Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘humor

Arab Humor. Before Islam. Part 2

Before Islam, four idiot characters stood out:

1. Ijl ibn Lujaym, the idiot of the Christian tribe of Bakr ibn Wael, which lived in Yamama in Iraq.

2. Bakil of the tribe Iyyad ibn Nizar ibn Ma3ad that lived in Mecca and on the borders of Najran in Yemen.

3. Habannaka of the tribe of Banu Kays ibn Tha3laba.

4. Maria bint Mu3anj, nicknamed Dugha (butterfly) of the same tribe of Ijl.

1. The son killed his mother instead of the man who was “honoring” her: “Otherwise, “I’d be killing a man everyday of my life”

2. Salama ibn Jandal was nonplused with the request of the tribe of Banu Tamim for “chanting a poem” to their glory. salama replied: “Do something that gives me ground to praise you…”

3. Bakil bought a sheep for 11 dirham. Unable to talk properly, he showed his 10 fingers and got out his tongue.

4. The girl proposing to a young man “Marry me. I’ll be associated to your worries and material difficulties”. The man replied “I have none of these worries”, and the girl said: “You’ll have plenty of them once you marry me…”

5. Ijl wanted to call his spirited horse the “One -eyed”, and went ahead and gouged an eye to his horse.

6. A man was overjoyed with a horse that came first in the race “I own the bridle”

7. Habanna Kaysi offered 2 camels for anyone bringing back a lost camel of his “There is so much joy finding a lost property”

8. A man swore to sell a 1,000-dirham camel for a single dirham if found. The camel was found and a cat was sold for 1,000 dirham as one lot with the camel.

9. “What have you anticipated for winter?”  The Bedouin replied “A long shiver”

10. Hajib ibn Zurata was dispatched by the prophet Muhammad to the Persian King Anu Sharwan.

He presented himself as “One of the Arabs”.  As he faced the king, he upgraded his status to “The Lord of the Arabs”. Why? He has met a king who addressed him and talked to him.

11. An old woman met the prophet as she was visiting his wife Aicha. She asked that Muhammad includes her in heaven. Muhammad replied: “Old women have no access to paradise” The woman was crying as he re-entered the house and he continued “In heaven, God transforms women to young virgins”

12. The third caliph Omar ibn Khattab was told “This person is ignorant of what is bad”. Omar replied “He risks to be the victim more than anyone else”

13. Zayd ibn Darim was in delegation to the king of Himyar (Yemen) who was on a mountain hunting trip. The kind ordered Zayd to sit down “thib”. The man jumped off the cliff. Thib in Zayd Arabic slang meant “jump”. The king concluded “Anyone entering Dhofar must learn our Himyari language”

Note: Extracted from the French book “The book of Arab Humor” by Jean-Jacques Schmidt

Riding in Domino’s Pizza delivery cab in Kuwait

Posted by Jean El Hakim on FB:

“An adventure in Kuwait!

Apparently during Ramadan in Kuwait, finding a cab at 11 pm is kinda mission impossible…

I had a business meeting 2 nights ago from 10-11 pm at a coop in Kuwait… for those who have been to Kuwait, they know that in each district there is a medium size supermarket that also usually has a coffee shop, McDonalds, Domino’s Pizza, etc…

So after I was done with the meeting, I went outside the Coop and waited for around 30 minutes in the 45 degrees desert dry heat… I couldn’t find a cab and my driver is on leave during Ramadan…

I asked a lot of people and begged for help for a lift… I had no other choice than to go in Domino’s Pizza and ask the guy behind the counter if they deliver to my hotel pizza… The guy said yes sir ma’m but only if the request comes through their call Centre…

I grabbed my phone and called their bloody call center, ordered some pizza and waited… The staff were looking at me like they are not getting it…

The moment they shouted to the delivery guy “ORDER JOHN MARRIOTT HOTEL READY” I followed the delivery guy and went into the front seat next to him… a nice Egyptian guy… He was shocked…

The delivery man was quiet for a minute and then asked me what am I doing… I said: isn’t this pizza for John to be delivered to the Marriott hotel? He said yes. So I took my ID and said: I am John and this Pizza is mine so can we move please.

He was again quiet for couple of minutes… and said: Are you Lebanese? I said yes. He said: “You people are weird!”

We just both laughed for a good 10 minutes until I reached the hotel, gave him a good tip, and went back to my room with a pizza.

Political Negotiation: How does it functions in Lebanon?

I recall many decades ago, patiently trying to finish my graduate studies, that I volunteered to help another Lebanese to set up his data base and input his data in an environmental study.

