinized and made to feel very uncomfortable. They sent an officer with us to question people in the last house it was seen to be in but to no avail.

We gave up... For a short while.

Ellie was already late for work by this point (6pm) and I was late for my band rehearsal.

We each left the phone issue to the side and went to our respective jobs, Ellie to sing at Fairmont, me to whip a band into shape for my first night at Fairmont the following day....

At 10pm, I went with another friend to dokki police station. I was sure that they would be unable to help, but it also knew that if the phone should be charged and reappear on my tracking... Then I was determined to catch this thief and his greedy wife. So should that happen, I wanted/needed the support of the police!

Dokki police sent us with an officer to imbaba station (him on his motorbike, us in the car) since we had the home address of the theif. That station was a pleasant surprise. They were all very lovely to me and very interested in knowing what people in the UK thought of Egypt. They were amazed I had gone earlier into imbaba myself and were laughing and offering me a job with them! It was all very relaxed and friendly. A sharp contrast to the armed men and sandbags and tank at the the station door!

So another officer went in the car with us to go into the heart of imbaba to yet another police station, my 4th of the day. Once they heard my story we all again piled into cars, and headed to the address of the theif! So there was me, my friend and 6 police officers...

Once we got there, and the place looks very different at night, we were told to stay in the car while the officers went to investigate. They knew the building was either the 1st or 2nd building on the letter, but no more information. They walked down the street side by side, so that no one could escape the street and went to explore the houses.

While we were sitting in the car I said to my friend , "what do you think they will do.. ?" He suspected they might beat the guy up. I was worried. I didn't want any innocent parties to suffer.

When the police reappeared, after what seemed like a long long time and yet was probably less than ten minutes, they had with them the boy from earlier that day. The one who had said they were many taxi drivers living in the street.

 'Its ok, we know who he is and we have his son"! The boy knew along along earlier I was looking for his father and didn't want to be the one to grass him up! I looked the boy  who was about 14/15 years old in the eyes and said " why didn't you help me earlier? I didn't want to do this, I didn't want to bring the police". He just said "I'm sorry".

So the boy and two of the police officers got into the back of our car and we drove back to police station number 4. The father had been told he wouldn't get his son back until he brought he phone. I was worried they may hurt the boy, but actually it was the opposite. They were very kind with him. It was touching to see. I found out that all the police officers at that police station had actually grown up in that area, so I guess could perhaps relate to the boys predicament.

The father came limping in about half another later to the station, and came straight up to me denying that he had intended to steal the phone or that he had even known it was mine. It was a panic lie. But, for the sake of his son, I had already decided not to press charges.

The police were relieved that I had chosen that option and went to the task of 'making up' the days events. We had to put a report through all the same, saying that the taxi driver had discovered the lost phone in the taxi and brought it to his nearest police station as soon as he finished his shift, with no mention of the greedy wife toktok chase or anything else. The whole family, because the mother and brother were there by this time, along with the son and father were sent away with a warning. The shame of their entire neighborhood knowing they were thieves was already enough for them to deal with.

I got home 2.30am, 13 hours after the theft, with my iPhone. I couldn't believe it.

The police were amazing, with the only exception being that 1st station and only because they thought they were protecting me from this man I had come in with!  Everyone else treated me with respect and care.

'Find my iPhone' is the best app ever, and if you don't have it installed on your iphone, do it!

Lessons learned that day:
- in Egypt especially, your character will be judged on the people you are seen with. If you have to go to the police etc for anything, take someone with you with a high social standing. It shouldn't be the case, but you do get treated with more urgency and respect. Sad but true.
- Egyptian police are mostly very helpful and compassionate, and funny.
- always keep your iPhone as fully charged as possible, just in case
- don't call the phone excessively or sound alarm too often whilst tracking, to save battery
- have a good strong cover on your iPhone, my thief tried to remove the cover, but it broke when he did and he obviously was scared he had broken the phone because he didn't even try to remove the SIM card!
- imbaba is called little China because there are so many million, yes million, people living in that one area.
- Cairo is much poorer and more densely packed than I had realised, even after living here for 8 years. Many many People are existing on nothing.
- all Egyptian friends have told me they would have just given up the search, so it pays to keep at it , even if it seems hopeless. This has been an on going life lesson in so many ways over the time I have lived in Cairo! Don't give up, you are always thrown a rope eventually.
- it never pays to be Greedy. That wife could have had 100le, or even 200le if I am honest, in her pocket, if she had returned the phone, rather than the family shame they all have to face now after being pulled into the police station.
- ALWAYS look back into a taxi seat after stepping out of it to see if anything has dropped onto it.
 - I can exist for up for 15/16 hours on just one wafer biscuit. (Kindly bought for me by taxi driver)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ok, here goes... Breaking Bellydance news from Cairo

