Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year

Let me tell you about my last year's resolution. I closed my eyes, squeezed them real hard, and pledged to blog more in 2011. This is what I got: 116 posts in 2011 as opposed to 226 posts in 2010 (although I was unemployed for the most part of the year) which means in simple mathematics that I need to make 110 posts between today and tomorrow (almost as much as I blogged this entire year). Even if I had a factory of ideas, I won't be able to achieve that. But still, this blog did survive somehow and it is now 3 years old. You can close this tab now and come back next year. Oh... and Happy "New" Year!

P.S. Some progress: 117 posts if you count this one!

New Year resolutions

Every beginning of a new year is an illusion of a new start. It is not hard to see that in reality it is not. Making resolutions is the silliest thing you would do in this case especially if they are of the kind: I will lose 5 Kilos, I will quit smoking, I will become a vegetarian, and the sort. Just remember the resolutions you made last new year, it is very unlikely that you remember what they were in the first place, but you know they were pretty strong. Then tell me about your progress on that one before making new resolutions. Woody Allen has a beautiful saying about that: If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

I mean, seriously?

Seriously, if you feel the urge to tell me the story of your life, write a book, a memoir, and I promise to read it. And since you have such a talent of remembering every single detail of your life, making links to other tiny details from your days on earth, describing where every furniture in your house was placed and where you bought it from, and opening parentheses and closing them a hundred times per minute, then you should seriously consider writing that down, because, it is very unlikely that I will listen to you beyond the first sentence. Look, summaries would do just fine here, give me room to imagine the rest, I promise I will decorate the setting you describe myself, beautifully too, not exactly as it is in your head, but does it really matter? Let's make a deal, if we are conversing over a drink, the story of your life should either end before I finish my first drink or let me lend you a piece of paper and a pen.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I am serious.

Dear Hamra hipsters, it seems, in case you have not noticed, that Hamra street has been lately invaded by very ordinary people, unlike you of course, and as I care about you and your uniqueness and coolness, I must warn you and draw to your attention that you probably need to look for a new virgin street to occupy in 2012. Try Karakas Street.

P.S. Thanks Ralph for the inspiration

Have a life!

There are women out there who tell you: Oh, my boyfriend, husband, lover, whatever, loves me so much, and cares about me and is so attentive to me, he even accompanies me to the hairdresser!!, and I wish to tell them: dears, dears, that he comes with you to the hairdresser is not a sign of love but a sign that he actually has no life.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Not even in your dreams

This is one of the most hilarious stories I heard recently: a single guy who recently turned religious and stopped having sex told that his biggest frustration now is that in his dreams a sexy woman would appear and ask him for sex and he would say: sorry ma'am but I can't do that anymore! then he wakes up and starts banging his head against the pillow shouting at himself: it is okay in the dream! it is okay in the dream!


Music can make you dance and nothing surprises me about that. It is somehow evidenced. But if it does make you orgasm too, then please tell me how, do share the knowledge please, because until then I will think that you look ridiculous.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Another same irony

You don't question the meaning of life when your survival is at stake. Ironically you start doing so when everything in your life starts making sense. There seems to be meaning in absurdity and the real is what makes you wonder.

Yes and No

Thirty is a tricky age at work; you are not young enough to always say 'yes' and bear the consequences nor old enough to comfortably say 'no' without bearing the consequences.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I always thought that when Karl Marx said religion is the opium of the people, he meant it metaphorically until I entered a church the other day and realized that it is an equally tripping experience.

Don't get inspired!

You get a lot of "where do you see yourself in 5 years" questions at job interviews, and I wish to answer, I honestly don't know the answer to that but I know where I see myself in 30 years (if I live that long). I want to have an early retirement, do some gardening, enjoy some quality time with my grandchildren, and do drugs and some other illegal stuff.


There are moments when I don't listen to what you say, but write it down, and I am suddenly all ears (or eyes in this case). It is all words, but people have much less to teach you about than books.


This I find to be a good piece of advice: be serious about what you do, do it with a great deal of seriousness, but never take yourself too seriously.


Stereotyping isn't funny but this one is. I was at an international conference a few days ago and a number of humanitarian organizations had stands displaying some of their promotional material. A white European woman in one corner was so happy when she was approached by a guy who said: hello, I am from Afghanistan, can I have a brochure please. The woman said: Oh, sure, we have them in Arabic too! here. The Afghan only said: I'll take the English one, thank you.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Meet the fake me

Someone I recently met said to me: you don't know your strengths and skills and you cover this up with lots of smiles. Obviously he doesn't know me at all and I can't tell him, those smiles are a cover up to how much I am bored with what you say. When some people got it all wrong and when those people think that they are always right, I let them be right and give them an additional wrong reason to be and I display some more of my bored smiles.

Listen to silence

You don't know what noise is until you have heard silence.

Come on...

I joined a conversation where some very boring people were discussing car manufacturers. Of course I had nothing at all to say on the subject matter but I was about to laugh when the topic suddenly turned into General Motors, a subject, ironically I know a lot about (if you read a previous post on that). My face suddenly lighted up, no one understood the sudden change from bored to entertained. I wasn't entertained by the discussion. It was deadly boring, but I was laughing inside at a joke between me and myself. I still didn't say anything, because I was thinking about how to sneak away unnoticed. Instead I played an episode from "Family Guy" in my head (peter addressing members of congress with come on... come on). It works. I laughed when they laughed only for a different reason. Boring people have an incredible ability to laugh at unfunny situations. Well, if everything happens for a reason, then in my case, they have been happening for a bad one.

The box we live in

When we were kids we were taught how to draw a house. I assume that most kids around the world draw houses pretty much the same way only if they were left to draw a house on their own, many of them would have drawn simple boxes on top of each other, or streets and bridges, tents, etc. They might add a window or leave out a chimney but that doesn't matter. They globalize and standardize your imagination in an irreversible way and then they tell you later in your life to 'think out of the box'!

Too late

There are moments when I think that there is no use arguing with old poeple when they can easily die before I can convince them. It is too late to argue with a soon to be "the late".


Some high profile people tend to say a lot of "I don't know" and it does sound like a very important and valuable statement.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mr. Google

There are moments when I think that if Google was a man, I would marry him.


As soon as I manifest the slightest signs of arrogance, I flip somewhere, I do or say something stupid, reminding me to tone down my vanity.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

That awkward moment

Why is it that when I was young and whenever I was watching a movie, each time one of my parents joined, the actors start stripping and kissing...? You would be watching for over an hour with no single erotic scene, then the moment they step in the room, somehow, the actors conspire against you leaving you with raised eyebrows, a hesitant finger, and a remote control.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


There are moments when I think that a neck is not enough to hold a whole head. What kind of a support pillar is this? The head should be right between the shoulders with a pivot mechanism that allows a full rotation.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I need to unlearn some stuff

I have been doing a lot of translation lately covering all sort of subjects, from the Kalahari deserts to the manufacturing of electronic microchips, subjects I have no interest whatsoever in learning, not now not in a million years, but I ended up knowing so much (more than anyone should) and having a lot to say if ever asked about the reproductive system and behavior of the Mopane worms and everything there is to know about General Motors and its Chevrolet cars, that I wish to unlearn all of that.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Fall

I have an emotional weakness (sometimes physical) for the fall season. For some reason, it awakens in me nostalgic feelings and sets my mood to a sort of a reception mode. It is the fall rather than summer that is supposed to be the leisure time. These are the laziest months of the year, the days to curl up under a woolen blanket and dream, maybe remember. This is the season that brings back childhood memories and feelings. The sight of small kids wearing school costumes and colorful water bottles makes my stomach tickle as it did on my first day at school. The rain, the slippery streets, the crowds under umbrellas are to my eyes what music is to my ears. There is a feeling of cosiness in the sudden darkness that welcomes us earlier than we had expected. The fall is not a somber season as many people think and that feeling that you might confuse with sadness is rather charged with high voltages of innocence and peace.

Tribute to Arabic

I was thinking today that someone needs to integrate an Arabic thesaurus program in Word Document, but then I realized that some, if not most words in Arabic, have at least a hundred or more synonyms, take the word sword for example, or lion, can you imagine how the drop down list would look like? It would look funny, but if anything a source of pride for it only indicates how wealthy, accurate, abundant, and elegant the Arabic language is. So do take pride, but there is no harm in using just seif for sword and asad for lion and why use al-basita for earth? (especially after it has been proven scientifically wrong if you consider the origin of the word).

Friday, October 28, 2011

Yes Marcel, what you said equals treason!

