Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘short stories/novellas’ Category

Syrian Women battle continues: Euripides’ “Trojan Women”

Posted on May 30, 2014

Syria Trojan Women: the battle continues. BEIRUT, by Élodie Morel | iloubnan.info – May 18, 2014, 14h46<!––><!–
<!–
–>  Syria Trojan Women Syrian refugees
<!–
$(document).ready(function(){
var height=$(“#imageart”).height();
alert(height);
$(‘#detail-page-img-txt2’).height(height);
});
–>
 In December 2013, around 40 Syrian women performed Euripides’ “Trojan Women” on stage in Amman, Jordan.
All of the actresses were refugees that had fled their country to escape the war that began three years ago.

Euripides wrote the Trojan Women in 415 BC. However, the tragedy could have been written yesterday, or these Syrian refugees. Just like the Trojan Women, they lost everything when they left Syria: their homes, their jobs, their possessions and in many cases, their loved ones.

The co-founders of the project now want to portray this experience through a documentary entitled Queens of Syria.
In a large, bright room, somewhere in Amman, Syrian women, all refugees living in the Jordan capital, are playing Musical Chairs.

All of them are running and laughing like children.One woman slips and falls on her bottom, trying to sit down, she bursts out laughing with her friends.

This surprising and heart-warming scene was filmed during the Syria Trojan Women project, launched in October 2013, where 40 Syrian refugees participating in drama therapy workshops worked together to perform Euripides Trojan Women tragedy on stage in December.Those images are striking and truly moving. They will be used to create a documentary entitled Queens of Syria, dedicated to the two-month long process of the project.

This film still needs financing to see the light. You can watch more of the footage in this video, where filmmaker Yasmin Fedaa explains why it is crucial to finalize the production of the documentary:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/92822753
Journalist and award-winning former foreign correspondent, Charlotte Eagar is one of the co-founders of the Syria Trojan Women project.Months ago, she got the idea of having Syrian refugees perform in Euripides’ tragedy on stage.

Charlotte had been familiar with this mythical play since reading it during her time at university: And in 1992, while covering the conflict in Bosnia, she heard it on the BBC World Service.The words echoed with the reality she was living at that time.

This play is a universal, timeless tale about war and its victims.Charlotte is also an award-winning filmmaker. The year before the Syria Trojan Women project was born, she co-directed and co-wrote a mini soap in Kenya entitled “Something’s Got to Change”, with young amateur actors, in a Nairobi slum for the NGO Emerging Leaders.“

I realized that through this project, the children became confident, proud of what they had done,.When this project was completed, I was looking for another idea. I discussed with Oxfam about useful initiatives to launch. They suggested that we address the situation of the Syrian refugees in different countries neighboring Syria. The story of the Syrian women made me think of Euripides’ tragedy.”Just like the Trojan Women, the Syrian women lost everything when they fled their country.

From Lebanon to Jordan

The project was supposed to take place in Lebanon, the country hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees.There are more than one million officially registered refugees there. “We wanted to do it in Lebanon, but we had to change our plans for security purposes,” Charlotte told us as we contacted her from Beirut.

She explained that, as a former war correspondent, she was not really worried about the security situation in Lebanon, but insurance companies most certainly were.

“Not a single one accepted to insure the project.” So the organizers decided to do it in Amman, the capital of Jordan, a much more stable country.The objective of the Syria Trojan Women project was to help refugees through drama-therapy, but also to publicize this crisis and to raise the audience’s awareness about the humanitarian situation in Syria.

The drama-therapy was really effective.Charlotte Eagar explained to us that the play “gave a voice to 
those women. It gave them a feeling of achievement and dignity; it was also a way for them to escape their daily ‘routine’. They were not living in refugee camps; they had found homes around Amman.

They had at one point felt isolated and lonely, but coming to the drama-therapy sessions was a way to build new relationships.A kindergarten was also set up to take care of the children of the participants. Just like their mothers, the children made new friends as well. This project was great for everyone!”

Two performances took place at the National Centre for Culture and Performing Arts in Amman on December 17 and 18, 2013.After performing on stage, the women said they felt that people listened to their story. For once, they were directly speaking to the public, without any media between them and the audience.

The audience was composed of the refugees’ families, and also of Jordanian locals and expatriates.“After the play, people said: ‘now I really feel like I understand what it is like to be a refugee’”, stated Georgina Paget, a London-based film producer.

Georgina is also a co-founder of the Syria Trojan Women project.Paget told us, “After watching and listening to these women, the people in the audience understood what life could be like in such a situation. They understood that these refugees were people just like them. One of the women used to work in her town’s administration services, you know. She could be anyone of us.”

Fighting compassion fatigue


This play is also a way to fight compassion fatigue, which is one of the biggest challenges of the project. “People are tired of caring,” Georgina explained. “There is a compassion fatigue in general and especially regarding Syria. We feel it every day. For example, the amount of money collected by NGOs for Syria is much smaller than the amount collected after the Philippines’ hurricane.”

The Syria Trojan Women performance in December was also a success from an artistic point of view. They have been invited to perform in places such as the UK, the US and Switzerland.

But getting visas for Syrian refugees to certain countries is difficult. So, to reach as many people as possible, the organizers are now trying to finalize the documentary, “Queens of Syria”.“The objective of the documentary is to reach more people, to let as many people as possible hear the story of these women.

We filmed the drama-therapy sessions, the rehearsals and the performances, thanks to a grant from the Asfari Foundation and private donations,” Georgina Paget said. “We have 88 hours of footage and we need money to make a documentary out of them”.

A 3’30 trailer for the documentary was released online. It shows the refugees, passionate about what they do, about the play and about being together. It is truly moving. You can watch it here:
https://player.vimeo.com/video/86996865

To finance the production of the documentary, the Syria Trojan Women Project launched a crowdfounding campaign on Indiegogo, a crowdfounding digital platform.“

We hope that by watching this documentary, just like by watching the performance in Amman, people will begin to understand what is really happening. They will see Syrian refugees as real persons and not only as statistics delivered by the media.

