Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 19th, 2009

Exorcising a part of my life: Marrakech Restaurant in DC; (August 18, 2009)

From my diary of September 15, 2006

Before I woke up at 7:15 a.m. my reminiscences brought me back to a miserable and rough period in the USA, Washington DC and Montgomery County, around 1998.

I decided to exorcise this part of my life by recalling it and writing about it.

I started to take Real Estates courses in 1996 and passed the exam (basically the applicable laws).

My sister and brother-in-law (attache militaire of Lebanon in the USA) were about ready to return to Lebanon along with their 5 kids. And I had decided to stay, against all odds.

In this Real Estates business, if you don’t make a sale you don’t get paid.  For more than a year, I could not make a sale or even list a property and I was utterly penniless and looking sick and emaciated.

A Lebanese family who immigrated to the US in the sixties provided me a bed in the basement for two months.

I think that I did not look that hot or healthy, though I felt fine.

I checked a benevolent local clinic in Kensington (Maryland) just to be on the safe side; the physician assured me that my condition is simply a case of under nourishment.

Layla, my host family, suspected that, because I never married or had a girlfriend, that I might be gay and, perhaps, I had contracted AIDS and she was extremely worried. She was wrong on all counts.

My pecuniary situation was at the lowest and I talked of my predicament to Dominique, the priest of the Maronite parish in Washington D.C, who arranged a meeting with a Lebanese Armenian Bashir K.

Bashir owned a restaurant in the poor section of Downtown DC called ‘Marrakech’ (a city in Morocco).

Basir is not the real name of the owner, but he adopted it because he adored Bashir Gemayel, the ex former elect President of Lebanon and the leader of the ultra conservative Christian Lebanese Forces.

Bashir used to come at the restaurant wearing sandals, rain or shine, and in short. He parked his black Mercedes (a sign of prestige) by the rear entrance door, but he usually walked to the restaurant from his apartment in Georgetown.

Bashir’s sister ran the daily jobs of the restaurant and she was a divorcee with two kids.

The restaurant ‘Marrakech’ was sort of famous in DC because of the exotic interior design, the food, and the belly dancing show during intermission.

The walls and the low couches of the large hall were aligned with cheap exotic carpets The food, a modified Moroccan recipe to suit the American palate, was brought on a large brass plate.

I know that the food was not that authentic because I used to eat at a ‘Magribi’ restaurant in San Francisco, also called ‘Marrakech’ and it was run by Algerian students, who became friends of mine.

Before eating, a server would bring a jug of warm water, pour it on the hands of the guests and then pass around towels. People were to eat with their finger, which is ingenious because it saves on utensils of all kinds.

After the special greasy main course, and at the end of the 7 course dinner, hot towels were theatrically passed on to wash hands.

In the intermission, an American dancer would perform belly dancing routines accompanied by taped oriental music.

We used to be at the restaurant around 1:30 p.m. to dust, clean, take reservations, and prepare the ingredients for the food.

I worked on the same tasks as the other servers who were mostly from Africa proper, from Nigeria mostly.

When the restaurant opened, I donned the unique tunic dress that was supposed to be Moroccan and welcomed the guests and show them the way to their designated couches. I also was given the task to play the tapes and interview the applicant dancers, though the decision to hire dancers was with Bashir.

Smoking was forbidden and I used to surreptitiously take a few minutes off to smoke a cigarette outside. I wholeheartedly agree with that policy of non-smoking among the workers, not only because addicted smokers are less efficient in production (creativity set aside), but because they usually are more trouble prone than the non-smokers.

One night, I locked myself in my office and smoked a cigarette. In my hurry, I guess that I didn’t extinguish my cigarette butt adequately.  A few minutes later, a server told me that there are fumes coming from the office.  A fire was starting in earnest in the office and emanating from the trash can.

Everybody, from the workers to the architect who showed up right away to investigate the extent of the damage, suspected that the culprit was I, but they didn’t mention it directly to me.

It would not have been bravery of me to admit my culpability since all the facts incriminated me, but I cowed before the amount of the expenses for almost completely remodeling the office.

I think that I should have come clear because this guild, as a negative reaction, might have kept me from not quitting smoking.

A week later, Bashir gave me a lame excuse to take a week of absence because as he said “many of the regular guests who patronized the establishment started to suspect that I were the real owner and he wanted to dispel that misgiving for a while“.

I did not return to work after the week of absence.  I was paid as the other workers, but I managed to survive for two months until my real estate business at Re/Max picked up.

Note: Years later, I had settled back in Lebanon and I was teaching a few courses at a university. I met Bashir in Jounieh, we saluted and he made the disappearing act in order not to converse with me.

Table of contents of the file “living poem”

note: you may select the category “poetry” for all kinds of poetry genre 

Short stories on women

 

1.  Songs for women

2.  Raines’s my initiator

3.  Twenty kitties around Josephine

4.  Decked in black

5.  You’re hungry, eh!?

6.  I could break your eyeglasses

7.  An inch taller than her country girls

8.  Chica Lupita

9.  I should have told Barbara

10. I’m in love with you kid

11. “Marie”, she said

12. What’s wrong with you men?

13. Smiling for three

14. Rachel’s sixth sense

15. Eve doesn’t mix sex with business

16. Taking a full bath is taboo for her

Are you a genius? (August 18, 2009)

 

            There are brilliant minds in many disciplines.  You can be brilliant in a particular discipline but never in more than two different disciplines (for example science and humanities) unless you have a philosophical mind.  Let me explain.

