Adonis Diaries

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What do you mean by Most Powerful Women?

The 100 Most Powerful Arab Women 2015

Welcome to CEO Middle East’s fifth annual list of the world’s most powerful Arab women

Our yearly look at the most important female influencers across the Arab world.

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1

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud

Saudi Arabia

$28.1bn ($31.2bn)

2

The Olayan family

Saudi Arabia

$12bn ($12.5bn)

3

Joseph Safra

Brazil (Lebanon)

$11.9bn ($7.5bn)

4

The Sawiris family

Egypt

$11.3bn ($10bn)

5

Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber

UK (Saudi Arabia)

$9.2bn ($12.66bn)

6

Mohammed Al Amoudi

Saudi Arabia

$9bn ($12bn)

7

The Kharafi family

Kuwait

$8.3bn ($8.5bn)

8

The Al Ghurair family

UAE

$7bn ($6.3bn)

9

The Bukhamseen family

Kuwait

$6.4bn ($6.8bn)

10

The Kanoo family

Bahrain

$6bn ($6.1bn)

11

The Mansour family

Egypt

$5.4bn ($5.1bn)

12

The Al Rajhi family

Saudi Arabia

$5bn ($4.3bn)

13

Hussain Sajwani

UAE

$4bn (New entry)

14

The Gargash family

UAE

$3.5bn ($3.7bn)

15

Adel Aujan

Saudi Arabia

$3.3bn ($3.56bn)

16

Najib Mikati

Lebanon

$3.2bn ($3.4bn)

17

Abdulatif Al Fozan

Saudi Arabia

$3.05bn ($3.25bn)

18

Issad Rebrab

Algeria

$3bn (New entry)

19

The Hayek family

Switzerland (Lebanon)

$2.9bn ($3.2bn)

20

Bahaa Hariri

Switzerland (Saudi Arabia)

$2.8bn ($3.1bn)

21

Saad Hariri

Lebanon

$2.7bn ($3.3bn)

22

Ziad Manasir

Russia (Jordan)

$2.6bn ($2.58bn)

23

Mansour Ojjeh

France (Saudi Arabia)

$2.45bn ($2.8bn)

24

Othman Benjelloun

Morocco

$2.4bn (New entry)

25

Ayman Asfari

UK (Syria)

$2.35bn ($2.7bn)

26

Mohammed Ibrahim

UK (North Sudan)

$2.2bn ($2.15bn)

27

Nadhmi Auchi

UK (Iraq)

$1.9bn ($2.2bn)

28

Saleh Kamel

Saudi Arabia

$1.85bn ($2bn)

29

Hasan Abdullah Ismaik

UAE (Jordan)

$1.8bn (New entry)

30

Mohammed Al Fayed

UK (Egypt)

$1.7bn (new entry)

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1

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi

UAE (UAE)

Government

2

Amal Clooney

Lebanon (UK)

Law

3

Loujain Al Hathloul

Saudi Arabia

Culture and society

4

Lubna Olayan

Saudi Arabia

Banking and finance

5

Reem Al Hashimy

UAE

Government

6

Mariam Al Mansouri

UAE

Armed forces

7

Mona Al Munajjed

Saudi Arabia

Culture and society

8

Salwa Idrissi Akhannouch

Morocco

Retail

9

Amina Al Rustamani

UAE

Media

10

Zainab Mohammed

UAE

Real estate

11

Nayla Hayek

UAE (Lebanon)

Retail

12

Dr Rana Dajani

Jordan

Science

13

Haifaa Al Mansour

Saudi Arabia

Arts and entertainment

14

Bayan Mahmoud Al Zahran

Saudi Arabia

Law

15

Manahel Thabet

UAE (Yemen)

Science

16

Hayat Sindi

Saudi Arabia

Science

17

Leila El Solh

Lebanon

Culture and society

18

Iqbal Al Asaad

Lebanon (Palestine)

Healthcare

19

Huda Al Ghoson

Saudi Arabia

Energy

20

Hanan Al Kuwari

Qatar

Healthcare

21

Zaha Hadid

Iraq (UK)

Construction

22

Mariam Abultewi

Palestine

Technology

23

Fatima Al Jaber

UAE

Construction

24

Majida Ali Rashid

UAE

Real estate

25

Maali Alasousi

Yemen (Kuwait)

Culture and society

26

Samia Halaby

US (Palestine)

Arts and entertainment

27

Maha Laziri

Morocco

Education

28

Somayya Jabarti

Saudi Arabia

Media

29

Raja Al Gurg

UAE

Construction

30

Hamdiyah Al Jaff

Iraq

Banking and finance

31

Shaikha Al Bahar

Kuwait

Banking and finance

32

Wafa Sayadi

Tunisia

Environmental services

33

Futaim Al Falasi

UAE

Media

34

Lamis Elhadidy

Egypt

Media

35

Joelle Mardinian

UAE

Arts and entertainment

36

Noura Al Kaabi

UAE

Media

37

Samia Al Amoudi

Saudi Arabia

Healthcare

38

Lina Attalah

Egypt

Media

39

Grace Najjar

Lebanon

Consulting and coaching

40

Samira Islam

Saudi Arabia

Science

41

Khawla Al Kuraya

Saudi Arabia

Science

42

Zainab Salbi

Iraq (US)

