Filler
Photo of Shira

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Badia Masabni in 1966 Television Interview

 

 

Translated By Priscilla Adum

 

Table of Contents

 

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Introduction

Translator's Note: This interesting interview with Badia Masabni was conducted in 1966, by Layla Rostum for her show called Negoum 3ala El Ard (Stars on Earth). The interview took place in Beirut, Lebanon.

The interview is already under way when the clip begins. They are talking about Badia's age.

The video clip used for this translation can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yBO4TELvqQ

A segment of Badia singing and playing sagat begins approximately 17 minutes into the clip.

 

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First Segment: Beginning of Interview

Family

INTERVIEWER: We say that you brought up all the artists and they were like your children.... so I don't know what to say [about your age]? 60 or 65?

BADIA: Higher.

INTERVIEWER: 70?

BADIA: A bit higher. [At this point the interviewer looks surprised.] Go up higher and don't look so surprised.

INTERVIEWER: 75?

BADIA: I will turn 75 this month. On April 25.

INTERVIEWER: So, we're celebrating your birthday now!

BADIA: Thank you so much.

INTERVIEWER: Happy Birthday!

BADIA: [Laughing] Merci.

INTERVIEWER: Happy Birthday. And may your health, youth and beauty last forever!

BADIA: Thank you and thanks to God.

INTERVIEWER: Madame Badia, are you originally from Syria or from Lebanon?

BADIA: My father was from here, Beirut. Lebanese. But when Beirut separated from El Sham, then the situation became: This is Lebanon and that is Syria. My mother was from Syria. My mother was from the El Shaghouri family and her name was Jamila El Shaghouri, God rest her soul. And my father was Habib Masabni. He married her in Syria and she bore her children in Syria, among them me. I'm the youngest of her children.

INTERVIEWER: How many children were there?

BADIA: There were four boys and three girls.

INTERVIEWER: Are all of them still living?

BADIA: No. They've all gone. Only their children remain.

INTERVIEWER: The children of your siblings?

BADIA: Yes, the children of my siblings.

INTERVIEWER: But not any of your siblings anymore?

BADIA: Noooo. They've all gone. The last one, he went 4 or 5 years ago.

INTERVIEWER: Madame Badia, are you married now? What's your marital status?

BADIA: No, I'm not at this time.

INTERVIEWER: Not now?

BADIA: No, I live alone now.

INTERVIEWER: So you were born in Syria and you spent your youth in Syria?

BADIA: No, I lived most of my life here in Beirut and I was in Syria after we returned from South America.

INTERVIEWER: So, you went to America?

BADIA: Yes, when I was about 8 or 9 years old.

INTERVIEWER: South America?

BADIA: Yes, myself and my entire family. My brothers and my sisters, except for one sister who died. My other sister Nazla got married there.

Badia

INTERVIEWER: Where?

BADIA: In Argentina, in Buenos Aires.

INTERVIEWER: Is she still alive?

BADIA: No, she died, but her children still live in Sheikhan. Her husband was from Sheikhan too.

INTERVIEW: How long did you live abroad?

BADIA: Seven years.

INTERVIEWER: Seven years of your childhood.

BADIA: Yes.

 

Languages

INTERVIEWER: Did you return abroad again [to South America] after you became famous?

BADIA: I returned with the late Nagib el Rehani for a year when we went on our honeymoon after our marriage. But we stayed on for a year working and we did great work in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Santos, Montevideo, Buenos Aires... we didn't leave out any place. We did great work and Nagib was successful. So was I.

INTERVIEWER: He was a great artist.

BADIA: Very great.

INTERVIEWER: So, you speak Spanish?

BADIA: I can read, write, and speak Spanish because I stayed in [boarding] schools there. The place where I first learned dance was at school. But it was classical dance. And I learned the arts there in school. They gave me the role of Juliet because my hair was so long and I was pretty when I was a child. They also gave me the part of a young nun. I was completely saturated by art, I was good in diction, and I learned languages easily. When I returned, I began to dislike living at home.

INTERVIEWER: How many languages do you speak? I mean, you speak Arabic and Spanish, do you know French as well?

BADIA: French too, quite well. And I can read and write it.

INTERVIEWER: Do you know any other languages?

BADIA: I know some English too, and I can read it but not write it.

INTERVIEWER: Where did you learn English?

BADIA: I learned it during the wartime in Egypt.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, from the English army. They were regulars at Casino Badia.

BADIA: I didn't know English. But I bought a dictionary and I studied it, and I also practiced it. During the wartime my casino was for soldiers at first. Then it was made for officers.

INTERVIEWER: So, Spanish and Arabic and French and some English.

BADIA: And Greek too. Don't forget that my family members were clergymen.

INTERVIEWER: Where did you learn Greek from?

BADIA: Greeks are Byzantine.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, the language of the church?

BADIA: Yes, the language of the Orthodox church.

Badia

INTERVIEWER: And what other language do you speak?

BADIA: And Turkish quite well. I can also speak it, not just read and write it.

INTERVIEWER: Where did you learn it?

BADIA: Turkish? in the days of the Turks here when I was a child.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, when this area was all linked to Turkey?

BADIA: Yes, it was all Turkish. Beirut and Syria.

INTERVIEWER: Yes, it was linked to the Ottoman Empire.

BADIA: Yes, most of us spoke Turkish.

 

First Time in Egypt

INTERVIEWER: What year did you go to Egypt Madame Badia?

BADIA: The first time I went to Egypt was in the year 1912. In those days I wasn't yet working in the arts. One day I happened to go to to Azbekiya Garden to skate because I really loved skating and I was good at it. A person named Fouad Selim spoke to me in Arabic, and I talked to him in my broken Arabic. He said to me, "Aren't you the daughter of an Arab?" And I answered, "I'm the daughter of an Arab but I don't know Arabic well." So he asked me, "Where have you been?" I told him, "I was in [South] America". He asked me, "So, what language do you speak?" and I told him "Spanish". He said to me, "It's a shame that you don't know Arabic, being the daughter of an Arab." And I replied, "I don't know Arabic."

Then he asked me "Do you like working in plays?" and I told him, "Yes, I like play acting a lot." He said, "There's a group that belongs to George Abaid, do you want me to introduce you to him?" I told him, "I don't know how to read in Arabic," and he said "I'll teach you."

He actually took me to George Abaid at the Arabic Playhouse in Azbekiya Garden and introduced me to George. George liked me so much that he said to Fouad, "Take care of her, Fouad." He really took care of me, and within three months I became able to read Arabic really well, but I couldn't write it. But I was able to read my lines. I learned Egyptian Arabic at the hands of George Abaid and Fouad Selim and Elias Fayed, may he rest in peace. He was the greatest writer and poet, he was very good. He was the one who wrote the plays for George Abaid.

Ezbekiya Garden

INTERVIEWER: So, you went to Egypt for vacation and you ended up staying?

