Dec 23, 2012

Unearthing Broken Hopes

[Continuation of the previous post]

It was the turn of another man, a man that apparently lived his entire life out of Lebanon. He was extremely happy, filled with beauty and overflowing with satisfaction. He, and his female companion, were eager to park nearby and have a chat: The man seemed to be dying to tell his story to someone, basically anyone. “Ok so, I have two stories to tell you. Ready?” The first was of the reason he was imprisoned, he lived his life in Africa, where planting Marijuana in one’s backyard was common. Upon coming to live in Lebanon, he gave it no thought and thought it was considered the same, therefore he ended up imprisoned for planting (and by the Lebanese law, trading) two plants of Marijuana or “Hasheesh”, that he planted in the first place for personal use only. Eventually he got out of jail pretty soon.

The second story on the other hand left me traumatized for a few seconds. A while back he found out he wasn’t the son of his father, his father is unknown, which, by his own words, flipped his life completely and changed him into another man. He, again by his words, sat down with his mother, spoke of the issue, which ended up getting so emotional. They hugged at the end, a changing point in this man’s life from now on.

Last but not least, and while hearing the man’s two stories, a group of young energetic guys, somewhat stylish and having a very uncommon taste in clothing/general appearance, appeared out of nowhere, and spent the early few minutes hearing the emotional words of the previous man. First thing on their mind was “why are you doing this”. Having had the inner confidence we were good guys and were standing there for a good cause, they started letting go of a little bit more information. The guys were artists, singers and dancers (if you guys are reading this, excuse me but that is all I know so far), totally energetic and having, clearly, that wonderful outlook on the life we live. Eventually they ended up helping us in holding the signs, until their friend (a girl with a huge amount of bags at hand, obviously shopping at the nearby ABC mall) came over and joined us. Sandy was the one to address her, answer her questions, and ask her to tell us her story. The girl seemed to be overwhelmed with studying and working to the point where she needed to let go of that stress by doing her favorite exercise: Shopping. That girl was lucky enough to have a hug from out beautiful Sandy, which brought a smile to my face, seeing how far the Free Hugs Flashmobs have changed us.

I honestly can never forget what happened that day, and if there is any lesson to be shared, that would be to summon back that human touch we are lacking: Listening. Many of you would agree that listening is not easy, it’s an art by itself. To listen and give enough interest and time, that is something of big value.
PS: Thank you Chris for the wonderful title.

Dec 21, 2012

Digging For Lost Voices

Little did I know that my night would be so fruitful. Who would expect to meet a stranger on the street, seeing him pull over with that wonderful smile on his face only to tell you his story with that passionate dreamy look in the eyes of a 40-year old man. I never knew I would meet a person whose story was a perfect match to mine. How would I have known that we’d meet a bunch of dreamy and glamorous guys wanting to join efforts and having so much bright ideas to share with us. This, and much much more, had happened on the night of December 19th.

Free Huggers chose that date for a second round of the “Tell me your story” initiative, the first is the one I missed. Everything was new to me, the way we should hold the signs, the way our answers should be wrapped and the limit we should abide by. Thankfully Sandy and Bilal were courteous enough to give me a heads-up of what they thought was best to do, as a result to the first experience.
PS: I really had a hard time taking photographs of the people we interviewed. It felt really inappropriate.

Saddened Offspring

I chose a high concrete slab, that of the traffic police, to stand upon and hold the signs up high; Bilal and Sandy followed my lead as well. Traffic was overwhelming, too many people had noticed us, but that wasn't enough: we needed pedestrians. Having changed location, our first interviewee had come across our point. I saw Abbas strolling in front of us, hesitating whether to ask or to just spend the next few minutes waiting for his bus to take him home after his second job, just like any other day. “Who are you?” was his first question. Having admired our answer, being anonymous people with good intentions, and wanting to hear people’s stories, he finally spoke. His first few sentences were mere complaints on the general situation we live in, how we’re not earning what we’re worth, and how life can be unfair. Words kept coming out until I caught that tone, the tone of being angry with his parents, wanting to take revenge maybe, or at least feeling oppressed in his life having no other option but to blame them. I knew exactly what to ask, what to say and with what tone, eventually he was a bit relieved, but what totally surprised me was him wanting to join us for a few minutes until the bus came. And believe me, the bus passed by more than twice while Abbas was smiling and holding the sign on that crossroad at Sassine, Beirut.

