Monday, February 28, 2011

Its a hard life.....

i stood in four different countries and ate food in all of them.

Today, its 2pm and i'm still in my pyjamas
and so far have only eaten chocolate and pringles...

its a hard life.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pretending to be a celebrity...

Whilst going to the supermarket today to buy
eggs to make brownies (that i managed to burn)
Captain Tim asked me why i was dressed like Britney Spears.

Yes, i was wearing his jogging bottoms,
with his t-shirt, combined with my fur coat and some uggs.
My hair was screwed up on the top of my head because it
hadnt been washed in a few days,
and i donned a pair of sunglasses cause i wasnt wearing any make up.

He wasnt quite sure exactly why i was so pleased with the comment,
but i was, mainly Bbecause trashy Britney Spears
was exactly the look that i was going for.

Sometimes, i dont mind leaving the house looking my absolute worst.
I like to think that people are looking at me wondering which A-List celebrity that i am.

Captain Tim thinks that i'm a strange one,
he may be right.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dangling the Carrot....

Due to my current life instability
(yes all aspects of my life are either volatile or crumbling at the moment)
I went to an audition today...
aka a ballerinas job interview.

I should have been suspicious from the start when i had to pay to go,
but being slightly desperate i went along anyway.

I should have followed my instincts, as this was one of those
companies that preys on the desperate dancers.
I hate those kind of companies.
So even though i'm meant to be going back tomorrow for part 2
(that i've already paid for) i jumped on a train instead and left.
Which is a bit scary, as i feel very rude,
maybe its the British coming out in me,
we are always so polite.

But here is my stance....
Out of a company of 15 dancers only 5 are paid.
the rest rely on fundings from the 'bank of mum and dad'

She sat me down and told me how she saw potential in me
but only through special re-training with her which of course
would be unpaid as it would be my privilege....
and maybe one day i eventually she might think i'm good enough
to get a real job with her....
in my minds eye i saw her giving this speech to all the 18 year olds
fresh out of school who she has 'working' for her, excited at this opportunity.

I saw her
Dangling the carrot in front of the desperate dancer.

If she can get people to work for nothing she is never going to pay you.
You eventually get tired and demand a pay,
she brings along someone new and fresh who will fill your shoes...
for nothing.

I wanted to remind her that for the past 8 years
i've had a career in dance (in way better companies than hers)
and that if i still only in the 'potential' range then
i'm screwed seeing as my dancing career is half way over.

In my opinion it is the responsibilty of dance directors
all over the world to fight against this mistreatment towards dancers.
Just because its a hard industry to get into doesnt mean
you can take this weakness and exploit it for your own benefit and turn it into your own personal sweat shop.

Its not just the dance world that does this,
my sister with an MA in Fashion Design from a top London University
struggles with the same problem.

But it still makes me mad....
and i'm still going to rant about it,
but dont worry,
if you weren't interested you would already have stopped
reading long ago.....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A new Egypt.....

I'd like to share with you an email that i received from a friend of mine who is still in Cairo.
She is an American married to an Egyptian.

This amazing thing is happening here in New Maadi today. There are tons of young kids like college or HS kids out on he street cleaning up. The place is getting so clean! It is amazing. They really want to make a NEW EGYPT and it brings tears to my eyes to see all the youth out there working together. I stopped and gave bottles of water to some of the kids and they were so thankful and kind. They spoke English and seem educated and really wanting a CHANGE to happen here. One had a paper that she was handing out to people and it was written in English and Arabic. They were passing them out to all the cars passing by. Of course I read the English version!!! Here is what the paper said:

Egypt is calling everyone for help!!!
  1. Buy Egyptian Products.
  2. Drive with good manners
  3. Be nice and smile =)
  4. Spend your vacation in Egypt.
  5. Convince non-Egyptians to spend holidays in Egypt.
  6. Keep streets CLEAN! Don’t throw rubbish in the streets.
  7. Open a brokerage account and buy local share in the stock.
  8. Donate blood and unwanted stuff.
  9. Vote in September!! Every vote counts
  10. No More bribes or cheating in our beloved Egypt!
  11. If you see someone doing something wrong, try to politely talk to them.
  12. If you see any corruption, stand up against it and call 16117
  13. LOVE EGYPT AT ALL TIMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!IT’S YOUR HOME!!
The streets over by my house and between here and the school is where I saw all those kids cleaning. The bags of garbage were piled high and the places they were sweeping or picking up garbage and the areas next to the streets were all nice and clean. It was great. I hope it will continue and that people will keep up the desire to make Egypt a better and cleaner place to live. It really is a wonderful country filled with lovely people.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I probably shouldnt post this but i will....

