Exclusive: An Egyptian Astronaut- Part I

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Written by Alaa (aka Lols)

Hello everyone! It’s Alaa, bringing you an exclusive look at one of the freshest and youngest representatives of Egypt. I have to say this is my first interview that I conduct with a star on the rise and it’s very special because that star on the rise happens to be one of my best and dearest friends. So before we begin with the Q&A, I’ll give you a little background on my friend here. His name is Ahmed Khaled Said (aka Bondok; and no it’s not Cairo Contra’s very own Bondok). Born in 1990, “Bondok” graduated from Law School English Section in 2011 from Cairo University and is currently working in one of the most successful law firms in Egypt. In addition to being a born athlete, “Bondok” has many hobbies and interests primarily “horseback riding” and “piano playing”. His favorite music is “trance”. He has some “DJ” talents and has acted once in a “1960’s” short movie created and directed by his colleagues in university. So how did he become a star all of a sudden?

 

Bondok in Dubai
Bondok in Dubai

 

Most of the guys out there would have heard of the “Axe Apollo Contest” but for those of you who haven’t heard about it; here’s a quick brief. The Axe Apollo Contest is a worldwide 3-stage competition whose final prize is a space flight reserved for only one person from all around the globe. The Space Flight will be on the X-COR Lynx sub-orbital space vehicle, currently under development by the X-COR Technologies. The first stage ended on the 10th of September 2013 which was the National Competition held in Dubai and after a series of challenges, Bondok was announced the winner and representative of Egypt for the second stage of the contest in Florida from the 9th till the 13th of December.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? So, I had the very pleasure of sitting down (actually Facebook chatting) with Bondok to know more about the juicy details.

–  First of all, congratulations on your big win and qualification! I mean you can imagine how people must be really proud of you. I know I am. So tell us a little more about yourself.

–  Thanks…Thank you. Well, my name is Ahmed Khaled Said. I am 23 years old, a Gemini and I graduated from Cairo University Law School (English Section). Since I was 2, I adore anything that could fly. It’s a very deep passion of mine. I always wanted to join the air force but due to my wearing glasses, I couldn’t enroll. I adore horses and piano. I am what some would call a “party animal” but I really don’t know why they do that. I am in constant search of some adventure or any kind of extraordinary challenges, something not quite usual. And thankfully, I finally got to do one of those extraordinary challenges and ended up doing something great for both me and my country.

–  Have you always had a dream of going into space or did it come as a spur of the moment kind of action?

–  Like I said, I adore anything that flies. I always had the dream of flying whether it’s an air craft or a space ship, whether I’m skydiving or going through an anti-gravity simulation; it didn’t really matter as long as I am doing it and as long as that object is getting me closer to being in the sky.

–  Since you like flying that much, what’s your favorite “flying” animal?

–  I don’t know about flying animals but I do know about flying machines. For me the choices of those machines lie between three types: the American, the French and the Russian. My favorite flying machine is called the Sokhoi, especially the SU-47.

So about the Axe competition, how did you come by the contest?

–  Actually, I saw the ad on TV. I was like “Damn! Someone could be going to space” and then I stopped for a moment and was like “the guy who’s going to space isn’t any better than me in anything; why can’t I be the one to fly up there?” And that was the motive and how it started really.

–  And were your parents thrilled about the idea?

– My parents?  *laughs* Now that’s funny!

– How did they respond when you told them you wanted to go to space?

– My father wasn’t the only opposing council. My mother was too, as always. My father was like “lih kda ya raby? Ana 3amalt eh fe donyety” (Why God? What did I do wrong in my life!); that was because he didn’t believe that nothing like this might ever happen. But once I got through the first stage of rounding up the votes in Egypt and things got serious, he got my back. That was a true support there!

And did your siblings support you as much as you hoped they would?

– Yes, I can say they did but my true support came from my friends. After all, our parents can be close minded sometimes but my friends, they’re as crazy as I am…maybe they might be slightly less crazier *laughs*

– How did your friends support you?

–  Most of them got my back mainly during the first stage of voting to choose who gets to go to Dubai. I found out that some unexpected people were such a motive to me and they kept on cheering for me and voting for me. I have to say that I am very grateful of having some really good friends in my life.

 How was your voting campaign? Was it any indication that you were going to qualify for the Dubai round?

– No! It was so far from that. There was a lot of cheating and fake accounts going on. The highest I could reach back then before the “contest” dealt with this problem was the 72nd spot. Once the cheaters were removed, I found myself in the top 20, in the 14th place to be exact. I couldn’t believe it was real. From that point on I knew that nothing is impossible.

And what happened after that?

– I received an email congratulating me on becoming in the top 20 and they called me for an interview in Alexandria where the administration was based. My father’s opposition became an obstacle for me here because I had to get his permission to go to Alexandria for this interview.

– Was the interview hard? Were you expecting it to be hard?

–  Not at all. For me, it was all fun and games. It was the first interview where I had to attend without being dressed formally which was great.

The questions were easy I presume?

–  They were kind of strange for me. I’ve never been asked in an interview what the first thing I’m going to do when I land on the moon is.

What was your answer to that question?

-First, I’ll touch the soil then I’ll enjoy the view and put on my headphones.

 

Getting ready for the big day!
Being an astronaut was one of Bondok’s dreams…

 

 I guess you enjoy music then? What kind of music do you listen to?

– I mainly love electronic music but not all the tracks that are played. To be more precise, I’m into trance music and especially, up lifting trance.

–  So let’s get to the competition then. Before going to Dubai, did you have any expectations?

–   I was so nervous! I couldn’t sleep.

–  Did you know what you were about to face over there?

–  They told us everything we needed to know 5 days before travelling. The competitors were to face 3 challenges. The first was to jump on a trampoline and within a 10 second range, drop as many Axe spray cans from the ceiling as possible. The second challenge demanded us to use a bike and within the same range of seconds reach the highest score. The third one was a bad ass. We had to charm a lady, Miss Universe herself. She was to ask us three questions and we had to charm her with our answers somehow.

– Wow. Were the questions she asked hard? What did she ask you?

 

Well, that was the first part of Bondok’s interview on his journey to conquer space. Stay tuned next time for the second part of the interview to know how it went down in Dubai and his answers to charm Miss Universe herself.

 

Your comments and support matter

In the meantime, why don’t you all give a shout out at Bondok in our comment section and tell us what you think of his journey and his achievement thus far? You could always send us an email at contact.us@cairocontra.com. You could also show your support to Bondok by liking his fan page on Facebook “Astronaut/Ahmed K. Said ‘Bondok’

See you next time!

 

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