They will see individuals telling their stories,” Georgina said, while adding that, “to make the people care, we need to give them something personal and beautiful as well. Out of their own tragedy, the women created something beautiful. They created art.”

Related Articles

– See more at: http://www.iloubnan.info/artandculture/80938/Syria-Trojan-Women:-the-battle-continues#sthash.iD7pzhPN.dpuf

The 2020 film AK-47. This amateur inventor who shot to global fame

A review of the 2020 film AK-47: Kalashnikov

By Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin / April 21st, 2021

AK-47: Kalashnikov (2020) is a biographical film about Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (1919–2013), the inventor and designer of the AK-47 automatic rifle.

This Russian film, released in February of last year, follows the young Kalashnikov as he is bombarded by Germans during WWII and is interspersed with flashbacks of his childhood.

Disturbed by the failure of a newly designed gun that nearly gets a comrade killed when it jams, he examines the parts and lists out various problems with the new design.

An amateur inventor who had been playing around with various types of primitive gun designs since he was child, Kalashnikov goes back to work in a steam engine workshop after being injured in battle.

There he is assigned a desk and tools, and struggles to assemble a new gun design he had been drawing up. Help is at hand when the other workers in the workshop offer their after-hours services to help him tool the parts necessary for his new design.

After this, his life takes many twists and turns as he struggles to perfect his design and he gains acceptance through inventor competitions, testing ranges and the military hierarchy.

The story focuses on his drive and sincerity in producing a safer gun that would help the Soviets win the war. Although the gun he is famous for was Not produced until 1947 (“Avtomát Kaláshnikova” (Russian: Автома́т Кала́шникова, lit. ‘Kalashnikov Automatic Gun’), its reliability and design ensured its wide use in many armies around the world in subsequent decades.

The film also strives to show Kalashnikov as a role model for how someone with a basic education (Kalashnikov left school after seventh grade) can achieve so much in the way of plaudits and global fame.

In AK-47: Kalashnikov, the testing processes of the gun were not complete successes but Kalashnikov is given more promotions and more help in developing his ideas.

With the development of new technologies, a simplified, lighter version of the automatic rifle was developed which soon became the most ubiquitous variant of the AK-47.

In the real world, the popularity of the design meant that “approximately 100 million AK-47 assault rifles had been produced by 2009, and about half of them are counterfeit, manufactured at a rate of about a million per year.

Izhmash, the official manufacturer of AK-47 in Russia, did not patent the weapon until 1997, and in 2006 accounted for only 10% of the world’s production.”

Kalashnikov’s first submachine gun

The film is beautifully shot with realistic battle scenes and panoramic landscape settings. The relations between the soldiers, and between the soldiers and their superiors are developed without the stereotyped or charicatured portrayals seen in films like Enemy at the Gates (2001), as Kalashnikov gets help and encouragement all around him, even at his lowest points when he feels like giving up.

In these days of instant-everything and easy consumption access to any product, it is refreshing to see male and female workers with so many skills (including his drafting technician who becomes his wife) bringing an idea from drawings through precision tooling to the finished gleaming weapon.

Kalashnikov himself did suffer “spiritual pain” about whether he was responsible for the deaths caused by his weapons, but also believed that their use was defensive rather than offensive.

The AK-47 has been used in many anti-colonial wars and received the ultimate praise when appearing on some national flags and coats of arms.

Like any weapon, his guns have been used in terrorist organisations but one could argue that overall its reliability and simplicity evened up the stakes in many an asymmetrical war.

Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (1919–2013)
Kalashnikov at the Kremlin, December 2009

Kalashnikov was hospitalized on 17 November 2013, in Izhevsk, the capital of Udmurtia and where he lived and died on 23 December 2013, at age 94 from gastric hemorrhage.

A statue dedicated to Kalashnikov was commissioned by the Russian Military Historical Society and unveiled in Moscow in 2017. It is a 7.5m (25ft) monument, which shows Kalashnikov holding an AK-47 in his arms.

It was soon spotted that the technical drawing of the gun etched onto a metallic plate at the base of the monument was actually of an StG 44 rifle used by the Nazis during WWII.

The symbolism of this mistake was not lost on the public, a country that lost millions of its people at the hands of the Nazi invasion which started on Sunday, 22 June 1941.

The section of the metallic plate with the gun design was soon removed with an angle grinder.

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin.

His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/Read other articles by Caoimhghin.

Ode to faithful older organs

My older heart, liver, kidneys…older brain.., cooler blood, slower nerves are still functional, but Not making it easier on me to enjoy life.

You older guys are Not dumb, by any stretch of the imagination: You are my emotional intelligence.

Many emotions I have yet to discover, emotions that I still fail to grasp and make sense of. Emotions that I try hard to develop and share, but No taker for any kind of encouragement

You guys are the most talented and professional of hard workers, and yet you continuously communicate, coordinate, and share your conditions among the entire team of professionals

If under the weather, the team knows and share your plight.

One for all, and all for one in its best behavior, and Not needing to swear on any oth, Not that I am consciously aware of or discussed your wishes and demands with you.

You guys have Not been giving me hell for a long period: No pains, no allergies, no side effects, no need for medication…

Still, you guys are forcing to question myself: “What’s wrong with me? How you managed to survive for so long? For what purpose?”

You guys love your tedious and consistent jobs, and are Not willing to stop on my order.

Don’t count on me to give you any hint that your retirement might be sooner than expected.

Many years ago, I learned never to promise anything to anyone, and I stuck with this decision. Those exploiters of your candid spirit.

I don’t recall asking consciously of you guys to promise me anything. And you never demanded any promises from my part, Not consciously.

You guys did doggedly what you do best and consistently, total loyalty from totally skilled professionals, to a totally mindless creature.

I think I have taken good care of you guys lately, except the lungs: Still a smoker, for reasons that makes no sense, so far.

You guys have been doing a great job, a well done job.

You guys got used to slave for a stupid creature like me, a person who kept refusing to thank you for your tireless toil, and blaming you for my reckless behaviors in my youth, for your failures.

