Saturday, September 19, 2009

Common Indecency

The other night I had a midnight pancakes dinner with Cheb Khaled and a friend of his. Now, Cheb Khaled is generally a very polite - if somewhat paranoid - person. He opens doors, walks on the side facing oncoming traffic when we're crossing the street and always tries to stop me from paying my share of the tab. In today's society of pansy boys spending daddy's cash, he is a New York cop amongst Riviera sun worshippers. But whenever he speaks to a waiter or anyone serving him, he reminds me of a huge problem I have with Egyptian society as a whole.

Egyptians cannot be polite to anyone working in the service industry.

Now I don't know if this is a shared superiority complex, collective snobbism or just plain common indecency, but it is a rampant trend in our society and it needs to stop. The fact that someone is serving you in some way does not give you the right to snap your fingers, order them around, be dismissive, not look at them while speaking to them, be slouched in your chair as you speak to them, wave them away or treat them in any way that is demeaning or you yourself would find offensive.

If anything, treat them with respect because they are providing you with the comfort of being served rather than doing things for yourself. Say please and thank you, be polite when pointing something wrong out (i.e. don't curse the person out when they bring the wrong dressing with your salad) and always leave a decent tip; you may not remember who served you, but they'll always remember - and reward - a good tipper.

All of this is pretty basic but the memo seems to have skipped Egyptians. My first instinct would be to chalk it up to poor parenting. Mrs. Fallon is a great example of the benefits of good parenting. She is infinitely courteous and considerate to everyone who serves her, even if they totally mess her order up. But I know that Cheb Khaled comes from a good home as well. So why isn't he more like Mrs. Fallon? What do you think is the root of Egypt's inability to show some common decency?

This whole thing reminds me of the way Tom Hanks was treated in Philadelphia. He was treated with respect and even reverence so long as he was considered an equal at his law firm. The moment he was perceived as 'below' the partners, he was shot down, insulted and ignored. Good movie if you haven't seen it. Bruce Springsteen wrote a great song for the movie, as seen below.

Streets of Philadelphia - Bruce Springsteen:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Master of Ceremonies

Those of my 6 and a half readers who've seen me know that I am pretty preppy in appearance. Typical Ralph Lauren fare during the day, reminiscent of Diane von Furstenberg at night. My style icon is Audrey, my design allegiance is French.

However, one of my more secret dreams does not fit the bill in the slightest. I want to rap. No, not pop rap like Gwen or Gaga and co. do on occasion. I mean hardcore rap like Jay-Z and Biggie. I am a rap fan. I storm through the H-O-V's discography like it is bubblegum Britney. But I don't mean rap like today's idiots with metal on their teeth and money to burn. I mean lyrics that describe a whole society's struggle to fight against the establishment. A nation's inability to care of an entire stratum of its people. A sub-culture erupting from the seams of America. Specifically, I am a New York-based rap fan. B.I.G and Nas are significant contributors to my music collection. But the most important of all is the almighty Jay-Z.

Sunshine recently mentioned that one of the strangest things she's seen is a white, preppy, law and literature major knowing every word to a Jay-Z track. Not just one track but full albums. We'd be sitting having lunch with an iPod on shuffle and as soon as Jay comes on the world comes to a stand still and I blast off along with him, eyes closed, head bouncing and arm flailing to the beat.

I would love to be the world's first female, Egyptian, English-speaking rapper. But what would I rap about? What hardship have I faced? I'd have little more to mouth off about than the pitiful state of grammar in hip-hop. I'd complain about the lack of leadership through education exhibited by the hip-hop community, where it is considered cool to drop out, use ain't instead of isn't for the sake of a rhyme or meter, and refer to women, drugs and guns in derogatory terms. Who'd listen to music as prissy and uptight as that?

Even Egypt-based qualms aren't engaging. Who cares that the traffic sucks, the government is corrupt and your religion defines your every move? Many people can't even point to Egypt on the map. All they'd really want to hear about are the camels, the pyramids and the harems filled with bellydancers.