Culture and society

43

Mira Al Attiyah

Qatar

Finance

44

Muna Abu Sulayman

Saudi Arabia

Culture and society

45

Abeer Abu Ghaith

Palestine

IT

46

Rasha Al Roumi

Kuwait

Transport

47

Summer Nasief

Saudi Arabia

Healthcare

48

Maryam Matar

UAE

Science

49

Hend El Sherbini

Egypt

Science

50

Raha Moharrak

UAE (Saudi Arabia)

Sport

51

Maha Al Ghunaim

Kuwait

Banking and finance

52

Habiba Al Safar

UAE

Science

53

Salma Hareb

UAE

Industry

54

Joumana Haddad

Lebanon

Culture and society

55

Dalia Mogahed

US (Egypt)

Culture and society

56

Thoraya Obaid

Saudi Arabia

Culture and society

57

Randa Ayoubi

Jordan

Media

58

Mona Al Marri

UAE

Media

59

Sarah Shuhail

UAE

Culture and society

60

Soraya Salti

Jordan

Culture and society

61

Nawal Al Saadawi

Egypt

Culture and society

62

Amira Yahyaoui

Tunisia

Culture and society

63

Nashwa Al Ruwaini

UAE

Media

64

Ayah Bdeir

Canada (Lebanon)

Science

65

Tawakul Karman

Yemen

Culture and society

66

Nadine Labaki

Lebanon

Arts and entertainment

67

Maha Al Farhan

UAE

Science

68

Nahed Taher

Saudi Arabia

Banking and finance

69

Mona Eltahawy

US (Egypt)

Media

70

Hala Gorani

US (Syria)

Media

71

Dima Ikhwan

Saudi Arabia

Finance and entertainment

72

Nancy Ajram

Lebanon

Arts and entertainment

73

Nermin Saad

Saudi Arabia (Jordan)

IT

74

Amal Al Qubaisi

UAE

Culture and society

75

Ingie Chalhoub

UAE

Retail

76

Dalya Al Muthanna

UAE

Conglomerate

77

Elissa Freiha

UAE

Investment

78

Badreya Al Bishr

Saudi Arabia

Media

79

Hind Seddiqi

UAE

Retail

80

Hanan Solayman

Egypt

Media

81

Fatema Mernissi

Morocco

Culture and society

82

Manal Al Sharif

Saudi Arabia

Culture and society

83

Nisreen Shocair

UAE (Lebanon)

Retail

84

Ghada Amer

Egypt

Science

85

Amal Al Marri

UAE

Retail

86

Fairouz

Lebanon

Arts and entertainment

87

Nayla Al Khaja

UAE

Arts and entertainment

88

Yousra

Egypt

Arts and entertainment

89

Ahlam Mosteghanemi

Algeria

Arts and entertainment

90

Hayv Kahraman

US (Iraq)

Arts and entertainment

91

Ismahane Elouafi

Morocco

Science

92

Muna Harib

UAE

Culture and society

93

Ahlam

UAE

Arts and entertainment

94

Sara Akbar

Kuwait

Energy

95

Huda Kotb

US (Egypt)

Media

96

Mona Ataya

UAE (Palestine)

Retail

97

Mishaal Ashemimry

US (Saudi Arabia)

Aerospace engineering

98

Reine Abbas

Lebanon

Technology

99

Buthaina Al Ansari

Qatar

Culture and society

100

Hind Hobeika

Lebanon

Technology

 

Mistinguett of The Moulin Rouge:  Biggest star insured legs for 500,000 francs in 1919

Mistinguett  was a French actress and singer, whose birth name was Jeanne Florentine Bourgeois. She was at one time the highest-paid female entertainer in the world.

Once during a tour of the United States, Mistinguett was asked by Time magazine to explain her popularity. Her answer was, “It is a kind of magnetism. I say  ‘Come closer’ and draw them to me.

Mistinguett, born in poverty, was not particularly beautiful but had an undeniably quick wit. She wanted to build her own life and said “the poor suburbs, it’s not enough just to want to get out.

I had a talent: life. All the rest remains to be done, to be thought about. I couldn’t allow myself just to be a beautiful animal, I had to think of everything”. A peerless businesswoman, she first listened carefully then captivated.

Source
Source

 

 Maurice Chevalier and Mistinguett, Source
Maurice Chevalier and Mistinguett, Source

 

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Source

 

 Mistinguett and Josephine Baker in 1927. Source
Mistinguett and Josephine Baker in 1927. Source

At an early age Mistinguett.aspired to be an entertainer. She began as a flower seller in a restaurant in her hometown, singing popular ballads as she sold blossoms.

After taking classes in theatre and singing, she began her career as an entertainer in 1885. One day on the train to Paris for a violin lesson, she met Saint-Marcel, who directed the revue at the Casino de Paris.

He engaged her first as a stage-hand, and here she began to pursue her goal to become an entertainer, experimenting with various stage-names, being successively Miss Helyett, Miss Tinguette, Mistinguette and, finally, Mistinguett.

 

 Mistinguett at the Moulin Rouge Source
Mistinguett at the Moulin Rouge Source

Bourgeois made her debut as Mistinguett at the Casino de Paris in 1895 and went on to appear in venues such as the Folies Bergère, Moulin Rouge and Eldorado.