Two months later, while also involved in setting up my experiments and collecting data, this Lebanese asked me: “I want to pay you for your trouble and time invested…” I never got into any negotiation before, but I blurted out: “I volunteered to help you, so forget about the money issue…”

This graduate student insisted that I be paid, and for the form I said: “Okay, $100”. That was a pittance, given that the student is well-off, family and teaching jobs…

I recall when I came to the university 5 years ago, another Lebanese undergraduate student called up this guy and arranged that he spare me a room in his vast apartment out of town. There were no public transportation whatsoever, and I had to go with him to the university and return in his car in the evening.  I stayed for about a week.

All these years, I biked and lived in basements, and 4 part-time jobs could barely pay for my tuition: I was frequently broke and many nights I sleep with an empty stomach.

The “negotiation” was not about to end and it took another turn. The graduate student replied: “What? You have the guts to ask for payment?”  I said: “I said that I did it for free, if you want me to ask for $1,000 or ten dollars just decide…” He got even more upset: “What? Do you think that I am cheap and could not afford $100?”

Finally, he wrote up a check for $100, and I never heard from him. I think that I forgot his name. He was telling me that he was negotiating with many geology companies in California for a package over $60,000, at a time there were no jobs and no companies were hiring even graduate students…

It’s a warm spring afternoon in Beirut, the birds are chirping and Hamra street is as busy as usual. There’s a lottery salesman staring into the distance, and occasionally he takes a puff from his cigarette then goes back to staring.

An old woman is trying to cross the street, and a nearby family is watching the scene from a balcony on the second floor. A typical calm Beirut Afternoon.

Karl reMarks posted on April 19, 2013:

A man strolls into a shop and starts inspecting the bags on display with as much disgust as he can summon.  The salesman look at him then goes back to reading his newspaper. The psychological warfare has begun and neither man wants to reveal any interest.

It’s a battle of nerves, skill and composure.

The customer decides on an opening gambit. He sighs as if the bags on display have thrown him into an existential crisis, then points half-heartedly to one of the bags and asks “how much is this one?”

The salesman looks up from the newspaper: “you are a man of good taste, that’s one of our best bags. It’s 100 dollars.”

The customer draws two incredulous arches with his brows, whistles and says: “What do you think I am, a tourist? Don’t plan your retirement on this sale. I’m Lebanese, now how much is it really?”

“God forbid. Believe me, I’m only making five dollars on this sale. Come downstairs with me and I will show you the receipt. But I don’t want to make any money on this, you look like a gentleman, I will give it to you for $95.”

“I’m trying to buy a bag from you and you are performing a comedy show. I  don’t buy bags every day, I have to go to a relative’s funeral in Jordan. Do you want me to take my clothes in a plastic bag? Because of you, I will have to do that. You have no mercy.”

(Both the salesman and the customer know this is a lie, but the rules stipulate that you’re not allowed to point that out.)

“I am saddened for your loss. My condolences, this is God’s wish. Your story has really affected me, I will take a loss on this. $90 for you.”

“This is not meant to be. I am going to your neighbour’s shop, I heard that he’s a more reasonable man.”

The client makes for the door, the salesman pauses a bit then says:

“Be a patient man. How much do you want to pay?”


“$20? Are you trying to start a fight? That’s it, I’m fed up with this business, I’m closing the shop.”

The salesman pretends he’s about to move, but the customer decides a quick follow-up is needed.

“Look here, all my cousins will need bags. Give me a good price and I will send them here. How does $30 sound?”

“How about I give to you for $30 then take my children out of school and have them beg on the streets? Would that satisfy you? Because that’s the only way I can give it to you for $30. My last word is $80.”

“I will tell you what I will do. We will skip dinner for a few days just because you’re an inflexible man and give you $40 for it. I can’t pay one Lira more, I swear by God.”

“I will give you this Chinese one for $40, why do you need the Italian one? It’s not for you.”

“What will the neighbours say if I they saw me with a Chinese bag? You’re trying to ruin my reputation? $40 is a good price.”

“My brother, I told it cost me $95, I am already losing money on this.” Here he takes out a calculator and starts punching numbers at random while muttering some figures. Then he looks up:” Ok, just for you, I swear, I wouldn’t do this for anyone else, take it for $70. This is my final last word, not a Lira less.”

“Here’s $50, take it and give me the bag. But you’re robbing me, I swear this is illegal.” He tries to forces the money into the salesman’s hand, but the latter withdraws his hand quickly.

“God forbid. Khallas, that’s it, take it for free. I’m not taking any money. Here.” As he says that, he starts packing the bag and tries to hand it over to the customer.

“You’re insulting me. What do you think I am, a beggar? I am going to cancel this trip.”

