Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 2nd, 2009

Note:  You may check the category “List of Articles” to select the post that you like to start navigating my blog.

314.  Minorities in the Process of Disappearing: Iraq Case (April 30, 2009)


315.  More Copper Reserves for China (April 30, 2009)


316.  Julia (May 1, 2009)


317.  The Maitre Phares’ Library: Kornet Chehwan, Lebanon (May 1, 2009)


318.  A Typical Day (May 2, 2009)


319.  Jerusalem: Ur Salam (City of Peace) (May 2, 2009)

Jerusalem: Ur Salam (City of Peace) (May 2, 2009)


Recent archeological works by Kathleen Kenyon discovered a wall surrounding the city of Jerusalem dating from the 18th century BC; water was diverted through underground canals from the fresh source of Guihon to Siloe cisterns inside the walls.

The sea people called Philistines had devastated the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, destroyed the nascent Greek fleet and settled in Gaza and the southern coastline of Palestine around the 12th century.  The entire eastern coastline from north Syria to Sinai was dominated by the Canaanites.  Thus, in southern Palestine the Canaanites had to flee northward and retreat inside toward Jerusalem, one of their 25 City-States. Jerusalem was then inhabited by over ten thousand urban dwellers, a huge number for the period.

Around 11th century BC Moses arrived with his nomadic tribes and his successors endeavored to settle in part of Palestine and battled with the Philistines.  The Canaanites aristocracy aided David to enter Jerusalem and was his administrative supporters.  David thus had two high priests (Ebyatar and Sadoq), two military leaders (Joab and Benayahou), and two heirs apparent (Adoniyyahou and Salomon). David had also two formal sanctuaries for the Jews and the Canaanites.  David adopted the God of the Land El and the demy-Gods of the Sun (Shahar) and the Moon (Shalem) were worshipped.  The Jewish Yahweh (God of thunders) was relegated to the background and played a support function in times of urgent need.

The Jews had no such concept of “throne” and the Canaanite aristocracy provided a throne to David and his solar God was Justice personified and a divinity of the order “sadeq”; thus, Milki Sadeq was the King of Jerusalem when Abraham came to Canaan and paid the tenth (one tenth) to Melki Sadeq.

Salomon supporters of the Canaanites assassinated Adoniyyahou and Joab and Ebyatar was pursuit. Salomon relied on the King of Tyr to building his Temple for the Sun God facing east.  The dedication read: “The divinity of the Sun has announced: Yahweh has decided to live in the shadow. A house has been renovated for his dwelling”.  The God Sun sent two messengers of Right and Justice to destroy Sodom.  In this event as in others, Yahweh shares the responsibility as a subordinate to the Sun God.  Slowly but surely, Yahweh acquired a convincing divinity by the period that preceded the exile to Babylon.

In 587 BC the Babylonian King Nabukhodonor destroys part of the Temple.  The Persian King Cyrus repatriates the Jews in 538 and restores the temple. Alexander enters Jerusalem in 332 and Judea falls under the Ptolemy dynasty.  The Seleucid dynasty dominates Jerusalem from 200 to 142.  Judas Maccabe revolted in 164 and enters Jerusalem which falls to the Hasmonide dynasty until the Roman Pompeii takes Jerusalem in 63 BC.  The zealot Jews take over Jerusalem for two years in 66 AC. The Roman General Titus enters Jerusalem in the year 70 and burns the Temple.  Jerusalem is named Aelia Capitolina.  Bar Kokheba recaptures Jerusalem in 131.  Emperor Hadrian enters Jerusalem and the Jews are definitely dispersed and forbidden to enter Jerusalem.

 Emperor Constantine consecrates the Anastasis (The Saint Sepulcher).  The Persian King Chosroe destroys Jerusalem in 614.  Emperor Heracles re-takes the city in 628.  The Caliph of Islam Omar enters Jerusalem in 638. The Dome of the Rock is built in 691.  The mosque Al Aqsa is built in 705.  The crusaders enter the city in 1099.  The Sultan Sallah el Din enters the city in 1187 and chased out the crusaders.  The Turkish Sultan Selim 2 enters the city in 1244 and gives Jerusalem a religious function and dots it with many religious schools (madrassa).  The Ottoman Empire captures the city in 1516.  The Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilds the walls and enlarges the city with newer walls. In 1967 the Zionist State of Israel enters Jerusalem.  Begin declares that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel in 1980.

