Friday 31 August 2012

Turkey! Yes I went again

When we came to Turkey in July we didn't have much time to visit the spice bazaar. This time I had a meeting with one of the universities in Istanbul and the Rector asked me where have I been, and when I didn't mention the spice Bazaar, he was stunned, so feeling ashamed I told the taxi to take me there. I tell you guys it was one of my best retreats.  Rows and rows of shops that has all sorts of goods; from wooden ornaments and kitchen equipments, Turkish coffee cups, fancy spoons, tea cups, pepper grinders, of course spices and sweets.  I also found places that sells baby shower giveaways which of course something new for me to do, having a grand daughter on the way. 

Don't ask me who this person is? I have no idea. he just smiled when i was taking the photo!! all the tourists in Turkey are hilarious.

One thing you will notice that there are little cafeterias in between the shops and alleyways, you cannot but try the fresh juices, and eat the doner sandwiches, tea is sold by men who roam around with a tray holding six cups of tea with two cubes of Suger on the saucer, half a lire each, I took one and then wondered where to put the cup when I am done? A shop keeper offered me a chair when he saw my puzzled look, he asked me to leave the cup by his shop. A very nice old man I must add, his smile was gorgeous until he laughed and I saw his teeth! A bit worse than mine!!!

So the first thing I did was to haggle for the baby shower giveaways. Had fun doing that, and checked the prices in so many shops until I got what I wanted.  Then found the spices and teas! A wonder just to look at, the colours were magnificent, and the variety takes your breath away, of course that must happen as the spices were really spicy!! Then I moved to the sweetaries, they had all the varieties that you can think of including the famous Turkish delights and the Halwas. The baqlavas are also so pretty looking, but I thought that after consuming them I will not be that pretty looking with the lumps of fat collecting on various parts of my already chubby body. Hence tried to avoid them even though the shop owners wanted me to try more than I wanted to. I guess that if I lived in Turkey I will seriously be double my size and will not have to spend a cent. For example I saw this shop that sells meat pastry, two lire each, and then he must have thought that I am too fat to have only one, so he gave me the other one for free. Marvelous really!

 Even the belly dancing cloth didn't escape the spice bazaar
 These are the stones and rings girls, very nice

 and these are the clothing for the circumcision

 and the circumcision shower gifts

 Just to show you how many people are in these small alleyways
 Grand Bazaar, but couldn't find my silver shop!!!
 He wanted me to either buy from his shop, or take his photo, Idecided its cheaper to take his photo hehe

One thing I tried this time is the trains and the trams.The routes are great and easy, and it costed me 4 lire to go from the airport to the hotel, changed only once.  However I may not do that if I had my usual heavy luggage though, as I had to walk longer than 4 kilometres to get to the subway from the domestic airport, and then from the train to the tram which is downstairs and up some steps too. Not easy for me, but if one is in full health I would think that it's doable, and easy on the pocket.  I think I will do this often as all the areas that the tourists go to are in close vicinity to where the trams route where. So for example if there were four of you travelling then it's two lire each, but once you hit the five people a taxi will work out better if the distance is within the 10-15 lire mark,  however if you are not a person that has lots of luggage, you could save yourself at least 50 lire by taking the train to the airport. 

One thing is amazing in Turkey that I thought I must share with you, that is the time they circumcise their children.  they wait till the boys are 7 and then dress them up like kings and walk them in the streets for the whole world to know that the little weewee will be filed today, and to make matters worst, every body wants to take photos of these fantastically dressed little fellows! Of course the boys are oblivious to this fact, so they are churpy and happy, running around in the kings-style clothing with their daggers in their pockets, soon they realies that those daggers are the ones that will be used to cut the extras on their weewee .  People give giftes, and of course being Turkish, they also have circumcision shower giveaways. I wonder what is inside those packets. I hope it's not Turkish delight? 

Wait for me Turkey, I am coming again.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Travel within travel?

I always tell myself that I shouldn't mix business with pleasure! however, our life is so intertwined these days that there is hardly any clear demarcation between business and pleasure. Think about it, I work with my husband, my son, my daughter, my sister in law, and the rest are like family.  So, say we meet for a gathering, or during dinner? What is the first thing we will talk about? Believe me, it is not going to be the weather or sports! It's going to be when is the rent due? are the salaries done? did the website get changed? did we do the advert that the school is asking us for? and so on and so forth. In Ramadhan, our gathering was about the magazine, and if we handled the last lot of students with care! i.e. we lost all sense of family and discussions around our holidays, our shopping and our lives. 

