Sunrise with Barry White..23-11-2009

My day starts at 7:30am, that’s when the alarm rings and I open my eyes. I change, have my cereal quickly while reading the news paper and head to work. I spend over 9 hours at work. I leave the office after 5:30, when it’s already dark outside. The only time I get to see the sun is when I walk to my granny’s for lunch, a 3 seconds walk!  After a long working day I go home and work out for an hour. Sometimes I jog, sometimes I do yoga, aerobics and exercises of that sort. After I shower I sometimes go out for a social obligation, or have dinner with friends, or have a society meeting, or stay home reading and watching episodes (always the best option).
By the time I get to bed I’d be exhausted. I immediately fall asleep the moment I put my head on the pillow. Usually, I go to bed at around 12 mid night and wake up at 4:30 to pray then I go back to sleep. But this was not the case today. When I went back to bed after praying, I picked up my phone and checked the recent updates. One of my contacts wrote something with the words first and last. And when I put my phone aside to sleep, the intro of Barry White’s My First, My Last, my Everything started playing in my head. Who can sleep with such tempo in his head?
The song kept on playing and I was moving my feet and head as I lay sleepless on my bed. I don’t know if it’s a fact or if it’s just me, but I always get the most accurate, creative and clear thoughts when I’m half asleep!!  I felt like a 100 wire was connected to my head, each had its own topic but Barry White was present in the background all the way.. my kind of wonderful, that’s what you are…(8)
The sun started to shine. My room has an issue with curtains. I always end up having a curtain that SUCKS the sun light and throws it up in my room!! A couple of months ago I spent a fortune on a new curtain and STILL, my room is brighter than the outside! The sun light had hit my eyes and I heard something moving outside my room, the maid was awake which meant that it passed 6 o’clock. My precious sleeping hours were passing by while I spent it singing with Barry White who decided to come back from the dead to keep me awake! You’re my reality, yet I’m lost in aaaaa dream (8)
It then hit me that I’m not going to Europe this winter. It’s good that I’m breaking the routine, but there are certain things that I’ll miss. But who knows? I might wake up one morning and decide to go. Just like I did many times before. You’re the first…you’re the last…my everything (8)
The song started to fade out and I finally fell asleep. And what a nap I had! I saw a horse getting killed infront of me. Then some buildings started blowing up one after the other while I stood in queue in Starbucks. And finally I was followed by an ostrich! I was running and the ostrich was running after me when I heard the sound of a PING. I kept my eyes closed and wondered who’d PING me at this hour. I closed my eyes tightly trying to go back to sleep when the alarm rang. DAMN IT. It was 7:30 already. I slept for like around 10 minutes?!  I was so tired and my eyes were not seeing clearly that the word DISMISS looked like a German word and I was wondering how the language set up in my phone got changed!
I dragged my heavy body out of bed, and guess who was back? BARRY WHITE. We got it together didn’t we? (8)

Let the Celebrations Begin..11-Feb-2010

No matter how old we get, we can never forget the joyful memories of Eid back when we were little. Every single detail about Eid used to be exciting for us; the new clothes, the blow dried hair, the 3eedia, the nuts, the visits and the hinna. I remember how I used to count down the days and wake up on Eid day thinking wow, it’s finally Eid.

Unfortunately, all those joyous feelings started to fade away with time. Nowadays, people think of Eid as a very heavy day which we’ll have to spend wandering from one house to the other, kissing people and eating fattening meals & sweets. We tend to travel in Eid to avoid all that hassle. I don’t think that it has anything to do with age since the new generation is feeling the same about it. And back then, our parents and grandparents used to be as excited as we were about it.

It’s very heartbreaking how we don’t get pleasure from the two Eids that Islam granted us as a reward for our worship to Allah. I look around at other religions and cultures and it’s pretty impressive how they create an attractive image of their occasions. Colorful Christmas trees and cute Easter bunnies. And it’s not just the image that attracts; it’s how deep and devoted they feel towards it. We leave our homes in Eid while they fly back home for Christmas. 

Ramadan is the only time for us Muslims to experience something of our own style. Cultural habits and religious practices are strongly implied in that month. In Egypt, streets are beautifully lit with lights and lanterns and packed with children and adults all night long. Luckily for us, my mother does the same to our house. She decorates the fence with lights and hangs a huge lantern by the entrance every year. If every house did the same, can you imagine how beautiful the streets would look? Sadly, we Arabs lack that passion that westerners have. We have a rich culture and a beautiful religion but we’re so ignorant. The least we could do is brand our occasions in a simple and creative way like: Sell Eid/Ramadan greeting cards that are modernly designed, branded food packages (Eid candy for kids, Ramadan treats on the shape of hlal, cupcakes with traditional flavors, etc), and funky wallets or handbags for kids for their 3eedia.

