Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 25th, 2008

Numb at the Magnitude of the Unknown. Part 2

It was the first time that I had to search for my luggage by myself

As I landed in Oklahoma City.

By the time I learned where to fetch my luggage

I realized that my suitcase was made of carton:

All beat up, twisted, torn, tattered, and barely holding what it was carrying.

It was a burden suitcase and a sore to the eyes.

It was a burden to my depleted spirit.

It was after one o’clock in the morning, and the airport was empty and quiet.

I must have been sitting there for a while:

A black airport agent smiled to me and softly addressed me.

It was apparent that I was a lost person.

No, I do not expect anyone to meet me.

No, I have no idea where I am and where to go.

The compassionate black man suggested:

“Son, the best is to have good night sleeps at a nearby hotel, most probably the Holiday Inn”.

It was my first night at a hotel and it cost me seventeen dollars, a fortune.

Next, I experienced a Oklahoma summer morning, humid and hot.

Next, I experienced the wilderness and empty spaces.

For ten dollars, a taxi dropped me at a dorm for students,

In the university town of Norman, thirty miles south of the Capital.

I was to pay more than double that amount, ten years later,

For my second trip to Oklahoma, and at exactly the same conditions of loneliness,

Save that I should have been ten years wiser.

Another six dollars per night at the students’ dorm.

I rented a room at a lady’s house near the University of Oklahoma.

She was in her fifties, tall, slim and tough of character.

Hussein, my English classmate from Jordan shared another room.

Hussein was to move to San Antonio, in Texas, for graduate studies in Economics.

He agreed to welcome me at Christmas time,

For a couple of days at his university dorm.

It was to be my first experience with the Amtrak train, the slowest transportation ever:

The trip lasted seventeen hours and rattled me to Houston,

Through a convoluted schedule, before backtracking a little west to San Antonio.

It would be my last train experience, so far.

A Syrian student was the third leg in the house of the middle-aged lady.

He had blue and piercing eyes and was majoring in Chemistry.

I was told that he was a rigid devote Muslim:

He used to kneel in class, at exam time, and pray turning toward Mecca.

He married the old lady shortly after.

The one time I saw the lady, a year later, she was wearing the veil.

Numb at the Magnitude of the Unknown (June, 2004)

 

It was May of 1975.  I had just graduated in Physics from the Lebanese university.

I secured a student visa to the United States of America.

I was to study English for the summer at a university in Oklahoma.

I did not know then that there was more than one university there.

The trip was not that urgent but the civil war in Lebanon started to look serious.

My inborn stubbornness clenched the deal and off I left.

It was my first trip away from family and home.

I learned later that my mother played the fundamental role

Of convincing my father that it is time that I learn to be on my own.

My mother told me that the night I flew away my father cried his eyes out.

My father offered me 5,000 $.

Two Lebanese pounds at the time was worth one dollar.

 

I stayed in Paris for a couple of weeks visiting a student relative of mine.

My cousin Nassif happened to be vacationing in England with a girlfriend.

I met my friends Ghassan and Moussa who helped me

Rent a room where they stayed at a university complex for foreign students.

I toured Paris alone in metro and mostly on foot.

Paris was gorgeous.  Breakfasts were delicious at the university.

Breakfast was the time to see all the various international students.

The smell of fresh coffee, milk, bacon, eggs and fresh bread was appetizing.

The buffet was scattered with many varieties of fruits and drinks. 

 

I landed first at New York at La Guardia airport.

We were flying over the Oklahoma Territory

Twenty two hours after leaving Paris.

We still had one hour to land.

It was pitched dark outside and I might have been feeling cold in the plane.

One stewardess might have realized my haggard quietness.

An angel, no more than twenty years old,

Blonde, blue eyed, beautiful with a refreshing smile,

And compassion transparent in her welcoming face

Brought me a blanket and suggested to brink me some orange juice.

I felt then that it is okay to live in America and to know Americans.

I wished I told her that I was scared, terrified, and

Numb at the magnitude of the unknown

Waiting for me.

I wished I told her that I needed to throw myself at her mercy and be helped.

I was lacking conversational skills and lacking practice in English.

I was not basically a social guy though enjoyed being among crowds. 

Friends suffered me on account of my quietness:

I painfully resigned myself to the aura of bookish knowledge.

