Jul 28, 2012

Birthday Wishes - Follow up

If your candle is lit, let others light their candles too

This is a follow up on the birthday thing, If you don't know the big deal about it then you can Read More Here. For those who are still in the ambiance, two people actually managed to lift their spirits, kept my request in mind and actually DID something that made THEM or someone else happy. One of those was great enough to lift an errand off her sister's shoulders, and I quote:
"...so yesterday i fried some lebanese pancakes (atayef ) instead of my sister, and i made a beautiful presentation for my family.. hehehe and they were like ! atayef ! .. i shocked my parents yesterday and they were happy .. it's somethin simple .. still i dedicate that to u bro .. so happy birthday !!"

On the other hand, that other person was also charming enough to remember what I asked for when she spent some time with her special one, and I quote:
"Nath !! it's not the usual Happy Bday..it's a special day where I did something special to someone I love :) becuz u know how to spread joy in ourselves..u are a special frnd..an amazing human being..and we're lucky to be your friends :) thank u for reminding us that we can do better,we can always rock !! :) happy bday"

I am the one to say thank you, for the few I spoke about here above, and for all the others who actually did something but remained silent. Thank you all once again! You made my day :)

Jul 26, 2012

Superficial Birthday Wishes

Photo credit:  http://tuneoftheday.blogspot.com 

I have no clue what effort have I put to deserve such superficial birthday wishes from people who supposedly share a place for me in their hearts. It was time for a change, a simple change that reflects both my utmost satiation with the ongoing blind reaction most of us get on their birthday, and at the same time providing people that mean to me a chance to arise from a constant numbness that cursed our social interaction. It was time for us to realize that "Wishing" is not enough, the first step begins in action. Surely I wasn't asking anything for ME, I begged people to go do something for themselves, consider my birthday as a sign from god that this day, just like any other day when it's surely someone else's birthday, is a day to embrace happiness, not smiling-all-the-time happiness, I'm talking here about inner peace.

Do What You Love..

Here's what I posted on my Facebook Profile just tonight:
"IMPORTANT: tomorrow happens to be july 26th, the same day I was born 26 years ago. Your kind wishes and congratulations every year have succeeded in making my day each time and making me feel special like never before. But this year we're gonna do it differently. If you really care about writing me something here on FB or by email/msg for my bday, you are equally willing to do something for yourself or someone around you. Try to make someone laugh, surprise your special one with a present for no reason, plant a seed at your place or simply write a poem describing yourself. Go to the amusement park, meet with old friends, hug your mother, clean the front of your house or take photographs of the places you cherish the most. THAT would make my day even if you didn't share it with me. Yalla I'll be waiting for what you'll be doing tomorrow :) HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVERYONE"

PS: I know most people are lazy and think of such a wakeup call as "irrelevant", all I'm wishing is one of those almost 800 friends would actually listen to his heart and do as I asked...

Happy Birthday each and every single day

Jul 23, 2012

Chanting Boy

Chanting Boy, credit goes to: deZein art "dezeinart.blogspot.com"
A man took his 4yr old child to the mosque to introduce him to the religious ethics at a young age. The child began to get bored really quickly of the dull sit down, the loud tone of the sheikh and the repetitive echo coming from the walls. The father was not pleased at all from his son's behavior. Thinking he was such an open minded 20th century father, he took him to the church. The child soon began to look at the ceiling wondering what's the purpose of sitting there listening to preaching just like in the mosque. He asked his father "why do we have to sit here and say such hard words?" The father replied "this is praying for god, each of us has their own way". The next morning, the father couldn't find his son. Looking in the backyard he followed his tiny voice and spotted him underneath a tree crossing legs and chanting the alphabet in a loud musical tone. The father all baffled, asked his son "what are you saying son?", replied the child: "daddy, I really don't know all those hard words you say and all those buildings you go to for prayer, but yesterday I learned the alphabet from A to Z, and now i'm spelling it to god so he can make up whatever prayer he wishes"..

Enough Said

Jul 22, 2012

My Free Business Cards from MOO

I received the morning call from our sweet secretary telling me I got mail. As soon I knew of the package downstairs, I screamed inside a huge "YAY", which, to my surprise later was the same reaction the MOO people have expected for me. The package was so tiny yet so marvelous. What's shown up there is the thank you card along with a discount coupon on the back ^_^

Just as I've been told, the box contains 50 awesomely designed business cards that hid below this little critter screaming out loud a cute "BOO, I can see you", which actually was the nicest gesture, enough to make me smile.
BOO, I can see you
6 different cover photos
a custom made message on the back :)
I got the cards totally for free, as an offer I received through an affiliate website, paid only the shipping charges of 4USD. 2 weeks later, voila! they're at my office. If you would like to know more I'd be happy to fill you in with all the details :)

*UPDATE*: it seems the MOO made it easier to benefit from their offer directly on their own website, grasping a larger span of people who would like to have in hand their free cards. Simply follow this link and in a matter of minutes your order is done and ready for shipment.

