Monday, May 6, 2013

Juggling Two Dreams... Teacher Vs Musician

Its been about a year and a half since I last posted anything on here... And if you're looking for consistent rantings from this brain of mine, I truly apologise!! There has been quite a lot going on and definitely a lot worthy of posts on here but just not enough time!

Two years ago I officially moved back home from Liverpool to Egypt. A revolution had just swept through Egypt and I wanted to be here for it. I wanted to help somehow, to stand up for what I believed in. I also wanted to crack my way back into the underground music scene and to leave my mark.

It took me months to sort out licensing and approvals for my album but it was finally released last November and can now be found in stores such as Virgin Megastores, Diwan, Kotob Khan and Bikya amongst others. The gigging side of things havent been going according to plan as its been quite difficult to find the right musicians to work with. I have however, managed to find two brilliant musicians - a guitarist and a violinist to work with and so we have been rehearsing as a trio until we find a bassist, percussionist and drummer.

A year and a half ago I started working at an International school here in Cairo. I started off as a teaching assistant between both the primary and secondary performing arts departments but then a twist of events meant that before the end of the first term I had become a fulltime music and drama teacher in secondary and was studying for my PGCE! Last summer I completed my teaching qualification and am now armed with it!

Now full time teaching is quite exhausting! It had always been a dream of mine, to become a teacher. As a kid I used to line up my dolls and teddy bears, hand out my old copy books and pretend to deliver a lesson. I used to observe every teacher I had and pick characteristics I wanted to have and ones I definitely didn't want. Its a very challenging job and quite fun... but again very exhausting!!

A recent conversation with a friend of mine who had quit his job and decided to pursue his dreams in music and other projects, had me questioning whether I was truly on the right track to making my dreams a reality.

It got me thinking that in a way I was actually pursuing two dreams at the same time. On one hand there was the musician/performer dream which was on a slow path... facing obstacle after obstacle but still soldiering on... and on the other hand there was the teacher dream, inspiring the younger generation, nurturing their creativity and trying to make a difference.

My friend had suggested that I quit my teaching job since it wasn't leaving me with much time to rehearse and gig and write... but my answer was but I love doing it and I love my kids!!
I guess I just need to learn how to juggle a bit better... (I actually dont know how to physically juggle anything!!) Perhaps if I do inspire just a handful of students to do something different with their lives, to think outside the box, to push the limits, to be comfortable with who they are and to embrace it... then it'll all be worth it...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Reasons why I Love being back in Egypt

- Two things go without saying - Family and Friends


- Our gorgeous beaches

- Being within an hour and a half's drive from the beach (Mediterranean or Red Sea)

- The Shatafa - I still dont understand why this concept hasnt caught on in the western world!

- Being able to get my nails done (hands and feet), hair done, eyebrows threaded and full body wax for under £20.

- Home Delivery for everything from fast food and pharmacy orders to your laundry and ironed clothes.

- The culturally exploding streets - you'll find something in every corner that screams out Egypt in some way and the history of course. 

- The Nile and the Faluccas 

- Every now and then Egyptian men prove that chivalry isn't dead something Liverpool lacked quite a bit (with a few exceptions of course)

- The food ahhh the food!

- The mango - deserves a spot on its own - Egyptian mangoes all different kinds of them can not be outdone. The ones in the UK are pale yellow, flavourless and smell like perfume =(

- El Sett, Listening to Om Kalthoum in Cairo takes it to a whole new level. Try driving from one area to another eg. Downtown to Heliopolis with Om Kalthoum keeping you company and you'll realise she's the perfect soundtrack to Cairo.

