Let it Snow
أكلنا أول مسبتين
إستأجرت سيارة بالبلد بس ماكنت إستعملها كتير لسببين: خايف يروح محل الصفة قدّام بيتنا،
وبعرف مالح لاقي محل صف مطرح مو رايح
على سوق الهال لو سمحت
زورني وبدا يسوق.... أكيد أكلت مسبة تالتة
مبيّن عليه مهزوز بدنو
شباك أخي، شايفك متدايق، الله يعينك، السواقة ببلدنا مو سهلة
بدا يشكيلي همّو
طلع معي قبلك واحد مغترب معفّن....طلع عدّادو ٣٠ ليرة
ناولني خمسين قلتللو والله ما معي كمالة
قام مارضي يترك لحتّا لقيت حدا يصرفلي الخمسين
أخدها ومشي وهو عم يتزوّرني
البغل مغترب ساكن بأمريكا
يعني عشرين ليرة ما بيطلعو نص دولار لهل أنجاس الأميركان
والله نسيت العد، كم مسبة صارو؟
بسيطة أخي، طوّل بالك، هدول بيصير طبعون متل أهل البلد اللي سكنو فيها، بتكترمصاريهون وبيزيد بخلهون
العما... فوق كل هالمسبّات زدتهون مسبّة ذاتية
وصلنا... طلع العدّاد ٢٦ ليرة... مدّييت إيدي على جيبتي...العما، فاضية... نسيان جزداني بالبيت
ولي.. لح يلحق كلهالمسبّات قتلة كمان ...مدّييت إيدي على جيبتي التانية...نسيان فيها دولارات... كم ميّة وعشرين وقطعة واحدة تبع الخمس دولارات
مسكت ورقة خمس دولارات... ناولتو ياها وإيدي عم ترجف.. خايف من مسبات بالجملة
مشان الله لا تواخذني أخي... نسيان جزداني بالبيت... ما صرلي يومين بالبلد ومعي هدول... بيطلعو شي ٢٥٠ ليرة. مسامح بالباقي... أصابيعك مو متل بعضها يا إبن الحلال
إنت مغترب بهديك البلاد كمان؟ لك ولي على هاليوم، وين بدّي إصرفها هي؟
أي بنك بيصرفلك ياها
أنو بنك وأنو صخام؟ شوأنا فاضي وقّف على بنك؟ وين بدّي صف السيارة؟
يللا سيدي بيعينك الله على غلاظتنا..سامحنا..فتحت الباب وبس بدّي إمشي
ولله كلامي مظبوط على هالأميركان المعفنين... تضربو تضربو شو مقرفين
فتحت باب التكسي وطلعت... بنفس اللحظة في بنت مارقة... إجا الباب بطريقها
العما بقلبك... مو شايف قدّامك؟
لا تآخذيه إختي... هادا مغترب معفّن... طعجت باب التكسي الله لايوفقك
لك أخ منكون يا ولاد بلدي... حتّى ببلدي ساويتوني غريب؟
On Pain, the internet, and other things
I've been mostly pain free most of my life. With the exception of the usual headaches, muscle aches, toothaches, and maybe some stomach discomforts, I haven't suffered much at all. Towards the end of my long vacation back home, I felt a little bit of pain in my right arm. After I came back, the pain got worse. Sharp shooting pain that runs from my shoulder all the way to my finger tips. It got so bad that I wouldn't sleep for more than two hours at night, and I couldn't move my right arm without feeling that stabbing sensation. For weeks on weeks, I endured the pain hoping it will go away on its own. I'm the kind of person that hates waiting in doctors' offices and hospitals, and even before I decide to visit one, I try to diagnose any illness on my own, through the internet. I found out that the most likely cause for my pain would be a pinched nerve. One of the bones in my neck is pressuring the nerve that runs to my right arm and causing all that pain. It gets worse when I try to go to sleep as the mind has nothing to do except for dealing with that pain. I tried cold and hot patches, ointments and pain relievers, but they all failed. Finally, I gathered the courage to walk to a clinic. After a long wait, I was let in. The nurse had me fill out a medical history form, and asked me a million questions about my bad habits. They put me in a small room to wait for the doctor. An attractive middle aged lady finally walked in and started talking to me about my illness. I told her what I was experiencing and added what I thought I had, my own diagnosis that is. She sent me in for X-rays, and an hour later the results came back. The same diagnosis I predicted was thrown at me. Okay, now please give me a solution. Oh, I'm going to perscribe some muscle relaxer and pain medication, but there's nothing else we can do for you. You have to go to a physical therapy clinic or wear a neck brace. It's not a chronic or a dangerous illness, and it usually ends up going away on it's own with rest and therapy. I was also told to take some time off, stay away from