Dusk to Dawn

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So, today, I am trying something different and putting my creative soul into song writing instead of my usual hopeless romantic narrative. The song I wrote is titled Dusk to Dawn and this song is about taking chances with love even when there are no guarantees.

If you can dare listen to me sing my song in acapella, then feel free to listen to it here: Dusk to Dawn by Cairogypsy

Lyrics:
Morning comes and I see your face
A touch of light in a summer place
Your arms around me and it feels so right
I’m glowing, you’re smiling, the sun is bright

Oh, oh, oh, softly, gently, come to me
Oh, oh, oh, softly and gently kiss me

We walk to the park and you hold my
hand
You look in my eye, I see a butterfly
It feels so warm, it feels so light
But the sun is burning, the dawn is coming

Oh, oh, oh, softly, gently, come to me
Oh, oh, oh, softly and gently kiss me

Slipping, gliding, we’re miles apart
The distance is growing and it’s just the start
Where to begin when it’s already ending
You are leaving and I am staying

Oh, oh, oh, one last time hold me
Oh, oh, oh, one last time touch me
Oh, oh, oh, softly, gently, come to me
Oh, oh, oh, softly and gently kiss me
Oh, oh, oh, kiss me my darling, kiss me

A True Story of Weight Loss

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If you met me four years ago looking like this:

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chances are you are not going to recognize me today.

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A lot of people asks me how I did it–how I lost so much weight. Well, there is really no tricks or magic here. It’s all hard work.

Most of my life, I’ve been overweight-borderline-obese. I’m short. With my 5’4″ height, I used to weigh a hefty 92 kilos–yes, I know that’s a lot.

I tried everything I could to lose weight. I would go on one fad diet to another. I tried going to the gym, cutting carbs out of my diet, I tried going vegetarian, then Pesco vegetarian, then I tried some weird soup diet, then fruit diet, basically anything I can find on google when I search for ‘how to lose weight.’ After a while though, I see no result happening and I would just feel heavily disappointed, thus, leading me to fall off the wagon.

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The problem was that I kept wanting to see results as quickly as possible. I kept wanting my extremely excess weight to disappear like poof, magic, gone!

It takes a lot and a while to understand that it doesn’t work that way.

I used to eat excessively to the point where I can finish two family size pizza, plus a tub of ice cream in one sitting. I binge on junk food and boy do I love McDonald’s. Chocolate and cakes were my best friends! And I didn’t think that anything was wrong with that. I honestly thought there was nothing wrong in eating whatever I desire. On top of that, I was a couch potato too, I spent hours and hours with my eyes glued on the tv screen, and I thought that it was ok too.

I think it was the beginning of 2011 when I found myself face to face with my weight issues. I just gotten sick of it and came to a decision that I wasn’t getting any younger. I need a 360 degree turn in my life, and full circle I did.

The decision I made three years ago has finally paid off. Now, I weigh 60 kilos and I am very happy with my weight. I plan on maintaining it as it is while I build more muscles and tone.

So, how did I do it? Obviously, It didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of effort and hard work and a strong mind set. Every day is a work in progress. It is a part of me that has become an integral part of my everyday life.

It all started with me accepting the fact that I wasn’t healthy and that I was far away from looking healthy. When I started acknowledging this problem, I was able to do something about it.

I started going to the gym at least twice a week, for an hour and a half each session. I spend the first hour lifting 3-kilo weights and doing various squat positions since my arms and my legs are my problem areas. The last half an hour is spent on the treadmill.

Apart from going to the gym, I dance salsa three nights a week for at least two hours. That’s equivalent to six hours of cardio every week without me even trying.

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I started watching what I eat. I’m quite lucky that Egyptian cuisine offers a wide array of healthy options. Most of the food I eat are tomato based. I eat more spinach too. Whenever I eat meat, I make sure it’s lean. Another source of good protein is lentil which I absolutely enjoy.

I don’t drink beer. I drink fruit juices more. And WATER WATER WATER! I use skim milk for my daily dose of coffee, and skimmed milk with a scoop of chocolate powder for my after gym drink.

It sounds like a serious diet, but really, it’s all about portions. I still eat ice cream every week. There’s always a non-fat ice cream sitting in my freezer! I still have chocolates, but it’s about consuming one bar of chocolates as opposed to six bars in one sitting.

