Jul 27, 2013

My 27th day of birth

Never thought I'd admit this, but here we go, this is officially the most emotional bday I ever had. I was surprised in the most amazing ways, I was shocked in the loveliest manners, I was moved like never before. From my coworkers' little surprise(s) to Rayyan's messages, I felt like the world was paying me back.

A collage of the pics I spent my morning taking :)

I love them all, for everything they did. For the rush of Suha printing the poster that last minute after asking me about a photography quote I liked best. For the remembrance and possibly the overwhelming thoughts of what to do that Rayyan went through till she finally sent me those memorable messages and eventually making me weep. For the effort some put into reading my last year's post and more importantly putting more effort into doing any sort of action.

I love them all for the initiative they took, for the steps they did, wandering from colleague to another gathering money and thinking of what sort of gifts to bring Nath. For showing me for once at least what it means to have me in their life, to put up front the trace I left in those who really mean to me, and vice-versa.

It all started the moment I was spreading away my good mornings around the corners of our floor, to find my office was invaded, seconds before me showing up it seems. Three post-it stickers with words written, a Virgin Megastores bag with an elegant envelope attached were filling the space on my office, with a womanly touch there, or should I say a Suzuki key? Hah! Acting as if I didn't see the key, the person who did this was still unknown to me, and I needed to know what happened. Started with asking my colleagues, no answer whatsoever. Knowing myself very well, I knew it'd take me forever to open the gifts, therefore I decided to leave the office for the gifts to enjoy their space, while I worked with the laptop on my lap, yes, the whole time. And I was happy. I was happier than if I actually opened the gifts. I said nothing till I thought it is time.

Grabbed the keys and here I was, at floor 8. Suha started laughing, yet didn't know the gifts are still unopened. I bet she felt ashamed, what kind of a mistake it is to leave your keys where you're supposed to remain unknown? That was the sweetest thing I saw since ages :). The whole 8th floor then started congratulating me on my bday. Not knowing how to answer back, I felt like saying thank yous all over.

Later that day, to my surprise, and soon after coming back from prayer, my laptop was, again, taken over by a white envelope (photo). Same as before, nobody would confess on who put it there.

My corporate gift, part 2
Till that point up I had one virgin bag, one envelope, and a few post-it stickers taking over my desk waiting to be fiddled with. I kinda broke the rules there when I thought, at around 2:30 in the afternoon, that it was time to open the gift card at least, instead of hanging on the bag uselessly. To my utmost surprise, more than a dozen coworkers' names were written inside, to tell me they all gathered forces, money and/or intentions at least, to make this day memorable for their colleague. I teared up, a lot.

It was obvious on the phone the amount of disappointment Suha had, no matter how hard she tried to hide it, for the fact that I failed the uprising expectation she had, thinking that I'd instantly open the gifts, as she does herself. Well, I wasn't like that. I had rituals.

Long story short, I felt welcome, in one of the places I always had felt uncomfortable at, or at least not at ease. I was rewarded with welcoming, with an virtual hug, and that alone is enough to make me feel special.

Birthdays were something I would definitely resent, stand up to, for it's not the celebration at its right place. Nevertheless, I don't hide that this day for me at least was an occasion to fetch in old friends' feelings towards me, to feel the gravity of what I had left in them. This definitely felt refreshing, some of them actually left me speechless.

Facebook had its share as well. More than a 100 posts sending me those courteous happy birthdays. There is the plain "happy birthday" from somebody you barely speak with, if not never. I kind of hate those honestly, nobody forces you to post that :/ You also get those posts with the smileys, those suckers are gorgeous, I love them. Usually from new contacts and acquaintances. The usual.

And then you have the close friends, with their jokes, their stories, their feelings and whole lot more of emotions, to surely break the ice and make it warmer in there. I gathered some of the special ones this year, it seems the reputations keeps on growing :)

Some of the most interesting FB posts that day.

And to end it all, it was one of the warmest nights the night before when something came in and turned me from a joyful bastard to a weeping man, the good way of course. Four messages found their way to both my phones, one on Whatsapp and the other as an SMS, each. Every message had a word in it, all in all it said "Happy Birthday To You", it was Rayyan.

She was the first one to send me to that silent place where there's nothing but grace and an uncontrollable amount of tears. I just couldn't help it, and yes, it's inexplicable. I felt so lucky, having read what she had to say.

Mom's home-made cake :)
Mom, on the other hand, has done a great effort preparing one of the most delicious cake to celebrate both my bday and my brother's. She sure needed a large amount of guts to have done that cake and inviting me over cake, knowing my attitude towards birthdays and similar occasions. I love this woman.

The day wouldn't have ended without my own present, the Scorpions concert. I jumped and sang along, something I haven't done in a long long time :)

Scorpions at the Byblos International Festival
There's a huge urge to name each and everyone that made this day memorable, but I must refrain from doing so, for what we shared is almost private, and shall remain like that. I hate myself for not being able to properly reward or thank the large number of people that thought of me, that actually thought of doing the least in the occasion of the day I was born. But at the same time, I really am glad this day incites people to show at least part of what they have toward me, for every word they say, every emotion they show, is none but a firm part of them. There's a saying in arabic that goes as: "Each pot serves only what it contains"

I love you beautiful people, happy day of birth to everybody <3

Jul 25, 2013

Sigma 10-20 Review: First Impression

The sigma I bought a few days ago belonged to a good guy called Waleed Al Rashid. The fact that he's selling this lens because it's unusable to his newly bought body anymore, was a catalyst by itself to push my satisfaction meter way up high. I got one super clean lens for at least half the price in savings. There it was, the new Ultra Wide Angle Sigma right between my hands.

To all those who are still a bit far from the photography vocabulary, a wide angle lens is a lens that helps you see more. The smaller the mm, the wider the angle, the closer to what we can see with bare eyes and even more. This lens is so special because not only it gives a majestic 10mm widest angle, but it has this astonishing distortion effect that, without it, the lens wouldn't be the same.

As everytime a new lens finds its way to my bag, I decided to use the lens constantly for as long as possible, in order to get used to it and get my eyes acquainted with the new angle. The first few shots were actually inside Walid's car, where we met. I was taken away with the ultra wide angle of the lens: I could literally see EVERYTHING! Next was the beautiful Don Bosco School and Resort, located somewhere above Nahr Ibrahim. It was the same day's evening when I hit the Ameen mosque with my flatmates Marcus and Joakim. The photos were simply breathtaking. It was the first time I could have the broad scene of the inside of that mosque in one shot, floor to ceiling.


It wasn't much before I took it along to Tripoli, mother of all photography trips, and to the best of my luck it was the festive season of Ramadan, where the city glows in a breathtaking dress made of lights, odors, faces and tastes.

I like about the lens the fact that it's really wide, allowing me to snap one of those award-winning shots you see on 500px or such, but at the same it's not your usual evening lens, an aperture of F/4.0 makes it really hard to catch the light without compromising for a really slow shutter speed or a remarkably high ISO with the corresponding noise of course.

I leave you to some of the best photos.

Ameen Mosque in Beirut

Old Woman with her cart in Mina's old town

A motorcycle repair shop in Tripoli

Tall Square in Tripoli