Marcel Ghanem finally decided to unravel the real face of Lebanon: the garbage of the Middle East, he said, in his show yesterday about the environmental disaster in the country, a real scandal, although one everyone knows. This is a huge progress compared to his previous efforts to depict Lebanon and the Lebanese in the most chauvinistic ways, as the creme de la creme, and at a time when the Lebanese are rushing to vote for Jeita grotto, as the seventh wonder of the world. However, he suspiciously uttered some very unacceptable comments regarding Israel, but warned us of accusing him of treason. His comments were not only not innocent at all but also stupid. In context, the guy was surprised to know that the rivers in the South are the least polluted, compared to the rest of the country. He didn't take a moment to think of the reasons because his love for Israel betrayed him, Israel, the most racist and criminal so called state, albeit you could sense how he forced himself to call it enemy. He said something like: "One would be nostalgic for Israel's occupation days (decades would be a better word), it seems Israel preserved our water resources more than we did!!!!..." First, Marcel seems nostalgic for the Israeli occupation before learning this new fact, he just found a golden opportunity to express his love, or rather, was relieved to learn something he assumed supports this love. Second, he did not bother to ask why the South was less polluted. The first answer that comes to mind, although not likely plausible, would be: couldn't that be because the Southerners are more keen on the environment than others? That is surely not the case, but logic calls for you to consider such reasoning. Second, isn't it possible that the South isn't as industrial as the rest of the country which decreases water pollution? Third: isn't it possible that because of the occupation, the South is the least populated? Fourth: Israel withdrew from Lebanon, to your dismay, 11 years ago, don't you think that this is enough time for the Southerners you despise to pollute their water resources, but they did not? Fifth but most importantly: Israel contaminated the South with over four million cluster munitions, sabotaged our water pumps, and bombed a power plant resulting in the largest oil spill the Mediterranean has ever seen, but you allow yourself to even think that it was so keen on preserving our resources? So yes, Marcel, what you said equals treason. His guest on the other hand was no less keen on showing his love for Israel, he too forces himself to call it enemy. This guy said: "they have been telling us since the 50's that Israel wants to steal our water, but after seeing the pollution there, I don't think Israel cares much about it!!". That was not enough as he added "now that we know this isn't true, the problem is solved, we can now sign a peace treaty with Israel"!!! No dear, that is what you wish and will never get. Yes Marcel what you said is treason and you are afraid of being accused of harming tourism?! What a shame!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

There is nothing going on in Syria!

A Syrian friend of mine who lives in Damascus is very cautious about talking politics on the phone, so when I ask her, what is going on in Syria, she says: nothing is going on in Syria, I will tell you all about what is NOT going on in Syria when I see you.

Sad truth!

Today I tried a new approach with child beggars, when they asked for money, I offered them candy and chocolate. None of them took my offer. Why would a kid refuse to take some free sweets even when they know they are not getting anything better? Later, my sister enlightened me: next time, offer cigarettes, weed, cocaine... and they would sadly take it!

Monday, October 24, 2011


I write it down lest my memory fails me, then I type it lest the paper is lost or burnt, then I save it on a hard drive lest my device is ruined, then I print it out lest my hard drive is stolen, then I memorize it lest the paper is lost or burnt... what a vicious circle! Technology is great but not infallible, at least no less than the manual or the old ways;  otherwise, why do you need all those backups?

I like you, I hate you

There is something about smart people that makes me like them even when they are most unlikable and sometimes even when everything else about them invites you to hate them, but that does not make their company any less enjoyable. Maybe because when stupidity is everywhere around us, a little wit becomes rare and precious,  thus something to celebrate. But I must clarify that modesty and a minimum sense of humor are embedded in my use of the term smart. I cannot resist a combination of wit, modesty and humor. I once knew an evil person who had this golden mix, and no matter how I forced myself to hate him, I knew that deep down, I secretly liked him but did not really admire him. It has been some time since I last saw this person, but I ran into him yesterday, and this ambivalence surfaced again leaving me with a serious dilemma: how can you enjoy the company of someone you have no respect to?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A very good critique of "Where do we go now?"

This post raises very valid points and presents a sharp critique of Nadine Labaki's latest film. Click here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

We really love you

So we went to look for another apartment, and a landlord asked the guy with me: shou el esm el karim? or what's your name? the guy who happened to have a very religious name told him, so the landlord answered: eh shou fiya, kelna ekhweh! something like, it's okay dear or never mind, we are all brothers. He said it in a very apologetic way. This actually happened more than once, another guy said, after hearing the name: winne'em*! I really can't translate this!
* it still cracks me up every time I remember how he said the word.

In the country of coexistence

We once went to look for an apartment and a guy came to help, he said: I am the leader of this street, from here till that shop at the corner, you see it? and he stretched his arm to show us the geographical limits of the area under his control which went a little further beyond the tip of his finger. We nodded, then he continued: look, this is a great area to live in, there is neither sectarianism nor a sectarian mix!... there were a few "strangers", but we cleaned it.


The term coexistence itself is sectarian because it reinforces the concept of the "other" who is "different" and wants to convince us that this other although different from us does not pose a threat to us. Imagine you are saying this to someone who never thought of it in the first place, take kids for example, you are telling them, there are people, "other" people who are different from us but they are like our brothers, don't think they are going to steal your chocolate bar! The natural reaction of the child would be to go and hide his chocolate bar.

Where Do We Go Now?

**Spoiler Alert!**
I finally watched Nadine Labaki's film "Where do we go now?". Here is what I think about the film. I will spare you the suspense and tell you as of here that I don't think highly of the movie (I liked Caramel more), so that you don't have to keep reading if you are a Lebanese fanatic who thinks that everything Lebanese must be genius, but you can also keep reading and see why. To be fair I need first to state that there are many positive elements in the film, and I did like a few things about it. Let's start with the positive side lest some of the Lebanese fanatics are still with us.
- First and foremost, I loved the music and the songs, although one of the songs has exactly the same tune of a known pasta ad.
- I liked the scenes and the scenery as well as the acting of most of the characters (especially Adel Karam and Mohamad Akil). The film cost 6.7 million Dollars, and you expect to get something good out of that, well we did, but the flaws of the film come from something that requires no budget: thinking.
- Another strong positive element is the script. The script is well done which is rare in the recent Lebanese production (you need to put West Beirut, Zozo, and a few other movies on the side). Finally, here is a Lebanese film where actors don't wait for one another to finish their lines (while staring in the void, usually angry), they speak at different tones sometimes interrupting each other, and there is a background noise, or the natural ambiance; where the dialogue is convincing and mirrors reality, and where not all the characters are poets, well articulate, and speak fluent and plausible full Arabic sentences. For that we need to give the film some credit.
- The characters, especially the women, also come from real life which makes us identify a lot with them because we have all seen or known at some point or another a relative or a neighbor exactly like that. Here comes the but. But, the characters too have many flaws; Nadine Labaki, although she states that she is not the main character, is the only character that has a story on the side, her love story, all we know about the other women is their religion. I also noticed, and I doubt that was done on purpose, that we know a bit more about two other Christian women, one is the wife of the Mokhtar (mayor) who is the comic relief, and the other is the strong and resilient woman head of household who sends her two sons to sell stuff outside the village. We know nothing about the other women, and the Muslim women don't have any special character traits. I am not saying there should have been a kind of balance, but I am saying that many of the characters, she calls main, are not so well developed. Nadine did not seem so good in handling a multi cast here.
- It goes without saying that the characters should be multi-dimensional unlike Marwan Najjar’s characters who are either good or evil. I will be subtle in judging the characters against this rule in this film, since it is intended on purpose to make all the women good and all the men bad, although I don’t see the morale behind it in the Lebanese context.
- We come to the story, it is entertaining as a sequence of funny or unusual situations, but as a plot, it lacks all the main ingredients, there is no build up towards the climax, there are merely detached incidents that lead to tension. The climax you assume is when the boy who makes a journey outside the village is killed mysteriously by a random bullet by some "strangers", and this is a point I will come to in a while. This climax has nothing to do with the incidents that preceded it, it descended to the movie like a parachute to claim itself a climax. Of course it adds to the sectarian tension in the village, but was not a result of it or its cause, so the climax in the movie is a mere tragic coincidence. Shortly before the climax, I started to feel bored, because we have already gotten the point, the whole point: the women are trying to prevent the men from fighting or going to war using tricks, so you would only be there waiting to see what other ruses they are going to use now, then the boy dies, as we said for reasons outside the main plot and none of the characters have anything to do with it. This climax is supposed to be the crisis, yet, the crisis (the tension between the Christian and the Muslim men) is already there, so the climax here only takes the conflict to another level (the men seeking to dig out their buried weapons). Again, the women should prevent that from happening, then comes another ruse, and they succeed. Yet the movie does not end here.
- The finale or the resolution of the crisis parachutes again and does not seem to come neither from the climax nor from an attempt to solve it. The film also closes with an open question: where do we go now, the title of the film. I do like open-ended endings, but only because they leave you with the question whirling in your head, only because it gets you thinking about it after you leave the theater. The question is supposed to intrigue you and make you reassess your reasoning or open a new dimension or a new perspective in your previous way of thinking. This question does not.
- The film, according to the director, is symbolic and has a strong message. No doubt the direct message is clear; the film calls for coexistence between the Christians and the Muslims. Did she really think that people will leave the theater, thinking: let us ask if the guy who was sitting next to us is from a different religion and if he is, let’s go give him a hug? Maybe the director was well-intentioned but the message is naive to say the least; it falls into the same lame Lebanese rhetoric which Ziad Rahbani smartly ridicules. The causes of the conflict always come from “the stranger” who stole the jar, or from factors outside our control, or from third parties. We know that it wasn't a Muslim who broke the cross at the church and we do not know who ransacked the mosque. So the villagers are all pure and innocent and only reacted to these incidents!? (by naturally seeking revenge because they are men?) yet if you leave the Lebanese on their own they would be living in love and peace (butter and honey as we say in Arabic)?!. So there are no root causes or intrinsic factors to sectarianism? Well, wars are ugly and civil wars are the ugliest, but the hidden message of the film is this: for the Lebanese to avoid wars they should stay isolated lest miseries befall them from outside. First this is called denial, and second, this message of denial is not original. The problem dates back to the Rahbani brothers and their quiet and peaceful (imaginary) village like the village portrayed by Labaki, and their Lebanese virgin girl who represents everything that is good, of course here it is none other than Nadine Labaki herself, who is so egocentric that she is the director, the main character, and the one who gets to make the “wise“ monologue (a stupid one), and gets to star in the poster campaign and makes an extra effort to look nice and sweet in all the scenes (although I do find her beautiful). Of course there is also the typical idiot of the village. Where is the innovation and creativity? The film, as a tragicomedy, had all the elements of success, but the message itself was tragicomic; it lacks both originality and depth; It addresses the deeply rooted and real problem of sectarianism in Lebanon through a very shallow interpretation. The Rahbani brothers seem to have irreversibly ruined our creative thinking.
-  Again unlike Marwan Najjar's productions where the characters have names that intentionally hide their religion (so as to protect us, the audience, from our own sectarian judgement, and of course because the characters are either bad or good so he cannot make any reference to their sect, and also where the characters call each other by their full names even if they are brothers, for example you might hear a father say to his son with astonishment: Amer Bilal! what are you doing in our house?), luckily we don't see this in Nadine Labaki's film, well, for obvious reasons. Belief is part of one's character, logic, and sometimes identity such as in this film, but why are all the characters believers; all the Christians in the film wear a cross and all the Muslim women wear a Hijab. I understand if that is intended to make it easy for us to better understand who’s Christian and who’s Muslim, but none of the characters are secular or non-believers! And we could really make it on our own without this straightforwardness, same as we did with the men, really, aren't we Lebanese genius, then why do you underestimate our intelligence?
- Finally, I do understand why the film would get such a high rating and wide acclaim in the West, simply because it reinforces all the stereotypes they have about us.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No, it did not happen to me...