My big announcement....

I have left the Nile Pharoah's boat, Cairo. After performing there for the last 7 years.

The Pharaohs Cruising restaurants - my old workplace!

The reason?

I left there because I have signed a new contract, to perform at the prestigious Five Star, Fairmont Nile City Hotel, Cairo.

Fairmont Nile City Hotel, Cairo, Egypt

I am very excited about this transition!

I will be performing regularly, with my band, in the beautiful oriental restaurant, Bab El Nil (and at other venues within the Fairmont too).

Bab El Nil - the entrance way to my new workplace!

They have never contracted a dancer there before, so I will be opening up a new quality venue in Cairo for bellydancers. Quite an honour and a legacy. A new phase in my life and career.

It has been a roller coaster of a year, and i will tell you the full story in my next blog entry...

....Or maybe tell you between sets at Fairmont Nile City, if I see you there first!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Health education....!

First of all, yes I will write 'normal' blog entires again... Fairly soon..all about the daily life of a bellydancer in Cairo. But just humour me for now with my silly poems please. I'm enjoying writing them! I know I am using a very basic poem format, but if it was alright for Pam Ayres, then it's alright for me (just wish I had half her talent!) 

Secondly, no I didn't use the same title for the poem in the title of the blog, just in case it came it in some bizzare search results!!!! 

Anyway- this one was inspired by today's outing ... It's an aspect of life as a foreigner here that few Egyptians or people outside of Egypt know about or I suspect even think about. If someone does not pass this test, they are deported.

That prick...

Sitting alone in the office,
Waiting for doctor to come
Of course he's stuck in the zahma
I'm stuck twiddling thumb

All us expats must face this
Our annual questioned morale
Seemingly colour of passport
Depends in whose bed you'll fall

I'm talking of course of this AIDS test
Or 'bloods test' as they gently say
Without which we've no work visa
Without which we can't collect pay

I've heard a few horror stories
When blood test, folk did not pass
Within days they had left Egypt
Horses put out to grass

Here is one urban legend
I do hope that's all that it is
one dancer who riled a bad person
He had her damned positive

Imagine the state of that woman
Thrown out of country and home
Due to the badness of others
Evicted, real result, unknown

Each time I offer my arm out
Though confident I'm in the clear
I never forget that story so
There's always a smidgen of fear

The doctor arrives with his needle
It's prick; clean, fast, painless too.
Adrenaline drops back to normal
It was nothing after all the 'to do'

The sad thing about this whole business?
the idea, AIDS is not in Egypt
That only the foreigner workers
Are trying to come and spread it

Yet this is a world situation
Not caused by us 'foreign hands'
Look to all of your people
Care for their health, take a stand.

Care for those sick in this country
Acknowledge that they exist
blame yourself, not each other
It shouldn't be shrouded in mist

Some folk are born with the virus
Others used needles unclean
transfusions of blood hit the helpless
It's never as clear as it seems

Educate young, time starts now
Don't blinker them with wrong ideas
Teach 'stay safe' with minds open
Eradicate all those false fears

For anyone interesting in reading more about the topic of HIV/AIDS in Egypt, check out http://www.unicef.org/egypt/hiv_aids.html 

  • Population 15-24 year-olds who have comprehensive correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS and who reject major misconceptions about HIV transmission: Females: 4.8%  Males: 18.3%

Monday, February 03, 2014

Sexy feet. A poem for bellydancers everywhere.