Mr. Smith

I wasn't surprised later on by the repetitive reactions we get from bypassers when first asked to tell their “stories”, while all we could get was nagging on the current situation on the country, until I met an old man in a coat holding that umbrella. He looked like a poor old man, his way of walking and the incline of his back told me he was tired of this life, and his smile was reassuring he was a precious human being not to waste at all. Of course his first few words were complaints, followed by amazing words that really left me shocked:
Wanna know the answer to all this messed up situation? The Army service should return to being obligatory just like before. Yes, believe me when I tell you this, the army is the solution, a country with no army is no country, I am a dentist don’t be fooled
And fooled I was, for at least 10 seconds afterwards, during which Mr. Smith - as I figured he'd be called in an imaginary movie inside my head - just dragged his feet along the wet path and vanished into darkness.

An Untold Story

Sandy called me from a distance telling me to check out this lady in the passenger seat of a taxi. We ran there curiously to listen to that woman’s cheering and words of praise, but when asked to tell us her story she managed to avoid going into that. Her overly large smiley and happy face is something I won’t forget
Along the course of the four of us being there, a young man in his warm cloak was wandering the area around us. His curiosity lead him to his first contact with me. “what are you doing?” he asked. “My story would make you crazy, you won’t believe me I swear, you won’t”.. Upon insisting to hear what he had to say, he found no other answer but to walk away. I often kept visually chasing the bypassers and would occasionally spot the man. To be truthful, he wasn’t the only one who thought his story was of no value to others, at least four others had the same reaction, but this guy was something else. He was not normal, he had cried so many times to the point you could see the blankness in his eyes. If there was anything that I wish I could’ve changed that night, was listening to this person.

End of Part One

Dec 18, 2012

My First Amazon Order

I decided to write this post right after I opened the new Seagate External Hard Drive box, delivered by Borderlinx, DHL.

A month ago I ordered a 3TB External Seagate HDD from The price at the time was discounted to 109.99$, previously 139.99$, which would be the deal of the year, I assumed. Upon the estimation of the efficient DHL staff, shipping and all the additional fees (customs, VAT, clearance, etc..) should cost around 52$. Order being made on, the package reached my virtual address (Ohio, US, address being given free of charge upon registration with borderlinx) in 2 business days, which was more than perfect. This is where the hassle began.

Outstanding deals usually take place during holidays, which, of course, is a hectic time of the year for all freight companies, due to the escalating number of orders and the additional stress imposed by global shippers. Alas, the package delivery to Lebanon was delayed one week, and it reached my office this morning.

The HDD came in its original box, repacked by DHL in the US, and sent to DHL Lebanon. Obviously the repacking served the protection of the equipment being shipped, especially that volumteric weight was disregarded, which, if taken into consideration, would've raised my bill considerably. The DHL employee asked me for 65$, 13$ more than what I had expected. After thorough explanation and investigation, it seems that the Lebanese Customs decided to Re-Evaluate the price to 199.99$, they thought the label price was too low for such an item! How on earth is that a sain decision??

So basically, your government is offering you two options: you either have to buy locally and pay double (or more sometimes) the original price (in the US), or you can simply order online, go through the hassle of releasing and shipping and waiting a month to get your package, and in the end the customs will alter the price till it fits the local market. Such a ripoff.

I was glad I chose DHL by the way.
For those Aramex users who think highly of their provider: do they offer you with an option to repack?
Borderlinx provides a Repacking service, completely free. If an item can be repacked and you haven't opted out, it will be automatically. You do not need to request it via Customer services.
We may repack your items (see exceptions) in two situations:
  • If the shipment is inadequately packed (either damaged or insufficient for international transportation), we will repack it for you for added protection and security.
  • If the package has a high volumetric weight (see our FAQ What is volumetric weight?), we repack it into smaller padded envelopes to reduce their volume and therefore to lower the shipping charges.
Additionally, there is no setup fee upon registration: You get your personal virtual address in the US and UK for free. Highly competitive prices (even cheaper than other service providers as I noticed), very efficient customer service (don't forget you're dealing with DHL here) and of course a tracking option to constantly monitor you package.
Reweighed by DHL
Overall, my first online shopping experience was good. It would've been more than perfect if it weren't for the customs re-evaluation rules.