And yes, I eat potato chips, but I have to say that instead of finishing a whole bag of chips in one go, I actually divide it into three portions.

I eat anything and everything that I want but in great moderation. Every now and then, I indulge myself to cheesecakes and cupcakes!

Now, about my lifestyle, I spend a lot of time swimming during summer months in Cairo. Whenever I am in Sydney, I run on a 6-km path every weekends. I do windsurfing and kitesurfing when I go on my holidays.

Keeping yourself active really makes a big difference.

The good thing about exercising is that you can do it without feeling as if you are torturing yourself. Do activities you love doing. In my case, salsa really helped me a lot.

Also, when you are trying to lose weight, you shouldn’t be feeling as if you are depriving yourself. I didn’t feel that I was depriving myself by any means because I’m still eating anything I want, the only difference is that I go for much healthier options and I watch the proportions.

For instance, this tuna salad with sweet Thai chili sauce makes up for a good lunch and a tasty treat!

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I think everyone can feel beautiful no matter the size or the shape. Even when I was 92 kilos before, I still felt beautiful. But there is a fine line between a healthy weight and an unhealthy weight.

Right now, I am enjoying the benefits of being healthy. I can run on the treadmill for half an hour and still feel energetic. I can go six flight of stairs without heaving or feeling pain in my chest.

I feel much lighter and more comfortable, and shopping for clothes has become such a delightful experience! And actually, I feel much happier too with all the happy hormones I’m getting.

I don’t like it when people call me skinny because I’m not. I’m healthy, not skinny, but that’s a whole new subject that I will have to write about.

I support everyone who wants to keep a healthy weight. It will be a challenge but it is really doable. Set your goals and stick to it and find ways to make it easier and more fun by doing sports or anything active that you love doing or that you can be passionate about.

I guess, it is a gratifying feeling when you know that you have invested in yourself the way you never did before. We all deserve to have a healthy mind and healthy body, and remember that it’s never too late to start.

If you are feeling motivated to start today, add me on facebook for more dialogue, tips, and inspiration! Xx

Stop Lying To Yourself And Just Love

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I am not going to talk or write about love here, so you can breathe now. I mean, seriously, why would I do that? Ew. Gross. So cheesy, so high school. Who does that?

Disclaimer: I am going to talk and write about love here. I mean, seriously, why wouldn’t I do that?

I am convinced that no matter how we try to veer away from it or act like we don’t care, a lot of things, if not everything, still breaks down to love.

For instance, why do we have this lethal habit of checking our phones every minute when we know it’s not on silent? Why do we get a heart failure when we read that deadly ‘seen’ icon on facebook and receive no reply? Why can’t Friday come any faster? Why do we want to know their middle names, their favorite colors, and why do we want to know everything right now?

Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if we send that person an actual message instead of gouging our eyes out because they haven’t texted us back yet? It’s like complaining that you never won the lottery when you know you never bought a ticket!

Either it’s love or you’re stupid, and I refuse to think you’re stupid.

It is love. I’ve said that to about every guy who came into my life, to every shoe and dress that perfectly fit, to every paperback I actually read, to every single track I played on repeat, every movie that made me tear up. It is love.

And yes, I know it sounds too naive, too infantile to call all these ordinary, everyday things love when it should be said with proper caution and utmost care. Love is something–an idea, a feeling, an expression so massive and so heavy that we only dare use it when we talk about Titanic, or the epic love story that Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy had.

Love is the Voldemort of our vocabulary. It must not be named. As a general rule, we can’t just drop it like a bomb or we risk having a second Hiroshima.

No one ever say it anymore (with the exception of happily married couples and romcom movies.) I hardly even hear it (with the exception of anyone from my side of the family and almost every other pop song.) I hear friends refer to it as physical attraction. Some call it emotional connection. Others may have used the term pleasure or just for fun, or something casual and temporary. They call it an affair, a fling, a thing. A thing, that’s right. It’s an interest, a quest, a challenge. It’s the cat and mouse game. The impossible chase. I know a few people my age who still calls it a crush. Yes, having a crush still happens even now. Come on, you think late 20s is about maturity, and epiphanies, and wisdom? WRONG!

