Tag Archive | daily life

Birds of Egypt: “Abu Ghuttaas,” The Pied Kingfisher

A Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), also known as "Abu Ghuttaas" ("father of those who dunk") sits on the wire hunting for fish in an irrigation canal fed from the Nile River in our rural village in Egypt

A Pied Kingfisher in our rural Egyptian village… (Please click image for more)

Another frequent visitor to our rural little corner of Egypt’s Nile delta is this handsome fellow nicknamed by the birdwatching locals, “Abu Ghuttaas,” loosely translated as “Father of those who dunk.” Ducking under water and coming back up quickly (as the ducks do) is referred to in my husband’s french chocolate tongue as “making ghuts.”

A Pied Kingfisher, this black and white beauty is properly known by his Latin name, Ceryle rudis, but the Ancient Egyptians reportedly called him “cnHb.t” or maybe it’s “cn-nHb.t.” Gutenberg doesn’t tell us how to say it, but is certain this translates into “the one turning around the neck (when hovering above water spying fish),” — I tried very hard to confirm this with the local Ancient Egyptians, but everyone around here insists he is just Abu Ghuttaas.

This particularly handsome bird up on that wire is a male, as he has two bands of black around his neck. Similar to his more strikingly colored cousin, Mr. Fairuz, (Turquoise) the Collared Kingfisher, Abu Ghuttaas loves to hang around our home, hunting for fish in the irrigation canal. All of Egypt’s delta region is watered by a wide network of irrigation canals fed by the Nile River, and we commonly see many little fish swimming around in the canal from our second floor windows.

Abu Ghuttaas favorite fishing canal on our corner in egypt

Abu Ghuttaas’ favorite fishing canal on our corner in Egypt

The electric wires coming to our home provide a perfect perch for many beautiful birds, and I always feel amazingly blessed and thankful to get such a perfect view from our windows. But I go way over the top of that when I get a good clear picture of a beautiful bird!! (or sheep, or donkey…lol)

Pied Kingfishers are not very picky eaters, hovering over water and diving straight down to capture fish, snails, bugs, it’s all good to Abu Ghuttaas. Eating on the wing, so to speak, they can continuously forage without needing to sit down to eat. Here’s a great photo by Karthik Easvur with all the stages of dunking, or “making ghuts,” superimposed on the image — it gives a great illustration of the amazing beauty of this handsome bird in action:

Pied Kingfisher's fishing manoeuvre, combined in a single image, c. Karthik Easvur (Wikicommons)

Pied Kingfisher’s fishing manoeuvre, combined in a single image, c. Karthik Easvur (Wikicommons)

On the other side of our corner, near our garage, are several “Toot” (Mulberry) trees. This must be a favorite hangout for the beautiful birds of Egypt, at least in our rural little corner, anyway — it was up in a nearby Toot tree that I was able to capture a couple of great shots of Cleopatra, the Green Bee-Eater, another favorite of mine. Here’s one more photo of Abu Ghuttaas, perched up in a Toot tree:

Abu Ghuttaas, a Pied Kingfisher, in a Toot (Mulberry) Tree

Abu Ghuttaas, a Pied Kingfisher, in a Toot (Mulberry) Tree… (Please click image for more)

 

You might like to learn more at Wikipedia about Abu Ghuttaas, the Pied Kingfisher, and here’s a YouTube video to watch, too:

Click here for the previous bird in this series: Abu Maghazil, The Spur-Winged Lapwing

 
;^)

Aisha’s Egypt: Duck Market Day

Aisha's Egypt: Duck Market Day

Duck Market Day
 
Carrying her duck perched high on her head
She’s walking her duck to the market
 
He pokes out his head to get a good look
Observing his fate, sitting patiently
 
He calmly enjoys the view from on high
While the ducks back home view his privileged life
 
As the lucky duck who gets to travel
Escaping the farm with the farmer’s wife
 
How smugly he smiles and proudly displays
His best behavior while riding her head
 
Ignorance is bliss even for a duck
Travelling the world in an orange basket
 
Carried on the head of a farmer’s wife
As she walks her duck to the market
 
This moment of fun will soon be over
Life changes like that, and soon life’s over
 
Someone will eat him for dinner tonight
He won’t return home with the farmer’s wife
 
Even lucky ducks living privileged lives
Travelling the world while riding high
 
May escape the farm with the farmer’s wife
But won’t escape fate when it’s dinnertime
 
 
© 2015 by Aisha Abdelhamid
 
;^)

 
 

Photo Poem: Doing The Dishes

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Doing The Dishes

Imagine, next time you stand at your sink,
In your air conditioned home, with your hot water heater
Delivering comfort and ease to your fingers
As you complain about doing the dishes –
Imagine a life with no running water,
Windows always open to the weather,
Your big stack of dirty dishes waiting
For you to carry them down to the well.
Hurry, your neighbor is watering his field,
He won’t complain about sharing the water
As you get advantage from the gushing machine
To scrub your dirty dishes clean
As you laugh and joke with your neighbor.

© 2014 by Aisha Abdelhamid

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Aisha’s Egypt: A Very Versatile Goat

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A Very Versatile Goat Could Be A Great Companion!

