Monthly Archives: March 2014

Hisham El Kheshen tells the story of the life and death of Adam Al Masry – Book Review


— By: Alexandra Kinias

In the 2000s, the suicide of two Egyptian citizens in London shocked both the Egyptian community in the British capital and those living thousands of miles away back home. The most traumatic was the suicide of Soad Hosny, the diva,  beloved by millions all over the Middle East. The second was of Ashraf Marawan, the prompt businessman and son-in-law of the late president Nasser of Egypt. While Scotland Yard investigations ruled both cases as suicides, a lot of conspiracy theories were weaved by Egyptians that the deceased were both murdered. Speculations over the reasons of these crimes covered a wide spectrum, but nothing was definitive. Along those lines Hisham El Kheshen structured his fourth novel, “Adam Al Masry.”

The novel opens with a dramatic scene that takes place in the waiting room of a London hospital. In this scene, readers are introduced to the main characters, gathered in anticipation for a miracle to save an anonymous person. And when the doctor announces his death, the narrator describes the sadness and shock of those whom the deceased had touched their lives, one way or another. The scene culminates with the narrator’s revelation that the deceased was in fact murdered by one of those who stood in the hospital’s waiting room mourning him. But even with a murder in its opening scene, El Kheshen’s book is not an Agatha Christie’s suspense novel. The character driven and fast pace thriller also conveyed an interesting plot, adorned with adequate amounts of intimacy.

London is where the story unfolds. The back-stories of some of the characters were quite familiar at the time when I was growing up in the seventies. Back then it was quite fashionable for young people to travel to the UK to work during the summer vacations. And as El Kheshen depicted in the novel, London at that time was a summer destination and a business hub to wealthy Arabs. Even though the novel takes place in the present, El Kheshen captured the essence of this era with proficiency.

“Adam Al Masry” is avery well written novel with events intricately woven like a spider’s web. From the first scene I was attracted to the elegance of the language which El Kheshen mastered. I enjoyed the novel structure, characters, and the plot. And as the story unfolds, I was reminded over and again why I enjoy reading. The novel explores the intertwined lives of expatriates living in Western societies and how they are united in their adoptive countries by their common backgrounds.

El Kheshen offered us a glimpse inside the souls of his characters that he skilfully dissected and exposed its complexity and conflicts. He ended the scenes with chilling statements that raised our curiosity to keep turning the pages to learn more. And as the secrets were revealed, and the personalities unraveled, the suspense escalated until the pieces of the puzzle fell in place.

Together with his meticulous attention to details, El Kheshen also introduced many controversial subjects, still considered a taboo. Discrimination against the Copts in the work force, euthanasia, human rights, women’s treatment in misogynist societies and global terrorism were among these issues.

Reading “Adam Al Masry” was similar to riding on an emotional roller-coaster. It covered a wide range of human emotions and needs. Readers will relate to the novel emotionally, one way or another. I highly recommend it to.



Filed under Book review

A New Dawn Rises Over Egypt


— By: Alexandra Kinias —

I wonder why the decision by General Abdel Fattah El Sisi, the Egyptian Minister of Defense, to run for president came as a surprise to some. The reaction by those who are against his decision to run gives the impression that they were not anticipating it, in spite that he had indirectly mentioned it himself in one of his speeches. Their despair, criticism, skepticism and sarcasm made it sound that the political arena was filled with knights in silver armor, super heroes and action figures and that Sisi snatched it from them. Excuse me, but your fantasies end where reality begins.

Since Mubarak stepped down three years ago and Egypt hasn’t witnessed an emerging charismatic leader that caught people’s attention and united them. A leader that would wither the storm and lead the country through this rough time, curb terrorism and restore law and order. The political arena that was vacant from men of substance was filled, however, with clowns, puppets and many puppeteers.

The ramifications of the unfortunate events that followed the revolution of January 2011 culminated with Mohamed Morsi being sworn in as the president of Egypt. Great nations deserve and should not settle for anything but strong leaders. And Morsi was anything other than that. And to those who are skeptical about Sisi’s decision to run can’t even present a name of another candidate who is powerful enough to govern Egypt today. On the contrary, it is very fortunate, to say the least, for Egypt to have at this time a leader of such caliber as Sisi. The retired general is a graduate of the American Military Academy. Prior to his post as the Minister of Defense he was the chief of the Egyptian Military intelligence. He proved competence at times of crisis and delivered when the people of Egypt sought the assistance of their army to remove the theocratic regime of the Muslim Brotherhood. Because of Sisi’s forceful grip on the army, he launched a war against terrorism and saved Egypt from sliding in a civil war similar to Syria.

Those who are advocating for a civilian presidential candidate over one with a military background should remember that they have selected one. Their choice of a civilian president, in his short time in office, turned out to be an absolute disaster. A civilian leader may rule when the country is not in a state of war. But at times of distress, countries need a leader who is strong and capable to restore peace and stability. It is difficult to forget the past and to ignore six decades of military rule, however, it is important to be objective and not allow the military-phobia to influence and shape the decisions for selecting the future leader. Egyptians should focus on the qualities of the presidential candidate rather than his affiliation to the military. They should concentrate on the one who has the potential to succeed at this critical time in the history of the country.

