First Full Day in Dahab

Today was my first full day in Dahab, and what a day it has been! To my surprise, time passes by very slowly here (a lot of بركة, I suppose).

I worked out of a cafe by the beach in the morning, had breakfast, worked out on the beach, had lunch, went home to continue working, and then finally went with a group to the mountains for a splendid dinner in the desert. I couldn’t count how many stars were in the clear skies above. I unfortunately didn’t have a good camera to take pictures but Nadine, one of the women in the group, took some beautiful pictures that I’ll share here in due time.

Work-wise I think it has been a very productive day. Hopefully it stays that way in the days to come.

In Dahab

I arrived to Dahab this morning, and I was pleasantly surprised that Dahab had not lost one bit of its charm – an incredible combination of beauty, nature, and simplicity.

I met up with my friend Souzan, who has been living there for several months now, and she give me a nice, gentle re-introduction to Dahab. The video below says it all.

Day 3 in Sharm El Sheikh

Today was our last day of our diving trip. I did three dives today, bring the total number of dives on our diving trip to nine. To date, I have dived 21 times in total.

The first dive today was at Gordon Reef, and something unique to this reef is “The Lovilla”, a boat that’s stuck on the Northern edge of the reef, above the water. It’s been sitting there since 2005, and has largely corroded away. It some point the remains will fall in the water and will make a very enjoyable dive site. Here’s the ship:

Anyways, Haitham asked me to solve some simple math equations on the first dive at a depth of ~30m to test my tolerance to nitrogen narcosis. Reefs today were spectacular. I didn’t take my camera underwater this trip unfortunately, but Tarek and Haitham did. I’ll share photos from them once I get it.

I was supposed to head to Dahab today, but I felt pretty exhausted so I just hung out with Tarek and Abu ElHaz. Tomorrow morning I head to Dahab!

Day 2 in Sharm El Sheikh

Weather today has been much nicer – more sun and less wind. We ended up taking a boat, حرية السويس, and visited a couple of dive sites. I did three dives during the boat trip. The first two dives were “drift drives”, where I was learning to glide with current while enjoying the marine life. Both of these dives were with my instructor Haitham.

I then did a third dive, this time with Captain Abdelhameed, and that was a buoyancy dive, where I did drills to help control my altitude under water and to be neutrally buoyant.

Finally, I did a fourth dive with Haitham, Tarek, and Juan. This time, though, it was a night dive. I’ve been craving doing a night dive for a long time, and it certainly was worthwhile. I’d almost compare to going to outer space – the blackness of the sea vs the blackness of space and the buoyancy in the water vs the free gravity in space.

Anyways, we wrapped up today with a great seafood dinner at Fares. I am exhausted now. Time to head to be to catch another boat for a couple of diving trips in the early AM. Tomorrow will be the last day on this diving trip, and I then will be heading to Dahab to work out of there for a bit.

Day 1 in Sharm El Sheikh

Today was a bit of a rough start to our diving trip. The weather was cloudy, dusty, and very windy. One of the boats that went out in the morning came back shortly after because of the weather conditions.

We plowed through it tough and decided to dive directly from the beach without a boat. Haitham, my instructor, guided us in two dives in Shark’s Bay. The first was a refresher, as it had four years since I last dived.

The second one was supposed to be a navigation dive, but it was cut short because Haitham’s dry suit was leaking.

The original plan was to do a night dive this evening and then take a boat at dawn tomorrow to Thistlegorm, the British shipwreck from WWII. That unfortunately won’t happen tomorrow also because of weather conditions. Hopefully the day after (?)

يوم في شارع المعز لدين الله الفاطمي

بدأت السنة الجديدة بزيارة لشارع المعز لدين الله الفاطمي مع معتز و أحمد عليوة. أنا محرج و أنا أقول إن هذه هي زيارتي الأولى لهذا المكان. من مفهومي أنه تم ترميم الشارع و آثاره من فترة بسيطة. ولا أنكر أن  زيارتي غيّرت انطباعي عن القاهرة بشكل عام (إلى الأفضل). رونق هذا الشارع فريد من نوعه بالرغم من أنه يزال ينقصه الكثير.

استغليت زيارتي لشارع المعز و اشتريت أباجورة لأمي بمناسبة عيد ميلادها. الأباجورة شغل يدوي و رحت على كهربائي في باب الشعرية عشان يركّب الكهرباء. طلّع دين أهلي بس شكلها طلع مش وحش في الآخر. منقوش عليها “قل أعوذ برب الفلق”:

Project Small Fish Complete!

