Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Saqqara



Yesterday I went to Saqqara with a couple of friends. I've been before, many times, when i used to organise groups of bellydancers to come over on dance holidays... but I haven't been for years. We had been hoping for sunshine- but for once- a cloudy day in Cairo- we don't get many- so these shots are pretty rare!!!

It was a bit too busy for my liking.( although I accept it doesn't look like it in this photo!!!) ..... but there were memorable moments. Like eating taamia and foul at the roadside and a bus of locals going by shouting out the equivalent of 'cheapskate!!!' - it was very funny! Then you have the guys inside the pyramid complex offering 'taxi' rides on their cadillac donkeys ( the Camel being the limo?).


We went over to the tombs that i have only been inside once before... I forgot how amazing they were......... a few fun pics............

No I haven't altered the direction- these funny wee men are actually doing back bends and high kicks....... whatever the dance was it looks hard work but fun!!!!!!!


This one took a while to work out........ a cow on its back with its feet tied....

But this guy with the big ears if my favourite.......................

Thursday, December 18, 2008

yuck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have heard of disgusting taxi driver incidents but thankfully never really been the victim. Yesterday I was.

I had been in khan el khalili, and I got in a taxi to Mohandiseen. The driver waited til we were on the bridge out of that area then wanted to know 'how much'.

I said 20 - should be 15 if no traffic- so figured 20 was fair and good. he went nuts. wanted 35! i refused- said if he didn't like that then stop now and we'd get another taxi. He said had to drive us to end of bridge cos he couldn't drop us on bridge.. and then demanded money- on my refusal...i got out the taxi... still refusing to give him anything since he didn't want a fair price for the journey

...
so he spat in my face!!!!!!!!!!

i was so shocked and repulsed that I didn't think quickly enough to take his number.... furious.

what can I say? i hope his taxi breaks down everyday! yuck yuck yuck.

I love Cairo..... I do I do i do..... yes- I am trying to remind myself of the good things! ( Like fateer at 1am after a night of salsa, dancing for appreciative Egyptian audiences, sunshine in december.......) yes I do love Cairo.

It is worth it. I just wish I could have a day without stress- think that why Dahab was just the break I needed- you could get in a taxi and KNOW he wasn't going to hit on you or swear at you etc etc.

Started up my arabic lessons again....I have a private tutor who comes to the house and is very good and only charges 90le for 2 hours... I had managed to learn to read and write... then hadn't had a single lesson the entire time I have worked at the Pharoahs- so had completely forgotten even the alphabet! Thankfully its coming back , albeit slowly, and am enjoying learning now that i have more confidence to use my arabic more. My grammer is still appalling.... but wahda wahda (one by one- ie step by step!).

wish me luck (in the arabic and also in only getting in nice taxis from now on!!!!!)

Monday, December 15, 2008

St Catherines

It wasn't easy to get to St Catherines from Dahab. I thought it should be, as its only and hour and half away... One bus- leaves 8.30am ( too damn early!!!!), service taxi, ie micro bus leave 11pm at night ( too damn late) and the taxi from the hotel was going to cost 250le!!!!! NO way! In the end a friend managed to baragin a taxi price for me so i got there for 130le.

The taxi driver was a friendly fun guy... although wasnt' shy to tell me that he had his bango (grass) with him and did I want to see it? totally high. thankfully since there wasn't really any traffic on the road it wasnt' too dangerous! He also wasn't wearing a wedding ring and said he didn't have a wife etc etc ( and next day when i came back with my friend Sherif in the car too he had suddenly inherited a wife and ring!!!!!!)

The interesting and stressful part of the journey is all the numerous check points. They check the drivers license about 6 times between dahab and st cats, and they checked mine too. each time saying he couldn't go or shouldn't ( he didn't have a 'taxi' licence for outside of dahab town centre) but if he brought them a phone card or sandwich on the way back that would be ok. All corruption, in the form of call credit!

At st cats there is really nothing apart from the monastary and a couple of shops and a post office. I met sherif who had arrived an hour before on the bus from Cairo and we went to a campsite called the desert fox. the people there seemed really stoned- but very nice and helpful and they fed us and we talked into the wee small hours around a campfire in a bedouin tent. Mostly in arabic ( so that was really nice practise for me- although the bedouin accent is VERY differnt from Cairo!!) The range of conversation topics reflected the vibe of the place; it went from Mobarak ( who they think is close to God) to Van Damm ( something to do with a certain karate kick he can do....) to the great bear in the sky, to demons and devils. wow.

At 1am we left the heat of the fire- put extra layers on - and started our climb to the top of Mt Sinai ( also known as Moses mountain!). We had met a girl from Malasyia (Cindy) and she joined us for the climb. Its a pretty long way ( 2285m high!)- and I was sure my leg muscles were going to give me a lot of trouble, but we took our time and it was fabulous. in the full moonlight the white rock on parts of the cliffs looked like frost or snow... we didn't need our torches until the steps near the top and most of the time we were the only people in sight. Amazing. Almost bumped into camels in the dark! We took the 'camel' route... because although the other way is more direct, with its 3750 steps it was just not an option!!


At the top of Mt Sinai there is a chapel and a mosque. sorry the pic is fuzzy- camera was still on 'mountain' setting!!! Just as we stepped onto the summit the call to prayer started from the mosque ( a small square room with one man inside!) . It was spiritual and uplifting- except that there was a man trying to to rent us blankets (for 20le!!!) and he wouldn't give it a rest so he talked all the way through the prayer which really annoyed me!!! At that point though we were the only tourists on top. Sat night is a quiet night because the monestary is closed on a sunday... and people tend to visit that in the morning when they climb down the mountain... but if all you want to do is watch the sunrise in peace- i really recommend a sat night- esp if you have the full moon to help you find your feet!!!!

The sun took a long time to rise- but it was amazing. The desert mountian looked like a set from Mordor (lord of the rings) and then when the sun was coming up it turned into a Colin Baxter photograph! Very very cold ( but we refused to pay that for a blanket!!!!) but very very uplifting and beautiful!!! I took over 100 photos and then its was hard to choose which to include here because it all felt so amazing. Looking forward to Cindy sending us copies from her camera ( which was far better than mine)! We saw a bedouin waman walk her donkeys up the same path we had been puffing and panting over on the way up- she must be super fit to do that everyday!!!
wonderful , beautiful. I'd do it again! ( but not until my calf muscles have recovered!)

We took the taxi back to Dahab ( so another 130le) but discovered that the guy from the desert fox camp could have got us on a service taxi for 50le each at 11am ( but we didn't know this when we booked our taxi!!!)

Another day of chilling on the beach (- I know- I have a hard life!) then the 10pm bus back to Cairo ( got us in at 6am) Since I had had 4 hours sleep on friday night, then climbed a mountian instead of sleep on sat night, sunday night I slept the entire 8 hour bus journey!!!!!!!!!!
Back in Cairo... and off to Salsa tonight ( trying to loosen up those muscles before work again tomorrow!)

Dahab

for years I have been hearing people talk about Dahab with such huge enthusiasim, yet I always though it was a bit OTT. yeah yeah- its chilled, you relax there.... hmmm..


IT'S true!!!!!!!! I dont know why... but the whole vibe of the place is just complete relaxation. you get NO hassle in the street, the sun is warm, the mood is respect and chill- it was just exactly what i needed to escape Cairo to!

