Welcome to My Lebanese Dream
When all is far, and all is empty, I set sail and dock on a familiar shore, somewhere in my imagination
Monday, May 29, 2006
Sunday, May 28, 2006
"The State of Israel holds the Lebanese government responsible for any terror attack emanating from its territory."
Well, thank you for giving us more credit than we deserve. Really.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
The Narrow Door
Son Don't be Too Kind-hearted
- Son, don't be naive. Don't be too kind-hearted. Don't let people take advantage of you because they will.
- I don't care. I am happy to let them.
- What? You're not making any sense ya ibneh. I worry enough about you as it is. I beg of you, be careful. Don't be a prey to predators. Protect your interests. Fight for them. Life is merciless. I've learned it the hard way, and I've learned it for both of us. Why pay the bills that I've already paid?
- Mother, I ask you not to worry. I am not a predator, nor am I a prey. I see people, I understand them, I see how they are. But I cannot afford to worry about protecting myself from getting hurt or taken advantage of. I will see people taking advantage of me, or thinking they are, and I will let them. They can never hurt me if I let them in.
- No Fouad. Don't say that. Life is not what you make it out to be. It is cruel and hurtful. You're only saying this now because you never really experienced the pain of deceit, the stabbing pain of best friends and brothers turning against you and slashing your throat to quench their thirst with your blood. I've protected you so nothing of this ugliness touched you while you were growing up. And you've come to live in a beautiful world of your making, and partly my own. But now you're a grown man and it's time for you to see what the real world is like. I am just worried about you habibi. You are kind and vulnerable. You cannot stay this way.
- It is strange how little you understand me, mother. You've taught me well, but you've forgotten what you've taught. You have to understand and believe that I do understand and believe all it is you're saying. But my answer is to let go of fear and anguish. I will not be hurt by losing what I don't care to own. The door to pain is wide open for those who are afraid to suffer. How careful can I be mother. How careful can anyone be. The likelihood of getting slapped in the face and betrayed is greater than anyone can circumvent. The answer is to accept it, and more, welcome it as the child of a conscious choice.
Mother, you chose to build a high fence around me, I choose to bring it down. I will be a city that opens its gates to strangers and invaders, I will let them in and live with them under the same sun, rather than die in hunger and sickness and fear, inside my own walls and under the seige I cast around myself and my people.
- Listen Fouad. My life has been nothing but a stack of hefty bills, and I just don't want you to pay what I've already paid for. Life is not a court room. People are guilty until proven innocent. And so are you. That's how it is. You're young and idealistic. The world you live in is beautiful, but it's mythical nonetheless. All I'll ask of you is to take note of what I said, and triage it. Someday, you might find some of it more useful than you now think.
- Fouad, just say that you will. I think you owe me this much.
- Ok. I will. I promise.
- Take care of yourself habibi. I'll talk to yo soon.
- Yes. Soon inshallah.
- I love you Fouad. You know that don't you. Everything I say is because I love you.
- Yes mother. I know. I love you too.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Friday, May 19, 2006
A Break From the Old Routine... Folon
Thursday, May 18, 2006
What Love Is
It's when you're lingering between consciousness and sleep, and you hang on to her voice, and you dream about seeing her, and you love her more than you ever thought possible, and you love her everyday more than ever before.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Caramel Wafer House
For all of you sugar-cravers, yet another candy-inspired shot. Enjoy it (I know I did), as long as you don't forget to floss :)
Monday, May 15, 2006
A Faded Photograph
I kept the faded photograph of when she was about five.
Picture it. Above, a clear, blue-grey sky with on the left, two very white clouds with round ears, just like her imaginary albino mouse friend, on the right, a five-foot-high orange tent with a long fold across from the top down to its anchor into the heat-cracked brown soil, behind, a golden yellow carpet of thirsty summer Bekaa grass, on the left, hugging the horizon, two small rocky hills, three bushes, and two long and thin wooden sticks.
And then her.
