Thursday, October 11, 2007


I grew up playing in the clay courts in Mansoura in one of the sports club. My life back then revolved around tennis. All my friends were the kids I played tennis with and hung out with waiting for courts to empty out. Because we were at the bottom of the totem pole at the courts, the only way we'd get a tennis court is if we were the first to come in - usually around 3 pm - usually in the smoldering heat - but we didn't care. We'd have the courts for an hour before the old geezers (el rowad) would come in and take over the courts till it got dark. We'd keep pestering 3am Ashraf, the court manager, until he'd finally let us play again. Me and my friends would play l0cal tournaments. Me and two other kids would always place the same - 1st, 2nd, and 3rd - me always being in 3rd, but I still loved it. We'd travel to Cairo and Alexandria to play the bigger tournaments and we'd get chewed out in the first round by the rich kids from the big clubs like el Ahly and Sporting who had bags full of racquets and personal coaches in the cheering section - we still loved it. It was a blast. I'd play all througout the summer and during the school year my mom would allow one day. Just one day! That day was the only thing that kept me going during the long 6 day school week back then, and man was it sweet ! I'd come home running, eat a quick snack, pester my mom for 5 pounds, and go catch a microbus to the club. Those 5 pounds had to last me the whole day. I'd ride a microbus both ways ( 0.40 pounds), spend 3 pounds for court rental, and grab something to eat from the supermarket on the way back. Those were some sweet days.

My little town

My new home for the next 8 years was a small city in the South Dakota that I shall call Btown. Keep in mind however that the word small is a relative term. What do I consider small? For starters, I grew up in Egypt in Mansoura - a beautiful city on the Nile with a population of about 2 million. However, Mansoura is very small compared to Cairo - a city of about 20 million. So how big is Btown? or rather, how small is Btown? It's about 1.25% as big as Mansoura and 0.125% as big as Cairo. Btown turned out to be just another small town in the middle of no where. It didn't help that we arrived in late November when the weather was below freezing and there was snow on the ground already.
Btown is mainly a college town. It has a school with about 10,000 students and three elementary schools, a middle school, high school, one large grocery store, and a Super Walmart. All I cared about however was how many tennis courts the town had - I loved tennis

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Welcome to America !

My christmas break assignment during 9th grade was the following, "pick a 200-250 page book from this rack, read it, and fill out this one page report on it". Here's what I heard, "pick a book and fill out a 250 page report on it". I had only been in the US for 3 weeks. My english was pretty good, or at least I thought. Did I think the assignment was a little too much? Maybe a little but I didn't question the teacher. Over the next two weeks, I sat and paraphrased the entire 250 page book. My dad asked me if this what the teacher really wanted. I replied, "Dad, this is how things are in America". When it was time to hand in our assignment I finally realized what had happened. I couldn't believe it. Mrs. Reger felt so bad for me that she said she would give me some extra credit. I went to the bathroom and cried for half an hour. I was 12. I was homesick already. I felt so out of place. I thought to myself what am I doing here - a question I would soon ask myself again and again.....