spending too much time henched at my computer or laptop. What? Most of my work is done online....Most of my personal life is handled online.... I buy most of my stuff online.... I meet people online.... I blog.... I stay in touch with my family and friends online..... I can't watch باب الحارة or الحصرم الشامي online anymore? Nope, I had to cut all that crap out and start acting like a cave man, yeah, like that primitive me that lived before I bought my first PC in 1995. I had to stop blogging for now. I had to drive to a store before I checked out what they had online, and I had to use the phone to call my friends and family instead of writing emails. My digital life was over untill I took care of my pain.
Ahhh, why do we have to feel pain? Why do we need that rude awakening? Why can't we have a life without pain? Well, some people do, and they rarely live past the age of 25. They are people with what doctors call Congenital Insensitivity to Pain, or CIP in short. Kids who are born with this disorder do not feel any physical pain. They end up with rotting teeth, broken skulls, and untreated infections without being alerted by that pain.
Blogging week against taking Ramadan off إسبوع التدوين ضد وقف الشغل خلال شهر رمضان
معطّل.... الدنية رمضان... كل العالم بالبلد بتبطّل تشتغل... كمان بدكون ياني إكتب؟
On being a Moderate Conservative
It's only logical for one to believe there's a higher power that controls everything. I look at the universe and how it's setup, and I'm constantly amazed at the perfection of our creator. How can anyone believe that this whole system started on it's own? The perfection of our bodies and minds, the perfection of our beautiful planet, and the amazingly vast skies and distant planets are enough clues. Walk to any beach, and stare far away at the endless sea, and think for a minute that despite all our technological advances we still haven't even discovered 1% of what goes on in the deep bottom of the oceans.
Where is the moderate part then? That part comes in play in accepting the fact that others think differently, dealing with those people in a normal and civilized way, and having a constructive relationship with them. Tolerance and acceptance are the keywords. God created us equal, and yet we all differ in many ways. I do accept the fact that many people have different religions and believes than mine. I respect all religions that make sense, specially the major three, Islam, Christianity, and Judism. These three main religions should always co-exist in peace and harmony. Unfortunately, this is never the case nowadays. Extremists from those three religions make life much more difficult for the majority of us, and they are destroying our world as we know it. Think of the world before September of 2001, and see how different it is now. Follow what goes on in the occupied palestinian land and how the palestinian children grow up looking at tanks destroying their houses, and machine guns killing their families, and imagine how they'll grow up and what mentality they'll have. All these acts are comitted against them by the only state ever founded on the basis of a religion. Acceptance also means respect. I think these religions should respect each other, specially the holidays and sacred days. When I was a kid I used to tag along with my father to his work sometimes. He had a Christian friend who worked in the same office. During Ramadan, that friend never ate or smoked in front of his muslim coworkers. This is the respect we need to give and expect. It's sad that some Syrian and Arab bloggers show no respect for this holy month and fill their blogs with offensive posts and statements. If you don't believe in some view, you can at least abstain from offending those who do. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing.
