Tag Archives: muslim

Glitter and Lights

A very, very belated Eid saeed to all my lovely readers out there who do not follow me on Instagram or Facebook (I’ve already wished you a happy feast there). Since I failed to wake up super-duper early to manage to catch the Eid prayers in any masgid in Cairo (they’re at 5-or-so AM there which means way after fagr and way before it is healthy to get up and out of the house, as opposed to America’s comparatively comfy 9AM prayers), I tried to dress up a little to still get that Eid feel.

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My outfit was not the most convenient choice for the activities of the day. Although we started relatively light, hanging out at a coffee shop in decent El Maadi, things would soon take a turn for way dustier areas. Again, being the addicts of cheap, dirty kebda (liver) and sogo2 (spicy sausage) sandwiches we are (another reference to this addiction is to be found in the previous post), we just had to get food from an infamous place at share3 Muezz (a historical street by the El Husein or Khan el Khalily district). Taking the sandwiches to-go, we sat in a cafe in el husein eating them with some delish mint tea, to the sound of oud music. Not bad at all. Upon leaving and walking the narrow alleys back to the car, we found a couple of camels and horses for the residents’ kids to ride on (which I of course had to pose with).

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(Upper left: one of the slim streets off of share3 Muezz in decked out in all its sha3by charm, upper right: posing with some flowers prior to going out, lower left: My friend Bahaa is not only a computer genius; he also has one of the coolest hair styles in Cairo, lower right: one of the awesome, decorated camels of share3 Muezz)

We then went to Masr el gededa for some fresh juice (kiwi, yay!), after which we ended the evening in another sandwich store in another dusty area, Ramsis. My previously off-white maxi skirt had definitely done its duty sweeping the streets of Cairo that day.

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Square zebra print scarf: H&M, sequin blazer jacket: Mango, chiffon shirt: Vero Moda, zebra print belt: River Island, off-white maxi skirt: Zara, clutch: vintage, accessories: H&M

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Catching Up Big Time

I’m back in the US with a pretty stable internet connection, which means you will be seeing a lot of posts from my last weeks in Egypt (I know, I’ve been really bad with updates as I’ve been without internet on my computer for a while – check out my Instagram for more timely material). I’ll start with five outfits representing what I wore for the last days of Ramadan, with details posted below each picture. As I’ve noted in previous posts, Ramadan in Cairo is full of social activities and fun, and these last days were no different. As I spent the last part of my stay in Zamalek there were a lot of outings by the Nile, whether an after-iftar farewell party on a feluka on the river with some of the awesome start-up people there, or more calmer, good-quality dining on its banks. I also managed to get some really sha3by activities down, going to the famous El Brins in the populous district of Imbaba for an unforgettable meal (really, I never knew something as simple as rice could taste that good) as well as conducting some late night kebda (liver) and sogo2 (spicy oriental sausage) sandwich hunting close to Tahrir square. How I miss you already, ya Masr.

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Crinkled head scarf: H&M, neck scarf: Egypt, baggy geometric print maxi dress: Stradivarius, fringed bag: ASOS, ethnic embroidered belt: Urban Outfitters, shades: Urban Outfitters, shoes: Club Aldo (Egypt).

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Multicolor printed scarf: Zara, crinkled neck scarf: H&M, chiffon shirt: Vero Moda, neon shirt: Bershka, polka dot palazzo pants: Forever21, accessories: River Island

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Headscarf: Vida Hijabs, denim shirt: Ebay, sleeveless mixed animal-floral print shirt: Vero Moda, gladiator belt: ASOS, maxi skirt: Stradivarius, clutch: vintage, accessories: Ebay, Icing

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Peach scarf: Ebay, neck scarf: H&M, sleeveless pastel python print blouse: Mango, pastel python print pants: Mango, necklace: H&M

nileflowers

Scarf: Norway, floral dramatic sleeve blouse: Boohoo, denim wrap belt: taken from denim Vero Moda harem pants, maxi skirt: Zara

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Ramadan Around C-town

One of many reasons why I love Ramadan in Cairo is the many social events – iftar with friends and friends’ families, dish party networking iftars, and and after-iftar/sohoor events (as I’ve mentioned earlier, there’s no place like Cairo by night). Especially the startup/entrepreneurship community are good at these latter ones and so I’ve made it to quite a few of those, meeting some of Egypt’s bright, young minds. Among other cool community iftars, a vegan/vegetarian one at Bikya book cafe in el Maadi was very different affair as Cairo is probably not the easiest place for people avoiding meat.

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(What I’m wearing: pleated scarf: H&M, neck scarf: Forever21, chiffon shirt: H&M, embroidered/beaded tank top: Pull & Bear, lace tiered maxi skirt: Urban Outfitters, belt: ASOS)

What I also appreciate is the sense of community across the society this one month, evident in the free juice, candy, and dates handed out along the streets as the call for maghreb gets close. Even in the poorer, slum-like areas, people would graciously hand you small plastic bags of tamr hindi to break fasr on, something that came in handy while on the autostrad running late on my way to one of the above mentioned  events (see the below; we actually had a 5-minute stop in this run-down area)

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Lastly, but even more importantly, I love the late night tahajjud prayer, and I’m so happy I have friends who are able to convince me to tag along sometimes. Few things are more beautiful than worship with a Nile view. It is my hope that you all get to enjoy your last weeks of Ramadan, and make the very best of its awesomeness. I certainly will.

