Monday, November 3, 2008

A Special Day.

My mother always told that the one true mark of a
good life are the friends you leave behind.
She even had a number by which this goodness is defined, 5.

"Five real friends, who have loved
you, and payed the price of loving you. Who have protected you from harm, even when the harm was self inflicted. Who have defended you beyond question, when all others around you accused. Who have laughed with you, and cried with you and shared their secrets with you. Who have shared memories both sweet and sour, and have reflected on each with equal joy. If you should die with five such persons to name as friends, then you have lived a rich life my girl", my mother said.

I'm half way through my life, and on most days the scale by which I choose to measure it is not nearly so stringent as the one my mother proffered. Success, popularity, achievement, knowledge and respect are the standards I use to measure my progress for they are far far easier to attain.

I do not enjoy the kinship of five such laudably loyal friends, as my mother described. I do not enjoy the kinship of two such friends.
I do however, know one girl. One good and honest girl, who shared my walk on this earth, for three of the four, oh so short, decades of life.
She is my five.

And but for her, my life would have been a near complete surrender to an arid landscape of the false and the hypocritical. A lonely and cowardly drudge through a mine, where the canary has long since perished.

She has been my friend, my companion, my adversary, my guilty conscience, my fiercest critic and my never waning virtue.

We have played together, procrastinated together, laughed together and mourned together. we've picked each other out of depressions and pulled each other away from delusions. she has been my family, when my own family was being much too familial for my tolerance. My window to the world, when all the worldly doors were shut. My never yielding call to godly worship, and the ever forgiving heart of all my sins.

She has made my life easier, more pleasurable and certainly more sane. She is my lighthouse in the storm.

Tonight my darling, and most dearly cherished friend celebrates, much to her denial, her **th birthday (number redacted at her hysterical insistence) in health and happiness.
On this night, I am most eternally grateful to God. Most eternally and reverently grateful for his mercy and his grace on this day.
I could not have survived without her in my life, nor would I have wished to.

Tonight is a night of high celebration. A night for looking forward to the next ** years full of laughs and arguments, weddings and births, diets and binges, dinners and coffee afternoons, work and retirement, books and arguments about the books. Parties and weekends, husbands and children and grandchildren, parents and winging about parents ; But most of all, my sweet, to ** years of you in my life.

Here's to you my darling friend, I wish you..

Blossom, my darling, blossom, be a rose
Of roses unchidden and purposeless; a rose
For rosiness only, without an ulterior motive;
For me it is more than enough if the flower unclose.

D.H. Lawrence.

Happy Birthday Old Friend!

Friday, October 31, 2008


Yes THE ELECTION! caps necessary because well It's
The United States of A-m-e-r-i-c-A.

For those of you who have not been following the US presidential election too closely, I couldn't think of a better way to bring you up to speed quickly than through video.

So, with only 4 days left until the voters decide (Nov 5th), this is the shape of Election 08 from a You Tube lens.

The Music:



The Candidates:

The vice presidential candidates:

The dabates:

The ad wars:



Get Out The Vote;

First; the battle of the Jewish comedians:

Second; The Celebrity Vote:

The supporters:

Obama Supporters

McCain Supporters:

(Caution: take a deep breath or a Xanax before watching his one)

My favorite vids of the election season:

This is where you get to laugh.

(must see TV)


Who would you vote for?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What if Jane Austin were a blogger?

Did you ever think what Jane Austin's work would look like had she lived in our time? Had the benefit the internet and the bloggersphere? No, neither have I until I read this article "Reader, I didn't marry him: blog lifts veil on match-making in Egypt" in yesterday's issue of The Independent.
I was so intrigued by the subject that I went on a search to learn more...

A 29 year old, attractive, funny, intelligent, self supporting, Egyptian woman is driven to distraction by her family and all her close acquaintance in an effort to save her from herself. To remedy a fatal flaw in her, something that stands out for all of society to see, to gawk at and ridicule.... Her lack of a husband.
At 29, there's not much time. She'll soon be 30, eligible men will see her as old, and refer to her as, that strange and unnatural creature, the dreaded Old Maid.

