Tiny announcement

Hello lovely people from Jordan, Italy, the US, the UK, Switzerland, Romania, France, Spain, Germany, Vietnam, the UAE, Iraq, Belgium, Indonesia, Latvia, Portugal, Israel, Egypt, New Zealand, Malaysia, China, Qatar, Lebanon, Sweden, Denmark, Georgia, Australia, Canada, Norway, India, Lithuania, Croatia, Brazil, Ireland, Macau, Nicaragua, Poland, Austria, Iceland, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Palestinian Territories, Colombia, Tunisia, Morocco, Hong Kong, Bahrain, the Philippines, Serbia, Slovenia, Tanzania, Russia, Japan, Greece, South Korea, South Africa, Thailand, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, and Mexico who regularly or occasionally read/ have read this blog!

Woah that’s… SIXTY-ONE COUNTRIES? Seriously?? Awww I had never paid attention to the country stats before!!! Exciting!

With the start of my new job tomorrow, I am taking one week of complete break from this blog. It will be painful because I have grown very attached to it; but it will also be necessary for my mental and physical health, I think. I hope it can be just a week and not longer – just the time to adjust to my new life rhythms basically 🙂

Just so you know, my new employer is https://www.wep.it/ and I am super excited to join their high school exchange programme team in just a few hours!!!!! While unfortunately there is no Arabic involved, I see it as an important way to contribute to the expansion of positive inter- and multi-cultural relationships in this conflicted world where neighbours fight each other mostly based on ignorance and greed. But before I get to philosophical and all… bye. Hope to see you again soon 😉


p.s. two weeks, actually


Asfour by Aida el Ayoubi

It’s #ReviewFriday !!
My Arabic teacher has suggested that I listen to this song by Egyptian singer Aida el Ayoubi:

Aida el Ayoubi (Arabic: عايدة الأيوبي‎‎; born 1964) is an Egyptian singer, songwriter and guitarist. She also has German Kurdish heritage.[1] She graduated from The American University in Cairo in the mid-1980s, and gained fame in the early 1990s in Egypt and the Middle East. Aida el-Ayoubi is a graduate of Deutsche Evangelische Oberschule in Cairo and The American University in Cairo where she majored in Computer Science.

She completed three albums before going into a career hiatus following her first-born. She is well known in Egypt and many other Arab countries for her romantic music and her soft voice. She is best known for her hit song A’ala Baly which appeared on her first album. Aida’s heartfelt lyrics and beautiful, soothing voice were the keys to her success till this day. [Wikipedia]

so there we goooooo 😀

She also pasted the lyrics for me:

عصفور طل من الشباك قالى يا نونو 
خبينى عندك خبينى دخلك يا نونو
قلتله انت من وين قالى من حدود السما
قلتله جاى من وين قالى من بيت الجيران
قلتله خايف من مين قالى من القفص هربان
قلتله ريشاتك وين قالى فرفتها الزمان
عصفور طل من الشباك قالى يا نونو
خبينى عندك خبينى دخلك يا نونو
نزلت ع خده دمعه وجناحاته متكيه
واتهدى بالأرض وقال بدى امشى وما فيه
نزلت على خده دمعه وجناحاته متكيه
واتهدى بالأرض وقال بدى امشى وما فيه
ضميته على قلبى وصار يتوجع على جروحاته
قبل ما يكسر الحبس تكسر صوته وجناحاته
لتله انت من وين قالى من حدود السما
قلتله جاى من وين قالى من بيت الجيران
قلتله خايف من مين قالى القفص هربان
قلتله ريشاتك وين قالى فرفتها الزمان
عصفور طل من الشباك قالى يا نونو
خبينى عندك خبينى دخلك يا نونو
قلتله لا تخاف اتطلع شوف الشمس اللي هتطلع
اتطلع عالغاب وشاف امواج الحريه بتلمع
شاف جوانح عم بتزقزق من خلف ابواب العليه
شاف الغابه عم بتحلق على جوانيح الحريه
قلتله انت من وين قالى من حدود السما
قلتله جاى من وين قالى من بيت الجيران
قلتله خايف من مين قالى من القفص هربان
قلتله ريشاتك وين قالى فرفتها الزمان
عصفور طل من الشباك قالى يا نونو
خبينى عندك خبينى دخلك يا نونو
It’s too late/ I’m too tired and this is a bit too complicated for me to attempt a translation right now, but wow I love this! It’s such a sweet sweet song, hypnotic even!!!! And even without knowing exactly what it says, I can already make some observations:
  1. I think Aida is speaking Egyptian ammiya here, based on certain words
  2. She is also definitely pronouncing words in the Egyptian way, i.e. skipping the initial ق, going hard on ج and softer than I expected on خ
  3. She’s talking to someone called Nunu and mentioning windows, the sky, a house, time, the Earth, tall doors and something that this Nunu has! Yeah!!

I shall work on a proper translation as soon as I have the chance, in between my actual Arabic lessons, correcting my past homework and producing some other new one 😉 Meanwhile, I’m happy to now have Aida el Ayoubi in my YouTube repertoire hehe! Goodnight peopleee

The measure of a person…

The measure of a person…

As my first day of new job approaches, I realise that I am getting more and more excited as well as more and more stressed, despite the fact it’s really quite hard for me to get stressed. And in fact it’s a type of nervousness rather than real stress, something that literally flies my nerves up on the surface of my skin. Rationally I know it’s a useless and totally unnecessary feeling, but I learnt a while ago that I can’t fully control my body 😛 so instead I’m trying to find a ‘cure‘, so to say; some kind of thought to bring the nerves back down where they belong… especially as everything will be just FINE hahaha, and even if I worry about not having enough time for all I want to do, I mean – we are all certainly going to survive and be happy even if I stop doing something. I know that! I just don’t like the mere idea of having to drop something.

