Thursday 29 September 2011

#College Drop outs? is this a big deal?

If it was upto me I will gather all the journalists in the world, retrain them and teach them the write way to report stuff so they do not humiliate others. the idea of sensationalizing the news is not something of taste. I for one will not read a paper that is full of gossip, paparazzi, and disclosing skeleton in the cupboard of people who are news worthy. I would rather read a book than spend my money on buying a paper that thrives on such news. The trouble is though, many people (I will call them ignorant) like those lines, get a Kick out of reading them, and their mouths will water just visualizing how the face of the person the paper gossiped about will look like when he sees his/her photo; terrible really.

Anyway, what i really want to talk about here is the idea of "College-drop-outs" that is used a lot to describe those that made it in the world. How many people have been tagged with the word college drop out? well, being fascinated by technology, and it effect on people's lives, let me mention two of my favorite computer men. Both are my age of course, I think there was something in that year (year of the sheep) that made us either clever in technology, inventors in technology or lovers of technology). #Bill Gates ( and #Steve Jobs ( are both tagged with this terminology, College drop outs.

Well, I am not an expert on people's behavioral science, but I know one thing, if I go to a place, and the energy, concept and effect that place provides me is not what i am looking for, i will leave it straight away. I had worked in a place for 8 weeks, left it without even asking for my money, because of the doom and gloom of the organization and the people that worked in it, and that is a paid job; how about you pay for something that is crap (excuse my french) would you continue to use that thing? i guess not! so what i am trying to say here is that, people drop out of studies, jobs, marriages, homes etc because of how they felt about them.

Colleges and other educational institutions are to be blamed, they should never mention that a student had dropped out; they must say that a student had opted out because of our deficiencies! The whole world knows that the education systems require reforms, and the whole world pumps money into the reforms of the education systems, however we still see students opting out of these institutions. the umpteen conferences that i had attended since i became involved in the education industry proved to me that we are not on the right track, as if we are in the right track we will not here the phrase COLLEGE DROP OUT again. Of course the defense for the educational institutions is that we cannot be all things to all people, and that people's choices are hard to satisfy.

Are these choices hard to satisfy? what about the myriad of tests that are developed by psychologists around the world that test abilities, potential, aptitudes and profile of the individuals young and old? can we not have a department in every school and every college that first determines what the child or students likes are dislikes were then let him or her in the right place? However if we do this the amount of money those investors will receive from the schools will be less than what they want it to be, so of course we will never have this. imagine the ramifications of applying this concept, there will be no failures in schools as every student will love the subjects and will outperform it so will never fail it, and if there are no failures, then the possibilities of having more money extracted from parents will reduce, so establishing schools will not be on the agenda of angel investors, or money owners. a real dilemma i would say?.

I am leaving you with the speech that Steve Jobs had given when he decided to step down from Apple, it brought tears to my eyes when I read it:

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
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And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much"

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Here is the link in case you prefer the online version

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Being grateful

My friend's daughter traveled to Kenya, she went raa raa about it, and what she saw there, apparently everyone's camera was pointed to the lions and tigers for hours just to witness a killing?? What! I said? What do you mean by that? She said that people on safari watch the lions kill zebras and other animals for food. She didn't see a killing though.
When she showed me the photos, few captured my soul, I was dreading to ask, but I had to, what is this? She said that that is the homes of the villagers? Oh my god? It was a mere two by two, dark, damp, a little opening to hang their belongings, a piece of wood balanced on hedges on the wall to place the cup, saucer and the one cooking equipment? The whole thing is built from mud. The children playing outside that wee hut, with flies stuck on their faces. They were not wearing shoes or slippers, and apparently they only see food once in a while.

You will wonder why am I narrating the obvious? These scenes are displayed on websites, newspapers, magazines and all the social media, we also see them on TV, and hear about them on Radio, so we know about this fact. Agreed, but to see photos that a person I know had taken makes more of an impact. Then the next day the was another photograph in one of the daily papers showing kids with eyes only, there bodies are so fragile, and they both look like a million years old mummies! I am not kidding, I had dreams about these two boys for days, and every time I see them in the dreams all I say is thank you, thank you god, and repeat it till I go back to sleep.

