Showing posts from December, 2006

All That Jazz

For the past ten years, I have been avoiding the confrontation with the terrible flu through vaccination. The regularity of the seasonal torment confining me to bed for days has almost disappeared. I get through most years without even a stumble. But in the dying throes of 2006, I succumbed to a horrible strike of merciless cold. I’ve been reduced to a lump of aching muscles, mind rendered senseless by the Frankensteinian chemistry of prescribed and over the counter medications. It certainly is obvious that The Cold would and should take its course, but in my case it is primal fear, an embedded instinct to fight this ruthless monster with potions and magical incantations, to not only hit it below the belt, but to rip its goddamn balls off with my own hands, only if I could. I have finally sighted the faint light at the end of the tunnel. I still hurry to bed, covering myself from head to toe and shiver like a wet puppy every so often. But I am finally sleeping without the intrusion of

My Best Wishes for the Holidays

I have promised my family, and myself, to take it easy and to spend as much time with them as possible during the coming week. Since I’m not taking any vacation in the real meaning of the word, lazing around at home, watching TV, playing with the kids and frequenting Sile in the evening would be my objects of desire in the next few days. I might get overwhelmed with the hubbub of the festive season and miss blogging so terribly that I’d sneak away to my PC in the after hours for a quickie. In any case, whether this would be my last post of 2006 or not, I would like to wish each and everyone of you a Merry Xmas , a Blessed Eid Adha and a Happy New Year . Through this blog, I can only offer something modest along with my wishes. I gave it some serious thought and the best I could come up with is the gift of music. I would like you to enjoy this audio stream below of a magnificent guitar duel by Carlos Santana & Ottmar leibert . I hope it gives you as much pleasure as it d

Most Popular Post of 2006

Warning: The following article might prove offensive to some people. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the writer. However, it is based on factual, yet disturbing, visitors’ statistics. What you are going to read below is a true story. Parental discretion is therefore advised. One of the most popular posts during my eight month tenure at the helm of this blog has been “ Fairuz in Tartous ”. It was also the most controversial and received the highest number of comments. It’s a little disheartening for me since I deem that I’ve written better ones. I keep getting direct hits on my site counter pointing to that post. For a while I figured to myself that Madame Fairuz is very popular and it’s only natural that many web surfers are interested in reading whatever is written about her. Over the months, however, a very distinctive pattern started emerging. A high percentage of these hits were coming from one particular Arab country . A country considered “ moderate ” by the p

Om Fares, the Wind Beneath My Wings

She wasn't even twenty when we first met, a pretty face with a big gorgeous smile, cat-walking through life as an English Literature student at Damascus University. I was a disillusioned soldier who did not belong, sailing through as the winds willed me. No chart to follow, no likely call for a next harbor. She saw through me and perfectly understood why I spoke so little. It was much easier to express my feelings by bringing her ( to her parents’ house ) a bag of quails I’ve hunted than to look her straight in the face and say what’s really on my mind. And she accepted that. She held my hand and took me as her life-long companion and soul mate. Twenty years later, she can still stand me, which, by itself, is quiet an achievement and a true indication of her beautiful spirit. We’ve been through it all, the good, the bad and the in-between. Being married is like this, you know. I can close my eyes and remember the moments of true happiness we’ve shared over the years. The birth of e

A Modest Contribution to Humanity

I have always felt inconvenienced by the discrepancy between the ubiquitous Gregorian calendar ( solar ) in use worldwide and the Hijri calendar ( lunar ) implemented to fix Islamic religious events . I have even undertaken some serious research to find out whether the inconsistency can ever be resolved. To my chagrin, I learned that practical solutions had been reached way in the past but that they had been refused on theological grounds. The Hebrew, Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese, Persian and pre-Islamic calendars are all lunisolar and were able to resolve the discrepancies between the cyclical movement of the earth around the sun and that of the moon around the earth with some ingenious adjustment(s). These calendars are based on a combination of solar and lunar mathematics, thus the name “ lunisolar ”. The Persian calendar for example adds one month every 3 lunar years to compensate for the 11 days amiss. Studying the intricacies of these different calendars is very rewarding an

Lamb in Pot

It is citrus season in Tartous . The green trees are fully laden with oranges, lemons, grapefruits, tangerines and mandarins and dotted with various shades of red, orange and yellow. Although the citrus groves have been reduced in size and number, they and the sea still enfold Tartous like caring parents. The weather has been perfect throughout November. It’s a little bit on the cold side in the evening perhaps, but unblemished sunshine prevails all through the day and begs for a special type of Bar-B-Q . Do you think it’s too soon to post about food again? I guess so, but I can’t resist the temptation. This time though, I am going to write about a big festive meal particularly conceived for the outdoors or the backyard of your home. The recipe calls for a bunch of hungry people. I don’t know how many, but the more, the merrier. You need 1/2 of a young lamb , potatoes, onions, assorted spices and a bottle of Tabasco . You should also prepare a bowl of rice and get fresh vegetables for

Msabbha: Breakfast of Champions

A typical Tartoussi day starts, as everywhere else I suppose, with breakfast. Most folks would eat at home and our meal is no different than elsewhere in the Levant . However, there are certain men, especially those involved in heavy labor or working long hours and normally missing lunch, who need something extraordinary and potent to carry them through the day. There are also gluttons with big bellies and insatiable appetites who crave the Tartoussi breakfast of Champions on a regular basis ( I would name my friend Abu Ahmad just to prove my point, once every other day is his average ). For these hungry beasts and many others, nothing will do except the famous, the one and only, the extremely rich in protein, the original Msabbha ( مسبحة ) of Tartous . Since this particular plate is never prepared at home, it is either consumed in the little restaurants where it is cooked overnight or taken away. Many families would send a volunteer to bring this breakfast home and eat it toget

The Montgomery Jacket

Years have slipped through my grip like grains of sand. Over the course of more than four decades, the neurons in my brain have been continuously bridging mental banks, shaping my personality in a chance progression. My self today is as much a result of experiences as it is an inherited entity. Floods of emotions have swept me by in the rush of years, raising me to new heights at times or bringing me down to the abyss of despair. I have survived the onslaught of variables not necessarily by will power but rather through long term conditioning affecting not only me but all the human species. I was on the edge of consciousness when I found myself wearing a dark blue Montgomery jacket (known also as a Toggle or Duffle coat). I certainly did not choose it, I was barely five. My memories of that period are understandably vague but I do remember my jacket vividly. A couple of winters later, my mother brought me a replacement because the Montgomery wouldn’t fit anymore. I cried, not wantin

What I Don't like

This is the second, and luckily for me and for readers alike, last of a two-post mini series on my Likes and Dislikes . There is no way on earth I can openly speak about my dislikes without stepping on somebody’s toes. I have to admit that I had to modify this list a bit. I have even taken a few things out. I never intended my blog to be a controversial one. It wouldn’t truly reflect my personality if it were. But in the end, I was able to state most of my dislikes, although in a somehow subdued manner. (No pictures this time) I Don’t Like: Astrology and all pseudo sciences. That there are actually people out there who read their daily (or weekly) horoscope never seizes to amaze me (in a shocking sort of way). If I were ever in a position to round all the astrologists and fortune tellers of the world together in one place, I would inflict upon them the greatest punishment of all. I’d make them listen to each other for the rest of their lives. I Don’t Like: People who write more than