Different labels, different names. We call it everything else but. Because it’s safe. Because it poses no danger, because there is no pressure, no obligation, no responsibility, no nothing.

It can be anything else but. That’s why we put up this wall and keep people away. No one can be let in, no one is allowed to come too close. The door is closed, sorry. So, we try to act real cool. We pretend that we have our shit together when we’re totally uncool and freaking out within.

Why can’t it be? I ask. Because it’s too soon, they say. Because we’re only hanging out. Because it’s only two mature individuals on a date and nothing else. Because we’re just friends and nothing more. Because we want the emotional satisfaction minus the drama and complication. Yeah. Because, because, because, and heaps of other excuses we tell ourselves because it scares the hell out of us.

We are afraid to be the ones who say it first. We don’t want to be the one who does it more because the moment we do, we’ve already lost. We’re already on the disadvantage. Or are we?

No one wants to be the crazy chic. No one wants to be the creepy dude. And yet we crave for that person to say it first–for that person to love us more. But maybe love is treading dangerous waters. Maybe it is infantile, and silly, and weird. Maybe it’s about the boring, minute details. Maybe loving is a disadvantage. It’s an abomination. A bomb!

Ah, the irony, we might as well call it stupid.

I think I’m sooo stupid about him.

I think I’ve fallen madly stupid with her.

I really think this is it. It’s stupid!

Or how about ‘stupid means never having to say I’m sorry’?

Or ‘it’s better to have stupided and lost than never to have stupided at all’?

Or ‘stupid like there’s no tomorrow’?

Does that make it less scary? Does that make you feel more comfortable now?

Here I am using love haphazardly even if it’s scary and makes me feel uncomfortable, not for the lack of a better word but because it is the better word. It is the word that encompasses the entire spectrum of beautiful and ugly, of sane and insane, of right and wrong, of strengths and weaknesses, of every wise and dumb decision, of every victory and loss, of that first kiss, of that last touch, of the one who got away and the one who stayed.

We have to start broadcasting our feelings the way radio programs do. It doesn’t have to be the most creative, or the most unforgettable, the most brilliant or extreme. We just have to fucking tell them, damnit! I mean, seriously, you don’t go asking for tea when you really want coffee!

Jack loved Rose, and we all know how that story went down but that’s not the point. My point is they were able to recognize and acknowledge love in a ship. In a fucking ship! Amidst icebergs, and disaster, and difference in social class status, not to mention Rose’s vengeful ex-boyfriend. So, unless you’re in a ship that is bound to hit a massive iceberg, just love.

Let’s do ourselves a big favor and just stop playing it safe. For once, love. And love proud. Love even when it’s inconvenient. Love in small doses, love all at once. Go nuclear! Love like you did when you got your first puppy. Love the way you want to be loved. Love intentionally, love unintentionally. Fall in love with that guy like you did with Nick Carter when you were nine. Love that girl like you loved your first edition comic and know that you might actually have a shot at it this time. In the grander scheme of things, it’s really simple, maybe all we need is a little bit of crazy and a lot more of love.

To The Broken Ones

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You are damaged and lost and struggling your way out of this deep shit, and I will do anything for you. I will rush home from a salsa party and skype with you because you are drunk and alone in your hotel room in Geneva and trying to contemplate how to get out of the dark abyss. I will be online with you in silence. I will stay up til later and not think about the time difference because you need someone who will listen. You will tell me that you started reading Paulo Coelho and I will tell you how terrible that is because he is dark and depressing and you don’t need dark and depressing right now. What you need is Bukowski and I will send his poems to you by email. Side by side with Hemingway so you can distract yourself from the pain even for a few stolen minutes. Yes, you have a broken heart, but I will not let you have bad taste in literature.

I know none of this will help–not my advice that I have stolen from self-help books, not Bukowski, not even the fact that you are hopping from one train ride to one European country to another. Over those long train rides to France, to Macedonia, and to wherever your map is taking you, brace yourself–you will remember her–the smell of her hair, the way the sunlight through the window touches her skin in the morning, the way her voice sounds in your ears. You will remember it all.