The State of Israel is flaunting all UN resolutions to stop destroying Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem that is proposed to be the Capital of the Palestinian State.

A Typical Day (May 2, 2009)

Note:  I have been writing my diary since July 12, 2006, the day Israel preempted a devastating war on Lebanon.   Israel  failed in its strategic goal of taming the Lebanese resistance led by Hezbollah.  I decided to post a sample of a typical day with a few explanations; sort of a “Reality TV” show with no direct picture.

I got up at 5:15 a.m. and had a cup of Nescafe and a smoke in the enclosed balcony facing north.

I stepped down to my study and locked the main door behind me. I realized that I forgot my keys inside. I ascended two floors to my sister’s Raymonde to borrow the key to my study on the ground floor.

Victor (my brother-in-law) opened and he was going down to retrieve a notebook from his car; he opened for me the door.  Victor asked me to carry up the repaired sewing machine for Raymonde

In other days, I may be asked to carry bags of vegetables to mother; bags that were left in the car trunk when he arrives late after 9 p.m.  (Last week, we had the last rain of the season and the thunderstorm burned our new TV and my computer monitor.  From now on we will have to suffer 7 months of dry season).

I read, edited two articles and resumed my diary. I filtered a Jeri-can of 4 gallons of tap water (yes, our tap water cannot be consumed unfiltered).  My nephew William was in charge of the filtering before he rented a small apartment in the coastal city of Jounieh.

For the filtering process, I devised two steps to go up at sink level in order to raise the Jeri-can almost safely into the recipient; it is a dangerous exercise that I worry about every time.

I went up home around 7:30 a.m.  Dad is having his Turkish coffee at the kitchen table and mother is sitting beside him in pain: mother has sort of arthritis but never desists working hard.

Dad will shave and wash his head with soap; he refuses to wear any kinds of head cover in any season.  Mother will work hard all morning to let pain and aches forget her.

I exercised for 45 minutes and then worked in the garden; I gathered greens for salad, plowed a little, and watered my patches with the little water that we get from this stupid government.

This work is followed by the frustrating jeremiads of mother claiming that we are short on water. We have plenty of water in Lebanon but it does not reach home:  the best this government could do is turns on the quasi potable water three times a week for six hours each time.

I shaved and dressed up in a suit (I dress up in April because it is the only month that sustains a suit; it is an occasion for me to dust off my wardrobe).

I spent my morning at the Maitre Phares Library; this private library is now managed by the Saint Joseph University, the Law Department.  I return books and magazines and borrow others (read my post on Maitre Phares library).

I published three posts on and replied to comments and emails. I returned the “Courrier International” and the Arabic book “Ain Wardeh” and borrowed the French book “A World Adrift” by Amine Maaluf and the Arabic/Lebanese “State of Cities” by Mai Ghoussoub.

I took pictures of Layal Kanaan who is flying to Orleans (France) to submit her dissertation on French linguistics among the Lebanese; Layal spent a month patronizing the library to write in a peaceful and quiet environment.

I left the library early around noon because I had to attend a play by my niece Chelsea at Saint Joseph school. I bought hair spray from Storiom for mother.  I joined my parents for lunch; mother had cut her hair by herself, as usual, and dyed it. I removed to my study.

Raymonde picked me up at 1:30; mother was tired and could not join us. The play writer and actor George Khabbaz was the guest of honor and he came late; the play was re-played for Khabbaz.  Chelsea was excellent in acting and in dancing and represented the cynical and malevolent student girl who abhors clowns.  Chelsea played her role very well and exhibited the worst inclinations that she could dream of being.

William and Hanane arrived late but they watched part of the re-run and took pictures; they were in a hurry and returned to Jounieh.

