Farewell to Years

I shouldn’t get critical over New Year’s celebrations and denounce them as being solely fit for the brainless masses. In fact I commemorated the occasion last night sharing a few drinks with old friends, dining heartily with the family, lighting up fireworks with the neighborhood kids, hitting the sack a few minutes before midnight then falling asleep in a jiffy after an extra long day at work. Over the span of my life, there are a few New Year Eves I always remember.

Tartous 1966 - The first time in my living memory to stay up so late. The moored ships in the unfinished Tartous harbor blew their horns and shot colored flares in the night sky. A few minutes past midnight my aunt delivered her baby. He is a doctor today and lives somewhere in Canada. He had recently become a father himself. 42 years have passed since.

Damascus 1978 – A little after 9:00 PM, a friend dropped me at my aunt’s house in Azbakieh. I hurriedly tucked in the envelope containing my passport and one-way flight ticket in the closet. I changed my clothes for the party and rushed out to celebrate with a bunch of boys and girls. I had 4 more days to spend between Damascus and Tartous before I fly to America. The night went crazy and spun out of control. The wild bash was finally put to rest by the creeping sunlight. I haven’t seen any of my Damascene friends afterward. It’s been 30 years.

New Orleans 1981 – My mother, my sister and I made it to the hotel with the setting sun. I walked the streets to investigate the possibilities. After all it’s not that easy finding a place to spend New Year’s Eve with your mother in a city like New Orleans. Clueless, I headed back walking by the bank of the Mississippi. A banner announced a super party on board the renowned Natchez, a steamboat launched in 1975. I bought 3 tickets and together we spent a memorable night. I can still hear my mother’s laughter echoing in my mind. Rest her soul; she fitted in so smoothly anywhere her road took her. A 27 year-old night, yet detailed, vivid and vibrant with colors and emotions as if it were yesterday. 8 years ago, my mother passed away.

New Orleans 1982 – One thousand and one night within the folds of one magical night. A fable from 26 years ago.

Somewhere near Deir El Zor 1987 – After an 11-hour drive in a 3-wheeled locally made contraption (Tertayra as it is called in Tartous, Tarazena as it is known in Deir El Zor) I reached with my two friends and our three pointer dogs a small hut in the middle of nowhere. We huddled together with the lord of the house and his family near the fire in the one-room structure in anticipation for next day’s chase. It was the first time we hunt Francolin (a game bird from the Grouse family) in the cotton plains of northeastern Syria. The overjoyed dogs running incessantly back and forth the open fields, the thrill of the hunt and the hospitality of the people made that New Year’s night and day so special, so surrealistically out of this world. Exactly 21 years have passed since we bagged those birds.

Tartous 1990 – We were living in the old house by the sea. Om Fares and I weren’t alone that night. Our daughter, exactly 3 months old was a diversion from the external, insignificant world. We were so unbelievably happy with our God-sent gift from heaven; we did not want to go anywhere. We did not want to be with anyone. Diana is 18 now.

Tripoli 2000 – At 5:00 in the afternoon, Abu Omar calls over the phone. We have nothing planned for the evening and I had to succumb to his gracious invitation. We packed our stuff and crossed the border to my second home (Tripoli) with our two girls. It was a crazy and wild party. Abu Omar and I were so excited at the prospect of seeing a belly dancer. Little did we know, she was blonde, Russian and overweight. That did not stop us from making fools of ourselves and taking every opportunity to touch and play with her. Did I mention that she was generously endowed? Fares was born a little less than 3 months later. Abu Omar I miss you dear friend. Please come back. It’s been 8 years.

There will be a few more hopefully and as the jolly Cajuns of Southwestern Louisiana say: "Laisser les bons temps rouler!"

Happy New Year to All.


salaam abufares
Happy 2008 for you and yours, it was a wonderful ride over the year and hopefully it will remain so for years to come.
my new year is usually about tallying the books (as i was doing for a coming blog!) salaam to the family
Yazan said…
Happy new year abu fares,

this sure looks like a good year...
Anonymous said…
Wish you and your family a fantastic new year.....
Dubai Jazz said…
Happy new year ya Abu Fares.
Best wishes for the new year.

We'll hopefully manage to get together in 2008, this shall make it a rather special year :)..

Although I am not sure I fully understand what happened in New Orleans on the new year's eave of 1982... what about the one thousand and one nights? is it like an oreintal rendition of Mardi Gra or something? ;)
The Syrian Brit said…
May this New Year bring you and your Family happiness, contentment, and continuing good health..
Anonymous said…
Abufares, I couldn´t reed it all , when I reached to Der Al Zor, I stopped, my heart was beating fast,breathing with dificulty, I count to ten,went to the kitchen and had a DAMET whisky seco (dry),as if sudenlly i got into the google earth and went directly to Abu Kamal, Al-Bu kamal 1976, a three dimention screen opened in my head and I was smelling the sand and water of Alfarat, feeling the cold December morning breeze of mesopotenia,,,,,. searving the Syrian forces, division of engeneering, militar bridges , after 3 monht of hard working the bridge was ready ,pastors could cross the Alfarat, from the Shamie to the Jazire, i can heer the bells of the sheeps,,,,,,,,,,,
I was a sargent responsable for the ALSIANE (TAKEING CARE) and I had to stay there for 6 more months to be sure that the bridge was build well, as it was cristmass time my cheefe (mulazem)said to me karkou (my name) dont´t you want to go mome for 2 weeks, you have to reast for a while we have a lot of thigs to do, I said Sir. with your prmittion I woul like to stay,,,,, he was thinking ,this soldior should be crazy ,he wants to stay here under the tent (KHEME),I was thinking after all I have with me my calibe 12 St. Etinne hunting gun and 2 sppining rods, on the afternoon my MULAZEM asked me ,what do we have for dinner ? sir we have some BERGHOL,some SAMNE, and some salt, you can choose, (DERAG-FRANCOLINO) (TER BERAWI-WILD PIGGENS)or (SAMAK SHABUT-UFRATES SHABUT FISH) ,,,,,,,,,that was my best cristmass,
cristmass is becoming so artificial that some times remindes me of the Arabic proverb, EL EED ELI MA BETHEBHA, BUSA E DHI ALEHA BELKASER,,,,,,
KJ said…
great memories 3ammo, I hope this year brings more great memories for you to hold
saint said…
1978 I was still in Damascus; I celebrated the New Year in my home near Azbakieh where we through a big party joining for the first time family and friends. It was out of the world and we did not care much about tradition.
If I knew you were nearby, I could have stopped and said Hi.:))

Abu Fares, Eid Mubarak and happy new year..
Abufares said…
Happy New 2008 to all

Looking forward reading more of you again.

Inshala yours, mine, everybody's dreams come true.

Thank you Ramm. Same to you.

And we'll write about it for future generations :-)
1982! Wa Tawakafat Loughatou al Kalami,etc.

Thanks dear friend, looking forward meeting you in person.

When you reminisce you send shivers down my spine. I'm so glad I stirred those dormant memories.

Lek Ahla bi ibn Khayyi :-) Keep making them as they will become handy later (I mean memories)

For all the absurdities of life we could've rubbed shoulders that night and never knew it. Since we didn't get to meet so long back in time when we were so close physically, let's hope one coming day brings a happy coincidence.
Haifaa said…
Good and peaceful new year to all of you. Do you guys do resolutions?

Mine: start to read my library. Speak to my son only in Arabic.

So, did you go to school to New Orleans?
Anonymous said…
Abu Fares, happy new year to and your family and friends from me and my family.
Abu Abdo
bint battuta said…
Happy new year, Abu Fares - and I'm looking forward to more of your wonderful posts!
Lujayn said…
Happy New Year Abu Fares! Tartous 1990 sounds like a really beautiful time.