Ghada Abdel Aal has endured her family's overwhelming concern in her marital status for years... 8 to be exact. In her town of Mahalla, girls marry and marry as quickly as possible. In her 29th year of unhitched and childless life that concern turned into a frenzied intervention. This was an emergency and drastic measures were needed.
Gone are the lists of criteria that defined a suitable husband for Ghada the beautiful pharmacist; Forget rich, forget handsome, forget young, forget intelligent, forget tall for god's sake! Male with a job and 20 years of life expectancy will do.
And so it was, that Ghada had to endure yet another year of evening after nerve
wrecking evening in her family's salon meeting and greeting and ultimately and invariably refusing the specimens of male humanity the came parading through her door. She refused the bearded fundamentalist with 2 wives at home, the cop, who felt running a background check on her entire family was normal procedure in a courtship, the football fanatic who insisted on their first meeting o turning on the TV so that he wouldn't have to miss the game, Actually that one left on his own, as Ghada tells it "He found out I supported the rival club and that was that. I was off his list. It was very strange. Who does that?"
So far nothing too unusual about this story, millions of single women from traditional societies go through this everyday. A girl's marriage has been and remains to be a defining feature of a woman's life.
Even in the most liberal of the western societies, you still find women of all ages in questing in search of a mate, only instead of nosy aunts and overbearing mothers they have Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha, Miranda and Stanford .
The wedding dress, of what ever colour, the ring and the status of wife is dearly cherished all over this 21st century globe, and rightly so.

What's different about Ghada's case is that she wrote it all down. She started her own blog, and she wrote everything down. She chronicled the 30 plus suitors, her mother's rationalizations, her father's eager anticipation and ofcourse the never ending aggravation that has become her life. She wrote with humour and depth, always choosing to laugh where others may scream. Her life, as presented in her blog, is a brilliant satire of 21st century Egyptian society. A black comedy full of characters that are stargely familiar to anyone who's lived in the world, both endearing and infuriating at te same time. A blog that she began at the age of 22 because, she says "There was a proposal from a groom to be. I decided to write about it, and seek the opinion of others,", has become One of the best known and most visited blog in Egypt.

The blog was so successful in fact, that it has formed the basis of her first book "Wanna-b-a-bride" عايزه آتجوز. The book is already a best seller.

According to the Washington Post "Her book is in its fourth printing in six months. Her writing -- in colloquial Arabic rather than the classical form usually used in publishing -- has struck a chord with many young Muslims. They write from Canada, Bangladesh and Pakistan to express support. ". Her book speaks not only to the women of Egypt but surprisingly to the men as well. Marriage has become so expensive, that Egyptian men are also suffering the same familial pressure to marry in materialistically prohibitive matrimonial market.

Ghada, wants to marry, the title of her book says it all really, she just wants to marry the right man. She doesn't want to settle for good enough... "I'm still hoping to meet someone. Someone I would decide, yes -- I like him."

As a big Jane Austin fan, I couldn't help but run parallels between 21st century Ghada and 18th century Jane. Somehow I imagine that were these two rebellious women ever to meet, perhaps in an alternate and very cool universe, they would immediately recognize each other as kindred spirits. What that statement says about the state of women's lives in the Arab word is a subject for another diary.

Ghada's blog is still going strong and you can check it out at عايزه آتجوز.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

First Post

This is my first post, so I'll start with something easy.
I woke up this morning to the headline Kuwait halts trading on Gulf Bank after losses. What?!
Throughout the morning other news started to flow:
Kuwait to guarantee deposits after Gulf Bank losses
Kuwait Plans to Guarantee Deposits
Falling shares trigger Gulf protest

Here's the money quote: "The central bank's comment follows the temporary suspension of trading of Gulf Bank shares on the Kuwait Stock Exchange in reference to investigations on transactions concluded by Gulf Bank on behalf of its clients in the global foreign-exchange market" WSJ
So apparently Gulf Bank in it's infinite non-wisdom has extended loans to clients engaging in their foreign exchange derivative instruments;
"Central Bank of Kuwait said it had received information from Gulf Bank on Thursday after market hours that some customers have lost the money that they had invested in the bank's derivatives contracts ahead of the fall of the euro against the U.S. dollar." WSJ.
My question is however, Why weren't these loans covered by strictly enforced margins to protect the bank? And if they were, what happened? Who screwed up?
And most importantly, How big are these losses?

So many questions, and no answers.

The good news is, people with money deposits at Gulf Bank have been told by CBK not to worry, your deposits are guaranteed. If you're however an investor in GB stock.. :(