Dec 6, 2012

Dewy Conversations

Here's what went through my mind during my morning nap in the minibus:

Photo by Rayyan Jamous

"I just realized that I have no passion, I don't remember the last time I risked my life for something; I am passive generally and don't have any sort of personal extremism. I cannot define things easily. I have trouble with maintaining relationships. I suck at time management and prioritizing. I am selfish though I have lots to give, which gives me constant headache.

I realized I have a great amount of grudge, being the only answer to most of the emotional problems I faced, thus making it a trend to see my frown in the mirror. I came to know I am literally empty, and I know it. I wait no compassion from anyone because I've had enough with compliments: compliments to me are lies with make-up.

What if I've been living a lie all these years? First at class for several years in a row? I never asked to be classified as the front row geek at school, regardless of its supposed benefits for a graduate in the future. The point remains: if I were to choose? I would never pick that phase for me. Studying a tough major at college? Those 6 years were a lie. I succeeded only after I memorized the answers in some topics, after I cheated in some other topics, and sometimes after a last-minute studying and exercises, for the long-term studying and daily monitoring of my lessons progress - the system I was acquainted to at school - made me flunk at college and cost me one year, along with 17 other friends. Again, was that the kind of education I would've picked? Noes.

I had wondered, so many times, about the crisis students in the west went through upon graduating from high school, where they felt lost on the crossroads of their lives, having no clue what major to sign up to. I used to think of myself as a lucky bastard because of the educational system I was enjoying. I didn't even have to think of where to register, I had the answer written over my front. Little did I know that this same system, that seemingly provided me with the stability and comfort of previously defining my future, was actually delaying my own crossroads crisis, which is, as I'm seeing now, is far more painful than if it ever happened in the past.

Photo by Rayyan Jamous
The moment I write this post I am constantly reminded (yes, I have voices in my head) that there is two answers obviously. It's either the whole system is so stereotypical and fits only an astoundingly minor portion of learners, and that I was a victim of that system being put in places I wasn't fit at. But on the other hand, it might be that I'm mentally challenged. Either ways, I'm screwed.

Wondering why these thoughts didn't arise before today? It might be the amount of discomfort I feel in my job, where all I do is NOT being productive, something I hate. It might also be the amount of times I messed up with the people I love, I mean "the people who love me". I am now detached from everyone that cares about me, because of all the decisions I took and all the reactions I showed, based on the insecurities I highlighted at the beginning. And personally? I am dead worried of the day where I certainly will regret losing so much only because of the mentality I acquired...

Sometimes I ask my idiot self, why is it that hard to fake a smile and live the lie everyone's living? Would surely make everything easier for me and those around me..."

To be continued..

Nov 27, 2012

Anonymous Confessions

Let's play a game, shall we?
Apparently there's been an exhibition, a public art project for the american artist Candy Chang who thought it would be interesting to open up a space where people can anonymously project their confessions, their deepest secrets, and enjoy the reaction of whoever reads it.
Source: Original Article
"By the end of the exhibition, over 1500 confessions were displayed on the walls. It’s about sex, love, or fears of dying alone. By collecting the confessions of the hotel’s visitors, this project seeks to create a cathartic sanctuary for this temporary community and help us see we are not alone in our quirks, experiences, and struggles as we try to lead fulfilling lives."

Source: Original Article
Source: Original Article

This post is written for the benefit of the public.
I invite you everyone to do the same, let's share our secrets.

Hint: Post your confession in the comment field below while choosing the "Anonymous" profile

Nov 20, 2012

An Unforeseen Traffic in Beirut

Left Tripoli at 7:10AM , reached my office at 12:00PM...

