November 30, 2005

The preposterous bounty of defeat!

Mind you, but this is my third attempt to compile this entry! It was –still- rigorously hard not to feel as yet another self-righteous Saddam apologetic suffering from a fatalist variant of post-trauma romanticism with occasional hallucinations of Saddam’s face engraved onto the moon’s surface while rhetorically touting how Iraqis are destined -and deserve- to have such oppressing tyrants ruling them to keeping them intact!

Sigh… honestly I am not, but if clinching to crude facts cleansed from media-stimulations and mainstream claims of being reasonable & realistic; if this will cost me being deemed with the above, then be it so… for the truth is usually hard to swallow especially when emotions are catalyzed and overdriven to run at “flaringly high”. Capturing the hearts & minds of the general cuddly populous with deceitful sheer drama seems to be an easy task these days! That it is of course in reference to Saddam’s ludicrous trial, even the Times think of it this way

"Far from showcasing justice and democracy in the new Iraq, the trial of Saddam and his seven henchmen descended rapidly into farce yesterday"

I have said it once and I’ll stipulate it here again, the issue has little to do with Saddam being brought to justice for his decades of tyranny & atrocities he is accountable for! The issue is intrinsically related to the overall state of affairs in occupied Iraq! It is to say that an impartial, independent and just jurisdictional system that may qualify to orchestrate such a trial cannot possibly be fostered under any type of foreign occupation, especially when it is enforced by swarms of mercenary fighters led by a pragmatic US political directive that identifies Iraq only as a lucrative opportunity irrespective of the welfare of its people.


A defeated nation can only expect to be exerted with further oppression and injustice as a bounty for their defeat, setting up a trial run by foreign-appointed judges with no national credentials will bring no justice to the Iraqis… the least one would expect was a trial in some oddly-named “neutral” European city, Hague, Warsaw... how about Helsinki for a change?

Allow me to dwell upon you with two different alternative perspectives to the whole ordeal that deserves to be observed and nurtured in one's mind:

First and foremost, to recognize Allah’s wrath and wisdom exhibited in punishing tyranny and injustice! Who would have ever thought that Saddam, the heroic invincible iron-grip president will find himself abandoned by even his immediate entourage and beneficiaries as he retires to a hideout ditch, then pictured while he's in his undies and later persecuted by an illegitimate abominable judicative body appointed by a foreign occupational force playing a digitally remastered video from the good old days in utter mockery! A surreal manifestation of Allah’s verse (Al-Naml 27:34)

"قَالَتْ إِنَّ الْمُلُوكَ إِذَا دَخَلُوا قَرْيَةً أَفْسَدُوهَا وَجَعَلُوا أَعِزَّةَ أَهْلِهَا أَذِلَّةً وَكَذَلِكَ يَفْعَلُونَ"

Secondly -from a birds-eye view-, I find it truly worthy of Hallmarking; the astonishing and -mind me if I add- heroic position held by Saddam on both of his adjourned trial sessions, it was of an epic nature! with his self-enforced pride and uncompromising stance discoursed from the realm of unfavorable circumstances vividly surrounding him, It got me thinking...

is it something to do with his credentials? Or is it a mere sense of righteousness stemming from the illegitimacy of his opponent? How would it be if the trial was held by the leaders of say; a popular uprising that would have uprooted his regime instead?

November 28, 2005

Linguistic clumsiness!

I credit this title to Hatem AbuNimeh who coined the term almost 3 years ago while scrutinizing the lack of “theme” in my writings.

Tololy’s latest experimentation got me thinking; how big of a role does the linguistic skill exhibited in a given writing affect the crude thought or idea it conveys?

Take for instance the comment (3rd from top) posted by an anonymous reader in response to my “I saw a woman... “ entry, the commentator certainly had a sincere & valid prospective to express, and was trying to illustrate a sound & interesting stance, but his writing style failed him miserably! At best it would take someone with either extreme-interest or prudent patience to forgive the shortcomings, filter out discrepancies and appreciate the good and insightful thinking put forward.