Sexy feet

50 shades cannot compare To all the types of pain
That I have felt over the years And know will feel again

Don't worry this is not risqué, No talk of chains or whips
It's all about the pain you get from Drops, shimmies , hair flicks

Yes Bellydance has kept me young. It also keeps me fit
Yet, 'fit to drop' I often add, then laugh and still do it!

My feet complain, they take the toll, The splinter of smashed glass
The broken beads from jangly belts. Once, fire ants on mass!

I've stepped on many yucky things, Foodstuffs that squelch and slide
Foot soles stained with turmeric, Turning slips into a glide

Ice cream feels weird, on toe not tongue, Dropped forks and Ring pulls hurt
I've even had a drawing pin, Deep in my heel! The flirt.

I've often left my DNA Upon a stage I've pranced
Red spots depict the to and fro; a peacocks mating dance

One stage was outdoors, in the sun, Black boards that stored the heat
That night at home, I had to treat The burns upon my feet

Some floors are rough,  so when you spin, Blisters appear, you find,
Friction burns upon your balls, of your feet, dirty mind !

Wear shoes you say,  yes that may help, Though high heels catch on hems,
On carpet pile,  on stage floorboards, I just can't make amends

Back to stage, barefoot again, My soles toughed though use
No sexy feet for this dancer, and that's the honest truth

Yet still I smile and entertain. Dancing, Dusk to dawn
Even with pain in my feet.The show, it must go on!

Sorry feet. More pain for you. More cuts and splinters too
Please hold out, be strong, be tough. There's Bellydance to do

When next you see a dancer, looking glamorous, a queen
Think of her feet, those suffering soles, and appreciate again..

The work involved in Bellydance. Harder than it may seem
But dancing for you, the joy it brings. Is my goal, My Dream.

"A peacocks mating dance" 

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Traveling to a gig...

Written on the train to manchester to perform last night.

Traveling to a gig

No matter which mode I travel
Be it train, or bus or plane
the journey without nibbles
Will never be the same

Though it burns no extra fuel
To sit still for 4 hours
I seem to need the food of kings
So time passes fast, not sours

And so I plan my picnic
Drinks, crisps, sweeties, the lot
Sometimes even healthy stuff
Though often that's forgot

I then arrive at my next gig
Whether show, or dance workshop
Full of sugar, flying high
Dancing crazy, should I Stop?

I cannot stop, I will not stop
The energy must out
What do you mean, the bell has rung?
I'm set for my next bout!

Dance, I'm meaning, dance not bout
Oh Lorna, just calm down!
I know I should but, the mix of drugs
Has got me running round

Drugs you ask? oh yes, they're drugs
That music mixed with sugar
I'll shimmy, drop and figure 8
My Chou Chou beats the thunder

I'll fly around that stage tonight
Like the devils on my heels
I'll dance until it's time to drop
And fire, my slumber steals

I love that high, I get from dance
I love life on the road
I love eating unhealthy snacks
I guess I can't be told

I live my life for here and now
Each and every hour
Some call it zen, but yet again
Some call it immature

I'm almost done my traveling feast
The station, it draws near
It'll soon be time to hit the stage
Excitement mixed with fear

Stockport tonight, then class the morn
I'll Bellydance until
The weekend ends, and I'll eat
On Plane, train, automobile!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Arabic words you need to know as a dancer in Egypt

I realise that many dancers around the world come to Egypt to dance and to take part in dance festivals here. These are some Arabic words I have found interesting and useful and thought you might too......

Arabic words in dance world;

Raqs- dance
Raqs Sharqi- dance of the east
Raqqasa - dancer
Fanana- artist (f)
fanan- artist (m)
fananeen- artists,
fanoon shabbaya - folk dancers.
Tannoura- whirling dervish
Fananit Raqs Sharqi - oriental dance artist
Negm/ negma- star
Nimra- the number.. The 'one'

The music and the band;

Musiqa- music
Fir'a (firqa) - band
Musaqayeen- musicians
Firit lorna- Lorna's band
Motrib- singer, motriba- singer (f)
Prova- rehearsal
Orneyya- song
Faddi- solo (usually used for tabla solo)