The political turmoil that Egyptians have been going through over the last three years has raised their political awareness. They have reached unprecedented levels of freedom of speech and expression envied by many countries in the region and they became more conscious of their needs and how to achieve them. Egyptians deserve a better future. They are fortunate to be given a second chance and the time has come for them to set aside their selfish desires and act for the welfare of their country.


Filed under Politics

The Illusion of the International Women’s Day



— By: Alexandra Kinias —

The hype over the International Women’s Day [IWD] has subsided and men are free again to abuse and mistreat women for the next 364 days. I don’t mean to be satirical over this international event nor is my intention to undermine the global efforts to improve women’s conditions and status worldwide. Yet, I have mixed feelings regarding the dedication of certain days to celebrate one cause or another. And IWD is not exempt; not that I disregard the attention that celebrating this day brings to many women’s causes.

Such celebrations remind me of a time when I was growing up in Egypt where the Egyptian government celebrated the ‘Traffic Week’. Not for just a day, but every year, traffic police forces, on full alert, patrolled the streets, to bring law and order – For One Week. They enforced traffic laws, issued tickets for violations and the television broadcast public awareness programs on safe driving and road etiquette. No doubt that such event was created with good intentions, yet it was a total farce. Once the ‘Traffic Week’ was over, the streets of Egypt were left in extreme chaos for 51 weeks. And today Egypt is ranked among the highest countries in the world for road fatalities.

IWD falls under the same category as the ‘Traffic Week’. The only time that traffic came to order was when the government of Egypt decided to take action and punish the violators. And the same goes for women’s issues. With all due respect to the money and efforts spent, nothing really is accomplished until governments intervene to not only issue laws that protect women, but also to enforce them.

I fail to see how conferences and seminars where someone picks the tabs for all the attendees’ flights, accommodations and per diem in a five stars hotel in Europe or the U.S. would benefit an eleven years old girl forced into marriage in a remote village in Yemen or Afghanistan. The monthly income of these girls’ households is often less than the room rates in the hotels where the dignitaries meet.

And while the dignitaries are annually celebrating women’s days, in luxurious hotels worldwide, crimes are still committed against women in every corner of the world. In Afghanistan, in February 2014, a new law passed by the parliament that bans the relatives of an accused person to testify against them. This law is a major setback for the efforts that had been exhausted in fighting violence against women over the last two decades. Afghanistan is a country plagued by honor killing crimes, forced marriages of minors and domestic violence. This law will silence the victims, as these women will no longer be able to bring their attackers – who are usually a family member – to justice. [1]

In Egypt, on the other hand, a doctor will be prosecuted for homicide on charges of killing a 13 years-old-girl. The young victim died in his clinic after she underwent the brutal procedure of female genital mutilation [FGM]. The law that banned FGM under which the doctor will be tried passed in 2008, yet it went into effect in 2014, when the government of Egypt took action to enforce it. [2]

At midnight on March 8th, the IWD was officially over. The lights were turned off in the conference halls. The microphones were switched off, and Facebook profile pictures, of IWD’s supporters, were changed. And from there on it is business as usual. The dignitaries flew back to their offices to write reports and recommendations that will be saved in digital files, printed and bind in reports. They will get their promotions and life goes on. All will be forgotten until next year. Meanwhile, women living thousands of miles away from the luxurious hotels where passionate PowerPoint presentations were addressing their issues, will still be raped, abused, killed by a family member, denied their rights to travel without a man’s permission, and girls will have their genitals mutilated and forced into marriages.


1. New Afghanistan law to silence victims of violence against women

2.Egypt launches first prosecution for female genital mutilation after girl dies 

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Filed under Editorial, Violence against women, Women's Rights

How to improve your relation?— By: Alexandra Kinias —-

A strong healthy relationship is every woman’s dream and its succes becomes a source of joy in her life. A relationship that is not working can emotionally drain those involved in it. Relations are like investments. We get out of them what we put in them. And as there are some aspects of the relationships we can’t control, yet we have the power to make certain decisions and choices.

How to achieve a healthier relationship

1. Don’t Rush the Relationship:
The acceleration in planning the future of a relationship scares men away. Your man lived a fulfilling life before he met you and because he included you in his life doesn’t mean that he is ready to give up his freedom and to settle down. A romance to succeed requires a lot of patience, hard work and intelligence. A relationship needs to be nourished and to grow organically.

2. Men Belong to Themselves:
Don’t be fooled that because a man says ‘I love you’ it means that you own him. With the understanding that you can’t change anyone, don’t attempt to control your man and to maneuver the relationship towards a direction that he is not emotionally or mentally ready for. By doing so you are giving him the excuse to run away and you will be left in despair, disappointment and depression.