On my wall of postcards, in the kitchen, there is one intruder that, whoops, is not a postcard.


See it? …well you can’t, because apparently I took this picture before I added that as the last perfect detail hahaha!!! And I can’t be bothered to take a new picture now, I’m sorry. This intruder is the business card of a friend of mine, printed both sides, because on the back it says, in a very simple yet effective font:

the measure of a person is determined by the challenges they accept

not by their successes,
not by their talent,
but by what they accept to take on.

Now, this is something that resonates with me deeply. One of my favourite quotes ever. And since I feel that I’ll need to remind it to myself soon and often, I’ve decided to try and translate it in Arabic, even though I’ll probably make a mess. I want my measure to be determined by this challenge, too 😉  But! I haven’t learnt how to make passives yet, so I’ll turn it around and change it a bit: the challenges you accept determine your measure!!

challenges = التحديات | attahaddiat
to accept = يقبل | yaqbal?
to determine =  يحدد | yuhaddid
measure = قياس | qiyaas

التحديات التي تقبلينها، تحدد قياسك

lit. the challenges which you (female singular) accept them, they determine your (female sing.) measure.

I need to ask Asma’a/Ramy/someone if this is correct haha 😛 I want to start every day by saying it – with correct pronunciation, of course! I can practice my different “ha”s hahaha!!

Oh, that picture of me above is absolutely random, by the way. My little sister took it when she last came to visit me 🙂

Communist calligraphy

Communist calligraphy

I know it’s Women’s Day and I could be doing something about that, but hey! One of my closest cousins lent me his computer when I needed it and, in exchange for the favour, I told him I’d write him whatever he wanted in Arabic calligraphy. Now… it just so happens that what he wanted was the following incredible couple of sentences:

Welcome to this humble abode. The landlord [name of my cousin] will welcome you with a smile and a closed fist and peace and harmony. May hammer and sickle be in your heart.

Of course I honoured his request, little drawing of a hammer and sickle included!!

As you can see, I smudged the ink in several spots, I got at least one alif terrrrribly wrong and there were places where I honestly did not know where to place the dots. All in all, it’s quite a mess and, were I more serious than I truly am, I would have made it all again from the start. But instead I told myself, “No! It is important that in the future you be able to go back and trace your very beginnings. It is important that you may see how far you’ve gone and smile at this first attempt of yours at writing a whooole paragraph!!“.

So here we are. With many thanks to my official translator Ramy 🙂 and to my cousin, for the unexpected challenge! 🙂



Grammar crammer: the feminine plural

Another lovely Qasid grammar video.

I thought I knew the rules that make (regular) feminine plural: just add ات at the end of words and you’re done, right? Hahahaa. Apparently not 😛 Or, YES, but that’s just for nouns – what about all the rest, all those other situations where all people involved are female?

  • You are girls –> أنتن بنات, antunna banat
  • where are your books? –> أين كتبكن؟, ayn kutubkunna?
  • They are girls –> هن بنات, hunna banat
  • where are their books? –> أين كتبهن؟, ayn kutubhunna?
  • I think they are in their house –> أظن انهن في بيتهن, azzunn annahunna fi baytihinna
  • You (girls) did –> أنتن فعلتن, antunna faeltunna
  • You (girls) do –> أنتن تفعلن, antunna tafaelna
  • They (girls) did/do –> هن فعلن / يفعلن, hunna faelna / yafaelna
  • They are the girls who… –> هن البنات اللواتي, hunna albanat allawati

There we go 🙂 Note that those, هؤلاء, is the same word for masculine and feminine contexts. And another thing: plural in ات never takes fatha or tanween fatha as a case ending! It takes instead the kasra version in both mansub and majrur cases 😉

Now will I remember all this? Bets are open…

Sporty, Middle-Eastern, women

I’ve never been a big fan of Nike. But yesterday I saw their new ad and I have to admit I just loved it. Sure, they are good at what they do and I shouldn’t be surprised about that – but at the same time this is actually something that could lose them some customers, and that certainly sparked some debate. You’ll understand as you watch.

The phenomenon has, of course, been talked about. Some articles keep it pretty short and neutral (this CNN one for example); some go a little more into detail as per what people’s comments have been on the issue (Huffington Post); TheDrum has the merit of mentioning the full names of a few of the incredible spostswomen featured in the ad; AlArabiyaAlArabiya adds some info to the current Saudi context on the matter;  and an official article on the Nike website gives insight on each of the sportswomen’s lives. Overall, my first Google research on this only produced positive results, with titles that focused on the ‘baldness‘ of this move and on its character of celebration, inclusion and empowerment.

And do you know what the great news is? Even my second Google research, criticism on new Nike ad, gave me some pretty excellent responses. The only negative ones referred to another Nike ad from last summer, with babies, which apparently backfired. As for the rest, keywords include

#millennials #powerful #challenge #stereotypes #daring #statement #success #culturalexpectations #pioneering #overcome #viral #overwhelminglysupportive #controversy #smashstereotypes #defy #trumphate

Real criticism only amounted, article after articles, to two comments made by random internet users- nothing terrible, either, one being clearly a personal opinion and the other a matter-of-fact statement that “this is not how things really are“. Yeah they sure aren’t for all women in the whole Middle East, and that alone, in my opinion, is exactly what makes this ad truly great; because who better than the media can inspire change by portraying what normal people cannot see or even dare to imagine in their daily lives?