BADIA: Yes, my mother and I.

INTERVIEWER: So you began as a theater actress?

BADIA: Yes, in the beginning it was drama and Vaudeville. Aziz Eid was with us, Mizrahi was with us as well as George Abaid, and with George there were so many good actresses.

INTERVIEWER: And did your family accept that?

BADIA: There was no family. Only my mother was with me. The first time I ever escaped in my life I was escaping from my mother. [Badia laughs.]

INTERVIEWER: You escaped from your mother?

BADIA: Yes. We were in Egypt together and I wanted to work. I wanted to stay out and she would constantly ask me, "Where were you? Where have you been? Why are you coming back late?" And what was I up to?

So I told her, let's leave Egypt and go back to Syria. So we packed our bags and our things and we went to the station. I bought the ticket. I only bought one ticket. I was a devil. I bought a ticket for her and made her get on the train and then I let the train start moving and I stayed. This was the first time.

INTERVIEWER: The first time. For sure she went crazy. Poor woman.

BADIA: Yes, poor woman. The train started and it didn't stop except in Tanta and Mansoura and in El Qantara, and so she went.

INTERVIEWER: And you stayed?

BADIA: Yes, I stayed in Egypt.

INTERVIEWER: How old were you at the time?

BADIA: I was 12 or 13 or 14 years old. I looked older than my age and I was tall, I had a good figure and beautiful hair. I was the first Arab girl to cut my hair, and I was the first Arab girl to drive a car, and the first one to fly in an airplane.

INTERVIEWER: So you weren't only a pioneer in theater, but in everything else too!

BADIA: Oh, I was excellent!

INTERVIEWER: So you began early, at age 12 or 13?

BADIA: Yes. At first they gave me small roles at George Abaid's and then a person named Ahmed El Shami who had a traveling troupe took me on the road to the villages. I was so successful with them that they began to give me larger roles playing queens or mothers or lovers or dancers or singers. They realized that my voice was good and they gave me the good roles.

Badia

 

Badia's Talents

INTERVIEWER: But what style were you most famous for? There are different views about you and people say, "Was Madame Badia Masabni a dancer? Or a singer? Or an actress? Or a sala owner?"

BADIA: I was skilled in all of them. I worked as a great actress. My diction was unique. There were no microphones in the old days and everyone depended on his/her own diction and whether or not his/her pronunciation was good. My pronunciation and my diction were very good and I memorized my lines like a Bulbul bird [nightingale], that meant that I didn't forget anything. I memorized entire scripts and notebooks.

INTERVIEWER: A good memory.

BADIA: Yes, my memory was very good and I was not what people would call a sluggard.

INTERVIEWER: Not a sluggard.

BADIA: That's right. Not sluggard; but rather, very active.

INTERVIEWER: I knock on wood, it's very apparent even now in spite of your years.

BADIA: Thank you, thank you.

INTERVIEWER: But the style you were most famous for, Madame Badia, I think was the Vaudeville music hall.

BADIA: Yes after Nagib and I separated, the music hall. Nagib fulfilled me and satisfied my every [artistic] desire. He wrote a play for me called "The Beautiful Nights." It had singing and dancing in it, and my role was so beautiful. My name in the play was Aout El Qeloub. It was quite good and the role was very good. We presented this play for a year, matinee and soiree. Three matinee performances a week, and every night. Then we presented it in Alexandria.

INTERVIEWER: Madame Badia, what I would like to know is, what in fact did you do on the stage of your own theater, Theater Badia?

BADIA: After I separated from Nagib and we were at odds with each other...

INTERVIEWER: You were at odds with each other? Why?

BADIA: I was one way and he was another way. He loved to sleep in late and loved to stay up very late. He and Bade3 Khayri (may he rest in peace) would stay up and write plays. I wanted to go eat lunch at a restaurant during the day for example, or to go have a nice time and I didn't find a man with me. Where was Nagib? He was sleeping. Where was Nagib? He was working. Where was Nagib? He was at Bade3's. So we fought, and left each other.

INTERVIEWER: We want to know if you can give us an idea of the style of singing that you did?

Badia

 

Badia Sings

BADIA: Yes, I've been practicing for a week just in case you asked me to do something, I'd be able to do it, because I haven't sung in 20 years and I haven't had the Sounouj in my hands for 20 years, but I've been practicing for a week. [Translator's note: Sounouj is the Arabic word for finger cymbals, and means the same as the Egyptian word sagat.]

INTERVIEWER: You played sagat?

BADIA: The best and most famous in the world tried to imitate me, but nobody could ever imitate me. My sagat playing was better than music.

INTERVIEWER: And now your hands are back in practice on the sagat?

BADIA: I've been practicing for a week, let me try. Do you want to hear something?

INTERVIEWER: While you put on the sagat, I'd like to tell the people watching us that we have a surprise on the program today as well, we have two artists who have come to re-live the history of Badia Masabni. El Oustaz Farid Ghosn the great oud player.....

[Translator's note: In Arabic, "El Oustaz" is an honorific. It is similar to the word "sir" or "mister" in English, but typically conveys a higher level of respect than its English equivalent. It wouldn't be polite for Badia to address Ghosn directly as "Farid" in public even if she might know him well enough to do so in private. When Badia and the interviewer talk about other men as "El Oustaz" in this interview, they do so because of their elevated status and reputation, to show that they are according these men the high level of respect they deserve.]

BADIA: AND composer!

INTERVIEWER: And composer too. Madame Badia pointed out that he's a composer as well. And Madame Soraya Edda who is not a professional, and who will sing or try to sing the old songs of Badia Masabni. Come in Madame Soraya.... Come in El Oustaz Farid. Welcome! [Badia stands and welcomes them.]

INTERVIEWER: We want to celebrate this great event with your presence here.

BADIA: God finally brought us together Farid, I haven't seen you in 20 years!

FARID GHOSN: Yes, she came to my house and told me she had an interview and she had to practice sagat. I was surprised by so much activity and that she still has an artistic soul. I accepted because I've lived though a lot with her and I owe Madame many favors for 20 continuous years of work and production.

BADIA: [to the interviewer] I want to tell you that Farid, through his compositions has made a contribution to art for at least 50 more years into the future. He was so good.

FARID: We did many styles and sketches and big productions.

INTERVIEWER: El Oustaz Farid Ghosn is one of the greatest oud players in the Middle East.

BADIA: Not just an oud player but also a great composer who had very good ideas.

INTERVIEWER: And you haven't seen each other in 20 years?

BADIA: We have seen each other but we haven't worked together.

INTERVIEWER: [to Farid] So you've also retired from art?

BADIA: No, he's still working.

FARID: I work in radio and as a musical director.

INTERVIEWER: So you haven't worked together?

BADIA: No.

FARID: No, I left the theater a long time ago.

BADIA: [To the interviewer] And I hadn't even thought of doing it, it was you who gave me the idea now.

