Showing posts from August, 2008

Rubaiyat Ramadan

From every place indeed... but mostly from Tartous , I wish you all a very happy Ramadan . Understandably, it's going to be a tough one this time around but look at it this way: this is the last "not extremely difficult" Ramadan for the next 10 years. Muslims fast in Ramadan and abstain from eating and/or drinking from before sunrise till sunset everyday. For the unaware, Ramadan is a lunar month from the Hijri Calendar. Accordingly and since a lunar month is exactly 29 days 12 hours 44 minutes and 3 seconds long, lunar and solar years are asynchronous. A lunar year is roughly 11 to 12 days shorter. A lunar calendar, albeit having been used extensively in the past, is inherently impractical and was all but replaced by the more sensible solar calendar. It cannot be relied upon for any sort of planning, say agricultural for example, and is still in existence for mainly religious purposes. Over the centuries most lunar calendars have been modified into lunisolar calendar

20 Years

Om Fares and I were to embark on our annual pilgrimage to Paradise. It was a little more extraordinary this year as we meant to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in Ehden, Lebanon . We reserved a special room at the Hotel Abshi where we had spent the first few days of our honeymoon back in 1988. Back then, we had proceeded from Ehden to Los Angeles and subsequently to Tuscon, Arizona before we made it back home to Tartous . We're both in love with Ehden, a small town in Northern Lebanon. Situated at 1,500m on a mountain shoulder, it lies in perfect serenity on top of a perpetual bank of clouds. Nature endowed this magical place with beautifully amazing scenery. But it was a man who built a restaurant and placed it near Mar Sarkis , a spring gushing out of the mountains and appropriately named it: Ferdos or Paradise . Ultimately, fate had it that we couldn't make it there. A horrific explosion in Tripoli , Lebanon on the morning of our departure killed 20 innocent sou

Betty and Mahmoud

I'll be quick to announce that this post is one of the most contentious pieces I've ever written. Mind you, I stated the above without actually scribbling a single word. Ever since Betty contacted me a few days ago and dropped her heavy load on my doorsteps I've been thinking what and how to answer. I replied privately to her email message and asked her to give me permission to post both her question and my answer. I also wanted her to provide me with some details so that my inherent biases and notorious simplification of grand issues are somehow subdued. She obliged by pointing a mental flashlight toward various obscure corners of her private story. She was abundantly candid about voicing her concerns in a series of pin-point surgical questions. Yet her admirable effort made my task harder. To be, as she expects of me, truly honest, not only am I going to step on a few toes but I might run the risk of paralleling Dr. Phil's patronizing methodology. I warned Betty fro