I had an hour nap till 4 p.m.  I overheard in my bed that the 4 Lebanese highest military officers will be released this afternoon after the International Court found them innocents of participating in the assassination of late Rafic Hariri P.M.

There will be strong pressures for four judges to resign because they covered up information and detained the officers for 44 months without any kinds of indictments; it was detention for political reasons.  Many heads should fall and the government is in hot water, especially Seniora PM, Saad Hariri, Walid Jumblat, Sameer Geaja, and Marwan Hamadeh. The last person created the false witnesses.

I removed to my study and wrote a new article on minorities in the processes of disappearance in Iraq. It is 6:30 p.m. and the public electrical utility went out around 6 p.m.

The Lebanese citizens have been harassed for lack of public electricity for over thirty years; we barely receive 10 hours of utility per day and we rely on private providers with generators at exorbitant prices.  Yes, we pay twice a month for electricity.

I visited with George Tannous (our neighbor) who was released late from the hospital around 2 p.m. because the surgeon was late to arrive and sign the release form.  Aunt Montaha was there and then her daughter Joelle came in from work to pick up Montaha.

I resumed reading at Raymonde’s around 7:30 p.m. and watched some news. Raymonde gave Adrea ride to Vanessa; Adrea wanted to go to a theater play in Chateau Trianon but the 20,000 LL fees were not available.

Chelsea’s friend Maribelle is sleeping over:  tomorrow is holiday because of the Workers’ Day on May 1st.  Chelsea and her friend are waiting for Victor’s to return from work with the laptop: they have a project to do and need to surf the net.

I had supper at home and got in bed by 9:15 and had many dreams.

The Cultural Foundation of Maitre Phares Zoghbi: Kornet Chehwan, Lebanon (May 1, 2009)

I used to be, and still are, a frequent visitor to the Phares Zoghbi’s library in Kornet Chehwan.  I currently patronize it almost 5 days a week.

Once, I missed a day and Maitre Zoghbi called me home: he was worried that I might be sick.

Maitre Zoghbi turned over the library to the University of Saint Joseph (the Law Department) for management as long as the library is domiciled at his house. Many lawyers and judges pay visits the library for sources of references that are unavailable in other libraries and universities.

I once overheard Maitre Phares asking Rita Zoghbi, the resident manager, about the final count on the books in his library and she replied: “I think we reached over 50,000 manuscripts and counting”.

Fresh news books in French and Arabic are purchased on weekly basis and Maitre Zoghby used to enjoy touring the various commercial libraries for selection.  Recently, Maitre Zoghby was inspired to add magazines; he is paying for them. The University pays the tab for the new acquisition of books.

With this encouraging environment I am cranking up on average three articles every couple of days and publishing them on the internet that the library has connected to, a few months ago.

I enjoy having a smoke in the garden and picking up a rose or a flower and insert it in my lapel hole.

When Layal Kanaan spent a month in the library (she sits in a large room and I in another) to write her dissertation on French linguistics among the Lebanese I used to bring her an assortment of flowers.  She later told me that she prefers flowers to die in the garden.

It didn’t make much difference to me: I love to see everyone I encounter wearing a flower, a kind of “movable feast” for the eyes and morale proving nature’s eminent glory, beauty, and versatility.

I asked Rita about books that Maitre Zoghbi has published and she gave me two for free, both written in French: “Liban: le salut par la culture” and “A livres ouverts, une vie de souvenirs“, a biographical book.

I had posted this book review on my blog

Maitre Zoghbi was the lawyer of the Lebanese daily Al Nahar (The Day) and of the Casino of Lebanon.

In every trip outside Lebanon, it was the libraries that were his favorite hangout and books were shipped to his library/house.  Maitre Zoghbi financially aids several local “non-profit” institutions related to health and learning.

Rita is managing the library and taking good care of Maitre Zoghbi.  She arranges for his meetings, communications, translating his occasional illegible hand writing, preparing Turkish coffee for visitors, his appointments to physicians, and calling for taxis (Maitre Zoghbi never learned to drive and he would never miss an occasion to personally offer his condolences to a dear departed).