She was at one time the highest-paid female entertainer in the world.

thevintagenews.com

Her risqué routines captivated Paris, and she went on to become the most popular French entertainer of her time and the highest paid female entertainer in the world, known for her flamboyance and a zest for the theatrical.In 1919 her legs were insured for 500,000 francs.

 Mistinguett in her Chrysler, Deauville, France, 1929 Source
Mistinguett in her Chrysler, Deauville, France, 1929 Source

 

 Mistinguett in the United States in 1924 Source
Mistinguett in the United States in 1924 Source

 

 Mistinguett poster, 1911 Source
Mistinguett poster, 1911 Source

 

 Mistinguett sitting on her Chrysler with a group of photographers in Deauville in 1929. Source
Mistinguett sitting on her Chrysler with a group of photographers in Deauville in 1929. Source

 

 Mistinguett Source
Mistinguett Source

 

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Source

 

 

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Source

Mistinguett died in Bougival, France, at the age of 80, attended by her son, a doctor.

She is buried in the Cimetière Enghien-les-Bains, Île-de-France, France.

Upon her death, writer Jean Cocteau observed in an obituary, “Her voice, slightly off-key, was that of the Parisian street hawkers—the husky, trailing voice of the Paris people.

She was of the animal race that owes nothing to intellectualism. She incarnated herself. She flattered a French patriotism that was not shameful. It is normal now that she should crumble, like the other caryatids of that great and marvelous epoch that was ours”.

One part of the Obama White House that will endure under Trump: Michelle’s vegetable garden

February 13, 2017

It was less than a year ago that Michelle Obama referred to it as “her baby.”

She wasn’t talking about her youngest daughter, Sasha, or the Obama’s pet dog Bo, but something undoubtedly dear to her during her time at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: the White House vegetable garden.

Her comments were made during her eighth and final spring planting, but “hopefully,” she added, “this will not be the last” one ever.

First lady Melania Trump confirmed that although the garden’s founder may have moved away, her beloved garden lives on. A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“As a mother and as the First Lady of this country, Mrs. Trump is committed to the preservation and continuation of the White House Gardens, specifically the First Lady’s Kitchen Garden and the Rose Garden,” Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, senior adviser to the first lady, said in a statement to CNN.

The White House vegetable garden was supposedly the first of its kind since Eleanor Roosevelt’s in 1943, The Washington Post’s Dan Zak reported in April.

The garden in the past has offered a varied menu that included “Churchill” brussels sprouts and “Kentucky colonel” spearmint, as well as garlic and fennel and shallots and endive. The garden was, at last count, 1,700 square feet in size, but for the past eight years it has occupied a much larger space symbolically, as Michelle Obama used her platform to fight childhood obesity and improve America’s eating habits.

Throughout that fight, health advocates said, the garden was a physical reminder of Obama’s message.

“The vegetables wind up in dinners for the first family,” Zak noted. “Almost 500 pounds of them have been shipped to homeless shelters. In 2010, they ripened into Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, for which the first lady danced with Elmo and Jimmy Fallon in order to get kids off the couch and to the crisper. She has also nudged corporations to trim salt, sugar and fat from food products.”

The garden — located on the corner of the South Lawn — more than doubled in area during the Obama presidency. The garden also includes an apiary and a pollinator garden for bees and other insects. A spokesman for Hillary Clinton told The Post that she intended to keep the garden if she were elected president, but Trump had not signaled whether the garden would survive until last week.

CNN reported that Trump toured the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Fla., with Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The visit gave the first lady — striking a Michelle Obama-esque tone — a chance to tout the health benefits and physical beauty that can be derived from a well-kept garden.

 

Statement of Coretta Scott King

on the Nomination of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III for the United States District Court Southern District of Alabama

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, was trying to read the letter of Coretta Scott King aloud in the Senate chamber when her fellow senators, accusing her of violating a rule that forbids one senator from demeaning another, invoked a law, forcing her to stop.

The statement consists of two parts: a cover letter addressed to Mr. Thurmond, which Ms. Warren did not read aloud, and the statement, part of which Ms. Warren read on the Senate floor. She later read it in full on Facebook Live, uninterrupted. By Wednesday afternoon, her video had been viewed more than seven million times.

The introduction.

Dear Senator Thurmond:

I write to express my sincere opposition to the confirmation of Jefferson B. Sessions as a federal district court judge for the Southern District of Alabama. My professional and personal roots in Alabama are deep and lasting.

Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts.

Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.

For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.

I regret that a long-standing commitment prevents me from appearing in person to testify against this nominee. However, I have attached a copy of my statement opposing Mr. Sessions’ confirmation and I request that my statement as well as this letter ‘be made a part of the’ hearing record.

I do sincerely urge you to oppose the confirmation of Mr. Sessions.

Sincerely,

Coretta Scott King

Thursday, March 13, 1986

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee: Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to express my strong opposition to the nomination of Jefferson Sessions for a federal district judgeship for the Southern District of Alabama. My longstanding commitment which I shared with my husband, Martin, to protect and enhance the rights of Black Americans, rights which include equal access to the democratic process, compels me to testify today.

Civil rights leaders, including my husband and Albert Turner, have fought long and hard to achieve free and unfettered access to the ballot box. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge. This simply cannot be allowed to happen. Mr. Sessions’ conduct as U.S. Attorney, from his politically motivated voting fraud prosecutions to his indifference toward criminal violations of civil rights laws, indicates that he lacks the temperament, fairness and judgment to be a federal judge.