If you are one of those who walk around the house while carrying their laptop and if you happen to go to the kitchen and stop to have a cup of water, don't put your laptop on the stove top that hasn't cooled yet. Just mentioning.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Special treatment

I was at a dinner occasion yesterday at a very fancy restaurant with around ten other people on my table and I noticed that the waiter took a special liking to me. He would blush a bit and smile generously to me then pour some wine in my glass. He would come every now and then and ask me if I needed anything, if all is up to my expectations, change my barely used ashtray, and then refill my glass replacing each drop of wine I consume . He did serve the others really well but I was sure that I was getting a special treatment. At first, I entertained the idea that deep down he felt that I belong to his social class, not that I don't, well fine, I probably don't, but I thought that he was probably thinking: what are you doing here among these pretentious, fake, and snobbish people! Then I observed the others for a while and I realized that they don't actually see him. If I had asked them at the end of the dinner how the waiter who was serving us looked like, I am sure none of them would even be able to tell if he was tall or short, bold or hairy. The special treatment and few genuine smiles I got were simply because I saw him. I mean how could you not see him? A woman with us was licking the ear of the man next to her while the waiter was replacing her plate. He saw me looking at the scene and smiled then came closer and poured some more wine in my glass. A few moments later, I too stopped seeing him, literally.


There are moments when you lose someone but it gets to see his toothbrush gone to make you cry.

Trust me...

I don't believe most of what people say. I don't have trust issues, some people are simply liars.


There are moments when I look in the eyes of a perfectly handsome guy and I think: is there anything that goes through your mind at all!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

To those counting...

When I was a kid, I used to sit in the back seat of the car and watch trees move backward. The faster we drove, the faster trees moved in the opposite direction. Now, I think that time, like those trees, is still, we are the ones moving. You can't say, time passes or time flies, for what seems a reality here is no more than a distortion of your senses... you can only say, I moved forward. Knowing that, there is no harm in allowing yourself to believe this illusory perception, do what you have to do, but stop counting the trees moving past you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lebanon would be better if...

On a graffiti wall in Hamra street, someone had printed several lines saying: "Lebanon would be better if I..." and left a blank space next to it for people to fill in. People seem to have written wise comments (see photos below). Here are some of the random answers I like the most:
Lebanon would be better if I... find a good weed dealer
Lebanon would be better if I...  killed half the population
Lebanon would be better if I... went to Australia and grew my dreads back
Lebanon would be better if... gay marriage was legal
Lebanon would be better parents could afford a house
Lebanon would be better if... people knew who is Samir
Lebanon would be better if... weed was legalized
Lebanon would be better if... we had more skaters

Monday, October 10, 2011


I have an irrational and genuine fear of beggars, especially the kids and the badly injured among them. I avoid them while keeping a close eye on them. I panic when they talk to me and I freeze with no idea of what the right thing to do is. Do I have beggarphobia? Think of it, what should I do? The easy way is to help them and encourage the practice. If you don’t, the answers are not too many if you do not wish to be unkind or judgmental. To try and explain your attitude is really only justifying it to yourself, and wasting their time. They would definitely prefer your unkindness to your moral speeches. Not saying anything is being oblivious to their existence and that’s rude. Smiling and cuddling them is degrading, especially if in your heart you wish they do not exist. I have tried some of these reactions, and none made me feel good. Lately, I found the best reaction to be this: run, when you glimpse them, run as fast as you can. That’s how I became beggarphobic.

Relatively speaking

Today a stranger on the street told me after I parked my car: you are a good driver, rare are the ones who can park their cars with such easiness! I do hear this comment quite often and his words gave my ego a boost for a while after I walked away, then I got his point; he actually meant, rare are the women who can park their cars with such easiness!! Oh, he meant relatively speaking! I get it. When I was about to turn back he was gone. He got lucky for I wanted to hear him say: rare are the ones who punch this hard, of course, relatively speaking!

Beyond good and evil

I have experienced both: starving to the point of stealing food and eating to the point of throwing up. I assure you that the effects of the second are much worse. The first actually feels good!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Not so funny

There are moments when you say something funny and someone next to you laughs at something else, that same moment. Don't you hate that?

Why not?

There are moments when I lose my car keys or forget where I put them and for a moment I think that I want to call them and follow the ringtone.

Look at you!

Please, avoid high chignon hairstyles when you go to the movies, please. It looks great on you and all but do stop for a second in front of the mirror and consider how it fits your destination. And, if God bestowed on you the gift of tallness, and if you love the movies that much, I guess that's why there are back seats. Do sit there, please, and if you prefer hugging the screen, try to slip into the seat a little bit, please. And if you think that your fluffy hair curls are sexy and all, well, they are, and they are blocking the huge screen too. So, please. And do you really clap your hands after you watch a DVD at home? then why do you do that in cinemas? why?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Who? What? How?...

There are moments when someone is telling me a story that gets too complicated with who told whom who was there and who heard them and how that other one lied but the one who was there didn't hear anything, and somewhere in the middle of the story, your attention drifts away, even a fly can suddenly get your attention, and the other person is deep into the story now, you gather your thoughts back and try to focus but you realize it is too late to catch up by now, you stick to what you heard at the beginning and ask: who? the one who heard them? and pray that it falls right in place. Most of the time, it doesn't.

At traffic lights

There are moments, when I am driving my car and I stop at traffic lights, then look at people in the car next to mine but shy away when our eyes meet. But then, suddenly I am too self conscious and all my moves start to be slow and premeditated, while wondering if the person in the other car is still looking. Then of course, the traffic lights go green, and everything falls back in place.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Empty shells

It is better to be stupid than fake greatness, because you look stupid anyway. There is nothing bad in being ordinary. Some people try hard to assert uniqueness, non-conformity, and avant-guardism in the eyes of others, simply because when they look in the mirror, they see an empty shell. They tell themselves how great they are and when they face the world, their fake self-image roams around them like an appalling odor. These people can never win my esteem.


Unlike a Marathon, learning in itself is not worthwhile if you do not enjoy it along the way, because there certainly is no finish line.

Love rambling

He looks at her sometimes, at particular times, in a certain way, that makes her wonder if he is maybe thinking: please adopt me (or is it apprivoise-moi?). Finally, she finds a way to express her wondering through words, and he says: that's me giving up, I surrender. Does your ego feel better now?. She lays back and showers him with more questions, among them, do you love me out of habit?. I love you despite habit.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Hail to the Minister of Telecommunication!

The traffic jam in Beirut today was unprecedented, after they closed the roads around the ESCWA building. I had planned to meet with a friend of mine, coming from Hamra, in Gemayzeh. After an hour on the road, we call each other to lament our misery on both sides of the city. Suddenly, it felt like East and West Beirut are back on the segregation map. As we were talking, I had an idea, I say, how about we meet tomorrow instead? My friend says: What's going to change tomorrow? but she says okay, where? I say: Skype. Puzzled, she asks, where is that? never heard of it. I say, yes you did, it is not a place, it is an online application. While everything is going slower in this country, tomorrow, the Internet will be the only thing that will go faster.


