Thursday, April 12, 2012

Is talent overrated?

Which is worst: a wasted talent that you fail to nurture or a wasted effort on a talent that you don't even have? Here are some answers I got to this question. A "talented" Lebanese musician once told me: "there can't be a wasted talent for talent doesn't make you sleep at night until you do something about it".  But this seemingly famous violinist Pablo Sarasate had said "for 37 years I have practiced 14 hours a day and now they call me a genius?". Who do I believe?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The dust is in the system

I was asked today by the head of cleaners at the office where I work, to give my feedback about the cleaners, or the one cleaner to be  precise. To be honest, the cleaner is a nice guy who throws the same joke at me everyday that smoking is unhealthy. But objectively, he is the worst cleaner I have seen. Not that I care much, and I don't. My theory is that the more work you have, the cleaner your desk would be. It is the absence of work that would make it dusty. But then, you would have plenty of time to clean it yourself. Common sense. Other colleagues have been complaining a lot about the cleaner but I was to give the feedback because I am the only Arabic speaker. I thought about it for a moment, though lousy as he is, I don't want the guy to lose his job, the other colleagues won't understand Arabic so I can say whatever I want. I also thought that I would report bad managers who are not doing their job but why wouldn't I report a cleaner? Am I letting any sense of pity cloud my judgment? I hate that feeling. But wouldn't the bad boss deserve to be kicked out more because he makes much more undeserved money? Then the thought that the system has strong safeguards protecting lousy managers but loose ends at the bottom of the chain made me frown, give a serious look of anger, and say in Arabic: he is great. Everyone loves him here.

Amman: City of dust

(A Lebanese in Jordan) 
It has been almost a month since I arrived to Amman for my 6-month assignment. I haven't been out much, haven't been to the Dead Sea or Al-'aqaba or Jarash or Wadi Rum or Petra or any of the must-see places in Jordan. My movement was restricted to this cement city called Amman and my encounters did not go beyond Iraqi, Syrian, and Jordanian taxi drivers and Medhat, the Egyptian concierge. It is hard not to notice though the embryonic connection between cities and your mood, and Amman is a city without a soul. A city of dust. I did notice however the full moon projection on my balcony. I seldom look at the sky, I said, to myself, and I don't know if it was the loneliness inside or the ugliness outside that made me turn my head upward. But, I thought that a full moon is unnecessary in places where no full moon dance would follow. Yesterday was the first day I saw people smiling, and I smiled too. I have been to pubs and restaurants, and there too, smiles are a rare commodity. Though I have always despised the fake Lebanese so called "joie de vivre", I have looked around for some fake smiles. Faking a smile I believe can delude you into thinking you are happy. You could be but you fail to notice. The first lesson I learned here is not to mention that I am Lebanese. Now I am a Syrian here. Hell with those who would now accuse me of not having any sense of patriotism, because yes I don't; I don't feel any less Syrian than a Lebanese anyway. But to those same people, I say, that's what being a Lebanese here is like: a marriage proposal from a taxi driver (as a second younger, sexier, cuter wife, using the words of the taxi driver himself, and that was after he learned my nationality), a comment from another taxi driver that the Lebanese got the best accent because it is soft, sexy, and flirty (and yes, those were the exact words), and an offensive compliment that unlike the Lebanese, Jordanian women are fat and ugly. Of course, by no means I blame Lebanese women for this, and none of it justifies the comments of these men. But you would understand that saying that I am Syrian comes as a protection measure. Well my safety is my first concern here, and educating these men is my least. The word Lebanese seems to have become equivalent with prostitution here. But you Lebanese, are no better, come to think of it, you have the same connotation for Ukrainian, Russian, and Eastern European women. As for Medhat, he needs a post on its own.