Zeinab Part 1

Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2

Now you may frown and say, the brothers or the men controlling the girl etc…. etc… but before you do that, please ask me one very vital questions:

Q: Who, or what are women to an Egyptian / Arabian man?

A) A woman to an Egyptian man is either: Mother, Sister, Daughter, Aunt, Grandmother, Cousin, Fiancee, Wife or Work- mate. Well, the Egyptian man can NEVER say no to any of these ladies. They fully control his life. What he eats, what he will wear, where he is going to sleep, what job “THEY” will be proud to have him do, and THEY CHOOSE FOR HIM THE WOMAN WHO HE IS GOING TO MARRY.

I know of many a disaster when some poor man married a girl who was not liked by the women in the family. It was hell on earth. Believe me, my brother did that 30 years ago, and lives to regret it. But, the ladies themselves have their own moral codes of conduct and what they consider to be a good woman or not good enough. She has to have qualities and traits that they approve of. Well you see, she will be their door and special agent to him, convincing him, in her way, to do what the rest of the women want him to do.

I am not here to beef about anything; I am only fascinated by the way, this chess game is played. It is a game of life, and the Egyptian women play it to the full.

I recall once when I was young in Cairo, I had a best friend who was also a drummer called Tareq; we both came from very “SOPHISTICATED” (woooops), high-class families. My family was Pashas and in the cinema industry and his were very rich diamond and gold merchants from Khan El Khalili. One day Tareq and I were in El Hossein, and we were walking behind This Baladi woman, she must have been about 28 years old, we were about 16 or 17.

She was dressed in a long Galabeya that was loose but when the Melaya was wrapped, you could see that magnificent “Coca Cola” (standard disclaimer) (just joking) shape of her body. There was a certain part of her backside that moved independently like two ferrets fighting in a sack, ……so rhythmically Tareq and I started singing the Maqsoum to her walk: Dom tak Trrrrrak Dom Retitak……..and after a few bars of that we broke out laughing. But I will never forget that day. She was walking like there were no other women worth looking at in the God Forsaken planet but her. As far as she was concerned, she was IT. Proud, strong, pleasant and very respectable, and full of feminine power. Imagine this was Zeinab.

By now Zeinab’s little sister, Souaad is getting married, this is probably the happiest day of Zeinab’s life, even more than her own wedding night. To her, now her family’s duty is complete, and her father and mother can start having a bit of a life for themselves too. Don’t you think she is going to dance that night, you bet your last hip drop she will. And in PUBLIC too.

How is she going to do that without breaking the traditions of never showing off too much of her femininity in public and shaming her husband, who has to be respected and given the idea that he is the “LION” of the family if not the whole neighborhood, so that he can shut up and do what he’s told, and go to work every darn day and bring the money, and give it to her? She’s going to have to do it slowly, and bit by bit………A small taqsim on an Oud, or as in recently on an Accordion or Saxophone or nowadays the keyboards, is a great way to do this.

She will have to dance it on the spot, small movements, very Contained, but full of feeling for the music, and expressing the music. If the music does a long note, she sways with it for as long as it does like the reeds from the bamboo plants along the Nile banks, swaying with the force of the breeze. But if the music is small choppy sounds, or even tremelendo, she shimmies with it.

The Bamboo reeds are also called Oud, from which the Taqsim introduction got its name as well as from the fact it used to be done on the Oud instrument This is why it is called AWWADY. This part is like a Mawwal (free non-rhythmic nostalgic singing) on an instrument.


Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2