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Thursday, September 27, 2007

toyz 4 big boyz: why i wish i was 3

video

Arima, a woman who graces my dreams now and again tagged me and wanted me to give her 5 reasons why I wish I was 3 again… or young in general!
Who am I to say no?

1) I don't have a lingering memory from that age, but looking at my old black & white photos I think I was a cute kid, the type that women cuddle and kiss and hold close to their bosoms. I fancy being in that situation again.

2) I don't mind at all being spoon fed by a girl who loves babies and happen to be generously endowed and lightly dressed. She would lean on me and purse her lips and make these stupid sounds and shower me with kisses leaving lipstick marks all over my chubby face, and preferably, on my adorable neck.

3) A boy of 3 will never draw too much attention or suspicion if he chose to walk on all four and look up women dresses. The possibilities are infinite, the joy of discovery juvenile and the satisfaction guaranteed. The world comes in different colors, and a little boy should be the first to learn about it. With a little luck and plenty of imagination I can later compare notes with my 3 year old buddies on who’s hot and who’s not.

4) At such a tender age a baby cannot bathe alone. He needs a gorgeous nanny or babysitter to fill the tub with candy-scented foam and his yellow rubber duck and give him a good rub. She might even join in since being so innocent he would not mind her company nor consider it in any way obtrusive. That I would very much like as well.

5) Now you’ve come so far and probably are expecting the worst with this fifth and final reason. Not necessarily, I wish I was 3 again simply because I can say and do things I’m not supposed to at a later age. Such as my 4 wishes above for instance!

After the short senseless clip of a Ramadan afternoon (2 days ago) and reading my response to Arima’s tag you might be wondering whether the empty feeling you’re experiencing at the moment is a result of watching and reading this extremely silly post or whether it’s because of you. I think it might be a combination of both. Unless you were desperate to start with you would’ve not have read so far. And, having done so and not seen it coming, you simply deserve it.

I’m tagging KJ, Dubai Jazz and Kaya

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Very Private Ramadan

Life trudges along parallel threads for most men. They have either made up their own minds or someone has done it on their behalf. At one point, they’ve decided to head north or south, east or west. Then they marched on. Subsequently, there are those who had gone astray and followed diverging paths leading nowhere in particular. With the passage of time, they were left with a bitter existential aftertaste and perhaps no more. Could it be that the uncommitted and ambivalent deserve an ambiguous present, and on a more proufound inference, an uncertain future? What am I in the grand scheme of life? Who is to answer this question without drawing bitter tears to my eyes or instigating a fit of hysterical laughter, one that will echo endlessly within the dark maze of my nocturnal essence.

The choices we inexplicably make mature into experiences and later age into memories. As long as I am willing to tackle another challenge, to climb yet one more step, I chance on crossroads and follow my instinct or perhaps trail after an educated guess. Once I abandon my quest, however, like a rivulet of water, the hypnotic downhill path is inevitable. All of them roads, the well-traveled and the obscure, the scenic and the dull, the glorious and the shameful ultimately lead to death. Is that why we humans tend to think so much about the next world since by all counts life is but a short journey? Will anyone ever answer the eternal question: did we make it all up or is it real?

There's more to the month of Ramadan than the fasting, the praying, the devout rituals and the inevitable gluttony and feasting. Of the prescribed rites I have only committed myself to fasting. I have never found it easy to fast. I normally drink a minimum of 3 liters of water per day. Whether thirsty or not, a cold bottle of water is my constant companion. I even have severe doubts concerning the bodily benefits of fasting, in particular as related to water deprivation. I wholly believe that, on the physiological level, thirst is a sign of eminent danger. My productivity at work is greatly reduced. I become easily irritated and my attention span is diminished to almost zero. For most of the day I resign to the terrible and annoying burden of waiting. After breaking fast, I feel even worse, my stomach being glutted with solid food and fluid. Yet I find solace in the long arduous hours of self-denial, comfort in the brief fleeting moments of reflection.

On the deepest of levels, I am like this year-round. I’m not a pious man and religion, organized institutionalized religion in particular, gets on my nerve. I don’t accept it in its literal manifestation but tolerate the general idea of goodwill to mankind. I loathe preaching in any form, I resent indoctrination, abhor the self-righteousness of devotees and fear the rising tide of religiosity. But I never find it within me not to fast in Ramadan. In a way, fasting is my only physical, truly private expression of faith. And despite being a restless soul, in the vast blackness of space within the recesses of my inner universe, one light among my Pleiades emanates from a star of supreme belief.

I see no reason to live if I’m not fully alive. There’s a burning fire inside, fueling on a geographical and chronological fidelity to a mystical place and time, feeding on unbending loyalty to friends and the good times, shining on the hunt for the unknown, glowing with the exhilaration of a ride on a twisty mountain road, blazing on passion for beautiful women and beaming with love and dedication to my family.