Occasionally, Rita organizes study groups on authors and philosophers once a month; she invites neighboring schools to check out the library and have special classes.

Maitre Zoghbi prefers to meet with his visitors among his books. As I enter he is already busy inserting “book marks” (that Rita had cut out and prepared for him) in every page he flips, just feeling the need to insert paper book marks.

Maitre Zoghbi is proud that he celebrated his 93 rd birthday this March. He is still relatively functional in walking and reading. Once, he had to climb an incline of a route around the house and it had rained; he was utterly exhausted and scared as he slipped several times; I found him walking by the wall as I parked and gave him my arm.

I horde an oversize room, well heated and well lighted.  I keep a dozen books on the conference table. That should keep the impression that Lebanese adore reading.

Rita shares with me cookies that go with coffee or sections of any fresh sandwiches that she receives. Sometimes I don’t feel hungry at lunch time when I go home.

The library closes when the University is officially closed, which cramps my style and habits.

Once, my sister gave me ride because of car problems. The library was closed and I had the opportunity of investigating drivers’ charity level. I walked half the distance before someone stopped for me.

It shouldn’t be more than a 2-kilometer trip from my home, and if my experience with hitchhiking is satisfactory then I will sell my old car.

For $20 a year you own a kingdom of learning and an oasis of peace and tranquility.

You can find huge volumes of artistic manuscripts for all kinds of famous painters and photographers.  Good reading.

Note 1: I have since sold my car and walk to the library carrying a school backpack. On rare occasions I am lucky with a driver stopping to pick me up.

Note 2: Last year, the library closed as Rita got busy with her own business “Baby Step“. This March 2014, the library re-opened officially and Maha can help you with your search. Opened from 8:30 to 4 pm Monday thru Friday, and Saturday from 9 to 3 pm.

Julia or Julie (May 1, 2009)

I happened to know Julia intimately: I was forced to observe her behaviors and sometimes succumb to her will.

Julia is the type of women who are always on alert; she is ultra prude and claims that she has never been on a beach or wore any kinds of swimming trunks.

Julie cannot sit down, relax, or let anyone relax.  She has to worry about everyone and everything.

Julia loves money but never handled money wrote a check or had a bank account: She is thrilled when she sees construction and buildings going up and sounds envious.

Yes, Julia has never set foot in a bank or wrote a check or withdrew money, I think.

Julia is an excellent cook, a talented dress designer (currently you say a fashion designer), and sew clothes to all her sisters, daughters… for every major event.

And loves to remodel the house when she can afford it, a gene that my sister inherited.

She wants her family members (especially the girls and ladies) to look as well dressed and as coquettish as she used to be; a tendency that forces her grandchildren and children to avoid passing by her when they have “sinned” against dignified fashion (like looking pretty nude).

Julia has humongous pride and she would not visit a patient or go to any anniversary when she cannot afford gifts (her unique daughter is taking after her in many ways).

If she receives a gift (and if she cannot afford offering a gift) then she has to rummage through her secret “depot” in one of the closets for a suitable counter gift.

Lately, cooking something for the returned dish is what she could offer. Julia believes that she knows something and has to offer her recommendations and guidance to people of professions, even if they are over sixty.

In 1939, Julia’s mother Eugenia left Lebanon to West Africa in order to join her husband Tanios in Segou (current State of Mali). The four sisters were left alone and joined a boarding school in Beit Chabab.

And the WWII started and they had to skip school for the duration.  The sisters did not attend school for 3 years during the war because all schools closed, although Lebanon was not directly affected.

The eldest sister Josephine was 13 and Julia 11 years old at the time.

Julia’s aunt and her extended family lived across the street. When Josephine eloped (got married “khatifeh“) at the age of 20 the other three sisters were re-interned in a school of Beit Chabab for two years.