A thought or an idea should by definition be crystal clear in the mind of its beholder, unless narcotics are involved; a sane individual shouldn’t have a problem understanding his own thoughts once established as the thinking process wrap-up! The beauty however is to be able to capture these thoughts into meaningful words that is common with others depending on the level of one’s involvement:

A teenage girl with a pink diary wouldn’t have a problems writing in broken lingo and in ridiculous lengths –without loosing focus- about her daily affairs and childishly-intimate thoughts to an audience solely comprised of “Dear Diary”. In vast contrast with a columnist who works for a widely circulated newspaper, where his writing should deliver a quality product that fits a certain criteria and reflects a predefined image or policy in order not to loose his audience and keep his pay-roll… rolling.


And not far from the columnist, comes the established writer or novelist –beside the commercial ones- whose writings is usually judged in the realms of literature and fine-art! The responsibility towards one's writing and its value & integrity varies among these cases. (even myself is now yelling at me with a scorching “obviously!”)

The stew of maintaining the interest of the reader and –hopefully sheer- entertainment with a distinct flawless style while eruditely delivering on a precise idea –or better still, a multiple of parallel ideas- seems to be too hard of a gourmet to cook & simmer, as it requires a balancing act between: avoiding a typical & dull writing style against delving into the use of uncommon –yet eloquent- terminology and complex paradigms & linguistic you-know-what-I-am-talking-about illustrations & structures. To further sustain the attentiveness and focus of the reader while perpetuating the thoughts and ideas in an infallible manner and consistent cadence while avoiding repetition and unnecessary off-road elaborations and backgrounders!

Alas… I fail miserably in the above, to the point that I find it hard to believe that any of my gibberish writing can be someone’s muse for a day or so! Unless he/she was also oozing with extreme anticipating interest or a prudent and pious patience!

I conclude that the writing style significantly impacts the thought being communicated to the reader; however it cannot possibly shadow the sincerity and good thinking –when present-! A dreadfully written article may still have fruits of wisdom in its centrum , the fact that it'll be hard for the average reader to appreciate and grasp -yet alone to stimulate- wouldn’t render it unread as it may will be the sought-after mind-boggling read for some passionate like-minded readers!

November 27, 2005

I saw a woman! Or: Single men's social misery in the depths of the desert

I Saw a woman, and a kid… and yet another kid, in fact I've seen a dozen of them playing in the garden beside the pool, whoa... a band of talkative women gossiping while the food was being served by a mob of maids, that is all but too exhilarating, so I decided to retire to a numb bunch of men setting aside for a breather, where am I? or is it where was I before this encounter?

This was a scene from what would have been a typical Ramadan iftar feast among a crowd of a delightfully happy neighbors in a cozy gated-community compound anywhere in Saudi, and it happens to be that I'm invited to one of them feasts... but what was it that made the scene too momentous for me that I had to suppress the feelings of alienation and gazing-around sense of surprise while replicating an image of normality and tactful behavior?

Will -can you barely hear the slurred-voice of a looping sample from "it's a man's world" running in the background?- I am single (my fiancée lives in Jordan), I live outside any type of gated-community –for a multitude of reasons-, I am engaged in a nation-wide telecom project that drains me out of any time to facilitate a chance of a "social" life, oh' and I am currently living in non other but Saudi-Arabia!

Yes indeed, a sad portrait of the reality that many single expatriates face over here –along the unfortunate locals living away from their families-, the abnormal multi-level economically-driven elitist segregation and alienation against swarms of a dominantly-male work force that seems to no longer identify itself with any family environment, during the business working hours, and the hours after; when one finds himself caged outside the world of open markets, recreational centers, shopping malls and good dining places.

Please do not read me wrong here, I am not calling for unlawful mixing or looking for someone to guide me to the many exclusive fully-fledged parties and out-of-place social events... all I want is the normal happy mix of people in the streets, markets, playgrounds and parks that is comprised of normal men, women, kids, families, -and yes- singles alike going about their business without necessarily anticipating an explosive encounters amongst each other.