Bedla- suit (2 piece dance costume)
Bedlit Raqs- dance costume
Thobe- dress, can be loose or fitted. Usually bejeweled
Galabeya- usually loose but not always shirt style dress, often plain. (Fifi abdu)
fustan- dress
Labisa- dresser (a girl to help dress the dancer)
Bra- bra!
Hizeem- belt ( beaded or coin belt)
Jupe- skirt
Asaya- stick
Tarha- veil
Melaya lef- a black sheet used for dancing Alexandrian style

Of course there could be many added to this list...  Please do comment with anything you think should be added or with any questions you many have!this lost is not exclusive, but I  have always founds these useful working here in Cairo.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A poem for my friends in Scotland

This poem is inspired by one of my many fabulous friends in Scotland. She said I should write more, so blame her, not me!

To my Scottish Friends.
(ie friends in Scotland, not just those born there, least some take offense!)

I love to see my friends
I love to see them all
But when i don't have much time
In doing this , I fall.

With high hopes I start
Email all around
"Im coming back, We must meet up
Before I'm homeward bound"

I think it will be easy
I'm there for two whole weeks
I'll run around and see them all
There isn't need for sleep

But flights, they are so pricey
That workshops must be done
I'm really not complaining
Cos Bellydance is fun!

Trains and flights and buses
Eat up much of my time
But least they give me space to sit
To write this little rhyme

Trips 'back home' exhaust me
Although I love them too
Excuse me if lose the plot
There's just so much to do

I have to see the family
Who live all o'r the place
Spending time with young ones
So they recognize my face

Don't talk to me of admin
Banking, bills and tax
Sifting through a whole years post
There's no time to relax

My Scottish friends, I understand
though I can pass on sleep
I know that those with jobs and kids
'Normal hours' must keep

I love every stolen moment
With each of you , so much
To eat and drink and hear your news
Deep in my heart you touch

Forgive me those I don't see
It's not that I don't care
It's just I want a long time
With you, that's only fair

A grabbed half hour is not enough
To exchange all of our antics
Our words would drown each other's out
The feel, horribly frantic

So you'll top the list the next trip
And we'll laugh and talk and eat
We'll hit the town, go dancing
Til we cannot feel our feet

Perhaps we'll go out shopping
And moan about our weight
We'll each admire the other
Just because we think they're great

We'll sit at kitchen tables
Clutching huge mugs of tea
The years will just evaporate
As we narrate our lives, you'll see

We'll cry shoulder to shoulder
'bout the trails that we have suffered
Recall follies of young days
And praise how we've recovered

We'll sympathise and empathize
The current crosses borne
We'll give advice when it is sought
For carefree days we'll mourn

For problems shared with good friends
Are problems halved they say
I know dear friends you lift me up
in the darkest day

You make me feel I'm not alone
Despite thousands of miles
Separate the places we did chose
To love and live our lives

So friends I've yet to meet with
In this whirlwind tour of home
Please know that you are special
Not the least bit overthrown

Each one of you is precious
You've all been there for me
Though fun times and for comfort
Through those rough times out at sea

Life out there ain't easy
I'm told its like a soap
Unbelievable to most
Still you help me to feel hope

But now I'm getting soppy
I'll man up and wipe the tears
It's just I am so glad to have such friends
Despite the passing years

I'll see you soon, Yes, that's a threat
A promise and wishful prayer
So meantime, have fun, create new news,
And yes, that is a dare!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bellydance Burns Night. Edinburgh Sat 25th Jan 2014

On the evening of SATURDAY 25 JANUARY we will be mixing Bellydance and Robert Burns;

...... a Belly Burns Night!
(although that title makes me think more of indigestion than what we actually have in mind!!)

Venue: Cafe Casablanca, 373 Leith Walk from 7pm. 

This will be a Burns Night with a difference!

There will be a wee bit of haggis, there will be toasts, there will be an Immortal Memory – but mainly there will be bellydancing from Lorna of Cairo.

You will have the chance to hear Lorna discuss the current situation in Egypt and how it affects the bellydance scene there. 

Tickets are £20 including a three-course Moroccan meal and Lorna’s beautiful performances. 

Bring your own Bottle (Whisky or wine or whatever alcoholic drink you want!)

Please wear something Tartan!