My tolerence has no limits, yet my acceptance does not extend to everyone and everything. I do tolerate homosexuals. I have worked with, and still personally know some. I have no problem engaging in work or a friendly conversation or even an exchange of educated ideas and issues with them, but I will never accept their lifestyle as the norm. Nor will I accept it when they flaunt this lifestyle in my face in the purpose of trying to make our socities accept it in all its shapes and forms. How can we accept that two males or two females can start up up a normal family? Other than adopting from a product of a normal relationship, how can they ever have kids? Our human specis will seize to exist if this lifestyle was ever a norm or a majority. Even the most tolerating of parents are usually disappointed or shocked if they find out one of their kids is a homosexual. The "don't ask, don't tell" policy that president Clinton started concerning gays in the American military is the perfect solution for that institution. It just tells gays and lesbians that they will not be asked about their sexual orientation, and they shouldn't admit or flaunt their lifestyle among their fellow soldiers. I think this policy can apply to civil life too. Do not flaunt this in my face and expect me to take it for granted. I've seen Arab bloggers who loaded their bloggs with gay adjectives and even some disgusting pictures of semi-nude gay kissing and males holding dildos in their hands. Why talk about "Gay Pride"? Just be proud of who you are as a human being, and what good you do to your society and others. Ever heard of a straight person talking about "Straight Pride". It just makes no sense. Why throw your sexual orientation and preferences in the middle of every cause? Why wouldn't I just shut up and say nothing like I stated in my last paragraph? It's because those acts offend me and many others deeply, and I'm not being offensive or promoting any hatred campaign.
Saying all that, I will not hate. Hate is a very strong word that I don't use lightly.
Just live and let live.
Blogging week against Consumption of all Beans مدوّن ضد إستهلاك الحمّص والفول
1. While beans might be a cheap and essential source of vitamins and calories, their side effects outweigh any potential benefits we might gain. Gases and the emission of toxic waste are a major headache caused by these elements. We have enough pollution as is in our skies from automobiles to add more to the mix. If you can think of the thousands of tons of those beans consumed daily on our tables, you can imagine the tons of bad air emitted as a result. Add a spark to these fumes, and you'll have an outrageous fire that will consume a large area because of the endless supply of fuel around it. I have no doubt some of the major arsens, like the last one in Damascus that consumed the ministry of tourism, was at least partially caused by these fumes.
3. The social embarrassment and anti-social behavior caused after consuming these beans are humungous. All bean consumers seem to shy away from public outings. Gases trapped inside a human body without the ability to release cause great discomfort and withdrawl from common physical and social activities. Many people ignore the warning signs and still participate in social gatherings, which would result in a blame game and arguments and a weird atmosphere when emmissions are finally released into thin, and already polluted atmosphere. After a sad episode or two of these social mishaps, one tends to stay away from such gatherings, which can lead to lonliness and even suicide in some cases.
4. Holding those gases inside without a realease leads them to travel up all the way inside the human body to the brain. This trip and the final destination are reasons for catastrphic results. Shi**y ideas and outrageous trains of thoughts are results of these gases residing in the brain. This post was the result of such fumes journey to the brain. The author consumed a large dish of fava beans mixed with chickpeas, olive oil, lemon, and garlic. You are being subjected to reading the sad results in this case. I'm sure many politicians, planners, and executives come up with ideas after such consumption. This is the major source of wars, bad economies, and bankruptcy in our part of the world.
I'm sure there are many other problems and results that will never be tackled. Rememeber the movie The Silence of the Lambs? Dr. Hannibal Lecter told Clarice that he ate one of his victims liver with some fava beans. Could the beans have caused his canibalism in that case? We may never know.
Please join me in boycotting these ingredients and finding a safer alternative.
Let's not forget
Let us not forget that while we sit around our daily Ramadan tables there are still people suffering and dying of famine.
This picture above of a vulture waiting for a child to die of hunger was taken in Southern Sudan in 1994. It won the Pulitzer prize for that year.
While this feast in the picture below was taking place at the other side of the Red Sea.
How many children do you think this dish would've fed?
I fall To Pieces
Each time I see you again.
