Just another interesting life …

I would like to thank all my new and existing followers for coming back to my blog on a daily basis. Your comments and positive feedback mean the world to me and encourage me to keep writing. Over the past couple of weeks I received several emails that included numerous inquiries about me, my background and my likes and dislikes, amongst other questions. I responded to some of them but didn’t get the chance to do so for all of them so please do not feel offended if you have not received a response yet, I’ll do my best to address them all before the weekend.

I noticed that many of the questions were recurring and so decided to cease the opportunity to let all my readers get to know me a little better and maybe tell me more about themselves in the comments, if they wish to of course (please do ;)). Allow me to do so in a Q&A form to make it simpler and easier to follow. I will also paraphrase the questions to make them short and to the point.

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Q: What does your name mean?

A: My name is actually two parts and a connector, Heba-t-Allah. It means “a gift from God” in Arabic, “Allah” here being the one and only God Muslims, like myself, believe in and worship. Most people call me Heba (the short version of my name) and, although I love my full name very much, I do not mind it at all. Here’s a fun fact about my name, did you know that the English name having the same meaning is Godiva? Yes, the lady … and the decadent chocolate 😀

Hebatallah in Arabic

My name written in Arabic

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Q: Where do you come from?

A: I come from the enchanting land of Egypt. More specifically, I am from Maadi, a beautiful suburb in the southern part of Cairo. It lies on the east bank of the glorious river Nile. Maadi got its name centuries ago and is the plural for “Ma’ adiya”, which means ferries in Arabic! The suburb was named so after the ferries that operated on the river Nile, transporting people from one side to another. It has a character unique to it, lots and lots of greenery, serene atmosphere, historic villas in certain parts of the suburb, tons of roundabouts (which can confuse even the smartest of “outsiders”) and countless businesses and activities aimed at serving expatriates, since many of them prefer to live there. It’s the perfect blend of all three major religions sporting a number of mosques, churches and one of the few synagogues in Egypt. A number of embassies, international schools and libraries as well as the Egyptian Geological Museum and the famous Maadi Sporting Club (where many old movies were filmed) are located in Maadi. One cannot forget to mention the railroad as well, Maadi originally started as buildings around the railroad and then expanded into one of the top 3 suburbs in Cairo.

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Q: Where did you go to school?

A: That’s a tough question to answer! Eventually, I am hoping to dedicate a post to each school I’ve been to but, frankly,  it feels like such a daunting task that I keep putting it off. I’ve been to a total of 5 schools. Yes, 5 schools in a total of 13 years of education (I’m counting KG1 and KG2 here, or if you’re more accustomed to the American system of education then pre-school and KG)! Two of those were in Egypt, one in Ethiopia, one in Cyprus and one in Hungary. They all had one thing in common though, they were international schools that followed the British system of education. My parents strived to give us the best education and I believe, from all my heart, that they did just that and more. Their sacrifices have not gone to waste.

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Q: Where did your parents work?

A: Aha, I knew that question would come up at one point or another 🙂 My father is a retired Ambassador and my mother worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well but chose to take one leave after another, for the most part of her life, in order to direct her efforts into raising me and my brother and supporting my father on his diplomatic missions. We spent every 4 years in a different country, going back home for a single year in between travels.

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Q: What are your favorite past-times?

A: I love, love, love to read. My love for reading goes back to when I was a toddler. My favorite books are novels; the bigger, the better! I am an avid reader and can easily go through a 700 page book in less than a week. It’s from there that my love of writing evolved. The use of colorful, rich words to invite others into my mind and paint a picture in their own has always captivated me. I started out by writing poetry and that evolved into short stories and then this very dear blog of mine. Another past-time of mine that not so many know about is that I like to draw using charcoal or charcoal crayons. I also enjoy gardening, walks on the beach and organizing.

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Q: Where do  you get the inspiration for your blog?

A: Everything I write about in this blog stems from my own life. I do not write fiction, until now at least. Topic ideas can come from my past, present or future aspirations. They may be inspired by a conversation with my spouse, a friend or something I saw or read. I don’t really have a single source of inspiration, anything that touches my heart or that I feel needs to be addressed or may be of help to others, I write about. Sometimes I am hit with a number of ideas all at once. When that happens, I choose the topic I have more to contribute towards or the one most pressing.

Q: Why do you mention your family and friends so much?

A: I am a grateful person by nature. I also like to give credit where credit is due, it’s only fair. My family is the most important thing in my life, in fact, they are my life. And so, they are an integral part of everything I experience and end up writing about. My friends are the best in the world! I truly believe so with every fiber of my being. Those girls are my rock and they inspire me to be a better woman every single day. I have such wonderful role models who give me so much to live up to. And so, they too are at the core of every event in my life.