I am a humanitarian, with my small means I try to help everybody, and if I have a biscuit in my hand, and see a poor child, I will either forgo it or split it in halves (I am rarely hungry these days anyway as I am having those slimming capsules that puts you off food, maybe I will also be a mummy myself :)). However what surprises me is that the people of that country are actually eating, and are becoming so fat (I see some of the men and women doing their business in the Souqs of Dubai) and never bothering about these fragile kids, and what about the government? I hear that they break their morning fast with caviar and champagne? also all the airlines collect our lose change to give to hungry children, emirates, British Airways, Virgin, Qatari, Ettihad and so one all have those envelops, where is the money? who is taking it? what is happening to this world guys, its frustrating to see these images produced daily and placed in our daily papers, to make us feel even more angry about the world and the system.

What I want you to do every morning is to open your eyes and say your thanks for waking up, and being able to open your fridge and have your cereal and milk, or if you are like me, have your bowl of tablets. And have an audacious vision or aim to stop all hunger and maltreatment in the world by 2014. We can work on this and kill poverty and hunger if we want, and I am sure all of you would want this, but there are some of us who are not happy to help, and always would say that oh, another person can do so, and not me, these people with greed need to be eradicated from this world, only if we eradicate them then we will not dream every night of two infants that look like Egyptian mummies due to hunger.

Saturday 24 September 2011

A repeat of a previous post: Mistaken identity

I am not talking about myself which is the usual in my blog, today I am talking about two women and one man. The three of them influenced my thinking, made me reflect on the importance of our existence and the agonies that goes with living; in actual fact the agonies are the reason for our existence? Please reflect on this, as it's the gist of my blog.

Let me talk about the man first, just to erase the psychology of ladies first, please people do not think that I am sexist. This man moved to a country four years ago, he is an artist and a banker, installation artist to be exact. A person, who is an artist himself, met him at one of his installation art exhibitions, got to talk to him and straight away they struck friendship, I think this is normal for like minded people. Then they decided to do an exhibition in one of the construction sites, the exhibition was going to be the closure of a time well spent in that country. During the four years, he saw the abuse to the environment, the neglect to nature, the battered trees and the battered people, took photographs of all of this, was able to publish them in his own house and in other countries. He chose the time to photograph the effect of the neglect while no one was watching, very cunning artist I must say, and in the midst of the shoot session he showed the beauty in everything even in ruins. His last installation, which was called "the time remaining" didn't see the light despite the amount of work he and his friends had put into it. He departed that country with tears, as his job was not accomplished. Back in his own country now and reflecting on that time again, thinking of a new project that will again portray his affection and despair on why that country had what it had, all it's troubles will be the subject of another art installation. I call him a steadfast man.

The first woman is a journalist, so pretty and so calm, she doesn't strike you as being a journalist, rather a Beauty Queen. Her thinking though shows the exact opposite, she lives in disturbance as she is not the reporter type of journalists, she feels the pain of the people, and she absorbs the killing of the environment, and ponders on social issues in an attempt to disclose it to her readers in an honest way. Again this woman who is haunted by nightmares when she sees the battering of those living around her, simple requests are interpreted into a huge security issue, her Tongue was cut and asked to be silenced. She left the country, lost all her writing jobs and now is trying frantically to save herself from hunger, but her writing was seen by all, and all didn't like what was written, so all attempts to find a writing job failed. Everybody is scared, from what though? We have no idea. I bet you that the words are chasing each other to the forefront of her brain trying to get out of her head, but due to threats and imprisonment of members of her family she is abstaining from writing. I think the real killer of journalists is the deprivation of the pen and paper. Of course when one is in similar situation, one's brain becomes numb, attempts to revive the brain are dissolute and futile. So the agonies of this journalist are systematic to what is happening to our world. A last statement in favour of this journalist, she is the one that told the minister of roads and transport that maybe the reasons for continuously digging the roads is the petrol wells that he is finding in those roads while digging???!!! Funny. Thus even in times of disaster one can find something to laugh about. I call her the Journalist of beauty.

