Sneak peek into an estranged world. Cheers!

Archive for November, 2013

Kick a ginger day

So as some of you might remember, my best friend is a ginger N.G. and a couple of weeks ago it was kick a ginger day on November 20th.

Personally I found it fun over the years, but then I got to thinking why not make it a hug a ginger day instead?

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Click here to see what Google results show

First they will feel so loved (Yes N.G I am describing you); growing up I used to always hear these jokes about Gingers, they have no soul, emotions etc; but if we hug them they will know that they are still loved.

Secondly, they do deserve the hugs sometimes, we all do, but if it became official it would be so much better, and we wouldn’t be prone to violence growing up.

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So dear readers, what do you think? Should we make history and change for the sake of our Gingers?

(Official hug a ginger day, march 29)
For the official Facebook page click here

T.

What is horror?

Roaming through my Facebook newsfeed a couple of days ago, I came across this article that has been going around in Lebanon.
The article was written by a fellow Lebanese, expressing his disgust and the inhumanity of what has been going on in Tripoli.

The article named: “Tripoli: Horror after Horror” click here to readdoes not, however, talk about the issue going on; when I saw this title I thought someone is finally pointing out the micro war taking place in our country. To my surprise it wasn’t; it is simply about the issues of slaying stray dogs all over Tripoli.

Don’t get me wrong I fully agree that it is a crime indeed to slay stray dogs randomly just for fun, but at the same time I think the writer missed the point by quite a margin when talking about horror.

Horror is seeing neighbors shoot at and kill each other for pathetic excuses, horror is suicide bombings in civilian neighborhoods, horror is seeing children slain on the sides of the road from an explosive car, horror is human beings killing other human beings.

This is true horror.

Horror is what we Lebanese see and live with on a daily basis, and for the past two years Syria has been going though the same horror.  

Here is the status of a friend on Facebook that describes part of this horror we have survived through: (S.L)

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Some of the bombings and killings weren’t mentioned or the list would have taken up at least 10 pages; and in each assassination, bombing, and attack hundreds of civilians were killed (not mentioned either).
The catchphrase at the end of the list says: “Vote for the same idiots (donkeys) you idiots then blame the country”; quite an interesting perspective on things, don’t you agree?
A bit off subject, as you all know the Lebanese people are famous for making jokes out of each situation, so here’s an image that’s being sent through Whatsapp groups as well as Facebook; this picture made me laugh at first, agree next, and finally tore me up:

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I’m honestly worrying about the people’s views when it comes to horror, disasters, wars, bombings, killings, and natural tragedies.

Take for example what happened in the Philippines, a natural tragedy, killing hundreds of people, destroying their homes and belongings; people run to help them (including me), we run to their rescue, send money, food, and medical supplies. We pity them = it’s horror.

But put that story in perspective with what’s happening in Syria; it’s a war, there are bombings, killings, thousands of people dying everyday, survivors loosing their homes, having to hunt stray dogs for food, drinking water off the streets in order to survive: so how do we react? We judge, we don’t pity; we say it’s on them, it’s their own fault; we don’t help cause we don’t want them to think that we are okay with what is happening = it’s not horror, it’s shameful.

I see them in a different way, first to be clear on a few things I would help both countries, I would pity both, one for having been subjected to a natural disaster (at least that’s what we call it when nature overrides and destroys humans, but after all it is a simple hurt reaction for what we humans have been subjecting it to – that would be another post by itself), the other for having been subjected to forceful harming ways, inflicted to them by other human beings: this is the true horror (in my point of view).

Imagine yourself walking down a street with your friend when a sniper blasts your friend’s brain on you, or driving down a street, you notice a guy speeding, hear a loud explosion, then notice that if that poor soul hadn’t been in a hurry he would have survived the bomb explosion like you have.

This is inhumane.

It was veteran’s day a couple of weeks ago, when all Americans praised their soldiers; I’m not saying they should be criminalized for killing other humans, after all they enlisted freely and decided to fight; but what about these poor children in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, these kids that should be in school standing on the roads, getting killed with no hope of fighting back, with no hope of protection, no ammunition or shelter; I doubt they chose war, and doubt they ever would.