You allowed me to survive for so long, against all odds, and I still can’t figure out how should I share your mysterious working with others.

Never mind, all you guys need is a simple gratitude to consciously care for you and let your work diligently and delaying your retirement.

Book review of “Farewell Beirut”

Posted on November 14, 2008

Farewell Beirut is fundamentally an autobiographical witnessed short stories and is of 220 pages distributed in 15 chapters.

Late Mai Ghoussoub is a writer, sculpture, theater promoter, and a co-founder of the publishing house Dar Al Saki, was 54 when she died of complication from a surgery in London on February 17, 2007.

Mai participated in the Lebanese civil war by caring for the downtrodden Palestinians living in shantytown of refugee camps.

She lost an eye by a rocket that hit her car while aiding in a clinic of Nabaa in East Beirut, and she suffered greatly for three years out of that injury.  Mai decided to leave Lebanon in 1979 and lived for a while in Paris and then moved to London.

Mai suggested to her old school friend Andre Caspar, who was hitchhiking in the USA, to join her and open a library that would offer Arabic books and manuscript.  The library led to instituting the publishing house Dar Al Saki in 1983. Mai married Hazem Saghieh, a writer and newspaper editor.

During an art exhibition in Shore Ditch London, Mai and her Israeli actress friend Anna Sharbati donned Muslim attires and held tennis rackets to stir any climate of conservatism in London, but nobody noticed them.

Mai recalls that at the age of 12, she was attached to her female French teacher Nomie.  To please her teacher she wrote a lengthy fictitious essay that ended with an injunction for revenge on harms done to her.  Nomie gave her only 10 out of 20 points because the want for revenge is the basest of emotions… Mai retained that lesson and struggled with it most of her turbulent life, especially during part of the civil war.

First story.

Tiny and sickly Latifa was barely 9 years old when her Syrian father “rented” her for a year to work as maid (house helper). Latifa was to get up before any member of the family and go to bed in a corner of the kitchen after every member was asleep and work non-stop most of the time. Latifa, treated worse than a slave, endured all the miseries and humiliations.

(We had 3 Syrian kids girls from Safita in Syria, ranging from 10 to 12. The father of the kid used to pay us a visit every year to collect upfront the yearly wage of the daughter. The father barely spent any time, much less quality time with his daughter. These girls experienced a heart-wrenched moment when they had to leave us. They got used to us, though we never demanded from them a glass of water. Mother was the boss and we had nothing to do with these hard working helpers. I guess they sensed they will have a harsher life and maybe be married at a young age)

Latifa’s father used to show up drunk once a year to be paid without even bringing his daughter a token of a gift or spending any time with her.

Latifa was raped by the eldest son of the family and she was no longer permitted to leave the apartment. During the civil war in Lebanon, tiny Latifa was to brave the snipers and rockets to bring food to the family. 

Latifa joined the militias of the neighborhood and moved with them; she covered her face with a hood (cagoule) so that nobody would recognize her, but her large eyes could not conceal her.  Latifa never took revenge on her “masters”, but tried her best to move forward.

Latifa got famous as “Um Ali”, and one of the toughest fighters in Beirut. 

She was killed mysteriously and her “masters” had no photo of her to plaster it on the street in remembrance of a “martyr”.  Latifa lived incognito and died incognito.

Second story.

Said was the only son of the owner of a small grocery.  His family was constantly worried for his upbringing.  Said was a short, stocky, jovial and smiling helper; he delivered the groceries to the homes and was liked by the entire neighborhood; he wanted to join the “hospitality” business.

The civil war changed Said: he joined the militias and became a tough fighter.  There were plenty of rumors about Said’s deeds during the war; a sniper, a blackmailer, a leader of a group of fighters and anything that warriors are expected to end up doing among scared and humiliated citizens.

Said opened a small hotel after the war.  The author was unable to label a definitive judgment opinion on Said as she recalled him when Mai was settled overseas.  Can a man be fundamentally good and change to the opposite when circumstances change?

Third story.

Hashem is an Iranian refugee in Beirut, fleeing the new Khomeini Islamic regime

Hashem is well liked and funny and has strong and definite positions against the Western States and cultures.  He immigrated to Denmark during the Lebanese civil war and married the tall, beautiful and blonde Kirsten.  

Kersten did her best to assimilate Hashem’s culture and tradition; she befriended his friends, learned to cook Iranian and Lebanese dishes, helped bring Hashem’s family to Denmark and had promised him to wear the veil when they decide to return to Iran or settle in Lebanon.

Hashem fell in love with Maria, a Chilean girl, while attending a Danish language center.  Maria didn’t care for Hashem’s friends or even his health; all she cared for was her relationship with Hashem.  Kirsten didn’t like the situation; she never reprimanded Hashem verbally: her eyes and silence and posture expressed her displeasure.

Hashem was killed in Denmark in 1989; Kirsten set up an official obituary in her church and in the mosque. She organized the funeral to its minute details and delivered the eulogy; she persisted on keeping Hashem’s memory every year and obliterated Maria from the picture. From now on Hashem solely belongs to Kirsten.

Mai volunteered her aid in the clinic of the Chatila Palestinian camp at the start of the civil war; she cataloged the medicines and shelved them accordingly. A young Palestinian leader visited the camp and saw Mai; he sent one of his sbirs to fetch Mai to his headquarter.

Mai and Abu Firas enjoyed a secret amorous affair for long time until Mai’s brother got injured.  Abu Firas made the error of visiting Mai at the hospital; Mai’s family and acquaintances got wind of her marginal affair and she had to leave Lebanon to Paris when her brother recovered.

Mai never carried a weapon or engage in any skirmishes.  Mai was comfortably installed in Paris when she received a long distance call from Lebanon; Mai refused to take the call of Abu Firas:  instead, she wandered in the streets of Paris to relieve the anxiety of the onslaught of her memory of the civil war.

Mai had questions nagging at her “would she ever be able to convince herself that she didn’t participate in the civil war?”, “would she be able to erase the facts that she met assassins and didn’t oppose their deeds?”