It’s been a few days already, but I can finally report that Project Small Fish is officially complete! The final deliverable is in the video below:

Here’s a recap of the goals I originally set for myself:

  1. Be in a better mental state
    • In earlier posts I mentioned how I felt that I was mentally weak, and that I needed to improve my mental stamina and clarity.
  2. Be in a better physical state
    • I haven’t really took my physical fitness seriously for a long time, and there can’t be a better time to do this than now.

Here’s how I’ve evolved on both of the above fronts:

1. Be in a better mental state

To contrast my current mental state with how it was prior to Small Fish, here’s a snippet from an earlier post I wrote back in September:

When I left my job almost three months ago I wanted to spend more time focusing on my physical fitness, as it’s something I haven’t been putting as much attention to as I’d like. Here’s how things evolved:

  • I came up with a plan that I wanted to train for Half Iron Man and be ready by next Summer.
  • I ended up procrastinating and didn’t do much training, but a big hindrance for me was that a big pool was inaccessible. Traveling to Lebanon and not sticking around one location long enough makes it more difficult for me as well to commit to a gym for pool access.
  • I changed my plan to do something very simple but over an extended period of time. I decided every morning that I’d spend a couple of minutes doing ab workouts, following the guidelines of the book Convict Conditioning.
    • That plan lasted (with many misses) for 40 days, but relocating several times and the sheer ease of the workout didn’t make me feel like I was actually working out, so I subconsciously made the decision to stop.
  • The whole workout plan fell apart.

As the above points out, I was in a state of mental weakness, and even simple ab workouts I haven’t been able to do consistently.

In contrast, I started Small Fish while I was in Dusseldorf in Germany, and then I moved to Paris, Bonn, Lisbon, El-Gouna, Giza, and Cairo. In all of these cities I managed to find what it takes for me to finish my workouts. Whether that’s a calisthenics park in the city center, a tree, a fence, or a shitty pull up bar from التوحيد و النور. I stuck to the program in all these scenarios despite the very different environments.

I feel like I’m in a much better mental state and in a more positive mood.

2. Be in a better physical state

A number of friends and family members have been commenting that my physique has improved lately, and I certainly feel that as well.

  • I can now easily do 10 pull-ups, and have done 40 chin-ups across four sets on some days. I couldn’t do any of that before.
  • For the first time since my shoulder injury, I can comfortably and easily do a wall handstand.
  • I can now last a lot longer doing a frogstand, and my stance is a lot more stable.
  • There were two skills I haven’t been able to do yet: the elbow lever and the clap pull-up. I’ll incorporate these in the coming fitness project.

This project was the first one that I structured in this formal and written way, and given how well it has worked out it certainly won’t be the last.

يوم متوازن

اليوم كان أكثر الأيام توازنا منذ أسابيع:

  • لعبت مع أبي بلياردو، و أظنها أول مرة في ٢٠١٧.
  • ذهبت، و لأول مرة في زيارتي هذه لمصر، مع أبي و أمي بمفردنا للعشاء. ذهبنا إلى كشري هند قرب الحي الأول في مدينة العبور.

  • حلقت عند “هاني ربيع”، و هو أحسن حلاق رحت له في حياتي.
  • سهرت مع أمير و ابن أخي علي. أنا و علي كنا نلعب بالزهر:

  • و أخيرا و ليس آخرا، قضيت أغلب النهار أعمل على مشروع جديد. سأنوه عنه قريبا في هذه المدونة.

Restoring Balance

It’s a late night here in Cairo. Aside from posts related to Project Small Fish, I haven’t really posted much in a while.

December has been a month where I lost my balance. I was so deeply focused working on one particular project, and I got so consumed by it to the point where I have been falling short on other priorities. Examples:

  • Not spending quality time with my parents even though I’m living with them. I’m also not being a good uncle to my nephews. I haven’t been doing fun activities with them at all.
  • Barely seeing my friends.
  • Very slow in responding and getting back to people’s messages. Similarly, I didn’t follow up much with people whom I met at Riseup Summit earlier this month.
  • Not doing fun activities or adventures to add that extra spice to life.
  • Not keeping in touch with people who are important to me or greeting them on special occasions.
  • Not taking advantage of my time in Egypt (examples: taking oud lessons, calligraphy classes, etc.)
  • Not documenting what’s been going on in my life.

I’ll have follow-up posts to address how I want to tackle each of the above. I started tonight by freeing myself up for the evening and spending more play time with my nephews.

I played with Mido and he was teaching me how to build Titanic out of legos:

And I played dominoes with the little man: