Monday, July 30, 2007


Great News! I can't contain my excitment...

My Blog is blocked in China. Too bad the Chinese can't access my blog. I did say some excellent things about them and their mutually-beneficial relations with Africa.
The crappy thing is:- I was considering China for my graduate studies but hey Berkeley is a great option after all!


Please don't hate me for this.
I know I'm optimistic all the time but after reading more reports, listening the the rants of aid workers and seeing more pictures of Darfur, tears are long gone. Just like aid workers, I learned to harden my heart and it's not a bad thing if you ask me. It's for my own good, for your own good too. If I got teartful and my heart softened over every thing I saw or heard, I will not have time to breath.

If you want to know more about a place where the humanity of many individuals froze, then keep checking this post.
I will be posting about Darfur in the next few days.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

More pictures (Representing South Sudan)

The pictures featured above were taken in South Sudan in 2006 and early 2007. They were taken by my father not me. It's a shame because I wanted to go there and take pictures. I have read and heard about the beauty of the south. The kind of beauty I will witness very soon.
1-The cabins are part of a new hotel owned by a Pakistani (I was told so). I think the government of South Sudan should start broadcasting ads encouraging sudanese expats to invest there.
2-A view from the top
3-Rest In Peace John Garang, a hero to all Sudanese.
Feel free to email me pictures I can post and look at:)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Good bloggers listen to their readers. I did :)

Here are more pictures of my beautiful homeland. I picked this title because most people don't think it's beautiful. It's too dry,too hot. Home to amazing sandstorms and disasters. If you forget about Sudan's painful modern history and focus on the history and civlizations,culture and people,deserts and forests,the nile and coral reefs and sunsets, you will see alot of beautiful things. Simple things limited to this huge african country. Things you will always remember.

I don't have many pictures of the Sudan. Almost all the pictures I have are collected from websites and friends. It's hard to find pictures of Sudan online. 1-Nobody goes there except the braves ones who ignored people,went there and loved it 2-Unfortuantely, I don't visit it alot because of personal reasons. So, I didn't get the chance to take pictures.

Here are pictures of places and people.


1- white nile and Blue nile. When you stand on the bridge you can notice the difference. It's like this natural barrier separating the blue nile from the white nile.

2- The North is mostly desert and the south is green.

3-The coral reefs in port sudan are gorgeous and since noone goes there, there is almost no damage at all. It's a great diving area but honestly, if tourists started going there. It will be ruined.

4-Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt and Mexico.

5-The market featured is called the arab market.
6-The first lady is wearing "the toub", it's supposedly the national costume but I don't think so. It doesn't represent all ethnic groups.
Enjoy the beauty of The Sudan

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Going back to Cairo

Hello there,
I'm in LA now and I'm overwhelmed. I will go to Cairo this weekend and I will write many many posts.

Aboulela always impresses me

Leila Aboulela, a British/Sudanese author who was born and raised in Khartoum and moved to Scotland in the late 1980's .
She published three books:
2-Coloured Lights- a collection of short stories
3-The Translator

I read her first two books last December. Two weeks ago, I found The Translator at Barnes and Nobles and I just had to get it. I did. I read it in two days. I loved it and I want to read it again.

What happens when a Scottish professor man falls in love with a Sudanese widow. Interracial relationships are unusual. Inter-religious relationships are even more difficult. Let me ask this again. What happens when a Scottish man who believes in God but is not necessarily religious falls in love with a Sudanese woman who is a strong believer in god,religious and also veiled?
Sammar, a Sudanese widow is living and working in Scotland. She works as a translator for Rai, a scottish middle-eastern studies professor and middle-east issues specialist. Sammar falls in love with Rai and she is sure he feels the same way but not only is he white, he is not Muslim. Is Rai going to embrace Sammar's religion or are they going to go their separate ways?
This book is deep. It discusses topics I always thought about but never found answers.
It's a great read.So.... Hit the nearest bookstore and get it!

ps:- Aboulela includes his Muslim and Sudanese identity in every book. Most of her stories are set in the UK, where she lives and works.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wearing the Veil/Hijab in America