And in this unexpected nostalgia, you will feel more alone than ever. More abandoned. And you will be scared and caught off guard. And you will convince yourself that it is impossible to still feel that way after a long, hard year. But you will not be convinced.

Deep down, you know that eight years boil down to eight years. And no matter how you turn the world upside down, everything still amounts to the eight years you spent with her, and the same eight years that you will never get back.

You will feel heavy, and sometimes you will feel a gaping hole. There will be days when everything won’t make any sense, and you will try to forget with alcohol, with art, with expensive coffee, with the Eiffel Tower, with every girl you meet on the road.

You will cheat your heart, kiss beautiful girls you have a chance on kissing. And you will still be frustrated.

I know all of these not because I am any wiser but because goddamnit I am just as silly and hopeless like you. I’ve been there and I know how much it hurts. I was 18 and this boy charmed me with his music and I thought that was love. I lost my virginity at 21 to my college boyfriend in my residence hall on a winter night and thought that that was also love. And I remember crying buckets over a backpacker I met whose itinerary did not end in my direction, thinking that, too, was love. Most of all, I remember unkempt promises and wasted time and forgotten dreams and a broken heart.

So I will skype with you until the morning and listen to you pour your heart out the way you did when my Australian boyfriend disappeared, when my Italian boyfriend left me. And I will tell you the world’s number one cliche–it will be okay. Because everything will be healed and made new with time.

I will tell you that everything will work out. Because, eventually, it always does. Wounds heal, scars vanish, pain numbs your skin. Ten years from now, I won’t remember the thick accent of that French guy, or the way I felt when I had my first and only new year’s eve kiss, or the way my Egyptian ex boyfriend told me he loved me in the middle of the desert. I won’t remember dancing salsa with that Italian guy while listening to all his favorite Latin songs in repeat. I won’t even remember the title of those songs. And you will not remember the time you spent with her in Thailand, or that English girl you kissed on Christmas day, or that Aussie girl you met in Zurich. You won’t remember the girl you loved in a small island in the Philippines, the girl you fell in love with over tajine in Morocco, the way that girl from Macedonia held your stare, the way you were sure that it felt whimsical, and mysterious–none of these will matter. Everything will be forgotten.

But the thing is, I am a big, fat liar. Because we will remember. I will remember all of those boys, and you will remember all of those girls. And it will hurt but it will be okay. When you think about it, what kind of heart does not look back?

There will be better days. The pain will lessen little by little, the hole in your gut will decrease inch by inch. But I am lying and you will know I am lying and you will still feel broken. But please know that it will be alright in the end.

One of these days, you will wake up in the middle of the night and remember the way someone held your hand in the peak of summer and it felt comfortable. You will think of the way someone kissed you on a minus 4 weather and it felt warm. You will be reminded of how her hellos sent goosebumps down your spine and how her goodbyes left you chilling to the bone. You will read a certain book or listen to a particular song and everything will be back in a flash. It will never completely go away, but it’s alright. It’s okay. This is what breaks you but this is also the very same thing that makes you.

You don’t have to be fixed today. There’s nothing wrong in being damaged. Everything takes time, much more healing. If you have to be broken, then be broken. If you must feel pain, then so be it. Just don’t lose yourself in the process because I know you and I see your potential–in life, in love, in misery, in sadness. So, feel it all. Do not deny yourself these emotions. Claim it. It’s okay, you will breathe again.

You Had Me At Fresh Blueberries

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I’m not writing about you because I did that with old flames, past flings, and forgotten loves, and you are not forgotten.

On the contrary, I think about you every fucking day. It gets annoying, thinking of you. It disrupts my daily routine and lures me back to the unknown. Quite terrifying, honestly. Believe me when I say that I try hard to keep things at bay, but the universe has its way to reel me back like an unassuming fish swimming carelessly towards the bait. And I find myself hooked to your line and sinker before I can help myself.

I don’t want to write about you because you’re not just some character who comes and goes in my life only to leave a fascinating story that I will tell at parties or night outs with girl friends when I had too much to drink. You know I can’t even finish half a cider, and there is no Mad Mex in Cairo to sober me up for the story telling to even get started.

Now, don’t fright. Don’t run away. I am not going to profess my big, massive, colossal emotional outbursts to the high heavens because it’s too early for that. I will not even mention your piercing blue eyes because they are a light shade of green to begin with.