The summer before the non-married daughters had to join their parents in Segou, they lived alone a mile away from Beit-Chabab (to what is now called Konetra) so that they don’t emulate their eldest sister in eloping.  In the meanwhile, Eugenia gave birth to many other children and at least three died in child-birth.

Julia once believed that she had scabies “jarab” when she was in a girl school in Beirut and aged 18 years.  Scabies was pretty common and when her between hand fingers  were itching she tried to cure herself secretly.

Julia told me said that “jarab” was very contagious; she secretly spent a whole week in an upper room at her sister Josephine’s who got married recently.  Julia said that nobody in the village knew about her ailment, a convenient assumption for this dreaded disease at the period, and she washed her clothes and bedding almost everyday.

This story came about when an overseas grand daughter called saying that her physician was uncertain about his diagnosis of her catching “jarab”; the diagnosis turned out to be wrong but it generated a secret story that Julia told me.

I really have no idea what Julia learned in school except cutting patrons and learning sewing and fashioning clothes. She always said that she got dizzy when reading.

Julia joined her parents in Africa by sea. The captain of the ship heading toward the port of Marseilles never believed that she’ll make it alive: Julia spent a month in her cabin unable to eat, drink or move because she suffered sea sickness.

Julia was as thin as a stick with a tough will for survival.

Any moving object makes Julia dizzy; heights make Julia dizzy; tree climbing is out of the picture.  Hell for Julia must be a rotating platform; worst, a wobbly, jerky, and seesaw habitat.

In fact, Julia never played games in school or anywhere else.

Physical games, especially for girls, are not dignified. Reading is extremely dizzying to Julia; watching someone reading intently must be giving Julia grounds to believing that the reader is “dizzy” in the head.

Julia married in Africa a handsome, loyal, over generous and devoted husband whom she fell in love in the same town in Lebanon before she travelled to Africa.

George must have sensed that he is marrying a handful of expectations and constraints.  Youth always turns a blind eye to potential troubles because youth can handle anything and never ages.

This valiant couple worked hard in harsh conditions as the sole white people in remote African villages.  They were robbed of every dime several times; once, in the town of Koutiala (Republic of Mali) and what they had saved was gone overnight; Julia was on her last week of pregnancy (of me) and George suffered kidneys problems out of grief.

Right now, when any neighboring house or shop is stolen Julia plays the investigator; everyone is suspect until the culprit is discovered: she does roam her house after every robbery story, checking exits and entrances; mouse and cats should no longer be susceptible to be entering the house.

Those 15 years in Africa must have been the best and most glorious years for this couple. They were the first to purchase an electric generators in the town of Sikasso.

This undaunted couple resumed their joint adventure to above average fortune.

Julia knew how to combine business with charity; she would offer every poor pregnant woman a “trousseau” for the new-born for free. Thus, she retained life-long customers and the competitors could not match her business acumen.

Julia sewed and altered dresses that she ordered by catalog from Paris.

When Julia returned definitely to Lebanon, her unique daughter among the other 2 boys, (well spaced them out in age, an advanced serious family planning), was never seen wearing the same dress twice in any ceremony.

Since two identical dresses take as much time to sew as one, then her niece Joelle was observed as a replicate twin, regardless of whether Joelle liked the dress or the color.

This couple was the first to install a generator for electricity in this remote town.  They transferred their three kids to boarding schools in Lebanon for fear of African diseases  because the eldest son barely survived Typhoid. And the couple would visit them one summer every two years.

Julia spent a month in Paris in 1980 to care for her first grandson William who had an open heart surgery at the age of 16 months.  William had a hole that mixed the blue and red blood in the heart and an artery that was twisted. The hospital offered a makeshift bed for Julia to sleep on for 23 days in William’s emergency room.

Julia also cared for Joanna, her favorite grandchild, for over 6 months when Joanna’s parents were in the USA on military training mission in 1985.

Joanna likes to return the favor and she volunteers to driving Julia to shrines such as Mar Charbel, Mar Rafka, and Harissa of the Virgin Mary; these are occasions for Julia to confess her grave sins for caring too much and doubting occasionally.

