A poem by Mahmoud A. El-Gamal
December 5, 1995.
A small village near Cairo,
a narrow gravel road,
the chilly evening breeze,
a pile of drinking glasses,
a pot of boiling ``ink tea'',
and prayers in the silence
as we await the master.
The rumors said that he
is stopping here tonight,
and rumors never lie
in our village town --
that's what they always say.
The rumors say that he
will sit and tell the story;
the one which has no ending
and which never begins.
Perhaps he'll come tonight,
perhaps he never will,
we do not really care.
The story has been told,
and it will never end.
So catch it in the middle,
or catch it at the end,
or chant it in your prayer.
Those present who have ears
can hear it all the time
without the story teller;
and those who need to wait
to hear it wait until
'tis they who tell the tale.
Born in Cairo Egypt on January 1 1963, he grew up in Egypt where he attended
different elementary schools in Heliopolis and Zamalek.
In 1979, he earned his General high school diploma.
In February 1983, he graduated from The American University in Cairo where he earned a
B.A. in Economics with a minor in Computer Science.That was followed in 1985 by an M.A. in
It was around this time that came his move to the United States where he first earned an
M.S. in Statistics from Stanford University in 1985 followed by a Ph.D in Economics
in 1988 from Northwestern University.
Currently, he is Chaired Professor of Islamic Economics, Finance, and Management, and
Professor of Economics and Statistics at Rice University in Houston, Texas.
He has also worked at the International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC as an Economist in
the Middle Eastern Department.
In 1991, Mahmoud el-Gamal married Ghada Youssef Kamal.
He is the proud father of two sons: Ahmad El-Gamal, born September 7, 1993 and
Mustafa El-Gamal, born August 20, 1998.
Although a creative poet, el-Gamal says: " I hate novels, except if they have a
lot of moral philosophy hidden in them."
He is nevertheless an avid reader of non-fiction. He reads books in epistemology and
philosophy of science. He particularly enjoys books on the history of religion and
comparative religion (especially ones that are more archeologically oriented).
El-Gamal has his own website where you can savour more of his poetry at :
Speaking of his poetry he says:" I used to write very frequently until I got my Ph.D.
I then discovered that the mental energy used to write poetry is the same one used to
write research papers. This realization reduced my productivity in both."
We sincerely hope that this is only a transitory stage he is passing through.
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