Her. Standing in the center like a pin-up movie star, spontaneously posing for an impromptu photoshoot, her short silky brown hair lightly carried by an undulating faint valley breeze, her white t-shirt covering a proudly protruding childhood belly, her dusty blue jacket and pants jeans ensemble, her right leg in front, slightly bent, and ready to run, and her left leg behind, straight, and firmly planted in the ground.
She posed, holding a yellow plastic glass of water above her upper lip and her nose, drinking, looking at the camera from the corner of her eye, almost seeing through, while the mid-day sun scattered itself on her hair and face and onto the wide golden plains around.
She wanted the faded picture back but I kept it.
Did she know that I would be the last one to touch her face with these moist fingers and keep her on my desk with the rest my things?
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Way to Go Chomsky
Noam? I mean na3am? Arguably the most quoted living intellectual figure in the world today gets deftly swayed by God's personal party leader and spokesman Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah? It looks like the Sayyed's inspired rhetoric overwhelmed Chomsky's linguistic erudition. Or did Nasrallah just stun him with his divine bearded allure? Either way, it matters not. Noam may very well be one of the most influential thinkers of our time, but let's face it, Sayyed Hassan is Sayyed Hassan, and the great Noam Chomsky, as it turns out, is only human. And a seriously gullible one at that.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Fill the Dumpsters
I don't know about you but, to me, these sukleen dumpsters are just way WAY too clean when so much garbage is festering on velvet chairs in governments, parliaments, and presidential palaces, and so much dross is swarming in the name of Unions and Democracies the streets of this desolate town.
Beirut forgive me, but I don't know if, with more of these odious visions and sounds, I still can miss your once incredible people and crave your still vivid living walls.
Several earthquakes over the past few thousand years, and several times Beirut was wiped off the map. Last time was in 551 AD, fifteen hundred years ago. Today, looking at this disgustingly ongoing masquerade, as much as it tears me apart, I can't help but wonder if the time hasn't come for a new earthquake, one to purge this rotten slice of heaven out of its miserable present existence, and give it a small but real chance to start off a fresh beginning.
And as much as I hate to be dark and bitter, sometimes, when there's just shit in the glass, it really doesn't matter anymore if it's half-empty or half-full.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
"Jeddo! Carry me!" He said
"Or I will run away"
"But.. I am old jeddo" said the old man, his frowning bushy eyebrows casting a faint shadow over his sunken eyes. "The years have burrowed through my bones and left many cracks behind. I am much weaker than I used to be. You know I wouldn't want anything more in the world than to carry you in my arms and walk with you one hundred times around the neighborhood, just to show everybody how proud I am to be your jeddo"
"So you won't carry me.."
"But if I do, we'll both fall on the ground. We might get hurt. Do you want your jeddo to fracture his hip and get an operation at the hospital?"
"No I just want you to carry me.."
The old man looked to the left where the main road joined the driveway by the century old walnut tree.
"Where is your mother?"
"I am going.."
"Wait. Where are you going. Don't you want to spend some time with your jeddo. I miss you you know. You don't visit me as often as you used to. Next time you come, I might not even be here..."
"But you won't carry me.."
He walked slowly towards his grandfather. His eyes were counting the rust-colored leaves resting on the porch. This was their first stop, and they were waiting for the next scheduled breeze to take them on a short trip across the frontyard into the neighbors' leafdom. As he came closer to his jeddo, his nares were getting slowly overwhelmed by that peculiar smell that only old people have, the smell of sour days gone, the smell of stories and memories, and a life about to pack its things and leave. He could also smell the naphthalene, those white speckled balls that protect clothes and houses from moth and evil spirits.
He stood at his jeddo's feet, waiting. The old man leaned forward into his chair, and with both hands slowly traveling towards the kid as if asking for forgiveness, he found his dear little boy's small armpits and with a pinch of might he borrowed from the mountain next door, he lifted him up, and kept him up for an entire childhood.
"jeddo!! hahahahaha jeddooooooooo!!! I'm flying! I can see your are3tak! jeddooooo! haha ha ha!"
