Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lock yourself in

I lately spent too much time at home which made me forget why I took the decision in the first place to lock myself in. In short, since I stopped going out I started enjoying every moment of my days and nights and then I had this sudden outburst of "loving life" and a rush to go out and meet the sun. So off I went to meet the sun and then...regret. Let me explain what going out in Beirut means these days: a reminder that the main problem of Lebanon is not "sectarianism" as I always thought (which does not bother me anymore by the way... because habit makes normal), no, surprisingly, the root cause, and note this in the introduction of a conflict analysis strategy about Lebanon if you are planning to draft one, is STUPIDITY. It is stupidity magnificently manifested in the view of the Hamra street from the sky, if you ever had the chance, during Christmas and New Year holidays. You will see a stupid woman (me loving life again) in the car, or more precisely, only the lower part of my body in the car and the rest hysterically protruding from the window with rage in my hair defying the laws of gravity, gazing madly at that stupid boy on his motorcycle trying to squeeze himself and his vespa between my car and a truck larger than the street itself confidently blocking the way while three stupid women are happily crossing the street right in front of my car with stacks of huge shopping bags inhaling the black dust coming out of the truck and so indifferent to the deafening noise of the street only to find themselves stuck with their shopping bags in the middle of that apocalyptic scene. I go back home, and as I was in front of the door of my house, I pledge not to be on this side of the door unless necessary. Then a beautiful thought crossed my mind: I will spend New Year's eve at home.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year

New Year's is an illusionary beginning. Every morning is an illusionary beginning and New Year's is the king of them all. It is also an illusionary ending. There are beginnings because there are endings... and how can there be happy endings if the greatest ending is commonly known as Death? Beginnings always bring with them hopes, wishfulness, and fortune telling. They are survival musts, the hopeless longing after the ultimate illusion: happiness. A wise man's wish on New Year's eve would be for a few glimpses of it.

Santa Clause

I don't remember ever believing in Santa Clause and I am not sure I like that. I was never brought up to believe in magic or fairy tales. No one tucked me in with a bed story. And among animated characters, I liked Pink Panther because he never talked. I never believed in talking animals, or fairies who could transform a king into a frog or a carriage into a pumpkin, not even as early as 3 or 4 years old, at least I never remember I did. Three geese attacked me early in my childhood and that was enough to scare the hell out of me of anything moving on four for the rest of my life. And yes, if you ask me, I will tell you that geese, ducks, chickens, and birds have four legs. Throwing a horrified cat at me few years later didn't help much either. I had another bitter experience with a cow who suddenly somehow entered my grandma's kitchen and four men tried to push it back through the narrow door. I crawled under a table at the corner of the kitchen screaming madly, and peed in my pants, I am not sure if it was out of hysterical laughing or of a panic attack. To see animated Disney characters talk and live in houses didn't trigger much imagination or any fondness in magic. I preferred the real stories that my father used to recount about his childhood: the scarecrows that scared them more than the birds, the ugly doll he made out of mere sticks and threads, and gave to his younger sister, my aunt, as a present, and the chewing-gum they hid from each other and no one dared ever chew. The first thing I remember about Santa is that there is no Santa. I never thought much about it anyway but I remember wondering once about the stupid idea of making Santa come from the chimney. We never had a chimney, not one that can fit someone as fat and not when it is lit anyway. I was amazed this Christmas when I saw a group of kids anxiously waiting for Santa on Christmas eve, and when he arrived, one of them screamed: this is not the real Santa! Another three year old, hid under his mother's skirt and only showed up again when Santa was taking off. He waved good bye to him with a huge smile and in his heart, he hoped, he will never show up ever again.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Peace

Peace is rain on green meadows.

Of love

One form of love is longing for a hug from that same person who just hurt us. Love is in a way a form of masochism.

Miscalculations

Force yourself to laugh and you were never sadder.

Don't drink wine when you are sad. It creeps down your throat right to that burning lump.

When you are sad, look in the mirror and note down one more mistake.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why smart people are often depressed

Excerpts from the article shared by wineofwisdom in his comment on "Why stupid people are often happy":

"Both perspectives, pessimism and existentialism, wouldn't necessarily see depression as a malady existing in a person's head. A pessimist and existentialist might, in fact, agree that the world itself is screwed up, that social norms are themselves pathological, that feelings of despair, anxiety, loss, and pointlessness may be typical in people who are exceptionally intelligent and observant."

"Philosophers such as John Stuart Mill, William James, and Friedrich Nietzsche suffered the worst throes of depression. A host of other artists and writers suffered the same fate, including Edgar Allen Poe, William Blake, Mark Twain, Wolfgang Mozart, Charles Dickens, Vincent Van Gogh, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, and Sylvia Plath."

Why stupid people are often happy

Take this guy for example.

Lebanese chauvinism

video
The new ad by Audi Bank.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My share in the CBC report turmoil

A little bit of background first: When the Hariri investigation began, it seemed to me like some sort of an action detective movie that is worth following up if only for the adrenaline stuff, after I have devoured as a child almost every single book by Agatha Christie, that seemed very logical. I started highlighting paragraphs in the successive reports coming out of the investigation, and underlining a few lines here and there, and having long group chats and fantasies of possible scenarios and so on and so forth. Then 24 came in... the series... and it stole the thunder... the investigation got hotter but I suddenly found myself highlighting lines that seemed of greater concern to me. So if you ask me what I highlighted in the CBC reports you will get this:
To date, the UN inquiry has reportedly spent in the range of $200 million ...The tribunal currently has an annual budget in excess of $40 million...Hezbollah's website claimed the documents cited by the CBC were "purchased from UN sources."...In fact, the documents came from sources close to the investigation... "We paid for our hotel rooms, we paid for our air fare, we paid for our meals, but the information that was in those reports was given to us by sources who were offended at the handling of the investigation, or the mishandling of the investigation," said the CBC's Neil Macdonald, who broke the story..."It was given freely and out of a sense of outrage, and that's that," he said.
Apart from that: Some remote control device bearing Saudi-Syrian fingerprints will soon put an end to the movie and ask everyone to go to bed... that is if they find they still have one.
One more thing, the report might be fishy and very fictitious but I sense that there is something true about Wissam el Hassam having lied to the investigators, not necessarily because he is involved, it could be that he was planning to meet his mistress on Valentines days and indeed requested a day off and then spent the day on the phone planning the date.

Gemayzeh: A secret affair

I have some special connection to Gemayzeh, some sort of a love hate relationship. Let me be frank, I am not going to tell you that I hate Gemayzeh at night because it is too fake and too snobbish, although it is. I do like Gemayzeh on a Sunday morning and better on a Saturday when I can enjoy a Fasulia plate from "Le Chef". Gemayzeh in the day is my love in the open, in the legal if you wish. Saturday night is a different story. Gemayzeh can then be hated for its loud and clumsy Valet Parking people, for the traffic, for what it represents as a fake replica of a small French avenue, for you can be microwaved in one of its bars where the bar is most likely taller than you. For that and many other reasons, yes it can be hated. But it can also be an enjoyable experience. Apart from the wine effect (or whatever you choose), I enjoy watching the street on a Saturday night. For some reason, you feel the rush, everyone is rushing for one reason or another, they are always running late, walking fast, as if running from someone -of course Valet Parking people are running all the time, where do they park all those cars by the way? why can they find parking spaces and we cannot?- They are all rushing to get to a place where they can sit and wonder if maybe they shouldn't have gone somewhere else. In a country where everything is slow, it is amazing to see this place where everything moves fast, except the cars maybe, but who cares, just leave it with the Valet and run. Everyone is looking at everyone. Some looking for familiar faces others avoiding them. You remember that this place might not be the same anymore in few years, or maybe a few months if they keep buying the old houses at this rate. You remember and you hate it again. You want to be part of this mixture of lost souls in the darkness of Beirut and you want to tell yourself that you are not, that you do not belong and that you are there only to watch. But you keep coming back, you keep loving it, and you keep denying it. That's it. My love for Gemayzeh is something more like a secret affair.