What I would, if I may, is say out loud that Leonardo DiCaprio is not a good distraction because seeing his hair parted in the middle instantly triggers a recent recollection. And it’s not just my fascination with DiCaprio’s fine hair but yours. It could also be a photo on my newsfeed of friends trying N2 Extreme Gelato for the first time. As soon as I hit the ‘like’ button, I am immediately taken back to you–to that exact moment I had salted caramel and you did not deny yourself cookies and cream.

Ah, the inevitable beginning. You said we’ll go where the wind takes us and that’s exactly what we did. You burst into my apartment with fresh blueberries and printed photos of Abu Simbel. You are charming and told me stories of your contiki tour. You had me at fresh blueberries. You had me the moment you walked through that door.

You had me at dashes, and semi colons, and IMHOs and IRLs that don’t mean a thing to anyone else reading this now. But the subtext is there.

Sometimes, I wonder if eating all the felafel in the world will make you appear in Cairo even for a fraction of an apparition. What I do know is that sharing a cheap imitation of baba ghanoush with you is much more satisfying than any authentic middle eastern deli I am eating on my own.

I could be watching episode reruns of Dexter, I could be listening to the music of the 90s, I could be seeing disposable paper plates in the grocery section, and then telling my friends that ‘I am going to the drink to get a bar’ when you become most palpable. Most people won’t get it. They won’t understand try as they might, but I’m sure you would.

The Star has a different meaning because of you. To most people, it would mean those shiny, sparkly bits of twinkling bodies in the night sky. To me, it’s black jack, the roulette, the pokie machines, the pretend bets and pretend winnings and pretend drinking! It’s New Year’s Eve and everything else that followed after that.

Fourteen bottles of wine, wogs, office pranks, 9,000 steps around the cbd, endless cigarette breaks, glow sticks, Berangaroo, even the little mouse in a corner on Pitt St.–these are things I consider mine because of you. It’s the inside jokes and bits and pieces of anecdotes that would make perfect sense to no one but you.

It’s all about the overpriced bottled water you bought, the pigeons crashing in your apartment, the old man that got bitten by an aggressive dog. It’s the way I now have nightmares of life-size dolls and day dreams of plane crashes.

It’s all of these nuisances–the accumulation of inane snippets that lead me back straight to your bait and hook. I don’t know why it matters, or why your presence and absence is more poignant than the rest. What I do know is that the details of that summer weigh heavy on my skin that it is enough to last the whole fall. Maybe it’s the fact that we didn’t say goodbye but see you later.

And when the soon meets the later and my want outweighs my fear, maybe then I will speak up. Maybe then I will know. Maybe I’m waiting for winter–for things to freeze and thaw. But perhaps I won’t write about you even after then because I don’t need to remember. I am reminded every day no matter the season. You are alive and real, right here, right now, in my mind’s little cinema, where I see you in colors that don’t exist.

Mr. Nice Guy Versus Mr. Too Cocky For You

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Mr. Nice Guy

Last Tuesday, at a salsa social in Bellini, I was sitting in my usual corner, having a cigarette break, when this familiar-looking guy, took the empty seat next to mine.

I have seen him at salsa parties on many occasions and yet I never danced with him. He never asked me to dance either. I remember him because he is one of those few guys that I always see at salsa socials, but never on the dance floor.

Between puffs of cigarette, he managed to catch my eye and pull a little smile. I smiled back. In my head, I was counting how many seconds it will take for him to say something.

One. Two. Three–

“Hi, how are you?” He asked after the fourth second.

“I’m good, thanks.” I said. “I think we’ve met before, but I’m sorry I can’t remember your name.”

“It’s Mr. Nice Guy.” He said, as he reached his hand out.

I immediately put my cigarette on the ashtray even though I was only halfway through.

“Jennifer.” I said, taking his hand, and making a mental note of how his hand feels warm and comfortable against mine.

“Would you like to dance?” He said in a nervous tone as though he was already sure I was going to say no. “I’ve only started taking classes, but I will really appreciate it if I can try what I learned with you.”

My heart melted with his honesty.

“Of course.” I said without hesitation.