“You are so stubborn. You have broken me, I have never met a customer like you before. Here, have it for $60 but please don’t tell anyone. They will think I am crazy.”

“$55 it is. Yalla, shake my hand and pack it for me.”

“No way. Not going under $60. I don’t know why I’m still in this business.”

“Ok, I swear by God you have exhausted my soul. $60 and you give me three of these pens with it.”

“$60 and I will give you one pen.”

He shakes his hand and takes the bag. “Have a good evening. You are a man of impeccable taste and generosity.”

“God forbid, you are the best customer I have ever had.” The customer takes the bag and walks way.

As he leaves, both men are left celebrating their victories.

Now, are you interested in understanding how political negotiations work in Lebanon?

For example, the current debate about the parliamentary election law.  Imagine that there are 20 salesmen and 20 customers and try to picture all the possible permutations of the scenario above, and repeated among all parties.

A decision can be made only when they all agree. That will give you a rough idea of the complexity involved.

Actually, make that 19 salesmen and 19 customers (number of officially recognized religious sects), but that’s my last word.

Radiya (Contented): Or the versatile autistic girl

As a toddler, Radiya would watch cartoons for hours on end: Her mother would return home and see her child in the same posture, eyes riveted to the screen, as if the world around was condensed on the screen…

Radiya loved to be bathed and displayed a beatific face in the warm water, splashing and smiling… She was contended and the family felt comfortable with this quiet and healthy toddler (hanieh). She liked to please the audience of her newly acquired prowess in walking and climbing…

Radiya was no trouble at school: It appeared that she was doing fine in all courses, assiduous in doing her homework and social with her classmate…

As she grew older, Radiya was into break dancing, singing… and never waiting for any invitation to dance and to attract the attention of the audience. She was a ball of fire and enthusiasm till the age of 12.  She was not pretty, tiny in stature, and flat chested…  But at this age, Radiya didn’t care how she looked as long as she is in the game and leading the teams of little boys and girls

I recall when I arrived home after a long absence, Radiya was now about 8. At the airport, she rushed and jumped to be hugged: She must have constructed a hallucinating personality of me from the many pictures and videos… Radiya gushed everytime she saw me, sat on my lap, made sure to sit by me…. and tackle me when she was not playing with the other kids

Without much warning, as Radiya turned 13, a transformation displaced her other self. Her chest was still flat, not getting much taller, and not increasing in prettiness… She began to avoid leading boys in games, became more introspective, shunning dancing and singing in public… She started to wanting to evolve among guys at least 2 years older, the older the better…

And she started to read voluminous books of Anne Rice vampire stories… and reading the big books in a single sitting: Otherwise, she might probably have to start from the first chapter to get the story about right…

Radiya displayed a mocking posture when facing hot-headed and exuberant boys and girls. She joined girl scout for a year or two and quit: Sleeping in tents, surrounded with ants, mosquitoes, spiders…was not her” cup of tea”, and especially not enjoying a full night sleep…

Radiya decided to wear lightly in winter and sit by the gas heater instead, for hours on: She believe that wearing an additional layer is the cause for the mushroom invading her skin, particularly the abdomen part.  Every two days, the family has to purchase a gas bonbon just to satisfy her idiosyncrasies.  The side effect is that she catches cold frequently and go through two boxes of sanitary paper per day. She also keeps the lights on during broad day, for the details in her “homework”. Her father keep switching off lights in the house but does not dare disturb the comfort zone of Radiya: Her frequent ear piercing screams and cursing are not welcomed.

I discovered that she exhibited temporary photographic memory abilities: A couple of hours before the tests and exams, Radiya would read the lessons and pull off a good grade. The trouble was that, if she didn’t have to submit to other tests on the same subjects within a week, what she retained disappeared from her memory… her story board is confused and dates and names misplaced…

To my mind, I consider Radiya to be a versatile autistic girl.  She is currently studying fashion and doing excellent jobs in drawing dresses, cutting patrons, and coloring and learning to sew…

I overheard that Radiya is the best students among all Art disciplines, including architecture and graphic designs…

Note: This is the second character description in order to set the stage for my fiction story.

Mending a 100-hole mosquito net? Not that absurd.

Following the horrifying fiction story I imagined what I could have done after the harrowing event.

I went down to my apartment and started mending a 100-hole mosquito net. Lately, we had a two weeks of hot weather and a couple of mosquitos got active. All you need is a single buzzing mosquito to drive you insomniac.

