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Gayyash Al 'Aatifa

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Heads and/or Shoulders in Cairo

[The following exchange is taken from mindbleed, the blogging home of Dumb North African. It begins with the eighth in a series of comments on his post hez ya wez.]


So may I assume that you left your diaspora and are back to Egypt for good? Though I think that Egypt is the biggest diaspora for Egyptians!

comment by M — Saturday 9.09.2006 #

No, not back in Egypt yet, but it’s inevitable. Egypt - and going back - is like dandruff. If you don’t look hard enough, you’ll forget about it, but it’s still there. And there’s no long-term cure, just “shampoo.”

comment by DNA — Saturday 9.09.2006 #

‘And there’s no long-term cure, just “shampoo.”’
damn. i’m a big sucker for mil akher-isms and this is a good one. i’d written a longer comment but it got a bitt too long and i realised this was actually your blog not mine so i thought i’d better take it and just post it on my own blog. as we say, el wa7ed mabye3rafsh el kheir byeegi menin. 3ammatan eshta, i expect to be using your phrase at parties, with relatives and/or in taxi cabs law mafeesh mane3. merci moqadaman.

comment by gayyash — Thursday 21.09.2006 #


Please feel free to post long unreasonable comments because they compensate for my blog’ recent lack of substantial content.

comment by DNA — Thursday 21.09.2006 #

eshta. even though my blog could do with the same.

so what i was going go to say was that the whole ‘no long term cure, just shampoo’ thing reminded me of something my friend H once said. we were driving (on the 15th May bridge coming from midan libnan, exiting onto gezira, heading for kasr el nil bridge and downtown) and he had just smoked up and was talking about how pleasant he felt and how hash just made cairo so much better. he continued with the claim that living in cairo provides a totally legitimate excuse for ta7sheesh, and that ta7sheesh actually makes life here better. he added that it wasn’t the escapism or the numbing effect (which it typically doesn’t really have, the numbness is more a pharmaceuticals [kemya] thing) but more the way hash helps you play with the city and with its crap, how it helps make you pateint, appreciative and unfazed(sp?) all at the same time, ultimately granting you access to it’s good stuff (vibes, details, etc.). he then said that if you live in cairo and you want to do it right and really get into the marrow of things and find harmony, ‘yat7ashesh yatmasheeha 3ebada w baraka’ (either get high or tap into the spiritual thing). he pointed out that within our extended shella in cairo, those who were most at peace were either stoners or they systematically nourished their spirits through religious practice. interestingly, just as kemya makes for a sort of rejectionary, darker, more grim relationship with the city while hash keeps things generally jolly and a tad more lucid, there seem to be two similarly different sorts of religiosity. the first, the kemya kind is dark, resentful of this life, slapping religion onto life like petrol on a tree stump, seemingly looking to death and the afterlife as a sort of getting back at the shit hand one’s dealt in this life. it’s adherents seem to jar with the world and with other people who aren’t like them and they don’t come off as being particularly concerned with beauty. the other sort of religiosity is a funkier more mystical sort that sees this life as being littered with tricks and mysteries and providence and pockets of grace and much to nourish the spirit. this kind of religiosity is also big in cairo, it’s like the religiosity of laid back people who are religious because they have faith that actually engages and enriches and does not sedate them or demonise life. This is the religiosity that H was talking about–that old-cairo, moulid, azhar lectures, saintly strangers vibe that’s so rich and there for the taking here. him, he swings between that and the hash and doesn’t seem too bothered by it. it just occured to me that two other spiritually charged cities, marrakech in morocco and varanasi in india, also have a formidable hash-smoking culture. our other friend K, who at one time knew his psychoactives like the best of them and is now sudying to become a priest, once said that drugs are to spiritual practice what masturbation is to sex. i really liked that. in his defense i’ll presume he was talking about abrahamic religions, as i think he’d agree that traditional indigenous spiritual systems seem to know how to work the drug thing properly.

so… this is to say my friend H said that in cairo hash-smoking and/or spiritual practice are the way to go–they are his example of shampoo, if i understood you correctly. ramadan kareem.

comment by gayyash — Sunday 24.09.2006 #


You REALLY should post that on your blog. Better yet, tell H to start up his own blog.