A VERY VERSATILE GOAT

It takes a very versatile goat to sit cramped up like that
In a crate on the back seat of a motorcycle
With only her head poking out
I’ve never met a goat like this
Ours would turn into a hairy tornado
If we tried to stuff it into a crate
But look at her, she looks delighted!
Like an adorable, happy child straining to see over his shoulder
She seems to understand the street as if she does this everyday

Maybe her Buddy whistles
At the back door of her barn
And she runs to him, jumping into the box,
And off they go, enjoying the ride together
Going where no goat has gone before
At a speed no goat has dreamed of
She’s obviously enjoying it
I think they must be very good friends
I think a very versatile goat
Could be a great companion!

© Aisha Abdelhamid

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Aisha’s Egypt: Little Shepherd Boy

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“Grab the camera, the sheep are coming!”
This is a wonder to behold. You can never underestimate the captivating power of a passing flock of sheep.
Well, maybe you could, but not me!
Especially if they are herded by an adorable little boy taking his duty so seriously.
You can see it in his face, the way he lightly flicks his stick to contol his herd’s advance.

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Aisha’s Egypt: Let’s Take A Ride!

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My Daughter And I Riding A Camel Up To The Pyramids

One glance at the pyramids is proof enough that the date on the calendar holds no meaningful relevance to the age of anything in Egypt. They say character has no age, but in Egypt, the older something gets, the more character it acquires. Time runs at a very unique speed here. Even the traffic runs at a very unique speed. This is because Egyptian streets are full of surprises. Relics of every form of transportation known to man are still jockeying for position on the lively highways and byways of this amazing country. Let’s take a ride!
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Birds of Egypt: “Abu Maghazil,” The Spur-Winged Lapwing

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In Egypt, the name of this beautiful bird is, “Abu Maghazil,” or “Father of Hooks.” His official name is “Spur-Winged Lapwing,” or “Vanellus spinosus,” in the family of “Charadriidae.” He is named for a sharp spur hiding in each wing, which he uses for defense.

Mohamed says the “maghzal” is the hook on the end of the stick traditionally used for spinning wool or cotton into thread. I immediately imagined an ancient Egyptian using Abu Maghazil’s hook-shaped spur for the earliest spinning of sheep’s wool into thread for the weaving looms, and I could be right, as you can see in this picture:

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My Expat-Blog.com Interview

Recently I discovered a wonderful website, http://www.expat-blog.com for expats of every nationality. It’s a huge website with a wide range of helpful services and attractive forums. They really go the full distance to serve the interests of expats. My interview with them just went live yesterday, and I think that’s especially nice because yesterday was my birthday!

You can read the full interview here, with more photos, and you can also find it online at:
http://www.expat-blog.com/en/interview/147_aisha-in-aga.html

Why did you decide to move to Egypt?

I am an American woman who flushed twenty years of marriage to a mean, drunk, ‘wasp’ in favor of an incredibly interesting and loving Egyptian man I met online. He insisted to me by email that, “Sometimes, reality is more wonderful than any dream,” and I was so ripe for the picking, I fell directly into his hand. It’s been a joyride ever since! He moved to America with me, and we built a life, a house and a farm together in rural South Carolina, and then we packed as much of it as we could fit into a 20 ft. container and shipped it all to Egypt, where we are now building another life, another home, and, thankfully, our 5-story chicken farm here is already up and running!

How was the moving process?

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It was hilarious! The floor level of a shipping container is four feet off the ground, and the truck comes with no magic wand to get your stuff up in there. It does, however, come with a ticking meter way more expensive than any taxi cab, and you must get your stuff up in there within two hours or they start charging by the minute! I had pre-packed everything into a room of our guest house that was roughly similar dimensions as the shipping container, hoping to speed things up. We also had a neighbor with a farm tractor, and he was kind enough to put the fork lift attachments on the tractor, and offered to lift the boxes up to the truck.
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Egyptian Culture, Part 1: Islam and Sharia Law

What is Egyptian Culture? Where can we learn about it? Not on the Egyptian television. Western culture is admired and imitated in the Egyptian media, but not in the typical Egyptian home. The Egyptian TV sitcoms, serials, and movies are full of very western-styled actors and actresses portraying lives only slightly more conservative than in the West. In the United States, for example, if a foreigner wants to understand American culture, it is reasonable to study American media, because, generally speaking, it portrays American lifestyles accurately. But in Egypt, this strategy will fail completely. Perhaps only 5% of the population actually lives like what is typically portrayed on the TV. It is some kind of enjoyable National Fantasy, but definitely not a reflection of what’s really going on under the typical roof with the satellite dish. I live here! It totally doesn’t look like that! This “cultural spin” is quite shocking, so I have spent some time researching Egyptian culture, as I see it all around me here. This is the first essay in a series on the “nuts” and “bolts” of Egyptian Culture. In this essay, I am dealing primarily with the influence on daily life by Islam in general, and delving into the primary component of this influence, “Sharia Law.”
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Birds of Egypt: “Fairuz,” The Collared Kingfisher

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This bright little beauty is what a cheap firework dreams of being when it grows up.
“Fairuz,” or, as this word is translated into English, “Turquoise,” is this gorgeous bird’s name in Egypt. They are outstanding fishers, diving for their prey from high in the air. Collared Kingfishers often hang out around the canals lining two sides of our property, and I love to watch them flapping their wings as they hover in place above the water. Soon the moment is right and he flashes like the blue flame of a match being thrown into the water. I swear the water sizzles instead of splashes as he dives, spearing or catching the little fish with his long, sharp bill.
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