I moved to a new neighborhood and my new balcony opens to a whole different world. Let me first position this balcony in context. This is a quasi-posh street in Achrafiyeh. The building overlooks a fast growing fancy neighborhood with mostly 11- story buildings and curtain glassed balconies. I sit there and watch for hours, but nothing goes on. The view from this side of the apartment is dull. Everything is square and straight. I move my eyes from floor to floor in the building across and see nothing. My thoughts go to the invisible maids behind those clean and thick white walls. I imagine them sitting on kitchen floors weeping in a vertical line on top of each other on every floor. This is the only balcony in my apartment because the building was architectured to turn its back to an old, poor, and unorganized neighborhood, not only stealing their direct sunlight but suffocating their breaths with a gray aluminium wall. Our ugly back is the best and only view they got. No one in my building has probably ever cared to know what's behind the wall. Those are my neighbors. I run into them in the elevator. They mumble a few french greeting words, scan my outfit, and fake a smile. That's the limit of our interaction. They must hate my guts because my car in the parking must look like a stain among their fancy lined up porsches. My car is not that bad although it does need a few repairs, polish, and cleaning from time to time (you can only send cash, we do not accept checks!). These were my neighbors until I drilled a huge window in the aluminium back wall and a whole new world opened before my eyes. That is now my new balcony. On this side, curtain glass has not yet invaded flowery balconies and people still grow small vineyards on their terraces. You have an old man who lives with his dog. He has all sorts of vegetables in small pots lined up on his clean and beautiful terrace. Three of his aged friends visit him at night to play bridge. In another building lives Rodrigue, whose parents waved to us one day and invited us for some Arabic sweets when he passed his official exams. The old man was invited too. And you have the ugly half naked guy who watches football every night while sipping his Arguileh on the balcony, coughing his smoke on the nostrils of his 3 year old daughter on his lap, and cursing the Barcelona team. And you have a 16 or 17 year old boy, who every now and then, brings a huge Lebanese Forces flag, takes up the balcony, and waves it slowly and elegantly, watching the reflection of the neighbor's drying clothes on its gleaming cedar. That's all very chaotic you think? wait till you hear about that woman who placed a whole sound system on the balcony turning it towards my hole in the wall, and playing Fares Karam at a maximum volume all day. To be fair, she doesn't start playing it before 8 o'clock in the morning. And you have another invisible neighbor who practices the Derbakeh (Tableh) on Najwa Karam's songs. One day, I did scream and asked her to put the music down. She did for 5 minutes then put it back again. I swallowed my anger, and decided to shut up. Who am I to be annoyed, I chose to open this window to hell. But then the Lebanese Forces boy comes out with his dancing flag. My anger goes out of control and as I was about to decide where to deflect it, the Tableh stops, the Fares karam song ends, and Rodrigue smiles to me. I turn to the old man and say: Would you shut your fucking dog up?! Silence followed, and I felt that the neighborhood froze for a second. I close my new window and I decide to practice rolling my French Rs. Maybe, I am the one who is trapped.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I bought an I Pad and I should admit that it is awesome. I almost want to take back what I said about the feel of books, the smell of books, etc. Of course, my father was at awe. He didn't comment this time. Nothing surprises him anymore after the net to phone invention and the escalator! You need to see those inventions in the eyes of technology illiterates to admire them. He was turning the E-book pages and probably thinking if that device can also read his mind. Why am I talking about the I Pad? yes, the I Pad made me think that technology advances in a funny way. Devices start big and then they start getting smaller and smaller. Take the mobile phone, at one point, the smaller the phone was, the trendier. One of the Motorola phones was too small that you would think this is just the battery. Then they start getting bigger again until they reach an optimal size somewhere in between. But apart from the size, everything is getting slimmer. Soon we will carry our brain in a suitcase, a slim one, and hope we don't forget it at home.
P.S. Again the drawing is not mine.

It's been a while...

It's been a while since I last blogged. Even blogger moved to a new interface in my absence. But a lot more has been going on lately. The part of the world where I live is a pandemonium. I am not a fan of big words but pandemonium seemed perfect. In the face of such an uproar, silence seemed wise. Yet, two pictures widely circulated caught my attention lately (see below), and in these two pictures and the moral abyss between them lies our human condition. How does the human mind wander at the first sight of these pictures? Does it turn inward? Does it dwell on the metaphysical, social, moral, or historical questions? Of course that depends on a wide set of factors. Your cultural, moral, social, geographical, and other backgrounds determine your reaction. For instance, I read an article about a certain Saudi cleric who issued a Fatwa forbidding girls from sitting with or talking to their father in the absence of the mother. That Sheikh would comment on the picture by asking God's forgiveness for the woman on the left is topless!  There too, in the moral abyss between that crook and any other reaction lies our human condition.
P.S. I wasn't able to track the original copyright of both pictures, But since they are all over the Web, I deemed it safe to publish. They are not mine.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cooking thought

Writing is an attempt at conquering time and that is exactly what you lose in the process.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

At the coffee house: Motion

I am at the coffee house. I need to feel normal again. I need to see real people doing most ordinary stuff. That will help. I find a small table for two in the corner. It seemed perfect for someone like me whose only purpose there is sit and watch people. Watching others has always been a real satisfaction to me. Strangers help me regain normality. Without them I lose sense of reality. Three guys on the table across are chatting loudly. One of them is talking less than the others, but looks interested. On my right is a couple holding hands. A girl in her early twenties enters. She is wearing a short blue dress, and is looking happy. She stops for a few seconds and scans the room quickly, barely moving her eyes. She looks beautiful I realized. As she was about to turn and leave, one of the three guys calls her name. She puts a fake smile and walks towards him. She passes by my table and I saw closely that she is not as beautiful as I thought at first. Some people look better motionless. She is one of those. She will look stunning when she dies, I thought. Suddenly, the thought that all those people are not real, occurred to me. They could all be figments of my imagination. I think that if I move and reach out to that girl with my hand, she will fade away. Nothing in this coffee house seems real anymore. I need a sign, anything that defies science to know for sure, maybe a man who walks through the wall, or a lamp standing upside down from the floor up, or a rabbit in a costume ordering coffee. Nothing of that happens. Everything looks ordinary, just not real. Not to me. I pause. A sort of nothingness invades my mind. I pause. “je pense donc je suis”, is the best thing that has ever been thought, I decide. I pay my bill, is this a real bill? Is this real money? It doesn’t matter. I sip the last residues in my coffee and leave.

At home: Motionless

I am at home, the whiteness of the walls start to weigh heavy on my chest. I decide to leave but my feet refuse to obey my mind’s orders. My body is numb. Nothing moves inside me. Maybe that’s what happens when we die. Our consciousness is still alive, some people call it soul, but our body no longer responds. Am I dead? I want to move my hand to remove the doubt, but my body remains stiff, unresponsive. Am I rehearsing the moment of my death and relishing it? Even my eyes stopped moving. You know someone is dead when you look in their eyes. You cannot mistake that emptiness that looks back at you. The whiteness of the wall filled my eyes with void. They just stare without seeing. Whiteness, rather than blackness, is void. I used to wonder what blind people see. I imagine that inside them, behind those outer eyes, there are other eyes, thousands of other seeing eyes, eyes of a whole audience, staring at a theater’s curtain that never opens. I always had this image until one day a blind guy was asked this question on TV. What do you see? he was strangely faced with answering. He said: I don’t know what ‘seeing’ means. But I thought: what does ‘not seeing’ mean? Now, I am the blind. I freak out. I want to see. I shake off the numbness in my eyes and I look. Everything around me starts to feel alive. The old radio by my side is about to jump up and start walking around the room. I can almost see it floating at the level of my eyes and say: enough of that crap. The green plant at the far end of the room is moving its leaves. Is it dancing? The small useless decorations are loosely roaming in the air. The room is no longer empty. I am no longer alone. The ground is slowly moving. It is circling around me clockwise. The painting on the wall behind me is suddenly in front of me. The people in it start jumping out and filling the room. Suddenly, I hear music, and couples start embracing and dancing. One couple has stumbled on my plant. Where am I? The whiteness is fading. The room is gradually being filled with colors, as if someone is painting the scene at that right moment. I am part of the scene. I am part of the crowd. No, I am the tip of a painter’s stroke, a marginal persona in the background. I jump and without thinking, I open the door and slam it behind me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Have you ever been bored? I don't think you realize what boredom is unless you have experienced that state of mind where you are standing in a busy street and you pause for a second and imagine, maybe wish, that an earthquake hits that exact spot so that you can watch. No I am not a psychopath. But most people would relate to the famous quote attributed to Stalin: the death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is statistics. The death of millions is also mere News. In journalism, they teach you to tell the human story, to find that mother holding the little hand of her 6 year old child- better if you mention his age- found dead under the rubble of their home and end your news report with the voice of the father saying: he wanted to become a doctor. Or better, why not look in hospitals for that 15 year old kid who lost a leg and he would say I will never be able to play football again. That's how news become tragedy, otherwise what difference does it make to know if a hundred thousands or a one million were killed in an earthquake? Put the tragedy on the side, you will see that a very blur line separates news from fiction. Get real bored and witness the evil cells of your brain in action. In this sense, all humans are tamed sociopaths. Artists know that creativity is unleashing your darkest thoughts and emotions, setting free that beast that you always knew lives there underneath you layers of righteousness. Boredom is that drill that unearths a mass grave within your soul. Creative thinking is evil thinking, I believe. Some people tell you that they write out of an inner drive to express. Truth is they write because writing makes them feel alive. Creativity is only a result of boredom, and so is creation. I tend to believe, that if God exists, he must have created this world because he was bored.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Things to do when angry

