Sunday, May 31, 2009

More from Sharm!

ok- this could easily become an addiction! I know I was there within the last 2 weeks... but i flew back to Sharm last week ( for 4 days this time) and spent more time in the sunshine!!!

The main excuse was to get there and surprise my sister, her husband and son, Sam since they wouldn't expect to see me again during their holiday! You should have seen their faces!!! I just walked into reception and wee Sam was being carried by his dad and therefore looking backwards over his shoulder... his face just lit up and went into a HUGE surprised grin- pointing and waving at me til his mum and dad turned round to see what all the commotion was about! Totally worth the air fare there!!!!!!!!!!

I have decided I really do love my life ( in case you have been in any doubt after reading my blog!!!!). I often dont write about the bad bits of life in Cairo and instead see this blog as a form of therapy- turning bad experiences into learning ones ( for me and for others!!!). However, I was lying on the beach this week; ipod on, drink in hand, staring out to sea, under a beautiful blue sky thinking this is my weekend........ this is what I can do on a weekend living in this country rather than living in UK. Somehow it does make the stress with hassle, traffic, pollution and bureaucracy of daily life in Cairo worthwhile.

I stayed in a flat this time in Sharm, in the DeltaSharm resort which was beautiful, although the particular flat I had was a cockroach nightmare - they were the size of small mice I swear!!! I generally hung out at my sisters hotel until they left then I had friends staying at the Novotel and I just joined them poolside! At night I left the light on and prayed! ( of course buying some spray would have been the sensible solution - but I was a couple of days into my stay before I worked that one out!!!!!!)

My main achievement I felt was taking the local buses by myself. I could get all the way from DeltaSharm across Naema bay and into Nabq bay for only 3.50le (45 mins)! Fabulous. Especailly when you consider the taxi prices in Sharm seem to be 4 times the taxis in Cairo! Weird sitting in these cramped minibuses, all Egyptian men plus me and yet I felt fine. Not one sleezed on me... people would help give me advice re how much to pay etc etc. Wish to god I could do that in Cairo! Sharm is GOOD place to be in Egypt as a single white women (although granted Dahab is still better).

Have to say though- the single most annoying thing was EVERYONE thinking, no, Assuming I was Russian. Never heard so much russian being spoken in my life as I walked down the streets! A friend assured me its because its usually the Russian women who have such fit bodies and are so good looking.... but that might have been a line!!!!

Photos will follow! also a description of the dancers I saw in Sharm!

Monday, May 25, 2009

My Tabla Solo....... a year ago !

My friend, Natalie, put this clip on youtube this weekend from when she came to Cairo last year and saw me dancing. I didn't even know she had it on film and was a bit worried about what it would turn out like... but I needed have been too worried- its not bad, and more importantly its very useful for me professionally!!!

I have been feeling like my drum solo had stayed the same over the last year... but there are a few things i have changed or added now and also a few things had forgotten i used to do!!!! Some even quite nice! I dont have a video at all of my drum solo from the last few months- so if anyone out there has- i would be really interested to see it and be able to compare then and now.

( The link should appear above in this blog- but some people have been having problems getting it- so just in case its- )

Sunday, May 24, 2009

hot hot hot

OK from the title you might be misled into thinking I'm about to write about the weather in Cairo- which is indeed in the mid 30's....... ah bliss.......... but no.... I'm talking FIRE!!!

Friday night... There was one deck on the boat, and I had finished my performance. It had gone really well (apart from one couple deciding their 2 year old should be in the centre of the stage the entire time... and this lovely little girl refused to leave the dancefloor- it's a bit like having a stage with a pillar in the middle of it!) Anyway.. I was back in the changing room and suddenly the female singer from the western band came rushing into the room saying all the guests are coming downstairs...... ( which is NOT usual!) we wondered what had happened... then we smelt the smoke. FIRE !!!!!

Well, what can I say? The singer and i were fairly calm since we figured it couldn't be so bad since no one seemed to be running and staff were really relaxed etc etc... the boat however was suddenly going at full speed.My dresser started crying hysterically.... ' we're going to die, we're going to die.... I'm going to drown, I can't swim' etc etc etc...... It took a while to calm her down and explain to her that with a life jacket she'd be fine even in the worst case scenario. I mean, it wasn't like we were going to have to evacuate anyway since the problem obviously wasn't that severe. Her reaction, poor thing, was so extreme though it was very amusing! I have to admit we laughed at her! She eventually saw the funny side... but it took a while!