It’s a sad note for Lebanon once again, but I’m keeping my hopes up, because if we give up, how can we wish our children a bright future when we let darkness settle on our grounds.

Open your eyes, this is horror.

T.

How low can you go?

Grocery shopping:

Now I’m not sure if this happens only in Lebanon or all over the world, but we are definitely the lucky ones that don’t only get clothes and furniture sales ads by messages, but also get food sales from supermarkets!

I fully understand Sleep Comfort, Moustache, AiZone, and other markets sending messages to their clients or potential clients to inform them when a sale is taking place; it’s the only way some of us (lesser shopaholics) to find out.

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But I’m not sure, even being someone that has his own household and does the grocery shopping once a week, need to get these daily/weekly messages about grocery sales in the market.

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Now it does help if you’re too broke, but then again we only have a couple of big supermarkets, all you need to do it roam the aisles of each and figure out which you prefer to buy your groceries from.

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The Lebanese market owners though see it as a competition, they keep sending us messages, informing us of market price lows, trying to sell for cheaper than the others.

Honestly when I see cheap clothes with good fabric I normally choose to buy it instead of going to a over-priced shop with a famous brand to get the same shirt and same fabric for 10 times more. But when I shop for my groceries I don’t usually look at the price, but at the product itself: does it look clean; healthy; then I check to see if the price fits the quantity and quality.

Lately between furniture, clothes, and electronic shops sale messages I also receive these weird messages about vegetables, fruits, meat, and sometimes even boxed goods like Nido (powder milk) and Fairy (cleaning product).

So which would you go to; TSC or MONOPRIX? I still prefer the little shop next to my house, he doesn’t have a brand name as big as theirs, but his products never lie once you open the bag, his prices don’t change depending on competition, and his products are 100% Lebanese grown (good enough for me!)

So how low can you go to sell your goods?

T.

Family time

Family reunions, don’t you just hate them sometimes?

I usually enjoy family reunions, seeing all the cousins and family again, sharing stories, and hugs; it always makes you feel good.

Being Lebanese you get used to having a big family, with many cousins, and considering your extended family as part of your close cousins. But being Lebanese also means that most of them don’t live in Lebanon anymore, most travelled to other countries for studies, work, and sometimes for providing a safe-r- environment for their children.

I love family reunions! I’m aware that I just contradicted myself, but I honestly think that there is no way I’ll be able to specify which emotions override the others when it comes to family reunions.

I love seeing my cousins and sharing our different stories, going to parties and crashing at pubs; now yo u won’t know exactly what I’m talking about unless I give you an overview of my family: family = a bunch of extremely different people, many generation gaps, some religious some not, most of them party animals (the kind you’re sometimes ashamed of being seen with publicly, unless you are included in the party animals group). Family = single cousins, married cousins, married with kids cousins, gay cousins, open cousins, and conformist cousins. Family = having all the generations I none area, from the grandparents, to parents, to my generation, to the cousin’s kids’ generation. It is altogether a society of difference living under one family name.

Meet my family! (and good luck with that)

During family reunions you always have different repetitive scenarios: (one way conversations with what I sometimes feel like answering):

1- The older generation: “oh my god how much you’ve grown!” (thanks); did you get into college?!” (you were at my graduation 2 years ago); “how’s work?” “did you get a job? How’s work?” (the usual, it’s work); “you gained a lot of weight! You should start regime/gym” (have you seen yourself?); when will you get married? (oh god why?!!?!); I want you to meet my grandson’s friend, he would be a perfect husband!” (kill me now, please); “why aren’t you eating more? Eat! Eat! If you’re not healthy no one will want you” (didn’t you just say I gained weight?)

2- The uncles and aunts: when will you get married? (oh god why?!!?!); I want you to meet my son’s friend, he would be a perfect husband!” (kill me now, please); “yalla yalla, hurry up we want to see your kids grow, start making babies” (don’t I need to get married first?); how’s the boyfriend/girlfriend? When will we meet him/her?” (why? To scare her/him off or to judge me more?)

3- The cousins: “yooo, let’s get wasted soon!” (okay); “man I got so wasted last night!” (same here); “dude let’s have coffee sometime and catch up” ; “let’s go partay!”; “did you see cousin X’s new look?”; “guess what happened”; etc.