3. Don’t Read too much Between the Lines:
If a man tells you he treasures your friendship, then that’s exactly his intention; a friendship. If you think that there is a coded message in his words or in his silence, which you will be able to decipher if you stick around, you are mistaken. There are absolutely no codes hidden in his unspoken words. Don’t confuse a friendship with a love affair. Be confident that if a man is interested in more than just a friendship, he will convey the message loud and clear. If he doesn’t, just cut the relationship and walk away. If he can’t make up his mind, most probably he won’t. Clinging to uncertainty will just prolong your pain and postpone your humiliation.

4. Intelligence is Sexy:
First impressions are important, and as most books are still judged by the cover, most women are judged by the first impression they make. Yes it is not fair and we can debate it endlessly, but it is the truth, unfortunately. However, in the long term it is your company that a man wants to spend time with not your looks. Beauty fades and looks change. A man’s attraction to your physical appearance may get you so far into a relationship, but it may not guarantee its continuation. His captivation with your intellect would.

5. Strength Attracts:
Be strong, set boundaries and stop being a needy drama queen. Don’t feel sorry for yourself and stop playing the victim role. Strength, self-confidence and high self-esteem have more allure than weakness. Don’t compromise your pride and self-respect. If a relation is not going anywhere then stop trying hard to be make it work or to be a better girlfriend. Just walk away and save yourself the humiliation and embarrassment. The harder you try to salvage a broken relationship, the more the misery and humiliation you encounter.

6. Space – Space – Space
Smothering is hazardous to relationships. It is a sign of insecurity, control and obsessiveness; the basic ingredients for relationships’ repellents. Too much affection is a sign of emotional insecurity just as too little affection. Avoid being emotionally demanding. Men need room to breath. He is not the center of your world so don’t revolve your life around his agenda. As much as men enjoy being cared for and loved, they still enjoy their space.

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Estrogen vs Testosterone –


— By: Alexandra Kinias —

Disney’s fairy tales made us believe that Princes fall in love with lumberjacks’ daughters they meet in the forests, because they are bored with all the beautiful princesses living in all the castles in all the corners of the animated movies. And after the Prince asks the lumberjack for his daughter’s hand in marriage, they ride together into the sunset. The birds chirp on the trees and the royal couple lives happily ever after. The movie ends with a song that leaves us with misty eyes and a happy heart filled with hope that our prince charming is just a few castles away.

We love these happy endings in spite that they alter the perception of reality in young girls’ minds. In real life when the prince falls out of love, ends a relationship and rides alone looking for another lumberjacks’ or fishermen’s daughter, the ex-princesses are left in shock and bewilderment. With a plummeting self-esteem, a broken heart and battling pangs of rejection, they wonder what happened to the eternal love they were promised on their rides into the sunsets. It is not fair though that Disney Princesses don’t have to live in the real world or fall in love with real men.

Who is to blame for the failure of a relationship?


Since it takes two to tango, men constitute half of the equation in any relationship. Even though they are rarely the innocent party, yet it is still not fair to throw all the blame on their shoulders. Women are responsible for their share as well. And often, they misinterpret men’s behavior towards them, which drives them to become victims of their own misconceptions. They cling to failed relationships to postpone confrontations that  – no matter how much they avoid – would eventually lead them to the painful, yet, inevitable truth.

The ‘M’ word


The vast majority of women get involved in relations with the desire to get married. Other than the obvious reasons to settle down and start a family, in some cultures women get married because of social, peer and family pressure, fear of loneliness, financial gain or a change of status. Marriage is a status symbol for women in cultures where unmarried middle aged women are looked down on. On the other hand, men start relationships for different reasons than women. And thus women’s expectations from a relationship are much higher than men’s, and so are their disappointments when it ends.

Men are curious creatures who are often confused. They are curious to learn more about you and confused about what they really want out of a relationship. An interest to know you better doesn’t mean your man is ready for a commitment. No one knows for sure what goes on in men’s minds. The majority of men would avoid commitment for as long as they can get by. They could be waiting for scientists to find life in another galaxy so they can plan the honeymoon. They might have taken a Cub Scout oath that he will never love another woman more than his kindergarten teacher. Or, they can’t get married until medical researchers discover a vaccine for stupidity. The point is it doesn’t matter. We are living in a world where women are on the receiving end of the engagement ring. And because of that women invest more time and emotions into relations and are more affected by their dynamics and outcomes.

In pursue of an engagement ring, a woman would ignore the flaws in the relationship and perhaps hope to win a man’s heart. But falling in love is not always enough reason for men to pop a marriage proposal. And men if are pressured to do so, while they are not yet emotionally or mentally ready to settle down, the pull back. A woman should pay close attention to changes in her man’s behavioral patterns. If all of a sudden a man is busy to call or to answer your call, he is breaking promises, playing games, becoming discreet or simply unavailable, it is time to re-evaluate the relationship and not to defend or justify his behavior.

It is understandable that relations are addictive. Even if the neon signs are flashing in front of their eyes urging them to walk away, some women would cling to false expectations. They would waste their time in a relationship that is not emotionally fulfilling in anticipation that the men will change. Unfortunately, they don’t. It’s important to realize when is the time to move on to save themselves from the emotional havoc that is coupled with post rejection trauma.

Six Tips for a More Successful Relationship …

To be continued – Stay tuned ….


Filed under Relationships