The smile on jeddo's wrinkled lips was wider than the stretch of land where he used to plant roses and greens every summer they spent in the mountain. When his arms started shaking from a long-sustained effort, he sat the kid down in his lap and kissed him on the cheek and on the forehead, and between the long strands of silky light brown hair covering his shammouti head.
This was it. His life. His work. His reason to still be breathing. A five year old threatening to leave if his jeddo did not carry him. Little did he know that he was going to leave anyway. Little did he know that everyone was leaving. But his jeddo knew. And yet, all he could see and smell and hear was his grandchild. His only hope of life. Not god. Not heaven. This kid, his only hope of immortality.
Soon, the mother came and took her son away. Jeddo kissed him one last time and asked for a kiss in return, which was joyfully granted. As they drove away up the hill into the mountain's side, jeddo just watched them, thinking of all the beautiful moments he was blessed with, and then prayed for ten times as many good moments for his all too precious boy.
The scheduled breeze came by on time, it carried the few leaves that were still lying there, and while leaving, gently brushed jeddo's eighty-seven year old face.
He let a deep breath in, closed his still humid eyes, and decided to stay on the porch until the setting sun told him it was time get inside, eat some toasted arabic bread with labneh, mint leaves and cinnamon tea, and sleep.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Monday, May 08, 2006
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Sunday Story: The Tree of Life
As much as I love trees and delight in their sight and proximity, I've always felt that the few stumpy ficus trees garnishing, or should I say, trying to garnish the sidewalks that lead to the "Sanayeh" public park, were a little prosaic and uninspiring. Their thick, stocky trunks, stout branches, and vapid, dark green, plastic-like foliage gave me no visual enthrallment to speak of.
Yet something unusual happened which I only recently came to understand.
As I walked on that gloomy april day past a few of those relatively unattractive leaf bags, I almost mechanically slowed down, and stood, cold, in front of one. I looked at it for over five minutes, not really knowing what about it was so undefinably attractive. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't slender. It had no particularly defining features nor a particularly suiting background. In other words, it was as non-picturesque as any of the other ones flanking that particularly dull stretch of asphalt parallel to hamra street.
But I had my camera, and I was on a mission. I needed to take as many pictures as one hour of meandering on a gloomy and overcast april day would let me.
And I did. I half-heartedly took the one picture, and then moved along somewhat perplexed, and utterly unsatisfied.
I never gave it another thought until I looked at it again, a couple of weeks later. It then struck me like a thunderbolt. How could I not have seen it earlier? I guess I did. I just didn't know it.
And there it was, the tree of life, standing in all its glory, an almost exact replica of the very one that springs out of our hearts and gives us the gift of day.
And it wasn't just the large and small arteries it so astonishingly embodied. It was also the veins and the lymphatics, the thick and delicate peripheral nerves, it was our very own trunks, narrow limbs and slender fingers. It was everything, even our mother soil, our family roots, and our genealogy. And it wasn't just this tree, but every lonely tree in this lonely amazing world of ours.
Now, after a long period of indifference, those unassuming unattractive ficus trees have become dearer to me than all the others.
And now I know that no matter how complex, unstable, metamorphosing, capricious, weak, sad, fragile, moody, greedy, jealous, selfish, and human I may seem, look at me hard and you will see that I'm nothing really, that you're nothing really, but a walking tree.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Left is for the adventurous. Right is for the tame.
We have a gate, it's preposterous. It's just there for the name.
Come inside. Look around you. Many've been here before.
It's not their fault, though. We just let them. We sport an open door.
In this house we love dearly, we let all roam around
They come in, we take absence, and look for foreign ground
It's our pride, our way of living, giving ourselves away
Homes and roots, do we need them? They're no reason to stay
So welcome stranger, take our land, just take it all, for free
In a short while, we'll all be leaving, leaving it all to thee.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Through the Sky
Soon to be born, soon to be gone
He threw his heart towards the sun
For then he felt his beating heart had beating wings
And like a bird could truly fly
He took it out of its old cage
Of its old age
And sent it up, with all his might, much farther than could see his eye
It hugged the wind
It kissed the clouds
And sent a ripple through the sky