So here is my impromptu video that i made on valentines morning for my Valentine.
It's not very good, seeing as i dont actually know the words to the song and what not and couldnt actually get the music and video to play at the same time.

But i think it shows a little bit what i'm doing
to entertain myself whilst i'm a refugee...
(ie losing my marbles)

When i asked my Valentine if he liked it his reply was,
'i looked like i was enjoying myself and its the most
technologically advanced valentines he has ever received'

I'm going to take that as a yes.

on the downside,
looks like i may also be jobless as well as homeless...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Who doesnt like wedding photos?

My little sister Meghan does the occasional wedding photography.
I love looking at pictures of brides and weddings and what-nots...
So i thought i'd share some of her pictures...

(available now for photoshoots...hint...hint...)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Things that make me shiny.....

Since i arrived in Italy the littlest things have been making me exceedingly excited

yellow bananas
(i'm not kidding i thought they were fake they were the perfect shade of yellow)

the ability to drink water straight from the tap

being able to see the stars at night,

seeing my first snow of the winter
(even if it was all slushy and black at the side of the road)

jacuzzi bubblebaths



slovenian pizza

visiting old friends

fresh unpolluted air

going grocery shopping and being allowed to put all my favourite things
in the basket because i am a homeless refugee

fresh milk with my cereal

going shopping to buy a winter jumper


not being covered in a layer of sand all the time

freshly squeezed lemonade

and yet as i watch the news and see that things
aren't getting any better, i feel sad.
i want to go back.
To my horrible old apartment where nothing ever works.
To being over-worked in rehearsals.
To Egypt.

Because i had started to make a life there,
and here i am in limbo.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cairo in Crisis....the airport....

Tuesday 1st Feb

I managed to finally call out from my phone
(i had run out of credit and only been able to receive incoming calls).
I called my Director and told her i was leaving,
but would be back soon.
She was understanding,
and i felt assured that i would not be left jobless.

A friend from church offered his driver to take me to the airport,
i was very grateful. So i went to see off a couple of other friends from church
who probably wont be coming back and hopped into the car to the airport.

We had left with ample time to spare before the flight,
thinking that the roads might be busy in the direction of the airport,
funnily enough the roads were fairly empty.
Tanks were stationed about every mile or so along the road, and they seemed to be only stopping to check Egyptian micro-buses.
Just as we got in view of the terminal the traffic ground to a halt.
I got out and walked the last 5mins to my terminal.

On entering the terminal i noticed the chaos straight away.
People standing around everywhere desperate to get on their flights,
very few staff.

The 'queue' (more accurately described as a mass of people than an orderly form)
to get through the initial security searches wasnt moving. I stood for a moment wondering what to do, then i saw a woman pushing her way right to the front of the bunch.
When she came past me i followed her along,
she walked right up to the security gate and went right through.
Nobody said anything, at the front of the line they were all standing around
like lemmings not doing anything, i asked them what they were waiting for,
nobody seemed to know so i walked right through as well.

On the other side of the security was even more chaos.
The flight boards had been turned off,
if you wanted to get a boarding card or find out where your gate was for your flight
you had to do it by being in the right place at the right time to find the correct information.

I started talking to people,
making friends with those who i discovered were on the same flight as me.
We began sharing information that we would discover with each other,
the tid-bits that we had found out.

I went up to a member of airport staff at one point and asked him when my flight would be leaving, he looked at my ticket and said
'if a plane comes we'll put you on it, there are no times,
just listen out for someone shouting your destination'.

The whole experience of actually getting onto the plane
reminded me of the scene in World of the Worlds where
Tom Cruise is trying to get on the ferry....
you know the one i mean?

People were going crazy,
one guy started throwing someone else's baby around,
there was no security to stop him.
The gate kept changing,
if things got too hostile at the gate we were standing they told us to go to another gate,
mainly to get rid of us.

Eventually i got on a plane,
we sat on the tarmac for 4 hours whilst they filled
the flight up with stragglers from the airport
who had managed to buy their way onto our destination.

I made my connecting flight
and am currently typing away from my destination in Italy.

I didnt speak to anyone on my flight who hadnt been at the airport for less than 24hours,
some of them looked at my suspiciously
when they discovered i had just arrived at the airport....
as though what right did i have to get on a flight when they had been there for days?

I think that i can thank my 'easy' exit to the prayers of family
and friends who had been asking the Lord for my safety.

I look forward to returning to Cairo soon,
I pray for those who are still there,
I pray for the freedom of expression.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cairo in Crisis.....

Makeshift barricades made overnight by the Bowabs,
i even saw some lamposts that had been ripped out and place across the roads.

Simmone does a perimeter search of the apartment with her plastic bb gun,
silly things like this helped lighten the mood.
A Bowab, protecting his house with a sword.

