Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The In T View: Ritzy Mabrouk, Egypt's Premiere Political Fashionista Blogger

Ice Fire By MG

She's Suave. She's Sophisticated. She's Sensual. She's a Political News Maven of the Highest Order. Egyptian Blogger Ritzy Mabrouk is a woman of all that and more and showcases her Many Talents in her Blog: Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

It's The In T View: Ritzy Mabrouk, Egypt's Premiere Political Fashionista Blogger

In T View & Artwork By Mister Ghost

MG: Ritzy Mabrouk, how are you? How is life treating you these days?

Ritzy: I am beautiful, thank you. I write this in Ramadan, the month of my holy treats. When the pious are fasting, I connect with higher beings at the spa. That is sort of religious spirituality as well, is it not? I'm not altogether excluded from paradise then. Good, since I plan to spend my eternity with 72 US army virgin troops. I call them refreshers. That said; I presume there is no gender discrimination in heaven.

MG: How did you come to be known as Ritzy, Ritzy? Is that a common name in Egypt?

Ritzy: Perhaps my friend Suzi is better suited to answer this question. I remember that by the time I made my debut in Paris, my name was already on everybody's lips. Since I defined what was young and beautiful, no one ever thought about asking me directly about my name. It was just taken for granted.

MG: Ritzy, you say in your Blog, well at least you use to, that you were Suzi -- wife of Egyptian Dictator-President Hosni -- Mubarak's best friend. Did you ever go out on a double date with Suzanne and Hosni? Was Hosni a Perfect Gentleman? Or did he show Suzanne his Omar Sharif impression?

Ritzy: Honsey (I still prefer his teen name) and Suzi happened very fast; actually I think they skipped the dating phase. A few weeks after a camping trip with the Young NDP Association, Honsey went to Suzi's father and that was it. I never asked what really happened in that tent that night. And yes, he was always a gentleman, the kind you always wanted to keep in good spirit because you wouldn't think of what would happen otherwise.

MG: And speaking of Hosni, it looks like his son Gamal will succeed him in the future as Egypt's Leader. Is this really a good thing? And how do you break the line of succession without giving rogue elements like the Muslim Brotherhood control of the country?

Ritzy: Breaking the line of succession means the long-beards will control the country. I do not doubt the good character of Gamal. After all, he is a Mubarak. He couldn't have changed that much since I was the object of his first crush. That said, how to run a country is not a mystery. Authoritarianism is not desirable. Democracy will not come easily or tomorrow. We need a strong leader who is absolutely dedicated to democracy.

Gamal could be that person. Most think he is motivated by other things though. Perhaps he will find that making the change is not easy. Dealing with everybody on every level who is seeking only personal advantages will be the main problem for any future leader in this country. Greed has become the norm. Painful, is it not? Unfortunately, we don't have much of a political opposition in Egypt today.

Theoretically, they should be given the chance anyway, just to begin the transition. Because of the Brotherhood and because of propaganda scares, the nation will not give anyone else a shot at this moment. It could change fast though.

MG: Ritzy, what is the Hot Topic in Egypt at the moment?

Ritzy: Am I the only one concerned about the First Lady's hair-do? You shouldn't waste your time on the sayings of the babbling classes. If you do, there are quite a few Egyptian blogs out there. They suck.

MG: And have you ever thought of going into Egyptian Politics?

Ritzy: Horticulture, manicure, blogging – yes. Politics – no. Bloggers should blog, that is our strength and how we can make a difference. Bloggers with a political agenda becomes too concerned with exposing themselves. With an agenda, they cease to be worthy of the readers trust. We ought to remember that when we're proposing ourselves as an alternative to main-stream media. Blogs need integrity more than any other outlet.

MG: Ritzy, you Egyptian Women are known for your Beauty -- Who can forgot The Ravishing Beguilement of Cleopatra after all -- and being the Fashion Plates of the Middle East. What are your Glamour Secrets? Can you share them with us?

Ritzy: Let us admit it, by our standards; Cleo VII was a fat cow. Hatshepsut fancied herself as a man with strong shoulders. Nefertari and Nefertiti lived in decadent times and were probably the trashiest girls heeling around the palace ground in their times. And they all had a problem with facial hair. Today is different. Many Egyptian women are extraordinarily beautiful. Many men too. They really stand out amidst the girls with personal issues of inferiority who are hiding behind veils and scarves. It is a sad state of the nation. They forget about their looks. Their bums are growing larger for every day. They never heard about pedicure. The men are absolutely fantastic. It could be due to healthy living despite the pollution and long working hours. The food is fat but it's not junk. And the oil in the fuul beans are the most precious ingredient you can put in your body. And face it: most people still belong to the farming class with the ideals of hard work and a lot of outdoor activity. It is changing though. Enter the pear shaped Kentucky generation!

