Thursday, October 27, 2011

I have again and again grown like grass;

I have experienced seven hundred and seventy moulds.

I died from minerality and became vegetable;

And from vegetativeness I died and became animal.

I died from animality and became man.

Then why fear disappearance through death?

Next time I should die

Bringing forth wings and feathers like angels,

After that soaring higher than angels -

What you cannot imagine, I shall be that.

- Rumi

Monday, October 24, 2011

This is a song that I love. I listened to it heavily last March. On my way to the supermarket, in the cab, walking to school, at the cafe, and on the tube. I loved listening to it particularly on the tube because it made British public transport seem sweet.

And Ziad Sahhab has the most soothing voice.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I had a dream last night and in my dream, I was back to the city of London in the early winter of 2008. It all seemed real and I was back to that person I used to be. I was at the station waiting for the 73 bus. It was very crowded. People were alighting and others getting on. Suddenly I noticed this old lady. She looked like my grandmother - only she wasn't. She had my grandmother's smile, my grandmother's nose and my grandmother's wrinkles. She had her blonde hair and her blue eyes with her bouffant hairstyle. She was wearing a green tailleur - one of grandmother's favorite. She looked at me and smiled. And in that moment I was inclined to approach her and ask her if she would agree to play grandmother and granddaughter with me. But I did not.

And I awoke.

This dream reminded me of a time when I had just started my doctoral studies and I was exhausted from trying to keep up with the required level of research and I was beginning to feel lonely. And, homesick.

I am glad I am not in that place anymore. It was just a dream.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I know I said I didn't appreciate the film. But I thought the music was beautiful, which was composed by Nadine Labaki's husband, Khaled Mouzannar.

Tonight this song makes a lot of sense.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


When I was a little girl, I was in such a hurry to grow up. I did live in the present, but I fantasized more about the future. I wanted to be so many things that I have not been able to be. Well, maybe soon I will become a doctor. That, I did dream of. Well, kind of.

I was in such a hurry to grow up that now I long for my childhood. It was a time when I thought that life was timeless, deathless, never-ending... I thought I could conquer the world and do many things while at it. I would be a doctor, an actress, a dancer, a maths teacher, a restauranteur, a taxi driver, a footballer, a princess and many other things. That was when I was an 8 year old girl living somewhere in a little home in Africa.

Back then I used to read Enid Blyton's The Faraway Tree series. These books outlined my earliest understanding of the world. I believed that anything was possible. There was a time when I actually thought little fairies and magical things did exist. But they only happened to those who believed in them, and I believed. And I thought that if I played under that huge tree in our back garden, fantastic things would happen to me just like in the book.

I was not afraid of bugs and I always looked for grasshoppers. I played with the little white kittens and went on lizard hunts and rode my bicycle in circles around the garden. I flew a heavy kite I'd designed and made after watching a children's TV show. But for some reason, my kite would barely lift. And I'd take it back inside for some remodeling. I'd enter through the front sliding doors into our sitting room and smell beautiful aromas from the kitchen. It would be noontime. Who else but my lovely mommy preparing lunch cause daddy was going to be home soon. And this song would be playing in the stereo. Back then, it was all about cassettes... and this is a song that has never left me.

Tonight I lost over 2500 pictures. Of places, of friends, of family, of grandmother, of my mother's 50th birthday this August...

And a good chunk of them were from my trip to Istanbul. I took particularly beautiful images from the Grand Bazaar. I remember I stopped every few meters trying to capture the shapes, the colors, the hanging ouds, the necklaces and the beads, the lanterns...

Oh well. I guess I'll have to go to Istanbul again and take that walk in the Grand Bazaar.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Plea

To find me you must stop the noise:
silence the guns and the tanks,
the shouted orders
and the shouts of defiance,
screaming and weeping,
and listen.

My voice is very weak.
You must try to hear it.
You will have to come close
and pick away the tumbled stones
carefully, gently.

When you find me, lift me out,
help me to breathe;
set my broken limbs
but don't think it's enough
to give me back a fragile existence.

I need food and water,
I need a home that will last,
health and hope and work to do.
I need love.

You must embrace me
and take me to your heart.
My name is Peace.

Sue Sabbagh, June 2002

from Palestine: History of a Lost Nation by KARL SABBAGH

This is the opening poem from the latest book I've started reading and the book, thus far, seems promising. But the poem, I really loved.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I have been back in Lebanon for over a day now. I am finding it slightly difficult accepting that I have left behind something very special in London. But I take great solace in the fact that we carry with us what is special in our hearts no matter where we roam - that we never leave something behind unless we decide to expunge it from our hearts.

This evening I spent a little bit more than an hour alone by myself with my maternal grandmother. I don't remember the last time I sat with her alone since her stroke and had a proper chat - more like she telling me stories from her younger days. I was quite happy to listen to her.

She related - for the first time to me - how she had applied to work as an air hostess at MEA in the late 1950s. She was even interviewed and almost accepted. "They told me that I matched all their criteria. They were pleased that I was fluent in both Arabic and French and were willing to teach me English" she proudly recounted. But her brother, who was a doctoral student in Paris at the time, wrote her a one-line letter that read:

هذه وظيفة لا تليق بفتاة شرقية 
[This job is not for an Eastern girl]

Like a good girl in our part of the world, she did not question her brother's disapproval. She instead applied for a teaching job in the public service. She got married a few years later and says that she never regretted her choice because it provided a comfortable and stable income - which is exactly what she needed as a working mother.

She loved (and still does as much as her legs and walking stick permit) walking and she would refuse to get a lift from my grandfather, who had a taste for both handsome suits and automobiles. She told me how she would even walk to school during the civil war, that there was always a sense of fear in her heart. "If I saw a huddle of people, I would worry. And if I saw no people at all and the streets were empty, I would worry all the same..." She would then pause and say "الله الحامي" [God protects]. She still took that twelve minute walk to school and then back.

Whenever we visited from Africa, we'd stay over at hers and granddad's. Sometimes she would take me with her to school - it was the last school where she taught because she'd moved between several schools including an Armenian school. She would get me my favorite, a croissant, from the bakery on our way and a bottle of juice. And she would let me make-believe I was teacher by allowing me to scribble on the blackboard. Of course, I don't recall playing teacher with her students. But, I'll take her word for it.

"Our times were better..." she said. Then grabbed her walking stick and stood up.