Tag Archives: cairo

The Neon Tribe

Quick post just to have a more style related update up. I was planning to do a 2xOOTD thing again, but then I got preoccupied with some other work. Below I’m posing with a friend’s fanoos Ramadan (or Ramadan lantern), one of Egypt’s many traditions of this month. I look waaay to happy.

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neontribe

Scarf: H&M, colorful neck scarf: Zara, boyfriend shirt: Bershka, neon sports shirt: Bershka, tribal patterned maxi skirt: Stradivarius, wrap-around belt: ASOS

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A Non-style Related Note on Egypt

This is obviously not a political blog, yet I cannot but weigh in on what is set to happen in Egypt today. In the interest of time I’m not writing a full post but rather sharing an extended status I wrote some days ago, as al-Sisi called for supporters to take to the streets for the purpose of giving him popular legitimacy to deal with terrorism and political unrest.

Even if one strongly dislikes the Brotherhood’s politics/is bothered by them closing up all the major streets (both applies to me), please think twice about going down on Friday, giving the military free reign to do what they may with the group and their supporters. 

It is as if all the crimes of the military were instantly forgotten with the coup (yes, I call it a coup), and all the dreams of political freedom were given up on at the very same moment. You don’t have to be pro-military abuse to be against Morsi, and you definitely don’t have to be pro-Morsi to opine that throwing your full and unquestionable support behind the forces pulling the strings of Egypt’s politics and economy for so many decades is not a very humane or liberal choice at this point in time.

I was definitely not sad to see Morsi go but I think the way he went will bite us in the back later on and the efforts to address the mechanism by any other name show how embarrassed we really are about it – we’re in a state of cognitive dissonance. I do not wish for his return – I’ve seen very anti-democratic discourse from some individuals of the Brotherhood dealing with executing the “traitors” etc, and I do not believe that they’d hesitate to close liberal shows and channels as we (I’m referring here to liberals like myself) set the precedent for it, including other possible anti-democratic measures. At the same time, painting the entire body of members and supporters as terrorists, excusing the killing of them as a matter of national security is highly illiberal and inhumane. 

We should rather fight for reconciliation, for inclusion. Show the ikhwan that we can succeed where they failed in their intolerant, arrogant ways that eventually led to their downfall.

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Flowers and How to Love Cairo

This is sort of neat: one day I wore a flower print jumpsuit, the next day I found and posed with a bush looking pretty much the same as the other day’s print in one of Cairo’s tiny and random public gardens (small reasons for happiness, as you soon will learn). As you all probably know, Cairo is far from the greenest city in the world. Crowded, dusty, and noisy, with packed streets running crisscross between faded behemoths of apartment buildings, it is quite an overwhelming place for many a visitor, and an occasional pain for residents and returning enthusiasts. Still, Cairo remains my favorite city in the world. It is mine. It has soul. I wouldn’t trade it for the beauty of Barcelona, the hipness of Istanbul, nor the relatively organized-ness of gridded US cities like Chicago or New York.

Of course, surviving and coming to love the city is a matter of attitude. To be happy here, you need to adjust your expectations, learn to chill, and adopt a positive outlook. Yes, the city can be an eyesore in broad daylight; learn to appreciate the full potential of its splendor by night – the closer to sunrise the better, as you will have the city almost all to yourself. Cruise across the full extent of an empty 6th of October bridge as the night turns to dawn with some Oum Kalthoum playing in the background to fall in love with the city anew (I did this last Ramadan – traveling from a sohoor gathering in El Dokki after fagr to my place in El Rehab felt almost magical).

Stuck in the infamous Cairo traffic? Observe the various and highly creative forms of non-verbal communication you will not encounter the likes of anywhere else but here. Let your thoughts fly. Read a book. Call a long lost friend. There are many solutions to such a problem. And if you are suffocating from the pollution and noise, you need not look far for an escape. Get on a faluka (boat) from El Maadi (the non-motorized, quiet one) with snack and good friends, enjoy the priceless view and impeccably chill music in Sequoia at the edge of Zamalek overlooking/being surrounded by the Nile, or even better in my opinion (and waaay cheaper), pay five geneih (less than a dollar) to enter Al Azhar park at night (a true oasis in the middle of the city), grab a to-go cup of tea from the outdoor coffee shop, sit on the grassy hill overlooking parts of the city, and talk or reflect while listening to the taraweeh prayers of a hundred mosques (in Ramadan, that is).

