Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 3rd, 2010

D-Day for the wedding of Joanna and Yuhanna: It is 1:15 pm.  Part 3  September 3, 2010

In context, the previous post stated:

“D-Day for the wedding of Joanna and Yuhanna was on Saturday, August 28, at 1:30 pm in a tiny renovated church in Ajaltoun (Mar Zakhia, Lebanon).

The church felt cozy and even the priest cried: The couple were really happy and ready to finally get officially married.

Priests of two different christian sects (Maronite and Greek Orthodox) joined prayer in the ceremony.  There were no chatting in church:  People were attending an unusual event that was well planned and executed in joy.

I managed at the last minutes to have a picture taken with the bride before the convoy of 30 cars, decorated for the occasion, rambled off around 1:15 pm.  The church ceremony was to be held at 1:30 pm and we were 45 minutes away from the location.

The plan was that the convoy should be starting around 11:30 at the latest, but the bride didn’t come back from the hairdresser until 10:30 and the maids of honor not before 11:30.

Joanna sat by the chauffeur, her sister Ashley, and the principal maid of honor. and in Ashley’s little pistachio car too.

Grandmother Julia (who cried profusely when she heard the first arriving cars honking) tried hard to convince Joanna to sit in the backseat, as tradition requires.  Joanna would have nothing of that nonsense; how could she sit in the back while her younger sister Ashley is driving?

Joanna’s dad Victor wanted to be the second car behind the bride, but he got entangled with other less important details, such as with guests they don’t know the region or any of the family members.  Thus, Victor ended up lining up at the end of the convoy and he could not bypass cars, many of them drivers not used to driving in Lebanon.”

My dad got the ride with Victor and got terribly scared of Victor’s frantic driving.  Ashley was driving fast to make schedule and the line in the convoy broke down, along with the traditional honking.

The maids of honor decided in the last minutes to form two lines with colored parasols for the bride to walk through.

Yuhanna was waiting arms folded.  He had run out of the church to meet the bride but the priest reprimanded him on that behavior: Yuhanna was not supposed to see the bride yet.

Victor led the bride inside the church and delivered her to the groom.  The couple lighted a candle placed in a bouquet of flowers in the center of the aisle.

The groom and bride honor members entered from the side doors and accompanied their corresponding partners.  There were six honored pairs.

At the end of the ceremony, people not attending the party were to congratulate the couple outside the church. It didn’t work that way:  everyone wanted to congratulate inside the church and immediately.

One of the uncles of Joanna is a Jehovah Witness and refused to come inside the church, him, his wife and children.

The after wedding party was celebrated 30 minutes away in an open air restaurant in Faqra, called Troy and at the crossroad to the ancient castle.  This is a first for a wedding party held at 3 pm in the afternoon.

The weather was cool and dry and No flying pests were noticed:  Maybe because the food served was entirely vegetarian. The dishes were in great varieties, abundance, and wonderfully delicious.

The guests were awestruck with the novelty of the whole project. The buffet was filled with all kinds of vegetarian recipes and we navigated from surprise to surprise.

Fruity drinks and whiskey were  handed “a volonte’ ” and desert kept getting varied as the party progressed. That was a quick summary or a prompting. Now for a few details.

The convoy headed for the celebration party for eating, dancing, and taking more pictures.  Again the convoy got broken and Victor had to answer calls on the proper direction to the location in Faqra.

I was riding with Victor because my dad was apprehensive of repeating the experience with Victor and rode in another car.  As we arrived around 3 pm, most of the guests were already seated at their assigned places.

The friends of Joanna and Yuhanna, not related to the couple, were gathered around a table of 20  seats.

It was a beautiful day and cool inside the large white tent.

Before desserts were served, Joanna and Yuhanna opened the inaugural dance and immediately followed by musical performance Joanna on the flute and Yuhanna on the trombone.  Couples headed to the dance floor in the middle.

It got crazier and crazier as the party progressed and youth became the vast majority.  Ashley and Rania sang a duet.  There were no professional paid photographers, but everyone was a photographer; only three among them were professionals.

People kept visiting the buffet for additional servings as more varieties of vegetarian plates kept materializing.  The party disbanded after 8 pm and a group resumed the partying in Hamra.

(To be continued)

Note: Out of the more than 3,000 pictures taken by scores of photographers, I was barely captured in four photos; I made myself scarce but danced a lot.

The USA is multiplying “scalpel operations” in North Africa (Algeria), Pakistan, the new republics of the defunct Soviet Union and most of these operations are done by the CIA.  Scalpel operation is the alternative to hammer operation involving massive armed forces.   Twenty-two CIA agents died during operations since 2001; eight of them were hired by private security companies.  Actually, the USA is dealing with 533 more security private companies (in addition to the 1,400 companies before the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers).  This increase represents 265,000 private contractors (out of the 8854,00 with security clearances) who are siphoning one-third of the intelligence services budget. 

Defense minister, Robert Gates, is waging a war within his department and the Pentagon in order to reducing the spiraling expenses.  The plan is to reduce 100 billion in five years in budget by sending to pasture many of the  4-star Generals crowding the upper hierarchy.  There are 40 such high level officers and admirals, or more than during the peak of the Vietnam War.  For example, 5 4-star Generals are required to handle the emergency military crisis center 24 hours, 7 days a week, and located 8 meters below the Pentagon.  The reduction plan is also targeting the civilian personnel in the military command:  More than one thousand civilians have been hired in the last decade and they cost 25%  more than Federal employees.