Have you tried chocolate but it didn't work? try salty stuff (kidding). Here are a few suggestions that would definitely work:
1- Go to the supermarket and stroll between aisles. Shop if you need to, but the point is not to. Resist all the temptations, count the colors if you had to, look for expired items and ask to talk to the manager and then you get to shout at him.
2- Walk. Let's say you had a fight with your partner. Shut the door and your phone and walk. Try new streets you haven't been to before. Walk as far as you can until you are lost. Then take a taxi back home.
3- Clean the house. Focus on the areas that rarely get cleaned.
4- Call a random number and ask to talk to Sami and when they tell you that you dialed a wrong number, hang up. Then call again the same number and say: I am Sami, did anyone call me?
5- Google how to make perfect pancakes, watch the video, and then make some.
Did I ever write about PMS before? I guess I did.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sequence of randomness

People think more than they should before taking decisions or making choices. It doesn't matter if we are talking serious decisions or not. I mean how can you know what is serious and what is not. Take for example that you should decide whether to go to the Oceana beach or to the Lazy B. I mean how hard can that be? but you would still think hard before making up your mind. At first, this decision sounds unimportant. Wrong. How can you know? Maybe you decide to go to the Lazy B but someone who happens to be your long time sweetheart whom you haven't seen in years after a tragic breakup happens to be at the Oceana on that same day and maybe if you had decided Oceana, you would have had the chance to catch up a little and who knows maybe end up together and have a full life. You would never know that. You went to Lazy B, you thought you had a great day, maybe you did have a great day, but you never know what was waiting for you had you made a different choice. See? this decision seems unimportant, but maybe it was actually a life decision if you see what I mean. Now take this example. You have been having serious pain in your leg and after checkup you are told that you should have checked with a doctor earlier and now it is too late, you should either make an operation which has 50% of success only, which means you either get rid of the pain for good but you might also end up with an amputated leg. You have to make a choice. The decision here is obviously a life decision. It cannot be taken lightly. At first you might say, well, I would rather bear the pain, thank you, but then the pain gets unbearable and you think that 50% success rate is not bad compared with the hell you are in now. You make up your mind and head to the operation room. Now imagine, God forbid, that you end up with an amputated leg. You would spend the rest of your days, replaying the scene in your mind and imagining yourself saying, no I would never do the operation only to open your eyes and find out you did. You would close them and immerse deeper into your daydreaming hoping to open your eyes and find out you still had your leg. A leg with pain is after all better than no pain but also no leg. But again, it is there staring you in the face, or actually the fact that it is not there is what stares you in the face. Suddenly you hear a voice, that voice you cannot mistake for anything you would normally hear. It says: I will make you an offer. I will take you back to that moment when you took the decision to make the operation and let you decide again. Really? you say touching your ears. The voice continues: but on one condition. Anything, you say. On condition that when you go back in time to that moment you will forget everything that happened after, you will forget this moment, and all the regrets, you will forget that you had taken this decision before and had a failed operation. Of course, you say, a second chance, that's all I would ask for, even you end up making the same decision again and getting to where you are now, at least you had another shot, you think, and you might end up making the opposite decision this time, who knows. Now imaging if you sign the deal with the voice and you go back there but decide again to go for the operation and end up with no leg and regret it and hear the same voice again and make the same deal again and forgetting and then making the deal again and again and again like in Nietzsche's philosophy of eternal recurrence. Now, how can that decision be any more important than the one in the previous example? Even if it were, what makes one decision deserve any more thinking than the other. Think of it. Thinking more wont bring new insights here but merely more confusion. So then what makes any decision we make important? In such situations, thinking more is just making the regrets you will have later on harder. I am not saying that our lives are predetermined, you would wish they were, then why regret anything, no, on the contrary the fact that we have the choice is what makes our lives even more absurd. What difference is there between a life that is predetermined but you don't know what comes next and a life that is not predetermined but you still don't know what comes next? Nothing. So why think that hard before making decisions? We want to look like we are in control of our destiny, fate, lives, whatever. What we are actually doing is avoiding to face the truth and the truth is, there is a big difference between mystery and randomness, and what you call life is not a mystery, it is a well meditated sequence of randomness.

Modernos e Antigos

A friend of mine was trying to convince me to stop buying books and get myself a kindle, the Amazon book reader. I joked at first that I am still trying to figure out the difference between an Ipad and an Ipod. She had all sorts of convincing arguments but ones that did not appeal to me. She said you can take it with you when you travel, and you get to have 3000 books with you, weightless. Why on earth would anyone need 3000 books when they travel unless they booked eternity for destination! (For some reason, I find the name funny too, it's stupid but I don't know why as she was talking I was thinking: Kindle like Kindelegarden!) But then she said that kindle is more eco-friendly, the argument I hate most. I hate to be accused of being a nuisance to the environment. I do ignore Greenpeace volunteers who stop me on the road to lecture me about the environment but that does not make me environmentally unfriendly. I even participated during the weekend in a cleaning activity of a 0.00000001% surface area of 0.000001% of a hill that makes 0.00001% of a mountain which is 0.001% of a village that in turn is less than 0.0001% of the total area of Lebanon. I did that although I cleaned 0.000001% of the garbage in there. Back to the kindle. She also said that books bring cockroaches, that one made me laugh, it reminded me of Ziad Rahbani in film ameriki tawil. But that argument was strong, because I had promised her that I would only buy used books, of course I had lied, and then I found out that used books bring even more than cockroaches, they bring book worms (literally). Bookworms! Even Kindle freaks would still be called bookworms!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I always wondered, what's home? or more precisely where is home? At times, I thought that home was not a place but a time, sometimes a person, or a thought, at others home was always here and now. My home was that spot between his shoulder and his elbow, I wrote once. Home is where you want to escape to and sometimes escape from. An ocean could be home to your eyes, a book home to your mind, and that tree behind your grandpa's house could be home to your heart. Home is always where problems seem bigger than they are but smaller than everyone else thinks. Home is that key hanging on the wall but used to open a door that no longer is there. Home is that small beach house that only exists in your dream, that you might never build but keep furnishing in your thoughts and painting and repainting its walls. This small huge planet can be your home but also that small box where you hid your teenage poems, a few memories, and your first pregnancy test. Home is always where it could have been nicer only if a little bigger, smaller, a little brighter, older, a little newer. Home is where there is always something that needs to be fixed but you never do, it keeps staring at you until you stop noticing. It is that addiction to loneliness that you call peace. For once I thought that a mattress and a pillow and that dark hallway through which my feet know their way blindly to the bathroom were home. It doesn't matter what it is or where or when and maybe who, I thought, it is where you will always go when the lights go off.


The Bosphorus inspired me and somehow brought back memories of all the people I once loved and I thought that I never loved the same way. Love can be measured by depth, weight, temperature, strength, length, and maybe volume. It can be deep like an ocean, or warm like sand, or strong like metal... but the best love of all is the one that is hard to measure: a love that is as sincere as a lake.

My trip to Istanbul

I went on a short trip to Istanbul. I didn't plan it to be at the time of the parliamentary elections but so it was and I thought of asking people around who they voted for. But to my surprise, everyone took us (my two sisters and I) for Spanish and insisted to address us as such until we started saying 'Hola' right and left. At first we corrected them and said we were Lebanese until one guy answered: Oh.. lobnan... we are your Ottoman brothers! So Spanish worked better for us. With every step, we had someone asking where we are from, and it became annoying, so we started ignoring them. Then, they started guessing and one guy said with certainty: Chile! Now about my sample, I asked one guy who he voted for but he didn't understand English, so I said: Erdogan? and there he answered: Kurdish. No Erdogan! I passed by his shop everyday to say hi. Then I asked another Turkish guy and he said: Erdogan of course! And that was my sample given that for the rest of the trip, my discussion with the Turks was all about the Barcelona Football team players! Two Turkish guys also asked to know our religion, so we felt at home. Now here are the highlights of the trip, I am not in the mood for a serious documentation, so I will just jot down a few incidents that matter and what matters for me is what might make me smile and look stupid ten years from now: 1) my sister threw up in the middle of the hotel room on day 1, 2) Ataturk is a handsome guy, 3) I bought a leather jacket for 200 Dollars only to feel guilty afterwards that it was real leather (as I am trying to be animal friendly) and then I felt worse that it could be fake leather with the amount I paid! 4) Don't travel with family and expect your trip to be fight-free, and 5) of course the Aga Sofia, the blue mosque, the topcapui, bla bla bla are quite something!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


One more thing about my class. I know that I was a nerd back in school and at college though to a lesser degree (but always social, let's say a social nerd). I didn't realize back then that I was indeed a nerd, in any case, I only understood the word much later. Now I admit that I indeed was, and taking a class again, I am consciously trying to undo my nerd-ish tendencies but I realized that once a nerd, always a nerd.