The so called Independence Day

Since everyone is blogging about the so called Lebanon's "independence day", which turns out to be a celebration of the Lebanese army, although no matter how I turn it in my head I don't see the connection, at least not in Lebanon, and although to my recollection there is a special day for the Lebanese army. Anyway, if you care to know my own feeling during this "special" day here it is: nothing, nothing at all. I didn't even watch TV today to avoid stumbling upon some of the patriotic songs that our lame TVs and singers compete to air. And I didn't care to say anything about it but I saw that our so called independence has invaded the blogsphere and google I hear. So all I am going to say is this: One day, and it was midday, as I was walking the few meters from my car to my home, in a not very busy street, I pass across a Lebanese soldier in a corner, obviously bored to death. I would usually be thinking in such a situation if I maybe should greet him or at least nod, but would most probably just pass through quietly. But then he whistled and said something like "where to sugar?!".. the kind of sleazy comments girls always hear in the streets of Beirut but from the Lebanese army, that is not supposed to be very common -maybe from internal security forces, some would now fancy to comment-. Of course I did nothing. I even had a justification for him. But I did think that if anyone attacked me now, would I rush to him for help? that's the kind of insecurity we live in and that's the kind of things that come to my mind in the so called "Independence Day" to say the least. Bear with me if I don't get all the enthusiasm.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I feel better now...

I know someone who represents everything I hate, everything. So this is how this person might describe herself with pride: I hate Palestinians. They don't dress well. I hate the poor. They smell. I hate Muslims. They don't behave. I hate maids. They are stupid. I hate Arabs. They are retarded... On top, this person is unprincipled, obnoxious in every sense, stupid, lame... add to this a look that if my grandfather sees would describe as "constantly smelling shit". I am not the type who would care or give a damn about people like that, but I hate that I have to greet her with my fake smile because hardly words come out of my mouth to say anything lest I speak my mind.

Different outfit... same core

I know, the blog now gives you the feeling that the winter collection is out!

I like smart ads

Friday, November 12, 2010

Meet the stupid Obama

While taking questions from reporters at the G20 summit, Obama looks at an Asian reporter who raised his hand and says "I will now take questions from the Korean press". The reporter stands up and says "...I am Chinese".

P.S. I didn't watch it myself, but again a trusted source.
P.S. 2: BBC is running this particular segment. I just watched it.

Taxi wisdom... for real

My husband was in a Taxi in Beirut and as he was paying the driver, he finds out that he has no small money and asks the driver if he has any change. The driver tells him that he will pay him the change once the rest of the passengers pay. There were another Lebanese guy and a foreign maid in the car. Here, the Lebanese guy pays right away to help solve the problem while the maid says in broken Lebanese: I pay when I arrive because I am "sawda" (black). The driver here says: so what if you are black? it's not like I am going to steal your money or throw you in the middle of the road!! "Yes, you will," she says, "they all do that... they take the money and say get out... because I am sawda." The driver replies "but you are my relative... look at my color... do you see me blond with blue eyes?." She pays. He asks her: do they really do this to you?. "All the time," she says. He drives her right to her destination and says "may God be with you".

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Taxi wisdom

A British guy who lived in France for a while had the following conversation in a Beirut "service" (Taxi):

Cab driver in English with a strong Lebanese accent: Why are you crying? (The guy just looked upset)
British guy (trying to speak slowly): Because I had a rough fight with my girlfriend.... she wants "la liberté".
Cab driver: Did you hit her?
British guy: non... non... jamais
Cab driver switching to French: Moi.. Je frappe ma femme chaque jour. Ici, la liberté, il n'ya pas... femme aller. Il y'a beaucoup. Allez... Toz.


True story from a trusted source sitting in the back seat.

On the edge

I sit there watching TV... or that's what you would assume. I am in fact just watching the reflection of my hand holding the remote control device for the past half an hour in the shadowy spots of the screen. I was watching the news but the news ended some time ago. What was it about? how different from yesterday? or last year? or the last century? war and peace. The formula that enslaves us but the words that we dare not name. I was thinking: everyone is afraid of war but peace frightens me to death. I know how to cope with war but I have no clue how to function in peace. You are maybe more at risk in wars but less alert in peace. The worst of all is living on the edge of either of the two. You don't dare to grab your weapon lest you are misunderstood or leave it behind lest you are shot in the back. You are that PC that someone had given a zillion instructions in no time each undoing the previous one and then redoing it until it lost track of what it is supposed to be doing. Confusion creates dysfunction. Between that and war, I definitely choose war. Just grab a hatchet and smash the PC and the TV to pieces and watch it fall apart, a reflection of your own soul.

Blackmail

Lebanese parents, mine included, desperately try to keep their children close. They try all sorts of manipulations. They know your weaknesses and they take advantage. You play the fool. You play the game. My mother's technique: She cooks my favourite food. It works.

Another small confession

Speaking of memory, having a selective memory is annoying but can be fun too. I can watch a movie and then forget all about it and then I can watch it one more time and enjoy it all over again. The fun part is that my husband who has a very strong memory watches me in amazement cry over the same scenes and wonder what will happen next and laugh my ass off at a joke that I heard not long ago. Okay, I am exaggerating a little bit here, or not.

My selective memory

I have a selective memory; no matter how I force myself to remember something I am sure I know, I know I will fail; I had never saved it in the first place. I don't remember the names of many of the people who work with me, who have been working with me for some time, I just don't care to remember their names. I can make an effort but why bother, if it mattered it would have stuck. Again, why would I? Unlike them, I live in the margin. I will never be part of their world and they will never enjoy the life on the margin.

On the margin

I have this constant feeling that I live on the margin. I do have a whole life but it's one on the margin. The margin space is huge and a whole population inhabits it. Sometimes, the feeling is so intense that I feel that I live on the margin of the margin or that I have become the margin itself, that space where you scribble missing notes, sketch down shapes of your boredom, or leave neatly blank. There, you only contemplate the solid paragraphs, the letters perfectly straightened from top and below, sometimes justified, other times aligned right or left, you know that you will never be a word in their bulky world, or even a comma, anyway you never fancy to be. You cross your arms and watch. Power is them, you know that, because they stick together and you roam astray. You dream of the day when you turn or be turned into an eraser. Then you will have all the space there for you alone, you can invade them and expand the margin, but you are convinced that all you can ever hope for is for them to allow you to keep that small space you enjoy. There on the margin, you can be a sticky note, a red mark, or a stain, but for sure one that stands out.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Dead Fake Society

Some people in Lebanon find pride in pretending that they do not remember your name. They think that by doing that they project an image of themselves as important and busy people. The most annoying among them are those who tell you "remind me of your name?" "of yes, yes, we met yesterday!!!". And you would be sure that when you met only "yesterday", that person had asked you all kinds of personal questions about you let alone where your name comes from and had listed all the people they know with that name (because they know a lot of people of course). Yesterday, I witnessed a conversation where a guy told another "of course, I know you, you are XX, my friend always talks about you!" I find out later on that the guy is gay. I don't want to stereotype, but I specifically asked if he was gay because of this not so common behavior among straight men in Lebanon. (Not to say that this behavior cannot be found equally among Lebanese gays).
Now there is this other category of people with whom you might have had long conversations or had coffee with let's say not so long ago or had an unforgettable fight with, or seen a million times, and then one day they pass by, throw a glance at you, a glance of "I know you", then lower their eyes and go by without even a smile. I do understand that in some of these situations, one or each of the two people would be wondering if the other had recognized them, but in most cases, it is this recognition that they find hard to admit.
So this pretentious Lebanese knows a lot of people, you included, and behaves the same with all of them. When they find themselves in a crowd but unaccompanied, you find them restlessly looking for familiar faces, and then they spot you and they run towards you, with "don't you remember me? we met yesterday". Of course you remember them but then you would say "remind me of your name!!!"

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Slow motion

I was stuck in the traffic and I was stricken by how everyone around me was stupid: the policeman, the muscled guy in the black shirt, the street boy begging to wash his car, the curly headed lady leaning over the steering wheel unaware of how the horn of her Peugeot is making me want to put an end to her life. I am not going to accept that they are all victims of a bigger problem beyond them called traffic jam in Lebanon. No, that is one thing and their stupidity is something else. But nothing made me want to jump out of my car more than that stupid very old man with that stupid smile on his wrinkled face driving as slow as if he is walking on a high rope above the Amazon river, because he thinks that the slower he goes, the slower time becomes and the farther away his death.