I’m sure that if we search around we’ll find many of those products available. But under a very, very low profile. We need to feel the spirit. We want to see colorful posters on the roads and fun ads on TV. We have to be surrounded with the theme to feel it.

I know several Muslims who celebrate Christmas. They decorate a tree and exchange gifts. It’s very attractive to do so since our markets get filled with Christmas products every year. But do any of us know any Christians who celebrate Eid? I’m sure not. And why would they if WE who are meant to enjoy it find it dull and boring?

There is no shame in looking up at other cultures and admiring their ways of celebrating their occasions. It’s very inspiring and there might be some hidden lessons for us as Muslims. A good example is Thanksgiving day in America. It’s so beautiful how you get to realize the things you’re blessed with and share it with others. It’s a main core in Islam to be thankful for god and be content, but are we? Not at all, we always want more and we only appreciate what we have when we lose it. We don’t have to celebrate Thanksgiving, but why not get inspired from it and learn to be thankful to Allah?

New Year’s is another example. Many extremists think of it as a bed3a and many see it as just another normal night. I personally think that it’s much more than that and I’m not talking about celebrations. It’s amazing how our days form months and how those months form years. It’s a beautiful way to measure our time as living human beings on earth. And by the end of each year we get a chance to look back at what we’ve achieved and what we want to achieve in that brand new coming year. I see it as a refreshing chance to wrap up the past and start over. 

There is something new in everything we see around us and everyone we meet. And as Muslims we have a message to deliver to the rest of the world. A message that reflects how lenience and miraculous Islam is. And the easiest way to do that is by expressing our devotion through spreading joy and fun in those special days. Let’s not allow any extremists to limit our creativity in creating that attractive image. And instead of walking around London wishing that Christmas was our thing, let’s aim for a day when they’ll walk around our streets wishing that Islam was their thing.

Angel on Earth.. 3- April 2009

I achieved one of my very important childhood dreams when I attended Fairouz’s concert last year in Bahrain. Tonight, I achieved my second most important childhood dream by attending a concert for Majida Al-Roomi right on the same stage. I consider myself a very lucky person to achieve such dreams by the age of 26.

I was worried all week that something would come up and stop me from being there. I always get that feeling when an important event is coming up. The week went 3ala khair, but I woke up to find out that it was raining and that a thunderstorm is coming up. I spent almost the whole day peeking through the window every now and then checking on the weather and hoping for the storm to WAIT since the concert is going to be held outdoors. Endless messages were sent between me and my friends about what we’ll wear, when we’ll go and how we’ll survive the thunderstorm.

When I first sat on my seat I looked around at the place. It was almost the same as last year. Same crowd, same purple sky and spring breeze. It was a bit chilly but it wasn’t raining. I wore my coat and put my phone on silent. I didn’t want anything to distract me from living my dream.

It went dark, live music started playing and an angel in white came out of the very black dark stage. She was more beautiful than ever, classy as usual, wearing that very beautiful smile that comes right from the heart. And what can I say about that voice, that pure magical voice that you can never get enough of.

When I was around 6 years old, I used to play her songs and sing along facing the mirror with a brush in my hand. Sometimes I’d come up with a dance and imagine that I’m dancing on stage and even think of who the audience were. And I still listen to those songs, I can never get bored of them no matter how old I get. We were hoping on our way there that she’d sing some of those 80’s songs and she didn’t let us down. She did sing three of my very favourite oldies: Ghanni, Ma6ra7ak be albi and Khedny 7abeebi. I was literally dancing on my seat, swinging left and right, singing along knowing every single word and beat. For some moments I felt like it was only me and her. Just like the old days, but instead of the mirror and the tape it was her singing right infront of me.

I loved how she was interacting with the audience throughout the whole concert. She’s such a humble person, she assured us that she will keep singing no matter how the weather turns out and that she will fully understand if we decided to leave because of the storm. And the way she feels the music is just amazing. Her gestures, her movements, her very cute way of dancing. She holds her gown and moves to the left and to the right and sometimes down and then up again. You just can’t take your eyes off of her.

Bahrainis always loved her, she used to come here often and she even had a song about Bahrain. One of her songs was shot in Bahrain, ana 3am ba7lam, right in the same fort where the concert was held. But the audience weren’t just Bahrainis this time. There were many Lebanese of course, Kuwaitis, Iraqis and Saudis. Those were the accents that I heard around me and I’m sure that many others were present.