Puppy Dog Luck (2005)

 

Puppy dog Luck was searching for a master.

I found him.  He is following me.

 

You have a project.

A project to stay healthy;

To conserve the environment,

To get excellent grades in all your courses this semester,

To keep the workplace safe,

To be accepted at a select University.

 

You don’t need to be consciously aware of the reasons

For adopting a specific project.

Might as well not know the reasons:

You might drop your project if you realize

That your main reason is not that noble or worthwhile.

 

You like your project very much;

You are interested, excited, motivated.

You study, research and investigate your project.

You question people, listen carefully to the ideas of people around you,

At home, in a bar, in a restaurant, almost everywhere.

You get carried away when talking about your project.

 

Somehow your project is taking flesh, it is materializing.

Your life has a savor; you are smiling, laughing and feel glorious:

And luck is following you

Like a shadow.

 

Praying, fasting, doing penitence might make you a lucky person;

Being constantly interested in a life project will.

Go ahead, attract luck and befriend him.

Luck is sniffing every person

Regardless of color, race, religion or political affiliation.

A Whiff of Eternity?  (Continue 4)

 

It appears from the testimonials that there is no condemnation or Hell whatsoever:

Acts or wrongful behavior not at a par with the religious dogmas,

Rules or laws prescribed by societies are irrelevant in the after life;

Let us say, probably of insignificant consequences.

 

The real problem is that the testimonials never revealed a murderer among them, yet. 

Apparently, soldiers were absolved for their killings in war;

Unless they went to war and did not get a chance to kill a single enemy,

Before they were shot dead, temporarily, by the enemy.

 

A genocidal or a mass killing decision is under investigation for the after life.

Hell, the usefulness of genocides is still under consideration in this lousy life!

 

The re-embodied survivors have much less apprehension of death than us:

They have gone through the after life and they enjoyed it.

They are still not in a hurry and not pressured for any kind of a suicidal tendency.

They have plenty to do in the mean time:

They have to keep acquiring knowledge, day in day out,

They have to reach certain performance criteria for loving their neighbors,

Completely, entirely and an unadulterated love.

 

The re-embodied survivors are possessed of newer skills:

They can divine people’s thoughts and can generate peace and calm around them.

They think that they have been promoted to a higher level of consciousness

Without the need to proselytize or impress upon people of their found knowledge.

  

Maybe millions die every day and quite a few at the same moment.

Although the entity may go through almost all the experiences of the after death,

It is striking that the process is not unanimously the same.

Might that, even in the after life and with the speed of events, 

The administration be the main limiting factor for a uniform,

Speedy and stress less process?

 

There are no ways of knowing at what level of body degeneration

A spirit can re-embody its corps.  

The new techniques of electro-encephalogram that detect brain activities

Cannot be used during emergencies and its installation require long time.

There are instances where a spirit re-embodied after twenty minutes.

A Whiff of Eternity?  (Continue 3)

I remember reading a book by Shirley McLain where she mentioned

That her friend, the actor Peter Sellers, experienced an after death de-embodiment

After a heart attack and he managed to travel around the world, very fast and unimpeded, 

And visit places he intended to see.

 

These de-embodiments could also occur after receiving serious injuries

Or when imminent death is perceived.

Many are learning to reach a stage of emotional and mental serenity 

That will allow them to experience these phenomena 

Way before they come that close to death. 

For my part, I would not mind to undergo a temporary death

When the techniques are developed with a 100% chance for success,

Or much less probability of success, if I contract a case of an incurable

 And imminent serious illness. 

 

What a tremendous letdown for those survivors

Who believed that their experiences were unique to them!

Who decided on a vow of silence and keep their real stories

Under hermetic cover.

 

Does this phenomenon happens invariably to everyone who dies,

To babies and to people afflicted with Alzheimer diseases?

To people who are burned carbonized or blew up to pieces by a direct bomb hit?

For how long does this phenomenon last?

Would it last for an eternity?

Or would it last the duration to meet their great grand parents? 

Could any disintegration occur to this entity and how badly?

If eternal life with no degradation of performance for joy is the case,

Then, it is incumbent upon me to procreate!

And at my age it has to be done now.

 

Would an adoptive person who never saw mother or father

Recognize his parents when they come to welcome him after death?

Would his parents know that their unwanted child has died?

If they knew, would they be able to recognize him?