There will also be Argan Oil products for sale; oil for hair, cream for body and soap for hands!

To book for the evening event, contact Elspeth on swishandhips@hotmail.co.uk

Manchester Bellydance madness 31st Jan and 1st Feb 2014

A weekend down south for me, or up north for some! I will be performing and teaching around the Manchester area..... Always have fun in this next of the woods... Lovely dancers! See you soon!

Stockport- Friday 31st January 2014

Taste of cairo presents: great night with live music from the Babylon Band and dancers from the Taste of Cairo with guest performer Lorna OfCairo

At Bizoqya- Charles street, Impact house , SK1 3JY Stockport

Entrance Fee £5 payable on the door.
There is a fully licensed bar and food so make a night of it!

Manchester- Saturday 1st February 2014

Workshops with Lorna of Cairo, Britain's only current star of the Cairo dance scene!

Venue- Stand Unitarian Church, Ringley Road, Whitefield, M457JL

Workshop 1, 10.30 to 12.30: Develop your Saidi stick to a modern Egyptian style
Workshop 2, 13.00 to 15.00: Love that music? Make it your own! Ways of interpreting a piece of music, developing your own style.

Workshops cost £25 each or £45 for both. Book by PayPal to office@katycarmichael.co.uk or by post to Katy Carmichael at 90 Holden Road, Brierfield, BB9 5PR.
Limited places so get it done soon!

Edinburgh Bellydance workshops Saturday 25th Jan 2014

Lorna is back in town! It's been a while since I have done a 'home town' workshop... So I am looking forward to seeing my Scottish dancers once more!

WORKSHOPS at SHAPES STUDIO, Arthur Street, Leith (formerly the Edinburgh Studios)

What are the hottest current moves and combinations in Cairo? Lorna will teach the latest flavours, brand new, fresh and direct from the Cairo stage.

1.30pm – 3.30pm: NO RIGHT, NO WRONG
Lorna will teach how to explore the many ways there are to dance to one piece of music and still have it 'authentically' Egyptian. Don’t be a clone of other dancers - let's find "insert your name here" style!

Both workshops are for dancers of all levels, but are not suitable for absolute beginners.

Each workshop costs £25, or book both for £45.

To book, please contact Elspeth SwishandHips swishandhips@hotmail.co.uk or 07748 183171.

Bookings are only confirmed when you’ve paid, so to book your place:

Post a cheque made payable to Lorna Gow Dance to E. Alexandra, 32 Claremont Road, Edinburgh EH6 7NH
Paypal to swishandhips@hotmail.co.uk , sorry but to cover Paypal administration there’s an extra £1.50 on paypal payments – which means £26.50 per workshop or £46.50 for both.
If you need another way to pay, please contact Elspeth elspethalexandra@hotmail.com

Monday, January 06, 2014

Christmas, New Year, Christmas

It's Christmas Day, again. Coptic Christmas that is...  This year there have been warnings put out by embassies to avoid the churches in case of attacks by MB extremists. Thankfully, so far, no problems... And fingers and toes are crossed.

Christmas I was at the British club here in Cairo. Turkey and ham no less! Then off to another nightclub to performing my Santa costume. Swinging a giant candy cane instead of my regular saidi stick! We had a lot of fun and finally got home at 5am.

New Year I was back to British club again and more turkey and ham, followed by some sparkly group shimmys and general merriment. Then off to dance the night away at a house party. A gud new year as we'd say in Scotland, and another 5 am home time. This is more like the Cairo I know and love!

After New Year I had a performance at another house party,  very well tipping house party, and another 5am finish. A gig like that every second week and I wouldn't need to take on any other work! Of course, I would still work, since I do this job for the love of dance rather than for the money (god knows it's cost me more to be a dancer in Cairo than it's ever paid me in that respect!), but it would be nice to be in the black for a change too!

Coptic Christmas I am taking time out to actually go out and party for a change... Well. That's the idea, unless a last minute 'order' arrives... And in Cairo last minute can actually mean last minute. ....

I am looking forward to teaching my beginners class on Saturday here in Cairo too. We always have a fun time, and usually stay on after the class to have lunch together afterwards. I love the people I have met in my life through teaching dance!