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Q: Why do you abbreviate people’s names rather than give them full credit?

A: The reason why I only put the first name then an initial rather than the full name of an individual is to protect people’s privacy. It is out of respect that I do so not otherwise. I also never write about anyone and not let them know (unless they are deceased or I have lost contact with them for one reason or another). Anyone mentioned in a post is notified once the post is published. That way, I am not speaking about anyone behind their backs (even if what I am saying is positive) and at the same time it gives them a chance to relay to me any remarks they may have.

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Q: Where did the idea for 30 days till 30 come from?

A: The answer to this question will make much more sense to anyone who has read my “Intuition” blog post. I actually dreamed of this idea! I’ve been building up to my 30th birthday for a while, planning what gifts to get myself (this will be the first year I do so and I’ll write more about that later on), doing little special things for myself and taking things a bit slower in an attempt to enjoy the last few weeks of being in my 20s. But I also wanted to do something that will serve as a summation of all what I learned, well not all of it but you get the idea, and didn’t know what. Enter that dream with served as an “aha” moment. Not a bad idea, eh?

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Q: Where did you learn your style of writing?

A: I don’t have an answer to this one! I am sure that I have a style of my own but I hadn’t really thought about it nor even noticed that I do until I received that question. I asked the sender to give me more time to get back to them on this one and to help me out by telling me what they think my style of writing is. Everyone else is more than welcome to do the same.

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Q: Why do you live in the USA rather than back home? Is it because of the revolution?

A: We did not leave because of the revolution, if anything, we wanted to go back and participate in it once it started. After we got engaged, my husband received a wonderful offer in Kingdom of Bahrain and so he relocated there and I joined him after our wedding and honeymoon. We stayed there 4 years during which I started my own business and we had both our kids. A little less than 2 years ago, things started getting rough in Bahrain because of the protests and they got very dangerous, especially on the kids. As much as we loved living there, we felt it our duty to protect them and leave. We chose the USA since my husband was born here and it seemed like the most logical choice. Him getting a job offer here didn’t hurt either.

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Q: Are you with or against the Egyptian revolution?

A: My family and I support it 110%. Egypt is a beautiful country. It’s rich with its history, culture, resources and kind-hearted people. It’s the glue that holds the Arab world together, much like a mother embraces her children. It deserves the best and should get the best and so do its hardworking people. Anyone and everyone who does harm to it, doesn’t let it rise as much as it’s capable of, oppresses it and its sons and daughters deserves to be ousted. No one is bigger than Egypt and each and every ruler who is responsible for its well-being should know that. Egypt’s people will never give up on it and that should be the one thing that every ruler should always remember and fear.

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Courtesy: Hossam Saad Designs

Courtesy: Hossam Saad Designs

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Q: Do you plan on staying in the West, even after the way you have been treated because of your Hijab?

A: Humans are prejudiced, that’s a fact of life. The West is prejudiced against Arabs and Muslims. The East is prejudiced against the West. Arabs are prejudiced against each other. It’s just how the world is. Do I wish it were different? Yes, of course I do. My religion and upbringing both taught me that we are all equals and that we were created to live together in peace. It is our false sense of superiority that created all this hatred and bias … not to mention the extremists amongst us. I cannot change other people’s views of me, nor am I interested in doing so. I only care about God’s view of me, people’s perceptions say more about them than they do about me, if they reflect on me at all. I fought hard to wear my Hijab and I’m not about to let some closed-minded people change my mind. I am also a woman who has beliefs, principals and values and I am strong enough to stand by them no matter what anyone thinks. If I run away every time someone challenges or attacks me, what would I be teaching my children? To me, Hijab isn’t just a means to be closer to God or a mere dress code. It’s my freedom! It’s my freedom of choice, my freedom of speech, my freedom of expression. People say Muslim women are oppressed and brainwashed. On the contrary, if I were brainwashed then I wouldn’t have had to fight my way into wearing my Hijab. If I were oppressed then as soon as I had the chance I’d break free of this commitment. With all due respect to everyone else, women who blindly follow the latest fashion regardless whether it suits them or not and who steep into depression because they don’t look exactly like the “perfect” images of other women thrusted at them by the mainstream media and who let society dictate how they should dress, behave, talk and live are the ones who are oppressed and brainwashed in my eyes. I have the utmost respect for women who are unique, who are themselves and only do what they feel is right and suits them. A woman in control of her life is my kind of woman, not a woman that society controls her.

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