Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Cairo, March 2

My Egyptian Television Debut

It’s a dusty hot morning in Cairo.  They call it a  “hamsin” – it gets
very dark and a hot sandy wind comes in from the desert. I don’t mind
it one bit.

The Samir Sabri Show
Last night was the filming of my Egyptian television debut on the
Samir Sabry show which is apparently the most popular talk show in
Egypt. Quite a surreal experience.

I met my rababa teacher in the lobby of the  Hilton Nile.  He was
totally decked out in his traditional galabia and head piece.  I didn’t
have much wardrobe choice here, so I wore my shiny red skirt and a
flowery shirt.  Rami wore his blacks.

The place was a huge room with set dinner tables in the middle and
different stages around the perimeters with cameras all around.  The
place was in a disordered state when we arrived – there were various
troupes of dancers in costume warming up and all kinds of interesting
personalities roaming around.  At one point a fight broke out and
people started yelling at each other.

I was warming up on the tabla, and I noticed that after I played
something, another dumbek way across the room in the bandstand was
answering me.  I couldn’t see who it was and I don’t think he could see
me, but we had a half hour long dialogue answering each other back and
forth.  Afterwards he came up and introduced himself.  He’s a very good
drummer and nice guy and wants to come to America and do a concert with

I met the director and asked him when our segment would be filmed.  He
said “Well it’s starting  in 10 minutes and you are the second act”.
“Great”, I thought, “I’ll have plenty of time to play with Saiid

Five hours later I was still sitting there waiting.  There were
actually about eight acts each one a half hour long or so!  There was a
house band of great musicians.  The conductor also played nai and I
loved the percussion section – dumbek, riq and this old guy playing
amazing zagat (zils).  Some of the acts were great (a Nubian woman
singer who had these four Nubian guys dancing in the background) and
some of the acts were horrible (some cheesy pop singers and a group of
teenage boy dancers, “The Mad Boys” who did the corniest dance I’ve
ever seen while mouthing horrible English lyrics).

Finally they called us up.  Of should I say he called up my teacher.
Samir Sabry actually had no idea I was going to be on the show!  He
looked at me holding my rababa and his mouth dropped.”  He asked me
“where did you learn rababa?”  I said “Fikry taught me.”  Then he asked
Rami “and where did you learn tabla?”  Rami pointed to me and said “She
taught me” which confused the guy even more. So then he asked us a few
more questions.  I answered half in Arabic and half in English which
was ok because Samir Sabry speaks English well and translated
everything to the audience.  Then we played a few songs with Fikry and
I on the rababa and Rami drumming.  I felt bad because everyone kept on
yelling at Fikry to stop playing so that they could hear me play alone.

The songs went very well.  Afterwards the Samir said to me “If I give
you the tabla will you know what to do with it?”  “Ein Sh’alla” I
replied.  So he asked me to play a drum solo!  We played the Nubian
with Rami on the riq and it was really fun.  The percussion section of
the band got so excited they joined in!  The audience was great and I
think everyone was surprised.

By the time I finished playing I was dying to leave that smoky place
where I had been sitting for so many hours so we didn’t stick around
till the end.  So far four different people have told me four different
times that the show will be aired, so who knows.

Bonding with Saiiid
The previous night we spent the entire night at a recording session
with Said at a different studio.  We had to wait around for some time
(I’m beginning to recognize this waiting around thing as a theme here
in Egypt) which was cool  because I had just made a breakthrough in my
Arabic and we had the best conversation!  All in Arabic!  We were
talking about so many things and we realized that we have a lot in
common!  We took turns interviewing each other.  We talked about music,
practicing, family, exercise, food, smoking, traveling, concerts and
all kinds of stuff.  Then he tested me on my new Arabic vocabulary
words.  He told me that having me around is like adding pepper to his
tabla playing!

I sat right next to him in the booth when he recorded the tabla.  He is
such an incredible musician.  I learned so much just from watching him

Oh, get this – whenever Saiid has a gig, there’s this guy that comes
with him JUST TO CARRY HIS DRUMS!  And then the guy waits there for him
for hours JUST SO THAT HE CAN CARRY HIS DRUMS BACK!  Wow – I’d love to
have a guy like that.