Of course it doesn't stop there. When we travel, we also have both business and pleasure happening at the same time! Say for example we are in the airplane, sitting next to us are total strangers, of course we talk don't we? Suddenly business comes barging in like a lightening, soon you will find your self talking about what you do and the person next to you happens to need your services, so you exchange cards and hope for the best.  

What I don't like though is when I have to take a flight when I am already travelling, yesterday for example I had to travel for work, and being in a hotel, I forgot about my passport, credit cards and the lot, as I normally do not have to carry them around during shopping? Or else you will max it out, won't you!
So half way to the airport I realised that I am traveling without my passport? Aha, all my negotiations with the taxi went out of the window; in my broken Turkish I asked him to return to the hotel, and avoid traffic or else I will miss my flight.  Off we went back, took the passport and the credit card, in the taxi and to the airport; the queues were tremendous, and I had no luggage, so I thought that I have to find the place for online chech-ins or travelling without luggage, viola found it, only three people were in the queue, so I got my self checked in and dashed to the gate as they were boarding.

I landed on my seat, feeling so exhausted so I thought I will sleep a bit, as I needed it, but there comes this girl with a cute little boy who was so adorable and held my hand as soon as they sat next to me. He was barely a year and a half though, so we both talked and handled the baby, helped her with the milk bottle and what not, tried to sing for him till he fell asleep. Guess what happens next? We talked about work of course. Is this something that we have to do? Should we not talk about the weather, the movies, the shops, where to go and what to do? Or did the Internet replace this human touch so we find those things there and only talk about work when we meet other people? Well, I don't like that a bit, I must do something from now on to sway the questions and direct them towards more human nature type of questions. 

I guess since small businesses became the fact of life in this century, and a small business consumes all the time of the owner, plus the fact that if he or she don't think about it all the time then he or she will not be able to pay the bills at the end of the month, so all discussions will only pour in one direction! that would be in making another sale, or the hope of making another sale.  I don't like that. I want a total separation of life and work, I want to have a quite meal with my husband discussing where our next holiday (what holiday???) would be? And how much we love each other and so on and so forth ( see I even forgot what husband and wife talk about, oh my god, that's not good at all!!!!)

See you guys soon, I will figure out a way and let you know.

Saturday 25 August 2012

Pedagogical Project “The Joy of Reading”


Pedagogical Project
“The Joy of Reading”

A chance to shine

Joe smelled kind of funny. He was a little bit weird.
He wore trash can shoes, had a scraggly beard.
He’d talk to the pigeons in front of Dad’s store.
I often wondered what he was sitting there for.
One day Dad said, “Joe, I’ll make you a deal.
Sweep the sidewalk each morning and you can count on your meals.”
Joe stood up straight and shook my dad’s hand.
I asked Dad, “Why are we helping that man?”
And Dad said, “Every heart needs a chance to shine,
to be wanted by someone somewhere down the line.
We’re all meant to write on the pages of time.”
Every heart just needs a chance to shine.
Joe showed up next morning showered and shaved.
I almost didn’t recognize him when he smiled and waved.
He tackled that sidewalk with a broom and a plan.
I followed him around with Momma’s dustpan.
Dad said he’d never seen that sidewalk so clean.
Joe ate three plates of chicken and two bowls of beans.
A few weeks more of sweeping and next thing you know,
Dad let me be stock boy and my new boss was Joe.
By the end of that summer he was back on his feet.
He’d rented an apartment just down the street.
One day Dad said as we walked by Joe’s place,
“The beginning of greatness from a once hopeless case.”
When I went back to school, something had changed.
I was hanging out with kids I used to call strange.
My old friends asked me why. I said I really don’t know.
I just look at people differently since I met this guy Joe.
Then I’d tell them the story, how we got to know this man,
how he and my dad helped me understand...
Every heart needs a chance to shine,
to be wanted by someone somewhere down the line.
We’re all meant to write on the pages of time.
Every heart just needs a chance to shine.

Steeve Seskin; Allen Shamblin
A chance to shine
Berkeley, Tricycle Press, 1991

Friday 24 August 2012

Death and how we deal with it?

I probably can say with utmost certainty that everyone will hate me for writing this blog. I tell you guys, I will also hate myself, however I must write it!

I am a weeper, I will cry if an ant dies, or a car hits a dog or a stray cat! I once almost got myself killed as a bird was too low and almost hit my windscreen! You see, I do not take death easily.