One thing that Mai is convinced of is that she allied to mercenaries on ideological grounds and let her country go to hell.

The Orient Queen was capsized during Beirut port conflagration: My cruise experience

Note: I had posted my experience on the Orient Queen for 3 days cruise to Alanya (Turkey) last September 2019. I expected a good vacation for a dream since it was my first travel by sea.

Actually, the Orient Queen is the only sea ship from all Lebanon ports. If you want to catch a luxury cruise, you need to travel by air to where the cruise is launched. Sounds like a monopoly in this mafia plagued State.

This ship was parked by pier 9, very close to pier 12 where the conflagration originated, and it was Not the regular place to stay until the summer season.  Many crews dove into the sea  during the first explosion. Three crews died and many injured.

I read an ad for 2 cruises to Cyprus on the last week of September. Since I have never been to any sea cruise, I decided to try one, and experience a “5 star hotel on the sea” and check if I get seasick.

It turned out you need paperwork to submit to a visa that cost $60 for a 7-hour landing. It was Not my cup of tea, since I have already visited Cyprus before and I didn’t like it that much. (It was during Christmas and Larnaka seemed empty and the hotel to be desired)

Fortunately, the Orient Queen was also going to Turkey (Alanya city) for a 3-day cruise and No visa required, and that clenched the deal.

Sure, as I am single on that cruise I had to caught up $100 more for a room (a total of $450). And I was allocated a room on deck 6, instead of the underground deck 4, where many felt seasick. And with a western-side window that looks on just the vast sea.

The climbing on the cruise was facilitated by the security services and it was quick (should I be suspicious of any wrongdoing?)

Well, the cruise aligned half a dozen girls in Brazilian attire. I can’t remember that I saw them again or if they danced in an event that I failed to attend. In any case, here they were lined up with the Captain for the farewell of the port of Beirut.

The food service was done by Egyptian males (sofraji). The front desk was catered by Egyptian males. The casino was handled by a Russian girl and 2 Ukrainian girls. The bars were attended by Indonesians. My section for room service was allocated to a Ukrainian girl and an Indonesian male.

Our passports were hoarded, and when I read in my room that the passport will Not be returned until our room service was paid at the end of the cruise, I got furious.

I recalled all these facts and stories of foreign workers in the Gulf and Saudi Kingdom, and house maid in Lebanon for keeping passport.

And then someone offered me a convincing reason: it is all about Schengen procedure so that no customer will jump ship when landing in Turkey and getting lost.

Though this reason is very convincing, my gut feeling is that the higher echelons in management have a mean spirited streak of humiliating their clients, by anyway they possess. Apparently, a routine they “nailed down” since 2005.

And this gut feeling was supported by the many successive indignities we suffered throughout the experience, this feeling of trying to “milk the ant” for any profit margin that the management was ordered to cash in.

My first decision was to tour the facilities of the ship.

I located a miniature, a hole of (5 by 3 meter) swimming pool. I discarded this fact, wishing to find another larger swimming pool. That’s was it, and had to deal with, and all my expectations went downhill since then, and nothing elevated my spirit, no matter how I tried for positive attitudes.

There were 2 sizable Jacuzzi at the other end (tribor, babor, babour…), each welcoming 4 persons and pretty good.

At lunch, I was allocated a table for 5 persons, older people and none with wives on board, and for the entire duration. These persons spent their time in the casino, nothing else for them to waste time on. One of them who patronized this cruise 5 years ago claimed the food was much better. These guys can sense the onset of seasickness and take the appropriate pill.

I told them that I was allocated a cabin with a window on deck 6 because I was found funny. One of them tersely replied: “all cabins on deck 6 have windows”.

I cannot recollect having looked out the window more than twice for a few seconds, but the cabin was flooded with natural light in the afternoon, a great setting for leisurely reading in a cool place, though I was denied that luxury the last day, since we were ordered to vacate the cabin at 3 pm.

Once, as I made friends and they invited me to join them at their table, the server said: “Please, please“. Kind of not willing to serve an additional client.

Nevertheless, the Egyptians are fine waiters and quick funny. One of the elder on the table was dozing off, waiting for his desert, and the waiter said: “bjeblak battaniyeh?”

I realized that the liquor servers (serving anything liquid), allocated to particular set of tables, were meek and worried that any clients might get totally frustrated and brutal with them for “selling water“. Worst, tiny slices of breads were “counted” for each table: no way to demand more bread.

I distributed tips for these liquor servers without ordering anything, just to send them the message: “I feel with your predicament“. Actually, I learned to give tips before receiving the service: it works and performance follows.

In the afternoon, the nasty sound of the emergency alarm lasted for a long time. I told myself: “hopefully, they are Not going to make it a habit to test our readiness.” And then I heard persistent banging on my door. I was to get out and bring my life-jacket with me and join everybody in the restaurant of deck 6.

On the couch, a saw a scared beautiful young girl, her head all wrapped tight with several layers of veils, and looking at me as if I were a cruise pro. She asked me: “What is going on?”. I replied: “Probably, they are going to throw us overboard to test which safety jackets are still functional”. Her face turned grey and I resumed: “Maybe not now. They’ll go through the routine of describing the safety measures to take when the alarm sounds next time”. She was Not convinced.

Her roommate girl was pale and in a phased out attitude. She did bring her safety jacket but didn’t wear it. I said to her: “As for you, you failed the test. You didn’t wear the jacket. Probably, they’ll select you to throw overboard for punishment”. It turned out she was already feeling seasick.

Then followed a description of the various tours when we land on Alanya as taken from the photo on my mobile:

  1. Shopping tour, 4.5 hrs, at $15
  2.  Jeep Safari 4 hrs, at $35
  3. Shuttle to Cleopatra Beach, at $20
  4. paragliding experience 3 hrs at $90
  5. Diving experience 3 hrs at $70
  6. Turkish bath 3 hrs at $50
  7. Dolphin show 3 hrs at $40

Most of these activities I had in Sharm al Sheikh and the dolphin show I watched in Disneyland in Orlando. And I set my mind to subscribe to Cleopatra beach.