(Photo by The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
Today was supposed to be another normal day in Beirut, getting to your office shouldn't take more than what you are used to, usually 20 minutes is more than enough to move around the capital in one direction. And for those who commute daily from outside of the capital, just like me, and have to drive several tens of kilometers on the road each morning, are constantly anxious about any mishap that would delay their timetable, even if it were by one minute, because they know the aftermath of it, and the price they will pay having to drive the same distance when going back home. 

My day kicked off by leaving my house at 7:10AM as usual, wasn't surprised by the daily traffic at the casino area, but was rather shocked by the news I read on my phone saying the army is performing rehearsals for the independence day military show, that usually no one watches, but would rather enjoy the holiday with their family and friends. Cars were not moving ever since we left Jounieh. I had spent over 13 months on that road and seen lots of traffic, but never that frightening, never.

Skeptic bus riders started questioning what would've caused that traffic, while others were confidently stating it should be the lebanese ego, wanting to drive his own car rather than use the public transportation. Others referred the cause of that ugly traffic to a big accident somewhere on the highway, and so on. I, just like an idiot, felt it was my duty to shout the real cause, and I did, after which I had to be showered with mockeries telling me I am too young to perceive this kind of stuff especially that two of the passengers were old war veterans, all at the same time while the military helicopters were hovering right above our heads.

All in all, that ride took me around 5 hours, drenched in the sun, feeling tired and exhausted because of the uncomfortable bus seats, and having to inhale the fumes of not only the bus riders' cigarettes, but the fumes of the nearby cars as well, since windows can never be closed. I finally stepped out of the vehicle, and had to walk 40 more minutes to reach my destination. I had already met others who did the same as well, since there were no other option. I heard some of them cursing the government, while others were feeling sad for all the ambulances and firefighters who might be stuck there as well.

While the usual Lebanese citizen questions "who is to blame", the moment I reached my office I tried to check online whether the Lebanese Army had announced anything regarding today's rehearsals. Here's what I could find on El Nashra [Link], an announcement made the night before, right after 8PM. Apparently it was the Internal Security Forces who announced yesterday, late at night, with no more coverage than what you read in the link, and no publicity at all so that the public can stand prepared, that some roads will be closed during the rehearsals.
Meme posted on the Lebanese Memes page this morning.
Lebanese people, especially the youth on their online spaces, had had their share with making fun of the reckless decisions our government (as a whole) surprisingly takes each day. Here's what the Lebanese Memes posted on their wall this morning, a meme by Karine Kalindjian. While others made fun of the day with some funny posts that portrayed well the tragedy.

I strongly blame whoever is responsible for announcing these exercises the ISF were doing, the least they could do was to publish that announcement on all media venues, at least before 24 hours. Having failed to do so had put the country in a state of fury, which is the last thing this country needs at the moment. I personally hope this mishap never happens again. We've had enough.

Nov 18, 2012

TEDxBeirut The Full Day Event

Up til this day I often get people wondering what is TED talks. Personally TEDxBeirut is your dose of enthusiasm, self motivation, faith in humanity, and worldly peace altogether. Well, that would be my definition as I stated. Here's what the TEDxBeirut organizers had to say on their Facebook Page:
"TEDxBeirut is a gathering of wonderful minds, designed to inspire, nurture and propagate great ideas in compliance with TED’s mission of  “changing attitude, lives, and ultimately the world”. We are accountants, students, doctors, lawyers, media people, housewives and your neighbor next door. We have one thing in common – a desire to push the boundaries, make a difference and maybe even leave a legacy."
Read more on their page

And it was, definitely a gathering of wonderful minds, wanting to share with the world their success stories, their aspirations and dreams, their life-changing moments.