أكبر دب في العالم Dubya
Ramadan on the Go
Home, that 4 letter word I mention in almost every post. When I'm here, it refers to my own place, my sanctuary. The place that has all my junk, clothes, electronic toys, and everything I've collected over the years. The place that I'm always comfortable walking around wearing only my shorts. The place where I walk out to the front yard and see my next door neighbor working on her garden dressed in those tight pink shorts.
-Good morning neighbor, it looks like it's gonna be a beautiful day
-We're having a BBQ (a cook out or "mashawi") this Saturday if you wanna come over
-I wish, but I'll be in Philly for a while
-Again? You just got back from there
I know. That's my life.
Philadelphia, Phila, Philly, or the city of brotherly love as we call it here, is a very diverse town. It's a melting pot of whites, blacks, asians, arabs, and indians among other nationalities. It's also a strange mixture of nice neighborhoods along with very dirty ones. Parking and potholes حفر are the two most nagging problems there. I piled up over $800 in parking tickets while I was there. It's also home of the famous Philly cheese steak sandwich. The movie Rocky was filmed there featuring the famous steps he trained on which belong to the Philadelphia Museum of Arts. The northeast section of the city is packed with Arab families. You can see store and restaurant signs posted in Arabic. Restaurants like Saad and Al-sham are part of that city's many attractions. Falafel and Shawerma vending trucks are also very common there. There's also a large community of black African Muslims there called Alahbash الأحباش. I was told they were a seperate muslim sect like Sunnis and Shia.
I've been forunate enough to see and live in many cities and states in this vast country إذا أحب الله عبده أراه أرضه. It's never much fun when you're away from the place you call home for an extended period, but it's always good to see and experience new places and cultures. I haven't seen Ramadan in Syria for a long time, and it'll probably be even longer. My ultimate goal is spending one of the coming Ramadans at home soon.
Meanwhile, I'll be spending this one in Philly. I wish you all the happiest Ramadan ever, and the most prosperous Eid. كل عام وأنتم بخير
I was driving down a narrow street in Damascus near the Sha'alan district. I rolled down the windows on that cool eve and listened to a tune while the traffic came to a crawl. A little girl, just like this one in the picture, approached me with tears rolling down her face and a box of gum in hand asking me if I wanted to buy one. She couldn't have been over 7 years old. The sound of her sniffling while she shed the tears still haunts me to this day. Whoever sent her to do that, how could they?
Everytime I stop at the light at Shahbandar square this little girl and her two younger brothers are standing there. She's around 10 years old, with dirty blond hair, wearing the same old rags day in and day out. She waits for the red light to do its magic and stop cars, then she approaches drivers trying to sell them candy, gum, or a piece of air freshner. One hot afternoon I was behind a row of cars at that light, and I saw her approach a man inside a nice beige new Mercedes. She knocked on the window offering her merchandise. The car door suddenly opened up with force knocking her along with her gum to the ground. Dressed in a black suit, he got out and kicked her while she was trying to get up then went back to his car as the light turned green. She tried to pick up her fallen goods, and was almost run over by him in the process while he was speeding off.
How could he?
How could they?
How could we?
النظافة من الإيمان
This post was inspired by a comment that was posted in the previous article by a fellow blogger. Omnia wrote: "It makes me laugh to see Syrians making groups like "support Khawla " group.. I mean the little girl needed urgent operations, and what ppl could do here is joining groups.and me myself feel the same stupidity, when I write about anything troubles me in Syr, like the last post I wrote about محمية الفرنلق , while writing the post I felt stipud, I think writing this post didn't help the forest in any mean, maybe renting a car and taking some of the trash out would have helped more!" This little comment hit me like a ton of rocks after what I've seen visiting Syria. Flashbacks of bad scenes rushed through my head and I wanted to bring it to attention.
Cleanliness is next to godliness النظافة من الإيمان. All Syrians know that, and most practice it at home. But when it comes to the outside world, our streets and forests, this rule takes a side step to a new rule; get rid of your trash anywhere. I saw trash being thrown from balconies and cars with no regard to who might be the recepient on the other end. I was standing in my aunt's yard when a kid threw trash from the third floor balcony. This was not just some accident. I heard stories like that constantly. Women fill up their trash bags and throw it from their balconies to the streets. Friday outings which are a Damascene ritual where every family there goes somewhere where there's shade and trees turn our landscape into a dumpster at the end of the day. Take a drive from Damascus to Lattakia, and you'll see plastic bags and trash littered all along the endless highways. Deserts, forests, fields, lakes and all are all littered with trash and plastic bags. Isn't it time we taught our kids this behavior is wrong? Isn't it time we cared about our cities and country in general as much as we care about keeping our houses clean? Isn't it time some volunteers start a campaign to clean up our streets and spread the word around? I dare the Syrian bloggers who live back home to start that, and I promise I'll join and do my part each time I go home. We have a beautiful country, one that Most arabs and foreigners love to visit, and we are destroying it gradually with our own trash. Just like Omnia suggested, actions speak louder than words.
We, Syrians that is, like to blame everything wrong in our cmmunity on the government. The government did this, and the government didn't do that, while we practice طناش carelesness every day of our lives. We also like to blame everyone else for our shortcomings. Am I generalizing? You bet I am. It's what I've seen and experienced, and we all know it's true. As much as I hate sounding like a preacher, I feel this issue is urgent enough to forgive my lecture. It's time we did something and caused a change no matter how small. As a wise man said "Be not afraid of going slowly; be only afraid of standing still"
No, I don't, and I don't intend to start one up anytime soon either. I have to admit I tried MySpace for about a year, and recently Facebook for a couple of weeks. The two experiences were almost identical, boring, empty, and meaningless. All I did was stare at the profiles and pictures of "friends", and I use this term loosely. These "friends" never communicated with me, except for maybe a comment or two and I knew that I'll never end up meeting any of them. It seemed their only purpose behind adding me was to increase their "friends" count. Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned ways of picking up the phone, emailing, text messaging, or instant messaging a real friend? I can't speak much about Twitter or Orkut as I never even visited the sites, but I imagine they're all alike.
"Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life."
يساعدك فيس بوك على التواصل والتشارك مع كل الأشخاص في حياتك
Wow, so I can't connect with anyone I know unless I use Facebook? Or would Facebook help me get a better connection with those people? I beg to differ.
"As of today, 250 million people are using Facebook to stay updated on what's happening around them and share with the people in their lives..."
I must be some odd anti-social moron like the lady suggested. I mean what are the chances 250 million people can be wrong, and I'm right? I'm not sure. All I know is that these netwroking sites didn't serve any purpose for me, in particular, the purpose specified in their home pages.
I watched the 60 MINUTES interview with Mark Zuckerberg the 23 year old founder of Facebook (He looks 17 by the way). In case you didn't know, 60 minutes is the most watched and respected CBS news program in the USA. It aires every Sunday night. Mr. Zuckerberg couldn't crack a real smile and looked like one of those outcasts that couldn't muster any courage to talk to anyone in college. The company is worth 15 billion dollars, and he's personally worth over 3 billion. His response to the interviewer after stating these facts was that he still lives in a one bedroom apartment and sleeps on a matress on the floor. A lonely nerd that needed friends started that and the world followed. Welcome to the 21st century. It's all about money here. Facebook has been accused of using its subscribers' private information to sell ads. This social netwroking scam has been embeded in our brains as the next thing for the sole purpose of making money to the corporations that owns them. Yes ladies and gentlemen, they are owned by money-making American companies. This graphic was posted on MySpace homepage enticing new customers to sign up. I'll leave it up to you to figure out what kind of intended audience it was aimed at.
The next argument for using these services would be to aquire new "friends". Do we really need those so-called "friends"? Last time I was on MySpace I had over 50 "friends", and other than exchanging a few comments or a two-line email, there was hardly anything else to speak of. Most of the emails and the "friend" requests I got there lead to porn websites.