MG: Ritzy, I'm fascinated that you're an Egyptian Fashionista, that your scene is the Fashion one. Is it a tough business for an Egyptian Woman to be successful at? Are there constrictures placed on you because Egypt is both a Traditional and Islamic society?

Ritzy: Like every other line of business, if you are good at it you will do well. No, I don't allow other people to set the rules. We're occupying ourselves with elegance. They don't know the meaning of the word. And since I'm more interested in creations than running for money like a common car-salesman, my sisters in this country can dress in flower-decorated robes if they like. Enter the polyester generation! Women should not hide their beauty. That's what fashion is about, highlighting what is already there. Why would you not?

MG: Is Fashion a Catty Business? Do the other Women talk behind your back? Do they bad mouth the competition? And do you have any Fashion Anecdotes, naughty or nice, that you could share with us?

Ritzy: I suppose the business is not different than the rest of the country or the blogsphere which means that people are not doing anything else than backstabbing each other. But the people I am associating with are not like that. I wouldn't have anything to share in this field.

MG: Ritzy, is it tough being a woman in Egypt? Fayrouz at Iraqi in America mentioned in one of her posts about the behaviour of Iraqi males, which included oogling women, following them, and stalking them - Does this happen in Egypt too? Do you feel right now in present Egyptian Society that you have the same rights as a man?

Ritzy: Fayrouz should learn how to appreciate attention! Some years from now she will look back at the days when men were still turning their heads in the street. Or would she like to live in a place like the UK where men never do that anyway? Egypt is not bad. The lads are frustrated and not always very polite, or so I hear because I am not troubled myself. I think it also has to do with how you carry yourself. In general, women are restricted in this society; the situation is quite awful to be true. It will take a generation to change. Today, most women can only imagine one role and that is the role of the house wife. Personally, I don't feel restricted. I think that bothers a lot of people, but why should I care?

MG: Ritzy, does washing your hair in Nile Water give it an extra sheen?

Ritzy: The tap water has too much bleach, you know what I mean. If anything, it makes the hair dry. And pulling water from the river – not a chance. You know where it is coming from right? Through which part of the world it has passed? I am not worried about industrial pollution but there are other things that shouldn't go in the water. Also, would you know, ever since that mad tart Liz pretended to soak in milk in a very outdated movie, people have been asking us about our relation to donkeys. Keep asking.

MG: And is the Nile all it's cracked up to be or is just a big slow moving puddle of water infested with a lot of crocodiles with big teeth ?

Ritzy: The high dam destroyed the Nile. We needed it, but Egypt will never be the same. We have crocs in Aswan, not many, and they're under control. I'll bring a baby croc for you one day.

MG: Ritzy, you know that some people like to Make Love in Airplanes, and they call it the "Mile High Club." Are there some people in Egypt who like to Make Love on top of the Pyramids and call it the Pyramid High Club?

Ritzy: Yes. I wonder if my name is still on top of that list.

MG: Ritzy, why don't you have a Pet?

Ritzy: They don't share my standards of hygiene. And they expect you to take care of them. I'd like a pet that took care of me. But then they would have to compete with the men. There would be a lot of barking, perhaps some biting.

MG: And why do you have an F.A.Q. for your Blog?

Ritzy: Fame. All the people are asking the same things. Men. All the men are asking the same thing. For that reason, I ought to update my FAQ a.s.a.p. There is even a link to a 'FAQ about FAQs' site there. Excellent. Most people should have a FAQ. Also pronounced FAKK.

MG: Ritzy, you're like the Drudge Report of Egypt with the vast amount of Material you provide in your Blog. Do your fingers ever cramp up from all the typing?

Ritzy: That's a compliment, I never thought about it this way. Writing is not a problem, I type fast. Research takes a lot of time. And technology. I like to have the best solutions, to be more efficient. Turns out I never catch up with the time I spend on trying different applications. A lot of time goes to things like this. And design. I'm working on my new design right now. Thought it would take a day but since I discovered programming isn't that difficult after all, I want to do new things. And when I learn new things, I discover better things. But I enjoy it. A lot.

MG: And how did you become interested in Blogging and how did your Blog: Miss Mabrouk of Egypt come about?

Ritzy: First, I came across a few good blogs and I wanted to do it as well. I started it for fun. It still is. Second, I looked at the blogs available in this field and figured we need to shake things up a little. I hope I will be able to continue as long as I feel I have something to say.