Turns out, what had actually happened was really VERY minor. An adapter plug for the AC unit had gone on fire. i.e. an electrical fault. So there had been some flames... and smoke and the whole deck stank of that... but the fire was put out as soon as it started and everyone was fine and the whole trip could continue its normal sailing. Except the guests didn't want to sit (understandably) in the smell, so they came downstairs and the western band played there for them. When the band were told to start, I have to admit i did picture in my head the scenes from the film titanic when the musicians played as the ship sank (!) even though I wasnt actually worried about that for even a second!!!!

Oh my GOD- You have Never seen a group of people party so hard! One of the guests had also been hysterical... but there is nothing like a drama to pull people together. Everyone was laughing and joking between the tables... EVERYONE was clapping and singing along with the music. Lots got up to dance. It was like a celebration of life- God had saved us... we were going to live to see another day- lets be thankful and celebrate!!!! An amazing atmosphere. If it had been a European group I suspect we would have been complaining about health and safety etc etc and having to move and our dinners being interrupted etc etc etc ... the Egyptian and Arab audience turned the whole thing into an excuse to party. Was fantastic night in the end.

Of course my friends were all cracking jokes about me being so hot on the dancefloor that i had set fire to the boat etc etc.....

NB- for those considering coming to see me performing on the boat- please do not let this put you off!!! The fire was put out immediatly. The staff were very organised and in control of how to cope in an emergancy (I was impressed!). There are life jackets for everyone on board (under the seats) and ......I have never heard of a boat going on fire on the Nile ( well- not unless it was in the middle of the night and an obvious insurance job!!!!!)

all in a nights work..........................

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Charming Sharm

I logged into my blog today to add the newest entry and discovered what I had written about bad habits last time.... and yes- guilty- have spent nearly 3 hours online already today.... mind you have also done nearly 3 hours of stretching.... so I am fairly proud of myself for that! still feel as stiff as a piece of wood though!

spent 5 days in Sharm this week........ amazing!!! My sister was here with her husband and son, Sam and we spent everyday playing in the pool. Wonderful. It was lovely seeing Sam mellow to me throughout the week... at 1st he was a little wary- but no wonder... I am the beloved auntie who just as he begins to love and trust disappears off abroad for 6 months at a time. He is adorable. miss him so much!

The hotel ( The Park Inn Resort, Nabq bay) was very much geared to familys ( in fact I might have been the only single in the whole place!) There were lots of pool and slides and British and Russians. Food was ok... but only 2 restaurants. It was an all-inclusive so would have been good to have a bit variety! I loved being able to chat to all the staff in arabic though are impressing them ( doesn't take much!) and it did seem to get us better service too!!!! Especially at the pool where our towels were laid out for us every morning before we had even left breakfast!!! in fact.... am thinking of heading back there soon for some more chilling whenever i can get some days off work together! ( although wont be the same without my sister and wee Sam there!)

We didn't have much time outside of the hotel. The hotel had an oriental show with bellydancer and tannoura (or whirling divit as the first choice rep called it!!!!) Bless wee Sam- this is his face watching the bellydancer..... next day when asked what he wanted to do he said - 'watch auntie Lorna bellydance again' I guess he must be really confused as he thinks all bellydancers are his auntie Lorna!!!! ( oh- and their eyes are bright blue normally- i had to get rid of the red eye here and not sure how to make them blue again!!!!!!)
I did go to Hard Rock cafe with them one night for a meal which was interesting- since the music was at nightclub level and it was packed... but fun.
I also went to La Pacha nightclub one night.... 1st time there for me. It was ok. expensive to get in 125 le ( which got you a beer or 2 soft drinks) and it was farily quiet at 1st. The music was full on house, which is not really my thing, ( ok, never mind 'not really'- try 'not at all'!!!!) Anyway, despite that it was a good night, watching the Russian girls strutt around wearing not a lot more than they do on the beach (a culture shock to a girl used to Cairo fashion!!!!!) Glad I went, wonder if they have an R&B night- now THAT I would go back for!!!!

so... back to Cairo...

