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Showing posts from June, 2010

Creme Al-Tayeh

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I delve in a well of memories, back to a time when a die-hard and venerable gentleman never stepped outside his home without a tarboosh on his head. The clear image of one distinguished octogenarian coalesces in my mind. He originally came from Lattakia and settled in El-Khrab, beyond the southern " Bab-el-Hara " of old Tartous. I've never seen him except in a three-piece suit (mostly white) and a polished smile on his face. He opened shop in the 1940's in the narrow Souk and became a fixed feature among the array of butcher shops, Msabbha and Fool joints, rope sellers, tailors, vegetable merchants, pickle peddlers, hardware stores and  blacksmiths. His shop was unique though, a refined bookstore in an agrestic neighborhood. His name was Mustafa Al-Tayeh (1897-1984)  مصطفى الطايع and he didn't only sell books but was also an Attar , the only perfume maker in Tartous. Mr. Al-Tayeh was fascinated with roses and dedicated his life to extracting their es

Trash

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To profess to be doing God's will is a form of megalomania. -Joseph Prescott, aphorist (1913-2001) A dear friend of mine, an artist, a humanist and a self-professed atheist with an absolute and egalitarian renunciation of all religions wrote me a letter. She received information by email, too bad to be true, she thought, about Islam. "I cannot believe that all of what is written here is true, so I'm asking you to write something about this in your blog. I want you to respond to this trash." Now considering that I've been recently called "Evil" for my secular views by one of the more assiduous Islamist bloggers, personally slandered by an obnoxious and vindictive shaver for my pro-Western disposition and an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist by a Zionist/Crusader mummy I don't find myself well-suited for the task of defending Islam or any other religion for that matter. I am a secular humanist and I have taken a clear position on the matter. I va

Welcome 2

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Bassem left me gasping for a word to say as the soft petals quivered in my hands. I didn't know of a single young man or woman in town who lived alone. Yet I couldn't imagine him staying with his parents. He simply looked out of place and perhaps a little out of time. I haven't seen him before and judging by the way he looked at me he didn't know me at all. As friendly and cordial as I am I don't normally greet total strangers on the sidewalk and chat with them. It was the twinkle in his eyes, however, his spiffy and detached smile that made me notice him as he walked by. He was late for work, he said. I instinctively glanced at my wristwatch. Nine o'clock! His office must be very close indeed. I have dodged all attempts to pin me to a prearranged marriage. My father left me alone and gave me the breathing space I needed. My mother and two aunts didn't hold their fire back for a single day though. I was thirty and unmarried and they have vowed to put an en