Jul 21, 2012

New Layout

I'm taking a break from thoughtful topics, and writing only for the sake of writing. For my loyal readers, you might have noticed already the new layout. The most valuable up to this moment is the Bucket List Page where I recently decided to share some of my most private aspirations. The bucket list, or othwise known as "Things to do before I die" list, is already written in my diaries, originally a few items, now having 107 of them, number is still growing. Looking back at the first few items in the Bucket List, one can only sarcastically smile noticing how much has he grown.

Other pages apparently having their names inside quotes, are in fact search results for the mentioned topic. "Photography" for example brings you all posts where I emphasized the essence of photography... Enjoy

Jul 16, 2012

Free Hugs 2: The Sequel

Group photo, courtesy of Nath Halawani

"Our Hugs from the heart.. Made last night a "night to remember".. You guys & gurls were AMAZING"...

So much joy was gathered on that Hamra-scented corner, where several joyful human beings came holding the most powerful weapon of all, a relaxing smile it was. I must admit I came ill and tired, but the thrill of our last flashmob 2 weeks ago was enough to make the pain vanish on that same corner. Amazingly they all came at the time we already set earlier, and to a much more astonishment, numbers of newcomers began to rapidly rise. Last time they came alone, each by himself, which made them heroes as I once called them. But this time was completely different since the groups that came were, each by themselves, the main essence of such a flashmob.
Tribute to her lover
.."It was really awesome. Thanks for brightening up our lives!"..

Hug me and touch my hair
for free
Rules were explained and spread out for the newcomers, signs were handed out and designed with the felt pens to customize their carboards each as they desired. One of the attendees who stood out among the group actually wrote "Hug me and touch my hair for free", and he obviously had the thickest and cutest pile of hair I've ever seen. One of the female huggers also had a caption that got mine and all of the others' attention when looking at her sign. She decided she would only hug girls even though she wasn't veiled nor was she of strict religious beliefs. When asked, she said the following: "I can only hold respect for my amazing lover who unfortunately couldn't come today because of his exams, I walk alone although he's right here with  me all the way", which actually touched us all each in our way..

.."yesterday was AMAZING !!! there was so much passion everywhere :) many many people were spreadin love..Hamra street was celebrating the joy of a true decent hug ♥ ♥ "..

The walk began very shy at the beginning since the greatest majority was newcomers who had no clue what to do or say. This is when the organizer kicks in with his loudest voice, to both make some noise to the bypassers, and take out that screaming itch out of the attendees, to make some noise in Hamra while holding that sign. People soon noticed our very big number and some of the strangers tried in a shy manner to physically approach us by crossing roads or switching lanes with their cars, not for the sake of having a hug most of the time, but to simply have a feeling of taking part and witnessing how love is shared.

.."kento bet3a22do , khallina bi hal hemmeh , m rly 7ebbaytkon :)"..

People can't just go by without snapping some photos with the free huggers :)
There were no instant whatsoever that I ever saw or felt someone was disturbed or out of ease. I tried to stay with the younger ones since they came alone. If it weren't for the sweetest girls we had with us, we would have failed the first five minutes. Females are and will always be the pure essence of any activity that tends toward uncovering that hard solid shell we keep ourselves inside thinking that we can get by without exposing our inner child and showing how affectionate a huge bald guy can be. This is for Sandy, Dana, Samia, Youmna, Yara, you rocked girls!

The boys were amazingly self-driven and kind of lead the flashmob further into the street with all the jumping, shouts, calls and clown-ish yet distinguished gestures, which actually broke more ice with the common bypassers and helped them hand out a hug much more smoothly. In the end it's all a matter of drawing that smile, isn't it? :)

.."It was an awesome day....Lots of love and positive energy...hope everyone can join next time...."..

You ask me now what I like most about our tiny flashmob, well my answer is simply that we're having a genuine testimony of pure Lebanese people at their best. No hatred was there, no calling names or standing at the edge of religion, sect or location. No discrimination of any kind, no negativity at all, no feeling like a stranger whatsoever. Whether you were young, old, girl or boy, compassionate in nature or not so affectionate, you will eventually hand us the child in you and simply connect you to all those souls wandering right before your eyes.

.."Yesterday I had two free hugs, but plz hire more guys cz I don't feel right hugging girls"..

In my opinion, this photo deserves the title of the flashmob's best hug. Just look at them..
It was thrilling to see all my friends drown in their own sweat :D Well I admit it for certain, mother nature couldn't have chosen a harder way to tell us she's suffering other than this day. Humidity simply break its records more than any other time. Nevertheless, no humidity or any other obstacle could've stopped us from spreading the joy and transferring some of the magic happy dust we all had in our pockets.

.."I hugged a guy that hates people. No seriously, he had a tattoo on his arm that said I HATE PEOPLE."..

more bypassers wanted to take photos as a souvenir
Before wrapping up my post, I would love to point out one issue we seem to face a lot during our flashmobs. Is it a necessity these days to be supporting a party or another whether they were HIV patients or whether it was world famine? What's so wrong in simply deciding my country is so uptight with their emotions that we, as a group, eventually decided to provide help our own way? What's even more amazing is that "sometimes" and in too few cases, we were looked at as empty foolish people with no certain goal to achieve. So sad to still have such mentalities that, and I'm certain of what I say, all of those who criticize or can't find anything positive to praise us with, are the people who need a hug and a pat on the back the MOST, they simply don't realize it.

.."YAY!! I can't believe I hugged Michel Azzi and he replied with the famous ELAK"..

In the end, what more words could describe the state of mind I'm still living in more than 24 hours later? A truly unforgettable activity that brought together the elite of the elite in our tiny Lebanon to the center of the capital, my sweet Beirut, and helped revive the sentiment of compassion and unity among us. My 1st salute goes to Bilal for his brilliant idea and effort put. My 2nd salute goes to ALL the new heroes we met today. I invite you to stay tuned to our modest Free Huggers Page for all further flashmobs. Until next time :-)

Jul 11, 2012

Structural Engineering in Action

This is NOT for the people having any sort of a mind. Please take off your shoes, the shoes of your soul, and come along, you'll be seeing miracles. (more below)

Jul 10, 2012

Those Walk Among Us - Part 2

When the Fail is so strong, one Facepalm is not enough.
And here goes your part 2


While working at a pizza parlour I observed a man ordering a small pizza to go. He appeared to be alone and the cook Asked him if he would like it cut Into 4 pieces or 6. He thought about it for some time Then said 'Just cut it  into 4 pieces; I don't think I'm hungry Enough  to eat 6 pieces.

They walk among us!

"Dumb as a box of Rocks"

A  noted psychiatrist was a guest speaker at an academic function where Nancy Pelosi happened to appear. Ms Pelosi took the opportunity to schmooze the good doctor a bit and asked him a question with which he was most at ease.

"Would you mind telling me,  Doctor" she asked, "how you detect a mental deficiency in somebody who appears completely normal?"

"Nothing is easier", he replied. 'You ask a simple question which anyone should answer with no trouble. If the person hesitates, that puts you on the track..

"What sort of question?" asked Pelosi.

Well, you might ask, "Captain Cook made three trips around the world and died during one of them. Which one?''

Pelosi thought a moment, and then said with a nervous laugh, "You wouldn't happen to have another example would you? I must confess I don't know much about  history"

They walk among us!

"Traffic Camera"
A man was driving when he saw the flash of a traffic camera. He figured that his picture had been taken for exceeding the limit, even though he knew that he was not speeding... Just to be sure, he went around the block and passed the same spot, driving even more slowly, but again the camera flashed. Now he began to think that this was quite funny, so he drove even slower as he passed the area again, but the traffic camera again flashed. He tried a fourth time with the same result.. He did this a fifth time and was now laughing when the camera flashed as he rolled past, this time at a snail's pace...

Two weeks later, he got five tickets in the mail for driving without a seat belt..

Sadly, they walk among us!

Those Walk Among Us - Part 1

Because expressing how dumb that
was in words just doesn't work
This is a series of really hilarious, yet inspiring posts and short stories we encounter on a daily basis. While some of us are getting blinder each and every day, we simply can't disregard the inevitable stupidity of some of us. Let's face it, we've been ALL there before. Have a blast people, here it comes.

Disclaimer: The "Those walk among us" series are not my work in any way, nor did I ever put any effort in creating the ideas and examples they emphasize. Enjoy!

"The Fridge"

Some  guy bought a new fridge for his house. To get  rid of his old fridge, he put it in his front yard  and hung a Sign on it saying: 'Free to good  home. You want it, you take it.' For three days  the fridge sat there without anyone looking  twice. He eventually decided that people were  too mistrustful of this deal. So he changed the  sign to read: 'Fridge for sale $50.' The  next day someone stole it!

They walk among us!