For God's sake, I’ve been here for almost a year and a quarter, an I am craving to go to the Riyadh zoo, to reminisce my family trips over there when I was young! -"It's a man's world" chorus should have stopped looping by now-, unfortunately I can't be admitted in, I must be accompanied by a family –who should accompany who I ask myself?-, a family by current definition should include a wife as a bare minimum requirement, and anything from a trolled toddler to a half dozen trailer of kids, I thought of barrowing my aunt's 10-year old daughter but it won't cut it as a qualifying family... I comfort myself by feeling sorry for the envisaged misfortunate case of a father who’s looking forward to spend quality time with his kids at the zoo while Mom is not available -for some reason- and got turned away because he doesn't qualify as a family!

Yes there are singles-only hours to enter the zoo, but they are ridiculously confined to certain days and hours that also happen to be the typical business hours we're busy at! So there goes any chance to ponder upon God's magnificence perpetuated through his overwhelming creation that was gathered from all over the world for the benefit of "families only"...

The singles workforce in Saudi –enter the rhetoric tone- is an oppressed tender of society indeed with a wide spread feeling of being systematically and institutionally marginalized from any hint of family-oriented social life! Be it that you are a white-collar top executive who missed out on bringing a family along or a humble I’ll-do-anything-for-a-living south-east Asian laborer!

I must add that this does not even come close to being equated with say the couples-only night-out dilemma of the wannabe poser-cum-clubbers of western Amman, for the latter case doesn't challenge a welfare necessity, unless I stand corrected; being denied admission to the corrupt environment of a nightclub wouldn’t exactly shatter one’s psyche! In contrast with the uncalled for tampering with one’s welfare when trying to enter a public area, a supermarket, or a furnished-apartment complex for a night-over or simply a food-court on a weekend and being denied access for merely being single!

So there you have it... a humble account on how I am being simmered into an anti-social entity that eyes any given family with envy that stems from a complete sense of sheer rejection by the post-modern society of Saudi today! I must note however, that despite the drama illustrated above, I still do enjoy my time here, and indulge in many activities –when time permits- that I would otherwise have been unable to do if I was burdened with any family-related responsibilities.

November 26, 2005

Entrepreneurship from the midst of the deceased.


Sabri Hakim’s capture of the
business card from heaven induced me to talk –with a hint of rhetoric tendency- about the individual behind this free gracious service.

Abu-Islam is actually in the funeral-service business. In fact his company’s name is quiet novel and catchy “موْسسة عالم البرزخ”, I am not sure if there is some sort of a biblical equivalent to this term, but the company’s name translates to “The Intermediate World Company for funeral services”. (Intermediate between this life and the afterlife that is)

With a couple of make-shift vans for funeral transports and a small team of employees, the guy goes about his subtle –yet modestly profitable- business which thrives when people unfortunately die.

Remember the early days of Meals-on-wheels of the late ninties that later evolved to Aramex@home? The after-hours shy service that the folks at Aramex envisaged to utilize the parked assets after business hours; sigh, it was a very novel idea for sure, at worse would have been a modest revenue stream, little did they knew at the time that it’ll become part of their core business! Will, our friend Abu-Islam did just that, but with charity in his mind!

I don’t know him personally, but I would reckon that at one point, he thought to himself “Those parked in-between-deaths vans can be used to transport excess food from the extravagant feasts of the rich”… immediately he materialized his thoughts to action and the service promoted in the card above was established!

What interests me most about Abu-Islam’s approach to this type of charity work -beside the fact that it is charity and community centric- is that he have developed pretty interesting and thoughtfully efficient techniques and procedures in the way he go about collecting the excess food, in contrast to the profiling image you might have in mind of a foot-long bearded sheikh with black garbage plastic bags vulgarly dumping the food into an unpleasant stew of mixed leftovers!