INTERVIEWER: We have to show the public that Badia Masabni is still Badia Masabni!

BADIA: I worked 20 years ago in the year '43 and I did a charity concert, a benefit in Aley. The Prime Minister at that time was Sami Bek Sohl and he was one of the supporters. It raised 32 thousand Lebanese Lira. I was at the Souver Hotel and Margaret Basila was staying there too. She was the one who told them about me and she said to them, "Get Badia Masabni, she's good!" And so they sold all the tickets. This benefit for tuberculosis raised money, God save you. [Translator's note: It's common in the Middle East to say "God save you," when talking to someone about illnesses as a sort of safeguard against jinx, thus Badia says it to the interviewer.] Then I went to Egypt and came back again and I worked for 15 days at Mansour and I showed everyone who came to see me, who Badia was!

Badia

INTERVIEWER: Those who've tasted glory can't stop. [Badia shakes her head slowly, in agreement that they can't stop.] In fact, I'd like to say some words to Madame Soraya. Madame Soraya, are you a professional or an amateur, or do you plan to become a professional, or which?

SORAYA: As a matter of fact, we are friends of Madame Badia Masabni and she asked me here and I couldn't refuse her. But I am still an amateur and I have not yet performed in the artistic media.

INTERVIEWER: Are you from the well known Edde family?

SORAYA: Yes I'm Mrs. Edde.

INTERVIEWER: Mrs. Who Edde?

SORAYA: Mrs. Joe Edde.

INTERVIEWER: So, it's just a hobby?

SORAYA: Yes, for now it's a hobby but in the future I don't know.

INTERVIEWER: You're still debating it then? It's possible that you'll become a professional but why do you sing only Badia Masabni's songs and her history? What's the reason?

SORAYA: You can say that Badia's history, especially today, is suitable for the new generation. It's soft and beautiful and this Spanish flavor that it has in it is familiar to our ears as Middle Easterners and people love it. We digest it well and it makes us happy.

INTERVIEWER: [to Badia] Ok, so now I want you to sing something for us. Madame Badia is the one who will play the main role.

BADIA: I will sing something from the compositions of El Oustaz.

INTERVIEWER: What's it called?

BADIA: It's called "Fi El Daalma" [Badia laughs] but it's really a good song when it's sung in the light. [Translator's note: The song is called "In The Darkness".]

INTERVIEWER: Is this an old song you used to sing?

BADIA: Yes, I used to sing it onstage and it would get so much admiration.

INTERVIEWER: Did you sing and dance?

BADIA: Yes, I always sang and danced while wearing evening gowns. Sometimes when I did skits with the girls I'd wear a Middle Eastern dress or a Moroccan dress or a Tunisian dress or a Levantine dress. I wore them. I wore them. I didn't wear revealing things. The girls wore revealing dresses but not me. I usually wore evening gowns.

INTERVIEWER: So you were the leader.

BADIA: [laughing] You could say that!

INTERVIEWER: Go ahead.

Badia

Now Farid el Ghosn begins to play the oud and Badia scoots to the front of the chair, but then asks the inverviewer if she can stand up.

BADIA: Excuse me, may I stand?

INTERVIEWER: By all means.

[Translator's Note: At this point, about 17 minutes into the clip, Badia stands up and begins to play her sagat and to sing her song. Several old pictures of her are shown on the screen as she sings. The words of the song talk about the dark and how beautiful the darkness is, in the home, at the cinema and just about everywhere. The song talks about birds returning to their nests, the sun setting, the stars appearing, and how lover's feelings become more intense in the darkness.

After Badia finishes her song, she sits down again and the interview resumes.

This section of the interview ends approximately 20:44 into the clip.]

 

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Second Segment:
After Badia Sings & Plays Sagat

Badia's performance ends about 20:44 into the clip. This next segment runs though about 37:29.

 

Family

INTERVIEWER: This is really [an example of] eternal youth!

BADIA: Ahhh youth. Don't make me remember.

INTERVIEWER: Really, it is eternal youth! [She means Badia's]

BADIA: Aakh, aakh! [Meaning a longing for the old days]

FARID: How many years ago was this one? [Meaning the song.]

BADIA: [laughing] From at least 30 years ago.

INTERVIEWER: Tell me Madame Badia, what did you wear on the theater stage?

BADIA: Evening dresses. I liked to wear evening dresses. I had a good figure, I didn't wear a corset, I didn't wear a bra, and my back was usually bare. My arms were bare and the jewelry on my arms was beautiful. My body was very beautiful. I didn't like cheap dancing. In the past, the dance was all in the abdomen. I made variations in the dance — I added Latin, Turkish and Persian dance to it, so that it wouldn't be boring.

INTERVIEWER: So you were trying to improve it?

BADIA: Yes, and I did improve it. And to this day, nobody has done more than what I did.

INTERVIEWER: You performed dance tableaux? Or something of that nature?

BADIA: A troupe. I had a troupe of about 40 to 50 girls, and we also had men and boys. I'm the one who mixed Arabic music with foreign music. It used to be that [Arabic] bands worked alone. Orchestras didn't work with bands. [She means orchestras that played foreign music.] I'm the one who mixed them both together and made them work together.

INTERVIEWER: Do you remember these things, Oustaz Farid?

[As Farid is about to answer, Badia interrupts.]

BADIA: Yessss! And he is with us now, he and his brother! He has a brother named Enan, a violin player and a musical composer who is now an important instructor and who is very good. [What Badia means is, he and his brother are with us now and they can both attest to the truth of my words.]

INTERVIEWER: So how did you mix the Arabic band with the foreign one?

BADIA: I mixed them together and let them work together. However, there were two tones that were difficult, the Nahawand and the Sika.

[Farid interrupts here]

FARID: The Sika was difficult to fuse because it had quarter-note maqam.

BADIA: Yes, it was difficult to fuse them, but with all the others we could. We added the piano and the contrabass, and the flute, the clarinet and the accordion, all together.

INTERVIEWER: So what was your goal when you fused one style of music with the other? What did you want to achieve?

BADIA: Because the Arabic band alone didn't wow the audience. But both of them together became a really great thing and others began to imitate me in this.

FARID: The big shows had a mise-en-scene and they had sketches that required a powerful orchestra to express the play acting itself.

Badia

 

European Influence

INTERVIEWER: Did you travel to Europe, for example, Madame Badia?

BADIA: I traveled to Europe 2 or 3 times a year, and my friend Mistinguett (may she rest in peace) and also my friend.... Ohhhh, I forgot to bring you my picture with Maurice Chevalier!

INTERVIEWER: Oh, Maurice Chevalier and Mistinguett!

BADIA: All of them, I went to see them and visited them and they visited me. Maurice Chevalier visited me in Egypt and we had a picture taken together. I forgot to bring you the picture, I'll bring it next time.

FARID: I have that picture too.

INTERVIEWER: So perhaps you were influenced by the Western music hall and you wanted to imitate it?