"Dead Bird"

One  day I was walking down the beach with some  friends when someone shouted... 'Look at that dead bird!' Someone looked up at the sky and  said...'where?'

They walk among us!

"In the Trunk"

My sister has a lifesaving tool in her car which is designed to cut through a seat belt if she gets trapped. She keeps it in the car trunk..

They walk among us!

"Customer Service"

I couldn't find my luggage at the airport baggage area and went to the lost luggage office and reported the loss. The woman there smiled and told me not to worry because she was a trained  professional and said I was in good hands. 'Now,' she asked me, 'Has your plane arrived yet?'... (I work with professionals like this.)

They walk among us!

Jul 7, 2012

My Own Beach

All I said I needed was to hit the beach, at least once before summer is over. What I actually found was my ass resting on the side of the highway. Probably this was the retreat I was seeking when my tongue spoke about a beach. I'm not far from the waves, though I'm hearing and breathing the same as there, getting hit by the same amount of sun, and being tortured with the extreme heat just as if I were there. The only difference is that I still got my clothes on, which I wouldn't mind to take off by the way. "What on earth is that man doing there? Is he trying to get himself a sunburn?" This is what the bypassers are thinking, maybe. But now I'm fully aware that the beach, in my case, is not the wave and the water, it's not the entry fee nor the guards, it's not the tan nor the cream, it's the sole state of being alone... I needed it more than anything. Too much confusion in my life makes everything far from all reason, far from every bit of sanity and logic. Watching a film reel go wrong, what would have you done? Probably fix it. Right? What if it's not getting fixed the way you know, you call for help. Then what if all didn't work and all your plans and dreams, all your expectations are firmly strapped to that reel? Then what?.... I don't think I'm getting wet today...

Jul 5, 2012

Photo of the Year (Long Exposure Photography)

Ever been in a bus/train/taxi and noticed a spot where you imagined yourself standing with your tripod shooting the photograph of the year? Exactly what drove me to a pretty far location away from where I lived, only to capture what I thought was the photo of the year. At some point while going there I said to myself "Hold on, I'm REALLY far now and I can't guarantee I'll manage my way back at midnight". So it was either to lead myself to that spot whatever might happen later, or I go back home. Just as my closest friend taught me, I found myself there at last, in the depths of the highway night, nothing to be seen, no fresh air to enjoy, nothing but the sizzling sounds of cars driving by on the highway at top speed.

At some particular recent time in the past I used to disgrace my camera, hated its guts for its LOW performance in one of the occasions at the time. This got me frustrated pretty bad and got me looking for other alternatives, even though my budget is tight. Just as every couple finally bring back the sweet memories and condole each other, I and my camera were OK just before I let my tripod out of its bag. She's sweet just like forever.

This was one of the recently many occasions where I didn't have to take test shots, settings were being cooked in my mind all the way there. All was missing was the tripod setup and we're done.

f/6.3, ISO100, 5"
The bridge was where I needed to be, the one overlooking the mall, the highway (both lanes) and a nearby amusement park. The scene was utterly fascinating for a photographer that I immediately went praying to be able to get the same view I'm enjoying on my lens. The bridge's construction, its steel-plate floor, prevented me from having a moment of silence between me and my camera since people come and go constantly, thus vibrating the ground. Therefore it was a necessity to press that shutter, step back and force everyone passing-by to freeze in their place for 10 seconds or so. And voila! I got my first perfect long exposure. Here are a few more.

f/4.5, ISO100, 10"

f/6.3, ISO100, 7"

f/4.5, ISO100, 3"

Later that moment, I had this crying urge to step outside into that amusement park while there were people coming and leaving, before it had closed for the day. The management was kind enough to allow me to take photos with no identification whatsoever. The sudden transition between long exposure mode to quick action is overwhelming to be frank, to the point that sometimes I confused both styles, which involved - of course - cursing a lot due to the amount of missed shots. In the end, no photographer could ever get enough of such an amusing trip. Will do it again, that's for sure!

f/4, ISO500, 1/13

f/4, ISO500, 1/2

f/7.1, ISO100, 8"

f/4.5, ISO500, 1/15

f/3.2, ISO1600, 1/250

f/5, ISO3200, 1/800

f/6.3, ISO100, 13"

Jul 2, 2012

Free Hugs in Beirut

There were 12 of us, gathered indifferently, totally randomly. We didn't know each other before, we were clueless of who will we meet, what we'll be doing, and what would the reactions be like. 12 distinct bodies we were, but it appeared to me later that we were much less than 12, we were one. Each and everyone of them was the joy the streets witnessed that afternoon, sticking their cardboards on restaurants windows, or simply popping up in front of the passengers, thus spreading happiness, if not with a hug, then by a simple gesture. They were heroes, explaining our goal for anyone who wondered, breaking the ice to anyone who had his doubts and fears, bringing joy to silent alleys and dull restaurants. Smile never left their faces even though the whole walk was seriously tiring under that afternoon's burning sun. Too many people spotted us, too many souls rejoiced for once, too many smiles were born that day, too many lives will be changed afterwards. I recall some of the participants telling people jokes in order to befriend them, making up some story only to grab their candid laughter. Those participants were smart enough to have the power to bring Hamra back to life on a dull Sunday afternoon.