I asked the front desk for Internet connection on the ship. We had to pay $25 for our mere two days, another harsh let down from how this ship is run. It then that I met the seasick girl at front desk and she told me: “moush merta7a“.

The clerk brought her a piece of bread on a platter and said: “Since you vomited, you stomach is empty. eating this bread will improve your state”. I was doubtful because I surmised that eating is the nastiest activity for seasick people. I said: “On checking deck 8, I discovered a door marked “Hospital” and I may show her the way”. The clerk didn’t appreciate my joke.

I put to practice the navy gait, legs spread wide. I wondered “why they promote alcoholic drinks if people are unable to walk straight?”

In the evening I decided to do the best of what’s available and got dizzy swimming dozen of times, back and forth, the “lengths” of this miniature pool. People looked at me saying: “That’s a wonderful kid, enjoying himself by any means”

Once, I was smoking with a heavy smoker acquaintance on the deck of the pool and he said: “this is a nasty smell”. I said “you mean the smell of cigarette?” He replied: “No the burned smell of oil from the turbine exhaust of the ship”. It is then that I smelt it and from then on I spent my time on the other side of the ship, where everybody gathered as we were arriving to the port of Beirut.

Actually, it is on this side of the ship on the last hour that I attempted small chats with the gathered people and how they felt about this experience.

People pass-time was to set up arghili (hookah) around this swimming pool for $14.

The Orient Queen arranged for 5 buses to take the customers to various sites in Alanya, one of them to the “famous” Cleopatra beach where it is claimed that Cleopatra did swim long time ago. I have been told this beech stretches for a mile and the sand were imported from South Africa.

I thought of signing up for this trip, but the weather condition changed to rainy day, and I was happy I didn’t sign up (I would have lost my money, since there would be no refund).

I was also lucky Not to sign up on time for a meeting with the Captain on deck 7. One of my table companion told me that they take a group photo for $20 for the cruise promotion.

I was the last person to step out of the ship and had the lunch room all for myself.

An experienced woman attendant on front desk filled me with details: most of these sites can be reached cheaply by public transport, and most of them are actually at walking distance.

At 2 pm, I descended the ship and boarded a City Tour “train”, kind of a car remorking two children trains at 10 TL or less than $2.

This tour lasted 45 minutes and we passed the Cleopatra beech, the bazaar, the teleferic , and many adjacent main roads. Nothing to it. New ship acquaintances told me they borrowed bicycles and electric motto to tour the city.

Apparently, none of the groups were happy with their guides or the tours: they ended up taking taxis to return to the ship. And it poured cats and dogs for hours until 10 pm, and they arrived totally drenched.

Not only the “tourists” were drenched but the ship was “drenched and leaking” from everywhere.

The employees were exhausted collecting the leaks and disposing dozens of buckets. A few cabins were leaking too.

I had arrived at 4:30 and it was drizzling: I was tired of walking to the bazaar and buying unnecessary clothes to the female members of my clan: we have so many unworn clothes that are taking so much spaces in our closets and cannot get rid of them.

Suffice to say that I bought an “Alanya sherwal“, just because the lady was dynamic and wouldn’t desist from showing me what her shop held. And I laughing my heart out for her activities, she even shortened one of the 3abaya for mother.

That rainy day and night might have hurt the profit margin of the cruise, since no one could venture outside on the upper deck to “enjoy” an arghili or have a drink… Maybe this is one reason management forced on the customers an additional $10 for room service?

There were no outside exits to have a smoke, but I discovered an exit under a tiny shelter facing the pool. A good looking woman wearing one of the headgear, promoted by “Princess” Mozah of Qatar, wanted to displace the huge sound buffer from under the heavy rain, and the employees were afraid of being electrocuted if they touch the cable, but the cable was long enough to move the buffer under the shelter..

In hindsight, I observed 3 ladies wearing this kind of headgear, in white or black, and I conjectured that maybe a minority “Muslim” sect is using it overseas. Actually, one lady was very “classy” in her behavior, her attire and the soft way she eats and talk on her table. I conjectured that she might be a foreigner. And she turned out to be from Damascus and refused to talk but in “Arabic”, though she understood English and appreciated my compliment.

The day of our arrival to Beirut, we were ordered to vacate our cabins at 3 pm in order to prepare the room for the next trip on the same night.

Thus, we were left outside for 5 hours and we were denied swimming towels.

I met people at one of the Jacuzzi and they said it is “fresh water” (thus no need for me to take a shower afterward) and they told me to ask the front desk for towels. Not only the front desk does Not deliver anything, they don’t even carry small changes for tips.

But I hoarded a Jacuzzi all for myself for an hour and watched people sweating and totally bored.

I waited for the lines in front desk to dwindle, paying for their room service before getting their passport back.

The main sticky point was why charging $30 instead of $20 as stipulated in writing? One of the lady claimed that she has already paid upfront $30 for room service and she had to wait until this problem is resolved (the clerk said they had no direct commutation with headquarter in Beirut, and I assume the Captain is in charge of all decisions on board?)

I did my best in these long line to dissipate the accumulating anger and was trying to be calm and funny with Ibrahim. I even suggested to him whether I can bring him a sandwich for the long haul (as if this cruise has bread for sandwiches).

I met with my table companions around a table around 5 pm: the casino was closed and they had no idea what to do next. I ordered a large water bottle and a non-alcoholic beer. The barman said that I ordered the last beer and (may be the single such beer he received for his reserves). Actually, not a single bar on the ship ever admitted having beer sh3eer.

I will always be grateful for this barman for showing me the closest of WC, otherwise I would have been in big trouble, for the countless times I used it within 2 hours: beer and swimming keep me busy visiting WC.

Before leaving ship, I passed by the Free Market room to buy a few bottles. And it was closed: al jomrok came and closed it. Why we were Not warned of these khouza3balaat?

It was a mere 2 nights on the cruise and most of the “tourists” I talked to said they cannot count on them for a repeat.

I wonder how the “tourists” handled 7 days on this cruise, touring the Greek islands.

