Showing posts from March, 2007

Stop All the Clocks

On the evening of March 31, 1999 , my mother quietly died. If hard-pressed, I can probably write about any subject, but not this one yet. My heart still aches from missing her eight years later. My life is split in two along one distinct line: before the death of my mother and after the death of my mother . I hope that I would be able to tell the whole world one day what a great person, what an exceptional woman, what a devoted mother, what a loving wife she had been. I should have cried more but in the days following her death I convinced myself that the time would come when I can be alone and mourn her privately. It never came, and the pain is still bottled up inside. I need to rest my head on her shoulder and tell her that I am tired when I am. I need to embrace her and break her the good news when they come my way. I need her today as I needed her on the day I was born. In her memory, I would like to share with you this overwhelming poem “ Funeral Blues, 1936 ” by Wystan Hugh A

Bluetooth -Syrian Pop Culture

I haven’t been in the Menshieh (a café in Tartous ) for a while. Two days ago I went there to have a Msabbha breakfast with some friends. What happens normally (I have Bluetooth enabled on my mobile phone to automatically activate my car kit) is that I get one request after another to accept messages from total strangers. I normally refuse all of them. If I look around the crowded place to just speculate who might be interested in sending these brainless jokes I always draw a blank. The boys and gals all look like nice, well meaning kids but obviously this is the “ in ” thing nowadays. I, inadvertently, received these 3 video clips on my mobile. I searched YouTube and to my great surprise found all three of them. So now I can share with you these original works of art. I liked the first one a lot ( Syrian Tom & Jerry ) although it should’ve been called ( Tom & Jerry: Tartous County ). The second one ( Adnan wa Lina ) is OK, funny but after you’ve seen the first one it’s

Spring Is Here!

S pring is here. The telltale signs are everywhere. In the air, the long journey home to nest is underway, as thousands and thousands of storks cross the sky over Tartous. Driven by a basic instinct honed over the millennia, they leave the warm grounds of Africa heading to Europe, flying over the eastern part of the Mediterranean. Year after year, like clockwork. Spring is here! P erched on top of a 10 m concrete pole, this mourning dove is incubating a pair of eggs. Her chicks will hatch shortly and they need all the protection she could offer them. A few days before, this expecting mother couldn't resist the temptation of her lusty male companion. It's a first time for the young couple and the mating was so pleasing they ought to do it again, before the season is gone. W ith the earlier rise of the sun and the longer days, a mysterious alarm ticked inside the biological clock of this beautifully colored tree. In a matter of hours, hundreds of blossoms turned into violet

Asking for a Hand

I returned late at night from Damascus after attending a Tleebeh , an “Asking for a Hand” ceremony. My father and I drove the tiring round trip in about five hours. The entire process of the intricate ceremony was over in sixty minutes, more or less. Does this ritual fulfill any necessary role or is it an outdated pretentious leftover of social behavior. I am going to elaborate on my opinion about this episode, marriage and so much more. First, however, I have to admit that although my principles haven’t wavered over the years, my tolerance, my acceptance, my embracement, my perspective on certain moral codes have softened a bit. I might not agree with some people on many points. However, our difference of opinions is not a matter I take seriously. I am, generally speaking, a tolerant person. There are just two exceptions to the above “generalization”. I cannot stand a fellow countryman who disgraces himself by maliciously attempting to shame the people or ignominy the land that is o

A Letter to My Son

M y youngest, Fares , has just turned Seven. He was delivered by the same doctor who had brought me to the world so far back in time. He was born at the hand of his grandfather. This is a letter I wrote ( in Arabic ) on a piece of paper in the hospital on that day, minutes after his arrival. I’ve kept it in the hope of giving it to him when he’s old enough to understand. Monday, March 20, 2000 Dear Fares Welcome to the world. All of my life, I’ve been waiting for you. I never knew how you’re going to look like or what you’ll turn out to be. You were just there in the bottom of my soul, Fares. Life has treated your mom and me right. We were blessed with your two beautiful sisters before you came along. Now that you are here, I have earned my long-deserved title “Abu Fares”. Ever since I was in high school, my buddies called me so. I vaguely remember where the nickname came from but it doesn’t really matter, now that you’re here. You’re going to meet all sorts of people as you cruise