First –he sports a pretty long beard by the way-, he comes prepared with plastic bags of all kinds and sizes, the small ones double as make-shift gloves for hygienic and tidiness purposes, then he cleans up the platters from inedible leftovers, then homogeneously segregates the available food; rice is packed separately from meat and decorating extras such as pecans and nuts, the saucy stuff are also packed separately in a shanineh-yogurt-from-Jarash-Ajloun-road style!

Then comes the efficiency in doing the above, I saw his crew (comprised of a man with his 10 year old kid) clearing up 10 20-inch Mansaf platters –sdoorit mansaf- in exactly 15 minutes, not to mention the circus-magician-like swift hand trick that rolls the food into the plastic bag in a very pleasant scene, talk about style...

His tactfulness extends to the way he serves the collected food to the needy, in which he -despite the petty origin of the second-hand food he’s serving- ensures that the people he’s about to feed do not feel agitated from it’s scene, the hungry also have feelings and differentiate between a mouth-watering meal and an abandoned leftover.

Overall, Abu-Islam seems to ooze with courtesy and thoughtfulness concern towards the less fortunate tenders of our society, his concern did not translate to a mere nagging mental midget when one is suffocating-ly full and can't even eye the food left on the table, but rather into tangible action that delivers nutrition and perhaps a hint of joy to many hungry mouths.

I wish the service offered by Abu-Islam was not needed in the first place! Or at least not to be evolving around collecting excess food! I wish for the well-off circles of our society to revise their arrogant habits of ludicrously sized feasts and perhaps reform their corrupt set of social standards and missunderstanding of graciousness and hospitality while they’re on it!


May Allah the most merciful bestow his mercy upon Abu-Islam for his pious work… a truly novel example of selfless dedication and passion towards society that deserves everyone’s acknowledgment.

November 25, 2005

The Virgin tea-boy.

His name is Shafiq, our company’s eastern region branch office tea-boy and cleaner, due to the limited scope he have during the day, he usually naps his way out day-long utilizing one of the empty desk spaces available. Shafiq pushes aside the keyboard, mouse & pad of an abandoned PC (the monitor would be too heavy though tempting to be pushed aside) to make room for his arms-cum-pillow, and lay his head venutring into another dimension.

For months, I have failed to recognize the screaming contrast! Here you have a poorly educated man with a subtle job, putting aside a computer connected to the internet that at least would be an entertaining ride not to mention its potential as a learning and life-changing experience!, why? Why he never thought of turning it on instead? perhaps out of fatigue (which I doubt), or out of comfy laziness and lack of ambition, or sheer shyness and humbleness that is intrinsic in south-east Asian cultures… perhaps I was the one who was not motivated enough to offer him to use the PC, after all, it is under my jurisdiction until the IT folks find out about it that it is an abandoned asset…

"Shafiq" I shouted "Do you know how to use a computer" in a cross- gulf-arabic-Tagalug-hindi-urdu-english dialect,
"No" was his answer with sheer shock out of surprise,
"Do you know what’s the internet ?” i reiterated and he replied with an unanticipated "Yes"!

Next step, I needed to fuel his interest So I asked him where he's from and he answered that he's from Bangladesh, no need for search engines, a quick www. & .com pre & post fixes to both ends of “Bangladesh” should lead us somewhere interesting... and it did, it was a Bangladeshi portal. Thanks to auto-foreign text detection, the mystic Bengali script appeared, and the looks at his gazing eyes where a carbon copy of my own when I first experienced the internet back in 1994, maybe with a hint of bitter homesickness I assume.

At the risk of no longer recognizing the sincerity of the motives behind teaching the guy how to use the PC and the internet during his lengthy free times, I cannot help but add that I found it very humorous how he oriented himself to use the mouse… not as funny as my aunt's husband who bought a brand-new computer for his kids back in 1997… he wanted to give it ago, so he picked up the mouse mid-air away from the table, started pointing it at the monitor with intermittent clicks on the mouse in a very hilarious abstract scene of people falling preys of "new" technology in the midst of his kids vivid laughter...