I was nervous about travelling alone in a bus- only because i haven't done that in Egypt before. It was totally fine. cheap ( 75le one way) 8 hours, smoke free bus, AC was too high so I had to wrap myself up... but fine.

The girls came to meet me at the bus station at Dahab and we jumped into a taxi to the hotel- well - actually- we jumped into the flat-back part of a pick up truck which is what they use for taxis!!!!!! What a bizarre way to start the trip!

The hotel was on the Blue hole road, and called Dahab Paradise. It is LOVELY. One of the best organised and well run hotels I have stayed in in Egypt. the view from the balconies and from poolside was pool, palm trees, sea and Saudi Arabia very clearly visable across the water!I felt for the class of hotel it was a very good price too (250le for a twin room, then 300le for a triple) Breakfast was eggs and potato and cheese and pancakes and and- oh I am hungry just now- can't think about all that again!

The only downside of the hotel was that there is a strong wind coming from the water to the poolside- so even when the sun was hot , it wasn't very warm for sunbathing.... can imagine though that in summer that fact would be a huge benefit rather than failure though!!!! We went down to the Blue Hole to find some sheltered sun bathing places. LOTS of divers there- but when i had the dive Blue hole described to me I reconfirmed in my head that I never want to dive! the graves plaques stuck on the walls there of people who have died in the water didn't exactly encourage me either!!!! friends the next day who snorkled said they saw huge barracuda circling them.... yet another reason to really appreciate sunbathing not being in the water!!!!!!

I loved Dahab. Fun people. Relaxed lounging, drink in hand. Dancing the night away. ah- I miss it already! I realised that I haven't had a holiday holiday ( that didn't involve doing workshops, for spending time with family etc) for well over 3 years- in fact probably longer since before that my holidays were always to Cairo from Scotland!!!! I hadn't actually realised how much I needed it. Considering its not so expensive either- I think dahab will be on my 'must do' list far more often!!! Ah- chilled!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

taking a break......

3 hours from now I have to head out to the bus station to catch a bus to Dahab. I've never been there... and never travelled around Egypt on my own.. so should be exciting (lets face it- NOTHING in Egypt is boring!). I'm meeting up with girlfriends at the beach and looking fwd to some lovely days in the sun...... just packing now. Sleep will have to happen on the bus (8hour journey... but only 75le!)

I woke up this morning to the smell of blood... the cows are gone... but the gutters run deep with red floodwater. lovely. I am really glad to be getting out of town now- especially once the sun starts hitting those gutters... dread to think what they will smell like in a day or two!!

I enjoyed work tonight. 4 shows total. lots of Italians for some reason in the 1st sail... but almost all Arabs in the second... in very festive spirit!Lots of kids... so the atmosphere was light and fun... one boy ran to hide under the table when I tried to get him up to dance- was very funny!!!!People with brand new babies keep wanting me to hold them and have my photo taken with them.... its hard sometime to pull myself away and back to the dancing again at times!!

One guest on the boat tonight wanted to buy one of my saaidi costumes (the turquoise and gold one) - she said the money was no option- she just HAD to have it....but I couldnt bring myself to do that... Felt wrong somehow...to sell the costume I had just that second been performing in... plus I love it too!!! told her to check out Eman Zaki's website instead!

better go finish the packing.... maybe I'll squeeze in 2 hours sleep before I travel! I've been warned that the AC on the bus is full blast- therefore freezing- but everytime you get out the bus its roasting hot- how to dress for that journey eh?!!!

Not taking the computer with me- so no more blogs for a week... will be strange to be offline for so long- amazing (and more that a touch frightening) how addicted you can get to the internet- so i'm going cold turkey!

oh- and I have a dancer staying with me just now from Mexico who is attending Raqia's winter intensive training course this week 9 which is being held in 6th October city- miles out of town!)- so when i get back my hols I'll pick her brains and tell you all about that!!!!!

Happy Eid to all.......Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Cows

Its the Big feast again here in Cairo (aka Eid Kabeer)... the 40th day afer the end of Ramadan.
That means that all today people fasted... and tomorrow they will get up for morning prayers then kill something, either a sheep, or a cow ( or a chicken if they dont have much money!)

The festival is a celebration of Abraham's sacrifice- when he was asked to kill his son Isaac, but instead God stopped him and allowed him to use a sheep instead.

The area I live is full of cows right now, on rooftops, street corners and mainly lined up besides the butchers...... last night I couldn't get to sleep for ages cos they were moo-ing for all they were worth...... knowing their fate tomorrow its hard to listen to!!!

Last year, at the same feast, in the area i live in- a man had his 2 cows on the roof of his 7 storey building, he did something which was wrong morally, and religiously- he allowed one cow to see the other being killed. of course cow no.2- went crazy (mad cow) ... ran around and then jumped off the roof. It flew off the building (holy cow) and landed on, and killed, a man below.

Inshallah- no more repeats of THAT tomorrow morning!!!!!(wishing I had some ear plugs for the morning)!!!!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Me- Dubbed! Dancing on the Nile!

A friend found this on utube and pointed it out to me tonight!!!!

It's weird seeing me dance to this music- but it sort of works somehow, in some strange way.... obviously i prefer my own band and the music I am actually dancing to!!!!

The tannoura is Yaseen.

The boat is the Golden pharoah, the Nile, Cairo!!!

( in case the link doesn't come up automatically you can find it on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UX7SjhcM3Hg)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Playing it by ear

I love that in Cairo I can have no plans for a day at all and then it can end up being a totally packed long, interesting day!

For example. Last Saturday I had no plans whatsoever… sitting on the balcony chatting with a friend who'd come to stay from Canada… so we went for lunch (Chillis- an American diner which does the biggest salads you can imagine amongst other things!). Great. My lodger, Christine, then joined us, even better. So far pretty normal anywhere…

Then we went to the BCA (British Community Association) club, which is just walking distance from my place. You pay an entrance fee to get into the bar, and then the drinks are really cheap ( esp. between 6-7pm- the happy hour- 2 for 1- feels just like home!!!!!) Anyway- its not the worlds most exciting of venues.. but its easy, cheap, hassle free.

So Christine and I then decided we wanted to make a night of it (remember at this point I'd only left the house to go for lunch!) . We grabbed a cab to Sawy centre ( the cultural wheel) and took pot luck- what's on tonight? Are there tickets? Oh its started?- great – lets do it! 30le – ok.

We had no idea what to expect and I have to say I didn't expect Anoushka. She was fabulous!!!!!!!!!! She is Cairo born by Armenian parents and she sings like an angel. I just LOVED her voice. But what Christine and I loved even more than that was her sheer talent in performance skills- a true professional. She held the audience in the palm of her hand. She orchestrated her band throughout and danced as well as sang. Not a bad dancer I have to say either- all very much oriental in style (although some salsa footwork going on in some songs!). I was surprised to see someone dance so much while singing- often Egyptian singers feel that to keep their status as singer, rather then the lower status of dancer, they have to stand still to perform ! Anoushka's lighting technician was on the ball too. Lovely figure, beautiful dress, fun, lively, deep personality and of course a range of songs which included ballads, oriental pieces and feisty salsa inspired numbers. The vast majority of the music just frustrated me so much because I desperately wanted to jump out my seat and dance!!! The qanoon player was my favourite in the band. A Wonderful show… I'd go back for more any day. In fact she inspired us both so much that we went surfing online to find out more about her and everything I read just made me feel like I wanted to be friends with this woman! Strong, independent, fun and talented. I'd love to know more of her story!