He pulled me to the dance floor the moment Como Tiemba El Alma started playing in the background. It was a good start, and a good finish, and just like most of the beautiful dances, it was beautiful and unexpected.

Mr. Too Cocky For You 

Last Tuesday, at a salsa social in Bellini, I was sitting in my usual corner, having a cigarette break, when this familiar-looking guy, took the empty seat next to mine.

I have seen him at salsa parties on many occasions and yet I never danced with him. He never asked me to dance either. I remember him because he is one of those few guys that I always see at salsa socials, but never on the dance floor.

From my peripheral view, I noticed that he looked away from the dance floor to look at my direction.

“How are you?” He said in a very casual tone.

“Good, thanks.” I said. “I think we’ve met before, but I’m sorry I can’t remember your name.” I said feeling embarrassed.

“I can’t remember your name either.” He said in a very condescending tone. It was the kind of tone that was screaming are you kidding me? You don’t know who I am?

“It’s Jennifer,” I said reaching my hand to his direction.

“Oh, that’s right. I forgot that for a second. My name’s Mr. Too Cocky For You.”

Of course you ‘forgot that for a second’ because there is heaps of asian Jennifers who dance salsa in Cairo.

I immediately lit a second cigarette and rolled my eye.

“Are you sure you’re ok?” He asked. “You don’t look ok.”

Well who are you to decide whether or not I look ok? For one, you are crossing the borders of my space.

“I’m alright, thanks.” I managed to say instead.

“Are you sure?” He asked, raising an eyebrow that probably meant he was so sure that I wasn’t sure I’m ok.

I think I would be ok if only you can stop talking in your fake british accent for Christ’s sake! And that’s a big statement coming from me considering I don’t even believe in Christ!

“I think I would know if I’m not ok, thanks.” I said as politely as I could.

“What is the problem?” He probed.

That was just the nudge I needed.

“You want to know what’s the problem? You’re strange. And you’re so in my face.”

“In your face? I’m not too close, I don’t think.” He said defensively.

His arrogance only proved his ignorance.

“I didn’t mean it literally.”

“So, what do you mean then?”

“You suck at small talk. Usually, what happens is that you ask how I am and I say I’m alright. And I ask how you are and you say you’re fine. And that’s the end of the story. I keep my mouth shut, and you keep your mouth shut. Or you get up from your seat and move on to some place else where you can stick your nose in someone else’s business. You asked me if I was ok three times, and I gave you the same answer three times. Which is more than necessary. Usually, after I lit up another cigarette, you will take that as a hint that no, I don’t want to talk to you. And yes, my cigarette is a much better company. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m gonna go dance.”

Burn.

A Dance With A Boy (A Novel)

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In an underground salsa bar in Cairo, two dancers cross paths. Two dancers who are very different from each other find their lives intertwined to the same playlist. Will their passion for salsa dancing keep them together on and off the dance floor? Join Pamela and Tamer in a center stage romance as they dance under the spotlight.

A Dance With A Boy (Preface)

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If two weeks ago, someone told me that that boy, with short yellow hair, who started showing up at salsa nights at Bian Caffe approximately five months ago–yes, that same boy who always seems to be wearing a different variation of a red shirt every time I happen to run into him at any salsa social, and who always, always manages to sit in the same corner, the same corner that just happens to be exactly opposite my corner–and I will be dating, I swear I’ll be like, are you fucking kidding me? Because ha ha ha, that is so unfunnily offensive in so many levels:

1. I don’t know his name, and I don’t think he knows mine because–
2. We never ever danced, not once, and that leads us to–
3. He never ever asked me to dance. Not even once. And besides–
4. Even if we pretend that I know his name and he knows mine, and say that we’ve danced not just once, the idea of dating him or him dating me will be the last thing on my mind considering that–
5. I’ve just had a beautiful breakup with my beautiful Sicilian boyfriend who I’ve had a beautifully crafted four-month relationship with from the night I met him at a beautiful salsa party in Sydney.

So, seriously, ha ha ha. That’s the lamest attempt at a joke ever and the punch line is not even funny!

Until it is.