Rababa Orchestra
Oh – the other news is that the conductor of the talk show orchestra
(the guy who also played the nai) also conducts a very traditional
orchestra with rababas, muzhirs and dahhol and stuff and he invited me
to come with my rababa this Saturday and sit in!  That should be

Dumbek Girls are Coming!
Today most of the Dumbek Girls Gone Wild in Egypt are arriving –
Marjory and Mariah in the evening and Natalia after midnight. Bashira’s
coming a few days later. Starting tomorrow night we’ll start having
rehearsals with Saiid and his eight piece troupe and the girls!  Saiid
said that Orbit TV is coming to film the first rehearsal and to
interview us and that they will also film the concert!  We just picked
up the fliers and there are posters up around town!  I’m getting so

If You Can Convince Marjory, Bashira, Liz & Rami To Swim Across The Nile ......... you can win my Toyota ! Raquy , today I'm unhappy because you have not posted anything on your Blog for 2 days !!! I hang on your every word !!! What you are experiencing , with Said El Artiste, and Rami , and all of the drummers and dancers from New York who are now with you , is one of the COOLEST THINGS ANYONE HAS EVER DONE IN THEIR LIVES. Although I am no longer physically , in front of you in your daily life , both you & Rami know that spiritually , I am . Since moving to New Jersey, last May, I've actually been drinking that Yerba Mate tea which Rami made for us on the first retreat in Connecticut . And I've recently begun drinking again .... that Pu - erh tea.

What I love is that drumming-wise , you are just following your own path - which has turned out to be SO VERY ORIGINAL . Some musicians think that there are " Rules " which you must first obey on
your instrument. That is their problem. Since YOU TAUGHT ME HOW TO PLAY, over a period of 3 years, I have seen first - hand how you have most importantly, responded to your intuition in how you approach your instrument(s). So I laugh when you say that you have "borrowed" Said El Artiste's composition (via Osama), or even when you defer to Kaylan's original version of Dust. The truth is , and I knew it a few years ago, you breathed New Life into Dust, you improved it . And, once again, I laugh when in another article you told the interviewer that you have "borrowed" from another source. You are modest , YOU ARE AN ORIGINAL. I don't put up with boredom in my life, and your playing, your style, is not like anyone else's . It's pretty scary to imagine how your style will have evolved 5 years from now.

Probably the most important role you serve, for all of us who have been touched by your beautiful presence , is that you have created for all of us, a sense of community , a sense of connectedness, of belonging. You are a LIGHT .... a "positive energy" who gives us a reason to be alive , to cheer. There have been many days, upon awakening, when just thinking about your existence has put a smile on my face. All of the good stuff I am experiencing now, all of my new people, gets traced right back to knowing you.

I could go on and on. But you can post this letter/comment on your Blog (I tried - but it was not all that easy), and you can quote it on your website, or on anything else . And you can read it to people, you can use it as a MANTRA. It's all true .... I THANK YOU for all the good stuff you have brought into my life.

xxoo Ira
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Hello. Prompt how to get acquainted with the girl it to me to like. But does not know about it
I have read through one history
Each of you has your personal story; it is your history. Keeping a diary or writing your feelings in a special notebook is a wonderful way to learn how to think and write about who you are -- to develop your own identity and voice.

People of all ages are able to do this. Your own history is special because of your circumstances: your cultural, racial, religious or ethnic background. Your story is also part of human history, a part of the story of the dignity and worth of all human beings. By putting opinions and thoughts into words, you, too, can give voice to your inner self and strivings.

A long entry by Anne Frank on April 5, 1944, written after more than a year and a half of hiding from the Nazis, describes the range of emotions 14-year-old Anne is experiencing:

". . . but the moment I was alone I knew I was going to cry my eyes out. I slid to the floor in my nightgown and began by saying my prayers, very fervently. Then I drew my knees to my chest, lay my head on my arms and cried, all huddled up on the bare floor. A loud sob brought me back down to earth, and I choked back my tears, since I didn't want anyone next door to hear me . . .

"And now it's really over. I finally realized that I must do my school work to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that's what I want! I know I can write. A few of my stories are good, my descriptions of the Secret Annex are humorous, much of my diary is vivid and alive, but . . . it remains to be seen whether I really have talent . . .

"When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that's a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer? I hope so, oh, I hope so very much, because writing allows me to record everything, all my thoughts, ideals and fantasies.

"I haven't worked on Cady's Life for ages. In my mind I've worked out exactly what happens next, but the story doesn't seem to be coming along very well. I might never finish it, and it'll wind up in the wastepaper basket or the stove. That's a horrible thought, but then I say to myself, "At the age of 14 and with so little experience, you can't write about philosophy.' So onward and upward, with renewed spirits. It'll all work out, because I'm determined to write! Yours, Anne M. Frank

For those of you interested in reading some of Anne Frank's first stories and essays, including a version of Cady's Life, see Tales From the Secret Annex (Doubleday, 1996). Next: Reviewing and revising your writing
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