However, the night did not end there- we wandered over the bridge to the Cairo Jazz CafĂ©.. where they were having a talent show! Young bands playing oriental/Arabic music. You could vote for your favourite at the end of the night! Most weren't so great- but 2 bands really stood out… 'el '7hwa' and 'the city band'. Up and coming talent to watch out for in the future! It was very interesting people watching too- esp. the ones who had their mummy's with them- so sweet!

Oh- and then we walked down the road - not something I really recommend to female travelers- not in Mohandiseen anyway- the curb crawling is horrific- and one car nearly ran us over as we tried to cross the road by reversing at top speed just to get a better look at us!!!) Ending up in the 'house of do-nuts' was a little like the equivalent of the chippie or kebab shop back home– what a way to end a day/night out- with a cup of tea and a fresh do-nut!!!!

I'd left the house for lunch at 2pm, and we stumbled back in at 4.30am. That elastic Cairo time just keeps stretching and stretching.

Sorry about lack of photos from these events- since I had expected to only be eating lunch out, I funnily enough didn't take my camera with me- really must learn my lesson from this and carry it around more!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Not a good meeting point!

I know it happens here, I know it happens all over the world, and call me naive... but I was surprised at the openess of the prostitution at the Cairo Sheraton!

when I went there after work on sat night, I had my costume bag with me and was fully made up ( of course coming from work) so I guess i may have looked suspicious... but I got a shock when I walked to the lounge area opposite the reception, where i swear, about 12 guys, mainly arbas- all sitting alone, all sat bolt upright and looked straight at me....... like a family of mear cats! It was frightening- and pathetic. I made a very quick dash back to the reception to stand and wait for my girl friends!!!

Then we sat and watched a girl (in very obvious 'working girl' attire) stand in the centre of the lounge.... look around, then make a phone call.... to which one old guy answered his mobile and she wandered the long way around the lounge and went to sit beside him........... it couldn't be more blatant if she had just shouted out ' which one of you losers booked me then???' !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

seemingly it is not unknown for girls just to cold call rooms in top hotels and hang up if a woman answers and ask if services are required if a man answers.!!!

scary.

But like I say- I guess it happens all over. And at least the remaining guys just restrained themselves to staring at my friends and I , and apart from moving literally to seats opposite so they could stare even more pointedly and annoyingly, they didnt actually approach!

I suggest NOT to arrange to meet female friends in that particular reception point, I certainly wont in future!!!!

Shame on you Sheraton for turning a blind eye.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Egypt's Elastic time

'How do you find living here in Cairo?' Its the question I get asked all the time....

Well…. My answer is always- 'It's never boring!'

It's true. You can have days which nothing seems to happen in, but actually these are just rest periods between the manic, impulsive throbbing of the other days!

Life doesn't have a daily structure, there is no 9-5, no Monday-Friday (or even Sunday-Thursday), well, not in my life anyway…. !

For example, yesterday I woke up in time to teach a private class, 11am.

Then we went to the Nile Group festival, my student and I, so she could buy herself a costume from all the stalls they have there. Since she is only beginning to dance she didn't want to spend a lot and it took hours to sift through all the options ( literally…. ) but she managed to buy a lovely little bra belt, with skirt set for only 400le ( around 40)- Thanks to Eshta discounts!!.

However the day had disappeared doing that, and I had to rush home to get ready for work.
I arrived at 7.15pm… since I was told the guests were arriving at 7.30pm… but they played with the evening program ( it was a private party on the pontoon who were mostly Egyptians and Europeans celebrating that days motor sports competitions and doing their awards ceremony) so I was sat in the ladies toilets ( oh the glamour of it all) until 10pm before going onstage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3 hours in a loo. Thank god for my friend Emily who took 2 hours out of her Saturday night to sit with me… actually we had quite a laugh, with my dresser giving us her imitations of all the famous dancers styles.. she really is a talented and funny girl!!!

Then the performance…. Lots of fantastic feedback about how they had ever before seen a foreigner dance better than Egyptian etc etc ( one even so brazen to suggest that I could teach Fifi Abdou a few moves- I WISH ! I quickly put that woman right!) … however, it was all very nice to hear… all rush rush rush (after 3 hours waiting) on stage NOW.........

Even my usual structure of work was altered because they decided just as I was starting my tabla solo (The last dance of my show) - that they wanted me to do extra…. So I did the longest tabla solo EVER… actually- it was a fun, interesting challenge to come up with new stuff!!!- and THEN they decided I should have my photo taken with all the finalists of the event, so another song and off I go….!!!

Took a cab 11pm to Sheraton where I sat with 2 lovely dancers from London (who are planning to have me to London in March to teach workshops and perform- watch this space for info!). We had a fantastic time drinking tea, eating chocolate cake and discussing life, men, universe… and of course all things bellydance ( including discussing the idea of opening a nursing home for bellydancers- so that even when we are old and grey we can sit together covered in sequins and listen to the piped arabic music in the toliets!! Shabbi music would have to be banned though- too dangerous to hip joints!!- oh the lengths to which you can take that idea!!!) We had enough to keep us glued there chatting and laughing until 4am!!!!!!!!!!

Bed at the same time as the morning call to prayer. Again.

Very glad I don't have to be up in the mornings to get a child off to school or anything like that though. I don’t think I could exist to a strict 9-5 timetable now, even if my life depended on it!!!!

The time here just seems to stretch and contract depending on what you have to do in it.

Egypt's Elastic time. I love it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

U tube

I thought this might be exciting....

but its only 1min long! so all you get is my transition between saaidi into baladi.... not the drum solo as I had hoped!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLpAY207RB8

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nile Group Festival and Lorna on the Pharoahs!

I can't believe it- the 1st opening night I have missed for ages and ages.... :-(

My friends who attended the opening night of the latest Nile group festival say it was a good night. A singer to start ( wasn't there so can't confirm who) kicked off night before Hanadi, Asmahan and then Lucy all performed. Lucy being the highlight of the night. I am gutted to have missed it.

I've been ill for a few days, UTI- not pleasant- but was impressed with hospital treatment and tests etc. of course NHS in UK is better all the way- BUT although I had to pay for everything here- at least I was seen immediately, no waiting AT ALL.

The main down side is that here the doctors word is LAW- no-one questions his decision.... well, I did! I refused IV pain relief- they seemed to think i was mad and refused to listen to me at first! and then I questioned what every drug was for.... the question was so unexpected that for a long while the doctor couldn't understand it.... eventually with a little medical term dropping by my friend sugrah ( a nurse in UK!) he did answer all my questions, albeit grudgingly! Its an amazing difference between here and UK ,where by law a doctor has to explain all drugs to you and why they are being prescribed!

I felt pricewise I got a very good deal - but I would hate to be on an average Egyptian wage and be in the same situation. I went to emergancy paid 200le for consultation, 25 for urine test, 35 for blood test, 70 for xray and then returned today for an ultrasound- 200le. Ultrasound didn't just do the check for kidney stones- they checked size, shape, normality etc of all the organs!!! very interesting! anyway- I am on the mend... and just need to drink even more water daily than I did anyway ( can't really see how this is possible, but refuse to go through all that pain again!!!!!!!!!!!!)

so all better now and ready to dance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There are a few people calling me who are here attending the fesitval and want to come see me dance while they are in Cairo- so figured i better put my schedule for next 2 weeks online so people can find me!

