Sep 28, 2012

5000

It's been more than 6 months since this blog's been operating. I personally am not familiar with any scale that would measure my performance up to this moment, no preset rule to allow me evaluate how good I've been doing. But, looking back at the first few posts and what's been grabbing my attention the last few weeks, I must say, the blogging thing turned out to be a major turnover in my life. I have grown up, I have learned to evaluate things whilst being watched. I learned how not to lie to one's self in order to make the surrounding comfortable in the blink of an eye, but to put the effort enough into making magic happen. I'm welcoming my 5000th viewer, for the first time of course, fingers crossed I'll be welcoming the 50,000th view count soon enough.

Thank you readers :)

Sep 25, 2012

Need A Break

This morning was one of the (recently) so many mornings filled with emotional insights and an uprising reaction for the world I just began to realize (apparently), with all its controversies, with its negativeness, its prejudices, its ongoing tyranny and the escalating amount of tears I have to hide inside right after reading any article that surfaces the defective infrastructure our society's been growing onto, and the infamous face being slowly uncovered, to my eyes at least.
Photo by Houssam Mchaiemch / Legal Agenda

What's been happening around me by the minute has given me by far the most insurmountable degree of suffocation to the point that I literally feel asphyxiated, by noon maximum, not being able to enjoy anything, and simply leaving me in shock, in what seems a personal corner, that I used to seek whenever I needed a sanctuary. The only difference was that, by the time I needed that refuge in the past, the whole mess already was infutile, already of a small size compared to the oppression taking place every single day right beneath my eyes. I see young men and women being beaten and abused as if they were trying to take over the powers of the gods underlying in the dungeons of our parliament, whereas all they wanted to express, in the most genuine and original way, was their god-given right to love each other, as humans, as souls once apart, wanting to become one, and delare it to the public. Their protest left them with nothing but scars and bruises, humiliation that knew no extent, apartheid that rose in the hearts of their attackers triggered only by the grin of their leader, who thinks, according to a local blogger, is god on earth, at least on the parliament's territory. Seeing them put to ground, hearing that they were molested and mocked at, left me with an uprising anger and frustration, that couldn't find its way out in other way than a few tears I managed to hide away in my office...

   
I see my friend, among his companions, being bruised and attacked as well, by almost the same people when they were peacefully protesting in front of the same entity, and what was the reason exactly? Simply demanding the most prerogative right that ever existed in a democratic country, a sound and proper electoral law that fits the modern demands and regulates with the least common sense there is. What was their share then? Getting dragged all the way down the street in front of bypassers, being knocked down and of course feeling the impact of the hands of the so-called guards of the parliament right on their bodies.

STREET ART ON A BEIRUT SHOPFRONT | JOSEPH EID/AFP/GettyImages
I see people ringing bells of fight, sounds of drums alerting my surrounding of a surely upcoming war, where, on the other side, my personal efforts and those of all my friends, companions, the close people I met recently, my whole life philosophy and all the goodness that was supposed to be brought onto us people in this wonderful earth, all the smiles and all the laughters, all the tears and all the sighs, all the souls we helped and all the faces we managed to ease off, seem to forcibly collide with the largest ugliest brick wall we call war. Where have gone all the people that once filled the streets and corridors chanting and singing for the sake of love? Where have gone all those around me who kept rejecting hatred and managed to come to a conclusion that we can only live by love? Where have gone all those beautiful young minds that sought love and peace even among the ill? Who are those to decide up from their high balconies and golden patios that they bought from our own money that war is not the only answer?.. I'm left traumatized, having no effort to say anything that might fix it all...
Courtesy of the Ibtissama Facebook page
I see a human, a friend, that came suddenly into my life, for no particular reason, that recently helped me know so much about myself in such a short time. I see that strong enormous creature with the tiny body and the most beautiful smile, having the guts to stand up for what she believes in, knowing where her path is, and simply mesmerizing me with a note she left recently, where she apologizes... An apology is the most sacred virtue in my bible, the most precious word in my dictionary. I apologize a lot, but have never seen an apology so sincere. She spoke my mind, she revived what I thought was mistaken in our world, she energized that vein that was growing larger in me, always pushing me for the right thing to do, but was, at some point, left to silently die, cuz it was simply inconvenient. She came now to empower the right to apologize, to hold thyself responsible for everything, as a first step to self-reconciliation, eventually creating self-sufficient humans, compassionate, and ready to be one with nature itself. I quote:

"Dear outcasts, rejected by society, bullied, discriminated, abused, all because you were simply “different” from the majority[..]
[..]Dear individual who dares to speak up while putting your life in danger, because sadly you grew up around people who might kill you for words you uttered[..]
[..]I am sorry for what the world made you go through, they might never apologize and acknowledge it, they might even never be aware of the damages they have caused, but I want to understand and I want to apologize in their place for what you have been through[..]"

My mind was literally blow away, heart skipped a beat and I was in a total rush of emotions that, at my age, were one heck of a thing to admire after all I had to go through my entire life.

I once heard of a certain community, that took "Apology" as some kind of a religion. More elaborately, a woman whose son was killed by another woman's son, sought no revenge, on the contrary, after the young man had been arrested and put into custody, she went to the mother inviting her for prayer, saying "let's not murder my child twice", and ultimately, she asked her for forgiveness, and not the other way around. Those same people used to apologize, whenever being hurt by someone, for they saw their own mistakes in the actions of others. Isn't that the uttermost virtue of all? In the days of Muhammad the prophet, when someone stole, he would come and apologize, never send him to jail (which is the least we do now), but blamed the officials for their mistake, not giving that man enough food to eat, enough money to live a decent life, leaving him with nothing else but having to steal.

Courtesy of the Free Huggers page
A while back I was confronted with an indescribably alerting situation that needed an certain amount of wisdom and precaution. I already knew it deep inside, that sooner or later, conservatives will attack the Free Hugs activity, but never imagined it'd be so close, so rude and so ugly. All I wanted was to confront one of those who insisted on categorizing us as sexual harassers, molesters, and people of havoc. I hold nothing but pure compassion, for they are ignorants, they took their religion out of books instead of mind and heart. They followed a path drawn by humans just like them, instead of drawing their own path. They marry and feed based on writings and scriptures, regardless of the divinity of those papers, every religion that sets the mind aside, is no religion at all. As much as I'm sure those people hold so many issues against us, I'm equally sure I can captivate their minds and souls, convince them there's nothing wrong in showing love, for love is the essence of being a human...

And the emotions still stack on top of each other, leaving me stranded, not-knowingly incapable of deciding how, where and when to evacuate that enormous amount of unexplainable reactions I'm going through. I officially can't take it anymore, call it being a wimp, call it atonal, whatever suits you best. I need a break...

Sep 17, 2012

Free Hugs in TEDxBeirut Salon

My presence at the salon was originally to volunteer with the team members to record the salon on video throughout its duration. It was usually in such cases, numerous cases, where I'd put all my concentration in framing my footage and taking the best shot, as much as possible, which obviously stands in the way of grasping the freshness of the location, the sparkling falls of colors among the visitors and the props around the set, thus eventually limiting my presence over there to an inside observer much more than a normal visitor. This time, it was not the case.

Courtesy of Nadim Kamel, TEDxBeirut Team
Ever since the first of July, I've been carrying around the most wonderful activism project, the child of a long story, as long as my own year count. I could never imagine we'd become more than 200 supporters of the cause, and more than 4 dozens of people physically present at the Free Hugs Flashmobs we do every other week, holding their signs, withstanding the humidity and the fatigue after 2+ hours of non-stop action. I hid that sparkling secret behind my back at the TEDxBeirut Salon in Zouk, never expecting to put it unto bright light as happened later that night.
Courtesy of Patrick Abi Salloum, TEDxBeirut Team
The salon began exactly as announced earlier, and the curator Patricia started with the usual introduction of the TEDx and a brief sum-up of what this Salon's theme is. A note on the side though, not only did I hear it from one of the team members, but I actually saw it with my bare eyes: Patricia's effort weighs as much as all the other member's efforts, added together. I saw the enthusiasm this young woman has to such an important gathering. I saw the way she insists on rehearsing her speech and maintaining order at the preparations, altogether while checking the setup of the trashbags and making sure there were two distinct colors, and of course being always ready to answer whatever question any volunteer or member needs to ask. She must've been a true warrior in a previous life. Having spoken about the organizer of course leads me to mentioning the more-than-wonderful team of volunteers every organizer would dream to have. The punctuality, the organization, the serenity and the joy the are blessed with even though they're preparing an event that would welcome more than 200 visitors.
Courtesy of Patrick Abi Salloum, TEDxBeirut Team
The theme for tonight's salon was "Heroes", especially those whom no one speaks of. It was time to uncover some real human heroic projects and initiatives, among which outstood the "Donner Sang Compter" initiative by Yorgui Teyrouz, and two other recorded TED talks. The moment had come and Patricia opened the door for visitors to tell their own individual heroic stories and the great decision that was taken based upon that story. I can't deny the Free Hugs activity jumped off to my mind right away, but it was my job there that should've taken all of the attention available to make it work and finish what I promised I'd do. But, as soon as the audience started to elaborate about their experiences, the Free Hugs became inevitable. Microphone in hand, permission granted, here we go:

Photo taken by Zeina Awaydat, audience
"My story briefly goes like this: I've never received any hug my entire life. For 25 consecutive years, I hadn't had any hug ever, but this fact remained true until last year (audience goes "awwww" and two gorgeous hugs were then received from Reem and Patrick, while the applauds escalated in the background). During last year's summer, I was, for the first time in my life, telling my burdens and the daily problems to someone who was not related to me, nor did she ever have anything to do with me being happy or not. That's when I got my first hug, and it felt like HEAVEN. It was like, all my problems just gotten away, and now I can share the virtual load and take it off my shoulders for an instant. That was last year. A few months back, right in the middle of May 2012, I received a message from my friend, with a video link inside. The video was surprisingly that of the Free Hugs campaign in Sydney, by Juan Mann. And the sparkle just burst out! It has become clear to me now: Why not start our own free hugs in Lebanon? In the blink of an eye Bilal went and launched the Facebook event for the first Free Hugs flashmob in Beirut, right in the middle of May, dated in the first of July. People in big numbers signed up already and pressed the "Going" button, but when the 1st of July came, there were only 7 of us. I knew the others were only supportive, and needed only the push, they needed to see it succeeding on the ground. So, we started out two persons, and now we're more than 200 free huggers, 50 of which have already been there in one of our flashmobs. Today we mark our 6th flashmob, where we've already been to Hamra, Beirut souks, Jbeil, Ashrafiyyeh and soon to be in Gemmayzeh. And finally, when someone asks us about the reason behind us hugging strangers, and we get that a lot, I used to give away superficial answers because words truly weren't up to the true expression, but just lately, I discovered my perfect answer which's gonna be "Just look at that smile on your face and you'll know why". Thank you everyone"

If that exact incident wasn't a life-changing moment, I then have no clue what else to call it. Thank you beautiful TEDxBeirut team, especially Patricia for her efforts and for what I've been hearing about her work. 

Sep 7, 2012

My 30 Day Challenge - Day 23


Day 23 - A picture of your favorite book.
(Read more about the 30-Day Challenge)


I have no clue how far would the discussion take, or how long the back-and-forth arguments would last, trying to convince me that this is not a book to be considered among other books, such as novels or biographies, existential or philosophical literature. In fact this book is simply another perspective that goes way beyond the title, to the point that I can truly admit it (somewhat) never speaks about religion in the first place! The book is titled "The truth about Islam" and the author chose to caption the front page with the most amazing saying ever "A book that is 4000 years overdue" (4000, don't confuse it for 1400..)

Why is this book my favorite? I saw myself inside, I say a complete projection of all what I wanted to say and all that I didn't know of. The fact that there's someone else who backs the things I kept my mind busy around in the last few years and confirms them was reassuring by itself. Let's add a more awesome fact, I have met the author, several times. He is younger than me and thus, still is capable of defining right from wrong, especially in the light of the way he was raised and brought up. This guy lives on no food. Shocked? He's planning on living only on breathing, meaning he'll refrain from eating AND drinking his whole life. This person is a pure genius, who has showed me repeatedly so many secrets that can never be revealed to the public especially in these days.