The Voting Rights Act was, and still is, vitally important to the future of democracy in the United States. I was privileged to join Martin and many others during the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights in 1965. Martin was particularly impressed by the determination to get the franchise of blacks in Selma and neighboring Perry County. As he wrote, “Certainly no community in the history of the Negro struggle has responded with the enthusiasm of Selma and her neighboring town of Marion. Where Birmingham depended largely upon students and unemployed adults (to participate in non-violent protest of the denial of the franchise), Selma has involved fully 10 percent of the Negro population in active demonstrations, and at least half the Negro population of Marion was arrested on one day.” Martin was referring of course to a group that included the defendants recently prosecuted for assisting elderly and illiterate blacks to exercise that franchise. ln fact, Martin anticipated from the depth of their commitment twenty years ago, that a united political organization would remain in Perry County long after the other marchers had left. This organization, the Perry County Civic League, started by Mr. Turner, Mr. Hogue, and others as Martin predicted, continued “to direct the drive for votes and other rights.” In the years since the Voting Rights Act was passed, Black Americans in Marion, Selma and elsewhere have made important strides in their struggle to participate actively in the electoral process. The number of Blacks registered to vote in key Southern states has doubled since 1965. This would not have been possible without the Voting Rights Act.

However, Blacks still fall far short of having equal participation in the electoral process. Particularly in the South, efforts continue to be made to deny Blacks access to the polls, even where Blacks constitute the majority of the voters. It has been a long up-hill struggle to keep alive the vital legislation that protects the most fundamental right to vote. A person who has exhibited so much hostility to the enforcement of those laws, and thus, to the exercise of those rights by Black people should not be elevated to the federal bench.

The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods. Twenty years ago, when we marched from Selma to Montgomery, the fear of voting was real, as the broken bones and bloody heads in Selma and Marion bore witness. As my husband wrote at the time, “it was not just a sick imagination that conjured up the vision of a public official, sworn to uphold the law, who forced an inhuman march upon hundreds of Negro children; who ordered the Rev. James Bevel to be chained to his sickbed; who clubbed a Negro woman registrant, and who callously inflicted repeated brutalities and indignities upon nonviolent Negroes peacefully petitioning for their constitutional right to vote.”

Free exercise of voting rights is so fundamental to American democracy that we can not tolerate any form of infringement of those rights. Of all the groups who have been disenfranchised in our nation’s history, none has struggled longer or suffered more in the attempt to win the vote than Black citizens. No group has had access to the ballot box denied so persistently and intently. Over the past century, a broad array of schemes have been used in attempts to block the Black vote. The range of techniques developed with the purpose of repressing black voting rights run the gamut from the — straightforward application of brutality against black citizens who tried to vote to such legalized frauds as “grandfather clause” exclusions and rigged literacy tests.

The actions taken by Mr. Sessions in regard to the 1984 voting fraud prosecutions represent just one more technique used to intimidate Black voters and thus deny them this most precious franchise. The investigations into the absentee voting process were conducted only in the Black Belt counties where blacks had finally achieved political power in the local government. Whites had been using the absentee process to their advantage for years, without incident. Then, when Blacks realizing its strength, began to use it with success, criminal investigations were begun.

In these investigations, Mr. Sessions, as U.S. Attorney, exhibited an eagerness to bring to trial and convict three leaders of the Perry County Civic League including Albert Turner despite evidence clearly demonstrating their innocence of any wrongdoing. Furthermore, in initiating the case, Mr. Sessions ignored allegations of similar behavior by whites, choosing instead to chill the exercise of the franchise by blacks by his misguided investigation. In fact, Mr. Sessions sought to punish older black civil rights activists, advisors and colleagues of my husband, who had been key figures in the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. These were persons who, realizing the potential of the absentee vote among Blacks, had learned to use the process within the bounds of legality and had taught others to do the same. The only sin they committed was being too successful in gaining votes.

The scope and character of the investigations conducted by Mr. Sessions also warrant grave concern. Witnesses were selectively chosen in accordance with the favorability of their testimony to the government’s case. Also, the prosecution illegally withheld from the defense critical statements made by witnesses. Witnesses who did testify were pressured and intimidated into submitting the “correct” testimony. Many elderly blacks were visited multiple times by the FBI who then hauled them over 180 miles by bus to a grand jury in Mobile when they could more easily have testified at a grand jury twenty miles away in Selma. These voters, and others, have announced they are now never going to vote again.

I urge you to consider carefully Mr. Sessions’ conduct in these matters. Such a review, I believe, raises serious questions about his commitment to the protection of the voting rights of all American citizens and consequently his fair and unbiased judgment regarding this fundamental right. When the circumstances and facts surrounding the indictments of Al Turner, his wife, Evelyn, and Spencer Hogue are analyzed, it becomes clear that the motivation was political, and the result frightening — the wide-scale chill of the exercise of the ballot for blacks, who suffered so much to receive that right in the first place. Therefore, it is my strongly-held view that the appointment of Jefferson Sessions to the federal bench would irreparably damage the work of my husband, Al Turner, and countless others who risked their lives and freedom over the past twenty years to ensure equal participation in our democratic system.