Come see me dance on the Pharoah boats ........( beside the Four Seasons hotel, Giza- 15mins by taxi, from the hotel hosting the Nile group festival!!!)

19th Nov- Nile Pharoah
20th Nov- Nile Pharoah
22nd Nov- Nile Pharoah

25th Nov- Golden Pharoah
26th Nov- Golden Pharoah
27th Nov- Golden Pharoah
28th Nov- Golden Pharoah

set price for open buffet is 250le.
sail includes my show, tannoura and 'western' band ( and food and cruise ,of course too!)

Times vary- best to check when you book- but make sure you get the boat you want- otherwise you'll have a different dancer!!!
NB- usually Nile Pharoah is 7.45pm sail and sometimes a late sail too. The Golden Pharoah is a 7pm sail and a 9.45pm sail.

Call 02 3570 1000 to book. ( oh and when you book best to say you want a table by the stage if you are coming especially for the dance!)
hope to dance for you soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween in Cairo


...... was a lot of fun. 'Tana quraya' is halloween in Arabic.

I went to a salsa party night in the Imperial boat, Zamalek ( they have a regular salsa night there now every friday) and for a change I dressed up-

I dont normally do that sort of thing... but Cairo is having a positive influence on my sense of fun. People here do know how to let their hair down!

as the pics can show...............





Actually something which might be of interest to people living here- Salsa nights in Cairo.... where to go to dance the night away...

Monday- Nile Maxim, Zamalek
Tuesday- The Place, Zamalek
Wednesday- Dice Club, Agouza
Friday- The Imperial, Zamalek
Saturday- The Boss pub, Maadi

most start dancing around 10pm ( often with classes prior to that) and have a set enterance price which includes a soft drink. This list is not exclusive... but they are the main big ones in the centre of the city!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Fellow dance blogger

I have a friend here in Cairo who is studying dance in Egypt, in particular social dance rather than professional performance dance, for her PhD.

She has been blogging on her Cairo moments and there are a few entries about me and some of the other dancers she has seen here too!

Since she isn't lving here as such, or working as a dancer here, she can often be more upfront and open about her feelings on certain things than I feel I can be. worth a read!

http://www.skirt.com/blog/7160

Friday, October 31, 2008

Rhanda at the sheraton

When I had my friends over from Scotland to stay last week we were desperate to see Rhanda Kamel......... but unfortuantly she wasn't working any of the nights we were able to go to the Maxim where she is currently performing- so when we heard that the Aladin restaurant in the Cairo Sheraton had Rhanda performing at 10pm we guessed it would be too good to be true- and it was!

The dancers name there is Rhanda - but she was certainly not THE Rhanda!









It was the usual chewing gum routine ( literally!- her jaws moved more than her hips) until she decided to get me up to dance.......i did............ ( and yes- i did- even in those shoes!!!)


after that she thankfully upped the anti somewhat and we got some nice dancing from her.



Funny how knowing you have dancers in the audience can help you raise your bar ( works for me too- I LOVE having dancers come see me!!!!)

It was really funny when we left at the end that they had closed the sign announcing her dancing that night- it was like they had put her to bed- all tucked up! so sweet!

confused.........

ok......... I am amazed and surprised.

my mobile phone was found- in the gardens of the place where it was stolen.... totally fine apart from the battery having been removed!!!!!!

how bizarre is that?

Cairo.... a mad crazy city.. which will often frustrate and annoy and tire you out............ but NEVER bore you!

The day I understand this place and all its goings on....... oh- i dont know. never.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gutted - again.........

well, now I have time with all my visitors having returned to their normal lives, I had been really looking fwd to settling down to some serious blogging. Unfortunatly the 1st of these is yet again a complaint of breach of trust.

I went to salsa last night at The Place. It's a nice crowd and I like going there because people are so friendly. However, last night my bag was stolen- probably by one of these 'friendly' fellow salsa dancers.

It had my wallet with money and credit cards, my house keys and my mobile phone.

The security eventually found the bag dumped in the grounds outside, still magically with my credit cards in my wallet and my house keys. (Thank God!)

They took 200le- but left me 100le ( I guess they didn't want to be too mean?) and of course the mobile phone ( new - only a month old) is gone. The phone less important than the photos and texts and of course numbers stored on it. wish they had left me the sim card along with the bag!!!!!!!!!

So someone I dance with......... well, in our group anyway, is such a low life theif. I am just too trusting.

One of the guys at salsa was explaining that if I go to the police with my serial number from the phone, then they can track the person that has it as soon as they try to insert a new sim card. I se a HUGE flaw however in this argument- that I would have to go through the trauma of going to the police. well- thats just not going to happen is it?!

Hopefully i will be able to get my own number back- but that will now have to be my job for this afternoon......... but in the meantime- friends- please email me your mobile number- AGAIN!!!

Once I get over this I'll try and blog some of the good stuff thats been happening!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

'sex' on the streets

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7682951.stm

I have just read this in the BBC news page and think you should have a look too. why? cos Its daily life here in Cairo. the part I really HATE!
Its constant. I have been taking my 3 female visitors around this crazy city all week... and they love the hussle and bustle.......... but the hassle is another topic altogether!

curb crawled, constant sexual comments- its exhausting. everyday - without fail. children too- the under ten years olds are the ones most likely to go for a grope. tell me- where do they learn that this is ok?????? grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. men. ( actually to call them that is an insult to many men around the world who do understand how to act properly- this behaviour in the streets of cairo is not that of men, but of animals who cannot control their desires and feel its ok to bully and abuse women)

rant over- lots of good stuff here too ( thank god- otherwise I'd be OUT!)
more good stuff to be blogged soon..........

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lubna in scotland!

ok- so I figure I am currently in the best place ever to learn dance.........

BUT Raqia is in UK teaching in JOY this weekend. and Lubna is in Scoltand next month.....

http://www.bellydancedivas.co.uk/index_files/LubnaEdinburgh.htm
"If you want cutting edge Modern Egyptian from a proper full-time choreographer—this is it. The best bellydancers in Egypt have all been coached by top choreographers—now you can enjoy this. Lubna has over 20 years experience of teaching and choreography, and her most famous patron was Nagwa Faoud." Caroline, Bellydance Divas.
Tickets can be purchased through, and contact with Caroline made via the website "BellyDance Divas" <bellydancedivas@hotmail.com> so if you are in Scotland in November- GO!!!!!!!


so I guess if you want to learn from the top - you can in UK too! ( although obviously I am in Cairo hehe!)

Bizzare thing I saw yesterday-
a carpet, ( like a cut off of old carpet) which had been used as a canvas and painted on top off- MOST bizzare!!!!!! they were selling them in the mall in the four seasons hotel! very very strange- I'll try and get in there with my camera to prove it to you at some point!