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(Picking out a quick sohoor before tahajjud with a dear friend in Metro market, Zamalek)

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My Colorful Ramadan

Many years back, I was convinced that colorful garments had no place in an appropriate Ramadan wardrobe. I would strive to wear black, black, and even more black (or at least similar somber colors). I suppose I fell into the trap of equating one culture’s garments correct “Islamic attire”, much too easily dismissing the vibrant and often quite disparate cultures of dress and customs that spans the Muslim World (if one can even use that word to describe such a vast, non-monolitic, imagined unit).

Fortunately, much has changed since that time, including greater religious and historical knowledge and education, more world exposure, and maturity, and by time I came to realize there is no religious superiority in the thobe and abaya over other modest options taken from the different Islamic hybrid cultures out there. See, Islam spread so rapidly over such a substantial and culturally rich area that it produced myriads of “shari3a-compliant” ways to practice; where cultural norms and traditions did not contradict or come in conflict with Islamic ideals, what existed was merged with the new. And that diversity I think is one of the most beautiful things about my religion – we should value it to its maximum. A modest Pakistani shalwar kameez is no less appropriate than a Gulf abaya, neither is loose-fitting Western clothing. Rather, those types of garments can be even more appropriate than that black gown depending on the context. When I wear black abayas with matching scarves in the US, for example, I’m at the receiving end of much more attention than what is the case with my day-to-day style (am I a princess? Is black required by my religion? Is it a special occasion?). And in a more colorful environment, opting for all black may similarly stand out more. On the other hand, in Yemen, I did wear black abayas (no niqab though – that would never happen) because that is what is the norm there (but wearing black for that long prevented me from enjoying it for years to come).

This is not a case for abaya bashing – believe me, I truly love those elegant, luxurious garments, and I wear them with pride – but it is a case for embracing the variations and aesthetics of all our hybrid traditions. Color is halal, as is black. So this Ramadan, in the Egyptian, colorful street context, I’m embracing the palette of the rainbow đŸ˜‰

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(What I’m wearing: Scarf: Forever21, slik zebra/leopard scarf: souvenir from Thailand, sleeveless tropical print shirt: Forever21, striped top: Urban Outfitters, dramatic flare palazzo pants: Urban Outfitters)

Now what did I do for the first and second day of Ramadan? Well, thanks to the lateness of my friend and I, we ended up searching for a taxi in the streets of Madinet Nasr, Cairo to go to Mo2attam (an area 15 minutes away) about 10-15 minutes prior to sunset. That search, as one may expect, did not turn out successful. First of all, at this time the streets are emptier than you will ever see them in daylight. Second, even if some unlucky taxi driver happens to still be out, he will most likely want to get to the closest food vendor or his family if in the area. Driving in the desert when he should be eating is not a wishful situation. Consequently, when the azan was called, we were stranded in the same spot with a glass of Tang (a sugary powder mixed in water) each, handed to us by some kids. Mine had a tiny fly in it, but given that it was a street drink in Cairo I did not have high expectations (3ady, ya3ny); hence I picked it out and drank with much gusto (survival of the fittest, yo).

A merciful driver stopped soon thereafter, and got us tons more of free street drinks sans flies before we reached our destination where a hearty 1st day Egyptian Ramadan meal with fresh juice awaited us. Gotta love the Cairene Ramadan spirit of giving and sharing, with or without flies.

We did not make it to taraweeh even though we planned to, but spent time with friends until late.

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(What I’m wearing: Zebra square scarf: H&M, bubble neck scarf: H&M, oversized top: Boohoo, pleated jersey maxi skirt: Unique Hijabs, rose metal belt: Urban Outfitters, accessories: Ebay, H&M)

The next day was taken up by a phone interview and school work, but we were better at timing; we actually made to iftar on time. Taraweeh was prayed in a cute mosque in Masr el Gededa, before hanging out in beautiful Zamalek, snacking on Egyptian traditional food, sugar cane juice, and tea with mint in a new, sha3by-style cafe with good friends. Life is good, elhamdlelah.

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(This is what an Egyptian Ramadan looks like – excuse the bad picture quality)

 

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The Polkadot Palazzo

These pictures are actually a week old plus – as I mentioned, I’ve been insanely busy moving, traveling, and getting situated here in Cairo (if it is a little quiet on here sometimes, you can always check out my Instagram account). First up, I’m showing some love for the June 30 protests (for pressuring purposes: although I certainly wasn’t sad to see Morsi go I’m not really a fan of the coup, but I’ll save that for a later post) with a more natural, Ramadan appropriate makeup.

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Those of you who’ve followed me for a while know how big of a fan I am of heavy eye makeup and this is definitely not the end of that. I just felt like I’ve had a daily overdose of makeup for some months now, and thus I’m trying a mild rehab approach to my face. The below left picture is representative of my current daily makeup, the one to the right is my makeup in Spain (in the evening, but nevertheless, you get my point, I believe..).

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Below is what I wore on my last day in Michigan before setting out on new adventures. It was quite a busy last day as I had to fit in a Skype interview with Levant TV, an abaya photoshoot (see previous post), and the moving of all my belongings to a storage. These two year old palazzo pants saw the light again after a long time off duty, as they are ideally comfy for all the activity. Pheww. Glad to be done.

palazzopolka

Scarf: H&M, tribal tank top: Forever21, denim shirt: Ebay, polkadot palazzo pants: Forever21, bag: Gina Tricot (Norway), studded ankle boots: River Island, accessories: River Island, Norway, Ebay.

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