The exercise of the franchise is an essential means by which our citizens ensure that those who are governing will be responsible. My husband called it the number one civil right. The denial of access to the ballot box ultimately results in the denial of other fundamental rights. For, it ‘ is only when the poor and disadvantaged are empowered that they are able to participate actively in the solutions to their own problems.

We still have a long way to go before we can say that minorities no longer need be concerned about discrimination at the polls. Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asian Americans are grossly underrepresented at every level of government in America. If we are going to make our timeless dream of justice through democracy a reality, we must take every possible step to ensure that the spirit and intent of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution is honored.

The federal courts hold a unique position in our constitutional system, ensuring that minorities and other citizens without political power have a forum in which to vindicate their rights. Because of his unique role, it is essential that the people selected to be federal judges respect the basic tenets of our legal system: respect for individual rights and a commitment to equal justice for all. The integrity of the Courts, and thus the rights they protect, can only be maintained if citizens feel confident that those selected as federal judges will be able to judge with fairness others holding differing views.

I do not believe Jefferson Sessions possesses the requisite judgment, competence, and sensitivity to the rights guaranteed by the federal civil rights laws to qualify for appointment to the federal district court. Based on his record, I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made everywhere toward fulfilling my husband’s dream that he envisioned over twenty years ago. I therefore urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to deny his confirmation.

I thank you for allowing me to share my views.

Correction: February 8, 2017
An earlier version of this article mischaracterized a part of Coretta Scott King’s 1986 letter. She wrote, “Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” not “should be elevated.”

Read books: can open your mind?

“A dream’s most important purpose is to get us in touch with where passion comes from, where happiness comes from.”

I was trained to become a gymnast for two years in Hunan, China in the 1970s. When I was in the first grade, the government wanted to transfer me to a school for athletes, all expenses paid.

But my tiger mother said, “No.” My parents wanted me to become an engineer like them. After surviving the Cultural Revolution, they firmly believed there’s only one sure way to happiness: a safe and well-paid job. It is not important if I like the job or not.

0:43 my dream was to become a Chinese opera singer.

That is me playing my imaginary piano. An opera singer must start training young to learn acrobatics, so I tried everything I could to go to opera school. I even wrote to the school principal and the host of a radio show. But no adults liked the idea.

No adults believed I was serious. Only my friends supported me, but they were kids, just as powerless as I was.

So at age 15, I knew I was too old to be trained. My dream would never come true. I was afraid that for the rest of my life some second-class happiness would be the best I could hope for.

that’s so unfair.I was determined to find another calling. Nobody around to teach me? Fine. I turned to books.

I satisfied my hunger for parental advice from this book by a family of writers and musicians.[“Correspondence in the Family of Fou Lei“]

I found my role model of an independent woman when Confucian tradition requires obedience.[“Jane Eyre”]

 I learned to be efficient from this book.[“Cheaper by the Dozen”]

 I was inspired to study abroad after reading these.

2:07[“Complete Works of Sanmao” (aka Echo Chan)] [“Lessons From History” by Nan Huaijin]

I came to the U.S. in 1995, so which books did I read here first? Books banned in China, of course.“The Good Earth” is about Chinese peasant life. That’s just not convenient for propaganda. Got it. The Bible is interesting, but strange. (Laughter)

That’s a topic for a different day. But the fifth commandment gave me an epiphany: “You shall honor your father and mother.” “Honor,” I said. “That’s so different,and better, than obey.” So it becomes my tool to climb out of this Confucian guilt trap and to restart my relationship with my parents.

Encountering a new culture also started my habit of comparative reading. It offers many insights.

For example, I found this map out of place at first because this is what Chinese students grew up with. It had never occurred to me, China doesn’t have to be at the center of the world. A map actually carries somebody’s view.

Comparative reading actually is nothing new. It’s a standard practice in the academic world. There are even research fields such as comparative religion and comparative literature.

Compare and contrast gives scholars a more complete understanding of a topic. So I thought, well, if comparative reading works for research, why not do it in daily life too? So I started reading books in pairs.

they can be about people — [“Benjamin Franklin” by Walter Isaacson][“John Adams” by David McCullough] — who are involved in the same event, or friends with shared experiences. [“Personal History” by Katharine Graham][“The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life,” by Alice Schroeder] I also compare the same stories in different genres — (Laughter)

[Holy Bible: King James Version][“Lamb” by Chrisopher Moore] — or similar stories from different cultures, as Joseph Campbell did in his wonderful book.[“The Power of Myth” by Joseph Campbell] For example, both the Christ and the Buddha went through three temptations.

For the Christ, the temptations are economic, political and spiritual. For the Buddha, they are all psychological: lust, fear and social duty — interesting.

 if you know a foreign language, it’s also fun to read your favorite books in two languages. [“The Way of Chuang Tzu” Thomas Merton][“Tao: The Watercourse Way” Alan Watts]

Instead of lost in translation, I found there is much to gain. For example, it’s through translation that I realized “happiness” in Chinese literally means “fast joy.” Huh! Bride” in Chinese literally means “new mother.” Uh-oh. (Laughter)

Books have given me a magic portal to connect with people of the past and the present. I know I shall never feel lonely or powerless again. Having a dream shattered really is nothing compared to what many others have suffered.