- Tea and Peppermint - I love the whole tradition of having black tea with fresh peppermint leaves after lunch/dinner whatever your main meal of the day is. Team it up with Om Kalthoum in the background and you'll be smiling =)

- My Grandpa - I live with my Grandpa, who is also one of my idols, its not just because he's my Grandfather that I look up to him, no. He's a man of principals and suffered 10 years in political prison for sticking to them. He is also the founder of the Arab Organisation for Human Rights and the Vice President of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights. Our daily conversations almost always reveal interesting information about the past and the present. From stories when he took part in the 1952 revolution, his being the youngest Minister to be appointed during Abdel Nasser's rule, dealing with celebrities and their clashes when he was Minister of Information and to how he was sent to prison simply for resigning during El Sadat's rule. 

- Wearing Heels -This one is a bit shallow but I'm putting it anyway! Since we don't really walk much to places in Cairo, we're always driving or being driven, I get to wear my heels without worrying about being able to walk in them for so long and the pain that will come!

- All sorts of shops are open til atleast 10pm! Others 24 hours!

I will probably come up with a few more as I continue to settle in - will add them as they come!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Year after year, Ramadan creeps up on us 11 days earlier than the year before. 
2011 has hosted Ramadan on the 1st of August, slap-bang-in-the-middle of the summer season and the hottest month of the Egyptian year, Fasting from sunrise, to sunset has been no easier this time round. In fact the heat has simply added to the post fitar coma most people experience and the Egyptian population's lethargy.

I personally love the atmosphere Ramadan has to offer, especially being back home in Egypt. I love how people gather together and how much closer families and extended families tend to come. I love the Ramadan lanterns (Fanous) - which i recently learned comes from the Greek word for lantern φανός (phanos). I love how the mosques light up and the small alleys in different areas of the city fill up with streamers and other home made decorations.

In my personal opinion, we (myself included) seem to have misunderstood the concept of Ramadan. 
There's the general idea of charity, modesty, self restraint and prayer which is displayed in society in one form or another. But Ramadan seems to have lost its spiritual essence. One should fast (go without food or water )in order to experience how the less fortunate feels and to be thankful for what they have and appreciate things more, however most of us break our fast to a daily feast all month long instead of a simple modest meal. 

During Ramadan, those who observe it should be working on their relationship with God and heightening their spirituality, instead Ramadan has become about where the new 'in' place to be seen is and what tv shows to watch. 

One would think that during Ramadan, people would hold on tighter to the concepts of their religion. However العمل عبادة  and  النظافة من الايمان are two concepts that seem to go out the door. 

Driving down El Korba heading home at 2 am after visiting with my Grandmother, the abandoned streets were covered in rubbish. Paper everywhere, empty food containers, plastic bottles and cardboard boxes. Is the concept of throwing something in a bin so foreign to us?

During Ramadan, productivity in almost all sectors decreases drastically. Working hours tend to be altered to start a bit later and leave a lot earlier so that people can be home in time for sunset. However a lot of people show up even later than the 'Ramadan prescribed start' and end up being at work for no more than 2-3 hours! Others show up to work but do nothing but complain about being tired, sleepy, thirsty and hungry... and get no work done. Its simple, if you aren't able to fast, you shouldn't fast. If you choose to fast, then stop complaining and deal with it! You should also apply yourself at work to the best of your ability and not let your fasting affect your work. Or perhaps you should consider taking leave in order to fully observe Ramadan and not have your work suffer. 

The streets of Cairo witness some of the world's worst driving and the month of Ramadan is no exception especially during the rush home at about 3.30 and those 15 minutes before the sun sets. You'd think that with the spirit of Ramadan enveloping us, people wouldn't be rude, or swear or shout vulgar insults at drivers who cut them off etc but no, if anything it seems to increase as cranky fasting souls explode in each others faces (and often end up beating each other up...)

Its a real shame how Ramadan has lost its essence and been subject to so much commercialisation and trivialisation. I don't claim to 'do' Ramadan correctly but I wish I could!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

City Stars rules and stores?

City stars and what goes inside it is really quite low on the priority agenda for most Egyptians with all the current events but this article has recently surfaced pointing out the new signs that have been placed that the writer deems as 'testing the waters' and hijacking the revolution.