I have no doubt these networking sites can be useful to some busy people. The type of celebrities and politicians and media people can use it to update their fan base on a regular basis. But notice how I used the word fan in the previous statement. That's so far off from the intended purpose of staying in touch with friends. I don't think 250 million people belong to the category that can use Social Networking sites and benefit from them.
Why am I ranting and raving about social networking? Well, the service might do well in the American and western culture, but in our Syrian and Arabic societies there's just no use for it. It never seizes to amaze me how many bloggers are so devastated over Facebook being blocked in Syria. Others were also angry about president Asssad starting a Facebook page while it's still blocked back home. I'm not sure if a president ever has the time for this nonsense. I saw the page, and the pictures look authentic, but anyone could've started this page.
For now, I don't need Facebook or Twitter. I don't need MySpace or Orkut. I'm just happy with my little Blog sharing what I choose to.
Long live the Blog
رجعت الملاك اللي جنبي تصرخ هي و إخواتها
وبديت أنا إصرخ
ولي... شو خلص الخبز؟
جمال و أنوثة بس بيلبسوا ألوان بتقرف
بدي إتجوز عالعتمة
الكهربا مقطوعة ولو طلعت مرتي عورة
ولما بتنقطع المي
بدي إرجع...بدي إرجع
بدي صرخ بالعربي
عندك بيت بالشام؟
Let me ask you this: Why would I pay around 10,000,000 Syrian Pounds (Around $200,000) for a flat in this mess, when I can get something like that house in the other picture for less than that?
Yes, I know it's because of the geographic location. That mess is at home, while the beautiful house is thousands of miles away on another continent. But I also live on that far away continent and only come home for a visit. I'm not saying this will never change. My dream was always to make it back home. I also have my parents house where the only resident living there now is my mom.
On the other hand, real estate purchase in Syria is one of the best investments one can make. When I visited home in 2001 everyone begged me to buy a house. After my last visit this year, I realized this wasn't a bad idea after all. My family house is worth around 6 times more than it did in 2001. Read this report and you'll realize the effect of the Syrian real estate market on the economy. The report states that the real estate and construction sectors employed together a total of 735,931 people in 2007 out of a total active population of 4,945,977, or 15% of the Syrian workforce. In other words, the size of the workforce in real estate is around three times the size of the sector’s share of Syria’s GDP (4.27%). Beyond economics, the importance of the real estate industry derives from the strong impact it has on the social and border development spheres.
" Dear fellas, I can't believe how fast things move on the outside. I saw an automobile once when I was a kid, but now they're everywhere. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry"
I borrowed this phrase from my favorite movie The Shawshank Redemption . So many people, too many cars, trucks, busses...... Damascus looks like a constant rush hour in New York city. Every Damascene household had at least one car. Smog covered the city with a thick dark cloud. When I left home, everyone's dream back there was to own a car someday. Automobile prices were the highest in the world. " Be careful what you wish for, it might come true".
"Driving in Syria is hazardous and requires great caution. Although drivers generally follow traffic signs and signals, they often maneuver aggressively and show little regard for vehicles traveling behind or to the sides of them. Lane markings are usually ignored. Vehicles within Syrian traffic circles must give way to entering traffic, unlike in the United States. At night, it is very hard to see pedestrians, who often walk into traffic with little warning. Outside major cities it is common to find pedestrians, animals and vehicles without lights on the roads at night. Pedestrians must also exercise caution. Parked cars, deteriorating pavement, and guard posts obstruct sidewalks, often forcing pedestrians to walk in the street. Vehicles often do not stop for pedestrians, and regularly run red lights or “jump” the green light well before it changes."
This was a direct quote from the U.S. Department of State Website . It summarizes the chaotic state of traffic in Syria. It justifies my fear everytime one of my nieces walks 100 meters to her grandparents house down the street. Is there a quick solution? I'm not sure. I do know it starts with the people, the drivers.