Would the meeting be all love, compassion, understanding and total forgiveness?

If recognition and total forgiveness of deleted children is the case,

Then, to procreate is my destiny in this lower form of life!

 

Would the animal life go through the same experience?

Or would they follow a modified version 

Commensurate to their under capacity for mischief?

If they have an after life,

Then I should stop killing bugs or eat any kind of flesh.

A Whiff of Eternity?

I think that it would be advisable to scheme and prepare for the death

Of your loved one at the same instant and location as yours

So that the newer emotions are wholly shared.

 

An entity that is reunited with loved ones long gone.

Some of them speechlessly responding to the entity queries 

Of where to go next and what to do next,

A stranger to flying airplanes in a vast airport with multiple exits and entrances,

And some keeping quiet because the time is not come yet,

Because silence is gold in that critical instant.

 

An entity that has forgotten the senses of taste and odor:

Senses too linked to the basic animal instincts?

An entity that can understand without hearing

But could hear extremely uncomfortable buzzing sounds,

Excruciatingly painful and well remembered after re-embodiment,

Or, much preferably, exquisitely soothing music.

 

An entity composed basically of two parts;

The much larger rounder part is the first to exit from the head 

And the smaller part re-enter from the head first after the entity encounter a barrier:

Such as a door, a gray fog, a mass of water or a limiting frontier.

 

The re-embodiment is generally done after the coaxing prayers of loving relatives:

I assume that the prayers of nasty and hateful relatives have no special effects.

 

I do hypothesize that humanity has experienced many of these occurrences

Throughout its evolution, and because they were much readier than today

To accept these fantastic stories,

Religions flourished in every community.

A few religions are still truer to their origins

And are readier to accept these testimonies as real.

 

The Tibetans have “The Book of the Deads” that relate these experiences.

Their book contains more details than what is confided to Dr. Moody;

They describe the state of confusion and disorientation of the des-embodied entity,

Its resistance to accept what is happening 

And the feeling that it is keeping its own body for a while.

They also tell about reincarnations into other bodies after a long time spent as a spirit.

The Tibetans still perform complex rituals for their dead to prepare their souls

Into accepting the next phase without undue confusion and irritations.

A Whiff of Eternity?

(June 7, 2004)

I am reading “Life after Life” by Dr. Raymond Moody.

A book about the testimonies of those who lived again

After being declared clinically dead.

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote a foreword to the book.

I am not yet finished reading but I feel compelled to write about these experiences

Of consciousness leaving a clinically dead body,

(Heart stoppage, breathing nil and non audible arterial pressure),

Hovering over its previous physical body,

Instantaneously zooming in on any person, however far he might be,

Understanding his thoughts before opening his mouth.

 

An entity carried down and fast in a dark vortex,

To the “Valley of the Shadow of Death”,

Then perceiving a pale light at the end of the spiraling tunnel,

Growing mightily bright and white,

Sending a sensation of warmth and of complete love and compassion.

A vivid intense light that mutely encourage you to recapitulate your past life

In a vertiginously fast chronological order, in the minute details,

All the emotions and critical decisions,

In relief, color, and motion;

A projection of diapositives of series of scenes.

A light that gives the impression of an individual

Who already has all the information and is just prodding you to reflect

On the important moments in your life since you was a toddler.

No accusations are accompanied in this panoramic movie,

But encouragements to continually learn and love people.

 

An entity, denseless and quickly acquiring an all encompassing awareness

Of its past life and comprehending everything being done and said around its dead body,

Including the technical medical procedures, while clinically dead.

 

An entity, helpless in communicating with the living creatures,

Helpless in acting on the living crowd

Poking, pressing, pushing, cursing crowd in fatal car accidents;

Helpless in acting on the nurses

Wildly sending emergency code pink calls to any living God doctor.

Artificially reanimating the corpse with all means available.

A helpless entity that feels lonely and would like someone to share with him

His new discoveries and sensations.

 

I think that it would be advisable to start learning and experiencing loneliness;

Especially if you are a politician craving for an audience recognition;

I think that it would be advisable to scheme and prepare for the death

Two Nights Out in a Row (continue 5)

Afterword

 

I composed my experiences the day after

And handed each group of students a copy of their corresponding night out.

The Friday gang edited their copy, especially for the technical names on the menu.