I think the Egyptian society knows its culture very well and dont need signs reminding them of what is appropriate and what isnt. 
In addition to these signs, a few days ago i visited H&M in City Stars and was shocked by the posters displayed in the actual store. The posters of models wearing H&M's stock placed at strategic places across the store were edited. Any model wearing anything more revealing than a short sleeved top or ankle length trousers had a white tshirt and or leggings painted in to cover up her skin. The first poster i noticed i was quite sure whether it was simply a strange new look or if it was actually covered up. (see picture of girl in maxi dress below) 

However once i reached the cashier and saw that one of the models shouldve just been wearing a bikini bottom and an over sized tshirt also had white leggings on all doubt was gone. Since when do stores do that? Ive seen similar acts before where someone has gone round with a black marker and coloured over exposed skin on adverts in the street or in magazines but never in a store! It was more like random individuals who felt the urge to deface images not actual stores! Two stores down from H&M there's a lingerie shop with a huge larger than life poster of a woman in lace lingerie i find it quite contradictory!! Hmmmm where are we heading???

Reflecting on the Move..

So just under 3 weeks ago i made my big move back home - to Cairo, Egypt.
With the revolution still very much in motion i couldn't bear being away and sitting on the sidelines any longer.

I quit my job, broke the contract with my landlord and prepared to ship most of my life over.
I left behind 5 years of me in Liverpool. It was very difficult packing, i kept putting it off day after day - and the sun being out during my last week didn't help very much either! I said good-bye to great friends and places and a lovely flat that had been very much my home for the past year and a half and also said good-bye to my 9 month old cat that i had to leave behind because of a mixup with her vaccinations resulting in her not being able to fly at the time i had booked.

my closest friends came out for one last meal at my favourite place in Liverpool - The Quarter and they then joined me at mine and vowed to keep me awake until 3.30 am when i had to catch my taxi to the airport. It was very much appreciated and i only wish i could've just relaxed and enjoyed their company fully instead of worrying about everything!!

I ended up with two huge overweight bags, my handbag and a cabin bag - i almost missed my flight from Liverpool John Lennon Airport to Amsterdam as i ended up falling asleep in the waiting section. But the rest went well. It was my first time to arrive in Cairo airport during the day and seeing home as we started to land and recognising different landmarks got me all emotional. It was my first time back since the political uprising, since the revolution, since Mubarak had stepped down. Home wasn't yet free but it had smelt freedom and was marching towards it.

I still haven't really quite settled in yet, every day is different for me. I received my shipped packages yesterday and was quite upset to find several fragile items broken including one of my guitars which has a cracked head - very obviously from where someone had taken it out of its case and slammed it on something - possibly while putting it back in the case. Egyptian customs were ridiculous and charged me for everything even the documents and files i had in one of the bags! Ahhh well nothing i can do about that now...

Im still searching for a band to start rehearsing with but in the mean time ive decided on doing a few solo gigs to get me warmed up. I haven't performed on my own in a while and haven't performed in Egypt since 2008 so i'm feeling quite a bit of pressure but since my first booked gig is only a couple of songs long i think it'll be alright. I've managed to find a great drummer and bassist who are up for playing for me, but the search for the rest of the band is still ongoing.

Ive managed to get all paperwork sorted (as far as i know) for being issued a license to print my album and so hopefully soon (insha'allah) printing El Mahrousa should be underway and i can begin to arrange for the album launch party and its tour. Hopefully the wait wont be too long!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Single "Egypt's Waiting For Me" Video

After wanting to get a music video done for ages. I finally did.
It took me awhile to decide which song to film - but after the recent events in Egypt and the Arab world, I was inspired to write a new song "Egypt's Waiting For Me" and it seemed like the perfect choice for a video.

We shot it in Liverpool - in a recording studio, at St Luke's Church in the city centre and at Ainsdale beach! We also got contributions from Egyptians living abroad and Egyptians representing a selected few cities in Egypt. It was done by Laura Lomax.