A Dance With A Boy (Chapter 1)

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Pamela

Baila Mi Hermano is one of those old-school salsa songs that I will always, always hear at any salsa party in Cairo. I could be dancing salsa at Bellini on a Tuesday night and that song will play. I could be sitting at Nile Maxim on Wednesday and that song will play. I could be standing next to the DJ booth at Bian Caffe on Thursday and I can put my money on it, that song will play.

I don’t especially hate that song, but I don’t especially like it either. I don’t have any idea what baila mi hermano means in English, and I certainly don’t have the time to google translate that now because, speaking of the devil, that song starts playing on cue and it is absolutely no good for drowning out creepy guy number four who starts sprinting towards my direction in an attempt to ask me to dance. So, I quickly maneuver to my table and dig my face to a slice of pizza.

“I’m eating. Maybe later.” I say between mouthfuls that my voice sounds chewy, wet, and stuffed all at the same time. The disgusted look on creepy guy number four’s face is priceless! He gives me an uncomfortable nod then turns around. I think he gets it now: later means never.

I have been dancing salsa long enough to know that there are only two types of guys at any salsa venue–there are the guys who I say yes to because they are there to dance, and then there are the guys who I say no to because they are there for something else. At the moment, there are seven guys who belong to my guys-who-I-say-no-to list and about 100 different ways on my how-to-say-no-to-guys-who-I-say-no-to list.

No, I’m having a break.
No. Maybe next dance.
No, I’m smoking a cigarette.
No. I’m too tired.
No, I told Alaa that I will dance with him on this song.
No, I told Mokbel that I will dance with him on this song.
No, I told [Whattheheck?! Insert any guy friend’s name here] that I will dance with him on this song.
No, I don’t like this song.
No, my dancing shoe broke!
No, I’m eating. (Even though there is absolutely no more slice of pizza left on my plate.)

No. No. No.

But saying no is not the only thing that I know and absolutely not the only thing that I do. I also know the seemingly new faces that pops at a salsa event every once in a while. I know because I am watching closely. I am watching closely not because I am creepy, but because I have been dancing and observing the same people at least two nights a week for the last three years that I can tell who is who just by looking at their shoes. So, if there is a new shoe on the dance floor and that new shoe is killing it, I’m hoping those shoes are from a guy who I can potentially say yes to. But how can I say yes to them if they never ask me to? And if they never grow the balls to ask me to dance, then the answer is always a ballsy no.

However, there are occasions when I do the asking because chivalry is apparently dead and forgotten. Nine out of ten times, I would get an easy yes. No sweat, except when–

“No, Pam, I can’t. I promised Radwa I will dance with her on the next song and this is the next song. Sorry, habebty, next one,” Amr says when I tried to pull his hand to the dance floor the moment Adele Set Fire to the Rain. All the guys who I like dancing with are already doing cross-bodys and underarm turns, and whatnots on the dance floor while I sit on my spot and watch as one of my favorite salsa remixes goes to waste untouched and unloved and unjustifiably danced. The one out of ten times that someone says no, and it has to be on an Adele song!

Despite this minor glitch, I do love going to salsa parties because it can be the only social thing that I do and it can also be the only non-social thing that I do. Usually, when I walk in at a salsa party, I always feel like I’m walking to a red carpet night minus the red carpet designer long gowns and paparazzi. I say hello to everyone and do the cheek-to-cheek a bazillion times before I can find my seat. Or everyone will come and pull me for a quick hug and howareyous before I can change into my dancing shoes. As much as salsa dancing is very social, it could also be very anti-social. Once DJ Migo starts blasting music in the background, that’s the cue for everyone to shut up and start pairing up on the wooden floor. So, for someone like me, who always fails at small talks, and who thinks silence is awkward, dancing salsa is the best bet. I don’t have to speak more than six words to people who aren’t my friends and who I have no interest in being friends with. I can just simply say a non-committal hello, or shrug, or nod, or wave, or smile, or not smile, and no one will think that I’m being rude. In fact, no one would suspect that I’m being rude. It’s like, yey! I get to be rude in your face and you don’t even know it! Awesome!

I’m not forced to be with anyone either, yet I am here with everyone at the same time. I can be an insider as much as I can be an outsider. I can introduce myself to new people, start chit-chatting with anyone at an arm’s length. I can connect and totally disconnect. I can give a fuck and not give a fuck. There will always be loud music playing which means I don’t have to deal with the silence until the party ends, and even then, the silence won’t be so bad because I’ll be huddled and snuggled, and cuddled to goodbye hugs and drowned to seeyounexttimes that it won’t be totally silent at all.