 

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Learn to enjoy the simple things you may encounter in the city. Did the taxi driver actually give you the exact change back, including halfs or quarters? What a pleasant surprise! Particularly green gardens in between buildings and cars (like the one above) are to be appreciated. Stores that close at 11 or midnight? Yes, please. Oh, and perhaps the most missed aspect, according to friends who go back and forth or who end up leaving; anything and everything can be delivered to you. At almost any point of the day or night. Groceries, medication, or Mac Donalds at your doorstep? Why, of course. There are a plethora of other small issues to jump with joy over, of course, but I’ll let you discover those on your own (let me know if you already did – what is there to love about Cairo?).

rosesarered

Scarf: Vida Hijabs (check out their Facebook page here), ethnic patterned kimono cardigan: Zara, leopard print top: Indiska (Norway), maxi skirt: Stradivarius, accessories: ASOS, Ebay.

tropicalflower

Scarf: Ebay, neck scarf: H&M, oversized shirt: Bershka, tropical flower print jumpsuit: Mango, ethnic black and white belt: River Island, accessories: Icing, River Island.

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Dots on Dots & Tribal Attack

This is going to be a very quick 2 x outfit of the day post, as the last few days have been a little crazy (in a good, socially active, ramadan-ish way). The last days have been filled partly with delicious food and sweets, partly with interesting people, and partly with spirituality. And as always with a lot of prints and colors sartorially. I hope you are all enjoying this wonderful month and that you’ll be rewarded for all your efforts.

ethnica

Headscarf: Ebay, neck scarf: H&M, pharaonic/ethnic print tunic: Zara, tribal print maxi skirt: Stradivarius, fringed bag: ASOS, accessories: Urban Outfitters, Icing, Boohoo.

DotsOnDots

Scarf: H&M, polkadot dip-back shirt: Forever21, polkadot palazzos: Forever21, clutch: Gina Tricot (Norway), harness/necklace: River Island, accessories: ASOS, H&M.

PS! Even though I’m the more is more type, things can get too much for me as well sometimes. I actually removed this belt right after the pictures as it was a little too much going on, making the outfit look less than its potential. Sadly, the pictures were taken before that point.

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Protest Style

I couldn’t stay away from the activism in Cairo for too long and on my second full day I went protest hopping. I started with Raba3a in Madinet Nasr, where the Muslim Brotherhood had been blocking off streets since the Friday before the ouster of Morsi. Now most my friends are liberals or otherwise anti-ikhwan (I’m not very sympathetic to the group either), and so they found it quite puzzling that I went, but since I like to watch, learn, and understand, such a visit was necessary. With another PhD student who is also visiting, I went “backstage” where the makeshift press center is situated, on stage (to take a photo of the crowd), and around the area of the protests to get a feel of attitudes and sentiments of the area. Despite reports of people acting in a violent, threatening manner toward non-group members, I did not have any bad experience, and I didn’t see any weapons except from sticks. The security was heavier than any Tahrir event I’ve attended previously – not only was my purse checked, but the women also gave me a full pat-down and were concerned about my lack of an Egyptian ID card. Frustration and the wish to get heard characterized the atmosphere, but it was all in all peaceful.

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Next up was Etihadeya in Masr el gededa where a very different crowd and atmosphere awaited me. I went with a bunch of friends, and the whole area was filled with happy, beaming people and festivities, including fireworks, patriotic songs, and celebratory dance. It was understandably a much more lighthearted event, but although I do not mourn the absence of Morsi I could not help but feeling uncomfortable about celebrating the generals we only a year earlier had peppered with #NOSCAF tweets and other criticism. Time certainly changes a whole lot of things. I found myself disagreeing with both Brotherhood members and liberals, as these are precarious days for the people adopting a middle position (anti-Morsi, anti-coup).

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So what do I wear to protests? I tend toward pants so that I’ll be able to run and stuff should things get more serious. I wear baggy, simple outfits that are both maximally comfortable and breathing as well as less attention grabbing than my day-to-day wear. Flats is a must, of course, and if one can do either without a bag or with a tiny cross-shoulder purse for necessities that is ideal. Below is my protest style.

proteststyle

Scarf: Indiska (Norway), neck scarf with tassels: H&M, tribal oversized asymmetric hem shirt: Boohoo, scrunched bottom harem pants: ASOS, bag: Gina Tricot (Norway), gladiator sandals: New Look, belt: ASOS.

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