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Saturday, February 23, 2008


Annie tagged me to list 6 things one should do before 18. She has specified some rules as well.

1. Post these rules before presenting your list.
2. List 6 actions or achievements you think every person should accomplish before turning 18.
3. There are no conditions on what can be included on the list.
4. At the end of your blog, choose 6, or less, people to get tagged and list their names.
5. People who are tagged write their own blog entry with their 6 suggestions.
6. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged.

Answering this tag is probably one of the most challenging mental tasks I've had to perform in recent times. First, I’ve totally forgotten how it is to be eighteen again. I can think late twenties, early thirties, but teens! That’s so damn hard. Then, when I finally mustered enough memories to get me in the right frame of mind I faced a cold adamant reality. So much has changed since then. All of a sudden, I feel so old.
Speaking of which, I just underwent my “supposedly” annual checkup and medical tests. Well it’s been at least 3 years since my last one. I’m in excellent shape except… high cholesterol. That means I must start some research on what to eat and what not to AND how to live and how not to. On this sobering note and after considering that my oldest daughter is already passed that age, Annie took me back to 18.

1. Before 18, each boy and girl must’ve tried sleeping in a tent at least once. One of the highlights of my early teens was being a boy scout. I have spent many a summer in the fabulous outdoors around Tartous. At 16, I camped solo on Bseereh Beach for three consecutive months, visiting town no more than once or twice. My love for the outdoors and the wilderness is still a major component of my character.
2. Reaching 18 is an important milestone from a social point of view. It’s a significant landmark in many cultures: You are an adult now and you are responsible for your actions. Prior to that, we must have fallen in love and suffered some heartache. Sure, it’s often a crush rather than love in a true sense but these are the memories that will probably last forever. We should always look back fondly without remorse, without regrets. Since we are vulnerable during that stage due to our mental and physical, often painful, development, I think it wouldn’t be such a good idea to experience sex until a few years later. An innocent kiss, a guiltless touch, an adolescent embrace are everlastingly more precious.
3. We should experience, even if briefly or on a part-time basis, work before 18. We should appreciate the value of labor and be grateful to what our parents have been doing for us. I only worked for one summer before becoming an adult but the little money I made brought me pride, assurance and self-respect. We must be young when we comprehend the firm concept that work and a career are not the most central aspects of our future, yet that they provide us with freedom and self-determination.
4. Fun and play should consume most of our free time before 18. Sports, silly games, strange hobbies must be enjoyed to the fullest without shame or remorse. When we’re not playing nothing beats reading or learning a second language. I acquired the addictive habit of reading and in a second language during those early years. In addition to the experiences I’ve accumulated on my own the books I’ve read helped in shaping my personality. Today, I’m a product of my own deeds as well as the powerful written words of total strangers.
5. We must at least have one very good friend before 18. As far as I’m concerned, these are the same people I still call best friends almost thirty years later. What brought us together back then was totally void of material benefit or advantage. We are still friends for the exact same reason. I don’t want anything from them. They don’t want anything from me. We just enjoy each other’s company. Although it’s possible to harvest such friendships later in life, it’s extremely difficult.
6. Finally, we must cherish our parents and their presence in our lives. Sometime in the future, and if nature follows its course, we’re going to lose them. It will be a devastating blow no matter when it befalls us. We will accept it, recover and eventually make up for our losses by caring even more for our own offspring. But as long as we are under our parents’ wings we should take pleasure in the warmth they provide us with, we should bask in their offered security and ultimately learn from them and obey, yes obey, what seems at times their harsh rules.

The molding and shaping of our personalities start during our fetal stage. Childhood and adolescence are cornerstones of who we truly are and become. Self-respect acquired by honest purposeful labor and our benevolence to others are the remaining foundations that make a man or a woman worthy of humanity.

I’m tagging a couple of old mates and some younger ones: Syrian Brit, Abu Kareem, Karen, Dubai Jazz and Kaya.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sight of a Woman

The most precious of gifts bestowed on men by providence is the timeless beauty of women. We, as hapless men, can argue all we want on the virtues of inner magnificence or the splendor of the mind. We can write volumes on our esteem for the genius of women, about our respect for their intellect, about our humility in the face of their admirable spirit and more. Yet in an ultimate moment of lucidity and honesty and beyond all what has been said and written over the years, before political correctness and thereafter, I was, I still am, I will forever remain in love with beautiful looking women.
I will not attempt to muffle the voices in my head. I won’t turn my demons down. I’m talking about visual beauty, about the outer shell no matter how deceiving it might be, about the curves and contours of the female body regardless of how shallow I actually am.
For all of the above and for reasons beyond, I am enchanted, enthralled, rapt by the sight of a seductively animalistic, dazzlingly sensual, visually consuming oriental dancer. I need first to get the silly term “belly dancing” out of the way as there is no such thing. The term was invented by a French Orientalist toward the end of the 19th century. Dance de ventre, the idiot called it and the term stuck in the West. In Arabic, and rest assured that there is no superior manifestation of Arabism than in Oriental Dancing, it is simply called Raqs Sharqi رقص شرقي . Our sweets are also called Oriental Sweets Halwiyat Sharqiaحلويات شرقية , and our manners and customs are known as Adatna Al Sharqiaعاداتنا الشرقية . The Orient in this context is us. It is who we are to ourselves without masks, veils or camouflage: Orientals نحن الشرقيون .
Despite the fact that the true origins of oriental dancing remain open to controversy and dispute, it was those Arabs flanked by the Nile and the Euphrates who perfected it in its three major components: rhythmic percussion produced by the tapping of expert fingers on the Tabla (Derbakeh) طبلة أو دربكة, undulating swaying and bending of the faultless female body هزي يا وزة and the enchanted gaze of a man worshipping the essence of divine beautyإن الله جميل يحب الجمال. The musicالموسيقى , the wine الخمرة , the company النديم and the ambiance الجو are indispensable props on the consecrated stage of oriental dance and indeed conspire to make the ritual more spectacular.
If we examine some of the engravings left behind 3000 years ago by the Pharos of the Nile on one side and the Assyrians and Sumerians of Mesopotamia on the other we can discern the similarities between these early forms of dancing and what had later evolved to become our present day oriental dancing. It is also argued that the birthing practices and rituals first performed in ancient temples fashioned the first steps and sways of the complex and coherent movements of today’s exotic dance.
In the last 10 years, oriental dancers have lost ground to a new wave of female singers, the Shlikatt شلكات of modern Arabic music. These so-called artists فنانات are basically performers who are unable to either sing or dance properly. Many are superficially beautiful as I claim to like them. However, they have crossed the thin line between enchantment and sexual arousal. A beautiful oriental dancer can hold a man hostage to the sight of her for an indefinite time, not even daring to blink. The performance is absorbing and fulfilling visually, on the mental level, like an exquisite painting of one of the great masters. It is a feast for the eyes only, created by the master craftsman of the universe and should never arouse a man sexually. It is perfectly admissible for a man, when the dance is over, to start having his erotic dreams and yearnings, but not a moment before. This line of thought is what makes a true oriental dancer an artist of the highest level while exposing many of today’s female singers as they realistically are, mediocre yet highly paid call girls.
During my unassuming research for this post, I came across a disturbing point in the effect that oriental dancing is performed by both men and women. I do not really know who is behind this stupid notion. If it’s a western conjecture then I graciously make the correction: NO. If on the other hand, it was some Oriental asshole, be it a man or a woman who pronounced that oriental dancing is unisex then we are, as a culture, in deep trouble. There is no sight on earth as repulsive, as grotesque, as ugly or as nauseating as a man or a lost soul dancing oriental. Being more intimate and feminine than shaving legs, only unbelievably stunning-looking women should be allowed to perform oriental dancing in public.

It has been over 10 years since I had my last revelation of a beautiful oriental dancer. I have spent most of last week attending a conference in Damascus. I sat at long continuous meetings from 9:00 AM to 6:00PM everyday then enjoyed the best of the Damascene nightlife in the after-hours. On the final night I went to see Rachelle who inspired me to write this post. She danced for about an hour and her performance was nothing short of breathtaking. She was wholly gifted for oriental dancing. Long and soft dark hair moving in the exact direction she wanted it to. Gorgeous wide and daring green eyes exuding intelligence and glee. Full inviting lips and a stunningly translucent smile betraying a thousand untold stories. A supple and scrumptious neck leading the eyes on an endless journey into the unknown. A perfect pair of round and delicious breasts turning a man into an infant. A wonderful belly button and a faultless flat belly with the minutest of loose semi-fold over the hips to get a good grip if need be. A caramel skin glistening under the spotlights with cascading pearly beads of sweat giving the effect that every single pore of her body is part of the dance. An ideal bursting yet compact ass befitting a gorgeous oriental woman. Exquisite thighs, knees, calves, feet and toes that made her prance as if cavorting on a thin layer of clouds like a fairy beauty queen. Thank you Rachelle for flooding me with your grace and presence, for bringing the Orient back to life in me, for reminding me that there is no creature on earth as beautiful as a woman, for fulfilling my eyes and bringing joy to my heart, for proving that an unbelievably appealing, almost naked woman can still make a man think of art rather than sex and can still be more spiritually chaste than a priestess or a saint. You must’ve heard dozens of compliments that night, mine was the shortest I like to think. Damn, you’re gorgeous Rachelle يفدح حريشك ما أحلاك!!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Kite Runner

Heart pounding in my throat, I buried my face in my hands.
The gun roared.
It’s done, then. I’m eighteen and alone. I have no one left in the world.

I received this unique tag from my friend DJ.

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages)
So I picked one of the several books on the nightstand by my bed. One I happen to be reading with great attention. "The Kite Runner" is an extraordinary first novel by Khaled Hosseini, an Afghan physician living in Southern California.

2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
I did!

5. Tag five people.
Instead of doing that, I modified the tag so that it means something, to me at least.

5. What do you have to say about this book in less than 3 sentences.
I haven't even reached the halfway point . Accordingly, I can only talk about what I have read so far. BEAUTIFUL!