I was waiting for the elevator, cross legged, my elbow on the elevator's edge, when I realized that I have been waiting for more than five minutes. I remember I had a rush of thoughts invading my head, some meaningful ones and some nonsense. I can't remember any of these thoughts now, all I remember is the image of me waiting by the elevator, cross legged, my elbow on the elevator's edge. I did not see myself stand there, yet in my memory I have that copy image of myself standing there and that useless memory is now carved in my head. As useless as it sounds, as stored it is in my memory to the extent that I have to write it down here so that I get it out of my system. And yet now it has become even more memorable after it has been written.

Before the age of speed, and when everything around was slow, the "meantime" had a certain meaning. Roads were not mere connecting lines but were part of the destination plan. People used to take food for the road, stop for a bonfire, or just contemplate sceneries. In the slow motion age, same as in the speed age, people invent coping systems. Here we are stuck in between the two ages, we are like that stupid old wrinkled man in the car unable to reach to nowhere and slowing everyone behind us.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Critique and self critique

I love when people say things about me (good or bad) that I don't already know about myself. It's rare but when it happens, I am impressed. One of them is that "I have the talent to change the subject without giving my interlocutor the time to react". How annoying!!! and yes, I do this sometimes.

Animal Pain

I am not so much of an activist for animal rights. Not that I don't care but that can't be among the top things I care for when so many human beings enjoy less rights than many animals. But it breaks my heart to see a dog with three legs, or an old donkey with an injured back, even a bug with crushed wings struggling to fly, or any animal in pain, more than to see a human being in pain. Maybe because I know what physical pain is for humans but I wonder what it is like for animals. Humans can make a certain philosophy out of pain, but what do animals do? what's their defense mechanism. Who do they blame? How do they unleash their anger?

The Fall

It's about to rain now. If my grandfather was here now he would probably tell me how the next olive season would be like. I say, when it rains, it feels right. Good things usually happen to me during the fall, not so much during the summer for instance. But that's not the reason why I like fall; on the contrary, it is because I like it that good things happen. Not so clear. I see. But I will find better ways to explain it to myself.

My Mother Fairuz

Today I go see Fairuz and "see" not only refers to sight here but it involves the five senses combined in the verb "to feel". Fairuz for me is something I breathe. This is not poetry, but I can't imagine myself born in an age where Fairuz is yet to be born or has gone long ago. This icon has done to my being, affected what I am now, and carved my mind and emotional intelligence more than any other ideology, religion, science, or philosophy has. If you can define music then I can define the feeling Fairuz inflicts on me. This feeling is a weird mixture of the fragrances of my childhood, the pain of adolescence, and the sweet and sour tastes of my days. There were days when I thought that Fairuz could be my mother. I like this theory about mothers, that motherhood could be seen on women's faces and that there are women you meet that you feel could have been your mother, Fairuz is one of them. This is another feeling that I find hard to explain. It is not in their attitude but rather in their facial expressions, in their eyes, in the age of their skin and in the pain below it. Fairuz is all of this.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Subjectively

I think that the word "habibi" is the most beautiful word in the Arabic language both phonetically and semantically. You only have to hear either fairuz or myself say it to know what I mean.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ego confession

I can be objective but never neutral,
I am balanced in the realm of my mood swings ,
I can end a sentence that started with 'I love you' with 'I hate you',
I have convictions as static as a river,
I can change my mind every minute (now every 20 minutes),
Decisions, I take them based on the weather and the chemistry between my pillow and my neck.

I believe I would make a very good dictator.

Touched

Wine of wisdom wrote on his blog:

"I'm afraid that at some point I'll hang on to words and mistake them for life itself. The less i live the more I write - a formulae of exhaustion. I mustn't live in words; words must dwell within me."

I can't say why but these words go straight to the heart. The full post might give an answer.

Confession

I might not be modest but I am humble. I am not arrogant but vanity spills all over me.

P.S. After writing the above confession, I discovered that Jean Paul Sartre has a saying: I will not be modest. Humble, as much as you like, but not modest. Modesty is the virtue of the lukewarm. This reminds me: if you discover something that was already discovered but which you had no idea existed or how it came to be, or if you say something already said which you have never heard of, and although you will not be credited for it and although you will still be bound by copyright laws, that does not mean that you cannot credit yourself with such a discovery. You reinvented the wheel, maybe, you were not the first, certainly, but it is still your invention.

The 20 Minute Plan

A friend gave me an advice that I think is worth sharing here. I would like to call it the "20 minute plan". He advises to plan your schedule in 20 minute partitions and every 20 minutes plan what you will be doing in the next 20 minutes in order to manage your multi tasks. I tried that although at first it took me twenty four 20 minutes doing one thing and then only half a 20 minutes eating (I spent the rest of it thinking where words go after we say them) but it did work after that. I watched 20 minutes of a usually 2 hour political talk show and I worked out 20 minutes on my treadmill instead of 40 (I have to thank him for that) and then I skimmed through the newspaper for another 20 minutes and only managed to read up to 3 articles but I assume I maybe need not read more. Now blogging should not take more than that either and if I do stop in the middle of a sentence, I trust that you won't wonder.

Monday, September 27, 2010

One of the times when Hollywood makes fun of Arabs and I laugh

I wasn't watching this movie but I overheard this part:
- The most beautiful dog in the world. Isn't it?
- He's cute. what's his name?
- Anwar Sadat. After Anwar Sadat former president of Egypt.
- Right. Because you you're a fan of his policies or...
- No because they look exactly alike.

Here the camera gets a close up of the Dog's face and you have no idea... you have to watch.

P.S. From "I love you man", movie not recommended otherwise, but you can Fwd to 39'14'' or watch the scene here.

Meet Funny Ralph

Ralph made a funny comment the other day about one of my posts: The smartest among the religious people, he said, are those who convert. "Islam is bullshit, they would say, they want us to believe that God talked to Mohamad in those revelations, that can't be true!." But it is very believable that a woman got pregnant from the holy spirit and gave birth to the son of God who also happens to be God himself and who rose from the dead to bring salvation to humanity. That, I can buy. End of quote.

Some wine of wisdom

I thought that you might find the conversation triggered by my previous post in the comments box interesting, so I am posting again here:

wineofwisdom said...
But the quote doesn't define the scope to the dream, why did you constrict it to Plastic surgery?

eography said...

The context of the quote, which is from "All about my mother", is a pre-operation transsexual having a speech about her looks. She does talk about her plastic surgeries (fake breasts, lip job, etc.). It is true the quote refers mainly to dreams of transsexuals to look in a certain way but it does touch on plastic surgeries which I think is a similar phenomenon. I do believe that if a person cannot come to terms with her/his looks, and if this she/he has an idea or a "dream" of how best to look like, they will be more authentic when or if they do, not only because they will resemble more their dreamed image about themselves but more because they are no longer obsessed with how their looks does not reflect who they really are. This is a long discussion anyway. And discussing plastic surgeries, beyond the "Haifa wanna be" phenomenon, or even with such phenomenon included, is not a shallow topic, it can get you to some deeper arguments touching on feminism, LGBT issues, and human nature.

wineofwisdom said...

No, it is not a shallow topic. My own journey has been one of redeeming an integrity which I have felt to be violated after my realization of how much of what I call "me" isn't really "me." Incorporated in the image of who I am were the opinions and desires of others, what I was "supposed" to be. We tend to treat ourselves as commodities and hence attempt to better those traits which we think, in turn, would better our price and value on the market. Be it the market of love or work doesn't really matter for the instrumentlization is one and the same; and treating our selves as means is an inherent part of an economy which has so distorted our view of who we are — our humanity — that we easily waste our lives in quenching the resulting anxieties — but never to succeed. For a life thwarted in growth and built on illusion can never offer genuine satisfaction.

If a person needs a certain faith or requires a certain image in order to feel good about him/herself, then that is ok as long as that person remembers and keeps the doors open for change and possibility. As long as he/she knows that the human is something different from what is being proposed(though he/she may not know exactly what the human “is”), and that it is towards that human that he/she must strive.

eography said...
"We tend to treat ourselves as commodities and hence attempt to better those traits which we think, in turn, would better our price and value on the market. Be it the market of love or work doesn't really matter for the instrumentlization is one and the same":

Well said!

It is a non ending struggle, striving to be or to look like the dream image or what people call self realization (which as you rightly said is an illusion) but it doesn't negate the fact that it does give you self satisfaction, albeit short lived. But isn't this illusory struggle that keeps us all going somewhere? We are bound (no cursed) with something called "time" that can only function in a linear way. Once you undo that, let's say when or if science finds its way to a time machine (by finding a way to making m=0 in the e=mc² formula, as someone explained to me, but that's another story), so unless we do this, we are all doomed and we will keep looking forward to things, waiting, longing, looking, wishing, and dreaming. I am not going to say that the truth lies back in the start under Santiago's pillow (as Paulo Coehlo believes), no I trust that our fate, yes fate (in a non-religious sense) is to be beaten by time. Remembering is maybe the only gift we were honoured with. But I also have faith in science.
You know, I think I will post this discussion if you don't mind.

Of Plastic and other surgeries

"The more you become like what you have dreamed for yourself, the more authentic you are." Pedro Almodovar

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Freaky days

So here are my news (or some nonsense history if you are reading this in the year 2089): I am all immersed in Russian literature, Pushkin and Turgenev at the moment. I am also trying to catch up a little with Almodovar films. I met an impostor who claims he is an AUB and LAU professor, and who invited me to dinner, no to dance he said. I googled his name, and all the hits I got refer to people who died in the 19th century. Oh, that's how I met this guy. We were celebrating a friend's birthday, and as my friend was about to make a wish, I told him to wish that I get a new job. Then as he was blowing off the 47 candles, this guy approaches and starts a chat, and a moment later he is offering me a job as his assistant. Freaky but the freakier is that he gave me his "business" card, which has an msn email and a non existing address and company name. In short, I am reading books by dead people about people who die at the end and I meeting people with profiles of dead people and hanging out with freaky people who can make your wishes come true with a small twist.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Byzantine debate

How boring it is to discuss existential questions with someone who believes has all the answers. An old friend paid us a visit yesterday, and I ended up telling him that those questions do not disturb me in the least, on the contrary they are a source of joy for me. I told him that those are questions to be asked not answered and that I am not in the least interested in finding answers because all answers he might have started from asking the wrong questions in the first place. Of course, he could not believe why I would argue with him if he could put me at peace only if I had an open heart and accepted the ultimate truth he "discovered". Yes, discovered, because this guy witnessed an immense metamorphosis that in itself is much more worth looking into than finding how the universe came to be. He was a normal guy, let's say, of course in his own understanding he was bad, immoral, and evil because he used to tease people (imagine how wicked!) drink (alcohol), have extramarital sex, and cheat on girls. The metamorphosis started with him quitting smoking and alcohol, then fasting, then going to the mosque, praying five times a day, and then as I discovered yesterday when I opened the door, not shaking women's hands. He put his hand on his chest and looked at me with a huge smile of shame mixed with all the complexity in the world. Later on, he asked me if that was insulting, I said no, and of course I lied. I also learned that he also tried to grow a Salafi beard but his beard failed him. He could not believe how I could go on with my life, a meaningful one, without having answers to all those big questions, that when I told him that questions matter much more to me than (ready-made) answers, he said that my life is absurd and hence why should I be living? He even seriously said that humans are created to worship God. That brought back an old memory of a nun whom I asked once at school "why did God create us" (the Why question) "was he bored?", and she said "so that we worship him". "Why, I said, does he suffer from any kind of inferiority complex?". I wished then if she had said" yes, he was bored"; that would have at least enriched my creative thinking. Now that guy, said that life is created unfair on purpose so that fairness is restored on the last day!! I did recommend few books but honestly I shouldn't have because I truly believe that some people need to be left at peace. The conversation was triggered by him not shaking my hand (I had planned to kiss him on the cheek). He was interested when I recounted the anecdote of the cat and the man in the room and the ball coming inside from the window (the cat would follow the ball and the man, unlike the cat, would go look where it comes from): the cause effect and the mind limitation theory. But all he could conclude was that he was no cat. It was very peculiar to remark that in such useless debates, it is the non-believer who sounds to be on the defence only because you wouldn't want to have such a debate if it includes right and wrong answers. If your answers are smart enough to be in the form of questions, you are beaten from the start. That's why if Imam Ali was right at any point, it was when he said that famous phrase "never had I debated with an ignorant but been beaten but him". I love those debates to be honest, but I truly wished yesterday if the guy sitting in front of me was ِ Al Ghazali or St. Augustine, or even Mohamad Hussein Fadlallah.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wake up early

Morning feelings are always the truest; they carry traces from your sub-conscience. Night feelings are illusory; they carry the traces of your alter ego.

R.I.P Me

If, no when, the war breaks, I want to have lots of reserves of wine and cigarettes; one to help me survive so that the other can kill me. I don't want my name to figure among innocent casualties. They can write on my tomb: Nicotine killed her. May she rest in peace.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My mental blog: Subscribe now

From the moment I wake up in the morning, and while I am brushing my teeth, sipping my coffee, and driving to work, I am mentally blogging. Posts rush to mind every time I look around. If I saw a baby, I mentally blog about how we are born with the inherent thought of inevitability of life; if it rains, I mentally blog about how you cannot enjoy the smell of the first drops because you cannot open the car window lest dust blows in your face and eyes; if I am sleep driving to work, I mentally blog about my bodily productivity clock. Then, the moment I arrive to the office, and open my blog to scribble down all these stupid thoughts, my emails start popping up and by the time I finish the urgent stuff I have to deal with, I can't even look at the screen let alone post "today was another day crossed off the calendar for nothing". Now, here I am ending this post without even getting to the point because I have to rush to a stupid meeting.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Short story for Grown ups

...and so there was this man who had everything he wished for in life, he was rich and successful, he had a beautiful, smart, and loving wife, a nicely furnished house with a backyard, and all his friends adored him. One day, out of a sudden, something happened to him and changed his life. As he was crossing the street, a speedy car almost hit him, he caught sight of it at the last moment and evaded what could have caused him his life, but as he was moving away he tripped into a muddy hole. "Fuck, Fuck, Fuck!!!," he said as he looked at his dirty suit. All could have worked well for anyone in his place but for our man the unexpected happened. As he walked back home to change his suit, he ran into his neighbor. "What happened to you?" the latter asked. "I, Fuck, stumbled, fuck, in, fuck, a hole, fuck, a car, fuck, almost, fuck,....", and so on. He could not stop saying the word "Fuck" after each word he used. At first, he didn't realize, but the more words rushed into his mouth, the more "Fuck"'s he heard himself saying. His neighbor was already long gone when he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and started all over again, but to his surprise, more of the "Fuck" involuntarily spilled in between his teeth. He thought that he maybe needed to sleep and everything will be normal again when he wakes up. He didn't greet his wife at home nor did he answer all her whats and whys but rushed straight to bed. When he woke up few hours later, he could think clearly without any Fuck but would fail every time he whispered a word to himself. Days passed by and our hero had tried every possible cure and treatment to no avail. Doctors failed to understand or explain what was going on let alone to cure him. At first no doctor could reach the point to allow him in until he wrote down his problem on a piece of paper and erased afterwards all the unwanted "fuck" words; he had to leave a few though for obvious reasons. But all in vain. Speech therapy was useless as well. All readings and googling were futile. Priests kicked him out of churches. He could no longer pray anyway, not even in his own bed. His wife left him, he lost his job, he had to sell the house, his friends no longer wanted to hang out with him. He started recalling how it all started, trying to understand for himself what had happened on that day. He grew desperate by the day, and he even went to that same spot where that car had almost crushed him, he tried to get himself ran over by a car, maybe he would regain his life, but all cars stopped and shouted a "Fuck" at him and left him like a wreck in the middle of the road. He then could no longer take it and decided to die. He bought a gun, loaded it, put it is his mouth and pulled the trigger but the bullet did not go off. "Fuck", he said then the bullet went through his head and brains and the echo of the word "Fuck" could be heard miles away for years afterwards.

P.S. Alternate ending: The gun jammed three consecutive times. "what the fuck! Fuck this fucking gun" he said and he renounced the idea of killing himself. Years later, he found a job in Hollywood where he still works to our days. His name was Joe Pesci.

The magical flower: A short story

Once upon a garden, there was a flower but it was different than all the other flowers; They were all yellow but this one was special; it could change colour every morning. It also had a secret: every time it changed colour, one flower in that same garden had to die. All the flowers in the garden would rush to shake off their sleep in the morning and check what colour their idol wore that day. None of them ever witnessed the colour change process. All they saw was glazing red, white, or purple petals glowing under the sun, but they also found every day that one of them had perished overnight. None of them thought the magical flower had anything to do with the deaths and they blamed humans. They all thought that their flower was beautiful, some were jealous and others believed it was cursed. One day, the flower decided to be yellow, just like them. The next morning all the flowers woke up and looked for the magical flower only to find it dead. Rumours on the cause of death spread as fast as sperm, but then suddenly, silence. Normal life picked up quickly and they all had one thought in mind "it's been a long time since it last rained."

P.S. In case the story did interest you in any way, and you are thinking that this is a bad ending, here is an alternative one:

They were all shocked by the death of the magical flower and they decided to hold a funeral next morning. The time was set and they agreed to have it in the same garden where they are all gathered anyway and since it wouldn't be logistically possible to hold it elsewhere, so that was not a problem. Next morning, everyone wakes up only to find they have all turned black.

You still don't like it? How about:

Next morning they all wake up ready for the funeral. Suddenly, two little boys arrive and were startled by the scene of hundreds of well aligned yellow flowers and they decided to surprise their mother with a big bouquet.

Okay enough: where is the rain? this is affecting my mental abilities.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

cooking thought

Older people often see in the positivity, vigor, revolutionary spirit, and ardor of youths a kind of stupidity. "One day you will grow up, you will mature, and you will understand how stupid you were," they would say. In fact, maturity, as commonly understood, is either a negative thing or otherwise is an attribute of the youth. When they grow up, some people don't mature, they despair.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Duality

When you start remembering, you start forgetting, and vice versa.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

On my mind

Tears came to my eyes while sitting
For the last time, together, silent
Nostalgia, in your eyes
Nostalgia, in your silence
Oh, only if I know, Sweetheart, who's on your mind
Oh, only if I know, Sweetheart, who's on your mind

In the seaside coffee shop
I look at your hands
You sip from your cup and I sip from your eyes
You escape me, I lose you
And I can't find you
I call you, you are right next to me, and I am looking for you
I hide my face, I see you with some stranger
Oh, only if I know, Sweetheart, who's on your mind

Fairuz

The ring

I sit at my desk and I look at my wedding ring and I think: I was wrong to hate it. First it is circular, the shape of perfection. Second, and although I hate jewellery and I still do, but its glitter gives it a fairytale dimension. Third it is plain and simple but opens windows to imagination. It still feels weird in my hand but soon my hand would feel weird without it. Well, let's say, at the end of the day, it is better than the bindi. I was also mostly amazed when someone told me that the ring finger is the only finger which you cannot stretch on its own, it cannot act solo, it always moves with the little one next to it.

One of those mornings

Sometimes mornings are just mornings. But there are times when mornings are green, grey, or blue, others when mornings smell lavender, taste sweet or bitter. Mornings can be musical. They can be R&B or classical, Rock and Roll or Salsa. This morning is sweet bitter chocolate smelling Fairuz's "little house in Canada".

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sex and Violence

I watched recently "Natural born killers" and "Irreversible" one after the other. I liked them both and they both made me sick, literally sick. And I had this song in my head all night "Lucky there is a family guy!!!!."

Poisoned thought

An unsaid angry thought is poisonous. A said one is infectious.

That was not so long ago...

I realized recently that when I say "ten years ago, I ...", I wouldn't be referring to my childhood, not any more. Before children get to grasp the notion of time and be able to predict how long a 10 minute is and if 1 hour had already passed, they would ask you "when are we leaving?", "in 30 minutes," you would say and after 2 minutes, they ask you "is it 30 minutes already?". Somehow, you grow up and get a sense of time length, and when someone asks you how old is your father, you wouldn't raise and show him ten stretched fingers any more to mean a lot, but one day, you realize that those ten fingers wouldn't do you much and maybe you would start saying "as many hairs I have got on my head" but the truth is you would still have not yet grasped the notion of time and never will you because time also grows old, faster than you do.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blogging

I will come back to blogging soon once I have proper internet installations at my new home and once my husband (still weird to say the word) stops bringing in new interesting DVDs played on the 55 inch home theatre and sound system high tech blabla!!! It is too tempting!! Never in my life had I watched TV as I do now: I can't get my eyes off the screen even when Tiji is on and by the way Tiji is a very smart baby channel. Okay babies again: No babies until the TV is out.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sentiments

You are luckier if you were born a woman. But this comes at a price. If I were to be born again and to choose between being born a woman or a man, I would choose to be born as a woman, again. This I know for sure.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Traces

It is so nice when you visit a place that was crowded only a while ago as if people leave behind, their voices besides a few keys and earings.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

FYI

Drunk in car. Bachelorette. Even enjoying mohamad skandar song. Had a car accident today. Almost killed a minor on a motorcycle and spent the night in jail. Partying the night in pierre & friends my favorite place in lebanon. FYI.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

power

It is our weaknesses that make us long for power for it is only this way that we think no one will ever again dare point at them. But it is only then that your weaknesses stare you in the face. Osho preaches to be vulnerable for flowers bend in the storm but trees are crushed. That is too monk-like for me and I preach to be water: flow in peace and rain when need be.

J. Lennon was not always right!

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans," said John Lennon. Except for me, John, it seems that waiting is all what happens to me while I'm planning to have a life. Oh, and, John, listen to this: in Lebanon, traffic is what happens to you while you're seriously making other plans.

Monday, July 5, 2010

"Leave" me alone!

I am on leave for a whole month and I am spending my time in the traffic. Advice for everyone taking a leave or a vacation in Lebanon: get lots of board games, PS3, DVDs, books, alcohol, whatever, and chill out at home. You can go out between 5 and 7 in the morning should you feel the walls pressing on your lungs.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Our little sunday prayers and my grandma

Does watching the Christian sermon on LBC count as having attended the Sunday prayers? Is there any "fatwa" in this regard? In case it does count which I assume why it is broadcast, among other reasons of course, then the camera should stop moving around among people because that is distracting. When I was a kid I found a qoran among my father's books. This discovery was the source of fun for my sisters and cousins and I for a whole month when we used to take turns in imitating the sheikh while reading from the book. The verse of "al waswas al khannas" of which we understood not one word, was our favorite. The ceremony used to drive my grandmother mad and she would shout at us saying that this is blasphemy and that we should instead hold a christian sermon. That added additional fun because we started simulating the church prayers and my grandma would seriously start standing up and sitting back, making the cross sign, and lipsing the name of my dead grandpa. We made sure to give her a piece of bread in water at the end which she swallows piously. My grandma didn't watch LBC and I believe that our little game had no political intentions and had, much more than LBC ever would, put my grandma at peace.

Monday, June 28, 2010

When you have no state you'd better have a mind!

Under the rubble of a bridge that is being demolished in Beirut, in very small characters, on an A4 torn page, in Times New Roman 12, the State of Lebanon warned its people from the danger of walking under the bridge for their own safety. What about the tourists that you so cherish and who do not read Arabic? What about the blinds, the illiterates, the myopics, the kids, you name it? If you are so keen on the lives of the people, why don't you just seal off the area? but still, whenever I pass by the place, I see people passing under the half bridge light headed. I mean, the safe passage is only 10 steps away, and sometimes shortcuts take you faster to the end, the ultimate end that is.


Afternoons

Someone (that same one) had the other day a spark of wisdom: "No one is funny in the afternoon," he said. It was a funny thing to say on an afternoon.

Hairdressers

If you want to know the personal secrets of rich women, ask their hairdressers.

Change

I discovered that rich people always have change. They know that they might need to tip people at any moment as part of the rich people behavior but they also need to send off the street kids who stick on their expensive car windows. Most of the times I find myself with one bill only and all I can give away is a huge embarrassed smile.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Of pain and rain

There is something magical in crying in the rain. It is nature experiencing sympathy pain.

Mistakes

"Lesson learned" is a phrase I hate when it comes to mistakes I make in life. It is supposed to make anyone feel good about themselves and move on instead of feeling remorse. But, maybe "lesson" is not the right word here, because as opposed to a lesson, 1) you didn't ask for it, 2) you didn't negotiate the price you paid, and 3) it is postpaid. Woody Allen has a very nice saying that goes "experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes." Some of the mistakes are indeed experience but when they cost you more than you can afford, they should be called "kick in the nuts".