I had installed mine and mother’s net: They were in acceptable conditions, but my father’s net was a problem. My father keeps long nails and have to get up 5 times the night to go and piss…

Father’s 100-hole net is ideal for winter time: The net could bring these feeling of closure, warmth, and being tucked in

Father is currently ailing: Last month, he spent a week in intensive care unit and another week in the hospital to recover from acute pneumonia. Actually, after a tiring month at home, of caring for him and encouraging him to start using the walker and… he is back to intensive unit with a resistant bacteria in the lungs. This bacteria is transmitted in hospitals, particularly via equipment and instrument, and he is being injected with the most powerful of antibiotics.

Father is not about to be using any mosquito net anytime soon, but mother is no longer in a shape to be mending and sewing: She is suffering from arthritis in her hands and finger and is forgetful. Mother thought that she had other mosquito nets in good conditions, but is not able to locate them.

I got used to mending socks, shirts, bed sheets… and now I am into mending mosquito nets, and this job was a welcomed task after the horror event that evening. I couldn’t stop mending one hole after another, hoping for my nerves to relax and appease my mind.

I think that I mended so many holes through the long night that I searched for a needle-sized hole as excuses to keep mending. I don’t recall what I was watching on cables.

The next afternoon, mother was cutting out the net in order to sew another one from the good portions. Mother favors appearances to functional nets, and the net should look brand new, even if nobody is about to investigate the status of father’s net.

Mother has been for a week on her net, and involving her daughter who has a good sewing machine. Mother is not satisfied with her son-in-law forgetting to bring a new belt for her old Singer.  He did try to locate a belt and could not find any, and he told mother the situation many times. Mother is forgetful.

The net is installed, but father is still in the intensive care.

I am under the strong impression that what I thought was an achievement is barely noticed or appreciated. I may mop, do dishes, do laundry, hang curtains, vacuum, filter water, be used as a beast of burden… All these tasks on a daily basis don’t count.

The modern custom is: “How much money can you spare?” And personal contributions to the daily maintenance of life are not considered of much added value. People prefer the condescending “distribution” of small money, sort of giving in secrecy what your right hand gives out… Any amount of what you need to survive…

Life is a series of absurdities, and it does not help much to discover the forms of the series. Series of absurdities can take the form of geometric or arithmetic trends in progression, kind of forecasting the next absurd event.  My impression is that the form of these series keeps changing, depending mostly on age.

Free Opinion: The worst nemesis to all kinds of ideologies and rulers

This post is a humorous attempt at engaging seriously these stone-faced muslem ideologue and religious extreme “puritanical” factions ruling Egypt today.

Modeled after the hugely successful ‘End Poverty’ global campaign, the Egyptian government today announced ambitious plans to ‘end humor’ by 2018. The initiative will aim to eliminate humor, satire and joke-telling from Egyptian society within a tightly-controlled five-year plan. Smiling will also be frowned upon, even though it won’t be strictly prohibited.

The campaign was launched earlier today by ordering the arrest of popular TV satirist Bassem Youssef, widely seen as a symbol of the nation’s obsession with flippancy and light-heartedness.

A stern-looking government spokesman announced that this is a symbolic strike at the entire echelon of satire and joke-telling that has infiltrated Egyptian society, hinting that foreign hands have been behind the drive to paralyze the nation through the promotion of humor in a strict religious nation.

Karl reMarks posted this March 30, 2013 under “Egypt launches ambitious campaign to ‘end humour’ by 2018”

A government spokesman for the Moslem Brotherhood said:

“For decades, people have been promoting inaccurate stereotypes about the Egyptian people, describing them as ‘funny’, ‘witty’ and ‘can make a joke of everything’. This nefarious propaganda promoted by the travel guide industry has distorted the perception of our serene countrymen and their wives, and I am sad to say that many Egyptians have adopted this alien way of thinking“.

Denying claims that this initiative was an attempt to stamp out critique against the government, the spokesman Dr Abbas Gadd clarified the aims of the campaign:

“This is primarily about economic productivity and the nation’s image abroad. We anticipate that even a 65% drop in joke-telling would increase labour productivity (not procreating activity) by 15% and add 1% to the nation’s GDP growth.”

“I do not personally see the point of telling jokes. In fact, I have always pretended to laugh when people told me jokes but I have never heard a funny joke in my life. From now on, no Egyptian citizen will have to put up with this pressure. This is about the nation’s soul.

Look at the ancient Egyptian statues, none of them are smiling. We suspect that the Sphinx was defaced during Napoleon’s campaign to give it a hint of a smile, but the original frown will be restored soon with the help of archaeologists.”

Dr Gadd said that the government will adopt a soft touch in this campaign, but there will be strict punishments for repeat offenders.