I have come to believe that coming true is not the only purpose of a dream.Its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from. Even a shattered dream can do that for you.

5:37  because of books, I’m here today, happy, living again with a purpose and a clarity, most of the time.

may books be always with you.

Patsy Z shared this link

“A dream’s most important purpose is to get us in touch with where passion comes from, where happiness comes from.”

Are you a novelist?  Shouldn’t write only what You know?

 If you fail to manifest your identity, is the story no longer of much value?

“But don’t you see? There’s nothing in me that is not in everybody else, and nothing in everybody else that is not in me

“Knowledge that takes you Not beyond yourself is far worse than ignorance.”

I’m a storyteller. That’s what I do in life — telling stories, writing novels — and today I would like to tell you a few stories about the art of storytelling and also some supernatural creatures called the djinni.

But before I go there, please allow me to share with you glimpses of my personal story. I will do so with the help of words, of course, but also a geometrical shape, the circle, so throughout my talk, you will come across several circles.

0:45 I was born in Strasbourg, France to Turkish parents. Shortly after, my parents got separated, and I came to Turkey with my mom. From then on, I was raised as a single child by a single mother.

Now in the early 1970s, in Ankara, that was a bit unusual. Our neighborhood was full of large families, where fathers were the heads of households, so I grew up seeing my mother as a divorcee in a patriarchal environment.

In fact, I grew up observing two different kinds of womanhood.

On the one hand was my mother, a well-educated, secular, modern, westernized, Turkish woman.

On the other hand was my grandmother, who also took care of me and was more spiritual, less educated and definitely less rational. This was a woman who read coffee grounds to see the future and melted lead into mysterious shapes to fend off the evil eye.

Many people visited my grandmother, people with severe acne on their faces or warts on their hands. Each time, my grandmother would utter some words in Arabic, take a red apple and stab it with as many rose thorns as the number of warts she wanted to remove.

Then one by one, she would encircle these thorns with dark ink. A week later, the patient would come back for a follow-up examination. Now, I’m aware that I should not be saying such things in front of an audience of scholars and scientists, but the truth is, of all the people who visited my grandmother for their skin conditions, I did not see anyone go back unhappy or unhealed.

I asked her how she did this. Was it the power of praying? In response she said, “Yes, praying is effective, but also beware of the power of circles.”

From her, I learned, amongst many other things, one very precious lesson — that if you want to destroy something in this life, be it an acne, a blemish or the human soul, all you need to do is to surround it with thick walls. It will dry up inside.

Now we all live in some kind of a social and cultural circle. We all do.

We’re born into a certain family, nation, class. But if we have no connection whatsoever with the worlds beyond the one we take for granted, then we too run the risk of drying up inside.

Our imagination might shrink; our hearts might dwindle, and our humanness might wither if we stay for too long inside our cultural cocoons. Our friends, neighbors, colleagues, family — if all the people in our inner circle resemble us, it means we are surrounded with our mirror image.

one other thing women like my grandma do in Turkey is to cover mirrors with velvet or to hang them on the walls with their backs facing out. It’s an old Eastern tradition based on the knowledge that it’s not healthy for a human being to spend too much time staring at his own reflection.

Ironically, [living in] communities of the like-minded is one of the greatest dangers of today’s globalized world. And it’s happening everywhere, among liberals and conservatives, agnostics and believers, the rich and the poor, East and West alike.

We tend to form clusters based on similarity, and then we produce stereotypes about other clusters of people.

In my opinion, one way of transcending these cultural ghettos is through the art of storytelling. Stories cannot demolish frontiers, but they can punch holes in our mental walls. And through those holes, we can get a glimpse of the other, and sometimes even like what we see.

I started writing fiction at the age of 8.

My mother came home one day with a turquoise notebook and asked me if I’d be interested in keeping a personal journal. In retrospect, I think she was slightly worried about my sanity. I was constantly telling stories at home, which was good, except I told this to imaginary friends around me, which was not so good.

I was an introverted child, to the point of communicating with colored crayons and apologizing to objects when I bumped into them, so my mother thought it might do me good to write down my day-to-day experiences and emotions.

What she didn’t know was that I thought my life was terribly boring, and the last thing I wanted to do was to write about myself. Instead, I began to write about people other than me and things that never really happened. And thus began my life-long passion for writing fiction. So from the very beginning, fiction for me was less of an autobiographical manifestation than a transcendental journey into other lives, other possibilities.

And please bear with me: I’ll draw a circle and come back to this point.

one other thing happened around this same time. My mother became a diplomat. So from this small, superstitious, middle-class neighborhood of my grandmother, I was zoomed into this posh, international school [in Madrid], where I was the only Turk.

It was here that I had my first encounter with what I call the “representative foreigner.” In our classroom, there were children from all nationalities, yet this diversity did not necessarily lead to a cosmopolitan, egalitarian classroom democracy.

Instead, it generated an atmosphere in which each child was seen — not as an individual on his own, but as the representative of something larger. We were like a miniature United Nations, which was fun, except whenever something negative, with regards to a nation or a religion, took place.

The child who represented it was mocked, ridiculed and bullied endlessly. And I should know, because during the time I attended that school, a military takeover happened in my country, a gunman of my nationality nearly killed the Pope, and Turkey got zero points in [the] Eurovision Song Contest. (Laughter)

I skipped school often and dreamed of becoming a sailor during those days. I also had my first taste of cultural stereotypes there. The other children asked me about the movie “Midnight Express,” which I had not seen; they inquired how many cigarettes a day I smoked, because they thought all Turks were heavy smokers, and they wondered at what age I would start covering my hair.