There were two Graphic Design pupils, which as usual appeared in their character, one who finished his studies and now working, the other still drenched in the distressful college corridors. The girl with the greatest smile is the one that actually came to our meeting point before us organizers were, even though her place is pretty far from the park, and she did great out there. Four friends came in together as the prettiest group ever, being kind enough to enter people's hearts yet deterministic enough to constantly put ahead in their minds what our main goal was. Another friend came in from afar, he apparently showed a sort of discomfort in his own skin towards what we were doing, yet his true heart truly lead him to eventually touch his inner child's innocence. The two persons missing from the picture above were a British friend who came in for the thrill of it, and to get to know in close-up the real Lebanese people he kept hearing about, and a Photographer who was urged to leave long before our flashmob reached its climax. And last but not least, the two organizers who were kicking out every second of silence and trying their best to keep things appealing and easy as much as possible for everyone out there, dodging security's occasional notes and all along keeping an eye on every participant.

 As any other Lebanese civilian knows, telling the Lebanese to come at 3:30 sharp, is another way to tell him I'll be waiting for you for another hour past the 3:30, which is truly stressful, yet disgusting. Many thanks go to, first of all, some of the internal forces and/or intelligence who kept watching us from afar - by our request of course - to maintain the attendee's security. Personally I don't think I exaggerated when I confirmed the approximate number of participants with 15 to 60 max, while watching the replies from Facebook people, the excitement of Twitter people, the confirmation of MANY friends, and the effort put into this activity over two months to the point I felt like "WOW, we'll be handling a flashmob of over 50 persons at least. Well, we were 12, the mighty 12.

As any other issue in life, everything has its own first time. This was my first time organizing an event, my first time being responsible for a group of people in Beirut streets, a place i'm still not so familiar with. My first time of dealing with the Lebanese internal forces and intelligence members. My first time hugging this huge number of people. My first time in actually touching the difference a simple act can make on the faces of human beings. My first time realising I can, with no effort whatsoever, make a couple, who have long forgotten what a hug does, actually hug each other by only catching the fever, and eventually enjoying it with a smile. My first time noticing what monsters have we become in the eyes of children, with all the shiny metal inside our mouths, with all the straps and black sacs we wrap ourselves with, with the strange piece of leather that's on our waist, that they even get scared of approaching a person asking only for a

hug. My first time getting in touch with an inner power, that kept hiding for long enough. My first time to meet face to face with the inner child of each and everyone I met today. My first time actually sensing the atmosphere of a working group. My first time appearing on national tv with a sign in my hand waving it before the lens. My first time meeting two TV celebrities in one day. My first time knowing that I hugged once before, and no hug can be the same....

Sorry to bother you with all the firsts and everything, but for the others that didn't bother, you are welcome.

The day before, I was a guest at my "We Love Tripoli" community's "Cine Club", in my hometown Tripoli, where I was the introducer of the "Patch Adams" movie in front of more than 10 people. Something moved me a lot ever since I watched that story a few years ago. Moved by some recent events, I decided it's time for some action. The point is, and to stick to our Hugs topic, both the hugs and the movie actually relate, strongly. It's time for the people around me to shed the barriers they have all built with the others, even with the ones they live with, oh, sorry, I meant "especially" with those they live with. So much emotional constipation has turned us into zombies without knowing it. Zombies spending half a life trying to make money while losing their health and family, the other half speding their money on getting (or trying to get) back the health they had before. Zombies yelling at thy children ordering them what and what not to do/say even though they are the true form of God they came with and surely must have a higher sense of intelligence than those, zombies. Zombies dying for countries that originally abonded them, for causes that are never worth getting a man killed for, for people that didn't even ask for people to die for. Zombies killing other zombies because another higher-level zombie's intersts need that, even if that higher zombie is our inner ego.

When will we learn that we are the true face of God on this earth? As I type on my keyboard thirty-five minutes past 10 PM, I suddenly remember all the souls out there, alone in their spaces, shedding tears, only looking for a stranger to give a hug away...