By the way - for anyone in Cairo just now... I am working EVERY NIGHT ( on the Nile pharoah and Golden Pharoah boats) and pften day time too ! I've done 21 sails in the last 10 days, I am full of the cold and feeling down- and KNACKERED! thankfully the dancing is going ok ( although admit I really didn't do my best tonight) but generally I am having fun on stage. lots of Egyptian and arab women wanting me to kiss their babies ( wish I could - just scared to give this cold to all the infants of Cairo- might end up as a killing of the 1st born!)

oh- tip for going out in Cairo. If you haven't discovered it yet- the Nile Dragon boat ( near my work) has been painted white and turned into a huge Trianon cafe- it has the entire ground floor and you can sit either in the air con- or 'outside' right on the nile. its a 50le minimum charge- but a fab menu and situation! salads in bread basket, soup in bread 'bowl' and caramel cheesecake all highly recommended!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

grrr- number frustration

I took my new mobile phone to a shop tonight to get it unlocked- they promised all the data would remain- they WIPED ALL MY NUMBERS!!!!!!!!!! I am stranded!

please- all my friends who read this- please send me an sms to my Egyptian number (or emial me) with your number so I can save it !!!

so- I have had house guests for the last 4 nights- am now alone til thursday when the next lot of guests arrive... and working EVERY NIGHT. really glad to be working though. have a new Org player (what they call keyboards here!) and he is very good- unfortunalty he seems to know different versions of lots of the songs I dance to- so i am improvising on stage a lot more than usual! keeping me on my toes though (literally and figuratively). Also he doesn't yet know my entrance music- which is a shame, cos it was a lot nicer than the one I am having to fall back on! Thankfully i have had a run of really good audiences, so workwise things are going OK.

Monday, October 06, 2008

West Midlands tour

I've been back in Cairo nearly a week now- and there is lots to write about, but 1st a whistle through of my tour in West Midlands!!!

I went down to Birmingham on my last weekend before heading back to sunnier climes, and stayed with a friend there. We went out to do lots of shopping of course!), and what stuck me about the place was this HUGE mix of nationalities. I am not used to that. In Scotland there are so few 'foreign' faces, and also in Cairo- the same. The mix in that part of the UK was stimulating to the eye! In one clothes shop queue, I spied at least 20 different nationalities (despite the fact that they all might actually be 'British' )- it was a long queue!



Out with 2 friends (one Jamacian origin, one Pakistan) we were nicknamed the 'United colours of Benetton'!!!- 3 nationalities together.
The mix is refreshing and interesting and I really enjoyed being part of it.
Maybe even more so after my experiences here in Cairo and at home; one as the minority and one as the majority. It was nice just to be part of the mix.

I performed at a Salsa Brava night one night… went well, I think, most feedback was good anyway. I didn't feel very good about my own dance- but am beginning to accept that maybe I am just a little too much of a perfectionist….

The workshops in Birmingham were fantastic- I REALLY enjoyed myself. We had a fabulous huge venue, fitness first, and the people who came were lovely. I really got into it and enjoyed the workshop possibly more than them (although again feedback was great- so I'll not put words into others mouths). Some emotional moments too.










We had quite an Arabic night… at the Moroccan restaurant, Zagora and there was a dancer there. Not really sure she knew what had hit her though when we all got up to join in!!!!!!!!!

















................ Then, after that, we ended up with a late night at a Syrian restaurant, Syriana, with wine and sheesha and debka dancing.


















A very good night- not sure I got that debka though at all- was laughing my head off the entire time- IMPOSSIBLE to count! was fun trying to talk in Arabic again too- hadn't realised how much I had missed it!

Coventry was a new place for me to teach in, and the teacher based there, Diane Cox was just lovely and supportive, even cancelling a workshop she had planned for that weekend so that she could send all her students to me. VERY supportive and some really lovely dancers there too!

Then my 3rd city in one day… Lisa (a lovely dancer and teacher from Birmingham) had found out about an Arabic night in Manchester so we headed on up to see the 'Nile Band' perform in the Iguana club. I managed to restrain myself at 1st- but before very long I ended up on stage entertaining everyone (surprise surprise!) I really enjoyed myself- LIVE music in UK !!! fab. I was sorely missing my band back in Cairo by this point! I got a lovely reception from the audience, and the band, and it was nice dancing in UK to an audience so enthralled! I was once told, by someone who knew what he was talking about, that I'd never make money from dance- because I love it too much- ie I 'give it away' free. But you know what- I don’t care. Its about so much more than the money! (although I am not knocking that either!!!!)

I made a lovely discovery in Manchester. When I had been watching some of the other ladies up on the dance floor do their thing (before I took over!) I picked out 2 or 3 that I really thought had something special. When I spoke to them after- turns out they go to workshops with my teacher Sara Farouk, whenever she is in Manchester! Amazing how a teachers influence shines though in a good student! Credit to the teacher!!!!

Really enjoyed my time in West Midlands- and looking forward to returning (hopefully in March '09). Thank you to everyone who made that weekend possible, Sugrah, Lisa, Diane, Salsa Brava and all the guys in Zagora and Syriana and in the Nile Band!

Friday, September 19, 2008

pics... and Video!

If you go to this link
http://www.andre-elbing.de/pixlie/pixlie.php?action=showgallery&pfad=BD422+2008-06-27+Ahlan+Wa+Sahlan+Opening+Gala+03+Fashion+Show+Amira+Katan
you can see the photos taken during the fashion show at Ahlan we Sahlan this year... I was modelling Amera el Kattan designs..... some lovely costumes!


OK... it was bound to happen at some point......... somebody has filmed me on their mobile phone at a party I dance for at New Year in a club in Cairo 07/08 and stuck it on Utube. Its not the best recording ever... and its not the best dancing i have ever done (was pretty difficult to move actually with people crowding in on me on every side- I was supposed to have bouncers and they didn't appear so i am somewhat more restrained than i would normally of been...) but enough excuses... I decided after a fellow dancer ( Thanks Marte) brought it to my attention to stick the link on here.... so here goes- the 1st video of Lorna performing on her blog!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwOSdJEoAeg

I guess now I'll have to get a recording of me on stage with my band and boys to show off what i can do with a bit more space! I have never done it before now because I am such a perfectionist that i am never happy with any film of me!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

all about me !

Normally this blog is me writing about my experiences and my thoughts on dance and life in general, but for a change, and because I was so overwhelmed by these responses,I thought I would include all the lovely feedback i got from the dancers in Leeds. To let you all know how wonderful people think I am!!!!

At a time when i am really having a crisis of confidence and questioning what I am doing with my life... these comments brought home to me that i am doing exactly what i should be doing!!!! Thank you girls for your glowing words- i am overwhelmed!!! Oh- and I have added in a few photos taken that weekend by the lovely Sabrina!


“I thought Lorna was a beautiful performer who knew how to get very close to the audience without being threatening. She looked like she was really enjoying herself as we all were. I loved the tartan and homage to Scotland - very funny!
I felt like I learnt a lot in just an hour with her - wish it had been longer! She explained stuff in a really useful way I could get my head around. Can't wait to see her perform again!”