The second woman is an artist. I was mesmerised listening to her talk , she was soft spoken, her art was as soft as her words, and resembles her real profession as a mathematician, systematic, and not predictable. Most of her paintings are trying to show the pains and issues of those living on planet earth. Photographing hands, workers in the sun, dirt scattered on every corner of this earth, rubbish in the lakes, etceteras. The ironic thing was that she was stopped from photographing the things that damaged the lovely environment, and at the same time she was stopped from putting neon colours in the streets to do another project about the shapes of shadow. I really laughed when I heard this, very funny. Anyway, one of her projects was totally about performing arts involving a woman dressed in black trying to get out of a circle of light. All of us had a different interpretation about the project, but I liked the artist's interpretation.

She said that women have more issues to solve than men; of course I feel that we all have issues, even animals have issues, but who has more or less, or who can solve those issues faster and with a bit of dignity is what matters. I think a man can sleep in the streets if the shit hits the fan, but should a woman sleep in the streets? Even though everyone has the right of shelter, and everyone has the right to live, when it comes to rights, a woman should be placed in a home along with children and people who are ill, man should be the last people to ride to safety (remember the titanic? Viola). At end of the lecture, Paulo Maria, who looked like another artist to me, asked her about her dream, she said that she wants to write a book, in Arabic, about mathematics and conceptual art for children? I said, omm, I thought your dream would be to get married and to have a child; everyone laughed including the artist herself. I call her the mathematical artist.

OK, I know, I know, you are thinking that I had proved that I am a sexist, however even the prophet said that us the women should be treated like Crystal and handled with care. We should never be let to feel the agony of the world, and that is exactly how I feel about why the world will be a better place if us the women rule.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Trren Trren: Hello! oops friends' visit

If you ask anyone about my family and I, they will tell you that we all love to entertain people; the main reason is that my husband and I originate from large families; in both our houses prior to marriage we had extended family living in with us, we are both used to having the umpteen siblings, the aunties, the uncles, their kids, wives and husbands all under the same roof. Since we got married we had people staying in with us for more than three days at a time, and because we both work full time, we developed a routine that prepared our guests to do without us, such things like shopping, and outings are carried out on their own, we only really see them in the evenings upon our return from work. We also managed to entertain lots of friends in the evening and during the weekends, sometimes our guests count can be more than 40 adults plus their children, we all have fun and when they depart we feel happy that we made our friends' day, and they made our day in return.

We continued this practice even when we traveled abroad, in all the countries that we stayed in, we had our friends either visit for lunches, dinners and breakfasts, or stay with us during the weekend, that way both the kids and us didn't feel lonely whilst in foreign lands.

I am imagining what is going inside your heads when you read this preamble! give me a break, I must start complaining, one cannot be tolerant all the time you would say? how come this woman is describing happy memories by having invasions of people in her house! Well, its true, we all never complained, we love the crowd, and we feel great after they leave. However, phew, at last, in few occasions, I did feel edgy by having certain guests; as mentioned earlier, we work full time, in actual fact we work 24/7; thus we cannot spend all our time entertaining, we do not mind having people over provided that they do their own thing during the day, and talk with us during the nights; one day I had a friend over, I am not going to mention the gender so she/he doesn't feel bad when they read this blog, that person is not going to stay with me anymore as the agony of having that person surpasses any major operation, tooth extraction, stomach ache, headache, you name it of those agonizing diseases that give you extreme pain, and it will not reach the level of anxiety that I had had when that friend was around. You see I receive lots of phone calls from my students, and when a student calls its either a disaster was about to happen, or had happened, which means that the call must be taken. The guest gets irritated, and asks me to put the phone down. Also I receive lots of emails, so if I attempt to reply to my emails, the guest gets upset, and feels abandoned; I also have lots of meetings, and visits, these I had to cancel, as if I even mention them, the guest world is going to be a ruin and whatever tornado you can think of is going to pass by the guest's world and destruct it; so the week went by with the same situation day in, and day out. I cannot begin to explain to you how heavy my time became, the arrow of the clock was not moving, I found myself looking at every watch in my drawers, and every clock in the house to make sure that they are working. I shouted at the kids, kicked the hell out of my cat, pulled my hair (or what is left of it) out, almost broke the shower handle as I hit my head with it, talked to the plants, took four of those stress tablets at the same time, etc. Basically, I turned into a madwoman during that week.