Another dream that came true tonight is that she sang many of my very favourite old Lebanese songs in a medley: 6alo a7babna for Wadee3 el9afi and Raje3 yet3amar Lebnanfor Zaki Nasif. I’m a very big fan of national Lebanese songs and it was more than marvelous to hear it in her delicate voice. I’m sure that the Lebanese lady that was sitting on my left thought that I was Lebanese for singing all those songs fluently!

The audience went mad when she started singing eltoba, which is originally for Abdul Halim. I’ve always preferred her version, she has a unique way of singing it. And I was surprised that she still sings it in her concerts. It’s so nice of a big singer like her to sing songs for others when she has a huge collection of her own songs. I also enjoyed very much how they jazzed up her old songs in a very contemporary way. I’m sure that most audience who were not so familiar with her songs couldn’t tell the old from the new.

Back in the mid 90’s a concert was held for Majida in Albert Hall in London. I remember how much I wished to be there when I saw some short scenes on TV and I even recorded them. I’m sure that the tape is still there, somewhere between all those video tapes I have. Which reminds me of also recording a whole concert for her that was aired on Bahrain TV. I think that it was Eid and it was held here in Bahrain in 1994, all I remember is that she was wearing a white suit and that I was too young to attend such concerts.

Everything was perfect, from the music to the lighting. It was too good to be true that we didn’t feel that the two hours were already over. I couldn’t believe it when she waved goodbye and thanked the maestro. That’s it? It took me few seconds to wake up from that magical dream and realize that it’s over. She left, but she came back to sing one of the most beautiful lyrics ever written, Beirut set el dunia. She left again, but we waited, hoping that she’d come back and sing some more. But she didn’t, and the dream was over with no storm or a single drop of rain. We walked out with nothing but…..Kalimat 😉

I wonder who’d it be next year. Julia Butrus maybe? I hope so. Who’s as big as Fairouz and Majida? My sister thinks that it might be Warda. One of my crazy friends went a bit far with her predictions: Celine Dion! Let’s wait and see what dream we’ll be living next…

The Wrong Person at the Wrong Place.

I was reading the newspaper this morning when an unusual article grabbed my attention. It was about 30 teenagers in their school uniforms attacking two police officers after they asked a girl to pick up a piece of litter. The officers were on sick leave with bruising, bite wounds and knee injuries. This incident happened in London of course.

As mean as it might sound, I was so proud of the kids. “Well done!” was the first thing that popped into my mind. I’ve always despised how some people use their authorities to manipulate others in a very ugly way. It’s more like “I’m in control, you have to do whatever I ask you to do” behavior rather than asking people to do the right thing for their own good.

Throughout my entire life I’ve witnessed that kind of behavior in almost every stage I’ve passed. Especially in school, given the fact that I’ve been to a government school, most of our teachers came from a different type of community, a different sector, a different background. And they somehow used their position as teachers to let out their anger on some other issues on us. For example, in middle school we had a very religious science teacher, she used to pick on me every single day, asked me questions that I couldn’t answer just so I’d be standing up the whole session, and say unnecessary comments which were unrelated to what she was teaching at all, just because I was open minded and she didn’t like the way I dressed or danced during break hours.

If I open my very dusty box of school memories I’ll have to write a whole book about all what we went through. But I’ll jump to another stage now; University of Bahrain. Back then it was the only university in Bahrain, so Bahrainis had no choice if they couldn’t afford studying abroad. After studying abroad for one year, I transferred to UOB where all my friends and my whole generation were studying. I didn’t find that bad use of authority in the professors this time. Their professors were careless and useless to do that. But that behavior was STRONGLY applied in their management, their administration staff, and most importantly: the security guards. Imagine some uneducated young boys and girls who had the power to control some cool good looking boys and girls? Of course they would use that power. It’s more like a chance to take revenge. Life did not give them the chance to be a part of that “cool” community groups and they had the chance to control where those “cool people” parked their cars, what they wore and where they sat.

I once was on my way to a Maths lecture when one of those security ladies stopped me. She was pregnant, bored, annoyed, and every expression on her face expressed how much she hated her life. She literally kicked me out of the university and said: “6el3y barra3”!!!. She was claiming that my skirt was see-through. Why on earth would I wear a see-through skirt to university? Where every single Bahraini loser was. And I gave her that very angry look that spoke without me speaking: “Who do you think you are?” My eyes said !. And I told her that I am not willing to miss my lecture for a stupid reason which wasn’t even true. I walked away and left her standing in the middle of the hall way. I don’t remember what happened next, but I don’t remember seeing her face again !