Still reading you in 2008 - man, you're good :))
Abufares said…
@Az3ar's Fan
I have no resolution whatsoever. Not that my life is perfect, I simply don't know where to even start.
I went to USL in Lafayette, La. a couple of hours ride from New Orleans.

@Abu Abdo
Same to you old buddy. Rgds to all.

@bint battuta
inshala I can partially fulfill your expectations.

I miss you around here. 1990 was a steep climb. My back didn't hurt then and I was bulldozing my way through life :-)
Stumbled upon your blog, enjoying what I'm reading :)

The tale of your most memorables new years makes me ponder.. Time flashes by doesn't it, people who once mattered leave, sometimes never to come back.. I hope Abu Omar comes back to you.

Tu parles francais?
Abufares said…
@ Bridget Jones
I read your first (and only post so far) with great interest. I have the feeling that once you get serious about your blog I will certainly be a regular reader.
I do speak french but I believe that I'm as good at it as you are at cooking.
Hope to see you again, always.
Thanks for the kind words Abufares and your blog visit.

Actually, Bridget's diary has been up and running over the last couple of months :) I'll paste soon a few extracts from it on the blog where you read my first post, so you get a taste of things yet to come ha! ;)

I'll be making my brand new diary available soon. Will look forward to your visits!

Love the witty comment ref. french & my cooking ha! ;)

Keep up those insigntful posts here, Bridget will be back!
Anonymous said…
Abufares, your blog is so involving that I forgot to thank you for accepting me in your nice family, and wish you all peace . as a reward , i´ll give you an old family recipe,

as you know HAJAL has a very caracteristic smell (AMME)some love it some hate it, I adore it.

cut in large pieces, fry in SAMNE ,low fire,always adding hot water(just few spoons) be careful not to toste. we the old HALABI call this process (GHAM) ,not frying nor cooking, add some 7 BHARAT and some salT , when you see that it is softening add some (ZETON MKASAR) withot seed untill you reach the desirable texture, (REZ BE SHARIA) makes good per, and eat it till the bone,,,,,,,,,I can heer Dad sayin,,, YA EBNI FASFES EDAMO,,
Abufares said…
That sounds like one hell of a recipe. I will sure give it a try on my next Hajal (Shukar Partridge) outing.
Meanwhile, I am going to return the favor with a recipe of my own.
Wait till my next post:-)
Anonymous said…
tO all,
can any body post the letters of the song LAMA BADA YATATHAN,

thank you
Abufares said…
Yikram Aynak, here we go:

تفصيلات الابيات كالتالي : حسب الاغنية

لما بدا يتثنى ... اماااااااان .. امااااا .......
لما بدا يتثنى ... اماااااااان .. امااااا .......
حبي جمال فتنا... اماااااااان .. امااااا .......
أومى بلحظ أسرنا ... اماااااااان .. امااااا .......
أومى بلحظ أسرنا ... اماااااااان .. امااااا .......
... غصن سبا حينما غنى هواه و مال
وعدي و يا حيرتي .... ما لي رحيم شكوتي بالحب من لوعتي إلا مليك الجمال
... اماااااااان .. امااااااااان ... اماااااااان
بالحب من لوعتي إلا مليك الجمال
... اماااااااان .. امااااااااان ... اماااااااان

ونظم الابيات الصحيح كالتالي :

لما بدا يتثنى قضى الصبا و الدلال حبي جمال فتنا أفديه هل من وصال
أومى بلحظ أسرنا بالروض بين التلال غصن سبا حينما غنى هواه و مال
وعدي و يا حيرتي .... ما لي رحيم شكوتي بالحب من لوعتي إلا مليك الجمال
Anonymous said…
ya aini alek lak ya Abufares, I just found out the accords on my guitar,,,,now I have the accods and the letter,,,,,,,,,

you ask me why don´t i make my blog? I´ll tell you why
I need (start/Abufares/switch)

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