Yesterday my cousin died, she was on a road trip to Medina with her family, a fast trailer hit the bus, and there was a pile up, 8 people died including my cousin, and 4 people in the next car and so on.  Apparently she had a feeling something "bad" was going to happen to her, and she even asked her close friends to read some good verses of Quraan, and was wondering who will look after her kids if she dies early!  I went to visit and gave my condolence, but before going there I was telling my mum that I don't like how we deal with death, and I went on about how this is our short life, and our real life will be the one we will live in after death, were we will all be living in harmony, and so on.  And YES I do believe in life after death. Also I told her that I will not cry as that will make the people in the house cry even more! In my opinion, we should be celebrating the life of the person who died and discuss his or her achievements, not just cry because we will be missing them, we must try not to be selfish and remember that we are also going to be in a similar situation soon.

However as soon as I reached my cousin’s house, my tears came out by themselves and with no force! I didn't have to squeeze my eyes, or put red pepper in them, or smell onions or many of the stuff they do in movies, I don't and cannot act, I would do what my heart tells me to do in these circumstances, crying comes naturally.  

The family was devastated, the mum and sister were in a state, and all of us were in shock. Why did this happen? I was wondering if she has all her things in order, did she pay all her bills, did she write a well, did she arrange her cloths, check her emails? Tell her husband that she loves him? Cuddle the kids and kiss them? There are umpteen chores that one has to do prior to death I guess, but we are a procrastinating lot, and we try to delay death as much as possible thinking that tomorrow is another day and death has nothing to do with us.  That is why I personally think that we mustn't sleep unless we tie all the knots, cross all the T's and dot all the I's. Can we though? 

Of course, while watching what was going on there,  I remembered when my two brothers died, when my dad died, and how we all felt.  I still remember the numbness in my brain, the emptiness in my heart and the lull ness that I felt by their non-existence! In the case of the first death of my immediate family, for years I will be thinking how did that happen, and that he was young, he was alone in a foreign land, and so on. Then the second death happened, and I was ok with that, since he was ill, but one day I visited him in the graveyard and I cried so much as I remembered how he used to be so clever in playing the guitar and how he used to sing any song that he hears even if it was in French (mimic it maybe but he used to do it) I don't know if I was just missing his voice at that time, or wanted to talk to him! Or I was just temporarily depressed and needed a reason to cry.  But when my dad died, that was a disaster, I loved my dad, and never thought to see him go that fast, he was an extraordinary person, was an inspiration to all of us, and of course to many people as well (sometimes people used to stop me in shopping malls and ask me if I was Abdulrasool's daughter, when I nod, they would tell me how he influenced their lived, and that would make my day.  But one day I remembered when I had gone to fill my turn when he was in hospital, how he had pulled out all the wires that he was attached to, and he had vomited but no one was there to help him (I vomit when I see vomit or see people vomiting by the way, that is another interesting quality that I have and cannot get rid of) so by the time I shouted and a nurse came in she didn't know whom to help first, me or my dad. When I remembered that scene I laughed so much until my eyes were tearing so no one knew if I was crying or actually laughing. So funny!

I must tell you what I asked my kids to do when I die, as some may think it's interesting.  I told them that they should have lots of flowers and every type of sweets, pastry, chocolates that there is on the face of earth in the room, and distribute it to the people who are coming for the condolence.  You see, I am on diet all my life, and feel deprived from these fatty stuff, so I want the people who will visit my family to be happy rather than sad. Chocolate provide joy, and fills you with happiness, I will still not eat a lot of it though, but if you feel like binging on this mysterious dark brown fatty food then stay tuned, as one day you will have lots of it if you visit my kids to condolence them about my death.  Of course I would want you to wish that I am happy where ever I am, limbo and not so limbo.

Monday 20 August 2012

Compelling Criticism

I hate Criticism, and I hate the person that just criticizes for criticism sake. Being a researcher that bases every discussion on empirical analysis I feel that those that criticize should also try to use empirical research prior to uttering any word.  However, doing research is hard, and it’s not everybody's cup of tea hence you find that the masses only express their own opinions instead of comparing and contrasting facts and numbers before deciding what is true and what is false.

