27 May - 2 June 1999
Issue No. 431
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
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Pack of CardsBy Madame Sosostris
* As I was driving merrily down the highway the other day, imagine who I spied with my little eye -- none other than Minister of Environment Nadia Makram Ebeid. The minister was standing at the side of the road, and I was just slowing down to offer her a lift when I realised she was actually having her car tested for vehicle emissions. Well, that's what I call hands-on leadership, my lovelies. Set a good example and others will follow, as I've always said. The minister was visiting a traffic checkpoint along the Cairo-Fayoum road (yes, now you know, I was headed for the peaceful shores of Lake Qaroun), to get first-hand experience of an initiative known as on-road testing. This joint effort by the Interior and Environment Ministries began in February and aims at reducing harmful vehicle emissions in Cairo.
In a second phase of the project, three model testing facilities will be constructed and equipped. One of the facilities near Shubra Al-Kheima is now near completion. I must say, I had noticed a certain clarity in the air, but had put it down to the arrival of summer. Over 13,000 cars have been tested so far, and 60 per cent of these have been found in compliance with the standards set down by the Environment Law, the minister's brainchild. Now I've always been partial to non-polluting means of transport myself, but I must admit that my bicycle and I have not ventured off Maadi's shaded boulevards in quite some time. So I, too, will bravely volunteer for one of these fine tests, and will tell you all about how I fared in the near future.
* As you can see, I am always keen to remain on the cutting edge of the latest technology. This, however, does not mean that I neglect history -- far from it. I was fed Strabo with mother's milk, and Gibbon was among my favourite reading material as a precocious child. This is why I am so fond of dear Tahia Abdel-Nasser, who shares my concern for all things historical. Unlike me, however, who loves a pleasant stroll down Islamic Cairo's charming little alleys, and an equally agreeable pause in the shaded courtyard of some noble beit or wikala, Tahiya does not go in search of history around Al-Mu'izz Street, nor, indeed, at the Weekly, which she left a couple of years ago to concentrate on her master's, which has now been duly consigned to paper and is entitled The Fiction of History. Rather, she looks for it in books. In this case, she was hunting down literary constructions of national history in fictional works, and selected three fascinating novels written in three different languages, namely, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Beloved by Toni Morrisson and L'Amour, la Fantasia by Assia Djebar. Well, Tahia who received her master's degree in February 1999, must have found all the answers, because her dissertation earned her the Tewfik Doss Award, inaugurated by Leila Doss in memory of her father and awarded every year by the American University in Cairo to honour the best Master of Arts thesis written, in alternating years, by a student of the Department of Political Science and the Department of Comparative Literature.
* In a decidedly less academic vein, SACHA (Sports and Aromatherapy Company for Health and Acupressure), run by Rawia El-Gammal, organised at the Mövenpick Jolieville of the Pyramids the first aerobics qualification weekend. Three specialists from the Aerobics Fitness Association of America (AFAA) attended the event. Ruth Hughes, an AFAA specialist and exercise physiologist, was the lead spcialist of the weekend while Tally Barak from New York was the chief examiner. Apparently this was the first AFAA certification in the region and hopefully just the promising beginning of a bright sportive future.
* Tomorrow, a bright new star will appear in the sky, or at least in the M-Net galaxy, as the Satellite Channel discloses to a selected few the identity of the new presenter of Face of Africa in a live "Front Row Show", broadcast at the MultiChoice office at the CNE building in Maadi. Do not get too excited, dears: I can put your minds at rest by revealing, at least, that I declined M-Net's kind offer. Apart from that, however, mum is the word: the whole affair seems to be still under wraps and nothing has been divulged that is not absolutely necessary, but the event is touted as a golden opportunity to witness a unique event live from South Africa. Members of the Egyptian media will be given a chance to address two questions live, through the satellite channel. Maybe I'll go and ask them why everyone is so partial to blood and gore. It is about time we had more wholesome family entertainment, really. I myself cringe at the antics of Tom and Jerry, who are far too liberal with the blows as far as I am concerned, but to each his or her own.