Raja, of the Saturday gang, was apprehensive for my explicit mention 

Of how he robbed Zena from her girlfriend.

He was especially frustrated by my stating that the dinner was light.

So, he insisted on inviting me for a lunch of fish in Jbeil, which I declined.

I told him that I specifically mentioned that dinner was light 

Because I knew he was from Baalbek,

A region in Lebanon known for its tradition of welcoming their guests

With plenty of food on the table.

He also wrote that the intention was obviously to get a good grade.

But he wishes that his future children will feel as comfortable with him out

As he felt with me (Should I be mildly honored?). 

He insisted that the group did not feel that there was a stranger among them

And they did not fake their attitudes and were normal in their discussions.

Raja enclosed six pictures of me in different dancing positions.

Two Nights Out in a Row (continue 3)

(Written on Saturday, May 22, 2004 and posted on October 25, 2008)

Raja Haider, a student in my class, got fiancé a month ago. He invited me for a Saturday night out for the birthday of his fiancée Zena Wehbe.

Raja picked me up at the Virgin Mega store in Downtown Beirut.

Zena is a beautiful, slim, rather tall and friendly brunette. Raja sings opera, prefers Pavarotti over Placido Domingo, plays piano, speaks Italian.

He has also enrolled in a German language course that lasted two months. His father is a manager in the ISO Company and Raja follows him all over Europe during Summer.

It turned out that Zena and I were borne on the same date, May 24. With a couple dozen years interval, Which corresponds to a recent national Holiday: The liberation of South Lebanon from the Israeli occupation in 2000, without any pre-conditions.

Dinner was at the Mandaloun in Achrafieh.

The Mandaloun is a comfortable place, open, rather roomy with white lighting. A gorgeous, heavy and cylindrical chandelier was hanging ominously over our table. A huge screen was covering the whole front wall for the projection of video clips.

Zena got her birthday cake with 4 sparkling candles and I shared with her, along with half a dozen customers, the well wishes of the establishment.

I suspect no “happy birthdays” songs were deemed “chic”, and so they were skipped with no exceptions.

Present in Mandaloun were Nidal Khattar, a current student in my class,

Tarek Gemayel and his girl friend Tracy Mattar, both of them studying law at the St Joseph University,

And Malda, Suzzi ,Chantal, and Mahmoud who graduated last year from the Lebanese American University of Beirut.

And Peter Daniel, from a family in the coffee business and owner of a chain of coffee shops “Coffee Najjar”. And finally Robert.

Suzzi was hopelessly and very much in love. The blue eyed and blonde Chantal was mildly in love. Malda is still a mystery.

Nidal had a car wreck a month ago and suffered multiple injuries and still having health complications.

He failed to take “The Risk Assessment” course last semester, His father is a HVAC contractor in France, Spain, and Italy and also planning to expand into the Huns territory…

Nidal is motivated by Raja to get fiancé summertime

Raja claimed that he is proud of his achievement: Most of his gatherings are a potpourri of friends from all religious affiliations.

He met Zena six years ago when he was dating Zena’s girlfriend. Zena displaced her friend in the affection of Raja. Her former friend is still scheming to separate them.

Zena used to wear corrective glasses and Raja convinced her to laser her corneas. The operation lasted seven minutes for each eye and was done at the same setting.

Evidently, the corrective operation was successful, but for the unavoidable cigarette smoke that still itch her eyes.

The dinner is not filling.  Dinner in the “L” bar was not filling too. I ordered some kind of pasta with hot tomato sauce.

“Black Label” whiskey was the drink of choice; with a few exceptions of white wine for the ladies.

Nidal offered me a Gauloise full-flavor cigarette, and I noticed that, this night, my own box was relatively full. Raja smoked Gitane Light. He remarked that his cigarette flavor and mine are basically the same.

The singer Haifa Wehbe is supposed to be a regular at Mandaloun, save for my night out. Domage.

Knowing that whiskey could have the potential of riveting me to my comfortable sofa, I did not wait for the customary timing to start dancing.

While awesome video clips of Madonna and Michael Jackson were booming on the screen and, as soon as I noticed bodies jerking in their seats and hands waving and clapping rhythmically, I invited Malda to dance.

She said that it is not yet the right timing and she was right: The video clip projections had just stopped but she did get up. We rocked and shaked on some background music.