Last night I agreed with three friends of mine to wear the Hijab for a whole day. I’m not veiled in real life so I was never in the shoes of veiled women in Egypt or even in the United States. I was told that in a post 9/11 world, being a veiled woman in the United States is hard. By putting on this harmless piece of cloth, I was putting myself in a dangerous situation. Obviously, I was expecting all sorts of impolite treatments including harassments, name-calling and suspicious looks. Not all of the above happened but it was a very interesting day.
In the beginning, I felt weird and uncomfortable because I’m not used to it and it was an extremely hot day. It took a lot of courage to keep it but as soon as I noticed the looks I was getting, I became more confident. We took a shuttle bus to the station where we were going to take a 2 hour-long tour bus. The first comforting thing was a smile I received from the bus lady who grinned not only smiled at me and said hello. I replied and kept reminding myself that being veiled doesn’t and shouldn’t suppress my personality. I noticed a couple of surprised faces on the bus but I didn’t mind that in fact, I replied to it by smiling and talking comfortably with friends. Thankfully, I had the chance to ride on the front row on the tour bus. I heard a lot of veiled girls say that they feel invisible sometimes. Unattractive. Not good enough. I didn’t want to be invisible. I wanted to see people and be seen.
Our tour bus guide was a young friendly guy who asked us where we were from. I expected this to be another bomb to the rest of the people. I expected some of them to associate Sudan with “Terrorism”. After all, it was a big possibility.
During our very exciting tour around the Yosemite National park, my hair was exposed once because of strong winds but I proudly put it back on. The tour guide kept looking at my friend and I every once in a while and occasionally gave us an awkward smile.
I had to break the ice. I had to make conversation with him. I wanted to break a very common stereotype as well. Many non-Muslims are convinced that Muslim girls “can’t”talk to guys. I started a conversation with him by asking about the history of the place but soon, we started talking about other things. Of course, I had to reassure him that my Muslim brother is not going to bury him in the desert and wait till the ants eat his face and then stone me to death in order to set a good example for other Muslim girls. I did say that, in my mind of course. While I was talking with the tour guide, many people gathered around us to witness this special moment. Muslim girls speaking up. I also had to pose a few times for my fans all over the Yosemite National Park. I felt very special because I was more interesting than the stunning nature around all of us. This was the case to many people.
After we finished the tour and everybody had a picture taken of me. We headed to the Museums. During my 5 minutes stay in the Museum, I looked at the pictures and diagrams they had while some people focused their attention on me. I went to the auditorium to watch a movie about Yosemite and as soon as I walked in through that door, all eyes were on me. I sat down, fixed my headscarf and enjoyed the movie. When we were leaving the auditorium, a committed boyfriend grabbed his girlfriend away from us allowing us to get out. I smiled at them and I thought he was such a gentleman. Was he a gentleman? Or was he scarred we might harm her? I know I don’t go around harming random girls but some people think we are hiding some kind of dangerous weapon under the thick layers we are wearing.
During my few hours as a veiled woman I applied makeup a few times. I would run to the rest room as soon as I can to re-apply kohl to my eyes or put on more lip-gloss. I was never a big fan of makeup. I do apply makeup sometimes but it’s usually very light. As I was trying to not be invisible, I thought makeup will make me more visible. I’m not sure if this is because I felt that something was missing and I was trying to replace it by something else or it is because I just felt that makeup will make my face look prettier. I didn’t know the reason behind it but for now, make up was important.
Wearing the veil today was worth it. I’m glad I didn’t get called any derogatory names or called any names at all. I’ve heard many stories about the plight of veiled women in the country but I just had to experience it myself. Today, I was in their shoes and I felt what they feel. Ordinary. I was just another individual on the tour bus and another visitor to the Yosemite National Park. The only difference was- I wasn’t wearing shorts or Jeans or a tank top. I was wearing jeans, a sweater and my hair was covered.
People say the way you dress says a lot about you and your personality. What I wore today told people one thing about me. I’m a Muslim woman. Although it might’ve meant to some people things like oppressed, submissive and weak. I didn’t feel this way at all. However, I felt sad because I was judged by my headscarf today. I was judged by what’s on my head however, what’s in my head was overlooked.