Talking of loving the people I met through dance, I have especially loved this year all my Christmas and New Years wishes from China. In Chinese. Thank god for google translate. !  

So a fairly restful holiday period, compared to usual, and am having a sneaky wee holiday back in UK at the end of this month too! I say holiday, but of course I will still be fitting in a workshop in Edinburgh (what this space for details!) and in Manchester (sat 1st feb) too. Has to be done really! And yes, I will be available for a few private classes too....!

Here's wishing you and your's a merry Coptic Christmas, and a fabulous 2014.... I hope we can all fit in as much dancing in it as we want to !

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The end of the year....

What can I say? For me, it's been a hell of a year.

Wonderful things that have happened for me for work: Two month-long UK tours going to many cities I've never been before. Two Mediterranean cruises- dancing my way round the med! Teaching in JoY festival and doing teaching training programs. Performed at numerous venues around Cairo as well as the usual Pharoahs boat, taught in Shanghai for a month and been invited back...

Horrific things that have happened for work: Two 'presidents' in Egypt due to a second 'revolution'. Crippling curfews. Bureaucratic nightmares. Zero tourists.

There have been a few points in the last year where I have severely lost hope. I have had some of my darkest days.

There have been a few points where I have felt ecstatic. I have had some of my brightest moments.

I suspect 2014 will be a continuation of this volatile roller coaster. As a bellydancer in Cairo, nothing ever seems to go along smoothly or as expected. Sometimes for the good, sometimes not. But we keep doing it because those bright moments burn out the darkness.

I have become very good over my many years of living here of being able to predict all the possible outcomes in any situation. Some may just say I have become cynical. My 'cynical' response to that is , "not cynical, just realistic". All to often my worst fears have been realised. It can be very depressing, Sometimes it all seems inevitable, like I'm an actor on stage performing a rewritten drama. A tragedy. Sometimes it feels like fate has already been decreed. That life is over and I have wasted it. These are my darkest days

My brightest days are;
-when I realise I have people around me who love me and believe in me, even when I don't. You know who you are, and I thank you because I would not be here today without you.
-When I see the lightbulbs ignite in my students eyes, that amazing eureka moment.
-When dance explodes in me, from me, a zen moment, flooding my world with emotion and energy. Linking my mind, body and soul with the music and the audience. Time stands still and nothing else matters.

My wishes for 2014 are;

-To be proved wrong more often.
-To be surprised with more good than bad.
-To regain some control over the run away roller coaster that is my life.
-To hang on to and appreciate those friends that have stubbornly stood by me so far.
-To make new friends who help on my downward slides and that I can help on theirs.
-To dance more
-To teach more
-To laugh more
-To thus live and love and be happy more

so goodbye to 2013..... 

..... and be kind to us 2014....

Monday, December 09, 2013

China day 26 - all about love

What an intense week it has been.

I have learned so much about so many things. I am even managing to pick up a few new Chinese words. The main thing however is that I have seen the different attitudes between countries to 'love'. 

This week we were largely focusing on Tarab. Which meant explaining the lyrics and well as the moves for many of the great songs by om khalsoum, Abdel halim hafiz and Warda. Songs that have become if you like the bellydancers' version of 'the great American songbook' , 'the songs every bellydancer should know'.

Tarab lyrics are almost always about love. Often complex love. You will often find fantastical memories of ecstatic times shared, mixed up with anguish of being torn apart, in one song. The lyrics may seem sad, but the music sometimes sounds happy. This is a hard enough thing to explain in the UK where I understand the language and the attitudes to relationships. Here in China, my students found it difficult to cope with the extreme emotions being voiced and seem to have a much more functional attitude towards love and relationships.

They felt that it was all too much and that they could never feel these emotions, never mind express them in dance. Some of the older ones nodded understandably to many of the issues, but being from a still very conservative society, many of the younger ones could not even begin to imagine why anyone would, or could, let their heart rule their head in this way. As one student said, but 'real love is like family love'. I tried to explain that there are many types of love. It was a difficult concept for many of them to grasp. How to get into the passion of the dance when the idea of your ideal partner is that you love each other in a 'family love' way, rather than a passionate way? I am not saying their way is wrong. Not at all. It seems much safer in so many ways. Longer lasting too I suspect. I think that sums it up well actually. I am generalizing obviously since I still know so little about the people and the culture, but it seems to me that logic and safety (security) are core values whereas emotions are considered as dangerous to those. A bit like Victorian Britain maybe? Wherever it comes from, it is most defiantly on the complete opposite side of the care/passion lovescale that inspires so much of the music in Egypt, in particular Tarab! 