Nicola Brown, Leeds


“I was so nervous when I finally said yes to a private session with Lorna. It was such a good introduction seeing her dance the night before - my fears were calmed - her performance was enchanting, I loved her skill of less quantity but huge quality in each move - such strength and impact - less is more as they say. She also bewitched us with her humour, her lovely sense of fun, beautiful smile and her ability to reach us all through her dance. And those shimmies layered over camels, hits, circles - wow!
I was surprisingly calm for my session - we seemed to be on the same wave length completely which was a great start and I understood exactly what she was getting at - and I hope vice versa. She was uncannily astute in her perception of me as a person and said some very spookily true things about my character which in turn helped me to interpret into my dance! I didn't feel embarrassed or self conscious - she danced very little but talked a lot - I was all over the studio like a woman possessed- I felt liberated and empowered at last with my dancing! No more retiring mouse for me - watch out on that dance floor! Lorna - you are a star!!! Can’t wait to see you at JoY 2009. Thank you”

Jane Coello, Leeds


“Lorna was just WOW had me drooling over those undulations!!”
Nicky Davis, Leeds


“I was given a private lesson with Lorna for my birthday (cool present huh!) after watching her perform the night before I was so excited about my lesson. I was sort of nervous too. Like most people who dance only for fun, I can be a bit self conscious - so I wasn't sure if it would be intimidating, with only two of us in the 'class' there would be no where to hide! I needn't have worried. Lorna is so warm and giving it all seemed totally natural. I wanted help with shimmies and what to do with my arms, as well as tips for feeling less shy dancing in front of others. After one (too short!) hour I felt Lorna had successfully covered all of this and more. I had some top tips and techniques to take away with me, and I honestly feel that my dancing is already the better for it.”
Nicola Wild, Leeds


“Lorna’s performance had me completely transfixed to the point that I found myself open-mouthed on more than one occasion! She was absolutely terrific and mesmerising to watch. I loved every minute of the show and I cannot wait to see her again – what a woman!

With regards to the private lesson I shared with my good friend Ellie, I was delighted that Lorna was able to give us an hour of her time for some very valuable, personal feedback. Everything that Lorna said I have taken on board and will aim to improve upon. I know that I’m not just speaking on behalf of myself when I say this, but Lorna was an inspiration and I hope to one day be half as good as she is.”

Beth Hallam, Leeds


“I really enjoyed watching Lorna perform on Saturday, she's such a great dancer and her personality and feeling for the music shone through her dancing. She is also a supportive and generous teacher and I found my lesson with her very inspirational.”
Helen Rix, Leeds

.............. and there was me worried about how a UK audience,who didn't know me,would respond! aaawwww shuks.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dancing

Thats it.... its official. Once you learn how to bellydance you can never go to a club and dance 'normally' ever again!

I hit the town, in Edinburgh, on friday night with my friend Simone, and we danced til we dropped... but what was amazing was discovering how many different music types a shimmy and hip drop can fit into, and don't even mention the camels!!!! A great night and exactly the stress relief I need right now! My back didn't need it though- I managed to pull something by sneezing! thats what your body does to you when you dont dance for 5 days in a row ( well thats how my body repays me for ignoring it anyway!) Thank god for the pain relieving qualities of red wine!

I have been asked for private classes from so many students and feel so bad because I haven't yet done any since I am up to my armpits trying to spend quality time with my family. Finding it hard to revert to the UK time urgency lifestyle... still on Cairo 'take it easy' mode.... better get it together before I end up having to go home again!!!!!!!!!

oops- there- said it - 'home' being Cairo.

Of course, when in Cairo i write and talk about Edinburgh as being 'home' . So does that mean I am lucky to have 2 homes- or does it mean I never really feel at home wherever I am???????? Hmmmm

A quick note re workshops.... Dundee, Birmingham and Coventry and all beginning to book up well... so if you are interested in attending any of these get your bookings in asap before its too late. ...

The workshop in Birnam ( a new venue for me to teach in- but looks like a fabulous one) on sat 20th Sept needs your booking TODAY.... since, as a council led initative, if there aren't enough people booked in advance it will be cancelled... so if you were planning on coming and just haven't done anything about it- then contact the organisers ( see earlier post with details) NOW since Tuesday will be too late!!!!!

oh and finishing this post with good news......... Just managed to get a new workshop arranged in Penicuik for this month... Open level- NO complete beginners!

6.30-8.30pm
Tues 23rd Sept
The Townhall, Penicuik.

If you are interested in booking or to know more ( and remember I am not teaching in Edinburgh this trip- so this is the closest thing to it!!) then contact Cat asap on penicuik_bellydance@hotmail.co.uk .

Monday, September 08, 2008

Great British Weather!

well- I have been back in Scotland for nearly a week now... busy catching up with business, and family and friends... I thought it would be no problem at all to get around all the people i want to see in a month, but at the speed i am going at I guess a month is nowhere near long enough to see everyone i want to see- panic! And then there is the shopping.... mum and I have already been checking out the sales.... 'Monsoon sale'- nothing beats it (although could do without the monsoon type weather which accompanied it!).

I took the train to Leeds on saturday to teach a weekend of private classes and to perform for the dance crowd down there. Unfortunatly there were huge floods and my 3 hour train journey became 7 and half hours!!!!!!!!!!!! Fields looked like lakes with so much water sitting on top of them... gardens flooded by overflowing river banks. I felt that God was giving me all the rain i had missed in the whole Cairo summer over the course of one day...........oh how I missed the Cairo sunshine... and as for the supposed classes that day, grrr..... didn't happen did it. Was interested to note though that I seemed a lot more patient than my fellow travellers- my 'waiting 'time in Cairo is already paying off in my temperment by the looks of things. I was much calmer and cheerier than i would have been before I moved to Cairo, thats for sure!

However - even despite the horrific journey- it was totally worth it, the crowd in Leeds were just wonderful. They have a lovely bar/indian restaurant called Spice where they have live bellydancing every thursday evening and they put on a special night for me going along on the saturday. They even supplied me with Adam for the evening- a fabulously talented and intuitive arabic drummer- we did a really spur of the moment drum solo which was shimmylicious- Thanks Adam!!!

Its funny how a dance crowd in UK that dont know you react when they 1st see you dance- a real mix- many girls smiling and cheering and shouting out even... but others looking at you in a serious, almost intimidating manner. As a performer its hard to know whether they are mentally critisising you, or busy concentrating trying to work out how the heck you just did that last move!!!! Even after all these years i still really appreciate the comments at the end of the show which help me know whether to feel happy or sad after a performance !!!!!!!!! So a tip for all you dancers out there- even if you are concentrating on working out the moves (bless you- thats me watching Rhanda!) - try and stick a smile on your face for the benefit of the performer!!!!!!! ;-)

The whole night was a total joy including the chat in the car and the pizza with champagne!!! ! What a fun and welcoming group of girls, a very well organised and planned weekend of events (Thanks Sabrina!) and some really stunning dancers too- looking forward to seeing them next year again, and also at the JOY festival in April! ( photos of the performance night to follow as soon as I receive them!)

Better get back to babysitting now.......... my nephew Sam is 2 and a half years old, and getting really cheeky and funny. A real character! He will make it really hard for me at the end of the month to want to leave Edinburgh and return to Cairo. Wish I had some Cairo sun so we could be out playing in the garden... rather than stuck indoors with a lousy head cold, but I am not really complaining..... just focusing on enjoying my time with him as much as possible. oops- he's waking up- better run.......................!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Workshop in Perth and Kinross

another full day of workshops while I am home in Scotland, including a 2hour complete beginners class. so even if you dont live in the area- why not make a day of it and come to one of the most beautiful areas in Scotland and learn to shake your stuff!!!!!