Nearby my apartment,

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cairo experience 4 ....

Sunday 30th Jan

I woke up with Danny telling me he was heading in to Downtown
whilst it was still quiet to pick up some things for a couple of nights,
as he too hadn't brought much with him,
and did he want him to pick up something from my apartment also?

I decided to go along with him.
It was eerily quiet on the streets,
make shift barricades had popped up over night,
street patrols had come into order.
Every man you saw walking around was carrying a stick or make-shift weapon of some sort.
I told Danny we needed to pick up some lead piping or a
candlestick holder or something for protection,
he reminded me that we weren't playing Cluedo.

Dannys' apartment was right in the thick of things.
His apartment is opposite the Ministry of Interior where a lot of the major gun-fighting
had been going on. To get to his front door we had to convince 2 different
tank barricades that he lived there.

The street in front of his door was littered with police uniforms,
hats, trousers, shoes, shirts, body armour,
that had been abandoned or ripped off of them....
i dont know which.
I picked up a couple of items as a memento.

His flatmate was home, having returned from his
holiday in the States the previous night.
He told us how on finally getting a taxi to bring him nearby he had had to run
down the street to his house through a midst of gun-fire.
His night been far more dramatic than ours, with gunfights happening in his stairwell and whatnot. I could tell Danny was bummed at having missed out on the action. I on the other hand was anxious to get back to Maadi before anything started up again.

My street was fairly quiet and my apartment just as i had left it....
I contemplated what i should take
I took some money, my laptop, clean underwear, a change of clothes and my scriptures. Everything else just looked like material possessions.

Life in my neighbourhood was carrying on as normal.
The fruit and veg market was up and functioning and people were not buying at any desperate rates. There was of course the odd looted shop and savaged police uniforms lying around, and off course the tanks that were stationed on each corner.

In Maadi we stopped and visited some friends before
heading back to the Davies. Most of them had now begun the process of evacuating.

Later that evening i received a phonecall from some of my friends from work.
They were in a state of hysteria.
They had fled to the airport and were desperately trying to get a flight out of the country, they were begging me to come along. It was at this point that i realised how calm my experience
had been, not because mine had been less dramatic than theirs,
it was more to do with the company i had been keeping.
We hadn't let ourselves get stressed out,
we had been making the experience relaxed and occasionally slightly fun for each other.

Later that evening i received a phonecall from Captain Tim.
He had been away snowboarding and hadn't quite been following what was going on.....geee...thanks for the concern.
At any rate, he got concerned when our call was interrupted by a round of gunfire (which had begun to be a bit like background noise to us now)

He said he wanted to get me a ticket to leave.
I wasn't sure....i want in the desperate panic to get out of the country that others were in.
But in the end i decided that it was best, seeing as i didnt have any work on at the moment, what with the Opera house having been closed, and my Director letting the dancers know that our contracts would not be jeopardised by our leaving seeing as the Embassies were now beginning to evacuate.

So a ticket was booked for the next morning.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cairo experience 3 ....

Saturday 29th Jan

After a nights sleep that was interrupted with intervals of
gun fire and tanks driving past the house,
I woke up anxious to get to my apartment in the
Downtown area to pick up some belongings.

The phones were back on, on a semi-limited basis...
in that occasionally you could make calls
I spoke to a few friends to check that they were okay.
I decided against going into my apartment to pick up some things,
instead my friend Danny who was coming in from Downtown to stay the night at the Davies also (mainly he declares because he was bored by himself, not through any sort of fear)
offered to stop by at my apartment to see if he could pick somethings up for me, although it turned out that none of my room mates were home also having left to stay in friends apartments outside of the centre.

The day continued very much similar to the previous one,
huddled around the tv.

The scariest part was when the looting began.
This was going on in the area in which i was staying,
mainly i presume as it was one of the wealthier areas.
It was the point when i felt most fearful, until then i had been safe in my little cocoon, but here were people going into ordinary homes and taking what they wanted.
At one point we heard shouts on the street outside our door,
we turned off our lights and stayed very still....
later on we realised the action outside our door was the Bowabs
(every house in Egypt has a doorman called a Bowab)
getting together to organise themselves to protect the street.

And i know that this is going to sound very dull,
but at the moment was the most unsafe that i felt during the whole 'ordeal'
and to be honest i wasnt unsafe at all!

The highlight of the day was when a friend of ours called us form the States.
She had been an exchange student here in Cairo and had just left.
It was our first phonecall from outside the country.
We asked her to get on touch with our families
to let them know that we were okay.
It was so lovely to relax and catch up with her,
and also to know that she was thinking of us.