However, in front of the guest I was charming, smiley, adorable, and congenial. The Guest never felt that its existence was turning my life into a living hell. What to do, thinking, thinking, really I couldn't think of any excuse to get rid of this guest. So when the time was up, I almost fainted as I couldn't believe that I am returning to sanity after all. The Guest called one day and mentioned that a trip is appearing in the horizon, I said, well, I will be out of the country forever! so if you hear that I got lost in Antarctica, you will know the reason.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Continuation to Wedding Ceremony

Not sure if you had read my previous blog, many did and thought it was enlightening which is great. However i had forgotten to mention few important things that are normally done in our wedding ceremonies. The first thing is the grinding the sugar Chrystal on the brides head while the priest is asking her the question; this means that her life will be as sweet as sugar for ever and ever. Normally that sugar is collected and used when tea is prepared for the bride and the groom, which signifies sharing the happiness for the rest of their lives together.

The second thing is the money that is thrown on the bride and the groom, the dancers, those that sing, and the children that attend the ceremony. This is normally a hilarious event, as many would stop whatever they are doing to collect the money they are being bombarded with, especially when the children fall on top of each other. for my sons ceremony i was late in arriving to the place, as my daughter had to have that change to threw on him and the others, we had to stop at tens of shops to collect enough change for her, which made me furious as the guests and family were calling me and the priest threatened to leave.

The third thing of course is the giveaways, I wonder how I had forgotten about them. people become very imaginative and give away things to remind them of the ceremony; for example, little bottles of perfume, ornaments to be placed on desks, sweets, chocolates and so on. These also are repeated at the wedding parties. Thus far I am thinking of what to give to the guests, if you have suggestions tell me.

Anyway, today one of my friends visited us, and she had the Nuthoor (the money, sweets, jasmins and mashmooms) and we all gathered, had my son in the middle and sang while she bombarded him with the mixture, for me, the chocolates was enough, the rest was collected by the rest of the family members.

I feel these customs should not disappear, so we need to tell them to our kids and grand kids; I told my son to have one of the notes, to place it in his wallet and to keep one for his fiance, as it should bring them good luck.

Friday 16 September 2011

Ways to be happy in this life

the writer of these quotes is anonymous, my daughter converted them to English, so here you go:
1. Do the things you enjoy – i.e. painting
2. Give yourself 10 to 30 minutes of walking time everyday while smiling
3. Sit in silence for 10 minutes a day
4. Sleep early, wake up early
5. Have 8 hours of sleep daily
6. Be filled with energy, optimism, goals and love
7. Play fun games daily
8. Do not use profanity
9. Read more books than you did in 2010
10. Always make some time for soul food – Prayers, Beads, Qura’an recital
11. Spend time with older people (70+) and younger people (6 and younger)
12. Have a lot of fresh foods and diminish the consumption of processed foods
13. Drink a lot of water
14. Try to make at least three people smile everyday
15. Don’t allow negative thoughts to control you, and focus your energy on the positive ones
16. Know that life is like a school, and you’re a student in it. The problems you face are like mathematical equations in which you can solve
17. Have breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper
18. Life is very short, so don’t spend it hating others
19. Don’t take every situation seriously
20. It is not necessary to win in everything
21. Forget the negative past, so you can have a positive future
22. Don’t compare your life to others’
23. The only person responsible for your happiness is YOU
24. Always forgive people, no matter what
25. Always have faith in God
26. Get rid of everything that is a time waster, bring no happiness, and has a lot of ugliness and hatred
27. Work doesn’t look after you when you’re sick, your friends and family do, so look after them!
28. Envy is a waste of time – You control your own destiny (e7teyajaatk)
29. If you fall, don’t be weak, get up and start again!
30. Try to always do the right thing
31. Keep in contact with your family and always call your parents
32. Be positive and happy
33. Give something special to others every single day
34. Know your limits
35. Thank god as soon as you wake up

Sunday 11 September 2011

Marriage ceremony

Even though I attended my own marriage ceremony and many of my friends, relatives, siblings, and even complete strangers ceremonies but one like my son’s I never attended. It is not because it was different, it is not because it was extravagant, and it is not because it was in a house! It is because it was my son’s, I was so happy to attend it, I was orchestrating it, I had lots to do with it. From the time he indicated that he wants to start dialogue with a girl to see if they match each other till the marriage ceremony night my emotions were growing like a bubble gum bubble, I must say though that it was not a bubble that was going to burst, it’s a bubble that was going to encompass the bride and the groom and cover them with happiness ever after. I wanted a fairy tale for both of them, and I am certain that a fairy tale is what they are both going to have.