The singer had to preempt taking the stage ahead of schedule because the whole gang started to join us.

I did not sit down until 3:00 a.m. Time to finish a last cigarette and leave.

I believe that I worn out the whole gang.

How could they imagine the old man to be that energetic and fit to carry on.

When I came back home, I finished my night in front of the TV till 5:00 a.m.

Two Nights Out in a Row

Friday, May 21, 2004

Four students in the engineering course that I teach “Human Factors in Engineering”,  and who have taken a previous course with me last semester, decided to take me out on a Friday night.

Initially, their intention was to invite me to lunch. I suggested dinner and dancing afterward.

Elie Helou was to pick me up at the Saniour restaurant in Antelias. Hadi Haddad was driving instead: It turned out that Elie had totally wrecked his car last week.

A 3 a.m. accident made him pay a visit, reluctantly, to a public garden in Mansourieh. He forced the fences of the garden.   Elie required hospitalization for concussions and lacerations from the unwarranted Activation of four airbags and the driver’s seat belt as he claimed.

Elie is to cash in eleven thousands dollars from the fully covered car insurance.

I had taught Occupational Safety and Risk Assessment last semester and the risks of car driving were emphasized.  Apparently, this is history from the students’ viewpoints: They still drive drunk because they never get drunk, and besides, it is invariably the other drivers’ fault.

We started at the “L” bar, situated around the corner of the nightlife district of Monot, in Downtown Beirut.

The bar is a long corridor, rather dark, and the smaller segment of the “L” shaped bar might be four times larger than the corridor width.

We started with Almaza beer. The gang ordered three expensive entrees of fancy Italian names: Beef Carpaccio, Tartare de Saumon and Italian Bresaola  

Each entrée contained four slices of transparent meat, in huge large dishes that filled the table.

I joked of which entrée was beef or pork, beside the salmon of course: The pink transparent meat and the rather translucent darker meat.

Hadi was the referee because he is an Italian fan, all the way, from soccer teams, to racing cars, to volleyball teams and to argumenting.

We also ordered a few “plats de resistance” which turned out to be in the same category of lightness as the entrees were.

I learned too, at my expense, that the dish of “Risotto aux legumes croquants” is indeed rice.

Jo Assouad, the fourth student, had smartly dined at home and arrived late.

Then and only then were two bottles of Stolichnaya Russian vodka been ordered.

Not Smirnoff because as Antoine Farjallah ascertained it can cause hangover the morning after.

Two carafes of apple and cranberry juices were ready for the mixing.

Jo mixed and downed two drinks before we finished our second sip.

Antoine has just arrive from an all day beach outing. Well tanned, tired, his asthma relatively in control and still smoking cigarettes.

The vodka was mixed with either apple juice or cranberry juice;  I prefer cranberry juice but had a drink with apple juice at the coaxing of Hadi. I quickly added cranberry juice after two sips.

Hadi offered me a cigarette and I wiped out my own box of Gauloises blondes light.

To our amazement the box was running short but for one lone cigarette.  It turned out that Marlboro full flavor was unanimously king that night.

The “L” was Not up to standard that night:  Customers were supposed to start getting wild and dance by one o’clock, but by then they started leaving.

At 1:30 a.m. we left too and moved to the Music Hall Theater.

Initially, the gang planned to spend the night there but failed to secure tickets on time for the show.

We ended up at the Music Hall Theater after the show was over and danced till 2:30 a.m.

The Music Hall used to be a movie theater at the Starco district. It was redesigned to accommodate diners too.

The place was packed. The low tables were cleared up to dance on top of them.

Our table, occupied by student colleagues was not cleared yet, but a few students were dancing on top of it amid the drinks and empty glasses.

Fady Tarcha, an ex-student of mine was already standing drunk on the table. He was wildly surprised to see me. He still managed to hint on the low grade that he received last semester.

Joumana, whose name I finally recalled after several corrections due to temporary memory lapses, was fun and natural to dancing with but Tina was more reserved.

They had unobtrusive and friendly boyfriends.  It turned out that Tina was Jo’s girlfriend:  They cuddled and slow danced on any variety of music.

The singer and showman, Tony Hanna, sang a few of his medleys, carrying his traditional stick, long and bushy moustaches and long hair tied in pony tail.

I finished my night watching the movie “Gandhi” till 5:30 a.m.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2008
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