The video in a way is a call to Egyptians living outside Egypt to come back home and help with rebuilding the country after the collapse of the old regime. And in true, 'Property Of Nadya Shanab' fashion, it is a fusion between both the Arabic and English language.

Anyways, Enjoy it and please feel free to pass on your comments!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Catch Up With My Father - Education in Egypt

Yesterday after a long day filled with Vet visits, Teaching, running around like a stressed chicken and driving to and from Birmingham for a gig, I came home to my Father in my flat in Liverpool.

It was great to see him and I couldn't wait to hear all his stories that he brought from Egypt.

This morning (Saturday) we headed into the city centre and ran some errands then settled at an Italian restaurant in Liverpool One. There, our catch up commenced.

I was aware that my Father had taken part in the demonstrations in Tahrir Square, he went day after day and would try to keep me updated with whats going on, occasionally taking my younger sister with him too, however, I wasn't aware that he had been there when the protesters were attacked by men on horses and camels!

We then moved on to sharing our rage regarding people inviting us to group on facebook to sympathise with the former prime minister (Ahmed Shafiq) or our former President (Mubarak) even apologising to them. We spoke of how such views have come in between friends and how we couldn't understand how some people thought this way. Which brought us to discuss education.

I personally believe that; lack of or poor education is the source of most problems facing the Egyptian street. Corruption, hygiene, sexual harassment, fundamentalism/extremism and many more. He agreed.
In a system where one is educated by the government in primary and secondary, then again in university and once they graduate are told by government employers that they are not qualified for their jobs - something must be wrong... How can you not be qualified for public sector jobs when you received public sector education, who's fault is it that the education you received is inadequate?
He discussed how in Egypt in the past, public education was much better than private education (the opposite of how things currently stand in Egypt). He himself being a graduate of the public schooling system and at one point the highest grades in the country came from students at his school.

He also mentioned how during a work related meeting in Qatar, he was told by one of the attending associates that all their school books and curriculum used to come from Egypt. So once upon a time, not only did we have a decent education system, but we also exported it to the Arab world.

How did we loose sight of the importance of education? How did we let it reach the point where our teachers aren't even qualified to teach their subject or even control a classroom - where student graduated barely knowing how to read and write in their own language let alone other languages?
Its a shame. A true shame. Indeed improving education is a tasks whose effect will be a long-term one but a much needed one.

The streets of Egypt need to be cleansed with education thoroughly. I believe that through education we can instil morals, respect and principles (one would think that religion would do that too however people's perception of religion has unfortunately been reduced to facades and appearances instead of its true essence - again proper religious education would deal with that). In an educated society, women would not have to fear sexual harassment when walking down their own street, women would be treated with respect and equality instead of looked down upon and treated as an object. People would be open to different opinions and would respect people's rights to them and to a voice.

I believe the previous regime intentionally wanted to provide poor education in order to 'dumb down' the masses. A poorly educated public will not be aware of its rights and therefore not call for them. A poorly educated public could not possibly call for equality of any kind. A poorly educated public can be easily exploited in many ways - be it capitalism, religious extremism or others...  A poorly educated public will not be aware of its true potential and what it can actually achieve.

However, we did rise and we did call for freedom, rights and equality. The road is still a long and rocky one - we must stay strong and see this through. Hopefully one day soon, we will take back our place amongst the Arab world and we will restore our education system and produce clean minds across the nation.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

This Week...

This week was half term break for me here in Liverpool.
It meant I was off work and got a bit of a break off shouting at children while trying to teach them music!

However it wasn't much of the 'break' I needed. I had been booked to perform by Morton House - a dorm unit for University Of Liverpool who were hosting a Guest night and adopting the Arabian Nights theme.
Naturally bringing an Egyptian lead world-fusion band was the right choice!

It was quite hectic preparing for it as we needed to rehearse for an hours worth of material and until recently, all our gigs were 35 mins max. But we managed to gather enough material (after all we do have an albums worth) and ensured that they were ready for the night.