The Interviews

Collage of some speakers at their interviews. Courtesy of Nath Halawani
Being a volunteer assigned to videography work was my shortcut to reach out to the other face of TEDxBeirut, the one you don't get to see. I got to chase speakers around, to look for audience members for interviews. I got to listen to everyone's thoughts on the day, both the positive and the hesitating. I got to see the anxiety in speakers' eyes right before their time on the stage, the relaxation and comfort the moment it's all over with.
Loryne Atoui at her interview. Courtesy of Nath Halawani
Both Ameena and Talar were glamorous enough to help me around and support me in asking the interviewees a few questions and simply elaborating on what they needed to say in front of the lens. I must admit I kind of exceeded my own expectation on my performance as a videographer, that is undoubtedly my first time doing interviews and I think I nailed it :D. Fingers crossed I could finish the video soon enough.
Zeina Saab and Sareen Akarjalian being interviewed. Courtesy of Nath Halawani

My Take On The Speakers

Too bad I had to miss most of the talks since my work involved being out of the auditorium most of the time. Among the talks I watched, even though for a few minutes, I loved what Dr. Achi had to say, his presentation, his charisma and his elegance. I also passionately listened to Israa's story and her suffering with narrow-minded people and discrimination just because she wore a veil. I related so much to what Suzanne had to point out, especially when she asked the audience, who were mostly my generation, to "either use fully Arabic words or english words while texting and tweeting, but please, PLEASE, don't mix both up, I would hate to see "ma32oul" in your tweets, this is not a language".

Don't Kill your Language. Courtesy of Stephanie Geryes
I'm more than sure everyone else was astonishing as well, sounds of over a 1200 persons clapping was heard throughout the external lobby and corridors. Salim Zwein, whose talk as I figured out later on was discussing one of the most vital topics for me as an engineer, energy, gathered a great amount of enthusiasts wanting to learn and share thoughts during the breaks.
Zeina Saab on stage. Courtesy of Sam Wahab
Speaker Esraa Haidar during her Talk. Courtesy of Nath Halawani

All We Need Is...

As a person with a camera having access to virtually every person out there, I wanted, based on an advice from Tinia Nassif, to record a few shots of people holding their badges and saying out loud their motto "All we need is..." . This turned out to be one hell of an occasion!
All we need is ... Courtesy of Nath Halawani
One of the few mottos that caught my attention was the one saying "All we need is Already Within Us". I'm sorry I don't recall whose motto this was, but he/she deserves a shout-out. On the other hand, All we need is Love, if this hadn't been overused that day. Too many other also believed that all we needed was Imagination. One of the guys I interviewed thought that he needed Heroism, I wonder how he relates to being a heroic person. That along with so many other mottos worth looking at.
All we need is Imagination. Courtesy of Rainier Roumieh

The Reviews

Here's what some of the audience had to say about the event right after the day was over:
Nina Sharabati that was one awesome event, kudos on a job very well done, it was as inspiring as always!! ♥
Nisrine Tabet The TEDx event was great today, I just have a small comment to add, will it be possible for the next TEDx event to have bottles of water available (since 70% of our body is composed by H2O :) ! )
Jessica Ghaleb TEDx Beirut 2012 exceeded my expectations!!.. I was really inspired by the speakers...Waiting for TedxBeirut 2013!!!
Maysoun Saadi@TEDxBeirut All of you made this one amazing event, in such an interesting and inspiring way. The whole day was a joy to me. Thank you!
Elham Kharpoutli@TEDxBeirut big thanks to the entire team for such an amazing event :)great sharings from great speakers and what an audience!!cu next year
On the other hand, Here's the thoughts of some of the team members right after the closing:

Rytta Ihdayhid
‎TEDxBeirut another successful event organized by an amazing team of volunteers with wonderful energy. We finally made it, and I can't believe the event is over! [..]
BIGGEST Thank you to our imaginative leader Patricia Zougheib. We love you ❤
Rim Baltaji
Too much Adrenaline going on! TEDxBeirut was not just a successful event on November 17th 2012. TEDxBeirut was an 11 months journey of Ups and Downs, a combination of devoted volunteers, weekly meetings, [..] So thank you team members, speakers, volunteers, and all contributors, for all these memorable moments. I have learned so much from you and can only be proud of having been part of this great journey :)
It's all about Patricia

In the end, I can only congratulate everyone who contributed in the making of that day, you really managed to get me have another thought onto some of my . A small note on the side, remember that MAA thingy with Mr. Chaer? Let's try to learn the lesson this time. Till next time :)
Courtesy of Zena Al Masri

Update: Have a look at Lebanon E-Guide's page for more wonderful photos of the event. I assure you they're spectacular