I quote the following:

"Since our early childhood, we have learned to repress our feelings. Kids are told not to cry, not to play, to stop making noise, to do this and to stop doing that. Some grow to believe that they do not measure to a sibling or a parent, females sense great discrimination between them and their male peers, some grow to think that they are ugly, losers, fat, dark skinned etc. It’s a vicious reality we’re all experiencing. More and more conflicts are imposed through the peers – who have undergone the same parental dilemmas. More is imposed by the schools, by the mainstream’s media and by the society. Gradually, we are programmed into believing that a certain social standard must be met in order for us to measure up. And sadly, almost each one of us falls into the traps of this mindset. The youth of the society experiences the greatest amount of confusion, being lost between parental and social expectations, each showering them with stereotypes of those whom are most popular and accepted."

What I love about this book and its author, is the crucial variant of offering a SOLUTION, a way to sort out all the issues he methodologically discusses throughout the early chapters. What's even better is that he tried every single one of them on his own self. He was his own lab rat until he was convinced with the result.

"One of the best exercises we have come to experiment with involves sitting and starting to chant a sad melody, one can chant freely as long as the melody resonates with one’s wounds. Keep chanting and gradually feel how the chanted melody becomes the feeling rather than just a harmonic sound, start expressing these feelings more and more with the sounds you chant. And when you feel like it, slow down into silence, and once so, open your eyes and keep them opened, stare into the void in front of you, and feel how the feelings become more and more surfaced, usually causing the eyes to start crying. You might not be aware what exact memories are causing this to happen. For the time – as it’s not important - just allow the feelings to surface and the eyes to express."

Don't get me mistaken for someone who doesn't read any literature, I used to be a regular reader, but I simply became fed up with problem posing, and would love to skip to problem solving.

Sep 6, 2012

My 30 Day Challenge - Day 22

Day 22 - A picture of something you wish you were better at
(Read more about the 30-Day Challenge)


I've been struggling lately to recuperate some of my skills in French speaking. My years in College and in being an engineer afterwards were more than enough to make me forget probably more than 80% of my ability to generate full sentences and go further in conversations that go beyond salutes and shallow topics. For instance, read what happened with me when I went for an interview with a company partly french. Such incidents are humorous at the moment, but are in fact showing the trace of a major problem waiting to be fixed.

PS: this is not the no.1 thing I'd love to be better at, this post was made totally for the sake of having fun. Main thing will remain a secret.

Sep 5, 2012

My 30 Day Challenge - Day 21

Day 21 - A picture of something you wish you could forget.
(Read more about the 30-Day Challenge


Photo Courtesy of Backpack Foodie
Well, to tell you the truth, it's not the fear of heights exactly. It's simply an unfortunate mishap that happened once in the past and occasionally keeps chasing me till this day, and when it does come back, forget all about good night sleeping, starting from one to three consecutive nights. It happened during the year 2000, not sure about the exact date, but the main point's that my youngest brother was a toddler at the time. My mother was absent and I could not really tell how it all began.. [Heart skips a beat once again each time I remember..] All I recall was the same exact scene you're seeing up above, but imagine my hands stretched out holding a 18 months old toddler out the balcony from the 5th floor. I'd give the most precious thing I have if only I could forget that single memory that's still haunting me wherever I go or whatever I do to avoid it...

Sep 4, 2012

My 30 Day Challenge - Day 20

Day 20 - A picture of somewhere you'd love to travel
(Read more about the 30-Day Challenge)


Yes, my dream travel destination is Ljublijana, Slovenia, which should ring a bell for anyone who's already familiar with Paulo Coelho's "Veronika decides to die". There's this desire to relive the story, to stand in the middle of that town's center and look for the window where the whole story started at.

Sep 2, 2012

Sep 1, 2012

My 30 Day Challenge - Day 18

Day 18 - A picture of your biggest insecurity
(Read more about the 30-Day Challenge)


Oh god, I get the craziest and ugliest goosebumps each time I see this photo or remember it in mind. In fact, I'm writing this without looking at my laptop. I don't know when or how this insecurity originated, but all I can remember is the fact that I CAN'T IMAGINE someone chewing on cardboard. Point a la ligne...