I also see no reason to live if my vanity is not subdued by my private notion of faith. I have rejected trekking along a railroad track that could only reach a predetermined destination. I have as well abandoned the delusion of sauntering in an open desert without a compass in hand. My chosen path is shunned at from believers and agnostics. It’s an inacceptable compromise to both, a shortcut leading to a cul-de-sac at best. Yet I persist and when the moment comes and I can’t walk no more, I will look behind from wherever I happen to be and lip-sing with Frank Sinatra: “I did it my way”.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hot Fish - Samke Harra

Happy Ramadan to all!

It certainly is food time and I'm going to take you by the hand and help you prepare the best Tartoussi Samke Harra in existence. Samke Harra, literally means Hot Fish (hot as in hot & spicy) is a Middle Eastern dish prepared with subtle or major variations from Lattakia, Syria to Tyre, Lebanon. Well this is as far as my knowledge extends. If it is prepared by our Turkish neighbors up north or by our Palestinian brethrens to the south I am not aware of it. My favorite two varieties are the Tartoussi (Syrian) and the Tripolitan (Lebanese).

Samke Harra is a serious and delicious main course. As with any other type of cooking, do not let the long list of ingredients intimidate you. In reality, it's just another simple dish if you put your heart to it.

I also need to point out that Samke Harra is by no means a Ramadan specialty. However, I had to post about it because it was a special request from my friend Cara in California. I hope you enjoy preparing, eating and sharing this wonderful recipe Cara and I would love to read your comment after you actually try it out.

I'm sorry I couldn't post my own photo of this dish because I don't have any and I don't want to keep you waiting.

Bon Appétit!

Ingredients

1 (1-1½ kg fish): a Snapper is great but other firm fish will do

1 large finely chopped onion

5 cloves of smashed garlic

4 finely chopped chilly peppers

2 finely chopped red peppers

8 medium peeled and chopped tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 bunch of chopped green coriander leaves

150g of toasted pine nuts & walnuts

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon mixed spices

2 teaspoons dry coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons Paprika

A little nutmeg

2 bay leaves

3 cups water

2 thinly sliced lemons

salt

Preparation

Step 1: Preheat oven to 175°c. Thoroughly clean the fish inside out with running water . Rub with salt. Remove head and tail , or entirely de-bone as per preference.

Step 2: Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan. Add onion, garlic and chilly peppers and sauté just until light brown. Add the red peppers and keep on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and all the spices and continuously stir for 2 additional minutes. Add the tomatoes and water, simmer for 5 to 7 minutes.

Step 3: In a large frying pan, heat remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil then sear fish on both sides for 2 minutes each (only skin side). Place in oven in a suitable pan, top with mix from Step 2 and bake for approximately 1 hour or until fish is done.

Step 4: Remove from oven. You may remove bones and inedible pieces of fish entirely by hand before serving or you may present on table as is. Decorate with pine nuts and walnuts on top and green coriander and sliced lemons around.

Serve and Enjoy – Quantities above for 6 to 8 servings (depending on size of fish and appetite of those being served ;-)

A perfect companion to Samke Harra is Sayadieh, check out this recipe here.

Monday, September 10, 2007

One "Flu" Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Two, three days ago I swallowed a razor blade in the morning. It kept nagging at me and I could hardly gulp my breakfast. I jumped on my bike and headed to work, an absurdly short distance away. I was hit by a truck. The heavy wheels squashed my bones one by one and squeezed the life out of me. I climbed the flight of stairs to the office and with every step I scaled I felt the impact of a powerful baseball bat crushing my knees, tearing apart my flesh and muscles. I slumped heavily on the chair, completely stunned in front of the screen as slow realization crept through my foggy brain. It’s the fucking flu.