I came to learn that these were the three main stereotypes about my country: politics, cigarettes and the veil. After Spain, we went to Jordan, Germany and Ankara again. Everywhere I went, I felt like my imagination was the only suitcase I could take with me. Stories gave me a sense of center, continuity and coherence, the three big Cs that I otherwise lacked.

In my mid-twenties, I moved to Istanbul, the city I adore. I lived in a very vibrant, diverse neighborhood where I wrote several of my novels. I was in Istanbul when the earthquake hit in 1999.

When I ran out of the building at three in the morning, I saw something that stopped me in my tracks. There was the local grocer there — a grumpy, old man who didn’t sell alcohol and didn’t speak to marginals. He was sitting next to a transvestite with a long black wig and mascara running down her cheeks. I watched the man open a pack of cigarettes with trembling hands and offer one to her, and that is the image of the night of the earthquake in my mind today — a conservative grocer and a crying transvestite smoking together on the sidewalk.

In the face of death and destruction, our mundane differences evaporated, and we all became one even if for a few hours. But I’ve always believed that stories, too, have a similar effect on us.

I’m not saying that fiction has the magnitude of an earthquake, but when we are reading a good novel, we leave our small, cozy apartments behind, go out into the night alone and start getting to know people we had never met before and perhaps had even been biased against.

Shortly after, I went to a women’s college in Boston, then Michigan. I experienced this, not so much as a geographical shift, as a linguistic one. I started writing fiction in English. I’m not an immigrant, refugee or exile — they ask me why I do this — but the commute between languages gives me the chance to recreate myself.

I love writing in Turkish, which to me is very poetic and very emotional, and I love writing in English, which to me is very mathematical and cerebral. So I feel connected to each language in a different way. For me, like millions of other people around the world today, English is an acquired language.

When you’re a latecomer to a language, what happens is you live there with a continuous and perpetual frustration. As latecomers, we always want to say more, you know, crack better jokes, say better things, but we end up saying less because there’s a gap between the mind and the tongue.

And that gap is very intimidating. But if we manage not to be frightened by it, it’s also stimulating. And this is what I discovered in Boston — that frustration was very stimulating.

At this stage, my grandmother, who had been watching the course of my life with increasing anxiety, started to include in her daily prayers that I urgently get married so that I could settle down once and for all. And because God loves her, I did get married. (Laughter)

But instead of settling down, I went to Arizona. And since my husband is in Istanbul, I started commuting between Arizona and Istanbul — the two places on the surface of earth that couldn’t be more different. I guess one part of me has always been a nomad, physically and spiritually. Stories accompany me, keeping my pieces and memories together, like an existential glue.

Yet as much as I love stories, recently, I’ve also begun to think that they lose their magic if and when a story is seen as more than a story.

And this is a subject that I would love to think about together. When my first novel written in English came out in America, I heard an interesting remark from a literary critic. I liked your book,” he said, “but I wish you had written it differently.” (Laughter)

I asked him what he meant by that. He said, “Well, look at it. There’s so many Spanish, American, Hispanic characters in it, but there’s only one Turkish character and it’s a man.”

Now the novel took place on a university campus in Boston, so to me, it was normal that there be more international characters in it than Turkish characters, but I understood what my critic was looking for. And I also understood that I would keep disappointing him. He wanted to see the manifestation of my identity. He was looking for a Turkish woman in the book because I happened to be one.

 We often talk about how stories change the world, but we should also see how the world of identity politics affects the way stories are being circulated, read and reviewed.

Many authors feel this pressure, but non-Western authors feel it more heavily. If you’re a woman writer from the Muslim world, like me, then you are expected to write the stories of Muslim women and, preferably, the unhappy stories of unhappy Muslim women.

You’re expected to write informative, poignant and characteristic stories and leave the experimental and avant-garde to your Western colleagues.

What I experienced as a child in that school in Madrid is happening in the literary world today. Writers are not seen as creative individuals on their own, but as the representatives of their respective cultures: a few authors from China, a few from Turkey, a few from Nigeria. We’re all thought to have something very distinctive, if not peculiar.

The writer and commuter James Baldwin gave an interview in 1984 in which he was repeatedly asked about his homosexuality. When the interviewer tried to pigeonhole him as a gay writer, Baldwin stopped and said, But don’t you see? There’s nothing in me that is not in everybody else, and nothing in everybody else that is not in me.”

When identity politics tries to put labels on us, it is our freedom of imagination that is in danger.

There’s a fuzzy category called multicultural literature in which all authors from outside the Western world are lumped together.

I never forget my first multicultural reading, in Harvard Square about 10 years ago. We were three writers, one from the Philippines, one Turkish and one Indonesian — like a joke, you know. (Laughter) And the reason why we were brought together was not because we shared an artistic style or a literary taste. It was only because of our passports. Multicultural writers are expected to tell real stories, not so much the imaginary. A function is attributed to fiction. In this way, not only the writers themselves, but also their fictional characters become the representatives of something larger.