I conjecture that a few committed suicide at landing, out of total disgust: they quit Lebanon for an “honorable” vacation and they received the same kind of crap of indignities and humiliation as the Lebanese State extended to them in the last 3 decades.

Still I had my experiences being confined at sea and how people behave and spend their time, and what is available and what is delivered.

It is doubly satisfying since I executed my dream before the Covid pandemics set in, the total bankruptcy of the State of Lebanon, the scarcity of hard currencies, the inability/difficulties of travelling oversea,  and the instabilities we are experiencing.

Note 1: My note to Pamela , in my first reaction, was how I felt in this cruise:

Hola Pamela. I miss your smile. I wish you stayed in the cruise to observe and feel the indignities, frustration and humiliation of the clients and the service personnel.

I waited till the end of your last cruise to Cyprus to avoid you further exacerbation and headache from overseeing the last cruise.

I write reports of my experiences and impressions and post them on my blog adonis49@wordpress.com. If you care, I might send you a link, in due time.

Ya 3ammi, add upfront what it takes for standard room service charge (supposedly to repay the employees?), all you can drink water and eat bread, and swimming towels.

Ya 3ammi, add extra for non-alcoholic beverages, including non-alcoholic beer sha3eer and save the clients and the service personnel the hassle, the rebuke and humiliation in long waiting lines. And attach the appropriate bracelet around the wrist of clients.

What is the purpose of kicking us out of our cabin at 3 pm when the arrival time is estimated at 8 pm? And denying us swimming towels too? We pay for vacation and Not to submit to more frustration.

I will consider your explanations for my article, specifically what kinds of procedures you intend of “reforming” since 2005.

Note 2: My reply to the note of Hana Abu Mer3i, operating manager

Hi Hana: just quick few replies since I’ll be writing an exhaustive article on my experience on this cruise.

In the print it was said $20 service charge per person and not $30. A family of 4 had to caught up $40 additional charges.
I was practically kicked out of my cabin and was Not allowed to retake my swimming towel in order to spend a few hours waiting for arrival
The liquor service people meekly approach our tables at lunch and dinner, sort of worried that someone will pick up a tantrum for selling them water
I doubt that you ever reconsidered your procedures and  rules since 2005.
I was under the impression that there was an underlining mean spirited pleasure to humiliate these “ratesh” paying clients who do Not deserve an honorable and comfortable vacation
It was plainly a succession of various indignities and frustration that added up to a feeling of brutal behavior by the organizers.
In any case, the customer speaks louder: the dozen of clients I talked to were adamant that they will Not be repeat client to Abumer3i cruise.
At least the cabin was decent and plenty of hot water for showers

Have ever felt you are walking on air?

Note: this is a long story/song that spanned almost 3 decades. I cut it short in this post.

I should have told Barbara (Written in 2003 and posted on 2008)

I called up Barbara and I invited myself to stay overnight at her apartment.

She had many friends.

She was attached at the moment to a fashionable young man,

Working in fashion and with fashion, but they had problems.

 

She appeared depressed and disappointed and not in the mood for me.

Her TV was on 24 hours.  I slept and woke up with the TV on.

 

I visited her six years later during my second extended trip to the USA:

Barbara’s sister Sue had told me that Barbara was married and living in Oklahoma City.

I met Barbara at Thanksgiving and she did not look the Barbara of my vision.

 

Her skin looked darker, her face emaciated,

Down to earth, resigned and decked in simple blue jeans and an old black sweater.

She was married to a full-blooded American Indian, herself a half-blooded,

A soft spoken husband, a polite artist who toured the USA exhibiting his paintings.

 

She stayed at home designing jewelry and managing her man’s business.

I accepted her invitation for a Thanksgiving lunch.

I went down to Oklahoma City for an important and specific purpose of mine:

I was determined to tell Barbara my secret.

 

I went down with my steady girlfriend at the time.

Barbara’s eyes had an ironic shine looking at my oriental short friend.

She asked my friend all kinds of questions about our relationship,

How we met and what are our plans.

 

She said to me: “You know, someone needs news about your friend”.

She meant that her sister needed to know the whereabouts of her ex-husband.

I had lost track of the whereabouts of my friend too and could not be of much help.

 

Barbara was entitled to know the truth,

That the first time she walked with me,

She made me feel that I was the most glamorous guy in town.

But I did not tell Barbara the truth.

 

I don’t recall that I talked during my two hours stay at Thanksgiving.

Maybe it did not feel right at that moment

But I should have persevered on my initial decision:

This truth was hers no matter what.

 

She could be eighty, but age does not erase the feeling,

That to my young eyes,

She was the most glamorous woman I set my eyes on.

 

She could be a hundred, but age does not change the fact,

That Barbara made me once walk on air.

How many “role playing acts” can you sustain before people unmask your characters?

I am using the first subject to give weight and credibility to this story. I prefered to use He to mean by brother-in-law.

I submitted a formal complaint on my brother-in-law to the municipality for his nonchalance on a serious health problem that can affect, not only people living in the same building, but the potential epidemic that might spread to the community.

The 4 water tanks , each for an apartment, are located in one of the enclosed roof: water used to washing hands, taking showers, washing dishes and doing laundry…come from these sources.

He has been breeding and raising chicken in that section of the roof for many years.

Once I went up to the roof to check on something.

As I opened the revolving door, I felt dizzy of the foul smell emanating from there, as if a dead foul was left forgotten for days. I could Not enter because all the ways inside this roof were blocked by years of accumulation of junks.

Actually, He has a serious psychological problem that is well documented of people who keep “saving” totally unimportant objects and are unable to clear the depots of a single object or even to try to sell anything they “hoarded”

For a long time, and way before the Covid-19 pandemics, I warned him of Red-Level health danger of breeding and raising chicken there. And told him this is Not within the building codes of any municipality.

In my mind the potential for aviary flu and other kinds of serious viruses was serious enough.

He displayed a yellow smile and said: “I am cleaning after the chicken

His nonchalance in Not taking my inputs and suggestions in a serious manner almost drove me to the wall.