Boiling point

A Lebanese guy in my Portuguese class is so idiot but thinks he is funny (the worst type of unfunny people) that he annoys the hell out of me and on top of that he is a typical f***ing racist Lebanese. There is a Filipino woman taking the class with us as she intends to go to Brasil, as she said. One day, she was telling me about some people she knows who are going to Brasil and that stupid Lebanese guy overheard the conversation (although she was not addressing him in the first place) and said: you mean the house (the family) where you work? She just said no and disregarded him. I was so annoyed but knowing how typical the judgmental question is, I too disregarded him. I could have argued but my Filipino friend would have felt embarrassed and he would not have understood anyway. Now the girl could be working as a maid for a certain family in Lebanon and could not but that's not the point. It gets worse the next day when we were learning about some common food recipes in Brasil and the Filipino woman raises her hand fervently when the teacher asked who knows what "caipirinha" is? She got it right and so the guy said with a mocking tone: You cooked that today for the family for whom you work! and he laughed at his own joke, or what he thought was a joke. On that same day we had to read out loud sentences that we made up. The Filipino woman read the following sentences: Nos somos cristaos (We are Christians) and Voce sao brancos (You are white).. She too annoyed me.
All of this doesn't look so good and I can sense that you will hear from me again soon when the racist temperature in the class reaches boiling point.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What's your name again?...

I don't remember who taught me this, maybe I discovered it on my own. Funny how most of my posts start with "I don't remember". It's not a blessing, I assure you. Now back to the story. The thing is that if you look good enough at people, you would see that they resemble some animal species. This is not an insult. Look and see for yourself. Ask yourself, which animal does this person strike you as? You will get the answer right away. Not all people are monkey-like, I assure you. Some people are birds-like others are lion-like or dog-like or giraffe-like. It's funny. I don't remember when I started doing that but the farthest memory I have of doing it was with my teacher in like 4th grade. She was definitely a goat-like. I assure you if she was in some kind of herd, the goats would mistake her for one of them! I still do that sometimes. Now some people strike you as such more than others. The problem with that exercise is that when I meet someone new and I gaze to find their animal match, I miss the part where those people are telling me what their name is and what they do in life and after they leave, I am left with one thought about them, like this giraffe looking girl I met today, and suddenly, I get the feeling that her name is Lara although it could have been Lamia or Fatima or even Anabella, who cares! That's how the whole story is then stored in my head: the Giraffe looking Lara I met today. You can call me crazy but some people are named Chantal but seem more like a Sawsan or are named Albert and seem more like an Ibrahim. And by the way, even when I store the real names, Nada, Rima, and Dima are the same for me, same for Rasha and Sahar... So don't take it personal, if I have no recollection of your name. They just don't seem you. This is so frustrating... and embarrassing. My memory processes the information before storage and it has a weird storage mechanism. To be stored properly, you need to have an animal look that matches your name, otherwise, you might get mistakenly stored in the wrong file and might unfortunately end up in the recycle bin after a while and when I see you again be sure that I would either confuse your name or ask you for it again but I will surely remember that you are that squirrel-looking Dana. Of course, you would never know that!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Das experiment

So I watched this movie "The Experiment", again, which is the Hollywood version of the German film "Das experiment", which I never saw but which is supposed to be better, not only because it is the original one and not American, but I was also told by trusted friends that it is, and I believe them and when I say so, you have got to believe me although maybe you already have, before I tried to convince you. In any case, the movie I saw, that is the Hollywood version, is not bad, and I recommend it even if you find the original "Das experiment", because that's the one I am about to talk about. The movie touches on the themes of human nature and God, justice and violence, power and abuse of power, and peace and war. I combine the themes in such a way so that you get the point, but in life, and in the movie, the themes are intertwined in a more complex way; so it can be about violence and God, human nature and power, justice and war. You get the point? how about justice and God, violence and human nature, peace and power? I hope now you do. That's the best way I can explain it, because otherwise you would think I am insulting your intelligence. Induction can be a great exercise. Now if you want to know what the movie is about you can go to IMDB and if you are looking for a review, this is not the site for you. But you've got to watch the movie and learn what you have always known. Oh, and it's a prison movie, if you know what I mean. I am reading this book now "the kindly ones"* by Jonathan Littell, I am still at the beginning (and don't expect from me any commentary about it anytime soon, it's a 1000 pages!), but I remember those words from the book after watching the movie: "those who kill are humans, just like those who are killed, that's what's terrible. You can never say: I shall never kill, that's impossible, the most you can say is: I hope I shall never kill, I too hoped so", and this line from the same book: "the real danger for mankind is me, is you. And if you are not convinced of this, don't bother to read any further. You will understand nothing and you will get angry, with little profit for you or for me." I added this last quote to tell you that it goes the same for the movie. It's up to you. One more thing kept whirling in my head after the credits scrolled up, that line in the movie when someone asks: "do you still think we are not like monkeys" (not the exact words I suppose) and the other guy answers: "Yes, I still do. At least, we do something about it!"... Well, I am not sure!

*English Translation. The original French title is Les Bienveillantes.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My date 9 years later...

Nine years ago, I went on a date and in my pocket, I had 10,000 Lebanese Liras only. At the end of the date, I was embarrassed. I have to mention in passing that on that particular date I was everything except myself. I was rather the exact opposite of what I really am and one example is that I accepted that someone pays my bill. Ironically, I married that guy nine years later. If I were him, I wouldn't go out with me again ever, but for some reason and despite his shock and that he too barely had enough money, he did and ironically, he was the guy I would marry nine years later. The story doesn't end here though; on our 9th anniversary, I invited him on a "date" and I said that I will make it up to him and invite this time, but for some reason, this time too, I open my wallet and I find 10,000 Liras only, no more, no less. My eyes went square and I had a very weird smile. As my date (my husband) shook his head and reached his pocket, I realize that I have not changed, maybe, but this time around I had a credit card! Sometimes, I do worship my credit card!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A feel good post?

So what is so exciting about achieving a goal? is it the achievement itself? or the challenges you overcome along the way? The harder it is to reach it, the more you are likely to savor it (my father would rather say, the more you are likely to appreciate it, but that's beyond the point here) and the bumpier the road, the more you enjoy the arrival (after you throw up!). You don't enjoy the obstacles or the challenges while you are at them, you only do in retrospect. You know all of that and you cannot disagree. I do. I wouldn't mind an easy accomplishment and I would make sure to enjoy it equally and be thankful that it came the easy way. I wouldn't mind winning the lottery for example. BUT, the real achievement, or shall I say project, is defying your own self into going beyond your own potential, that sounds lame now that I hear myself saying it, but it is true. That is the only challenge that you would enjoy winning over only because no one but you know what it cost you. Such achievements are usually the ones you hardly notice and rarely congratulate yourself for.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


When I was young, or let's say younger, my sister somehow found the secret place of my diaries. She spent hours reading through, stacks of papers, letters, and notebooks, randomly squeezed inside other piles of papers, some were dated others weren't. She had to rush through them to get the best parts before she gets busted, sometimes she just searched for her name. For days after, she had this weird smile on her face when she looked at me. Then she confessed. She said she couldn't hide it anymore. She told me. I got mad and I shouted and went all crazy at her. Not only did she invade my privacy, going behind my back like a thief, but she now knows my darkest secrets, my deepest feelings, things I never dared say out loud even to myself. My anger was beyond description. But, something inside me rejoiced. She found my diary interesting! Looking at those diaries now seems like an older (though younger would be a more accurate word here) version of me is talking to the 'me' I have become. In some parts that younger version makes me promise to always believe in what I believed in then. I am glad I no longer make such promises. I'm sorry old me, that's a promise I can't keep.

Get busy living

I can't decide why "Shawshank Redemption" is such a great movie! It's beyond good, it's magnificent. This is a movie about freedom, hope, and friendship, simply about life, certainly about life in prison but surprisingly more about life outside it. "Get busy living or get busy dying".

What if?

The most complicated notions are best explained in the most simple words. Ask kids. Ask them about freedom, love, hope, pain, justice, you choose. They give you easy answers but ones you wait for inspiration to put into words. "All grown ups started off as children", the great man behind the "little Prince" said, they just forgot. They grew up; they had to behave like grown ups. That's what they have been told. That's what they believe. Then they just got used to it. They could no longer think simple. They now think that thinking simple is not thinking big. Kids know that it is the little things in life that matter. Today I woke up in a bad mood, for no reason at all. Maybe, I had a bad dream. But all day, because of that mood, I have been thinking about my life, and asking all those questions that start with the evil "what if"; What if I need to go away? what if I need to change career? What if I need to get better use of my time? what if I need to change goals if I had any? What if I did this and what if I didn't do that? I knew that I was asking the wrong questions and I knew that I wasn't really looking for answers. I was just thinking like grown ups. Later during the day, I craved for ice cream and it was in that cup of ice cream that I found the answer. All I wanted was ice cream. Freud might have had a different opinion but I know better. Kids know what they want right away. When they want ice cream, they just say so. When they are happy, they smile, and they might even laugh. You might think they confuse laughter for happiness. You are wrong. They know better.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Today, a car killed a bird in Beirut

Today I witnessed for the first time the moment of death, unexpected death; It was a bird. One moment he was alive, the next one he wasn't. A split second shattered the bird in pieces. It was nothing like bird hunting when you aim, wait, and fire, when you expect it or rather cause it, as awful and criminal as this is. This time it was different. For some reason, the bird was right there in the middle of the road, all tiny and alive. There were very few cars, and he somehow chose that spot. When I looked and saw him, and before I was able to utter a word, a car drove fast, for a moment, I thought that he managed to fly, then I saw him turn into feather and blood. It was a bird and I saw him die. I was there when he died, and I have the duty to honor his memory. No one probably cares, the driver who killed him probably has no idea of what he did, and most of you think that this is no news, but I was there and I saw it, and so it is my obligation to tell the world that today a bird was killed on one of Beirut streets, and it was a tragic death.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Those eyes are my accomplishment, I thought. I can't explain how but I know that I see there traces of my own doing, scars I must have caused, and depth that only I know how to stroll through. Sometimes, I see there a reflection of my own soul; I see a happy soul and I feel that it is thanking me. Those eyes owe me their spark and their perceptiveness. Those eyes, his eyes are my masterpiece.


No one warned me and I do not wish you what happened to me. I am one of those who believe that you better learn the hard way than take an advice for granted but you do not want this to happen to you, so here is my warning: all of you women out there who use eye liners, if you have bought a new eye liner pencil and if it still all new and long, don't get too close to the mirror. So there, I warned you.


When you ask the Valet parking guy, how much you want? and he answers: as much as you want, what he actually means is: you can pay me more than the known rate! If you take it literally and you try to pay as much as you want, he will say: but I don't have change!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I could hear my thoughts in my dream. They had a voice, my own, and it was too loud that I wanted to tell them to shut up. It was like I was lecturing, or preaching, only I wasn't. I didn't see myself in my dream, there were only floating thoughts with a voice, a loud one, and my own. One of the thoughts was: How can I hear my own thoughts? I don't need to if they are already there, and why do they have a voice? and why is it my own? and why don't you just shut the F*** up? and since my inner hearing sense was so alert, why couldn't I be listening to some classical music now instead or a stand-up comedy? I did actually throw a few jokes but I didn't laugh. Then I woke up and it was noisy outside too.


I am not thirty yet and I feel that I am ready to retire in a mountain house with my books and a garden I take care of, where my grandchildren come to visit from time to time, and I can follow some of the Syrian-dubbed Turkish series, why not.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


A sad half-smile is more powerful than a tear and a tear is more meaningful than a sob but anger is the truest form of emotional expression.

Note to self

Next time someone comes to me with a problem that starts with "I saw on my ex-boyfriend's Facebook page a 'like' from some other woman" and ends with "what shall I do", I will answer with a serious wise tone "read your horoscope". I must remember that.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The real revolution

A 10 year old boy living with his father and younger sister was leading a miserable life; his father was cruel, old-fashioned and authoritarian. He never granted him permission to go out with his friends and his friends could not come over to his house. He did not allow him to play or do any of the things that he loved and if he saw him making any movement he didn't like, he would beat him and lock him in his room for days. The poor boy had nothing much to do and his only resort for some fun was to tease his younger sister. Sometimes, the boy wished to beat and torture her but was too afraid of his father, so they played the 'master slave" game. She was always to be the slave. The father didn't mind the game as long as they were quiet. The poor little sister had nothing to do either and at the end got used to the game and with time even thought that it was not bad. One day, as they were playing the 'master slave' game, they heard a noise down the street, they ran to the window and saw a kid from the neighborhood running in the street and being chased by his father who was running like a crazy man with a huge stick and threatening to kill him when he gets hold of him, but as he was too fat and too old, he could not run as fast as his son, and then suddenly he tumbled, his head hit the ground and he died instantly. The young boy saw his father dead, took a deep breath and started screaming: I am free, I am free! The kids on the window saw that and wished they were in that boy's shoes. They head straight to their father's room and saw that their father had also been watching from his window. It is very hard to imagine what happened next. Many scenarios could have happened. The father could have thrown himself from the window. The little boy could have pushed him over the edge. Or he could have said; father, you should allow us some more freedoms. The father could have locked his kids in their rooms and starved them until they begged for pardon. The fathers in the neighborhood could have come to the rescue of the father, or others from farther neighborhoods could have poked their noses into this mess. But come to think of it, what options does the little girl have? Now imagine if the kid running the street was rather a girl.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Not exactly about ping-pong

Someone once told me a joke, that is probably the silliest I ever heard but ironically one I never forget. It is exactly its silliness that makes it all the more meaningful. That's how the joke goes: one day a boy asked his father, what do you want for your birthday, and the father says, I want a ping-pong ball, next year, the boy comes with the same question and heard the same answer, and the following year, and the following. Every year, the father answers that he wants a ping-pong ball, until one day, when the father was on his death bed, the boy comes again and asks his father what he wants for his birthday, and again, the father says, a ping-pong ball. Here, the boy finally spits it out and asks, but father, all these years I have asked you what you wished for your birthday and you always said you wanted a ping-pong ball, but why? So the father says: because...because... and he dies, before he could finish his sentence. The joke is not funny but absurd. The absurd as skillfully explained - or shall I say preached?- by Albert Camus and others, I find one of the most fascinating theories or philosophies. That exact "why" is what keeps humanity buying ping-pong balls knowing damn well in the deepest oceans of their souls the futility of their quest. What ties them to this futility is a notion of an illusory answer they think they have deep inside but they find incommunicable, instead, they cling to their instinctual and invented desires and the philosophy of avoidance, of blindness because seeing is terrifying. Imagine yourself in an out of body experience looking at your own life, at any normal day of your life, and you will definitely form a very distinctive notion of yourself than the one you had until that moment, when you were still looking at yourself inside inward. That experience is so terrifying that one prefers to curl inside that bubble that is the self, where questions with no answers seem much more convenient to live with than the terrifying answer(s) to the big 'why' question. But there is also all the maturity and clarity of the world in that blindness. The ping-pong ball joke is funny in this sense. You might burn all your brain cells in thinking but maybe the answer is right there in front of your eyes, as bright and blunt as the sun. Life is probably not more than a joke, it is at best a ping-pong ball, but definitely one worth a shot.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Price tasting

This is a very cool study: In a blind taste test, volunteers were unable to distinguish between expensive and cheap wine. That refers you to one of my earlier posts. But I assure you that many Lebanese would swear on their grandfathers graves that they would score better in such a test!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Just a thought!

Only art is worth paying for. Everything else, and I mean everything, should be free for all.

Warning: Information technology decreases sexual activity

With the fast and vast flow of information reaching us -or us trying to catch up with it- the world doesn't seem to be moving any faster and our brain, eyes, and ears have not yet adapted to this fast evolution as of yet. Maybe few years down the road, kids will be born with four eyes and four ears and probably 3 brains, one for news information processing, another for work related matters, and the third for everyday tasks (how do we eat? how to start a car, where did I leave the key, who my wife is, etc.) Some women will be born with six hands, two for doing the dishes, two for handling business, and another two for carrying the baby and massaging their back pains. For now, google reader is all we got. The funny thing though is that with the wide spectrum of topics and variety of stuff out there, stuff that you think you are interested to know, you end up needing yet another filtering system to filter your google reader. Aha, filtering, the key word in all of this mess. From there on, all zeros in to how big or small the filtering holes are and you will be surprised how much less you know the more information you get. Because the more information you get, the less you are inclined to read. If you are persistent enough, maybe a genius -or a loser, some might argue- then you might end up covering the top headlines, some titles here and there, or just focusing on one thing, one single topic, one single issue, to master. Otherwise, if you are lucky, you are just jack of all trades, master of none. Imagine, how ages ago, people in remote areas, that's when they had plenty of time to do nothing, used to converse:
Man 1: So, what's up?
Man 2: Nothing much, I heard they are still fighting up north, but that was last year, haven't heard anything since... Did you hear what happened to our neighbor who stole the eggs?.. AH! yes, you were there, anyway.
Man 1: So... it was nice seeing you, I will see you again in a while.
Man 2: Yeah, I might have sex with my wife in the meantime.
Man 1: good idea.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Today I heard a Lebanese owner of a beauty center say this on the radio: "because we Lebanese are the pioneers, we are always the first in everything especially when it comes to beauty, I make sure to bring to Lebanon everything that is trendy outside (i.e. the West)." So this smart woman is saying that the Lebanese are the best copycats and that is for her a source of pride. That is so much like that stupid guy who said that if everyone signs, he will be the first one to sign, or that smart Lebanese politician who said to his supporters: bring down the sectarian regime and I will be the first one to step down.