Nov 9, 2012

Seven Times Have I Despised My Self

To begin with, I need to point out that the title is not of my creation. It's been stuck in my memory, and I always wondered when would I ever use it. I guess this is it.

more photos here 
In order to keep myself aware of how much bad the human being can do, or to simply highlight to my own self that I can be of nuisance, I need to constantly check myself, to gratify it when it does good, and punish it when it messes up with the morals I go by. What triggered this post now was something I read over Facebook. A page that broadcasts news about the Syrian war has just announced a breaking news, the death of a Jaylani Cheikh in Syria upon invading his house by the "Forth Squad". For a split second, a feeling of gloating just found its way through my veins. To all those who don't know what Jaylani is, a jaylani way (belief) is one that has taken its own road far away from the basics of Islam. Jaylanis believe fondly in their "Cheikh" or master, a person who's been blessed of being a special human, having the spirit of god inside him, being what connects his disciples to god, and is usually a relative of the prophet [source in arabic]. A few years back and just like any person that lives among a socially and religiously constrained communities, bound to strict Islamic teachings that are, most of the time in my case, far from being Islamic,  neither reflect the true message the Prophet Muhammad was sent to spread among humans: Compassion. Therefore, beliefs such as Jaylani, Qadiri and others, were prohibited, and of course were looked at with disbelief and its believers as being infidels. I'm telling you this to help you reach a better understanding of the shard of hatred that was still stuck in the soul I've been trying to clean for last few years now. I noticed, even though it lasted only for a split second, that I am still engulfed with traces of the old mentality I was taught to have.

Credit goes to the Free Huggers
I despised my soul when I thought I took away every sort of obstacle that would prevent me from looking through any human in front of me for the human he is, love him for the good he has, and try to point out the not-so-good in them. It was during a flashmob, a Free Hugs flashmob, where we would of course offer our hugs, white-heartedly, to anyone and everyone out there. We used to hug the cleaning staff, we hugged workers, laborers, the balloon guy, the old man selling chewing gum, the dirty kids selling roses and even the beggars. I personally had my share of hugging this slice of our dysfunctional community, and by far thought I had fully taken out my ego. But no, It seems I was wrong. The second time I remember despising my soul was when we passed by someone that, when I saw him, I told myself I would never hug this person, because apparently I had some ego still left in me.

I despised my own self when I saw the person I am, trying to make the world a better place, but unknowingly was leaving his own house drenched in the same kind of problems he was trying to fix.

I despised my self when I thought I was becoming a better man, at least better than the one I was a few years ago, to find out that I was letting down those who love me, for the sake of making myself feel at ease and stay in my comfort zone. Ego kicking in again? I guess so.

I despised my self when we decided to gather money for a family that lost their house in the latest Achrafieh bombings, almost everyone put money in the jar and I was told to send that money to the family by hand. One woman, who worked as a secretary with a salary that would reach half of mine - maximum - took out 100$ and put it inside. Another woman took out 50$. One girl added 20,000LBP (13$), a toddler took the one thousand liras bill from his father and put it inside. In the end, I took the money, brought it to Reine who knew that family much more than I did, without adding any cent to the amount.

I despised my self when constantly tell people to take care of their food habit, to watch out what food to buy, what to eat and what not to eat in order to preserve their health. To abstain from refined sugar found in common chocolate bars, from preservatives found basically in all our food, from white rice, white bread, industrial meat, etc.. To find myself at the end of the day, passing by the minimarket accross my office, filling a bag with three to five sorts of chocolate bars and candy, simply because I was craving the taste. I can understand that urge, but in the end, I despise my self for what it did.

Lastly, I despise my soul for all the coming split seconds in the future where I'd go rogue on myself, but in the end just like I can understand the "why" and "because" in everyone else, I can't but forgive myself, and try to fix what needs to be fixed.

I'm sorry, I will become a better person..

Nov 6, 2012

Car Free Day - Rmeil

I loved the area span of the event's location: A long street (Kataeb street as locals call it) filled with merchandise stands on the sides, two platforms, one at the end (for sporting activities) and one at the middle where bands were playing and various activities were held throughout the day.