I must quickly add that this tendency to see a story as more than a story does not solely come from the West. It comes from everywhere. And I experienced this first-hand when I was put on trial in 2005 for the words my fictional characters uttered in a novel.

I had intended to write a constructive, multi-layered novel about an Armenian and a Turkish family through the eyes of women. My micro story became a macro issue when I was prosecuted. Some people criticized, others praised me for writing about the Turkish-Armenian conflict. But there were times when I wanted to remind both sides that this was fiction. It was just a story. And when I say, “just a story,” I’m not trying to belittle my work. I want to love and celebrate fiction for what it is, not as a means to an end.

Writers are entitled to their political opinions, and there are good political novels out there, but the language of fiction is not the language of daily politics.

Chekhov said, “The solution to a problem and the correct way of posing the question are two completely separate things. And only the latter is an artist’s responsibility.”

Identity politics divides us. Fiction connects. One is interested in sweeping generalizations. The other, in nuances. One draws boundaries. The other recognizes no frontiers. Identity politics is made of solid bricks. Fiction is flowing water.

In the Ottoman times, there were itinerant storytellers called “meddah.” They would go to coffee houses, where they would tell a story in front of an audience, often improvising. With each new person in the story, the meddah would change his voice, impersonating that character. Everybody could go and listen, you know — ordinary people, even the sultan, Muslims and non-Muslims.

Stories cut across all boundaries, like “The Tales of Nasreddin Hodja,” which were very popular throughout the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans and Asia.

Today, stories continue to transcend borders. When Palestinian and Israeli politicians talk, they usually don’t listen to each other, but a Palestinian reader still reads a novel by a Jewish author, and vice versa, connecting and empathizing with the narrator. Literature has to take us beyond. If it cannot take us there, it is not good literature.

Books have saved the introverted, timid child that I was — that I once was.

But I’m also aware of the danger of fetishizing them. When the poet and mystic, Rumi, met his spiritual companion, Shams of Tabriz, one of the first things the latter did was to toss Rumi’s books into water and watch the letters dissolve. The Sufis say, “Knowledge that takes you Not beyond yourself is far worse than ignorance.” The problem with today’s cultural ghettos is not lack of knowledge — we know a lot about each other, or so we think — but knowledge that takes us not beyond ourselves: it makes us elitist, distant and disconnected. There’s a metaphor which I love: living like a drawing compass. As you know, one leg of the compass is static, rooted in a place. Meanwhile, the other leg draws a wide circle, constantly moving. Like that, my fiction as well. One part of it is rooted in Istanbul, with strong Turkish roots, but the other part travels the world, connecting to different cultures. In that sense, I like to think of my fiction as both local and universal, both from here and everywhere.

those of you who have been to Istanbul have probably seen Topkapi Palace, which was the residence of Ottoman sultans for more than 400 years. In the palace, just outside the quarters of the favorite concubines, there’s an area called The Gathering Place of the Djinn. It’s between buildings.

I’m intrigued by this concept. We usually distrust those areas that fall in between things. We see them as the domain of supernatural creatures like the djinn, who are made of smokeless fire and are the symbol of elusiveness. But my point is perhaps that elusive space is what writers and artists need most.

When I write fiction I cherish elusiveness and changeability. I like not knowing what will happen 10 pages later. I like it when my characters surprise me. I might write about a Muslim woman in one novel, and perhaps it will be a very happy story, and in my next book, I might write about a handsome, gay professor in Norway. As long as it comes from our hearts, we can write about anything and everything.

Audre Lorde once said, “The white fathers taught us to say, ‘I think, therefore I am.'” She suggested, “I feel, therefore I am free.” I think it was a wonderful paradigm shift.

And yet, why is it that, in creative writing courses today, the very first thing we teach students is “write what you know”? Perhaps that’s not the right way to start at all. Imaginative literature is not necessarily about writing who we are or what we know or what our identity is about. We should teach young people and ourselves to expand our hearts and write what we can feel. We should get out of our cultural ghetto and go visit the next one and the next.

19:05 In the end, stories move like whirling dervishes, drawing circles beyond circles. They connect all humanity, regardless of identity politics, and that is the good news. And I would like to finish with an old Sufi poem: Come, let us be friends for once; let us make life easy on us; let us be lovers and loved ones; the earth shall be left to no one.”

Patsy Z shared this link. TED.2 hrs ·

“When we read a good novel, we leave our small, cozy apartments behind, go out into the night and start getting to know people we’ve never met before.”

Fine tune your marriage contract

The more a couple, particularly women in developing countries, fine tune their marriage contract and discuss all aspects of marriage troubles, the more they become autonomous in thinking and behavior.

A thorough contract is Not merely a guideline for remembering what has been promised, but for learning what we have to be facing and how we should confront the multiple challenges.

A contract is a document of Delivering on what we intended to do.

I read a very stupid statement that the more a woman dwell on what to get before marriage is a sign of resuming the bondage tradition.

The most bullshit statement that propagate the male domination.

Islam was the most advanced religion in the fact that it permitted women to write detailed and binding marriage contracts.

Women could demand divorce if the contract was breached. And scores of them did just that in the first century of Islam.

We all have been suckered many times, once more than we thought our intelligence and experience could permit.

Don’t be frightened.

This is the attribute of a normal person: we are addicted to suckers, in all domain fo life.
The harder we resist, the faster we succumb


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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