Friday, November 20, 2009

One match. One goal. One helluva celebration.

N.B.: This is about football (a.k.a. soccer). I'm not a fan, but this was big. Just so you know.

Wednesday 18th November 2009: Play off match between Egypt and Algeria to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa next year. Egypt was by far the stronger team as they have more experience than the newly formed Algerian team, but the under-dogs had played remarkably well in their group matches, and had they not lost the last match they would have automatically qualified. To make it all more interesting, the last match - which Algeria lost - was against Egypt the previous Saturday. (The match, played in Cairo, was tense, with the home team needing 2 goals to get to the play off and they made it in the last 30seconds of the match with what turned out to be an off-side goal, which the referee didn't spot.)

The play off was held in Sudan and supporters from both countries raced to get there in the 3 days between the matches. Now, I live in Algeria, so I have no idea how the Egyptians did it, but I can tell you how the Algerians did.

Sunday, with just three days to go, Algerian supporters gathered in the capital Algiers and held an impromptu rally, requesting that the President of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, give them the airline tickets. Among the crowds' loud chants: 'Bouteflika, give us the tickets!'. Tickets to Khartoum cost 90,000DA (Algerian Dinars), which is more than 2months wages. The President knocked them back to a mere 20,000DA. Then Parliament went one step farther: they paid for all of the fans' tickets to Khartoum. In addition to this, visa requirements were dismissed. So, in just 3 days, thousands of Algerian fans took the five-hour flight across Africa to support their team.

The rest of the nation - and yes, I do mean ALL off the nation - decked themselves in the team colours (green/white), with loads of flag-themed accessories.

This is the Algerian flag, by the way.

Anyway, back to Wednesday night. I honestly couldn't stomach watching the match - I felt sick watching the last one, and I just couldn't face it again. Besides, pretty much the entire nation was watching - with TVs taken out into the streets for neighbours to watch together, and big screens put up in the major cities, so I knew that I'd find out the instant Algeria scored. And score they did. One goal towards the end of the first half. And that was it.

Algeria won and the entire nation erupted in cheers. Everyone spilled onto the streets celebrating the nation's first World Cup qualification in 24 years. I raced out with my family, to enjoy the celebrations, but I forgot to bring the camera! I did remember to bring my phone (thank God I also remembered the door keys!), but the photos aren't great quality.

Here they are anyway:

Notice the guy standing on the car window? Totally normal.

This crowd is nothing compared to those that gathered in the cities.

There were A LOT of flags around.

And there were loads of people on top of buses. It was ok, though, as they were (mostly) driving slow because of all the traffic.

It was a long night.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A work in progress: this blog's evolution thus far.

I started this blog over a year ago in a fit of pique. Some ex-pats who are good friends of mine were writing blogs about their lives here in Algeria, and whilst their experiences were absolutely true, I felt that they portrayed a very one-sided, and - if I may say so - largely inaccurate view of life here.

(I am not comfortable discussing my reasons for this point of view, so let's just say I have my justifications.)

Anyway, my initial intention in starting this blog was to write about my experiences of life here in Algeria, to present a different perspective. This is a second world country, and some aspects of life here can be tough, but it does have it's charms and attractions (which I'd like to write a post on at some point - God only knows when).

After my first few posts I realised that this blog was not going in the direction I had originally intended. I was writing about my life, not about my life in Algeria. So, I decided to kind of follow this new direction. I soon discovered that nothing is as boring as writing about than the same old same old. So I tried blogging about my religion, but that didn't work because I was writing far too much in one blogpost which I could not sustain for long and so I stopped blogging for a few months. Anything I wrote about after that was more about my goals and trying to get out of a rut, etc.

Then I read this post on Brazen Careerist, which prompted me to write this post here, and then I read this post by Amber, all of which had me obsessing on blog topics. I have reached the decision that I don't want a specific blog topic, as I don't really know what I want to focus on.

That said, I do want to write here regularly, and I know that I don't just want to write about me, but the narcissist in me finds that sooo much easier to write about.

I have therefore reached the conclusion that I am going to try to do the following:
  • post at least 3 times a week,
  • Set aside a certain amount of time each day to get in the habit of writing regularly,
  • research posts
  • read online newspapers and magazines for inspiration.

Here's to hoping I follow through.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Battle plan - what's next.