Now the first scenario is the most annoying, being judged by elder generation is the worst family reunions; it’s an endless one way conversation of complaints about what you’re doing, how you look, where you are in your life, and what you’re planning for the future. Though at the same time I enjoy seeing them all, it’s a connection I never want to sever, whatever the risks.

The second scenario is somewhat fun, but also annoying most of the time, they are the ones that believe they have the right to judge you since their kids are your age, but they are doing much better (at least in their opinion) and expect you to be just like them, act one way around family but do whatever you want when with friends (sorry I prefer to stay the same, which sometimes got me the wrath from some uncles and aunts). Some of them are also fun since you’re now old enough to hang with them, listen to their stories, and share a drink. Watching them get wasted is fun too.

The last/third scenario is usually the most interesting one, getting fresh new stories of fu**-ups, random stuff, interesting reads, and of course a good dose of the family gossips. Unfortunately some of these cousins already have kids, so you’ll have to play baby sitter at times as well.

At the end of the day, I can’t help but love them all, even though I hate them most of the time (hate is not the opposite of love, it’s loathing, so they’re safe for now). But dear family, if you are reading this, you should know I still care, cause you’re the only ones that will never let me down.

Cheers to all families around the world.

T.

Beggars Panorama

Living in Lebanon lately has become more expensive depending on your emotions, on your way of life, and on your degree of pity and self-respect.
Now I’m just talking about car drivers. We spend a certain amount of money on petrol weekly to get to work and back home, but the amount that we always forget to calculate is the one you give to the homeless on your way there and back.

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I’ve added to my weekly consumption 10 000 LL a day, which adds up to 50 000 LL a week, unless you work Saturdays and Sundays as well.

With the past wars Lebanon has been trough, the amount of homeless people increased greatly, leaving hundreds of children, women, and men roaming the streets, around traffic lights, waiting for any amount that might be handed to them by drivers. I stumbled upon this article which explains the daily panorama I get on my way to work:
“Whilst navigating the major roads in the urbanized cities of Lebanon, one cannot help but come across one or more youngsters spread out randomly throughout these cities, grouped particularly near traffic lights – where cars come to a stop. The children appear to follow a rehearsed routine: knock on car windows, look the passengers in the eyes and hold out their hands to either sell small merchandises or as a silent plea for money. It is noticeable that strangers, upon witnessing this phenomenon, would either regard it with a wary eye (suggesting that they are somewhat used to the instances of poverty) or are simply shocked at this wretched, silent cry for help.”

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I would add the people’s reactions when they try not to make eye contact, close their windows and sometimes even shout at the children so they could be left alone. If you have a big heart and can’t help but fall for their pleas, then you might need to increase your daily revenue.

Now here is where the trick starts, few of these beggars are actually homeless children, being forced to beg their way into surviving, while others are part of organized crime where their parents might abuse them and force them to work; and others are orphans taken in by a “PIMP” and forced to work the streets like prostitutes, begging for money.

Unfortunately seeing the difference between the two might be tough, seeing that the illusion is perfect. My way of differentiating them is proposing to give them food and water instead of money, those faking it will refuse the food, and go off swearing; while others will look at you in utter idolization and thank you from the bottom of their heart, stuffing their face with whatever food you have provided them with.

Most of the children working for their parents or organized crimes are unfortunately not able to go back into shelter without having collected a certain amount of money, so if you see a couple of children refuse food, but keep trying to beg with an obvious fear in their eyes late at night, I usually provide them with a bit of change but also food, that they will not be able to provide their executioner with, and still survive the year.

Many articles were written about beggars, one, which I don’t seem to find any more, is about a woman begging with a child asleep in her arms. The woman that wrote the article tried to approach this beggar, asking to carry the child to let the beggar be able to eat properly. The woman strongly refused, and after extensive research the writer found out the reason behind the woman’s refusal; there are many cases, and here are a few: the child is drugged, with alcohol or actual hard drugs to keep him asleep or from crying; the child is dead, and the woman is waiting for the organization she begs for to provide her with a new one; the child is paralysed from physical abuse to stay stable.