Let me be less obscure then, I often do searches on twitter on current affairs, just for laughs of course, and to fill a void in my time.  I have so much time especially that now my kids had grown up and almost left home, and my husband is on a two months vacation visiting his folks in Australia, and being a person that is wired with two blackberry phones, Ipad, laptop and my daughter's Iphone, I like to tackle each of these devices to see what is happening in the world that we live in.   What I saw is startling! People are also killing their time, just like me of course, but the difference is noticeable.  There are groups of people who are seemingly hired by someone just to go after other groups who are expressing their opinions on current affairs.  For example, one would tweet that a Falafel sandwich in Anter cafeteria is nice, so a person would say no, Just Falafel is nicer, and then a third person will interact and say that the Falafel in Deira tastes better.  I beg to defy these facts, so I will buy the three Falafel sandwiches, eat them, and then think which one is nicer? that is empirical research (forget the fact that one will be fat if one tried all the similar foods in various locations, and the fact that one will be stuffed too and full of gas if I may say so), and then decide that yes true, Antar is better.  So the attack starts, who are you to say so, and you are daughter of the B because you defied our thoughts, and you are born with a tail because you told lies, and other insults that one cannot even mention on a blog but are being exchanged on twitter.

I mention the falafel just as an example of course, the criticism goes further than this, people are calling you names, cursing your family, your loved ones, saying names about your prophets, scholars, imams, the authors that you like, the countries that you adore and anything and everything on earth that matters to you, also stuff about how you look, your life, and making up stories on you etc. Who are these people? And which school did they go to? Do we have a school that teaches swear words and fowl language? Or is there a school in the country that specializes in bringing up a group of scum bags? Are these guys paid by someone just to write these stupidities and make us all look like idiots in the eyes of the world?

My remarks on this issue, if it’s true that people who say bad words on twitter and other social media are in actual fact paid by an institution, then we are going to be facing ruin and will be like those counties that are now forgotten! There is a very nice poem in Arabic, we learnt it in school and I have never forgotten it! it means something like this: tribes are made of a set of morals and ethics so long as these morals stay with them they will be immortal, and if the morals are gone they will also be gone! Not a great translation though so here it is in Arabic: انما الامم الاخلاق ما بقيت فان هم ذهبت اخلاقهم ذهبوا

What did we learn from Arab Spring

Well, how can I start this post? First of all,  to me the whole thing was a conspiracy theory to get us all involved and make us disregard important happenings around the world.  Europe to start with is having great difficulties; no one wants us to analyze what is happening there. Why did Greece, Italy, and Spain end up in this sticky situation? Why these three countries and many like them are are on the verge of bankruptcy? Where is the money that all of these heavily populated with tourists countries go? Why did they end up needing so much money to the extent that some people are speculating that Abu Dhabi can buy them! and all the people in Italy, Spain and Greece will be called Tahnoon, Hasher, Zayed etc, but their surname will of course remain foreign.  That will be great I guess, then we can go there without a visa, and the spaghetti will have a little bit of our spices too instead of Oregano.  Excuse me I don't mean to be disrespectful to these European countries, I am just wondering why on earth did the news agencies report on a daily basis everything about what is happening in the middle east, and only tidbits about Europe? Who is really having the trouble? 

Now to complete this conspiracy, I hear about the triangular fight of who is going to sell more Oil, and how is that going to be secure to prevent top western countries from going bankrupt too? So for example Saudi Arabia is happy to produce more oil than Iraq and Iran, Iraq wants to export more Oil than Iran, and hence the fight in OPEC, OAPEC and other acronyms about the amount of money we are securing by selling oil.  Also if we are all living in Oil rich countries, and with all the media telling us the news in drastic figures depicted in graphs and charts, and again these charts and graphs are read by the masses, then, what else do these governments expect other than people springing to ask for their rights?  Of course the media tries to hide the fact that in every country there are problems, but only highlights events that are not going to be damaging to the world powerful countries!  

Which is the first country that had Arab Spring? Egypt? Why? Is it because the people are fed up of Monsieur Husni? I guess not, it’s because the economy of Egypt is so strong and powerful to the extent that the money in Egypt can save Europe's failing countries. However that money was siphoned by Monsieur Husni, and shipped to a few boutique banks in Switzerland, that can only be opened to the top few countries, the superpowers.

The second country to leap, ok, is Libya, so lest not to forget. I was in Libya once and they had a conference, Herr Gaddafi was talking from morning to evening, and that too was broadcasted on their only three channels TV. The people of Libya do not have satellites, but my friends watch every other channel by sabotaging the internet IP addresses so they can see what is happening in the world.  OK, why now? Gaddafi lived in power for 35 years didn’t he? And he too siphoned a lot of money out of the country? Because we in the west needed that oil and money so we save those dying economies including the economy of the only superpower left in the world USA. This last country has more unemployment than it needs, and they almost gave up on what else their CIA can do, so they decided that the only way to get even more money out of the idiots (us the Arabs) is by firing a spark and calling it ARAB SPRING, just to give it a bit of panache.  So again, its a matter of economics. 

