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Friday, 30 March 2012

Never be predictable

What do you do when you are on your last 100 euros?

You spend it all on a 3-month subscription at the gym of a local five star hotel, including access to the pool and spa.

Well, that’s what I did anyway.

As my yoga teacher in Sydney used to tell me: ‘Never be predictable, always do what is least expected. It will open up new opportunities.’

You wouldn't expect someone who can barely afford a falafel to be hanging out in the jacuzzi of a five star hotel, now would you? 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to wait for new opportunities in the sauna of my new gym. 

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Teaching in Egypt (2) – On doing business in the Middle East

One of my classes insisted one of our discussion topics for the course would be business. That sounded awfully boring to me, so I decided to spice things up a little by presenting them with an article on the cultural differences one might come across when doing business with the Middle East.

I found this article online with a few fairly offensive comments in it.

‘Many Westerners that have lived or worked in the Middle East might use the words chaotic, disorganised and frustrating when discussing doing business there. Although this is a matter of perception, it is true that business runs on very different tracks to business in the West.’
[…]
‘The Middle Eastern culture places more value on someone's word as opposed to a written agreement. A person's word is connected to their honour. Contracts are viewed as memorandums of understanding rather than binding, fixed agreements. Be sure to promise only things you can deliver. Failure to do so will result in loss of honour.’
[…]
‘Meetings can be chaotic. Always be prepared to exercise patience. Phone calls are taken during meetings and people may enter the meeting room unannounced and proceed to discuss their own agendas.’

One could broadly interpret the above statements as ‘Arab are chaotic, always late, very proud and can be very rude’. Kind of insulting, no?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Poker night

That was a great night, I really needed that.
How do you say 'I have a hangover' in Arabic?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Book update (1): Hard at work

These past couple of days (or, more precisely, nights) I have been diligently typing away at my masterpiece debut novel like a little monkey on crack.

It’s going well, but the best gems seem to be in the chapter titles. So far I've got fourteen super amazing mind-blowingly great ones.

Back in journalism school, they taught us: ‘A great title is half the work. People will read the most trite nonsense, as long as you reel them in with a great headline.’ 

I wonder if that rule works for books too... 

Stephen King doesn't like adverbs

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Free milk, no cookies

If anyone can use a few dozen tea bags and a couple of pints of milk, give me a call. Nobody in this house will be consuming them anymore.

As I told my friend a few weeks ago: ‘there must be something seriously wrong with this guy, nobody can be this nice’.

I hate it when I’m right.

Karma, you’re up. Yalla.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Teaching in Egypt (1): ‘Women are superficial and stupid’

For the past few weeks I have been teaching English conversation classes. It’s a lot of fun, especially when you get to teach the higher levels, with students that can actually partake in a discussion.

Of course, the more controversial the topic, the more interesting it gets. This week I discussed women’s rights.

(for those of you not in the know, sexual harassment of women is rampant in Egypt, as you can read here, here, here and here).

A male student made the opening statement:

‘Women’s rights in Egypt are a myth. Women are superficial and stupid, they shouldn’t have any rights.’

When I asked him what he based this opinion on, he got up out of his chair and pointed at one of the girls in class. ‘Her!’

‘Women only care about shopping and make-up, she is the perfect example of that.’

Well, that certainly got the class going.

Friday, 16 March 2012

What I learned today (2): Cookies vs biscuits


The term ‘cookies’ only applies to the round variety. If it is square, it should most definitely be referred to as a ‘biscuit’. When containing nuts and some kind of honey- or sugar-like substance, it must be called a ‘bar’. 

Incorrect use of the above mentioned terms will highly likely result in confused Brits and Americans regarding the snack you are referring to.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

What I saw today (1): Antique car in City of the Dead

Check out the super old 'automobile' we found in the City of the Dead!
That bathtub plus chair set up looks mighty comfortable too.