Familiar ideas, but it’s nice seeing them described so well. And yes, ’shampoo’ was the executive summary of all of that. Ramadan kareem to you too.

comment by DNA — Tuesday 26.09.2006 #

thanks for your compliment, i will post. H wouldn’t blog. he lives in america now. he’s happy but wants to come back. ciao.

comment by gayyash — Wednesday 27.09.2006 #


  • Thanks for this nice post...write more often, please. (I don't know why I always post anonymously on your blog...When I first came to here, it seemed the going the tradition of the place, and from there on it was When in Rome do as the Romans do...plus, maybe a natural paranoia thing:)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Sep 27, 09:21:00 AM GMT+2  

  • thanks anon. and thanks for taking the time to explain your anonymity, i appreciate that. also know that paranoia is welcome here. cheers.

    By Blogger Gayyash, at Wed Sep 27, 03:11:00 PM GMT+2  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger oyzz, at Thu Sep 28, 11:16:00 AM GMT+2  

  • this is the first time (that i know of ) gayyash has been ok with an anon. comment, that says a lot about your explanation ya 3am el anon. i guess

    anyhow i really liked the post as i fit into H's category of swinging between the two ways of dealing with cairo , never having the patience, concentration span or strength to stick with just one of them.

    By Blogger oyzz, at Thu Sep 28, 11:18:00 AM GMT+2  

  • Thanks Oyz, I am honoured by this honour to bring Gayyash peace with the anonymous comments.

    But really, I just did as others did when I got here...(that is me humbly accepting this honour).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Sep 28, 05:52:00 PM GMT+2  

  • ..I especially like the mutual hand-jobs you give each other at the end.

    By Blogger Jester, at Tue Oct 03, 06:32:00 AM GMT+2  

  • thanks jester.

    By Blogger Gayyash, at Tue Oct 03, 11:39:00 AM GMT+2  

  • all i can say to jester and not in a sarcastic way by any means is ...en kayeef el kharra yakloo be-ma3la2a , and i hope u enjoy

    By Blogger oyzz, at Tue Oct 03, 01:21:00 PM GMT+2  

  • you know jester, my first reaction to your comment was to be pissy and badeen, because i thought it was badeen of you to be so cheeky on the first comment you leave. then i thought eshta whatever. as always, my patience paid off and i now find myself taking your observation seriously and reflecting on it, despite it's bedanness. your comments are welcome, i just ask that you either speak as a friend (w badyin 3ala ra7tak) or khaleek deif lateef keda w 7afez 3ala adaab el ziyara wel 7iwar.

    By Blogger Gayyash, at Sun Oct 08, 01:20:00 AM GMT+2  

  • Howa lezem el nas tob2a 2alelt el 2adab we sebyaneya for people to have meaningful conversations?

    People think being polite and speaking your mind is all asskissing.

    By Anonymous DNA, at Thu Oct 12, 11:19:00 AM GMT+2  

  • i'm still recovering from the comments forsooth's ramadan post. 7aga weskha. it's been mentioned before that a lot of people think they can just be shitty to others online. i think it's just juvenile if not ellet tarbeya. that say,i've determined jester's comment here to have been mere shababic badyana. asli tle3t a3rafo we howwa 3ammatan kayeef enno ye2olli kalm gare7 fa peace.

    By Blogger Gayyash, at Thu Oct 12, 04:53:00 PM GMT+2  

  • I was impressed by a comment Basil left in that exchange:

    "Treat people on the internet as you would in person."

    But is it possible? Although I try not to offend anyone, the anonymity factor has a way of getting you carried away from time to time. (Or is that just me?) Maybe the solution is to cancel anonymity on the internet, since in the cyber world it doesn't really exist anyway.


    Same anonymous person above.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Oct 14, 08:17:00 AM GMT+2  

  • Am I annoymous? We all are. Yes, I use a handle, but you guys don't know who I am.

    By Anonymous DNA, at Mon Oct 16, 12:36:00 PM GMT+2  

  • Just out of curiosity and perhaps ignorance, what's the general consensus on women smoking up in Cairo? Shisha was for the biggest while a hardcore "social taboo". I know there is an abundance of substance floating around especially at "hip" parties but since my visits are limited to my 19 year old cousin's friends and the family I guess I hadn't gotten the chance to get a feel for the general opinions? The mummies and daddies, The youngens, the elite, the educated and the simple working class. Are the perceptions different among guys as opposed to girls?

    By Blogger Sand-E Sez, at Thu Oct 19, 06:37:00 PM GMT+2  

  • _general_ consensus is that it's sketchy and taboo. it's more accepted for guys to do it (as with all vices). that said, there are many circles where girls' smoking up isn't looked down upon. these are the liberal, decadent, artsy and/or hipster circles. the question is, how large and ubiquitous are they? personally i think they're common and growing in size. much is becoming a non-issue.

    By Blogger Gayyash, at Fri Oct 20, 02:42:00 AM GMT+2  

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