3 weeks onward, Shafiq no longer required my assistance to log him into the computer, as he picked this skill up himself, in fact, he now prints the articles of interest to take home with him, I was astonished today that he started fiddling with MS Office, nibbling a bit with spreadsheets on Excel, digitizing the hand-written handbook that seems to be written by his Mom, but for a 3 week newbie, I must admit it is an impressive progress..

All I hope for now is that he guides himself intellectually through the internet and his use of the computer, to better develop himself and his knowledge... the possibilities are endless…

This entry was written back in early October, Yesterday I came to know that the “vigilant” IT department has already identified the unassigned and unused asset in that particular branch, and so recalled it, leaving our friend stranded with more desk space for him to nap on, and shattering my dream of Shafiq the tea-boy becoming an IT guru in his spare time…

November 24, 2005

Bilingual hypocrisy!

In a recent flight back to Jordan onboard our national carrier, I picked-up the in-flight magazine “Royal Wings” expecting only the good-for-5-minutes-skim-through while taxing towards the runway, but to my own surprise, I found a reborn version of the magazine that rid itself from the cheap-glossy paper, poorly-translated editorials and rip-off postcard-grade typical imagery of Jordan.

It was actually a very modern purposeful magazine, adapting the very elegant mirrored-bilingual layout, and more interestingly, it was very current with its topics.

In fact, its October issue hosted an article written in English talking about the rise of the Jordanian blogging scene, which was spookily aligned with my growing intention to start blogging… but hang on a minute, I have read the magazine right-to-left and left-to-right cover-to-cover, why was this article written only in English unlike all the other aritcles?

Could it be that they run out of allocated paper?
Was it a last-minute filler-editorial to cover blank pages abandoned by advertisers?
Or would it be – I fear this case- that the editors thought the content of the article is either not of an interest or relevance to the Arabic reader or just simply wouldn’t feel as good if translated to Arabic?

I managed to passively ridicule this nuisance encounter into a mere unanswered question to be tackled by my unconscious self! But as I took the flight back to Saudi, I grabbed the November issue of the magazine, and what did I find myself doing, I was skimming through the magazine to verify that all the editorials where available in both English and Arabic, and they were!

In it, I read an article in English listing the top 10 locations –or activities- that indulge you into Amman’s high-life or something in that line… when I read it, I thought to my self how can this article with its exclusive ideas and “elitist” mindset; how can it be captured and translated to Arabic? -I assume it was translated and not originally written in Arabic because of the nature of its content- I was happy to find that the Arabic residual of the article was solid and intact and was as entertaining as the original, of course I did not personally agree or entertain the content, but that’s a different story all together!

So what is it then? Why did the editors of Royal Wings missed on publishing the blogging article in Arabic? I fear that it has something to do with the general obnoxious trend among the trendy circles of Jordan, where Arabic is viewed as a burden! Like the Italian restaurant in Amman that goes into length designing and printing a bilingual Italian/English menu and missing out on the dominant language spoken by its customers?

Perhaps I should ask the editor-in-chief himself, he/she should have an answer to my unexamined and ill-intentioned speculations? I’ll certainly do that and publish their answer.

So I did join the Caravan...

I finally did it... I am now officially a "blogger"

I've been intending to start blogging back in September (when I stumbled upon the first blog I saw which was Ahmed's Humeid 360east), so I started writing publishable entries ever since but thought of a home grown blog (to have my own site that is), alas... it was technically too demanding and time consuming, so I retired to the click-click-click-and-there-you-have-it service from blogger.com like everyone else! Effectively enforcing a disciplinary measure upon my elitist tendency!

Now that I am a blogger, am I suppose to feel any sense of belonging to a greater entity? Or am I just too late that the aura surrounding the cozy blogging bunch is now consumed as the numbers of people catching up with the trend grows by the hour? Is it wrong to already feel obliged to blog about something in a timely basis? Is this yet another commitment I have strangled my self with...