BADIA: Yes, I bought set decorations and costumes from them, after they did shows. They did shows and then discarded those costumes and made new ones. I bought them and gave them to my artists and my dancers, and the set decorations too. I did such good things in Egypt.

INTERVIEWER: It was in fact a big effort and you spent quite a bit on your theater.

BADIA: Yes, and I did the Turna-theater [Here Badia gestures in a circular motion with her finger.]

INTERVIEWER: The circular theater that was in the Opera [Casino] - the circular one?

BADIA: Yes, the circular one.

INTERVIEWER: You surely spent a large amount of money?

BADIA: Yes, but I made money too.

INTERVIEWER: You earned well?

BADIA: Yes, I made good money, and everyone who was with me did too, employees and musicians and the Bara bra and the Rohmi, and people of all races.

INTERVIEWER: In your heyday, how much did your casino earn?

BADIA: This was the catastrophic point. They calculated an 84 thousand pound tax on me, because of the huge crowd that came to my place every night. The work was very good. My place had three floors and all of them were full. The restaurant and the roof garden and the cabaret and the café. All four places were full. But I paid out a large amount in salaries, and I had major expenses. I saved money too. Some days I would make 50 pounds. That's 50 Egyptian pounds per day.

INTERVIEWER: How many years ago was that?

BADIA: About 7 or 8 or 10 years before coming here.

INTERVIEWER: But 50 pounds per day isn't that much.

BADIA: 50 pounds was my net profit. The expenses were substantial.

INTERVIEWER: How much money did you make 20 to 30 years ago?

BADIA: It was less than that. I made 10 or 20 or 25 pounds.

INTERVIEWER: Before the theater became bigger?

BADIA: Yes, yes.

 

About Taheya Carioca & Samia Gamal

[Editor's Note: The first two photos in this section are both of Taheya Carioca.]

INTERVIEWER: Madame Badia, we know that in fact you were the Dean of raqs sharqi. I don't know why they call you the Dean of raqs sharqi?

BADIA: Many dancers graduated from my place.

INTERVIEWER: That's why?

BADIA: Yes, that's why.

INTERVIWER: But you just told me, "I didn't wear a costume."

BADIA: But I understood and knew the dance and the technique of the dance. I knew them all, Turkish, Persian, Lebanese and Western. I knew them all.

INTERVIEWER: And all of that came naturally, without ever having studied it or anything?

BADIA: Sure. Troupes came to my place, Romi and Turkish and Latin. I have photographs of all of them. They all came to me and worked at my place.

INTERVIEWER: So, Madame Badia, who are the most famous dancers that graduated from your place? We know that Taheya Carioca is the maestro or professor of them all. [By this, she means that Taheya Carioca is by far the greatest of them all.]

BADIA: Not just that, Taheya's dance was Sharqi more than any of them and she got this soul from me. She learned to play sagat [finger cymbals]. She wasn't as good as I was but she was good. She didn't sing solo like I did, but she sometimes sang if required.

INTERVIEWER: She has a voice?

BADIA: Yes, she has a fairly good voice.

INTERVIEWER: She in fact sat on the throne of Raqs Sharqi for a long time.

BADIA: Yes, for a long time. Yes.

Tahia

INTERVIEWER: So what makes one dancer more successful than another dancer?

BADIA: First of all, her body was very beautiful and her face was so pleasant. And she was devoted to her work. For example, if she was invited somewhere, she'd decline the invitation and come to work. She would leave anything for her work.

INTERVIEWER: She has a sense of responsibility?

BADIA: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: Have you seen her lately?

BADIA: No, but I saw her on television and I didn't recognize her. I didnt recognize her!! And I said, "It's impossible that is Taheya!" And I felt sad. When she talked to me I thought her speech was a bit shalak. [Badia laughs.] [shalak means rustic or sha'abi.]

INTERVIEWER: She is Bint el Balad [daughter of the country] and pleasant.

BADIA: Yes, Bint el Balad.

INTERVIEWER: When she wants to be high class, she's high class. But she is pleasant and loves to be Bind El Balad.

BADIA: Yes, yes.

INTERVIEWER: Have you seen how fat she has become?

BADIA: Yes, she has grown very fat. She's become like a square meter.

INTERVIEWER: And even so, she still dances today. But in a small amount in theater plays.

BADIA: I don't think she can wear anything revealing.

INTERVIEWER: No, she wears long baladi dresses and dances very marginally in theater plays.

BADIA: I heard that she will come on April 1st. I hope it's not a lie because it's April Fool's Day.

Tahia

INTERVIEWER: How do you feel Madame Badia about seeing each other after all these years?

BADIA: She visited me once there, in the store in Chatura. She was brought by Henkesh and Monsieur John Iscaf. She wanted to congratulate me for the store and she visited me. She and Samia Gamal. They stayed at the Park Hotel and they [Henkesh and John Iscaf] accompanied them and they came to me. Oh my God when I saw her and saw Samia, we came together crying and laughing at the same time.

[Editor's note: the photo to the right shows a reunion of (from left to right) Samia Gamal, Badia Masabni, and Taheya Carioca, long after Badia sold the Casino Opera and moved to Lebanon.]

INTERVIEWER: They are like your daughters.

BADIA: They are exactly like my daughters and I love them very much. Samia is very good too.

INTERVIEWER: Samia Gamal started at your place?

BADIA: Yes, she worked at first for me.

INTERVIEWER: She became famous through Casino Badia?

BADIA: Her name is Zeinab and we named her Samia, and the man who brought her, his name was El Gamal and we named her Gamal instead of El Gamal. We named her Samia.

Samia, Badia, Tahia

INTERVIEWER: So you're the one who gave her this name?

BADIA: Yes, I'm the one who named her. And Taheya's name is Taheya Mohamed. But what happened was that there came a dance to us called the Carioca. It was a famous dance.

INTERVIEWER: This dance is from South America?

BADIA: Yes. And she was so perfect performing it and she became such a pro at it that audiences would come and ask about her and applaud and say "We want Carioca! We want Carioca!" So, she became Taheya Carioca.

 

Renamed as Badia

[Translator's note: The name Badia conveys the meaning of someone of exquisite beauty or even beyond beautiful. One of the 99 names of Allah is El Badi3 which is the male form of Badia. In the case of God, it's a description of a quality. It conveys the meaning of superb, magnificent, exquisite, or splendid. It can also be used as an adjective to describe something other than a person; for example if a person is a fabulous dancer one can say that her dance is badih. Or one could describe beautiful flowers as being badih. In Badia Masabni's case, her family chose the name to describe her as an exquisite beauty.]

INTERVIEWER: Speaking of real names, I read in your memoirs that your real name was Wadia and they named you Badia because you were so pretty?

BADIA: Yes, there were two of us. My aunt gave birth to a girl and she named her Wadia, and my mother gave birth to me and she also named me Wadia. Both of us were named Wadia. When I grew a bit I became prettier than the other Wadia.

INTERVIEWER: So they named you Badia because you were so pretty?

BADIA: Yes, yes.

INTERVIEWER: In fact Madame Badia, you are still beautiful today.

BADIA: You are kind.

INTERVIEWER: When I look at your face now, I am reminded of the Egyptian expression that says, "Even if the flower has faded, it still retains its beautiful fragrance."

BADIA: Yes, its fragrance remains. Teslami your fragrance. [This is a compliment that she returns to the interviewer.]

INTERVIEWER: Actually, when I look at you now, I see prettiness and youth.

BADIA: Hamdillah. It makes me so happy when someone who hasn't seen me for a long time, 10 or 15 years, and then sees me and says, "Is it? or isn't it? Is it? or isn't it?" And then they ask me, "Are you Madame Badia or not?" It makes me happy that they recognize me. This means I haven't become deformed or changed.

INTERVIEWER: No, no. You'll never be deformed.

BADIA: El hamdillah. El hamdillah. Although I have fallen three times. One time I fell on my chest and for this reason I can't sing well, so I asked the Madame to sing the classic songs for me, and I would sing the the lighter ones because my voice will not go up high due to having fallen on my chest.

INTERVIEWER: Recently? In the last few years?

BADIA: About 5 or 6 or 7 years ago. I fell to the floor on my chest and another time I fell down a flight of stairs, 12 steps. I got a cut on my forehead and a fractured hand. But the cut in my forehead was beneficial because I was hypertense. It's always the smart ones who fall. [Laughing]

INTERVIEWER: About having fallen and not being able to sing classic songs now, did you have two types of songs? Lighter songs and classic songs?

BADIA: Yes. There were some heavy sort of songs, and other light songs that I sang and danced and played sagat [finger cymbals].

INTERVIEWER: These heavy songs, did that mean you were alone on the stage without dancing or anything else?

BADIA: Yes, alone.

INTERVIEWER: You and the band?

BADIA: Yes. The band and I.

 

---------------

Third Segment

[At minute 32:40 the clip cuts to another part of the interview, and they are discussion a different topic.]

INTERVIEWER: He can either be kind to the poor when he reaches the top, or he can feel spiteful inside, towards society.

BADIA: On the contrary, I was very good even to this day. To this day I am not rich, but I live like a queen, el hamdillah. Thanks be to God. I don't need anything from anyone. Almost all of my wealth is gone, and almost all my money is gone. Some of it was taken by my family and some was taken by strangers. Some from here and some from there. But hamdillah, until now I have a monthly income that is plenty for me, and I'm very happy. I live the way I want to.

INTERVIEWER: I've heard that you used to do many concerts on behalf of orphans, so that the proceeds would go to the orphans. is there a specific philosophy behind that?

BADIA: No. I have a compassionate heart and whenever I saw someone who was poor, even though I was poor and tortured in my life, I would say "Oh this poor person. God has given me so much and I don't have any kids or anyone else," and so I gave to them.

INTERVIEWER: You love animals too?

BADIA: Very much so. And plants.

INTERVIEWER: Plants?

BADIA: Home and garden plants. My house is full of plants and my garden is full of plants.

INTERVIEWER: You love nature and life?

BADIA: Very much. I love nature very much. I used to love to travel to Switzerland and Italy to go to beautiful places. And to Austria to see the greenery there. I went to Karslbad and to Marienbad and to Czechoslovakia. I went everywhere.

INTERVIEWER: So you are a true artist. And true artists love nature.

BADIA: Yes, yes.

INTERVIEWER: I've heard that if Badia Masabni is driving her car today, and she sees someone poor on the road waiting for the bus, she'll give him a lift. Is this true?

BADIA: More than true. But there are some people who are afraid of riding in a car with a woman. I'll invite them and tell them to hop in, but they say, "No thanks!" They're afraid that I might crash. But most people do get in.

INTERVIEWER: Why is it that you stop for anyone who is poor?

BADIA: Because in the past, I walked a lot and it was really torture for my mother and me. There was no way we could ride. It wasn't that nobody wanted to give us a ride; but rather, that there weren't many options. There were only 4 or 5 horsecarts in all Beirut, and cars came later. People either traveled on donkeys or on horses or on foot. We all walked.

INTERVIEWER: Does driving your car today make you remember this?

BADIA: I'm well known in my area of Chatura and Zahle and Jditah for not letting anyone walk without my saying to him, "Welcome!" [Hop in!] This is known about me.

Badia

 

Remembering Singers & Composers

INTERVIEWER: Madame Badia, you spoke about El Oustaz [Mohamed] Abdel Wahab briefly, but I want to stop for a moment and talk about your memories with Abdel Wahab. There were newspaper headlines that claimed, "Abdel Wahab slept in Badia's room when he was a child." Tell us about this incident.

[The video clip now shows a newspaper article whose headline reads, "Abdel Wahab slept in Badia Masabni's Arms."]

BADIA: While I was watching Nagib El Rehani here in Beirut and I saw him [Abdel Wahab] when he sang, I liked him. And then Nagib saw me and liked me and talked to me about work and about Egypt. I told him "But I command a high salary, how much are you going to pay me in Egypt?" He said, "50 pounds per month," and I said to him, "50 pounds? And I'm going to walk away from 300 pounds? Impossible, sir." He was with a man named Mohamed Shokry who said to me, "Try and look at it as a vacation".

After we finished talking and had reached an agreement Nagib said to me, "Madam, we weren't able to find a hotel for this young man to sleep in, do you have a place to put him up?" And I told him, "I have a room with two beds in it. If he wants to stay there, he's welcome to." He was about 12 or 13 years of age, very young.

INTERVIEWER: And his voice was good in those days?

BADIA: Yes, his voice was good.

INTERVIEWER: He could sing well at that age?

BADIA: Yes, but of course he didn't know Shawky or Sayed Darwish yet. They wrote special songs for him and he sang them and he did it quite well too.

NTERVIEWER: And he actually slept at your house in your room?

BADIA: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: Like a mother?

BADIA: Yes, and more.

INTERVIEW: Do you feel the same towards him today?

BADIA: I can't say, because I've never been a mother. But what I do know is that I feel kindness towards everyone.

INTERVIEWER: Especially towards children?

BADIA: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: What's your opinion about the top singers of today, such as Abdel Wahab, Fathya Ahmed and Oum Kulthoum?

BADIA: I don't know about Fathya, I haven't heard her. But regarding Abdel Wahab, I like him alot for the work he has done and the work he's done for Oum Kulthoum as well as his old songs and all of his work. Abdel Wahab is good at everything and I like him quite a bit. And Oum Kulthoum, I heard her recently. I hadn't heard her for a long time. The last time I had heard her was when Ahmed El Sharkawy brought her to Aley ten years ago. The year before last I went to hear her in Baalbek and I just went crazy, especially when she sang "El Atlal" and "Enta Omri". Oh Lord, I went crazy.