The nights sleep was again serenaded
by the sound of gun shots and tanks.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cairo experience 2 ....

Friday 28th Jan.

After a peaceful night,
i woke up to a phonecall from another friend from church offering for
me to stay at their house if i needed it.
I didnt know it but it was to be my last phonecall for over 24hrs,
as the Government was about to block all phonelines and internet in the country.

I headed to church.
People were sparse, and church hours had been curtailed to enable people
to get home before mid-day prayers would finish and the protests would be starting up again. Before we went home we had a short emergency
meeting about how to contact each other now
that phonelines and internet had been blocked.

I headed back to The Davies (the couple i was staying with).
We made a lunch with a few other people and played a
couple of games around the dinner table.

Then we switched on the news.

Having no phones or internet you became isolated.
For the next few days everything we knew about what was
going on in the streets around us came from what we saw on the news.
I am so grateful for the constant coverage that they gave.

Sitting around the tv,
it reminded me of pictures that you see from WWII
where you see families sitting around their wirelesses,
now i know exactly how they felt.

We marvelled and shocked at the images that we saw,
we worried about the friends
we knew who lived in the Downtown area,
we groaned everytime adverts came on,
interrupting our lifeline.
we switched to other news stations,
hoping that they would have new images on
not repeat the same ones we had seen again and again.

We learned from the news that we had been issued a curfew,
not to leave our homes.
Some of our friends who had come round for lunch
hurried home to make it back before the curfew started,
we had only been given 5mins warning.

The hardest part to watch was when they started burning down
The Government Building,
knowing that this building is just minutes away from my apartment,
knowing that i had left all my belongings behind, mainly my money.
Not having a bank account in Egypt, all my money was in that apartment.
No fire engines were entering the centre,
if the fire caught on i would be left with nothing.

Watching the violence from the police was disturbing.
Watching the clips over and over again,
people getting their knees bashed in,
a police van going crazy and running purposely
into the people in the crowds.

This night i did not sleep peacefully.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cairo experience....

Thursday 27th jan

Things had been quiet on Wednesday,
and i was beginning to think that i had slightly over re-acted by not going into work.

Then i spoke briefly to one of my roommates who had heard it from his
Egyptian friends that things were going to kick off again on Friday afternoon after prayers. (Friday being the Sabbath in Egypt so a lot less people were at work.)
There were also rumours that it may start again on the Thursday evening after work hours.

i headed to my local supermarket to buy a few supplies for a couple of days, just incase.
When i got back home i received a phonecall from one of my friends from work.
They were heading into work to speak to the Director to tell her that we didn't feel safe working from 5pm till 9.30pm on a day when there were rumours of more disruptions.
I said that i would join them.

They wanted me to come stay with them as they lived
on the opposite side of town further away from the main square.
Instead, i called a friend from Church who lives in an area of Cairo called Maadi,
its a richer area and about 20mins away from the centre by Metro.
I asked if i could stay at her house that night as i was feeling
a bit restless being so close to the action
.'No probs' she replied.
So i picked up my passport and a change of clothes for the next day
and headed of to my work to speak to my director.

When i walked down my street there were no policemen out and about yet,
but there were 5 vans full of them sitting at the bottom of the street ready to be deployed. Other than that the street looked like every other day.

When i got to work,
without any transport disruptions this time,
everyone was so happy to see me.
I'm pretty much the only one from work who lives in the Downtown area,
so they had been a bit worried about me knowing how close i was to the action.

The Director was busy with a rehearsal when i got there,
but the general feeling from the other staff and dancers was that if i was there i was going to have to stay there until the end of the rehearsal at 9.30pm.

I left.
I didnt care about rehearsals or even my job,
i wasn't hanging around at the Opera House until 9.30,
what if my road got blocked off again?
what if the protests started up again and i couldnt get home?

I headed to my friends Simmone and Dan in Maadi.

The rest of the night was pretty uneventful,
but when i was lying in bed that night
it was nice for it to be so peaceful.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Out of Egypt...

I made it safely out of Egypt.

I went into my apartment and took a small bag which i could carry.

I looked around my room and wonder which possessions i actually needed.
I realised that it was none of them.

I took a weeks worth of clean underwear, some pyjamas a change of clothes and my scriptures.

I contemplated leaving behind my laptop,
seeing as it had been rendered useless lately anyway, but i took it anyway.

I'll document a bit of my experiences of being in Cairo a bit later,
but for now i'm in Italy and going to meet up with some friends.

It will be hard to describe the un-nervousness and unrest,
but also let you know that i never felt particularly in any immediate danger
and feel proud to be able to have walked on the streets and
spoken to Egyptians who are not angry or violent but more optimistic,
looking forward to a brighter future.