It’s just the best of both worlds for the social-non-social me, and that is probably why I keep coming back every Thursday night even though Bian Caffe is a two hour drive from home on a really bad day. And even though I don’t drive. And even though the only person who can possibly give me a ride home tonight has said no to dancing with me when Adele Set Fire to the Rain, and is still, in fact, dancing with Radwa even after Adele’s voice fades out and Yo No Se Manana fades in.

He better say yes to driving me home tonight!

A Dance With A Boy (Chapter 2)

Standard

Tamer

I consider my options:

1. I could walk back home. The salsa party will end at 10 and the curfew is not until midnight. Pro: I have time, I can walk from Mohandiseen to Heliopolis. Con: after dancing for three hours, I probably don’t have the energy to walk an extra hour and a half.

2. I could call a cab driver I know. Pro: I don’t have to walk an extra hour and a half. Con: the driver is not picking up!

3. I could try to kill Mostafa for not coming to salsa tonight when he lives beside me and could have easily given me a ride home. Pro: Lots! Con: Lots!

4. I could dance on this Prince Royce song. Pro: I like Prince Royce. Con: I don’t dance bachata.

“Guys! Last song!” I hear DJ Migo shout from behind the music booth as soon as Que le den Candela surrounds the entire room. Two things–One, I love DJ Migo for saving the best song for last because Que le den Candela is my absolute favorite salsa song. And two, I have absolutely no idea what que le den candela means.

As usual, I make my way towards my favorite salsa dancer. She always has a quick smile on her face, she has a great spirit on the dance floor that the dance floor would light and fire up, literally. She is absolutely a crowd’s favorite. For some reasons unknown to me, she just has this ability to stand out even in a pool of faces. Maybe it’s because of her super short hair? Maybe it’s because of the elephant tattoo she has at the back of her neck? Maybe it’s because she loves dancing because she loves dancing. I don’t know. What I do know is that I absolutely love dancing with her and that I have never ever danced with her ever before.

I decide to walk straight to her direction. If my calculation is correct, it will take me about eight steps so I can ask her to dance with me. So, I take the first four steps towards her direction. But before I can take the fifth step, a tall and lanky guy with a shaved head grabs her by the hand. I take the sixth step, and the same guy pulls her to the dance floor. Seventh step. He smiles. She smiles. Great, now they’re both laughing. I take the last step and find myself face to face with an empty chair while my favorite salsera with the pixie short hair dance to the tune of my favorite salsa song. So, I turn around and go back to where I started from.

And as usual, I love dancing with her, but as usual, I have never ever had the chance to dance with her.

Six months, Tamer, and you never spoke to her, never danced with her. Nada, nada, nada, how could you possibly do that?

Ya Tamer, you have been taking salsa lessons at Dansation! Don’t be intimidated!

Who says I am intimidated?

You are intimidated!

Why would I be intimidated?

Because you have a crush on her!

No, I don’t.

Then why do you watch her dance every time you see her dancing?

Because yes you do!

Because it’s difficult not to? Because she is a great dancer? Because she’s really lovely and seeing her smile makes me want to smile too even if she’s smiling at someone else and not me?

See, you have a crush on her!

No, I don’t.

Yes, you do!

“You do or you don’t?” Amr blurts out real loud and real fast that, for once, all the voices in my head stops debating all at once and I am brought back to the now half-empty Bian Caffe. The music has stopped, the dance floor is empty, DJ Migo is packing up, and Amr is still waiting for an answer.

“Huh, what?!”

“Do. You. Need. A. Ride. Home. Tamer.”

“I do. I do! I do!”

“OK, yalla, let’s go!”

Pro of riding with Amr? I don’t have to think about options one to four. Con? Zero! And that is why I start following him outside Bian. But before we can reach the door, I see my favorite salsa dancer walking to my direction, except, she is actually walking towards Amr’s direction.

“Are we going?” She asks, totally ignoring my presence.

“Yes we are!” I hear Amr answer, totally forgetting my presence.