Gymnasts performing in the center of the crowd
I first headed to the "Jesuites Park", first thing that catches your eye once you step foot in Rmeil, where I was supposed to meet with the rest of the free huggers to start our last flashmob for this year. Good thing we chose the car free day for our flashmob, the whole ambiance of joy and calamity, the positive vibes in the air and the whole serenity of the place gave us that push we needed to withstand the whole 6 hours with a smile on our face the whole time.
"Le Jardin des Jesuites" has turned into the children's playground
Clowns, Clowns Everywhere
Children and toddlers were filling the park, while two young guys and a teenager girl were spending the time with the infants singing, dancing, shouting out loud, skipping around, face-painting and many more activities on plan. The event also held a venue for a photography exhibition. Donner Sang Compter were also there with their usual stand and their lovely staff and volunteers (note on the side: this might be the third time I bump into DSC's stand and would really want to have a few minutes with the guys there, but then I'd be distracted the whole day with the activity I'm doing). Skate.LB skateboarding organization filled the afternoon with such an outstanding performance, along with Sastek the bicycle hero and his exceptional show.

Preparing the Free Hugs Signs
This amazing woman remembered us from the previous car free day and asked to hug us all, one by one

As usual, I was personally fully indulged in the Free Hugs flashmob, having no time to check the outskirted side shows. Fortunately for me though I managed to have a few minutes at the end of the day, right when the band was finishing their gig and the skateboard show was about to start. At the same time, jugglers were performing, gymnasts doing their part, kiosks all around selling everything from organic food to hats and wearables. It was the perfect time for me to start snapping some photos.

Sastek the Bicycle Hero
one of the SkateLB skaters performing
Eventually, what had crossed my mind at the end of that day, and the last sassine car free day as well, was the insurmountable contrast between the span and diversity of Achrafieh2020's car free events compared to the one held in Tripoli last year, where it took over the whole city in general, witnessed extremely large numbers of participating bands/shows/performers along with a huge pedestrian presence, leaving me with the only thought of hoping to bring back this country "golden era" it needs, where everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, lived there harmonically away from all conflicts and disruptions. The looks on the faces of the people we hugged showed me once more how much peace and serenity are needed in our lovely country. God bless everyone who made that day a success

you can check more relevant photos on both my Facebook Album, on the Free Huggers Album and the Achrafieh2020 FB Page
Reine among the bubbles
One of my personal favorites
And old woman, apparently looking lusciously at the young performer ahead.

Oct 31, 2012

Coffee Shop Photo Session at Al Baba

It wouldn't take me much to think of how splendid the idea of asking the management of Al Baba sweets for a photo session a while back (Passion for Food blog post) at their Beirut Branch, it turned out to be even more amazing ever since I got another chance of being there at their Zouq branch to hold a photosession in their coffee shop. Technically speaking, two cameras were used. My own Sony for its powerful artistic features, and a 450D Canon with a standard 18-55mm lens for closeups, great image quality and a powerful manipulation of the depth of field.

F/8, ISO100, 1"
Ambient lighting was the hardest hurdle at the moment, different light sources were there, with, obviously, different temperatures and tones, thus leaving me with no solution but to be my own light manipulator, of course with the help of the great staff. Here's a shoutout for Mrs. Amani by the way who was the first person to ever see this collection and gave me the push to share it here. Occasionally I asked one of the guys to model for me by using the surrounding props as the set, but found out later that such sessions needn't any models for the sake of preserving objectivity and leaving subjectivity to the observers themselves to freely project their own perception upon the scene.
F/3.5, ISO400, 1/30sec
I honestly loved the closeups on the cups rather than the whole scenery photographs. I myself am a detail lover, especially when it comes to consumables with an artistic touch. Enough with the blabbering, I'll leave you to the photos. Full album can be found on Facebook [Link]
F/2.8, ISO320, 1/15sec
F/5.6, ISO400, 1/25sec
F/4.5, ISO400, 1/15sec
F/5, ISO400, 1/40sec
F/4.5, ISO400, 1/40sec
F/3.5, ISO400, 1/40sec