Sat 20th Sept- Birnam Workshops.

Complete Beginners 10-12am -only £15 for 2 hours!

Improvers-Advanced 1-4pm -only £20 for 3 hours!!!

A lovely new town, and venue for me to teach in and very good prices- so take advantage of this offer while there are spaces if you can! (I'll be driving up from Edinburgh for the whole day- so if you want to come and catch a lift up there with me then you'd be more than welcome- I have 3 spaces in the car!)

Venue;Birnam Arts Institute, Station Road, Birnam, Perth and Kinross PH8 0DS

To book send a cheque made payable to 'Perth and Kinross Council'- for more info contact Karole on 01738 477 834.


No workshops planned for Edinburgh or Glasgow- so if you live in these areas and hope to learn from me this time round it'll mean travel- sorry for that... but hope you make it to either Birnam or Dundee! Both lovely venues!!!

Workshops planned for Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness among others, in March 2009!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

superstitions............

I had a very interesting conversation with the woman who does my hair removal yesterday.

hair removal= 'sweet' or 'Helowa', ie lumps of toffee which get rubbed onto legs then ripped off with hair attached.

anyway- she was telling me that her grandmother swore by one remedy to ensure a girl wasn't hairy.
When a baby girl was born- you should kill a crow, cut its throat, and rub its blood onto the baby girls legs and arms.................seemingly, if you do this she will grow up completely hair free! ( obviously you take care not to spill any of the blood on her head!!!)


another interesting thing she did was when i was just about to go out the door in a new costume, she put her hand, spread out on the door post. The 'hamsa' the '5' to protect from jealousy, and the touching wood being important too! she was also telling me that sometimes you touch a wooden table on the top and then on the bottom too- so you have touched wood from both side so protecting yourself from all angles!!!! Guess thats where our expression 'touch wood' comes from too!

she also said I should give money to poor people just before ramadan- because then their prayers to God would work to help me and my family too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I explained that if I was to give money to poor, its because I wanted to- not becuase I wanted added bonus from their prayers.

Another one was that, in the country, where you make your own bread rather than buy it- you must offer the seive you have used to sift the flour with to your guests, otherwise when they leave the house then money and jewellary and everything in the house might leave too.......... assuming I understaood that one right anyway ( not sure what arabic for seive is!!!)

more to come on this vein......................... very interesting!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bellydance costumes

GREAT news for lovers of Bellydance costumes....

the wonderful Amira el Kattan ( aka Pharonics costumes) now is accessible direct and online!

Their website is blocked access from Egypt ( to stop other designers copying their stunning designs) but for everyone elsewhere you should be able to see what they have got and place your orders ( and no I dont get commission!!! ;-) ) !

I haven't seen the website yet (obviously since I am here in Egypt) so looking forward to having a look next week when I am in Scotland!

go have a look and see what you think........ and let me know!

www.Pharaonixofegypt.com

( I just bought 2 new costumes from her today which I am going to trial run tonight.... planning to bring them to UK to perform in there, so hopefully you'll get a chance to see them soon!!!!)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kindness, Fire again and capturing your audience!

It's ok.... I am NOT going to pack it all in!

I was really down after the theft of my Gold Bangle... but the response I have had to that posting has totally reconfirmed my faith in human nature. So So So many people have emailed me, mostly people I dont even know, to sympathise and try to cheer me up. You really have been wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to show that people are essentially good and do care, and that the person at work who took the gold from me, is an exception rather than the rule!!! Bless you all!

The Fire also got a lot of comments too.... addition to that info was that seemingly there were flammable liquids inside the building ( whether intentional or accidental no-one seems to know) and also that despite being a government building- the building itself had no insurance! It also is a worrying state of affairs that fire officers had to be called in from outside of Cairo , from as far afeild as Alexandria, to help put it out! and that was a public building, on a wide main street........ heaven helps the inhabitants of Shubra, or Hussain ( poor areas with narrow lanes at times rather than streets!) should an incident ever happen there...........

Oh- and heres a tip for dealing with less than appreciatives audiences.......... here's what I have discovered from over and year and a half dancing on a boat on the Nile.... no matter how strict a muslim from saudi for example, or how jealous a woman from wherever.... Everyone responds well if you focus on the woman and children, rather than the men. OK, so its not rocket science... but when I turn around and see in the eyes of women dressed head to toe in black ( where its only the eyes that can be seen!) It's amazing... I look straight at them, I joke with their kids, I practically ignore their man, and suddenly the atmosphere is relaxed and fun........ for anyone finding they have a tough audience- I recommend it!!!

It can help resolve problems before they start too- one dancer this week on the boat ( not me) watched amazed, as a wife ( in Niqab- the full black outfit) turned round from her meal to discover her husband smiling and clapping and watching the dancer- so filled with rage, she slapped him full in the face right there at the table!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Political awareness- in 3 books...

I have never been a politically minded person... never enjoyed watching the news or reading the paper. There- its out, I have admitted it.

Living here has changed me in that respect slightly, not hugely, but a definate change. I think the thing is that to me, at home in UK politics are all much of a muchness.... it doesn't seem to make much real difference to the people on the street who is in government, they all have good stuff and bad stuff and vary just slightly on policy. ( i know a lot of people, and some good friends, will argue these points- but thats how I , as an ignorant to politics sees it- sorry!)

Here it is VERY difference. People are hugely interested in politics- not just of their own country but of the whole Middle East. Every slight change seems to affect peoples lives hugely on a personal level. I became aware of my own ignorance.

In particular my ignorance of 2 major 'civil' wars. Lebanon and Israel/Palestine. The problems have been going on in these countries longer than I have been alive and it seemed naive of me to pretend they weren't happening anymore... so I trotted down to Diwan- my favourite bookshop in Cairo and decided to see what I could learn.

'The Lemon Tree' by Sandy Tolan is a FABULOUS book which discusses the Arab v's Jewish issues from a personal, religious and political viewpoint. One minute it is telling the story through the eyes of a Jewish family forced to flee Europe due to persecution there, and you really feel for their dilema. Next you are inside a Palestinian family home and hearing how they are forced out their homes and unable to return. It shows the whole complexity of trying to find a solution for everyone.... and when you are reading each viewpoint you totally see it from their side and then next chapter you change perspective. Very well written. Lots of facts and figures and dates which kinda blinded me ( being relatively new to all this) a bit... but i recommend it to anyone interested in learning more. It also led onto very interesting conversations with people I work beside when they asked me what my book was about. My dresser kept asking- so , what is happening now... has such and such happened yet... etc etc so I got to hear a lot of the story from an egyptian perspective too.

'Midnight Tales' by Rosina-Fawzia Al-Rawi is a very good read for anyone who enjoys reading blogs and is interested in arab culture and tradtions. It also tells the background to the war in Lebanon from the side of someone growing up there but not from there. The author is a dancer, which is why I picked up the book, and part of it is set in Egypt. But interestingly enough there is really no mention of dance- just huge chunks of social and cultural insights, easily packaged and very easy to read, which can only add to my overall cultural awareness and thus improve my undertanding of music and dance which comes from this culture! I say its good for anyone who reads blogs because I felt it could have been a blog. Each chapter was like a separate 'blog entry' although of course the book calls them 'essays'. I have read books by her before and I like the simple style in which they are written. I recommend it.