In my former working place, my manager used the fact that he was in charge, or in other words, the person who had my career in his hands, to take advantage of me. He used to order me to write his MBA essays. And I couldn’t object, because me objecting meant forgetting to ask for leave. And I couldn’t even complain, because in that jungle, if you complained you were kicked out.

I was in Heathrow Airport last week leaving London to Bahrain. I was passing through the departure gate, where Anglo Indian immigration officers stood there and screamed: “ANY LIQUIDS?”. However, for the past few years there was this rule that you can’t pass that gate with more than one luggage. But this time everyone was passing with more than one, I was glad that they had cancelled the rule. I had two pieces of luggage with me, and my air sickness syrup medicine was inside one of them. I opened the luggage to put my medicine in a clear plastic bag (as required) when one of the Anglo Indian immigration officers came to me. He looked really bored and he was in the mood to fight. In Bahraini we call it “metsabbeb”. He asked: “What is this?” I said: “My medicine. Do I still have to go in with one luggage?” He said: “Yes”. His colleague gave him a confused look. And I looked around to find people passing through with more than one piece of luggage. It was then when I realized that he was playing around with me.

I was late and the lady who checked me in asked me to go to the gate immediately. So all I wanted was to get in there fast in order not to miss my flight. And for that I had to swallow my anger. He asked me to open my bag again, he saw the medicine, I took it back, I closed my bag to remember that my passport was inside and I was going to need it at that moment, I opened my bag again and he was still there giving me orders. Shockingly his Anglo Indian colleague asked him to stop it. “You’re making it harder for her.” she said. But he ignored her and asked me to put the bag in the metal basket where the bag had to fit. I did that without even raising my head or looking at his face, I was too angry to do so. The bag fit but it got stuck. He watched me as I struggled to remove my bag out of the basket and he just stood there doing nothing. I wish I could live that scene again in a movie world, where I could slap the guy and run fast through the gate without anyone stopping me. The flight got delayed anyway.

The bad use of authority is a very broad serious issue that should get more attention from authorities of all kinds. Whether it was governmental, educational, organizational, social, parental, or political authority. We are all responsible in a way to provide justice by using our powers correctly. Unfortunately, the world is full of bad ethics, and there is only one way to avoid the wrong use of authority, which is: “The right person at the right place.” Impossible isn’t it?


That Awkward Box..

I’ve always thought of elevators as a form of public transportation. It moves you from one point to another & picks up whoever comes its way, which creates a very awkward atmosphere. Or am I the only one who thinks of being with 2 or 3 strangers in a very small closed place as awkward?

When our offices moved to another building, our department was on the 7th floor. So those awkward moments reached its peak (I used to work on the first floor before). Sometimes I found myself with total strangers, standing face to face, I looked around, my eyes would roll, I looked at my nails, stared at my shoes, and everyone would be looking at the small “screen” that shows which floor we were on, as if the left would move faster if we all stared at it. And sometimes I found myself with people I barely knew, and had to come up with conversations, very very general conversation, like the weather, or the…weather !!

I was watching my very favorite show a few minutes ago, Ally McBeal. And she was in the elevator with her roommate when suddenly a guy she liked came in, & the roommate left. And there they were alone in the elevator, at that very awkward moment the music of Jeopardy came out of no where. I laughed so hard that the bowl of cereal I was holding almost fell out of my hand. The very right music at the very right moment.

What is even more awkward is when the elevator is full but yet people manage to find you an empty spot where you can squeeze yourself. So when its time for someone from the very other end to come down, we all have to evacuate the elevator in order for this one person to leave. And while getting back in the door just HAS to close on someone’s shoulders! I personally avoid packed elevators but sometimes I find it rude not to get in because it somehow stopped at that floor for me! Or not to turn down some very sweet people who move & offer space !

The funniest thing is when you get in the elevator & accompany people who know each other but you don’t know them. You’d hear their jokes & try so hard not to laugh. Or know the answer of a question they asked & you’d have to stay quiet. Obviously they all know that you’re hearing their conversation but you still have to act as if you’re not !

If you go through the details of things that might happen in those very few minutes you spend in the elevator you’d find it non ending; when someone who stinks gets in & you must control your face expressions, when a delivery guy gets in & your starving, when you get in talking on your cell phone & the signal goes down & you find yourself talking to no one, when you forget to press on the floor button or you don’t offer pressing it for other people, when you leave at the wrong floor (very embarrassing), when a child keeps staring at you all the way, when your having a conversation with someone out of the elevator & the door starts closing & he’s still talking, when the door closes on you or before you go in/out, and the list could go on !

My advice is, TAKE THE STAIRS lol. Have a good day & remember me in the elevator 🙂

March 4th 08