Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Birthday Suit


OK OK I'm 27. No need to be all dramatic about it. It won't shock me, I guess, to look up and see that I'm 46, or 97. That's coming soon too.

Remember when I was 2 or 3 and learning nursery rhymes from my uncle B "my head, my shoulders, my knees, my toes, they all belong to Jesus" and watching TV in 1985 when Nigeria was 25
...or in the car moving to TinCan at 5 and reading out loud EVERY sign on the way. I can still hear myself: "Snake Island Dockyard. TinCan Island Port. Bush." Over and over
...the night before Queen's College with mum writing my name - in Kandahar ink AND oil-based indelible marker - on all my new things while our neighbour who had been to boarding school advised on what to take and I was too excited all night to finish my dinner of yam pottage.
I remember almost everything in between too.
Anyhoo, same kid.
Being grown up ROCKS.

Happy birthday
to all you May 1st kids.
Happy Worker's Day too to everyone. Be FREE.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Checking Stats


I'm getting older. Very soon I'll understand my mother, that's what they say.

In her office, my mother has calendars with pictures of the African Nobel Prize winners. Well, today I checked online and here are the Africans awarded Nobel Prizes in the last eight years.

2005: Mohammed ElBaradei of Egypt/ The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
2004: Wangari Maathai of Kenya
2003: John Maxwell Coetzee of South Africa
2001: Kofi Annan of Ghana/ The United Nations

If you go as far back as the 1990s, then you find
Egyptian Ahmed Zewail for Chemistry
South Africans F. W. de Klerk / Nelson Mandela for Peace
South African Nadine Gordimer in Literature
Zewail is a Caltech prof., and there's a street named for him near my work in Cairo.

Before that, there were Naguib Mahfouz, Wole Soyinka, Desmond Tutu, and Anwar El-Sadat. KhalaS. I think that's it.

There have been more USA Nobel prize winners in Economics alone from 2000-2007, or in Physics alone in the same period.

I do understand my father. When I was a kid, he loved being a fan - of Sugar Ray Leonard and black boxers, of his daughters, of Nigerian football. My father believes that, in competition, there should be a hefty ass-whooping, and YOU should be the one giving it - end of story.
(Love you dad, sorry I haven't called. It's been quiet time around here.)

It's birthday season again and I wonder if my busy little friend - the one I was in love with circa January 2005 - will win the physics prize someday. While I can attest that winning a Nobel Prize is far from "the measure of a man" it's still really cool, you know? Me, I'll get a few. Girls would win more if they cared to.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Watching Al-Jazeera in Arabic


This guy just came on. He's Tariq Al-Nasir.
Yikes, it's hard not to write an Egyptian spelling like Tarek El-Nasir.
He's in Oman on an Al-Jazeera video-conference interview. He's wearing a beard and a black turtleneck.
I surmise that he's a terrorist, or at least someone unfriendly to the US.
Yes, I've been programmed to think sober-faced bearded men only go on TV to speak their resolve to take on the West.

It turns out he's a composer, ta'alif musiqa. Also on the screen the words musiqiya taSwiiriya - photographic music? I don't understand.

He's speaking now, he says something about Gustavo Santaolalla. Says something about the sounds of the music, says it's great music. Whatever else he's saying, it sounds so beautiful and I lost myself in the sound of it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Things I've learned in Egypt


Vitamin C
When you feel the first symptoms of a cold, get a very high dose of Vitamin C. I don't mean a few oranges or a multivitamin tablet, I mean 30 times the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, like in these 1g Ascorbic Acid effervescent tablets. It's magic.

Don't use a tick-tock clock in your bedroom, get a digital one. The noise can be annoying when all else is silent at night.

Egyptians need to raise their African cred
Sure, they're really African - beautiful people with that regal carriage who love football. But they don't like messy, peppery food and they worry the sun will make their skin dark. Also, they don't dance enough.