The students have been joking 'from Lorna we learn Bellydance, English, Arabic and Love'.

One girl asked me near the end of the week what was wrong with her because she felt like crying when she danced to a certain song. I had to hug her. I told her she was doing exactly what she should be doing. She had opened not just her ears to the music but also her heart.

I split the class in two and had each side perform Enta Omri for the other half of the class. I had tears rolling down my face. The air was thick with emotion. In 3 weeks these dancers have come so far. Shy, giggly girls have allowed themselves to express passion in their dance. That is a such huge step.  

One of my girls wrote on wechat (China's answer to Facebook), "you made us enter the music and find ourselves deeply so we can put our emotion into the music and enjoy ourselves"

Love. Tick.

Well... The beginnings of it anyway.

Next task... To feel comfortable and confident showing their 'sexy side'. The giggles are still too frequent and very un-Egyptian (well un- Egyptian bellydancer anyway!).

Oh, and the great news is that I now have at least 8 of them who are planning to come to Egypt next year to visit in the summer. Knowing that will make the goodbyes at the end of this week a little less painful for me. We have shared a lot this course. Strong friendships have been formed. Oh dear, am welling up a little just thinking about it. 

Must be positive. I have a class to teach. 

Shaabi- 'sexy' is a must..........

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

China Day 17: More Dancing

Seemingly I have a professional photographer coming to shoot me while I am teaching and going around Shanghai. It's for the PR for the next time I come here. That is good news... There is going to be a next time! Guess they must be enjoying my workshops then. I thought that they are, but you never know for sure until you know if they want you back again or not! I know I haven't written much about the actual teaching side of things yet... But I will... In meantime you have to out up with reading all about my hectic social life!!! 

In Wednesday this week I had a 'disco nap' after class, then went to the Koala Bar to meet with its owner, a lovely student of mine, Jojo, and Mei. Jojo has an Australian husband, hence the bar's name and she is a lot of fun. Those cocktails have to be tried to be believed! I won't be trying them again the night before a class! Whilst there I got chatting with a drag queen, as one does. He is a history teacher in university during the day and a fashion designer in his spare time when he is not strutting the boards of the local gay club!  It was a scream, well it would be, wouldn't it?! 

We decided that a quiet drink in a bar was not going to be enough for a night such as this, so we went to Geisha; A chic club in town where all the ladies had free entrance and free champagne. I danced solidly from the time we arrived until we left. It was a great release. One club wasn't enough, oh no. After Geisha, we headed over to Hollywood, another club where all the rich and famous go, seemingly. And I don't think I sat down there once either. I got home by 6am! So a minimum of 6 hours dancing. I loved every second of it. 

Teaching yesterday afterwards however was tough. Very tough. However, strangely enough it ended up being one of my favourite classes that I have taught yet. The students are really opening up and relaxing with me and with each other now. The atmosphere is very loving and supportive and I am enjoying getting to know these interesting and talented people. Many of the students are in the fitness industry, running gyms and yoga classes and the like. Two of the girls also have danced traditional Chinese dance to a high level. They have promised me they will dance for me after the workshop at some point....! Looking forward to that. 

At the end of the workshop I told them my story about how I got into Bellydance since they had shared their stories with everyone earlier in the week over a group lunch. They had so many questions about Egyptian culture and how the dance in particular fits into that. One man was disappointed because his dream was to be a professional bellydancer in Egypt and I had to break the news to him that it is not possible to get a work visa as a man as a bellydancer, only for women. But he consoled somewhat when I told him he could maybe be a folklorique dancer and would certainly benefit from spending some time in Cairo to learn from the dancers there and to understand the music and culture more. He is a stunning dancer and hopes to visit Egypt soon.