Let me start from the beginning, it was April, and I was going overseas, he asked me to call the mother to ask her if he can talk with the girl by phone (we live in two different countries, and he was introduced to her by my sister in law, they both wrote BBM messages to each other until they were comfortable enough to talk by phone). After the necessary introduction and information about who are we, and who are they and what not, she asked the father who said ok. This went on till July, when we went to her country to propose. The men went to the mens house, and the women went to the women’s house, the men were talking on behalf of my son to the father, and we the women asked the mother. Normally there will be gifts and a ring; the more exaggerated the gifts the better and it shows that you are both interested and generous. Being generous in weddings dismisses the idea of how stingy a person is, stinginess is not a characteristic that one would want to have or be associated with. So my sister asked me to buy some expensive perfumes and a lovely watch, and my sister in law took me for the gift wrapping of the gifts, the chocolate shop and the flower shop. I had a ball that day, trying those exquisite chocolates made my day even happier. We couldn’t wait till the night came and went to the fiancĂ©’s house.

Once the men finalized their agreements, they brought my son to women’s place, where lots of photos were taken and dinner was served. It was a lovely night, my happiness started to increase as I saw my son and the girl looking shyly at each other. They both of course talked for long on skype and saw each other few times either in her country or in our country. So it was not the first time that they met.

The marriage ceremony day was set and the wedding dates were also set, and we panicked, even though the difference in times was more than couple of months, however, it was too short a notice to do everything that needed to be done. So we embarked on the plans, the purchases; my husband taking my son for the various suits, I go the jewelry shops, and look at rings, he looks at rings, my husband looks for rings, my sisters looking for rings, mum looks for rings, and the whole world is looking for my future DIL (daughter in law). The wedding set was also a painful exercise, the bride wants a tiny set, I want a medium size one, and the mother wants a humongous sized one, so we find sets, take a photo of them, send them to her, she likes them, but the mother doesn’t and vise versa. At the end we all made up our mind on this beautiful set, and that was that. Then we had to make the size of the rings smaller, we didn’t know that there were many version of ring sizes, English, American, European! Apparently the fingers are like the body, and of course to confuse everyone, the sizes differ by country. So we managed a size, which was a teeny weeny bit small on her!

In the UAE, people give the bride bags full of gifts, these can be cloths, night dresses, matinee dresses, evening dresses, shoes, bags, accessories, anything you can think of you can put in those suitcases. And as we were travelling to another country, and know what airlines do to your bags, we didn’t know what to do? However we found nice and colorful suitcases, put all the stuff inside them, and wrapped them with plastic wrap to protect them from damage. When we reached the other country, we went to material shops to buy the colorful fabric that used to be used to wrap the wedding gifts. My friend and husband were did the wrappings while I and another friend wrapped the jewelry sets.

Of course amidst all of this fiasco we had to also buy dresses for ourselves, and the other accessories to wear on the big day. I tell you guys, the stress level was so high that the night of the ceremony I swear that I had plod pressure; it went so well, and everybody was happy. Now we have to think of what we should do for the wedding parties, mainly the giveaways, and the invitation cards. So far I have invited more than a 1000 people, so if you have donations to give please send them out way.

Friday 2 September 2011

Marriage? how do we see it?

Some get married to have a better life; some do it just to keep the tradition going, some to control the wife, some to control the husband, and some to control each other. Some get married to have one child, two children, and some do not care how many children they will ever have as long as they have them. I haven't seen yet any couple who got married and took a pause to think why am I getting married?