INTERVIEWER: So Madame Badia, what is your opinion of the new generation of singers?

BADIA: They're good. All of them are good.

INTERVIEWER: Which one of them do you like to listen to the most?

BADIA: I like to listen to Abdel Halim and I like to listen to Sabah, and I like to listen to Wadi el Saafi most of all. I like him very much. Who else from here in Lebanon.......? [Thinking and trying to remember.]

INTERVIEWER: What do you think of Fahd Balan?

BADIA: Fahd is good. He invented his own style and he went down that road and people love it.

INTERVIEWER: If I were to ask you to choose a song from one of the new generation, which song would you like to hear?

BADIA: Let me hear Abdel Halim.

Badia

INTERVIEWER: What do you like by Abdel Halim?

BADIA: "Ala Hesb Wedad Galby".

INTERVIEWER: Ok, "Ala Hesb Wedad Galby". Let's let you listen to it.

[Here the interview cuts to the song clips and comes back after it's over.]

INTERVIEWER: Madame Badia, El Oustaz Farid el Atrash told us that his first job was in your casino. What do you remember about him?

BADIA: He was very good from the beginning.

INTERVIEWER: He sang?

BADIA: Yes, he sang and he played the mandolin and the oud so well. He was perfect at playing the mandolin, even more so than his oud playing. And then El Oustaz Farid Ghosn encouraged him to learn the oud better and he began composing while at my place. The first song that I ever heard which he composed is "Yaretni Taer Later Hawaleek" ("I Wish I Were a Bird, to Fly Around You.")

INTERVIEWER: "Matrah Ma Trou7 3aleek". ("Wherever You Go, My Eyes Would Be on You".)

BADIA: Yes,"3ayouni 3aleek" [smiling]. Yes, exactly his words.

INTERVIEWER: It's a very old song.

BADIA: Yes, it's an old song and he achieved admirable success in Egypt.

INTERVIEWER: And then he went into cinema and left the casino?

BADIA: Yes, yes.

INTERVIEWER: Back in those days there were big theaters in Cairo. The George Abaid Theater, The Ramses, and Youssef Wahbi.

BADIA: Most of them were dramatic actors. Nagib was the only one who was Vaudeville.

INTERVIEWER: But didn't you try to play act in [dramatic] theaters?

BADIA: No.

INTERVIEWER: So you went into the Vaudeville style, the Music Hall?

BADIA: Yes, I was with El Rehani, and when I left El Rehani I worked alone.

INTERVIEWER: And you continued?

BADIA: Yes.

Badia

INTERVIEWER: What are your memories of the very old singers that we hear about such as Mounira Al Mahdiya?

BADIA: Mounira had her days of glory. The one who ruined her was Abdel Wahab.

INTERVIEWER: What???

BADIA: When they did the Cleopatra story, he played the role of Mark Anthony and he composed such great music for himself, but composed songs for her that she couldn't sing well.

INTERVIEWER: Even though her voice was great?

BADIA: Yes great. But in another style than what he composed for her.

INTERVIEWER: And her star began to dim after Cleopatra?

BADIA: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: So, was this trickery from Oustaz Abdel El Wahab?

BADIA: No, it wasn't trickery. He didn't do it on purpose.

INTERVIEWER: And he didn't succeed? [in composing for her]

BADIA: That's right. He was not successful in regards to her songs.

INTERVIEWER: Fatma Rushdi also had great days?

BADIA: Yes she had very great days. But she got her start working in a casino called El Bosfour in Egypt Station.

[The clip gets cut off at this point, and resumes once more a bit further on. They are talking about a different topic.]

 

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Fourth Segment

Secrets of Success

INTERVIEWER: Some reach the top and then quickly fall. And others never reach the top.

BADIA: There is no talent and no skill, so how is she going to reach the top? It's impossible.

INTERVIEWER: When we invited Sabah to our program she said some wise words. We thought they were strange, but they're logical. She said, "In order for an artist to reach the top and stay there, she must not mix her personal feelings with her work." You remained at the top for 40 years, do you agree with these words?

BADIA: In fact, I had to keep my emotions in check. I had a goal. I was afraid that I'd lose my status and fortune and be unable to survive. How could I survive in a dire situation? I resisted many things like drinking, partying, or chasing after men in pursuit of love and sentiment. I was determined to make a decent living and have a decent retirement, and without living poorly. I had already reached the top. I had jewelry worth 30 or 40 thousand Egyptian pounds. I had two buildings in Egypt and I said that when I returned to my country I'd be able to live.

INTERVIEWER: So you were looking to make your future economically secure by controlling your emotions?

BADIA: Yes. I kept my emotions in check.

INTERVIEWER: So you lived by your intellect and not by your emotions?

BADIA: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: So, how did you control 400 or 500 or however many people there were in the casino? Were they all afraid of you?

BADIA: Because I was good to them. It wasn't fear. It was respect. Those who work for a harsh employer always talk badly of him behind his back, but in my case it's the opposite. To this day there are people from the days when I was in Egypt, who send me cards and thank me.

INTERVIEWER: You surely had a strong personality Madame Badia.

BADIA: I was good. That's just my personality. I never hurt anyone. I didn't say bad words to anyone. I was good.

INTERVIEWER: Were you kind to the dancing girls that came to you?

BADIA: Very much so. I would give them costumes from the club, and sometimes I would teach them myself. They began with a small salary of about 7 or 8 or 10 pounds per month. I would then increase it to 15 or 20 or 30 pounds, and you know that in the past, 30 pounds was a great deal of money. All of them were happy. I would take them with me to parties outside [of the casino] One might earn 5 pounds, another might earn 4 pounds and another might earn 10 pounds, depending on her skill.

INTERVIEWER: Wedding celebrations?

BADIA: Yes wedding celebrations as well as for charity events, parties for charity organizations. I did not charge them any money, and I paid for the band and for the girls out of my own money.

INTERVIEWER: You performed at charity events?

BADIA: Yes, and I covered the cost out of my own money.

INTERVIEWER: This was also because of your torturous upbringing, and because of your kindness towards people in need?

BADIA: Yes.

Badia

 

Performing on the Road

INTERVIEWER: How many wedding celebrations did you perform at in Egypt?

BADIA: My troupe and I, at least four to five thousand between Alexandria and El Said and Mansoura. They paid us very well. They'd pay us 200, 250, 300 pounds per night plus they'd cover the travel costs. I went to Port Said, to Alexandria, to El Suez, to El Said, to Mansoura. It was always my troupe and me.

INTERVIEWER: So, how did you schedule your time, Madame Badia? You had a casino with about 500 employees, and you also performed at wedding celebrations?

BADIA: A very large troupe. My troupe was very large. I took an oud player from it, because there was another one besides him, a kanoun player because there was another one besides him, a violin player because there was another one besides him. When I traveled, the foreign music orchestra didn't come with me. I only took my [Arabic] band with me when I traveled.