After class I went for a Chinese massage. They massage you with more pressure than I have ever been massaged before (one shoulder is swollen this morning!) and then they put this hot steam thing over you which puts Chinese medicine onto your body. The massage is to remove the bad energy and the medicine is to replace it with good energy. Overall a very good experience and one I would, despite the shoulder,  happily do again before I leave. Talking with the girl who had pulverised me afterwards, it turns out that she had intentionally used more pressure on me that she ever would normally because I was a foreigner and there is a belief that foreigners have more bad energy than Chinese!! I didn't really know what to make of that, but I know that if I go back she will take it easy on me, or so she promised!

Right, it's 10.30am here now and I have a melaya lef class to teach...

Monday, December 02, 2013

China Day 16: Half-Way Point

Time has changed. It is going so very fast. I just seem to blink and it's the next day! 

This past week , other than the teaching, which is every day, I have either been sleeping early which took up 3 evenings, and I mean early, like 5pm/ 7pm! I got to the point where I was silly tired from waking at 2am everyday, even if I slept at 11pm that I decided to stop trying to regulate my body clock and just sleep when I needed to. That decision was made last Friday when I went for a lovely walk round a local park with leon and some of the girls from the class then we went for food afterwards and I literally was falling asleep in my chair! I hate jet lag. I have since found out that drinking milk is supposed to help, and also so is drinking sodium with soda. I haven't tried either yet, it seems a little late now, and wish I had known these things when I arrived! 

After class Todd took me to the tailors market. A huge building, like a mall, with nothing but tailors shops! I had thought to get a winter coat made, since I had been told it was very cheap to have things made for you, it wasn't. Shanghai prices actually seem to be very expensive, unfortunately. I did however buy a few meters of different fabrics with which to make costumes with when I get back to Cairo! 

On the Saturday night I went with Mei to a hafla. 'Lets shimmy'. A hafla in Shanghai seems to be fairly similar to one in UK; Lots of bellydancers all dressed up sparkly, but the venue was too swanky for words. It was in a Thai style club in the area called the Bund which is really stunning and all the buildings are super luxurious. Two days before I had been in a jazz bar in a 1920's Art Deco style hotel with live band and the place was to die for (as were the prices!) . At the hafla there was only 3 performances all night with the rest of the time free to dance to the drums, there were 3 tabla players there, and the music, of which the same 5 songs kept repeating. Very strange. The performances were varied. No Egyptian style unfortunately. One male dancer doing tribal style, followed by a group of what I can only describe as 'oriental fantasy', you know, with the little chiffon half face veils in colours to match the costumes, and then a tribal sword dance to end the night. Everything was a little slow.. And we were thinking to leave early, but the a group of my students arrived and I hit the dancefloor with them and we ended up having a ball of a time, with a impromptu photoshoot in the lobby of the building afterwards.

The next day I went to the botanical gardens. It has been cold weather here since I arrived, getting colder everyday (down to zero degrees today) but on Sunday that was the only day we have had rain. Typical on the one day I really want the sunshine because we don't have class. Ah well... The gardens were stunning despite the rain. I loved the tropical greenhouses too. I used up all my camera battery yet again.

At night I went to the cinema to see gravity. I don't recommend it as a film at all, however, I went to see it in the IMAX cinema and that was my first IMAX experience, which I loved. The cinema was in a beautiful new designer shopping mall. I have never admired the decor in a mall before. Now I have! Oh, I also ate curry for dinner. Curry in china. My life seems very bizarre right now, even to me!

Mondays plan was to have an evening in my hotel room, doing some class planning and blog writing, but I crashed at 5pm! So the planning was instead done in the middle of the night when I was obviously, frustratingly, wide awake! At least I got my 7 hours sleep, even if it was at a strange time! Did manage a wee trip to H&M first though, and bought myself a long sleeved Tshirt dress in the colour of the moment, green. Everything I am gravitating to these days seems to be dark green and lime green. No idea why! 

Hope you are enjoying reading my shanghai stories.... I am writing them so I don't forget things I have seen and done but unless I write daily I am sure I am forgetting so much. No wonder my body doesn't want to sleep, everything is so new and different and interesting that my brain just doesn't let my body rest!