Lastly, the Arab Spring in Bahrain and Syria!  Well, look at the neighboring countries, and which one of them produces more Oil? And who is fighting to get that security in Oil, and I rest my case

I think we should all wake up to the fact that we are the puppets of the west, we have more money than anyone can imagine, and that will not be swallowed by the west easily, why do we have so much money? And who actually has that money? Why do we have poor people if we have so much money? Why is the price per barrel of oil over 32 dollars, when it costs less than a dollar to produce it? Why don't we all learn to share the resources of the earth to benefit humanity and raise the level of literacy, employment, education, health, living conditions, and all other needs that one requires in order to be a good citizen?  

A final point! A friend of mine has a son who works for higher up government official.  The son has nothing, but his education, integrity and honesty, and being the adviser to this government official he sees how much he spends on useless stuff and how many houses and what not he owns.  How long is this son going to be honest? We help in producing thieves!  We must stop this madness and let everybody be content. 

Economics is the hardest subject to study, as it doesn't make a lot of sense, and at the same time it does.  No one can comprehend the theories unless and until one sees them working in practice, and to see them working in practice means that a lot of people are either going to be in jail, killed, murdered, assassinated, a finger is cut and shoved inside the hole of the bum of the person who is now without a finger and dead ( I bet you all had read about how the son of Gaddafi was mutated after his death, what I wrote here is a small depiction of the reality of what happened to him). Anyway, we teach economics in the same way we teach mathematics, a set of formula that doesn't relate to each other but if they are put together they make a lot of sense.   

I want to start teaching economics again, just to show the silly things that we can learn by analyzing economical issues happening around us.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Eid, feast, celebrations or condolances

Ramadhan is over, we had a long 30 days of fast (as for me I missed few days as I had to travel for work twice) but overall it was all great, especially that my mum and sister spent the month in my house, and we had a family reunion at night when everybody would come and spend whatever left of the day and a good part of the night together.  Of course I am not going to describe the scene as you can imagine in, my sister Nehad screaming in the face of everybody, Sawsan pretending to be 28 and pretty all the time, Elham drawn in the prayors of getting a house of her own sooner than later, my sister in law Shaz just watching everything and trying to learn more Arabic words, friends each dug in their blackberries and Iphones texting and tweeting while participating in the nonsense discussions that took place.  We had Quraan nights as well, when more people would come to my house and read Quraan and gift it to the dead from my family and everybody else's families that had long gone and still not forgotten.  I shouldn't forget to mention the feasts that we had during Ramadhan, it was as if we never ate in our lives and that a famine was approaching; don't laugh please, such is our life in Ramadhan, hence the weight we all had put on.

Today we are all waiting for our breakfast tomorrow morning, I bought the cheeses, creams,  honey, and stacked up on the criossonts and bread; and I am certainly going to have a plunger of great coffee ready so anyone who is going to share the breakfast with me are welcome.  But bear in mind I have to drop my kiwi friend to the ariport at 10, so come early everybody.

Normally I receive lots and lots of messeges wishing me a great holiday, and a long life and what not, this year I am receiving them from friends by text, tweets, facebook and on email.  I am not sure how many friends I have, as I am constantly replying back to wish them the same or more. But having done that, I am confused this year on whether I should send any greetings to celebrate Eid? the world is not in a happy state.  The family that I know very well in bahrain had lost a son yesterday, who was killed by the police as they thought he was carrying a molotov bottle, he was only 16, and should he have been killed just because he had a molotov bottle? shouldn't he had been asked to show what he had in his hands, and taken to a police station to investigate further?  I think everything is going completely wrong in my country, and I wish to god that peace will spread and make everybody happy in Bahrain. 

On another note that is not making me feel good this year is the death of my friend in New Zealand. she is a great doctor, haveing a great husband and two lovely kids.  She is so pretty, lovely green eyes, and worked so hard to make life possible in New Zealand, she got cancer and died day before yesterday.  Her sister is also my best friend, and we had a fantastic time together in Hamilton when I was living there.  Sana will be remembered forever, and I condolance her family for their great loss. 

My other friend who came from Syria is also upset, so I really cannot celebrate eid this year, as none of the people around me are really happy, there are either those that had lost loved ones, those that are ill, those that are watching their country being destructed and those that are staying in limbo in other countries as they are not able to return home.  How can we celebrate when all of this agony is happening to the world? I wish I can do something about it all? shall I be an ambassador of peace? I wonder.