But Egypt is what I know. Egypt, religious and gender-based discrimination, corruption, nepotism, bribery, traffic, social injustice and the power of money are the things I'd rap about. I'd rap about family, quasi-parenthood, straddling the East-West fence, the ignorance shared by the world and the impact of globalisation of the messages we send out as rappers. I'd tell the world that there are more important things to focus on than their fixation on combatting terrorism in the Middle East. That fueling the region's misconceptions and thus hatred of the West will do little to save them from another 9/11. That their own view of the region as a backward civilization filled with hate is the cause and catalyst for the hate. I'd tell the world to focus on their children. To improve their education, to encourage cross-cultural dialogue and to stop magnifying global differences.

I'd rap in correct grammar. I wouldn't use curse words just for the sake of it. I'd diss drugs rather than people. I'd preach doing right instead of doing every ho on the block.

I want to rap because there is more to be said than money cash hoes and rims on my rims. Listening to the Blueprint 3 (which I must say is a fun album but is by no means on par with any of Jay-Z's previous work - Jay I love you but please stop trying to do seductive rap) proved that even Jay can run out of things to say. The problem with hip-hop isn't autotune. The problem with hip-hop is a fixation on a limited number of issues that causes the community to fixate on said issues. Rap about something new and your fans will follow. Enlighten rather than limit the scope of their interests. Rap about the future - create a Blueprint for that.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Eureka the Smart

I know, I know. How dare I tease you with regular posting only to snatch it away so soon. Busy fortnight at work resulting in an exhausted Eureka, which has therefore created the current sniveling, heavy-headed, sinus clogged, Thursday night at home with a fever creature that claims to be Eureka. Yes, I caught a cold. Boo hoo. Lucky for you faithful (or insane) 6-and-a-half readers, that means I'm home long enough to post an update here.

So, work has been pretty hectic because we've been working towards today's H1 2009 earnings announcement. That basically means Eureka has been pouring over meaningless numbers for the last two weeks trying to figure out how much work the Dragon's Balls has scheduled over the last quarter, how much old work remains, which entity contributed what, how much chemical poo who sold, at what price, to whom, through whom, etc... An endless flow of Excel sheets, links, updates, amendments, adjustments, reallocations, and most importantly, MISTAKES. I cannot begin to list the number of stupid mistakes I've made over the last two weeks. I can't even seem to copy a phone number correctly. I am either stupid, careless, dyslexic, or a combination of all three.

I think it is a combination of lack of motivation and an inherent inability to digest numbers that's making me this prone to error. I mean, when I was at university and writing 30-page papers, I would rarely make more than possibly one slight typographical error. My fact-checking and evidence was always foolproof. My citations were exemplary. My work was top-notch ALL THE TIME. But here? I make stupid mistakes all the goddamn time. AVOIDABLE mistakes. Mistakes anyone with half a brain shouldn't be making. I have never felt stupider or smaller than this week. Mile-A-Minute must think I have the cognitive capacity of a flea. Even a flea is smarter because a flea knows to jump high and feed. I can't even do that properly.

I'll be sitting down focusing on getting all the right items in the right places and Mile-A-Minute starts bombarding me with inane questions because he's too lazy to open up a spreadsheet to check for himself. This distracts me and leads to a mistake, upon which a couple of others are built. He then asks me to do X or Y useless, unimportant and unnecessary task right away, which distracts me once more and leads to mistakes 5 and 6. He later forwards an email he believes he is too important to reply to, distracting me once again, leading to mistakes 10 through 12. And so on. Once I am done, he takes a look at the document and finds several of these silly little mistakes, meaning the document must fly back and forth thirty seven times to amend. And yet, none of these mistakes should have been made, because they're things I:

a) know,
b) should have noticed myself if I'd paid attention to what I was doing, and
c) can easily avoid in the first place BECAUSE I SHOULD NOT BE THIS CARELESS.

I have wanted to take my desk chair and ram my head with it no less than 76,654 times over the last few days. It is a huge blow to my self-esteem. But will I learn anything from this experience? No. I know what I'm like. I will continue to be careless because I know Mile-A-Minute will check up after me. It is a subconscious desire to make him work more than 30 minutes a day - if that. But at the end of the day, I'm still the one doing all the dirty work, and I'm the one who looks like an idiot. Lose-lose situation folks.

But hey, at least I make bank every month :)

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