            They will tell you that philosophy is a game for building coherent systems but this is not correct; philosophers cannot help it; they will erect the scaffold for their own systems.  The powerful mind has this damned streak of total control. Even the philosophers who comprehend the danger and futility of thinking up systems of control to manage the world end up doing it; they struggle to defending their systems against reality that they originally meant to discover.

            Those philosophers who worked on coherent systems failed in their endeavors: that is why there are so many varieties of philosophy and deadly failures in that discipline. Basically, people have been “astonished” of what they observed around them; they discovered that everything they saw was in states of transformation and change; they yearned to discover any matter, substance, or a phenomenon that has permanence in time and space.  Philosophers opted as a start for water, or fire, or air, or the concept of infinity as permanent items for real life. 

            With quantum mechanics which states that it is impossible to locate and examine a particle in time and space simultaneously then even the most basic elements can no longer be studied for the characteristic of permanence. Thus, the object of philosophy is shot to smithereens. Then what?  We no longer need philosophy?  Not so quick. Philosophy is interested in the thought processes for discovering realities

            You may have an excellent analytical mind and understand thoroughly the tenants of one discipline but the power to synthesize and connecting the dots among the realities of life and the world requires the knowledge and assimilation of this fundamental fact: there is not one logic; there are several alternative logics valid to comprehend reality. There is not one method to think through problems; there are a variety of methods. To be a genius requires a broad mind that is willing to consider many logics and many methods as valid before attempting to unify concepts.

            It does not follow that if you studied philosophy that you have acquired a synthetic mind; you first have to prove that your analytical mind, after mastering a discipline, is functional as well before you are capable of connecting dots among life’s realities.

            It also does not follow that if you are excellent in one discipline that you don’t have the potential to be a genius; it only means that you could not master enough courage to applying your brilliant mind differently.

            There are powerful philosophers; they have mastered practical disciplines in sciences, art, or writing. There are geniuses in many disciplines because they loved to study philosophy as well. Einstein, De Broglie, Newton, and Galileo, to name but a few, are geniuses because they excelled in their disciplines and mastered the philosophical reasoning of considering alternative thought processes.

            Einstein could accept the logic of macro physics and the micro physics of quantum mechanics. De Broglie could agree with the particular aspect of light and its wave forms. Newton spent the better part of his research on theology.  Galileo mastered several disciplines because he could feel comfortable with various logical reasoning.  Those geniuses connected the dots by broadening their fields of interests.

            Karl Marx was a genius because anyone who reads Marx thinks that what Marx said is totally common sense and that “whatever he says or think” must coincide with Marx’ philosophical economy.  Those “communists” who snatched leadership extrapolated the concept and went as far as considering terror a necessary evil; they endeavored to wiping out entire “classes” within the Marxism teaching to class domination.

           

            Classical logic taught in humanities and the logic indoctrinated in modern math is not necessarily the only “rational” thinking methods.  It is necessary though to understand them in order to graduate but not to believe that they can inevitably lead to discovering realities. Any logical process that the human mind finds it appropriate to describe reality is never wrong but simply different. Comprehending reality means accepting the alternative ways of thinking that human mind is comfortable with.  Truth is mainly the spectrum of the alternative realities that the mind could view man and the world.

Fragile is being normal; (August 19, 2009)

 

            In general, scientists (including psychologists) consider what is normal the sample of items or group of people within a restricted community who share a particular attribute or characteristic 68% of the total studied, which means one standard deviation from the means (which has no meaning whatsoever, except that it is amenable to mathematical formulations of other mathematical derivatives). 

            Now if we want to study the same group who share two characteristics then the percentage deteriorates rapidly.  If you need to investigate people who share three characteristics then you tend to scrap your project as leading nowhere.  When we walk the street we are amazed to discover that there are more “normal” people than we imagined. There are mainly two reasons for our imagination:

 

First, the “abnormal” people (for example, the Mongolians, the smart idiots, the clinically found psychologically disturbed) are sheltered off the street, voluntarily or involuntarily.  Most of them are secluded in rooms at homes, or in the basement, or in the attic.

 

Second, the majority of “abnormal” people that look normal on the street are labeled normal in contrast to our perceived over valuation to our personality.  They are normal in a bad connotation; they are not as good as us in many ways.  There are a few instances when we observe people of being in a category of “better than normal” but we never declare ourselves defeated.  In the depth of our psychic we know that if we get to “know” them deeper than the superficial aspects, let’s say sort of skin deep, then these super normal must have vices and diseases that instantly drag them way below “normalcy”.

 

            Being normal is pretty fragile. Maybe if you read “The man who substituted his wife for her hat” by the physician Oliver Sacks you might realize how barely tenable the concept of normalcy is. You have got people who lost the functions of language, memory or part of it, identity recognition, time, and space.  You have got people who lost the feeling of their body, of imagination, of who consider one of their limbs are stranger to their bodies, people stuck in one moment in their life, people who cannot see what is on one side (right or left), super talented people in one restricted domain of music, numbers, chess, poetry, or drawing. 

            People who would describe a glove in much detail until they wear it and then would exclaim “My God! This is a glove!” People who would describe a rose in detail and after smelling it shout “But this is a rose!”

            We are subjected at any instant to flipping from normal to the other side of the category and we will have no idea that we have flipped; even psychiatrists will never tell us how we have been categorized: we are no longer normal people to communicate intelligibly with; as if our folks or relatives should fair better than us to be told the whole truth.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

August 2009
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