The military and the hundreds of Federal security agencies rely heavily on private companies specializing in Satellite imaging, geo-spatial intelligence and transmission, surveillance, recognition, integrated technologies and imageries.  Private providers link the complex computers and communication systems and the analysis of coded intelligence.  The Office of Naval Intelligence at Suitland (MD) employes 2,770 personnel at its maritime (war and merchant ships) operational center.  It is the contribution of 70 private specialized enterprises that allow this institution to function:  They intercept, classify, and analyse communication (public and secret) sent and received by US navy and merchant marine around the oceans and seas.

The Pentagon and the secret intelligence agencies, flushed with money, tend to purchase the latest and most sophisticated equipments without the proper trained manpower to mining their potentials.  In a sense, the construct the railway and then sit tight for the trains to arrive along with the customers.About 110 private companies (out of the 1,931) provide 90% of the work sub-contracted by the State. General Dynamic (GD) is one of these giants under whose shadow 1,814 smaller enterprises sub-contract security clearance required work.  General Dynamic generated 32 billion dollars in 2009, compared to 10 billion is 2000; its task force jumped from 43,000 to 92,000 within less than a decade.General Dynamic was into fabrication nuclear submarines in 2000 but changed strategy to follow the money sources; which means in security and intelligence services.

Another example is SGIS, founded by Hany Girgis in San Diego in 2002.  It was purchased this year by Salient Federal Solutions as it generated 100 million and expanded to hiring 675 employees scattered in 14 strategically located offices (around military and security agencies).  The problem is:  Suppose the employees of SGIS had clearance then, what about the long-range goals of the new owners?  Would they decide to market sensitive intelligence to the highest bidders?  For example, in General Dynamic offices in Herndon employees could monitor a truck in Afghanistan filmed by a camera attached to a drone.  Thus, it is like not only private employees  have clearances bu the company is given clearance and it can obtain pieces of intelligence directly in the same time as the security agencies.  CIA director Leon Panetta and Robert Gates expressed their worries of companies meddling in the general intelligence system (read: problems have already been witnessed.)

A high authority in the Senate overlooking military services declared:  “We have created a machine that escapes any control.  It is a living and breathing organism that has degenerated into a system for creating jobs.”

Face off: Gilgamesh against Storm

Important note: This is a liberal translation of an epic poem by late Syrian poet Mohammad al Maghout.  It was written over 30 years ago; way before Desert Storm on Iraq in 1991.

I sent this poem to a new site (opened last month with only four members) that invited me to join and share my poems.  After “approving” a dozen poems and commenting laudatory on them, the “administrator ” amazed me by demanding clarification:  He wanted to know if this poem refers to American soldiers!  I replied that this story is about the epic struggle of mankind against calamities; natural and man-made.

I insisted that the eagle does not represent a symbol to any State or tribe, religion, or any culture.  I have a mind to ask this tight administrator what in the animal kingdom is convenient for his imagination to fight a storm. I received no reply and the poem was not shown on the site.

Excellent poets perceive invariants in human history and rephrase them in indelible images.

Epic story of Storm and Old Eagle

Waiting for the storm to hit

How could anyone cope with a storm?

What could you do in a desert storm?

Where is the storm?

It is on the horizon, hesitating;

A tramp at the hotel entrance.

Old eagle, maybe the last of his species,

Lonely, quiet, waiting for the storm;

A chauffeur waiting for his master.

Old eagle is tired of tasting occasional serene clouds;

An old chef tasting the remains of a banquet.

Queen storm is taking her time in front of the mirror.

Old eagle is ready to chase out the storm up front;

What could he do with a worn out beak?

Decrepit and turned straight from frequent shattering to pieces on rocks.

How could old eagle hurry to meet the storm?

A tottering bicycle crossing river bed?

For years, old eagle’s white feathers have been dirty;

Dirtier than an old waiter’s apron.

A gentle breeze nudging old eagle from rock to rock,

From plain to plain;

A bored old soldier in a camp

Anxious for his last battle, confronting a fly.

A soothing breeze floated over old eagle;

He fluttered, a youth touched by the first girl.

Old eagle heaves a sigh; he is reminiscing youth

Strong wings spanning the valley, glittering with sweat.

Tiny birds, out of breath, trailing valiantly behind,

Mobs running after the King’s horse,

Chants hoarse, hallelujah feeble.

Old eagle is back dozing, in the scorching sun;

Epoch stretching out.

Suddenly, the universe blackened;

The world is still;

So still that the silence created religions out of fear;

Old eagle’s tail is waving.

Old eagle is hopping in circle;

A baby lamb welcoming its mother.

The storm thundered and hastened;

An ice skater showing off.

Old eagle is whispering an old victory song;

An eagle fallen off mountain tops,

A bride with no pendants and no cries.

Old eagle opened his old beak and retreated

In respect of his old master and teacher.

Old eagle is spinning amid his broken plumes,

His shouts clacking like rifle bullets

A mass of blood proudly lecturing

On the art of thirsting and ripping apart enemies.

The storm danced around old eagle and sneaked away.

Old eagle is mad; he is jumping cat-like;

A frightened baby stumbling for the door knob;

A drunkard coming back in the bar

Kicked out a hundred times and coming back.

Old eagle is wailing like a baby.

The storm lost steam on the sea-shore,

Medals and crowns scattered.

The bludgeoned face of a boxer;

A drunk washing his face.

Mighty storm is aching:

It recollects that a tiny creature fought to death.

Mighty storm is sprawled on the beach:

A monstrous tent shrinking to a headgear;

Tears dropping in eagle’s shape.

Note: After approving another half a dozen of my poems I sent this unpoetic voice site the following poem:

It was approved and then immediately the site “suspended” me without providing reasons.

It is to be noted that the site never presented any constraints beforehand for joining or the kind of poems “satisfactory” to their “ideology”.




September 2010

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