In the Watani International kitchen

26-12-2011 11:43 AM

Mahmoud Bakr


When Samia Sidhom, Managing Editor of Watani International, called to tell me we would be marking 10 years on Watani International I was momentarily stunned; I couldn’t imagine it was already 10 years since we’d first worked on that paper

When Samia Sidhom, Managing Editor of Watani International, called to tell me we would be marking 10 years on Watani International I was momentarily stunned; I couldn’t imagine it was already 10 years since we’d first worked on that paper. As I hung up I recalled how we went about preparing for the launch of a separate English-language supplement for Watani, and the small room which witnessed all the effort and hard work we put in throughout 10 years to bring to light this truly significant publication.
Ms Sidhom’s thoughtfulness and love played a pivotal role in getting the best out of every one on the team. Along with my colleague Heba, I was responsible for the page design and layout of Watani International. Everyone in the busy room was encouraged to share their view. The office always buzzed with the texting, layout and proofreading computers as well as the scanners and printers, with everyone rallying to get out their work at its best.
The small office witnessed teaching, learning and exchange of experience among all the members of the team. Dina Sidhom started to learn and excel in layout techniques, but she decided to move to the website department, where she also excelled. On the other hand, Samia Sidhom learned about the different layout schools, favouring the one that supports the significance of the picture and using it to highlight the content. Encouraged by her and by the selection to this school of layout in particular, I became more daring with the Watani International page design. Sidhom’s opinion regarding the pictures, colours and font selection became a major contribution to our design work, which made my task and Heba’s easier and more enjoyable.
The office where I work with the Watani International team every Wednesday never ceases to remind me of the family home. All the members of the team cooperate to get the best results. In this office we gather, work, eat, drink and socialise; no wonder we call it “the kitchen”. Apart from its being our journalistic ‘kitchen’ where we produce appetising, fulfilling journalistic repasts; it is also in a literal sense our kitchen! I am always drawn to the smell of the vegetarian siyami food my Coptic friends eat most of the time. I always feel very happy to spend time with the team, whose members are all dear to me. We speak of different topics: political, economic, social, and even personal. 
So it is 10 years now that I, a Muslim, have been working so closely, and lovingly, with the mostly Christian Watani International team. I have always felt I was among brothers and sisters whom I respect and cherish, and who always make me feel appreciated and esteemed. I will always remember the cheery words of the late Adel Kamel who would meet me in the corridor in Watani and joke: “When will you convert to Islam?” I used to laugh a lot at this, and I can never stop smiling to myself whenever I recall it. 
The Watani International team to me is not just a work team; we are more like family, visiting and socialising. I consider Samia Sidhom who never made me feel her subordinate, a sister who is always there for me whenever I need a friend. I really wish for Watani International to blossom and prosper and for us to celebrate together the passage of another 10 years.
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