Having discovered that I passed the Master's entrance exam and will be enrolling in the course, which will probably start in early December (by my calculation - so I may be wrong), I have been really motivated to get back on track with, well, everything. Admittedly, I haven't actually done anything yet, but I know that if I want to study full-time, and work, and exercise, and have a social life, and keep up my hobbies, and try to do some evening classes I am going to have to get organised now. I need to start good habits and set my priorities - basically, figure out my battle plan - now.

And it is sooo energizing. As, of course, is the feel-good, on-cloud-nine feeling of actually having passed. :D

So, I'm blocking out time tomorrow afternoon to sit down and think it all through.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I. Am. Ecstatic.


I found out yesterday, and confirmed today, that I PASSED THE ENTRANCE EXAM FOR THE MASTERS DEGREE PROGRAM!!!

I'm going back to uni!

I'm still in a mild state of disbelief - I totally thought I'd failed, as I didn't do much revision for it, so this is completely shocking. I'm so looking forward to getting back to uni and cranking up the study, although I won't be starting back until December at the earliest. Who cares? I'm going back!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What they don't say about yoga.

Yesterday I decided to do an hour of 'Geri's Yoga' - a yoga video (yes, video, not dvd - there's nothing wrong with old school. Other than the fact that I can't skip to what I want, but whatever.) featuring Geri Halliwell and her slightly annoying? yoga instuctor Katy Appleton. There's also another person in it called Tina who demonstrates a lot of the beginner poses, so Geri can do all/most of the badass stuff.

I totally enjoyed it. Yoga is one of those things that I really enjoy, but I just don't prioritise. I'm the kind of person who finds a type of exercise/dvd that I really like and then does it, and only it, for a month or 3 until I get supremely bored and quit exercising all together. In an effort to prevent that from happening now, I am trying to vary my exercise routine and make it a bit more fun, so I'm trying out all of my workout videos/dvds to try to figure out how to incorporate them weekly. (I'm also looking to expand my collection - but that's another thing.)

Anyways, I'm getting off-topic here. As much as I loved the yoga yesterday and felt that it totally relaxed me, which was good because I was in such a foul mood, today I woke up aching all over. Seriously, I felt like I'd done a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson (without the ear pain). My shoulders ache, my arms ache and my thighs(!) ache (but not my abs - hmmmm). Honestly, I don't mind it - it kind of makes me feel like I did a real kick ass workout, even though it wasn't actually hard to do. Which is, of course, great.

But the thing is... everyone that recommends yoga, all the articles promoting its practice, all the books and dvds that teach it, not one of those that I've come across (and they are many) mention the soreness the next day. I mean, it's no big deal, it's just that when I decide to do carido or strength training I know to expect sore muscles the day after. I don't with yoga.

So now I know: Yoga hurts.

And now that I know this, I have found this article explaining that I may feel some soreness when I begin as I'm using my muscles and joints in new ways.
Duh Sarah!
But seriously, why didn't I figure this out before, and why isn't it mentioned more often?

Friday, November 6, 2009

A bad start, but a good end.

When I woke up this morning at 3:25am I automatically turned over to get back to sleep. Unfortunately my brain decided not to cooperate and instead began to run this really weird loop of worry about (and this is really sad, I know): how I was going to hem my sewing projects.

Honestly, that's why I couldn't go back to sleep.

By 5am I decided I would try to distract myself by watching a film - 'The Devil Wears Prada' was in my dvd player, so I hit play, confident that a bit of distraction would rest my mind and allow me to fall back to sleep.

It didn't work. By 5:30 I gave up and just got out of bed and decided to start my day. But, boy, was I in a foul mood. I prayed fajr (the dawn prayer) on time and I patted myself on the back mentally for doing something constructive. I then went downstairs, and saw the heap of washing up which my sister was supposed to have done last night.

Foul mood just got worse.

I decided to chill out a bit, have my brekkie, read my emails and check into google reader to read my blogs. After an hour I figured that just because I was having a bad day, it didn't mean everyone else had to have one too. I washed up for my mum's sake (I know how much she hates coming down to the washing up first thing in the morning) and felt really good afterwards, so I did some of Geri Yoga. By the end of it all I was so proud of myself for not letting my bad mood, or the bad start to my day, get the better of me.

I went on to have a really healthy lunch, and managed to avoid eating a single chip, even though I had to fry 3 basket loads for the rest of the family! So now I feel pretty smug. I've had a nap but have yet to do anything constructive with the sewing machine - mainly because I can't work out how to use it *blush*. My mum's going to give me a lesson shortly, I hope, and then I'm going to stitch together some pillows. I just hope that that'll give me the peace of mind with regards to hemming that might allow me to have a good night's rest.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I'm still waiting for the results of my Masters' entrance exam, over 3 weeks later. It's started to get extremely frustrating. Although I'm certain that I've failed, I would still really like confirmation of that fact before I move on and start to fill up my time with other things. Other things like work.