Work has been interesting the past 2 nights. There are 2 things which make dancing for a living very hard.... a sore back ( thankfully mine is fine- touch wood!) and a dodgy tummy.... Hmmmm. well lets just say... belly rolls have not been in my show much the last couple of days!!!! Despite that- I have had fabulous audiences... really lovely people and lots of very warm feedback. I sat for a while with a group of Americans who asked a whole host of questions about dance and my life here in Cairo and said that meeting me and being able to find out about my life here was one of the main highlights of their trip to Egypt- I was touched!!!( emotionally that is!!!)!! I am wondering if my physical restraints on stage meant that I made more effort with my people skills during the dance. I certainly seem to have been able to make some lovely connections with people in the audiences recently. Or maybe thats because I am relaxed and happy after my holiday!

Off to see if Amera el Kattan has any exciting costume ideas for me.................. I think I deserve a new costume or 2...............!

Life is Good.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bad Habits...

I have developed a few here in Cairo!

The main one is sitting on facebook all day! I love it as a way to keep up with what everyone back home is doing, and to keep track of events here in Cairo and also for photos..... but my god- 6/7 hours can go by..... I have to take control!!!!

The next bad habit that I haven't exactly picked up in Cairo, but is definatly getting worse, is bad eating patterns. I forget to have food in the house, its way too easy to order in.... and of course I eat when I finish work at 1am or later..... not really sure how I can control this- but something needs to be done.... I am not the shape I once was ( although- don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting I'm a whale either!!!!!!!!!) But pizza is leaving its mark on me. My body misses teaching 25 hours per week!!!

The worst one I tried to rectify today... I started my day with an hour and half of stretching.... unfortunatly still feeling like a piece of wood by the end of it. I stretch maybe once a week..... it's shocking... a professional dancer, performing nearly everyday, yet never stretching... I have to get it together!

So thats my bad habits. Could be worse I guess.

anyway.... All this was prompted by a youtube clip someone just discovered of me. Hmm. well, what can i say - I look very relaxed, and happy and content.... and fairly Egyptian in style. Thats all good. However, it is NOT my best ever body tone or dancing! I feel its not as sharp and accented as I perform this same song in my show now ( this was about 9 months ago I am guessing) but hey.... there are a couple of liquid moments I even though I don't really like it much, I am adding it in here for your 'pleasure' .............

Oh- and talking bad habits and youtube... I have always prided myself in NOT sitting for hours in front of youtube. However that was because I would get way too impatient and frustrated waiting for videos to upload. Today I discovered downloading them to real player to watch at your leisure whenever.... so i think i have just discovered my new bad habit ( although I guess also a very good habit too- since you can only learn by watching other dancers.........)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

shrek character

Walking back home from lunch this afternoon with a friend, we received the usual amount of street attention... ( pssssst in the ear, ya helwa, ya assel..... etc etc )It was just as frustrating and annoying as usual.

However, one comment from a teenage boy just had us in stitches, although we were careful, of course not to let him see that!

so go on... see if you can guess what is the most likely line to grab our attention and make us go over and speak to him (not!)......................



no... you couldn't guess could you.........

it was........


'I am donkey, I am donkey'

well.......................what can you say? ...........

we'd have to agree really, wouldn't we?!!!!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Daily performances

Today will be 13 nights in a row performing. My body is not as tired as I expected it to be when I saw the rota... but I have to admit I am really looking forward to a day off!!!!

Monday night I had both the best and the worst audiences ever, and both on the same sail!

The best was 1st- the boat was packed with Egyptians... and I danced Enta Omri for them... at whch point they were standing up , singing along, practically crying along with me (I did actually have to hold back some tears- it was very emotional!!!). Amazing. I felt accepted and respected and admired and appreciated. WOW.
Downstairs however was a complete deck of Russian women. They watched, and clapped at the end- but their faces were totally dead, I couldn't raise a smile from them or even acknowledgement at all that I was even there!!I would smile at someone or wink at them or whatever- and completly still facial muscles would remain intact!

From the total high of the mood on top deack, to the complete lack of energy and negative mood downstairs..... It was an extreme rollercoaster which took me the next 3 shows to fully recover from! We had a super late sailing... hence the 5 shows in one night.... so I got home around 2.30am...

Thats of course when I should have gone to bed- but instead I stayed up with 2 girlfriends (also dancers) til 6am dancing and swapping moves and having a laugh. We were pretending to be beyonce and shakira...what can I say? one day I might even grow up- but I hope not! It was an amazing night!