I am currently reading another book which is stories from Egyptian Taxi drivers...........'Taxi' by Khaled Al Khamissi. I STRONGLY recommend this one , even though I have only just started reading it this morning. It is very interesting for anyone who has had (or intends on having!) any experience within these crazy black and white rollercoaster carts. Very illuminating and was seemingly very popular when it was 1st released in arabic here in Cairo. Stories which help you understand why taxi drivers are the way they are!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fire and Frustration.... or Blaze and Betrayal...!

Yesterday there was a HUGE fire downtown in one of the main parliment buildings ( and it wasn't even guy fawkes night). Seemingly a short circuit had set off the blaze in the 19th century palace. I was in my changing room at work and heard a noise that made me feel like I was in a war zone. I ran outside, following everyone else, to watch the huge army helicopers swoop down onto the Nile, right beside my work, rocking our boat with the waves caused by the helicopers, while they filled huge containers with Nile water with which to try to put out the blaze which lasted over 5 hours. I had to laugh reading this article http://www.metimes.com/International/2008/08/20/egypts_upper_house_of_parliament_in_flames/2040/
(which may well be true as well) but they say helicopers dumped 'fire resistant chemicals' on the fire- so now we know why you should never swim in or drink the Nile water!!!! The whole thing was quite something to hear and see. Thank God no-one as injured in it.


Then something else disasterous on a personal level happened.

My gold bangle was stolen from work. It seemingly feel off during one song on stage and one person swears he saw another pick it up and pocket it and of course that person denys everything. I am gutted.

Firstly it was a very precious thing to me... an unreplaceable and expensive gift, and mainly I spent the entire night in tears becase I feel totally hurt, powerless and controlled. People I work beside on a daily basis can steal from me, lie to me and still I have to work with them???? HOW??? I spent all last night in tears... just can't get over how someone can do that to someone they work with. Of course i complained to the managers and asked for security to search everyone- but they wouldn't.... at home I would have just called the poilce- here that would just be inviting even more trouble ( and backsheesh). Everyone says here that its just a thing... don't be upset.... but thats not the point... its the betrayal of trust. When you believe you are part of a team all working towards one thing ( in this case- providing artistic entertainment show after show) and then you suddenly realise that no matter what anyone else says you are totally alone. It makes me want to pack up and go home.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

LORNA's UK TOUR- workshops, performances and private classes in UK in Sept 2008.

so I will be home in UK for Ramadan............... ie the whole of September this year.... if you fancy tracking me down somewhere I am across the country a bit. (have more dates to follow but those details not yet confirmed!)

EDINBURGH
4th- 26th Sept - Edinburgh private classes.
Contact me on Bellylorna@hotmail.com to arrange date, time and place

As yet- no performance dates in Scotland… but happy to change that if people want to book me up?????


LEEDS
Sept Sat 6th and Sun 7th- Leeds Private classes.

Sat 6th Sept- Leeds performance- with a question/answer session too and live drumming! Time; 6pm Venue; Spice quarter, Leeds. Cost: £12 ( £10 for Banat members)

Leeds contact for booking…..Sabrina at sabrina.bellydance@googlemail.com


PERTH AND KINROSS

Sat 20th Sept- BirnamWorkshops.
Birnam Arts Institute, Station Road, Birnam, Perth and Kinross PH8 0DS

Complete Beginners 10-12am -only £15 for 2 hours!

Improvers-Advanced 1-4pm -only £20 for 3 hours!!!

To book send a cheque made payable to 'Perth and Kinross Council'- for more info contact Karole on 01738 477 834.


DUNDEE
Sun 21st Sept- Dundee Workshop
. Open level. 12-2pm.Cost; £18 Venue: DISC, Mains road, Dundee.

Dundee contact for booking… Nova at nova_pin@hotmail.com



BIRMINGHAM
Sat 27th Sept- Birmingham Workshops
. Beginners 12-2pm. Advanced 2.30-4.30pm. Cost: £20 ( or £35 for both!). Venue: fitness first, Sparkbrook, Birmingham.

Birmingham and Coventry contacts for booking………
Lisa on lisamckain@hotmail.com or Sugrah on sughrasultan@msn.com


COVENTRY
Sun 28th Sept- Coventry workshop
. 1-3pm Open level. Cost: £20. Venue: Sports Connexion, Ryton.

Birmingham and Coventry contacts for booking………
Lisa on lisamckain@hotmail.com or Sugrah on sughrasultan@msn.com

keep an eye on the blog for more UK dates in Sept!!!! (and if you are hoping to host me then get in touch for available dates asap!!!!!)

see you there soon...................

Thursday, August 07, 2008

street gatherings

People meet in the streets in Cairo for a variety of reasons............

to drink tea and smoke sheesha in street cafes.....









to sit in organised rows watching a small TV screen showing football ( often Zamalek versus Ahly- the 2 Cairo teams) ......









to climb up the Lions at either end of the Cobri ( bridge) Kasr el Nil to have their photo taken with these huge statues.........


and of course........ to watch the sunset!

Thanks to my friend Jitka for all these wonderful pics!!!!!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Dahshur

When my friend Vanessa was here from US for a few days she told me she'd really like to see the bent pyramid. To be honest- after so many holidays here and taking guests to them- the thought of more pyramids didn't really entice me much- but she was on her own- so I said why not.

Really glad we went. We hired a yellow cab for the day ( VERY good idea to have an air conditioned car with you if you plan to do this trip in the height of summer!!!!) The Dahshur sight is past Saqqara so a bit of a trek, therefore not many people make it out that far- which was a great thing for us since we were 1st there and had the place completely to ourselves!

According to the guide book you are not supposed to be able to go right up to the bent pyramid since it is inside military ground- but we drove right up to it in our yellow cab
and the policemen there were very friendly and helpful (for tips of course) and even encouraged us to climb the remains of Snorfru's wife's pyramid! Snorfru ( father of Cheops who built the largest of the 3 main pyramids at Giza) built the bent pyramid but started the base at too steep an angle- so it had to be completed at a different angle so it wouldn't collapse. It is stunning to see because, unlike all the other pyramids, even those at Giza, this one still has its casing of limestone- so the outside is smooth and white. Beautiful. It's surrounded by desert too- not by touts and pizza hut!!!

The Red pyramid (built with red limestone also by Snorfru) is in perfect condition- and we climbed inside it- despite there being no electricity so the whole thing was in complete darkness. We borrowed torches and climbed down- WOW- that’s a LOOOOOONG flight of stairs to be bent in two for while you attack those steps. The smell of ammonia (I believe from bats pee????) is very strong and the darkness, smell and distance made it a battle over fear just to get down the whole way. There are 3 chambers inside- but I have to admit- Vanessa and I had had enough with the 1st one and went back up those dreaded stairs again instead of going all the way! NOT to be tackled by those with asthma or claustrophobia!!! I felt I had both when I was inside! Still glad I did it though… even despite having to go to the chemist for strong muscle relaxants in order to be able to move at work for the next 2 nights!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I thought I was fit!!! Ha ha.
A wonderful experience and I will definatly advise it to future visitors…. The round trip in the yellow cab cost 140le, but lasted about 4 hours ad the air con was ESSENTIAL !!! so was 2 large bottles of water!!!!!!!


The camel wasn't quite sure to make of the Yellow camel!!!!.............