Well, this preamble came to my mind when at last I watched S and city part 2. I must say that it was not boring apart from the fact that they had no idea about the Arabic culture and tradition even though one of the girls did try to read to understand the dos and don’ts, and also the horny one continued to be horny despite the fact that her hormones were taken away at the airport! coming to an Islamic culture to her was not anything to worry about, I don’t know why the Americans continue to insist on selling films via thrills, we are not idiots any more that we will go to a movie just to see some flesh, and sorry to say, the movie portrays a bad picture about American women, I do not think that they are like that at all.

Beside the fact that Abu Dhabi should sue them for bad publicity, I think the producer did a bad job, first the terrain was not ours, nor where the women wearing those veils, their accent is not Emirati. Secondly, has he or she ever thought that us the Arabs may watch it and criticize it. He or she must have thought that the censorship in our countries will stop us from watching such movies that have double meanings; come on guys, I think they are really taking us lightly. If I was the person who spent extravagantly on a PR company and showed the lavish life one can have in our hotels, and then the PR company representative goes against our tradition and offend us, of course I will cancel the meeting, it doesn’t matter to me what I spent, it matters to me that the PR company is not going to paint a very colorful picture about my hotel. We in the Middle East have other things to worry about and we do not need a replica of a Samantha in our lives.

Back to Marriage, I was saying that I have not heard or seen anyone stopping to think what one needs from a marriage prior to marriage. Why don’t we? I remember myself prior to my marriage imagining how my house will look like, what names I will call my kids, which countries we will be travelling too, what friends are we going to have; never once did I think of why am I marrying? Is it because I wanted companionship? Or am I marrying just because it is a fact of life? If I never got married, what will I be missing? First thing that will come to my mind is children! Of course I will be missing my children? What about the person I am marrying? Where is he in the equation? What sort of discussions will we be having? What type of movies will we be watching? Are we going to have coffee together? Does he even drink coffee? Is he going to love me all his life? Am I going to love him all my life? What kind of disagreements are we going to have? What are we going to disagree on? Is it the color of the sofa or the type of paint? Or what I say when I meet people? Or what he says when he meets people? Who is buying the groceries? Who is responsible for the bills? Who is going to spend on the education of our children? Are we going to have a joint bank account or a separate one? Is there going to be a fund for travelling? Is he going to buy the tickets, and I pay for the hotels? Or is there a pot that we save into for our holidays? Does he like to travel at all? Is he fond of reading? Is he going to be annoyed when I read a book and want to talk about it with him? Am I going to be upset when his family comes around to visit? Will he leave me few nights a week to be with guys like him? Will I have a girl’s night out? Should we have one bathroom for both of us or two, what are our bathroom habits? Do we like to read our books and magazines while we are inside our bathrooms while the other person is waiting to take his/her shower? Will the other person be upset if we do not close the tooth paste container? Who is going to be mad when we do not place our socks in place? Are we going to help in house chores? There could be lot more questions, and none of these should be swept under the carpet, they are valid questions, and they need to be asked before the marriage takes place, we do not want divorces! The statistics in the Middle East are horrifying, one in three marriages is a failure.

I think that we should have a mini MBA (Marriage by Acquiescence) course for kids aged 18-30 to teach them the ins and outs of marriage, and how to make it successful. One side of it of course is the most thought of side which is Sex, which needs to be explored and explained, as we have no idea what it is, and why it is. How to talk? What to wear? When to talk? What to eat? And how to eat are some of the things that we need to teach in that course. Also the questionnaires, we need to ask the pre-marriage couples to write every question that comes to their minds or think of every eventualities and write them down, hoping of course that by the end of the course these questions would have been answered.

I am not saying that we the parents are not capable of raising our kids to know these things? We the parents have not got the proper training to answer the above questions, and we had entered the realm of marriage with the intention of having kids and continuing life the way our parents had it, so of course the wrong can only produce more wrong. The day and age we live in provided the children with a picture that is totally misleading; everything is out in the open and is not portrayed properly either ( no one has sex on top of a car boot, its in the movies only) and with all the knowledge that is out there we have to start showing young couples the proper ways of lives. Marriage is not about controlling your partner, and marriage is not about kids, marriage is about companionship, and that is what I hope kids will learn before marching into the unknown.

Sorry to be so blunt in my blog, I think we need to be.