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I know what you might be thinking right now, how could a person be so inhumane? simple; their humanity was lost in wars, in home abuse, and daily fights with society and life.

Here are a few further reading you might be interested in reading, they explain what the Lebanese community is trying to do, unfortunately nothing is 100% effective, especially with the war in Syria adding up to the number of homeless and beggars in Lebanese streets.



Quite the eye opener, extremely morose, yet 100% true.

T.

Identity Week: It’s in the Cards

Amazing story that may one day destroy women vs. men stereotypes.
Quite funny as well.

Standing in the Shallows

Identity Week: It's in the Cards

Just a couple of days ago, a Facebook friend put out a general question: What was the first CD you bought?

I answered honestly: “Soundtrack to The Little Mermaid.”

His response: “Your Man Card has been deducted by 2 points.”

He was joking, of course, and even leavened his words with the admission that he bought the Aladdin soundtrack when it came out.

Of course I didn’t feel like my masculinity was genuinely being insulted. In fact, I responded once more: “Meh,” I wrote. “Man Cards aren’t worth the frilly pink paper they’re printed on.”

And I meant it.

A Man Card, if you don’t know (or do know and just want to hear my own brilliantly concise definition), is a theoretical document that jokingly certifies your manhood and can be revoked if other men feel you’re not being manly enough. In their opinion. I’m not sure when it…

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Independence who?

It’s quite interesting the way politics relate to color coding in Lebanon.

Having a certain color car, scarf, clothes, or glasses even might be a sign to the political party you follow; but why limit ourselves?

Imagine you are an extremely colorful person, you like flashy colors and wear them daily, how would you feel walking in to work in the morning having the security guard look at your yellow scarf and say: “you’re wearing yellow? I didn’t know people from bcharre (aka. Red color followers) wear that color around”.

Now I’m still hopefully hoping that we Lebanese haven’t sunk that deep in stereotyping and color-coding people depending on what we wear, the area we are from and/or our choices; but still I see that everyday; and the worst part I think is having different flags for each party and color within the same country: I rarely see any Lebanese flags on cars and home balconies lately, it’s all just a blur of colors with politician flags, as if each was a country by itself.

Independence day is getting closer, and I’m not sure what to expect to see; a rainbow of colors smashing at each other in the air, or more cedars and red flowing in the wind as we all unite for the peace of this tiny piece of earth we call home?

One thing I’ve learnt and I am positive about, living in this country since I was born, is that you will never know what to expect. It’s simple fact, the same as being born and eventually dying. But the thing is, you never know when and how this will happen.  

On another note I quite enjoy the color coding of parties in a certain way: the jokes the Lebanese people come up with. One of my closest friends is a red-head, and as we all know orange is the color of Aoun party; N the red-head is studying medicine planning to be a doctor (hakim in Arabic) which is the color red following the Hakim party (aka Geagea).
So imagine people being able to make up a joke on that saying: “oh I feel bad for his parents, they raised him to be orange but he ended up being a hakim!” and laughing about for hours (for those not familiar with Lebanese politics one of the biggest problems in the past used to come from fights between the two neighboring parties).  

So today I’m wearing green socks, with an orange shirt, blue undies, and a yellow scarf: what will that mean? Will it make sense if I try to decipher my love of colors to political signs or should I just go around my business and flash as many colors as possible to confuse narrow-minded people?

It is sometimes a hustle, and I even enjoy the confusion at times, but that’s not going to stop me from doing what I want, after all it is my looks and my body we are talking about, wearing a color doesn’t mean that the party owns me, it simply means I love colors.

I also wanted to point out one other thing: you are all familiar with the rainbow that unites all genders as well as sexual orientations and lifestyles, it’s all about tolerance, wearing a rainbow on independence day could be a different sign to show the unity of one country under one emblem as well as the unity and acceptance of people’s choices without hating them, judging, or trying to make them conform to your ideals.

It is, after all “a free country”, why can’t we have free choices, but keep them private without the need to exhibit them in hatred?

So dear Lebanese, who will you be on independence day? You and your country as a whole, or a follower of a country inside another?

T.

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