Julia spent 6 months in the USA in 1990 when I lived with my sister Raymonde’s family; Victor was then appointed Military Attaché to Lebanon for two years and Julia enjoyed that reprieve from war torn Lebanon and the constant blackmailing of the militias for more money when there was nothing to pay. She had to pawn her few gold rings or necklaces to appease the frightened husband.

Julia recalls that it was the hardest trip ever when she visited in the US: Victor had a terrible backache and she had to carry Victor’s bags which were packed with heavy gifts.

Julia is suffering from arthritis and a whole gamut of blood problems but she forces herself to work hard everyday as means to letting pain forget her.

She has excellent memory of ancient events.  Currently, she barely can recall names and I barely can come to the recall rescue.

Julia is currently prone to letting two casseroles burns and barely save the third: she cannot waste time and has to do several tasks simultaneously.

Julia cannot believe that she aged and has a wrinkled face. All mirrors must be destroyed but Julia would never break anything consciously.

George neither cannot believe that he aged; he just want to be left alone and not be immersed in problems that should not be of his concerns, especially that he is no longer a provider and almost destitute; but to whom are you chanting your psalms George?

George is happy to realize that his hearing is not that sharp and gets terribly frustrated when he has to repeat muted answers to Julia’s unending queries and requests.

Julia barely sleeps at night because in the solitude of the night her brain is working full-time inventing all kind of catastrophic events that might befall on any one of her extended family.

Her dreams are of the cataclysmic kinds, though one individual at a time, one dead person after another parading in succession in her dream.  Apparently, nights are more exhausting for Julia than charged days’ work.

When Julia walks out now she is constantly observing changes in her environment; such as the progress in the construction of the villa next door, the new design for neighbors gardens…

There was a time when Julia walked straight ahead and never deigning to turn her head:  She must have been convinced that she was the center of attention; she stepped out in utter elegance and vigorous gait.

Julia’s nemesis is death: when she gets upset from any member of the family she tends to ward off this fatal enemy by threatening: “This winter would be my last and you all would be delivered from my trouble making”. She has a white fancy gown stowed away for that occasion.  I hope that Julia has let someone on the proper location of the dress.

Julia is the strong type of women. Julia cannot be circumvented.

Julia is every bit on alert, the “mustanfara“, even at 83 years of age.  She is totally broke financially but that would not constitute a valid reason to let down her purpose in life: Keeping everyone on his toes.  Julia is my mother.

Note: Four years after writing this article Julia is unchanged: She is in much pain, more forgetful, and taking all kinds of medication, but Julia is undaunted. I realized that Julia is chatting far more than usual: She is thinking aloud, kind of her thinking keeps the right track if accompanied by words.

Julia wakes up at 6:30 am and begin her day, working non-stop till after 1 pm as her back aches and her fingers are crippled. Her husband, only 3 years older, doesn’t take any medication but his health is deteriorating fast and George is almost bed-ridden.

George is in  care and recovering. Julia refuses to go home to rest even for a couple of hours: She has to stay and sleep in the hospital room of her husband. The nurses tell Julia not to feed George what the hospital does not bring to eat, and I tell Julia not to feed George, and Julia believes she knows George better and what is good for George…

I tell Julia that George enjoys loneliness and would not recover as long as she never leaves his side and keeps chattering. Maybe I am wrong: I was showing George how to ring the nurses for emergencies and George chuckled softly and replied: “Why would I ring anyone when Julia is around?”

Julia is saying: “It was a good tradition to marry a husband at least 5 years older than you: So that the wife can care for him in old age...”. Joanna flew from London for a weekend just to give Julia  a boost. The moment Julia receives a boost, it sounds trouble for the extended family.

Note 2: Julia passed away at age of 92 on January 31, 2020 at 2 pm at the hospital of Beit-Chabab. Except for her heart, her vital organs started to fail. She endured unthinkable pains for an entire week, every minutes of it. She was Not feeling good before she fell in the bathroom trying to undress: there was no one at the time and I found her lying on the floor in great pain.




May 2009

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