This attitude smacked of considering me as a Non-entity and of no consequence. He has been behaving as the entire building was his own and he could decide what to do without asking permission from anyone, or even throwing a suggestion.

Ten years ago, before He was forced to retire from the military, he constructed a chicken coop but never had “time” to care for it. Since my mother favored raising chicken I agreed to take care of this dirtiest of jobs as long as he purchase the chicken feed because I was almost penniless at the time.

Rain or shine, I was feeding the chicken, cleaning the place, digging and burying the dead fouls and trying to sell the extra eggs to the neighboring shops.

After several years of this stupid and insane toil, He stopped purchasing the feed. Either the chicken will die of famine or I close this costly “business”.

I spread the word that I am closing and people flocked from everywhere and on motorbike to rid me of the chicken. I sold them cheap because time was of the essence in this case.

Mother understood the predicament though she preferred to keep about 7 chicken.

200 or 7 chickens are of the same level responsibility, headache and dirtiness.

Even after submitting my written complaints, He kept entering my apartment without knocking and carrying his cart loaded with chicken feed through my apartment. Though there are two outside entrances to the chicken “farm” of over 200 fouls.

Maybe He is jealous of me and his reactions towards me are meant to humiliate me and degrade my goodwill.

The day I complained, He dispatched my sister (His wife) downstairs to warn me. She was shaking like a leaf and said: “If you don’t retrieve the complaint, He is coming down to kill you”.

I told her: “Let him come down”.

What character can anyone be proud of by sending my sister to warn me? This ignominy proved what I always suspected of this weak , lying and opportunistic individual.

He entered all shaven and dressed up and said: “Raymonde told me that you want to talk to me?” I replied: “Wrong. I don’t want to talk to you”

And he started to display all his acting and affability and nonsense.

I told Him a 70 year-old person is Not meant to spend his retirement on feeding, cleaning chicken places, fill bags of their shit and pouring this shit in every corner of the garden during the rainy seasons.

 

Instincts in Man turned toxic

Toxic Instinct (1999)

He is running after her.

He is big, fat and ugly.

She is smaller,

Quicker and much cuter.

 

He is running fast.

She climbs a tree.  He follows her.

Round and round

The trunk of the tree they turn.

 

He stops.

Squirrel girl stops.

She knows his moves.

She smiles:  All is planned out.

 

He starts, running after her..

She climbs higher and higher.

Branches are now thinner and narrower

But she keeps her pace, undaunted.

 

Squirrel guy is now more cautious.

He is not smiling, never did, the grouch.

She reaches the edge of the branch.

 

He is waiting;

He is thinking:

“She won’t dare!  She’ll be back to me.”

“She’ll get bored and tired waiting”

 

She jumps to the next tree.

He shakes his head and backtracks.

 

Many men would jump and fall.

They would.

Their toxic instincts fail their survival adaptive instinct.

Mining my diary: A Christmas Eve in Lebanon

Note: Re-edit of “Christmas Eve in a Christian family: Lebanon; ( Written in 2006 and posted on August 17, 2009)”

It is Sunday 10:20 a.m. of Christmas Eve 2006.  The sky is clear, sunny, and somehow cold in the 15 degrees C . I woke up around 7:30 a.m. and my mom was already working in the kitchen.

My little niece Chelsea (6 already) was helping her out through countless suggestions; mom’s fingers were so cold that they felt crippled and then she decided to heat some water.

Nephew William was already gone. (Forgot to where)

I worked for an hour in the garden and gathered greens.  Victor and family are off to Orthodox church (in M7idssi).  Victor had to pick Cedric up from work late last night because Cedric had misplaced the car keys.

There was an explosion across from the American University in Beirut; we learned that it was a gas container of a small eatery.

I read and wrote till 11 a.m. and drove to Beit-Chabab. I did not find aunt Montaha. I dropped off three books at the local library and walked to visit my cousin Joseph Ghoussoub. I visited my aunt Theresa on my back home.

Victor dropped off Adrea home and resumed driving toward the supermarket Spinneys and returned around 4 o’clock.

I helped niece Adrea carry a few groceries. Joanna showed me the area where the gifts are stacked in a corner of the dining room in her grand-mom apartment.

I counted about 36 wrapped gifts and it seems that Yuhanna (Joanna’s beau) contributed about 5 gifts and helped Joanna last evening in wrapping gifts before they went out together.

I had lunch with mom because dad had already eaten, and Cedric and Adrea were eating in front of the TV screen.

I had a siesta from 2 to 4 p.m. Mom was exhausted and had a sponge bath.  I picked up the dried clothes off the lines and went to my study room in the lower floor.

Adrea asked me whether I saw Joanna and she checked William’s bed because Joanna sometimes slept there for total privacy.

Mom is at my sister Raymonde’s on the third floor, helping her put the last touch for this evening dinner.

Ethiopia, backed by the USA, started the war against the Somali Islamists who are supported by Sudan and Eritrea.  They found another 46 unidentified bodies in Iraq and half a dozen US soldiers were dead and injured yesterday.

Italy’s Brodi PM is in Lebanon and had visited his troops (the UNIFIL) in the south within the multinational forces.

I would like to spend my night at the Downtown where the opposition has erected 1,500 tents and four huge tents complete with all the amenities; each one of the large tents can accommodate 2,000 persons; a midnight mass will be held at St George’s cathedral there.

Joanna and Yuhanna had left around noon and spent 7 hours walking City Mall for a last spree of buying.

Ashley did her hair and dyed it and left about 2 p.m. with Cedric carrying a box of cake.

Cedric went jogging about 4 p.m. in the cold and froze his ass off.

The former boyfriend of Joanna, Hikmat, paid us a visit; he is on vacation from Toulouse (France) and working on lab research for the electromagnetic switches of micro robots (nano-technology) that are injected in the human body to perform non-invasive controlled surgery.  In addition of grant money for his graduate studies, Hikmat teaches courses and loves Toulouse. As long as Hekmat is excited in his research project there are no chances that he might return to settle in Lebanon.