Blog in Arabic Day 26 June

Maybe it is a black mark for this blog that it isn't in Arabic. I am a fierce supporter of the Arabic Language which I adore. One of the reasons I blog in English is that my laptop is not yet Arabic supported and I still use Yamli to help me out although I type more than 60 words per minute in Arabic. Another reason is that I am not an opponent of the English language or any other language and it is a fact that with English you reach out to a wider readership although you would be missing on a another fraction not only the non-English speakers but also some anti-Arabic Lebanese. The third reason is that I prefer if my family doesn't read any of this material because I am still leading a double life.

Night rain

Last night it rained while I was sleeping and that doesn't count. It was even sunny in my dreams, not one drop!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tom and Jerry

When I was a kid, I used to like and sympathize with Jerry in the famous Tom and Jerry Cartoon series because I thought that Tom was evil and that he tries to mess up with the peaceful life of little Jerry. "Just because he is bigger, doesn't mean he is stronger" was the main thing I learned from that at the time. Surprisingly, it wasn't until very recently that I discovered that in fact Tom is the nice one and that it was Jerry who often instigated the fight. Jerry is not bad either, and to be fair, sometimes it was Tom who provoked Jerry out of mere boredom, but those were exceptional. It was weird for me to watch Tom and Jerry again now and just discover that I actually Sympathize with Tom and that Jerry can be equally unfair. How many times, was Tom lying back enjoying his milk, when Jerry pops out of his hole to steal some of his food, or when Jerry would drive Tom to make stupid mistakes right when the landlady (the one we never see except for her legs and night shoes) enters the room, Jerry easily hiding, leaving Tom alone under the merciless broom beatings. I wasn't a stupid kid, but maybe it isn't for granted that we are born good or fair. I guess that I loved Jerry because he made me laugh at the misery of Tom and that's evil. I have turned into a better person now.

New Design

Let me know what you think of the new design. I must say that I was reluctant to change the layout. I got used to the old template. Although I am not the kind of person who would resist or take time to accept change (especially when it comes to social norms) but I feel more comfortable, or my eyes at least, opening the page and not getting the first impression of "that's not my blog!".

Monday, June 21, 2010

Female condoms with 'teeth' to fight rape

I don't know if this is a good or bad device. I cannot stop thinking of what the rapist would do when he is trapped down there. This could be more traumatizing than the rape itself and it is still rape even if he is trapped. But still come to think of it, it is something after all. "If only I had teeth down there", said a rape survivor.

Sexist fever hits advertisement sector in Lebanon


among others...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Jose Saramago

I am bad at writing obituaries but I have to say that one of the reasons I like the author of "Blindness" is that he started writing novels in his 50's which makes me feel good about myself and gives me hope in accomplishing my ever delayed novel plan. Those authors who start writing at a very early age, some as early as 15, truly annoy me, for pure self delusional reasons.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The revenge

I think I am paying my neighbors- those same neighbors- a visit now with some champagne. France just lost.

My neighbors

I hate my neighbors. I hate them for they have a French flag on their balcony; for they throw raw meat from the balcony to the cats and I hate cats too who greet me first thing every morning; for they don't pay for the elevator's maintenance and pretend that they take the stairs; for they answer with "Bonjour" every time I say "Marhaba"; for when they met my friend Ahmad, they said "ah.. le plombier!." My only relief is that I know that they hate me too. I will make sure that they hate me more.

On the road...

A man called a radio station and was mad at a driver who passed by his car and threw a can from the window. The program host asked him: are you calling us while driving? The guy said: euh... euh...

If your house is made of glass

Some Lebanese are circulating this spoof video that makes fun of North Korea (reporting to their people that they beat Brazil 1-0). If Lebanon had scored a goal in the Brazilian net, the Council of Ministers would have called the next day a national holiday. The president would have given the scorer the highest medal of honor. I mean watch this video and imagine what they would do.

Female anger

For me, I don't know if this is common for women in general, anger is a burn in the womb. I guess I have mentioned this before somewhere on this blog.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup?

I had planned to write about the World Cup Euphoria in Lebanon but I had no time to breathe these past days. The news I had has become outdated, but I have to post this photo. Do I have to assume that the owner of this car is a fan of the "American football team"?

Halal and Haram

A female friend of mine who got married recently told me that the first time she had sex with her husband after marriage (first time after marriage that is), she had a feeling that she couldn't explain but that is close to guilt; she felt as if she was doing something wrong. "I am used to making love to you in haram," she told him "that having sex in Halal feels weird."

The Lebanese language

The guy who wrote these words below on a garage door in Hamra was so confused about where to put the "hamzeh", so he decides to write it in two different ways. Both are wrong.
I know people who make fun of other Lebanese when they speak English with a Lebanese accent. They "Zazouzi", they say, referring to their pronunciation of the "The" as "Za, or Ze" with a strong Z. I must say that while I find "zazouzying" totally fine, and while I believe that I respect people who speak a foreign language with their own accent, even when they can very well hide it (on the other hand we find it funny or even sexy when foreigners speak Arabic with a French or English or Russian or Japanese, etc. accent), it annoys me a lot that those same people most often ignore the basic grammar rules of the Arabic language. They would correct your pronunciation of the word "dictionary" but they wouldn't be offended if you tell them that their Arabic sucks. Lebanon is the only country I know of where the native language is taught at schools as a second language. This funny website is advising to master what they call the "Lebanese language" and "then study Arabic if they choose to add another language to their vocabulary." And yes, although he wrote in fluent Arabic, Said Akl despised the Arabic script and he called for using Latin Alphabets instead. The Guardians of the Cedar seriously called for making the Said Akl's "Lebanese dialect" as the official language of Lebanon. Unfortunately, although their political plan failed, most Lebanese people are Guardians of the Cedar is this sense. Facebook is making things worse.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Of time and tech.

A colleague of mine today wished the 60s would come back. Back then, he said, you would send a mail and wait for three weeks till you receive a reply. Meanwhile, you would lie in the sun and enjoy the breeze. Instant messaging is a curse. I personally love technology and still waiting for the time machine to enjoy the 60's whenever I wish to.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I'm Back... in time

I am back! I almost forgot about this blog. So here is the latest: utterly nothing, just immersed in ugly daily life which makes it exactly perfect. That wasn't so clear I guess, but that's how it is. You just bury yourself in doing tasks that seem to you of extreme importance but which, you realize, will become with time meaningless, especially if you become alzheimeric, but even if you don't. Yet the fact that you can only be in the present forces you to do what you got to do. That's only until a time machine is in place. Waiting... then I will be able to blog in the past and never miss a day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Parking Valet Parking


Where in the world do you find valet parking services inside a parking? Well, in the parking of the ABC mall in Beirut. So basically, you are inside a parking where obviously all is left to do is park your car in the parking lot and move on to the entrance. Yet, here in Beirut, at the ABC more specifically, you also have the option and privilege of giving your car to the "valet" who will park it for you (so that you don't go through the hassle of changing your car gear to P) and that all for only 3,000 extra Lebanese Liras (on top of the 2,000 L.L.). Someone will do this for you. Isn't it amazing? Oh and you also get the closest parking lot to the entrance which is 2 walking steps less!! You don't have to suffer any more the trouble of closing the car door yourself, or walk 10 steps to the entrance, or even worry about moving your elbow and neck while parking. The solution has finally arrived. The Lebanese genius will do it for you. Yes, and guess what? Soon, on the way out,you will be lining up at the entrance (as you do whenever you go clubbing in Beirut, in Music Hall, and Sky Bar, and White, and Cassino, to name a few) waiting for the valet to get your car back because soon many Lebanese would feel ashamed to keep on parking their own cars on their own, that would totally be embarrassing to someone faithful to preserving a Lebanese lifestyle.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Blame the system

There is nothing such as "abuse of the system", there is only a system that is abusable.