There’s nothing I hate more than being sick. My tolerance to the common cold is close to nil. If a kid is infected two blocks away and I merely look at him from afar chances are I’ll catch it and turn into a useless lump in 24 hours or less. For the last few years I’ve been taking the shot every October. Although, it didn’t disappear completely from my life, the frequency of falling down victim to the flue has been greatly reduced. I used to get the cold twice, perhaps thrice a year. Now it’s more like once every two or three years. Yet when it hits, it hits hard, no holds barred, under the belt, over the head, anywhere where it hurts, continuously, incessantly, without mercy or remorse, until it runs its full demonic course.
Whether I take over the counter or prescription medications, drink exotic herbs, recite magic incantations, chant ghoulish invocations, pray to the almighty God above or plead with the lowly spirits of the netherworld I won’t fully get on my feet again before the flu wreaks havoc on my body and soul. A wise doctor once commented on my ordeal, “It’ll take you 7 days to get over the symptoms of the common cold or flu, assuming of course that you take your medication, drink plenty of liquid and rest. If you don’t, you won’t get well before a week.”
How come, I wonder, they’ve developed cruise missiles able to cross continents then hit a skinny bearded man in a bunker of concrete six stories down but still do not have a damn clue on how to eradicate once and for all the flu, among other human inflictions and miseries. Or do they but rather make us suffer and pay hard earned money to pharmaceutical companies. Didn’t Pfizer sue the Indians because they were mass producing a cheap drug for AIDS without paying “royalties”? Kiss Ikht humanity if this is how it was meant to be (Kiss Ikht is one Arabic variant for Fuck, yet more eloquent and melodic).
You will certainly excuse my obscenity and absurdity once you know under what chemical influence my brain neurons happen to be at right this moment. I have taken a little of everything. Pills, capsules, syrups, squeezed lemons, water and chicken soup. I have rested endlessly in bed. I have even watched Arabic movies. Send in your remedies if you happen to have any. Please hurry before the week or the 7 days (whichever comes first) are over.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Midnight Existential Banter

-Hey bartender, get me and my friend here another round.

-You’re sure you didn’t have too much to drink?

-Just get us more cheap Vodka; if I needed a mother I would’ve stayed home.


-I hate wiseass bartenders, what were you saying?
-I was wondering if we’re ready to start our game.
-You’re kidding me; we’ve almost drank a whole bottle. We’re just in the perfect frame of mind. I’m very excited… We haven’t done so in over what, a month?
-42 days exactly.
-Great, go ahead, shoot, ask me the first question. Make sure everyone around hears you.
-Well then, it’s an existential question: WHY AREN’T WE BORN OLD AND PROGRESS BACKWARD IN LIFE?
-Umm, let’s see, it's a matter of logistics really. The average elderly male measures at 164 cm height, 48 cm wide and 65 kg weight. Assuming he has to come out to the world in the same old-fashioned way, the average female reproductive system has to be 5 to 7 times its' present size. That would lead to a complex sequence of events, since proportionally speaking the penis should be equal (in length and girth) to the average elderly man. We would have a runaway problem on our hands and we would end up with the whole universe being a giant vagina waiting for a big bang to happen. This is actually what some metaphysicists believe to be the case anyway…
-Great answer, really great. Your turn now.
-WHY ARE CUNNILINGUS AND FELLATIO OK WHILE SODOMY AND ORIFICIO ARE NOT?

-What in the hell is Orificio?
-It’s sticking it in every orifice of the body?
-I see, basically you want to know why it’s acceptable to lick and suck but not to bugger and inflate. It just so happens that I have recently read an article in Anthropology Today about how the elders of some long gone East African tribe gathered one night and voted on cunnilingus. One chief, holding a raw zebra liver in his hand, stood up in the middle of the gathering, partially slit it with a flint knife then licked it and mumbled, “Ummmm, gooood!” Some of the more conservative heads of families immediately yelled “taboooooooo” meaning bad. Eventually, the eldest of the elders licked the liver himself and agreed that it was “goooooood”. There is no surviving record of any discussion relevant to fellatio since all the men of the tribe apparently unanimously agreed that it was “gooooooood”. As for sodomy, it had proved rather shitty that evening, especially after a heavy dinner consisting of zebra meat. All those who tried it cried “tabooooooooo” and it was laid to rest there and then and never to be allowed again. Finally, as far as ah, orificio is concerned, I don’t think the article covered this aspect of sexuality but I have to make my own educated guess here… Errrr, are we talking about the nose and ears! There are no other orifices, are there?
-Sure, in between the toes, the eyes?
-The space between the toes is not an orifice and the eyes, how can you do it to the eyes?
-I don’t particularly know but the aborigines of Australia…
-ALRIGHT THAT’S IT. I HAD ENOUGH OF BOTH OF YOU MORONS. GET OUT OF HERE AND DON’T LET ME SEE YOU AGAIN. EVER. GET OUT!
-You know what the problem is; people are not interested in intellectual discussions anymore. Did you see the disgusted looks on everybody’s face back in the bar? They’d rather watch the news or a football game instead of listening to an intelligent discussion such as ours. Let’s go somewhere else and continue our fascinating tête-à-tête.
-Man, you’re so deep.
-You too man, I’m very impressed. There’s this classy bar at the corner of the block. I’ve been saving it for an occasion like this.
-I enjoy talking with you.
-Me too. I feel so enlightened
-Bartender, 2 Vodkas, hold the ice.
-I thought they say 2 straight Vodkas.
-Yeah, but that was before the war.


Image courtesy of: http://www.redhill-reigate-history.co.uk/pubs%20of%20redhill.htm