INTERVIEWER: Yes, Arabic only.

BADIA: Yes, and the rest of them were able to work. There were so many girls and so many singers, they were all able to work on the nights that I wasn't there. When I performed at wedding celebrations it would be for just one night and I'd return the next day. I didn't stay for four or five days. El Mansoura is close by. Alexandria is close by and Port Said is close by. One night, and I'd come back.

[Editor's Note: this photo shows Badia Masabni on the left performing at a wedding. Click on the photo to see the full image, including Fathiya Sherif.]

INTERVIEWER: Did you perform at parties in [other] Arab countries?

BADIA: No.

INTERVIEWER: Did you take the troupe and go there?

BADIA: No. I didn't. I didn't travel outside of Egypt with the troupe.

INTERVIEWER: You were a queen without a crown in Cairo.

BADIA: [smiling] Yes, without a crown.

INTERVIEWER: Yes, because of your troupe. By the way, regarding the words that Sabah said, that artists who want to remain at the top must separate their emotions from their work, we'd like you to choose for us one of Sabah's songs so we can listen to it.

BADIA: I love all of Sabah's songs.

[The clip cuts off here and resumes at a later point in the interview.]

Badia at Wedding

 

---------------

Fifth Segment: Love, Marriage, & Children

First Marriage

INTERVIEWER: How many times did you marry?

BADIA: Twice. Once in Egypt and once here in Lebanon.

INTERVIEWER: Who was your first husband?

BADIA: It was Nagib El Rehani. May he rest in peace.

INTERVIEWER: Yes, El Oustaz Nagib El Rehani.

BADIA: Yes, [we got married] in the year 1925.

INTERVIEWER: How long were you with him?

BADIA: About 18 years, and we were at odds with each other twice during that time period.

INTERVIEWER: You separated and got back together again?

BADIA: Yes, we separated once and then got back together and then separated for a second time but didn't get back together.

INTERVIEWER: But you remained married?

BADIA: We remained friends. He'd borrow things from me, for example, if he needed a dancer or a singer. And I would too, when I needed something I'd borrow from him and we would always talk. We had planned to get back together again in 20 or 25 or 30 days maximum, if he had remained alive.

INTERVIEWER: When he died, were you still married to him?

BADIA: I asked for a divorce, but the Syriacs say that they don't have divorces.

INTERVIEWER: So you remained married for 18 years.

Badia

 

Second Marriage

[Translator's Note: Another cut in the clip, and it resumes a bit further on, now talking about Badia's second husband.]

INTERVIEWER: And this one, how long were you married to him?

BADIA: Just short of two months.

INTERVIEWER [looking amazed] So, from 18 years to 18 days?

BADIA: Yes, because I discovered that what I'd saved during 50 years, he wanted to spend it in five months. So I left him. [Laughing] I divorced him without regrets. [Laughs more.]

INTERVIEWER: At the time, were you advanced in age?

BADIA: Sure. I was about 55 or 56, but I looked good. I looked like I was 40.

INTERVIEWER: Yes, we've been knocking on wood during this whole program. We don't even need to mention it. God willing, it will remain thus. [Referring to her youthful look.]

BADIA: God willing.

INTERVIEWER: But marriage is one thing and love is another. How many times have you loved in your life?

BADIA: I've loved. In fact, I've loved many times. But they weren't a deep love, it was mostly infatuations. 2 or 3, 4, 5 months and then I'd say, "Wi ana mali, wi mal el hob." ["Why am I in love? I don't need love."]

INTERVIEWER: Benefits and mind.

BADIA: Yes. Benefits.

INTERVIEWER: You found that you risked losing your lifestyle as well as the casino so you returned to yourself. So, what about true love?

BADIA: The last one was very difficult.

INTERVIEWER: The last one means, which one?

BADIA: The one that was about 10 or 12 years ago.

INTERVIEWER: How long? Madame Badia?

BADIA: 10 or 12 years ago.

INTERVIEWER: This means you were in love when you were 65 years old?

BADIA: Yes, and even to this day if I want to love I will love. But I don´t want to.

INTERVIEWER: God has given you health and longevity and you are in fact an inspiration for all women, in regards to the future.

BADIA: If they take care of themselves and don't drink excessively or gamble, they can remain healthy. In the past, men in their 70's, 80's, and 90's married 15-year-old girls, who would give birth, too!

INTERVIEWER: But is that logical, Madame Badia?

BADIA: They did that.

INTERVIEWER: But is it logical?

BADIA: [Laughing] What's the other alternative? The neighbor's son? [She laughs more.]

INTERVIEWER: Madame Badia, you've never had any children?

BADIA: No.

INTERVIEWER: Had you hoped to have children?

BADIA: I had an accident when I was just starting out. I fell down the stairs and it seems I was two months or so pregnant and I didn't know it. I had a miscarriage and then I had an operation. I suffered quite a bit for three or four months afterwards.

[The clip cuts off here and continues once more further ahead in the interview where they are discussing a different topic.]

 

Juliette

INTERVIEWER: Did you care about her? [They show pictures on the screen of Badia's adoptive daughter, Juliette.]

BADIA: Very much so. I put her through school and they taught her Italian at the Franciscan school and French at Mere De Dieu College. I sent her to school in Alexandria, and I married her off to my sister's son, Antoine. She bore him a daughter, and this daughter has now given birth to three of her own. So I'm a great grandmother. [Badia laughs.]

INTERVIEWER: You're the mother of the grandmother. Your daughter became a grandmother.

BADIA: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: Your adoptive daughter.

BADIA: Yes. If I'd given birth to any children myself, they'd be older than her because I adopted her when I was older.

 

More Thoughts on Marriage

INTERVIEWER: So, throughout your whole life which was full of.... [Badia interrupts her here.]

BADIA: Of accidents! [laughing]

INTERVIEWER: (continues)...of accidents and of sweetness and bitterness, you never met any man for whom you were willing to sacrifice your fame and glory and everything else? To marry him and just be a wife?

BADIA: I had many offers Madame. But I made a mistake. There were people who were good indeed, but I didn't realize their worth. There were very good people who offered marriage and a comfortable life and a home, as well as [letting me keep] my fame. But I refused. I was so successful that I said to myself, "How can I stay at home and just live with a man? Without seeing the world, and without seeing my audiences, 1,000, 1,500, 2,000 people who came to the sala every night? Without traveling everywhere and attending celebrations?" I was reluctant to stay home alone.

INTERVIEWER: All these things filled your youth, but today you feel lonely?