MG: Your fellow Egyptian Blogger, the red-butted (Ritzy put that part in) Sandmonkey mentioned in a post, that his Blog has been censored a couple of times. Have you had any problems with Egyptian Authorities over the content of your Blog? Is there a lot of Media Censorship in Egypt?

Ritzy: All main stream media are censored. Blogs are not. I never heard about any blogger being censored. Technology wise, it would be easy to block access to a blog. But how would they censor it? Send an e-mail to the blogger and ask him to take a page down? Hack his Blogger account? I think the government has the same strategy for bloggers like for the rest of society: you can talk but you cannot act. They know what you're saying and what you're doing and they make sure you know they are on your back. That way, you will restrict yourself. Bloggers should not care. If we want to make a difference, we should accept the risk. I doubt the government is very interested in bloggers. A few people sitting by their computers are rather isolated. We network on the net with people all over the world but it's not like I'm sneaking away to secret political meetings in the evening. The government, I think, is more concerned with the regular people on the streets. But we will see. If there are problems around the corner, we can deal with it then.

MG: Besides your own Blog, what other Blogs do you like to read and recommend?

Ritzy: That's what my blogroll is for. It changes over time but tend to reflect fairly accurate what I am reading at the moment. They are informative in one way or the other. I didn't put the blogs there to show who I want to associate myself with. That's silly. And what I read is no secret; I keep linking to these blogs every week. It takes time though. Following the big media is fairly easy, catching up with the blogsphere is fun but very time consuming. I am not much for personal diaries and such stuff, although I follow a few blogs in secret that I found by accident. It's nice to learn about their lives as well.

Famous Dooce is not one of them but should be mentioned because she is a classic. Riding Sun is informative, he is also sharing his passion with us and since I am fascinated by biking but don't know anything about it, his blog adds value to my life. I am opening up more to blogs by Academics. Judith Klinghoffer should be mentioned because she is knowledgeable about this region and understand the religions. I follow Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch because it is loaded with information and I feel that what is said there need to be balanced by our own experiences. Of the local blogs, Big Pharaoh is outstanding; I wish he would blog more. The same with Baheyya, of course, who is in a division of her own. In the region, the Iraqi Bloggers Central, the Religious Policeman, Sabbah and Saudi Jeans are my favourites. I hope we will see more aggregators coming up, they are needed. Manaala, 'Aqoul and Jordan Planet is a real value.

MG: Ritzy, I'm starving at the moment. Give me all the details of an Egyptian Delicacy that would really fill my belly and doesn't involve odd body parts from Sheep, Goats, or Camels?

Ritzy: Brains aren't considered odd body-parts, are they? Because there's nothing like fried brains in a piece of bread. Really. But I would like to add pigeons to your list. It is a speciality but I don't like it. It's just about picking small pieces of dripping meat from tiny bones. Well, so give me a real chicken instead.

If you're into deserts, you must know everything about already about Um Aly. I can't get it together myself, not even the stir-in-a-cup version, but it's oven baked filling with nuts, raisin, coconut and honey and it is just delicious.

MG: Ritzy, do you like to cook or is it easier to just order out at the Local Egyptian-Chinese restaurant?

Ritzy: I do like to cook but it doesn't happen often nowadays. Or to put it like this; whatever I make in a few minutes in the kitchen to serve myself and whoever is at the table is not really cooking. There are many good take-aways just a phone call away; it's just too convenient to be without. And they're all reliable. I happily order starters, mains and sweets from different places and get it all delivered about the same time. And if I and the girls get bored, we might just order a few Pizza Hut deliveries around. All their packages are nicely wrapped in Jeans. But we always frighten them off. Then we giggle for hours.

MG: What's your Favorite Dessert?

Ritzy: Ice cream, no doubt about it. Chocolate marshmallows, for example. Preferably at 3 am.

MG: And what does Love Mean to You?

Ritzy: That is when someone matters more to you than yourself and you know you are very important to that person too. It's when you don't think about yourself any longer, it's when your love does it for you. It can be defined to 90 percent, the rest is a mystery. Finding it is not easy, most of us are happy if we experience it a few times in our life.

MG: Is there was one person in the world you could meet, living or dead, who would it be?

Ritzy: The Prophet Mohammed (insert blessing). To straighten some question marks.

MG: Thanks Very Much for a Nice In T View, Ritzy, and Final Question, Have you ever seen a Ghost?

Ritzy: Thank you, my pleasure, I appreciate your questions. I have Ghosts in my PC. That wouldn't be you making the funny stuff, would it? Careful, I may pull the power cable one day when I'm sure you're just about to reach climax.

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