Friday, May 14, 2010

No holiness in death

I don't understand when people ask me to respect death or what they call the holiness or sanctity of death. To ask me to respect the dead, this I might swallow (not necessarily but for the sake of the argument) but death? that will be hard. Why should respect always be related to fear and power? They teach kids here that they should respect the older and they never teach them that the older should respect them and by that kids can only induce that it is okay for older people to insult them. They teach them to respect what they fear and then with time they learn it by themselves. We are a society of fear. We praise and honor those who bestow fear in us and we learn to succumb to their might and kiss the hand which we cannot break. I do take some measures to avoid death (my death in particular although sometimes I call on it to help me with my fagot load!) but that doesn't mean that I should respect it. I might have escaped death a thousand times, sometimes without even knowing. I do understand that death is powerful but maybe it is us who are weak. I realize that every time I hesitate before ending the life of an ant and every time my foot crushes another of these small creatures, mostly without even realizing. I wouldn't prefer if death doesn't exist to be honest and I don't see how that could be practical but I would have liked it if the average human life is 200 years, just about double of the existing one (funny how I write this while filling my lungs with cigarette smokes). I don't know who said that it is only because of death that morality exists but Camus thinks that death makes life meaningless. I believe that we are a society that doesn't respect life but glorifies death. When Doctor Rieux was asked in Camus's "The Plague": "shouldn't we maybe love what we cannot understand?" he answered "no, I have a different idea of love and I refuse, to death, to love this creature where children are tortured (...) what I hate are death and evil and we are here to combat them and make them suffer, whether you like it or not."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Radio abuse

Today I was listening to a radio interview with a 6 year old child who was abused by his stepfather. I swear to God that the psychological torture that the child was subjected to by the interviewer was by all means worse than all the cigarette burns and the beatings that he endured from his stepfather. "Where did he burn you? show me. where? on the zizi (baby penis)?", the stupid interviewer was harassing the child and the latter obviously did not want to answer any of his questions. "How did he beat you? where did he tie you up? did you sleep in his room? where was your mother? did she try to stop him from beating you?", the interviewer went on and on with his baby tone questions. The child only said "no." Happy to have finally received an answer, the interviewer goes on: "why didn't she try to do anything? tell me, tell me, show me the burn, I will get you a nice car!." I swear to God that brand-new curses started rushing to my mind and for the first time I felt like calling a radio station.

Illusion


Why does winning the lottery seem to be a very likely and an easy target when you buy your tickets but then the moment you see the winning numbers, you suddenly realize how hard it was from the start? you feel as if an injustice has befallen you. What did I expect, you ask yourself? then you check the winning numbers again to torture yourself with how one number, one fucking number, could have made all the difference. What does it matter if you hit the 19 but got a 20 instead? That is the whole issue, it is not just a small difference, it is a difference, and that's what matters. Why would you feel better if you had chosen 1 instead of 19? You lost anyway.

Photo © Caline G.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I can't look the other way and it is heart breaking to look their way

As I promised myself, today was a great vacation day. The mere thought that everyone else is at work but me put me in a cheerful mood the moment I woke up. It is not an evil thought but each one of those who went to work today is me of everyday. It is a revengeful feeling against the "me" that still prostitutes herself from 8:00 to 5:00. The revenge however started like a honeymoon experience and ended in a painful mind conflict. For me, the first half an hour of the morning is usually the most important and most sensitive time that could decide the mood for the whole day. This is the sweet and peacefully lazy part in my hectic and busy journeys. That too passed extremely well. No shouting in the neighborhood and for some reason construction workers were on a break too. I strolled along the corniche of Ain Mrayseh light-headed and had a relaxing swim in the pool and then dizzied in the sun. So far, so good. The idea was then to sit by the sea in the company of a book. That's when, while I was still congratulating myself for the reward I got myself today, Hussein comes to me asking for 500 Lebanese Liras (a coin worth one third of a Dollar). Hussein (the first picture below) is five years old. He has an angel-like face and a hearty smile. The issue of child beggars is a torment to me since I read "Al-Sabiyou al-A'raj" (the gimp boy) by Toufic Youssef Awwad, "Le Petit Chose" by Alphonse Daudet, and Jose Mauro de Vasconcelos's "Mon Bel Oranger" (still one of my favorite books) in my childhood. I still don't know if I should help a child not get a beating at night or refrain from encouraging the practice. This would have been okay on another day but today was the day I am supposed to despise work and all of the capitalist system. So I start a chat with Hussein who tells me that he had never set foot in a school, doesn't play, and has to collect 10,000 Lebanese pounds before he can go home. Hussein was not very forthcoming at first but when his cousin Alghadeer (a Turkuman name as he explained to me) joined, Hussein became more cheerful. Alghadeer is 10 years old. He hates both his and Hussein's parents. He told me that he only loves his grandfather and his brothers in addition to Hussein. Al Ghadeer is not a beggar; he is a shoe shiner and he feels sorry for his young cousin because the latter's father forces him to the streets and beats him at night. That's why he decided that he will make a double effort to give young Hussein the money he would be short of at the end of the day and get the beating himself instead. Alghadeer's father does not approve of him working at the corniche area because there are no clients there as many as in Borj Hammoud where he drops him off everyday. But Alghadeer takes the bus everyday to the corniche to be close to Hussein. "Look at him", he said, "just look at his face. Don't you see why? he is very short and young, the age of my tiny brother. But his father is mean. Even his mother beats him up". Then comes again the story of his grandfather. "You know why I love my grandfather?" he asked. "Because one day when I was a little child - as if he is a grown up now- I threw away a huge sum of money that my grandfather had and when it was discovered my grandfather didn't beat me. He smiled to me. He is the only one I love." Hussein is now encouraged to start a conversation "I want to be a shoe shiner when I grow up," he said. "I don't want to be a beggar." Suddenly I become aware that everyone is staring at the scene of me talking to street children. I ask the kids if I can offer them some ice cream and talk on the way. They refused at first because ice cream here is expensive, they said, it is for 3,000 Liras while in Naba'a where they live they get it for 250. We didn't find an ice cream shop, so we opted for some potato chips and drinks. Surprisingly, they were so shy to accept and felt sorry for me because I had to pay a "big" sum of money (I thought that they maybe preferred if I give it to them in cash and I felt sorry for myself again). After we got the snacks, we went back to our chatting bench. This time, they started asking me questions: if I am married, if I go to school, that I am more beautiful with my sunglasses on, and they always addressed me with"madame" and they suddenly forgot that they were at work. Looking at them, I only pitied myself and not them. I pitied myself for thinking that I have put a smile on their faces (not a selfless deed) and for taking their picture (for the blog), and for my giving deed that would do them nothing, but alleviate my remorse feeling. I could have given them the money they needed to go home and sleep without the beating, but I didn't. On top of that, I enjoyed my time with them and it was Hussein who excused himself because he has work to do. They left me there on the bench absorbed in deep thoughts about the capitalist system that I help nourish.




Monday, May 10, 2010

Taking matters into my own hands

It's Monday. I am supposed to have rested for two days and re-filled my batteries for yet another round of harsh reality: work. And work can be or is a form of prostitution but this is a subject for another time but for now, instead of a supposedly fresh start, I had an injured knee, I was sleepy all day long, I tried in vain to find an optimal relaxing sitting position, and I just burned by hand with my own cigarette. So, I decided, to extend the weekend and to take two days off work starting tomorrow. I will go to the beach, take a long swim, lose any feeling in my legs in the pool, read in the sun, and blog from the beach bar. This I call taking matters into my own hands. Finally, the mirror smiled back to me.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hi-tech sectarianism

This is what technology brought to Lebanon: You can now see a visually attractive form of sectarianism on a pie chart with coloured sect labels.

Enlightenment

You can't teach a bird to fly and then expect it to like the cage.