BADIA: I do feel lonely and now my advice to every man and woman is to marry and have children and live simply, and that she always stand by him and he always stand by her. And when she stumbles, he is the one who is there for her and she is the one who is there for him. Yesterday I visted a man at the University Hospital who is dying. His wife is a friend of mine and he is my friend as well, from Sheikhan, my sister's area. He had nobody except his wife in the end because they never had any children. She is the one who cares for him. If she had not cared for him he wouldn't have been alive this long. He would have died a long time ago. She loves him very much and she is always beside him. He's been in the hospital for a month and a half. She sleeps in a chair. They didn't give her a bed in the room so she sleeps in a chair next to him. He doesn't let go of her hand except when he falls asleep or when they give him an injection for the pain and he sleeps. But as soon as he wakes up he looks for her.

INTERVIEWER: These words are indeed wise because we live in a time... [Badia interrupts her here.]

BADIA: That's right, because I've been there. Been there. Done that.

INTERVIEWER: For this reason your words are very valuable because they come as a result of your long and personal experience.

BADIA: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: Especially because you say these words now, at a time when successful marriages are rare, and I don't know why husbands curse marriage?

BADIA: I'll tell you why. The fact is that women have become so demanding. Now when women marry they want a washing machine, and a car, and a recorder and a radio, and not everyone can buy those things [for them]. They want a furnished house and they don't want to live with his family. In the past, they'd marry and all the families stayed together, the men and the women and the girls. This one with his wife, the other with his daughter and another with his sister. Today the first condition that she sets down for him is, "I want to live alone." How can he buy all of that?

INTERVIEWER: Madame Badia, just so that we're not unfair to women, and we ARE women.., [Badia interrupts here]

BADIA: And men as well! [Meaning that we must not be unfair to men either.]

INTERVIEWER: Have you not noticed that men don't believe in marriage as much as they did in the past?

BADIA: Because they know that they aren't going to feel comfortable, so they remain single. Most of them remain single, most of them marry after age 40 or 45 or 50. When they feel that it becomes difficult and the loneliness is killing them, then they go and marry. When they are advanced in age.

INTERVIEWER: So tell me Madame Badia, what do you do now? Where do you stay and live?

BADIA: I'm so tired. I mean psychologically I'm so tired. But as far as money, I'm very comfortable moneywise. El Hamdillah. My store is doing well in Chatura. I had a great deal of wealth when I first came back from Egypt, but my family caused me to lose it. I don't want to name names, they are my family and they will know, they will sense that they've hurt me where it hurts the most. [meaning, her feelings] They abandoned me even though I was always good to them and did them many favors, and I sacrificed very much for them. But in the end, they abandoned me and stole my properties. They took my buildings and my land. Now they live there, so that in the meantime I have to rent. Last year I rented a house in Ashrafiyeh for 4,000 lira, and this year I live in a boarding house. I have a room with a bathroom. I say these words to other people so that they don't trust anyone.

INTERVIEWER: We hope that all these problems between your and your family will be resolved.

BADIA: Perhaps.

INTERVIEWER: We've heard that you have a farm.

BADIA: Yes and it provides good money. My [business] partner is so good, better than my entire family. He buys anything that is needed [for the farm] and this allows me to live like a queen from afar. We live far away from each other.

[Editor's note: This photo shows Badia at her dairy farm. Click on the image to see the full photo, including Taheya Carioca helping her feed the chickens. See the Related Articles section at the bottom of the page for a link to an article with additional photos of Taheya's visit to the farm.]

Badia

INTERVIEWER: We want to ask you how you've stayed young and active?

BADIA: [Laughing.] You know how? I'll tell you something important. Many have hurt me but I have no hard feelings. I don't harbor rancor towards anyone. Rancor harms the human being, it make him always sad. I'm the opposite of that. I forget quickly.

INTERVIEWER: So this pure heart is what prevents wrinkles?

BADIA: Yes.

INTERVIEWER: From the face?

BADIA: Yes, it prevents face wrinkles and the heart itself isn't bitter.

INTERVIEWER: So Madame Badia, has time been turned back 60 years to when you were just 15 years old?

[At this point the sound fades out of the clip and returns a bit further on in the interview.]

 

---------------

Sixth Segment: Conclusion

Looking Ahead


INTERVIEWER: How many more years would you like to live?

BADIA: I wouldn't like to live more than this. It's enough. I'm so afraid of a sickly end and that would bother me very much. Last year I was somewaht sick and I cried so much and said, "God take me. God take me before I end up bed ridden for 2 or 3 or 4 months and they have to carry me and put me in hospitals and operate me and torture me. And hamdulillah I was healed. The good heart and the kind treatment towards others. God healed me. It was paralysis and God healed me of it. Hamdulillah.

INTERVIEWER: Madame Badia, as long as you feel that you did kind things in your life and you never hurt others, rest assured that the end will be good.

BADIA: I feel satisfied. When I do something I feel so satisfied. When I do someone a favor, you can't imagine Madame Layla how satisfied I feel and how happy I am when I do someone who needs it, a favor. Some people sometimes even say "You're wrong, he didn't need it!" and I tell them, "What business is it of yours? Are you the one who is giving to him, or me? I'm free to do as I want!"

INTERVIEWER: God willing that you always be in good health and happiness.

BADIA: May God hear you.

 

Badia's Birthday

INTERVIEWER: There will always be people around you so don't think that your loneliness will remain. We want to celebrate your 75th birthday. When the taping of this program coincided with this event, we got a cake for you and we'd like to serve you some.

BADIA: Teslam 3ayenik el Helwa [This is a complement meaning, Teslam, your beautiful eyes!] A thousand thanks!

INTERVIEWER: Studio Manager please, welcome, come in here with us....[to Badia] we'd like wish you a Happy Birthday. I'll start! Yallah ya shabab!

[The studio manager now brings in a cake and sets it on the table. They begin to sing Happy Birthday to Badia in English.]

BADIA: Yallah ya oustaz! [Apparently to Farid Ghosn.]

INTERVIEWER: We want you to blow out the candle.

BADIA: Me?

INTERVIEWER: God willing we will celebrate your 85 years.

BADIA: Nooo, please. May God preserve you and grant you a long life!

INTERVIEWER: This is the 75th [birthday] May you always have happiness!

[Badia blows out the candle and they sing Happy Birthday again. Badia plays sagat, then the interviewer hands her the knife so she can cut the cake.]

INTERVIEWER: A thousand thanks, Madame Badia.

BADIA: Merci. Why don't you cut and serve me small piece with your beautiful hands so I can eat it with joy?

INVERVIEWER: I'd like to say to the people watching us, welcome [to eat with us] although we can't send cake via the air waves. See you soon ladies and gentlemen, on another episolde of.... Stars on Earth!

 

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About the Translator

Priscilla is a dancer of Lebanese heritage who enjoys researching the Golden Era of Egyptian dance. She owns a collection of more than one hundred classic black and white Egyptian films which is continually expanding.

Priscilla has also gathered a large library of dance related articles and clippings from Middle Eastern magazines and newspapers, many of which she has translated from the original Arabic to both English and Spanish.

Priscilla currently resides in Central America where she is a dance instructor. 

Priscilla

 

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