I thoroughly enjoyed the recent teacher's training course I took (I will write up about it soon, I just have to organise my notes, etc) and I'm planning on starting to teach private classes. I'd also like to be able to go back to the Hopeland Institue (where I did my training) to participate in their ongoing teacher training development course as I would like to work with them some time in the future. But I don't feel like I can plan all of this until I have the exam results.

So I'm losing time, valuable time waiting for these results. I mean, it's November already! So I'm hoping to start moving on with other projects in the meantime, as well as to begin researching for lessons now, so that I'm not totally freaked/stessed out trying to prepare for lessons when I do start teaching.

After all, too much of human life is lost in waiting.

Photo: from icanread.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A marriage call.

Recently I received a text message from a friend acquaintance asking me if I was interested in a guy. She told me his age and that he looks ‘acceptable’ (I translated that from the message, I swear). I delayed replying to this message, as I felt it was a rather delicate issue, and that I should pray on it before informing her of my decision (a ‘no thank you’).

She phoned me the next day. Twice.

The first time was to inform me that, although he wasn’t a graduate, he was employed (a huge bonus over here) and that he was looking to marry someone who had a foreign passport, as he would like to travel abroad a bit and it would make things easier, although he doesn’t intend to actually live abroad.

Yeah. Right. Whatever. Anyone want to say the words ‘passport hunter’?

So I came up with the simple excuse that my dad does not approve of anyone who is not a foreign passport holder. Sorted, right? Wrong.

She goes on to tell me that he’s not like that at all, and then she tells me that he’s her BROTHER, which supremely pissed me off. Because obviously her brother is the best thing since sliced bread. They all are – it’s amazing how many age-appropriate, wonderful, good-looking, kind-hearted, strong, steady, hard-working, deep-thinking, make-Edward-Cullen-and-Mr.-Darcy-combined-seem-like-prats guys there are out there.

Really, it’s impressive.

Until you meet them.

Then you make yourself a huge mug of hot chocolate/tea grab loads of chocolate and biscuits and crap and watch your DVDs of Twilight and Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version) back to back, because there is no hope/comparison.

I extricated myself from the predicament by telling her that I would pray on it and think about it. She then said that killer sentence that I hadn’t thought of yet (to busy trying to let her down gently): “I’d love to have you as a sister-in-law”.

Oh hell no.

Seriously, I’ve known this girl four years and I keep ‘losing her number’, and I could wind up being related to her? *i shudder*

Anyways, I kept my cool, told her I’d get back to her by Friday and managed to end the call.

Only she calls me a couple of hours later to ask if we could meet up in person to discuss this, as she feels that it would be best discussed face-to-face.

Abso-bloody-lutely not.

Not to mention a little too late.

I told her I was busy for the rest of the week (white lie) and that I didn’t know what I’d be doing next week and that I’d call her when I was done praying and thinking on it. I hung up again.

At this rate, the only thing I’ll be praying for will be the patience not to lay into the girl for bugging me out.

Why are people so persistent about something when you can’t tell them the real reason why you’re refusing them? (like: wannabe-sister-in-law stalkers are just as scary as all other stalkers and you freak me out, or: I don’t actually like your family, or: he looks like I could squish him with my little finger, or: he’s minging.)

And now, I’m going to have to phone her up and waste my phone credit to tell her what I could have told her tonight, except she wouldn’t have accepted it and would have gone on a long monologue about just how great he was, and hope to God that I don’t get the monologue next time either.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Last Wednesday I went to go stay with my gran sot that I could take a three-day teacher training course that ended on Saturday (Friday here is like Sunday in Europe and the US), then we had some friends over on Sunday, then I had to catch up with reading all my blogs yesterday and generally just bum around.

So now I need to get back on track in terms of my health and fitness goals, AND organise work (I can teach English as a foreign language, yay!) (privately), AND sort out my bloody CV, AND make the most of the sewing machine I borrowed over 4 months ago and have to return next Saturday, AND figure out this whole blogging thing and how it's gonna work for me, cos I want to start posting more often. I'd love to do NaBloPoMo, but obviously I missed the beginning of the month. I might well try it for the rest of the month anyway, we shall see.

Anyways, saw this on icanread and it so definitely applies to me: