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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blogging for Syria

In March of 2009 I wrote on this blog: Live and Let Live in response to what I considered to be the latest bigoted outcry on the Syrian blogosphere against homosexuality. I was convinced that whoever was attacking homosexuals and their basic human rights would not simply stop at that but might eventually assault my own rights as a liberal and a secular humanist to freely express myself. It was the first time I enter into a direct confrontation online with some of those who were on the other side of what I always believed to exist in Syria, a social and intellectual chasm of religiosity. I claimed then, and I still do, that Syrian individuals, families and communities are divided along lines defined by their degree of adherence to religious practices and traditional mores. Later I was candid enough to confess that my champion defense of secularism was possible only because I lived in a country where my liberal stand was tolerated as long as I didn’t dig deep into politics or point my finger in the wrong direction. I never played hero and I admitted that had I been living in Saudi Arabia or Iran I would’ve not dared being so outspoken against institutionalized and organized religion.
We are, however, at a critical point in history. Those whom ideologies and theocratic beliefs I oppose were not and will never be my personal enemies. I say that despite the fact that when they disagreed with me they attacked below the belt. That never stopped me from reading the more adept ones continuously. Although I don’t comment on their blogs I cannot but admit my deep admiration to their insight, foresight and courage during this time of strife.
To them, to all readers of this blog and to every person with the love of Syria running through their arteries and veins I hope for better days ahead when freedom doesn’t mean treason anymore and when the right to dissent is embraced in the same manner the obligation to conform is applauded today. I will continue to blog for the love of Syria. May she rise stronger with our differences. May these differences unite us in a way our similarities were unable to. Souriah w Bass!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Total Eclipse of the Heart

My plan for the evening was simple enough. Spray some mosquito repellent all over myself, climb to the rooftop with an icebox full of beer then chill out and witness the longest total lunar eclipse in eleven years. Earlier I’ve read somewhere that the astronomical specter would start at 17:24GMT, that’s 8:24PM local (June 15th, 2011). I invited my son Fares to join me but he declined saying that’s he’d rather “watch” it with his friends. Truth of the matter was that he wanted to ride his bike in the neighborhood and the hell with the moon playing magic tricks and his grumpy old man reminiscing over the good old days. In the meantime, it had completely slipped my mind that I was already booked for the evening. I was going out for dinner with a bunch of guys in celebration of a birthday.
I’m not a fan of maudlin songs, well most of them anyway, but a little after midday Bonnie Tyler knocked on my ear. Bewildered by her sudden appearance I let her in. She grabbed a microphone and started singing Total Eclipse of the Heart inside my head. "Please Bonnie", I begged after the twelfth encore, "enough is enough", but she wouldn’t listen and I had to resign myself to a romantic mood.
Every now and then I get a little bit lonely,
and you're never coming round...
The company of ten “male” friends didn't do much in terms of lessening the effect and absorbing the impact of Bonnie’s tears. Not even the steady stream of Arak, the succulent cutlets of Shish Kabab or the raucous partying could snap me out of my bathetic mood or from Bonnie’s arms.
Every now and then I get a little bit nervous,
that the best of all the years have gone by...
"You’re too tall for me", I mumbled politely but she kept dancing with me anyway, leading every step of course. And then, in a moment of utter loneliness in the midst of a crowd I looked over my shoulder toward the eastern horizon and saw the moon rising over the hills of Bmalke. Ah, the moon, my Amar... Oh, the eclipse... damn! It’s way past 8:24 but... relax, the show had merely begun. I was glad to have brought my camera along.
And I need you now tonight,
And I need you more than ever,
And if you only hold me tight
We'll be holding on forever,
And we'll only be making it right...
"Stop it Bonnie, I’m already taken, please I’m..." but it was too late. She carried me up two flights of stairs and kicked the rooftop door open. She Turnedaround, dropped me on the floor, ready to jump me when I feebly cried, "look... there behind you, look at the total eclipse of the moon".
I managed to take a few pictures. The passage of earth in between the sun’s rays and the moon lasted over two hours. Eventually the moon vanished completely from the night sky but not before going through an amazing color shift. The heart-shaped moon could’ve been a visual aberration caused by a minute jitter when my finger touched the shutter button but the photo was just perfect for the night. I only brought along a pocket sized tripod which forced me to shoot from less than ideal positions and angles but it was still a very unique experience. Happy Total Eclipse to all of you people out there, may you never have to watch it alone.
Once upon a time I was falling in love
But now I'm only falling apart
There's nothing I can do
A total eclipse of the heart

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Want to Break Free

Is this the real life
Is this just fantasy
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality

Freddie Mercury (1946 -1991)

Born Farrokh Bulsara on the island of Zanzibar (off the coast of Tanzania) to Persian parents, Freddie Mercury is probably the most eccentric oddball musician I truly admire. This particular song is a test to anyone who thinks that he or she believes in freedom. If this clip draw the words RIP Freddie involuntarily out of your throat then make you smile from the heart and if you accept Freddie’s quirks as being on equal par with his musical genius then you’re not lying to yourself, you do want to break free. It goes without saying, of course, that if you don’t appreciate this song as one of the greatest ever, to simply embrace the shackles around your wrists since you are already a prisoner of your own mind.