A Lazy Friday

I’ve been waiting for Friday for the last six days. It has been a heavy week, a slow one. By mid-morning Thursday, I lost all interest in busting my ass any further. I was unfocussed, exhausted, insouciant. I wanted to get the hell out of the office and call it a day. And, I did just that… at five o’clock in the afternoon. After one beer too many later that evening in the company of men, I waved them goodbye and headed home. Winter, still struggling to make an impression, went wild with a heavy fall of rain and hail. Too much, but too late I’m afraid. By the time I reached the flat on the second floor I had already started stripping. I sauntered straight to the shower. Thanks, I don’t want to have any dinner . I just want to sleep it off… the week, the rain and the beer. I woke up luxuriously late in the morning. The kids were cuddled next to me in bed. They’ve come in a little after seven thirty and went back to sleep. I sat out on the balcony, slowly sipping my espresso. The air w

I Have Eggs

Through years of living alone, or at best with roommates whose only knowledge of food was specifically on how to consume it, I have developed rudimentary culinary skills to keep me alive on a student’s budget. Those times are well in the past now and I have since refined my dexterity in the kitchen, but I still like a quicky every once in a while. For that purpose nothing can compete with eggs. I have virtually lived on eggs for months on end. The price for a dozen AA eggs in the US was around 80¢ in the 80’s if I’m not mistaken. That, along with a few basic ingredients and bread, literally covered the 3 daily meals of 2 hungry young men. Let me make it clear, I’m an egg lover and it’s on top of the list of my all time favorite foods. I still eat one soft-cooked egg in the morning everyday. On weekends, I tend to use my imagination and either prepare or ask for some other way to eat the most perfect object in the universe. As a matter of fact read this: Using a microwave probe of U.S.

My Hand on Your Moustache

W ith no established statistics or valid research to back me up I will nonchalantly hypothesize that most Syrian men, in fact most Levantine adult males, grow a moustache. This is peculiar in a way, taking into account that Islamic tradition is not keen on growing upper lip hair whilst shaving the rest of the facial bristles. As a matter of fact some religious adherents claim that the moustache should be shaved whereas long beards should be trimmed and maintained. It is certainly gainful to get to the root of this custom and understand where it originally comes from. While this objective is not that thorny to attain, comprehending why most Levantine men and many women have this fetish obsession with the moustache is certainly worth pursuing. A 300 BC portrait of a Scythian horseman is the earliest graphic illustration of a shaved man with a moustache [*] . The Scythians were nomadic tribes living in Greater Iran around 1000 BC. Thus, I can safely claim, until proven wrong by ano

I Need A Break

I am bored. I seldom reach this dreadful state and when I do eventually I wrestle with the notion like a drowning man fighting for his life. Contrary to popular belief, boredom holds me within its firm grip when I am very busy. Whilst my work consumes all but tidbits of my waking hours I am most susceptible. There is little time left to be entertained, whether by spending some luxurious moments alone or in the enjoyable company of others. My predicament is often the result of too many approaching deadlines or a consuming assignment with a rather short fuse. When my daily existence is rendered as a single mechanical part in a complex machine and I lose my personal bearings due to vocational pressures, I get bored. Having gone through most of my career as a freelance soloist my duties occasionally dictate being a part of a team. I have no real problem operating with others but I do not truly enjoy the boss/employee relationship. I don’t like it either way to be absolutely clear and so fa


I don’t want to sound as if I’m advertising a product but I have come across a great free satellite channel on Nilesat called fatafeat . I’ve just found out about it last week and since then I'm hooked. My TV watching habits are rather narrow and mundane (they drive everyone crazy). I watch Sports and documentaries almost exclusively. Any kind of sport would do but European football is on top of the list. The National Geographic Channel and Discovery Science are my other option. So it’s a case of either or. I watch the news because I have to but have limited myself to 10 minutes per day. I quickly flip Al-Jazeera , Euronews , BBC and Deutsche Welle and get it over with. They all have the same bullshit to say. Only the language and the accent are different. When I’m out of sports and out of documentaries I take a peak at MBC2 and ONE TV . Very rarely, I get lucky and hit a good movie there. I lived in this humdrum TV World for years without showing any interest in expandi