P.S. The Lebanese national anthem it seems is stolen altogether, music and lyrics!!! That doesn't come as a surprise to me.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The sectarian anti-sectarian protests

A closer look at the anti-sectarian protests reveals a sectarian division among two movements: Those demanding abolishing political sectarianism, with the pretext of being realistic, and those demanding total secularism or laicism, with the pretext of going all the way through. Both positions stem from sectarian considerations rather than secular convictions. My take is that sectarianism is not the problem, it is rather the symptom. The malady itself is yet to be diagnosed or understood, it shows symptoms very similar to those that appear in stupidity and if not treated early on it can be deadly. Experts named the malady "ignorance". The malady is highly contagious and those protests are ineffective vaccines to which the body adapts quickly and transforms into an even deadlier virus. In the absence of a cure, I recommend prevention, abstention, and if you can't hold yourself, then protection.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The infamous Roumieh Prison: get inspired

I have been inside Roumieh prison a few times (visiting that is) and I never felt more in danger inside than outside those thick high walls and wires, or to put it better I never felt less in danger outside than inside the prison. People outside are no more free. It is inside a prison, that the highest forms of humanity can be seen with bare eyes: Regret, vengeance, solitude, rancor, anger, hopelessness, but also a lot of pride, are the walking spirits there. I never understood why cellphones, TVs, and internet -why not?- are prohibited inside. It is not a man deprived of his freedom you should fear but a man stripped of his dignity. That's what you learn from the big masters. Get inspired:

To assert in any case that a man must be absolutely cut off from society because he is absolutely evil amounts to saying that society is absolutely good, and no-one in his right mind will believe this today. Albert Camus

The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. Fyodor Dostoevsky

In jail a man has no personality. He is a minor disposal problem and a few entries on reports. Nobody cares who loves or hates him, what he looks like, what he did with his life. Nobody reacts to him unless he gives trouble. Nobody abuses him. All that is asked of him is that he go quietly to the right cell and remain quiet when he gets there. There is nothing to fight against, nothing to be mad at. The jailers are quiet men without animosity or sadism. All this stuff you read about men yelling and screaming, beating against the bars, running spoons along them, guards rushing in with clubs -- all that is for the big house. A good jail is one of the quietest places in the world. Life in jail is in suspension. Raymond Chandler

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Casa de los babys

I stumbled on this movie, which I also liked very much. I like it when I put anything in the DVD player expecting some trash and I am proved wrong. This is one of the movies that force you to reassess your life, values, and principles and reconsider both your rosy dreams of bringing a baby of your own to a beautiful world and your dark fears of bringing a baby to a world full of horror and injustice. The movie remains in the gray shades of life and ends abruptly... same as life or "anything else" as Woody Allen would say (another great film).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rather the Invention of Evil

I watched today this movie "the Invention of Lying". It is not a great movie but the idea behind it is sharp although the movie fails to take it to the extreme. The movie takes you to a make believe setting where saying the truth is the only way of life and where you basically cannot say or think or imagine what is not true, where fiction does not exist, and where you don't know what isn't. The word "lie" has no place in this world, it simply does not exist, because it cannot be, or as the movie puts it "to say something that wasn't". The movie poses as a comedy although it hardly makes you laugh but it gets you thinking: in a world where truth is absolute, where the lack, or in this case, the absence of truth does not exist, what you lose is more than emotional and creative thinking, and more than the pursuit for happiness, and much more than the philosophical quest for some meaning, what you lose is freedom. It is evil not righteousness that sets you free after all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Smokers are humans too

For long, smokers have suppressed non-smokers and imposed their smoke on the noses and lungs of non-smokers and for long non-smokers had to suffocate and inhale that shit and not utter a word, but that was long ago. Today, even smokers take pride in asking other smokers to put off their cigarettes. That's all fine and okay. Smoking has been banned in public in many places around the world and that's fine. Airport smoking rooms are designed to give you an idea of what hell feels like. That's also fine. But in coffee houses which are my favorite hangout places, discrimination against smokers is not fine; Non-smoking sections are always nicer with much more comfy couches almost inspiring you to quit smoking altogether just to enjoy those seats. When trying new coffee houses, I am naturally attracted to the non-smoking sections, not because they smell nicer but because, in Lebanon, they are usually empty and more dimly lit with lower coffee tables and nicer seats, only the waiters see my pack of cigarettes, lift their eyebrows and point to the other unappealing side of the place. On that side, it's like another world. There you are like an outcast. You understand the need for this segregation but all you ask for is an equally nice couch and some warmth. You hardly find a couch in the smoking section, mostly uncomfortable chairs, the waiter hardly takes notice of you, but they do change your ashtray after every puff. Is that some kind of punishment for our vulnerabilities? Until they ban smoking in public places, I demand an equal treatment of non-smokers, or otherwise charge us less!
P.S. Smoking is banned in my house, except in the kitchen where there are no couches but I don't charge people in my house!

Monday, March 28, 2011

My gray hair talking

Today I also thought that Life is short enough to endure its sufferings and long enough to forget them. But I might change my mind tomorrow.


Today, I remembered something that my father said to me long ago, when I was a kid. I don't remember anymore the context or why he said that but surprisingly, his words survived somehow the damages in my memory. "I think that nothing surprises me anymore and that nothing would break me anymore. I have reached a kind of immunity that makes me bear anything, anything", he said, or something along that, but pretty much the essence of it. Despite my young age, those words shook me, and I thought that I understood exactly what he meant. I started imagining the worst of situations and thinking whether he would truly be able to get through them, like: even if I commit suicide? or if I lose my sight because you mistakenly hit my eye with a pen? and some worse stuff, and I had no answer if that wouldn't break him. But now I know, that what he meant to say was that he had seen the worst. No one would dare say such a thing unless they have seen the worst.

A glimpse back

Sometimes I read some of my older posts again and I feel that I am reading them for the first time, as if someone else wrote them, and there are times when I truly get interested and start nodding in a sign of approval, but there are other posts which I totally don't agree with. Is that weird? Is it a matter of forgetfulness or am I just changing (let's not say growing)?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Love in the time of Poo-lera

I was enjoying the Sunny Sunday today when I saw this couple on the street and they so seemed to me like a framed painting on a wall so I couldn't stop myself from taking that picture. I did breach photography ethics, maybe, although their faces don't show and the street was poo free. If you happen to know them, you don't need to tell them.

I can't throw away all of my shoes!!!!!!

Ashrafiyeh people, I have noticed, love dogs. There is a dog, at least one, in almost every house in Ashrafiyeh. I am still trying to figure out why. I lived in Hamra street for a while, and many people there had dogs too, but Ashrafiyeh seems like a dog city. Dogs here almost outnumber the residents. I have nothing against dogs, on the contrary, they are cute, but their poo isn't. I mean if it is dry, I can stand it, but, you gotta try to understand me, sometimes, I wear high heals, and other times, I read my messages while walking on the sidewalk, and these little nice poos left by your cute dog stick on my shoes!!! How can I say this without hurting your or your dog's feelings? What if you clean your dog's poo from time to time? Please? I wanna keep my shoes.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mothers' Day

A short drive in the streets of Beirut these days, ahead of Mothers' day, most advertisements send these not so subliminal messages: Mom, there you go: now you can cook, clean, and get fitter.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The taste of gray

Cooking and gray hair. Those were my two latest discoveries. They do not necessarily go hand in hand but they did in my case. There isn't supposed to be any correlation between the two or any cause effect relation, and there wasn't, they just coincided, or did they? Cooking for me is some form of yoga and spirit lifting. It gets me thinking (sometimes just singing). I also do it for fun and get to boost my ego when people like my food. There is something magical in that. I am not flattered when people praise some of my traits (I do have many), but when they say "emmmmm", I find myself saying "isn't? isn't". I now do that so often that I guess many people are afraid to tell me sometimes that my food wasn't so great!. And I got to understand why my parents talked about how delicious the food is while having lunch, while I used to take that for granted. That was fine until the first gray hairs started mushrooming on my head. Everyday, I discover a new one. I have no feelings towards them, or more precisely, I don't know what to feel. I do care but not negatively, nor positively. Something is changing in me. It feels like a new age phase and it doesn't at all give me the impression of any signs of more wisdom. I am just naturally thinking whether I should dye my hair or leave the natural whiteness invade the rest of my youth. It is so sudden a change that I am reluctant to accept it. Maybe growth should have some intermittent phases, preparatory ones in between age eras. When gray hair seemed to be a very far away concern, I tried all sorts of hair colors. I dyed in red and black and I was blond for a while, until I screwed it all up and was relieved when my hair finally regained its natural color. But now that it has, I have to start dying it all again? dye it to its natural color? or the closest I can get? I refuse. Anyhow, this brought with it a whole new dilemma: how to address some people. As you grow up, you often find yourself not knowing if it is more appropriate if you keep on addressing certain people with "'ammo" (or uncle) or "tante", as you used to, especially with a particular "breed" of them, those "tantes" who are age freeks, often believing that they do look young, sometimes even acting as teenagers, and who get annoyed if you hint in anyway to their age. "Do I look to you like a tante?" they would say, although you grew up addressing them this way. This also applies to many men as well. As you approach thirty, many people in their fifties or sixties start looking at you as a peer, and you feel truly uncomfortable addressing them by their names, you are not used to it anyway, take your parents' friends for example -some of mine are truly following Benjamin button's growth pattern- you end up avoiding some sentence structures that corner you to address them. With gray hair the matter becomes worse. You have more gray hair than they do! Now cooking only complicates matters. You are sincerely interested in learning from their cooking experience, but they want to talk to you about liposuction, of course! They also insist that you should dye you hair and remove your belly, because the way you are makes them look fake. The whole world should change for them to seem natural. You are still bewildered whether you say their name upfront, you hesitate and you remember that woman who dyes her children's hair blond so that no one doubts that she is a natural blond, even when her eyebrows and hair roots betray all her goals. Then you remember the first time your mother bought you a bra and how proud you felt wearing it that you wanted to show its laces off, to tell the world that you are no longer a kid. You are a grown up. You go to the kitchen, smell your almost ready food. It maybe smells like your mom's. Then a short glance at your first gray hair reminds you that maybe they did bring with them a little more wisdom that you thought.