Night went quite well and the guests seemed to enjoy it. But its taken me 2 days so far to recover from the whole thing =( We had to start our day quite early to pick up the equipment we had hired for the gig and transport it to the venue - which took several trips - and get the instruments to the venue and all the musicians involved. Then of course setting up the stage and building up the PA system took awhile.
After we performed there was also the whole deal of packing up the system and putting it away.
But overall it was a good night.

Friday was my 'catching up with people' day. I had lunch with my ex flatmate and sushi dinner with a good friend. I also went along to a 'meet and greet' held by the Arab Network in the North West and met other Arabs living in the area and was introduced to 3 other Egyptians! Was quite nice to get in touch with people from a similar background and of course celebrate the toppling over of Mubarak.

Saturday saw another 'catch up' lunch and Sunday too...

On the Saturday we went to the Leaf cafe on bold st - my first time there - it was quite nice and food was great. I was extremely attracted to an Italian Meringue that was on display at the counter and no matter how much i tried to ignore it, it still kept calling me. In the end I succumbed to it and I'm soooo glad I did (pushing aside the calorie guilt hehe). It looked so beautiful I just had to photograph it =) YUM!!

This week also saw the itunes release of my album El Mahrousa which im extremely excited about and love the reaction its been getting so far. Hopefully the official physical release wont be too far away... Insha'allah - fingers crossed!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Itunes Release!!!

So finally!!! Things are actually moving forward with our album release! 
I am glad to announce that Property Of Nadya Shanab's debut album El Mahrousa is finally released on itunes and all ten tracks are available for download!!!!


I, personally am very very excited and cant wait to see the reaction to the album. 

El Mahrousa has been inspired by Egypt and its people and rightly so, is dedicated to them.
And with the recent events that have been ongoing in Egypt it feels like the perfect time to have an album dedicated to such a great country and such amazing people!

Please check the album out - you can preview each track before buying it. Buy the album or your favourite tracks and let us know what you think!

We are currently awaiting legal issues to be resolved so we can physically release the album both in the UK and EGYPT. Fingers crossed it wont be too long of a wait.

You can also find a preview on our Facebook Page or our Website

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Congratulations to Egypt! Mabrouk Ya Masr!!

So hours after I posted my last post, the news of Hosni Mubarak stepping down as Egypt's President rang through the world.

I was in the middle of Liverpool city centre and found it very hard to compose myself and tears of happiness found their way down my cheeks. It was raining and they were easily masked. But I didnt want to hide them... I wanted to dance and sing... The National Anthem ringing in my ears, I sang out loud and didnt care who looked at me!

I got a phone call from BBC Radio Merseyside asking me to join them in the studio once again.
I had joined them before going off to work on Wednesday the 10th of Feb discussing events taking place in Egypt, how I felt and my thoughts. They wanted to discuss my feelings now that Mubarak had finally stepped down and also called up my Father who was in the streets of Cairo celebrating.

I got very emotional while talking to him and talking about the long held dream of 80 million people that had finally came true.

Mubarak is gone and Egypt is Free!
I saw pictures and footage of people dancing, singing and celebrating on the streets of Cairo.
I heard them during congratulatory phone calls from my family in the background.
And I broke down in tears again while talking to my Mother, Grandmother and Sister who were dancing, cheering and singing in the streets of Heliopolis (an area in Cairo) and waving their Egyptian Flags.

I saw the whole Arab world rejoicing for Egypt and celebrating too.
Egypt will be rebuilt. Egypt will hold its head high and will take back its position in the world.
Congratulations to Egypt and its Amazing People.

Please find below links to the BBC radio interviews.

Nadya Shanab Interview.

Hisham Shanab Interview Feb. 10, 2011

Hisham Shanab Interview Feb. 11, 2011
(P.S.  This is a 4 hours episode, please go to 1 hour 19 minute)

Nadya & Hisham Shanab Interview Feb. 11, 2011