Calculations

How do you expect a society whose most popular proverb is "a bird in a hand is better than 10 on a tree" (also commonly known as one bird in a hand is worth two in the bush) to vote in an election?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Elections headache

So, I have been making fun of the elections at the municipality level here in Lebanon. It is so easy to ridicule candidates and voters when you are not involved. Now, it is my turn to bear the brunt of what the reality is and as it turns out it is not funny at all. A friend of mine who has no clue about politics and who doesn't give a fuck about elections, not here not anywhere, told me how her father convinced her to go to the village (which she visits once every few years) to vote for the family's list. She argued with him for long about how she doesn't believe that she has the right to have a say in a village she barely visits and barely cares for or at least to have a vote equally to someone actually living there. She also complained about how she doesn't want to give her a vote to people she doesn't know only because her father told her to do so or because they are called "family" (her primary and real reason is that she doesn't want to make the long trip to the village). All her arguments were futile. At the end she went and she voted. Her father had to say one word only to make her change her mind, or more correctly to make her abandon this fight. He told her "you want people to make fun of me and say that your father has no say (impact) among his own children?!". When the battle becomes a feminist one against the patriarchal system represented by your own father, it becomes a different story. When my father approached me to test the waters about where I stand regarding the elections, I decided to play his own card against him, so I said "unless you want people to say that you have no say among your children, you'd better tell them that I will be out of the country on the elections day!". It worked out fine, for a short while only. Then the battle began all over again.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Elections nightmare

I don't give a damn shit about the municipal elections, not in the capital not in my small village (my village where at best 200 persons vote has a municipality same as Paris does). I don't care how many vote, who wins, who loses, or how the lists are formed. I don't want to know the background, the implications, nor the repercussions. Not that I am apolitical, no, politics for me is a hobby. No, no, it's an addiction. But when it comes to municipal elections in Lebanon, I do not give a shit. In normal days, I read newspapers backward (skipping sports section), in election days, I only read the sports page. I feel better this way. It doesn't truly require live coverage nor two thirds of a newspaper. Barely a village newsletter if any! But for a month now, I will have to see and hence dream of faces and names of people I am never going to recognize, of billboards that bare pictures of anonymous people: a Shawarma guy with a moustache here, a sophisticated woman with a purse and a cool jeans there, a serious student with a backpack somewhere else, and they will try to convince me that the winners are going to represent those faces. What do I care about that Shawarma guy with the moustache or the sophisticated woman with the purse and the cool jeans or the serious student with a backpack? Only, I dreamt yesterday about a Shawarma woman with a moustache, a sophisticated student with a purse and a cool jeans, and a serious man with a backpack torturing me to death, killing me barbarically with knives and sticks, dragging me in the streets and dancing on my body and then hanging me on the power grid pole in the middle of my village square where people gathered to discuss how the elections will change the fate of the village.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Elections: flash news

10: 05 Amin Gemayel's hair is still as strong as ever

10: 23 Dolly Ghanem is still as bad as ever. After thirty years of TV, she is still practicing

10:40 Tania Mehanna still reports in Lebanese dialect. Why bother to learn Arabic grammar?

11:25 Ziad Baroud is very very very serious

11: 41 Election race tightens between the Catholic list and the Maronite list in Hadath


Comedy coverage

The tone of local TV reporters covering the municipal elections in Lebanon is hilarious. You assume they are covering the war in Afghanistan or just another 9/11. The phono between studio and field reporters are the most ridiculous "Can you hear me?" is so recurrent that you suppose the reporter is under heavy shelling. "The President Michel Suleiman is now expected to arrive any moment! Yes, yes, I hear you... (pause) allo, allo." You turn to another TV station to hear the TV presenter announcing in a serious, loud, and rushing voice: "we now go live to Amshit where President Suleiman is casting his vote." Her tone alone made blood rush in my veins. My hands started shaking and I craved for nicotine. Then I saw Suleiman taking out his ID from his Jacket's inner pocket and I thought "he'd better not take out his forged French passport by mistake!."

P.S. Joke (or not): When Suleiman visited the US, an American official asked him "where are you from?". "Amshit," he said. The American then said "I asked 'WHERE are you from' not 'WHAT are you'!!".

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Finally, someone making sense

The Maronite church in Lebanon condemned the banner that used Virgin Mary in a slogan for the municipal election campaign in Jounieh . Their argument was that "the Lady is the mother of all and does not take sides." Ah. That's why! So, she is still going to vote but she is voting blank. I get it now.

Outside the cave

Yesterday after the march, on the way back, with a group of friends, we immersed in some sort of a laughing hysteria. We started laughing for no particular reason; anything we said about the march triggered a wave of laughing. There was a strange feeling of happiness filling our lungs, a joy of a different nature. We suddenly felt an urge for a cold orange juice. "No, a gallon of beer," someone said. Everyone agreed. We ended up buying both, juices and beers, plus a bag of ice but we didn't drink any. The laughing was enough to make us queue at the door of the bathroom. Why were we laughing? Was it a sudden wisdom of absurdity? or an absurd splash of stupidity? We laughed at ourselves, at our heroic old days, at our dreams, at our strength and our weakness. We laughed at what seemed unattainable, believed possible, and thought realized. Maybe, but we certainly laughed because we simply missed laughing, the true laugh, the deep laugh, the sincere laugh. We do have fun everyday. We do enjoy our time everyday. We do laugh everyday, many times to make us pee in our pants. But those were shadows and echo's of a laugh on a cave's wall. Yesterday's laughs were utterly different. I do not intend to sound poetic nor romantic. But the sunny day seemed to have freed us from the cave. We could smell, see, and hear colors although everything around us seemed to be white. Our steps dragged us like sleepwalkers. We didn't care if we reach anywhere. We were driven. There were no leaders and no followers, only people, dreamers. How many times, did I dream of a day domestic workers would flood the streets of Beirut, drag their employers by their hair and spit on them? of Palestinian elderly women hunting down politicians and throwing stones and shoes on them? of refugees burning down the Lebanese flag in the middle of a busy street? of mothers of civil war prisoners and kidnapped renouncing their peaceful movement and resorting to violence? How many times did I picture a revolution, the one that destroys to build and that pains to give birth? How many lovers split? how many fates changed? how many lives destroyed? how many hopes crushed? My mind was flooded with those and similar questions as my feet swelled with every step. I didn't shout slogans but I wasn't silent. I had become a voice. For the first time, I felt that I belong. I belonged not to a particular group nor to an idea. I belonged to that free spirit that I could inhale, to that limitless space between ultimate freedom and the stupidity of believing it. On the way back, I felt an urge for a cold drink and for a laugh, like a laugh of a mother who lost a child long ago but forgot to cry back then. I cried.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meanwhile...

"Everyone is against us, Virgin Mary is with us", a banner as part of a campaign for the upcoming municipal elections. Don't be surprised if soon you also see Virgin Mary casting her vote in Lebanon. And they say Alice in Wonderland had imagination!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Feminist in the march

Isn't it awesome?!

Unlike other demonstrations in Lebanon, today's was highly underestimated that hardly three police members (darak) were delegated to it.

Freedom in the air

What I particularly liked about the march was that even Rastafarians and Pastafarians took part. You could feel, smell, and breath freedom in the air. That spirit was so inviting that everyone felt that the march was their own. Everyone joined for their own very individualistic cause. One of the demonstrators got very excited and suggested that the next step should be a naked parade. A guy heard her and started a chant for animal rights. A girl without a banner decided then that it was time to demand "sexual freedom". An old man frowned at her while an older lady gave her a thumb up. A guy then approached and said, let her be, and you can have your own demands. Somewhere near, a guy got offended when he heard insults towards Sunni and Christian figures only leaving out the Shi'a. It wasn't on purpose but if you are against sectarian balance, you shouldn't make sure you preserve an insult balance too! A guy withdrew and asked that Shi'a be insulted equally. Another got offended and tried to improvise some rules and regulations. A woman came close to him and said, if you hate Shi'a just say so, it is much better than repeating that stupid slogan about your love for each other. Just say whatever you like to say. That's the beauty of it.

The others

Today was a happy day in Lebanon and that's a huge progress. I don't know and I don't care how many, but many people took up the streets in Beirut today to call for a secular Lebanon. This is the first march of its kind in this shitty sectarian country. Obviously, the march was demanding no less than overthrowing the current political, economic, and social system. Yet, there were no defined demands and no specific authority against which the demonstration took place, rather it was against the whole system. I mean the same demonstration could take place anywhere else in the world and still make sense. Some were chanting for sexual freedoms, others got offended but started their own chants. Some found it a golden opportunity to declare their atheism in public and laugh. "God, go to hell", they chanted. A number of communists showered Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir and Mufti Rachid Qabbani with insults. They were asked to leave the group. They did but found others had already started the insults somewhere else. They joined. The gay community proudly marched and looked happy. It was probably the first demonstration they could join. But the feminists were the highlight of the day. Their chants were the most meaningful. They voiced chants in support of freedom and social justice, the Armenian genocide cause, against retardation, and against Zionism. Those are the silent minority. Those are the uncontrollable masses, the ever different and ever unique individuals. Those are the others.

Best banners from today's march















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