Last night while I was doing my usual round of the tables in case anyone wants photos taken with the dancer, one guy was so adamatly saying no no, that I said its just a photo.... he was like "no no no.... I am married (waving his wedding ring in my face) and I have 3 children ( waving 3 fingers under my nose) ........... " He was so aggresive about the whole thing I strongly pointed out, in a distainful tone, that all i had suggested, was a photo... nothing else, and walked off with his friends laughing at him! I know they put dancers low down on the social scale.... but I dont have to accept it.

Last night I had the most bizarre thing happen to me. I got to work, got changed, did make up / hair etc etc and was in costume, about to leave the changing room to go to stage (my music had started) and I suddenly because incrediably flushed and fainted! Thankfully my dresser and the singer were there to catch me... and fed me water with sugar until I could stand again... but what impressed me was the way the staff and band jumped into action.... the tannoura went on 1st so i had some time to compose myself, and band played longer than usual intros to give me less time on stage... and ALL the staff ( even the chefs) were asking throughout the night how I was, was I ok, could they get me anything etc etc ... They were all so sweet and caring it touched me. I still dont know what happened, I'd eaten and slept enough and was otherwise feeling fine... But somehow I managed to get through 3 shows after that.... I tell you something- My life is NEVER dull!!!!

And the best news from yesterday - saved til last... my sister's holiday in Mexico has been cancelled ( you can probably guess why) so she is coming to Egypt instead!!!! I'm so happy that I am going to get a chance to spend some time with them in sharm el sheik ... just have to pray I can get some nights off work to go!!!!.

Sandstorms have passed and the sun is out again. I have great friends with whom I have a lot of fun. My sister is coming to visit. People cry with me through Enta Omri.

Life is good.
I'm happy.

Monday, May 04, 2009

More superstitions.....

In august last year I wrote a blog about some superstitions in Egypt....I had a similar discussion with my dresser last night. It seems like there are a few similarities in Egyptian and UK folklore...

I already mentioned the 'touch wood' thing in the last blog about superstitions.

In Egypt, if your palms are itching it means money- money coming in if it's your right hand (if it itches you should scratch it like crazy- preferably with a piece of gold!!!!) and money going out if its your left hand (in whch case DON'T scratch it as it'll make the money go faster!!!)

Also here, if you get a 'frog in your throat' (the constant feeling to clear your throat) then it means someone is talking about you.... If it is just a slight tickly feeling then its someone who loves you and is saying nice things.... but if it is really bad and wont go away then its someone who doesn't like you saying bad things!

Itchy feet means you are going to travel. (or you just have dry skin or athletes foot!!! :-) )

A couple I have only heard here- If the toffee mix crackles when you are getting your hair removed by 'helowa'- or 'sugaring' then your husband loves you. Likewise if the thread keeps snapping when you are getting your eyebrows shaped, he also loves you!

Black cats..... here, if you see a black cat (but only if you see it out of one eye!) then it means really bad things and you should just turn around and go straight home... nothing good is going to happen that day. In UK ( and I have just been told in Norway too) a black cat is only bad luck if it crosses the path in front of you- ie I guess that means you have to see it with both eyes!!!

Crows are the messenger of bad news (often that someone is going to die). Owls hooting means someone has died. Doves spread peace from God and Storks bring babies here too....

Its interesting enough to hear these things in your own culture and try to guess where they come from... its even more so in a different culture especially when there are similarities.... makes you wonder how much truth in it there is....................!

Saturday, May 02, 2009


2 whole days without internet connection. It's amazing how efficient you can be, or should I say, I can be, without facebook and msn!!!!!

I have a fairly busy schedule at work over the next 2 weeks;
Nile Pharoah- 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th, 12th and 13th May.
All good.

Work was strange last night. I had 2 tables right at the front of the stage who all looked miserable and gave NO indication that they could even see that there was a dancer in front of them. Yet a table with 7 women (bellydancers from Ireland) made it a really fun night and helped me perform despite a stinking cold. Afterwards we all got up to dance and got half the rest of the audience up to dance too (except the 2 miserable tables!!!). I love my job.

Oh and a friend of mine sent me this link from a newspaper in Australia.
The Egyptian goverment in their infinate wisdom are using the recent outbreak of swine flu as an excuse to cull thousands of pigs across the country. Considering these pigs are the property of some of the poorest people in the country (also most of whom happen to be christian) there are too many questions as to the real reasons why this is happening! The people who collect the rubbish use pigs to dispose of the organic waste matter. Efficient recycling. Not sure what will happen ones the pigs have gone.