I joined the entire family after 8:30 p.m. and had a light dinner of salad, asparagus soup, an assortment of cheese and cold cuts, some pizza, and wine and Coca-Cola.

My dad went to sleep around 9:15; he usually sleeps by 8 p.m.

As usual, by 9:45 , little Chelsea started whining that she wanted to open the gifts so we moved to the sitting room and the unwrapping of gifts began.

William, Victor, Ashley, and Adrea took turn taking digital pictures.  It took the better of two hours for this exercise and everybody was satisfied with his gifts; after much hugging and trying out of the gifts the midnight mass project was shot.

Adrea did not have to complain and cry this year because she got more than she expected and spent an awful lot of time trying everything she received.

Chelsea was ecstatic with the skirts and the red bunny pair of slippers.

My mom said that by tomorrow Raymonde will have to make room for the new clothes and send the older ones to the “Bon Pasteur“, a close-by Christian institution of nuns, where the offered bundles are supposedly redistributed to the needy.

Joanna prepared four copies of a 1.2-meter laminated board spread of her photos with her friends and family.

Yuhanna complained that the dog Misha had twice more photos than he had; worst, his two photos were not satisfactory because they showed him wearing the baggy white suit that he and Joanna were asked to wear while cleaning up a stretch of a beach for cleaning it up of oil spill during Israel pre-emptive July War.

Cedric was sprawled on the carpet amid his gifts of Jeans, the deodorants, and the underwear heaped upon him.

William received a “tak wan doo” white suit and a very long woolen shawl that he wrapped over his head as the Sikhs.

By midnight William went to sleep because he had to wake up at 4 am in order to join the yoga ashram in Gemmayzeh; Cedric hit the sac also.

Yuhanna brought with him the saxophone, expecting that we might enjoy a family concert with Joanna at her Jazz flute, and Adrea at my classical guitar (that I never touched), and William at my accordion (that I never played). This concert did not happen.

Around 12:30 we had cakes and most everybody was feeling drowsy; Yuhanna was to sleep overnight and William prepared him the folding sofa downstairs in the basement floor where he had set up his study, by my room study.

By 1:30 a.m. my mom and I carried our gifts down to our first level flat.

(Funny why I failed to mention what where the gifts I received or the one I gave?…I usually offer books that go unread, or cash in envelop, and so does mother…)

Late Iraqi scientist Professor Abed Jabbar Abed Allah: Student of Einstein

سافر العالم أينشتاين إلى اليابان عام 1922 في الوقت الذي تم فيه الإعلان عن فوزه بجائزة نوبل للفيزياء !
وفي الفندق لم يجد معه مالاً ليعطيه للخادم الذي جلب الشاي.

فأمسك ورقة وكتب فيها جملة ثم وقعها ثم أعطاها للخادم ونصحه بالاحتفاظ بها.
بعد مرور 95 عاماً، في يوم 24/10/2017 اتصل أحد أبناء أخوة عامل الفندق ذاك، بدار المزايدات المقام في مدينة القدس ،لطرح الورقة في المزاد.

ابتدأ المزاد بالشاري الأول (2000 دولار) وبعد 25 دقيقة وقف المزاد على مبلغ (1,3 مليون دولار).
الآن… لنرى ماذا كتب أينشتاين في تلك الورقة:

{{ حياة هادئة ومتواضعة تجلب قدراً من السعادة أكبر من السعي للنجاح المصحوب بالتعب المستمر }} .

في العام 1958 كان رئيس جامعة بغداد… #البروفيسور_عبدالجبار_عبدالله ، هو أحد أربعة طلاب تتلمذوا على يد العالم أينشتاين في معهد ماساشوستس في الولايات المتحدة.

عندما حدث انقلاب القوميين والإسلاميين على سلطة عبد الكريم قاسم (1963)… اعتُقل العالم الفيزيائي العراقي ، وتلميذ أينشتاين فيمن اعتقلوا من كوادر وسياسيين وأساتذة وعسكريين.

وعندما أُفرج عنه هاجر إلى الولايات المتحدة، وأقام أستاذاً في نفس المعهد، ومنحه الرئيس هاري ترومان أعلى وسام …” #وسام_العالم ”.
أحد زملاء الزنزانة عرفه جيداََ… !

يقول إنه كان يشاهده مستغرقاً في تأملاته وكانت دموعه تنهمر أحياناً.
وإنه ذات يوم تجرأ وسأله عن سبب بكائه، فأجاب العالم الكبير :

عندما جاء الحرس القومي لاعتقالي… صفعني أحدهم، فأسقطني على الأرض. ثم فتش جيوبي وسرق ما لدي، وأخذ فيما أخذ قلم الحبر الذي أهداه إلي #ألبرت_أينشتاين، يوم نيلي شهادة الدكتوراه التي وقعها به.
وكان قلماً جميلاً من الياقوت الأحمر.
ولم أكن استعمل هذا القلم إلا لتوقيع شهادات الدكتوراه لطلابي في جامعة بغداد.

صمت هذا العالم قليلاً. ثم قال:
لم تؤلمني الصفعة ولا الاعتقال المهين.
ما آلمني أن الذي صفعني كان …أحد طلابي.

هذا ما قاله #البروفيسور_عبد_الجبار_عبدالله .
و #أينشتاين يقول:

(“2% من البشر يفكرون.
3% من البشر يظنون أنهم يفكرون.
95% من البشر يفضلون الموت على أن يفكروا”.)

الخادم الياباني أكرم انشتاين و احتفظ بالقصاصة لأحفاده بينما رجال السلطة لدينا اهانوا أنشتاين العراق والعرب وكسروا قلم أنشتاين…

ليس فقط في العراق بل الوطن العربي قاطبةََ دمروا العلم والعلماء والتعليم واهتموا بإنشاء جيل مهووس بالغناء والكرة والملاهي التي لا تسمن ولاتغني ولا تفيد إلا في انهيار الأمة….

#


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2021
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Blog Stats

  • 1,482,115 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 811 other followers

%d bloggers like this: