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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nights in Copenhagen

Once I was young and green I had a one night stand with the city of Copenhagen and this is where my plane landed last week. Twelve hours after I closed my front door in Tartous I found myself sliding the plastic key in the door slot of a hotel room in the center of Copenhagen. She and I acted like total strangers and did not recognize each other at all. I was exhausted as I dragged myself to the shower. I stood there in the corner, my hands touching the dark tiles, my forehead pressed firmly to the wall. Hot water cascaded down my body washing away the dirt and grime but not the craving and longing. I made it to bed, to the welcoming embrace of the white sheets wrapping my body. I gave up in total surrender, I truly needed to sleep.

At exactly midnight the sky over Copenhagen was ripped apart by a succession of explosions. From behind foggy eyes and a blind mind I cussed under my breath. What a fuckin' time and place to start WWIII. I'm gonna die in the arms of a foreign city even before we had a chance to make love. The celebration faded out and the fireworks ended. Locals and strangers left the streets and jumped in beds in pairs or alone. There might've been a few who found solace in an orgy judging from the hyaenic laughter echoing in the night. Why not, enjoy it lads while it lasts.

I couldn't sleep! I witnessed the dark of night being slaughtered by daylight and found myself walking at eight o'clock in the morning with the herds of the corporate world. Like cardinals convening to elect a new pope, doors were closed shut behind us for a twelve-hour meeting. Sandwiches were brought in as if they were contraband narcotics. We ate in silence and haste. In between the bottles of soft drinks and water, fresh juices and milk I spotted a solitary bottle of wine. Was it brought in by mistake or did my guardian angel have pity on me. The last five hours went by almost painlessly. I truly needed to drink.

I wasn't the only one in that bad a shape. A few of my comrades felt the same. We joined forces and raided the hotel bar for a nightcap. Little did we know that we would stay there deep in time. So deep in fact I didn't quite see the feasibility of shutting my eyes for an hour or two before the next start of a business day. So I went on, walking the same street as the day before at eight o'clock in the morning, crossing the Tivoli Gardens and climbing the stairs of the historic building, turned convention center. We convened again behind closed doors; Copenhagen on the other side of the window remained a mysterious woman, untouched, unloved by me and by thousands of walking zombies in the world of business.

The day ended just like the previous one. I was giddy from the bottle of white wine I found again and hungry for the food I couldn't touch. The same bunch of desperate men walked the cobble stoned streets seeking a bite and a drink. We found ourselves in MASH, Copenhagen's finest steakhouse where the night was young and a river of Australian wine freely flowed. We satiated our carnivore genes with giant pieces of scrumptious meat and gulped the red intoxicating elixir. The talk was engaging. Who would've thought that a bunch of suits and ties would consume the night with banter about the meaning of life instead of spreadsheets and presentations? Alas, we work like beasts of burden for five days a week to squeeze our lives into an infinitesimal ball of joy and watch it go up in flame on a Saturday. Then like God, we rest on the Seventh, dreading the coming week, and the one behind, then the one after.

Less than two hours into slumber the alarm went off. It's time to down another cup of coffee in the lobby downstairs then to take a taxi to the airport. Twelve hours later I was turning the key in my door lock in Tartous. I let the water washes away the dirt and grime, the craving and longing remained untouchable. I threw myself in bed and lost consciousness. It was raining when I woke up.

“How was Copenhagen,” my kids asked?

“I really don't know. I never saw her.”

During my insomniac time in Copenhagen, I listened to Nights in White Satin. From the distant past (1967), here are the Moody Blues.

Nights in white satin, never reaching the end,
Letters I've written, never meaning to send.
Beauty I'd always missed with these eyes before.
Just what the truth is, I can't say anymore.

'Cos I love you, yes I love you, oh how I love you.

Gazing at people, some hand in hand,
Just what I'm going through they can't understand.
Some try to tell me, thoughts they cannot defend,
Just what you want to be, you will be in the end.

And I love you, yes I love you,
Oh how I love you, oh how I love you.

Nights in white satin, never reaching the end,
Letters I've written, never meaning to send.
Beauty I've always missed, with these eyes before.
Just what the truth is, I can't say anymore.

'Cos I love you, yes I love you,
Oh how I love you, oh how I love you.
'Cos I love you, yes I love you,
Oh how I love you, oh how I love you.

Breath deep
The gathering gloom
Watch lights fade
From every room
Bedsitter people
Look back and lament
Another day's useless
Energy spent

Impassioned lovers
Wrestle as one
Lonely man cries for love
And has none
New mother picks up
And suckles her son
Senior citizens
Wish they were young

Cold hearted orb
That rules the night
Removes the colours
From our sight
Red is gray and
Yellow white
But we decide
Which is right
Which is an Illusion

Friday, September 18, 2009

Different Minds, Different Soups

We should wash our hands, but most importantly our hearts, before we sit around the table together. The holy month is nearing its end and a post about my two favorite Ramadan soups is in order. As varied as we are in Syria, as different as we are as bloggers, there are so many soups to enjoy none of which is right or wrong. We're a passionate crowd, us Levantines, and we are known to pick fights with our own shadows when we can't find someone to disagree with.

Yet the disparity of opinions should never degrade to a personal conflict. In the free future most of us aspire to no one should set rules for the others to follow. We might as well stay as we are if we don't have it in us to embrace all the colors of the rainbow. Neither I nor whoever disagrees with me have the correct answer. My proven science and their divine text mean so much to each of us respectively but might signify nothing to a third person. It's not a matter of numbers or of a majority and minorities. If we truly aspire to be free we have to defend the freedom of those at odds with us first.

I leave you with the double-recipe for Lentil and Red Soups. Over the last month I've rarely strayed from either one or the other on the Iftar table. They are prepared differently, they look different, they taste different, but both are authentic Syrian cuisine and come with plenty of meat:-)

Ah and on a final note... I wish you all a Happy Eid Fitr. I wish I could've enjoyed it here at home but it so happens that I'm traveling over the holidays to a new land. Hopefully, I'll come back with a story.

Lentil Soup

Lentils 2 cups (cleaned and rinsed in cold water)
Short grain rice ½ cup (cleaned and rinsed in cold water)
Ground beef or minced lamb 200g rolled into small balls ½ “ in diameter
1 small onion (diced)
Chicken broth 1 small cube
Butter 1 tablespoon
Salt 1 tablespoon (or per taste)
Cumin ½ teaspoon
Black pepper ½ teaspoon

-Bring salted lentils and rice to boil in 4 cups of water – Keep uncovered over medium-high for 30 minutes.
-Pour into manual food masher (with the water) and mash them so they come out the bottom, well... well-mashed.
-Separately fry the diced onion in some butter until light brown.
-Separately fry the meat balls in the rest of the butter until brown.
Add the well-mashed lentils and rice mix to the fried onion and meat balls, top them with 2 cups of hot water.
Sprinkle with cumin and black pepper and a (cut into small pieces) cube of chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and keep for 30 minutes.

Serve and enjoy Ummmm

Red Soup

Ground beef or minced lamb 200g rolled into small balls ½ “ in diameter
Vermicelli 1 cup
Tomato paste 2 tablespoons
Chicken broth 1 cube
Salt 1 tablespoon (or per taste)
Black pepper ½ teaspoon

-Fry the balls of meat in butter until golden brown. Remove replace with vermicelli and heat until red.
-Separately bring 5 cups of water to boil then add meat balls, vermicelli, chicken broth, tomato paste. Stir for a while then leave over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
*Be very careful not to add cold water to the vermicelli because it will go crazy and turn Afro.

Sahha wa Hana

Friday, September 11, 2009

Blogging Week Against Anal Orifices أسبوع التدوين ضد البخاويش

A few of us Anglophone Syrian bloggers decided at long last to catch up with our Arabophone brethren and start a week of blogging against something. Except that we couldn't agree on what we collectively hate. You see we are neither organized nor do we have an agenda for days to come. We're just a bunch of casual and unceremonious guys and gals (almost all of us but not quite, looool) who couldn't jointly come up with one idea for our week. The best we could muster is for each to declare his or her own war against their own demons.

I chose to attack Chauvinistic Vainglorious Hypocrite Puritan Prudes (AKA Assholes)

1.There are men who think they are inherently better than women by virtue of their sex. I don't like them.

2.There are men who walk a step ahead of women believing it's only normal due to their twisted sense of morality or their sick understanding of modesty. I don't like them.

3.There are men who discuss the attire of women. How they should or shouldn't dress. What they ought to cover and what they are allowed to reveal. I don't like them.

4.There are men who boss women around and who strongly believe its their god given right to do so. I don't like them.

5.There are men who hide the names of their mothers, sisters and wives as if it's shameful and dishonorable for the names of “their” women to be revealed. I don't like them.

6.There are men ashamed of their own bodies and who consider the body of “their” women as their own property. I don't like them.

7.There are men who want to change us all to fit their own idea of right and wrong. I don't like them.

8.There are men who see in black and white, in shades of gray at best. I don't like them.

9.There are men who are convinced they are always right, no matter what. I don't like them.

10.There are women who agree with these assholes. I really hate them.

Participating Blogs:

اسبوع التدوين ضد استهلاك الحمص والفول

التدوين ضد التفكير المتحجر

اسبوع التدوين السوري ضد القبلية

التدوين ضد اضطراب الشخصية النرجسية

اسبوع التدوين للإنحلال الأخلاقي

اسبوع التدوين ضد النظرات الدونية للقطط الشاردة

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Spanking the monkey and Beating the Beaver

Earlier this Ramadan I promised myself and my Habibati Readers to stick to recipes till the end of the lunar month. Until yesterday I was well on my track to keeping my word. Oh OK, I sneaked in “When I Need You” last week but it was a spur of the moment thing. I just felt like dancing that's all. If you find it in yourselves to forgive me keep reading. Otherwise, you might as well stop and doodle your noodle or air your orchid instead. This post, for all practical purposes, was supposed to be a soup double header. I intended to describe and explain the recipes for two of my favorite bowls, Lentil and Red Soups. However, extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures. After conferring with Abu Kareem we decided that I'd better address the pressing matter of masturbation in Syria first.

Apparently our Syrian youth is obsessed with playing with itself. If we are to believe what an authority on the matter wrote a few days ago on his Arabic blog (boy are we lucky that the new enlightened herd is sticking to Arabic) jerking off has reached unprecedented levels in the country. Boys are unable to concentrate on their studies and are looking very pale before prematurely ejaculating and losing consciousness in schools. Their balls are blue and sore as hell and when they sneeze or cough they are allegedly pissing in their pants. They are falling on their backs after bleeding to death from their weenies. Those who don't die on the spot and once they get married are preferring to take matters in their own hands instead of in between their partners' legs.  And, yes brothers and sisters, girls, Lord Have Mercy on us all, are doing this despicable, blinding and atrocious act secretly without the written consent of their male pimp, sorry chimp. They, someone hold me please before I pass out, are losing their virginity to their fingers out of wedlock.

Local doctors are at a total loss. They have classified the masturbation frenzy as epidemic, endemic and pandemic (all at once). According to one informed source who has confided in me after recently returning from a trip to Syria (the new enlightened herd very much likes using this phrase or something similar) the bathroom is the most likely crime scene for these psychotically sick and abnormal boys and girls. While unsuspecting parents are watching Bab El Hara, the boys are spanking their monkeys and the girls are beating their beavers.

Now that you have a better idea about some of the content of the enlightened herd's agenda why don't you join me in promoting a Week of Blogging Against...

Let's all use the comment section to reach a consensus. We, the bad guys and gals (the Ze3ran) of the Syrian Blogsphere and our regular guests need to initiate our own Week Against Something. All ideas are welcome and the stupider the better. This is activism at its best. How about a few days of lobbying before we start our valiant attempt at draining this septic pool of stink and shit. Let's move ahead, forge our destiny and join forces together in beating our meats or around the bushes to reach an unprecedented Syrian Orgasm against absurdity, hypocrisy and sanctimony. I leave it literally in your hands ya Mala3een.