Showing posts from November, 2006

What I Like

This is the first in a two-post mini series on my Likes and Dislikes . The lists are in no way comprehensive or exhaustive. They are the brainchild of a Scotch on the Rocks, or two, a scrap of paper and a doodling pen. “ What I like ” shouldn't offend anyone to be certain. It's “ what I don't like ” that might bother some. My scribbles are to be taken only at face value, at least this time. They are not arranged in any order. I Like: People who think more than they talk. I enjoy their presence around me. We can communicate in a few words and share our surroundings with our senses and inner thoughts rather than continuous babble. I Like: The games women and men play in the beginning of courtship. How they whisper and hold hands, not getting enough of each other, smiling and laughing at inner jokes. I also like the site of an old couple, withered by years of sharing hardships, gleaming with affection and love for each other, drinking their coffee together, surrounded by

Qalaat al Marqab (Castle of the Watchtower)

Thirty kilometers north of Tartous , where the sea washes the feet of the mountains and at the point where the road passage is at its most precarious, a gigantic black castle is perched on the peak of an extinct volcano. In 1062, the Muslims were the first to erect a post commanding a panoramic view of what makes up today’s entire Syrian coast . The city of Banias , at the foot of the mountain has a much longer history and its origin dates back to the Phoenicians . It is referred to in Strabo’s geography as Balanea (c 58 BC to c AD 24). Banias was home to the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines . When the Crusaders came along in 1098, they first established themselves in the city and called it Valenia after slaughtering its original inhabitants. In 1104 Qallat al Marqab (Castle of the Watchtower) fell back to Byzantine hands from the Arabs . It is not certain when the Crusaders made their second comeback to the site but it is believed to be between 1108 and 1140 when it passed to the P

This Is My Night

As I revere music so highly I can only enjoy it on rare occasions. Often, I consider music as an annoying background noise. I have to be not only in the right mood, but more like in a perfect and spellbinding ambiance. I also prefer to be alone. It is no surprise then that I normally listen to my favorite music while driving solo intercity. Om Kalthoum There are, however, a few masterpieces that entail total absorption. I need to be in a state of devout adulation, in a semi religious ecstatic mind frame. It is dangerous to listen to certain songs while driving. Company is also required to reap the full benefit of the experience, but they too, have to be in the proper disposition to accept the flow of lyrics, melody and human voice with their minds and not with their feet. Mohamad Abdul Wahab In 1968 three Arab giants, two Egyptians and a Lebanese met in Lebanon on the balcony of the Ambassador Hotel overlooking the Lamartine Valley (named after the French poet 1790-1869). They we

Boiled Crabs

Time yet again to talk about food. Crabs this time! I wanted to title this post “ I Had Crabs ” since I’ve already “ had head ” in a previous post but decided against it. Too tacky I guess. Between the months of October and January, the fishermen of Tartous and Arwad net tons and tons of salt water crabs . In general, crabs are not on the top of the list of Syrian cuisine. But real Tartoussis always consumed these side-walking crustaceans with passion. Besides, they are cheap this time of the year (about $2.00 per kilo). To get a good lot of crabs one needs to wake up either early and go to the fish market or have somebody on the inside to reserve it. A lot, or one fisherman’s harvest, weighs in at six to seven kilos minimum during this period. It’s very difficult to go wrong with the quality and size in the fall. The crabs are at their best. One thing the buyer should take very seriously though is that they should be fresh, real fresh, alive that this. Preparation is straight forw

3 Love Songs

Alone, he drove the wet and deserted streets of the sleepy town, listening to oldies at the whim and mercy of a disc jockey from a distant radio station. Memories were flooding through his mind as the music flowed. All of his life, he has been falling in love and each song brought back what was then the only one. By the time the third song was over, he parked his car underneath a lonely street light. He stepped out, lit a cigarette, and walked down a wooded hill in the light drizzle and falling fog. His elbow accidentally brushed her breast. They were both around twelve. He was reaching out to kiss her on the cheek for the very first time. It was a hot summer afternoon and they were on the roof of a long-gone building. It was round, her breast. Round and firm and small and beautiful and it was worth the whole of his life. Nothing that ever came afterward was as magical as that moment. He stood in an airport kissing her goodbye. He could never get enough of her lips. They were red and

Ascribo's Tag

I got back after a nine day absence to find a tag awaiting me. I have to thank Ascribo for taking my hand and coercing me to post after this long break. He just posed one seemingly simple question. The answer, as is the case with all intelligent questions, is as complex as it could get. I will try to be as spontaneous as possible, a trait I would very much like to pass on to my own children… "Which of your qualities you want your child to have, and which of them you do NOT want him to have" I want my children to be innocent but not na├»ve, exactly like me. Loyalty to friends, to family, to country and to principles is probably on the top of my better traits and which I consider to be my most valuable possession. I wish for my children to be loyal, to treat their word of honor as if it were of divine origin. Although, at times, we have: “To prepare a face to meet the faces that [we] meet…” I am a man with one face only. I might rarely mask my emotions out of politeness or

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

For the first time since I’ve started blogging I have to take a break for a little over a week. Actually, taking a break usually means that we stop laboring and start enjoying ourselves. In my case, it’s exactly the opposite. I have to stop doing something I enjoy tremendously and go on laboring. I am leaving Tartous on a business trip. I haven’t been on the road (working) for a while and it’s high time I take this “regular” journey in my line of work. Although my laptop is always near or on my lap, I don’t think that I would be able to read, post or comment on any of my favorite or even my blog. I shall return Inshallah on Saturday 11/11/06. Until then, what can I leave on my blog for all to read and may be come back to re-read? I could only think of one piece of writing, a masterpiece, my favorite all-time poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by Thomas Stearns Eliot . The American (later naturalized British) T.S. Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri on September 26, 1888 .