“We want you to know that we’re on your side, we’re helping you get rid of an unhealthy addiction (telling jokes and laughing at them). This plague of humor that has spread throughout Egypt will require a huge effort to combat.

Abbas Gadd also identified practical steps that people could take, such as praying or humming the national anthem whenever they felt the urge to tell a joke.

Speaking about the controversial arrest of the satirist Bassem Youssef, Dr Gadd had a clear message:

“I think this is not (Bassem Youssef) fault, his parents called him ‘Bassem’ which means ‘smiling’ in Arabic and we all know that names have a big impact on a person’s disposition. We will recommend that he change his name and we will help find another program to present because we value his talent. Perhaps something about Islamic history or halal interior decoration.”

Dr Gadd introduced several slogans for the campaign, which will be available as T-shirts, wristbands and those car air freshners that are so popular with taxi drivers. Samples to be considered:

“Frown for Egypt”,

“Life is not a joke” and

“Smiling is not a manly trait” and several others were introduced to the press, urging them to spread the message and get on board with the campaign.

A somber mood fell on the press conference venue after the announcement, which Dr Gadd detected. He closed by saying:

“There is nothing to worry about and if you think you’ve had a bad day, I’m invited to my mother-in-law’s house for dinner, and you know what her cooking is like”.

At which point, several people laughed and Dr Gadd himself smiled. But then he realized his faux-pas and left the room hurriedly muttering something about Satan.

Note: Bassem was released the same day, but the campaign of the Brotherhood against opposition opinions is going on.


President Obama to visit Palestine and Israel: An American/Palestian has this to say…

Amer Zahr posted in the CivilArab this March 13, 2013. Amer has this to say:

Mr. President, I hear you are traveling to Israel next week.  As a concerned patriotic American citizen of Palestinian descent, I have some pointers for you.

I assume you’ll be flying into Tel Aviv.  Usually, when non-Jews arrive there, especially if they are a little darker-skinned, they are asked to wait in a… let’s call it a “VIP Room.”

Incidentally, the room is quite nice. There’s a water cooler, comfortable chairs, and a soda machine.  It’s probably the only place in the world where you can be racially profiled and get an ice-cold Coca-Cola all at once.

To avoid the room, I would mention that you are the President of the United States.  It might help.

You may get strip-searched.

Saying that you are an American doesn’t help much here.  I’ve tried.

I even sang the national anthem last time an Israeli soldier was looking down my pants.  Right after I said, “Oh say can you see,” he said, “Not much.”

To escape this embarrassment, I would mention that you are the President of the United States.  It might help.

In case they don’t already know, you might not want to tell Israeli security you are half-Muslim.

As a fellow half-Muslim, I can tell you they don’t really care about the percentage.

Any bit of Muslim freaks them out. And I’m not sure if you heard, but the fans of one of Israel’s soccer teams, Beitar Jerusalem, actually protested when the club signed two Muslim players.  When one of them scored in a game last week, hundreds of fans actually walked out of the stadium.  One of the fans later stated about the Muslim players, “It’s not racism. They just shouldn’t be here.” Hopefully, they don’t know your middle name is “Hussein.” Maybe they didn’t watch the inauguration.

In any case, I would mention that you are the President of the United States.  It might help.

This next one might be a little tough.

Maybe you didn’t hear, but lately there has been a little “African problem” in Israel.  Over the past several years, tens of thousands immigrants from Africa, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, have entered the “only democracy in the Middle East.”  Most of them are looking for work, and some are political refugees.  Israel has recently rounded up many of them for deportation.

Oh, and by the way, they don’t call them “refugees” or “migrants,” they call them “infiltrators.”  Israelis have held numerous demonstrations in Tel Aviv, where most of the migrants live, to demand an African exodus from Israel.

And the refugees aren’t the only Africans Israel seems to have a problem with.  About 150,000 Israeli Jews are of Ethiopian descent.  A number of news organizations reported early this year that Israeli government doctors had been giving Ethiopian Jewish women contraceptives either against their will or without their knowledge.

The Israeli government admitted the practice and decided to stop it once it was reported on.  See, Mr. Obama, many rabbis in Israel have questioned the “Jewishness” of Ethiopian Jews.  And if you’re not Jewish in Israel, well… I’d be glad to give you the full story on that someday.

So they’re not too crazy about their own Ethiopian citizens, and last year, Benjamin Netanyahu warned that illegal immigrants from Africa “threaten our existence as a Jewish and democratic state.”  I know, “Jewish” and “democratic”? It’s confusing.  I’ll try to explain that one to you one day too, but I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to.  But I think one thing is clear.  Israel does not seem to like Africans too much.

I know Mr. President that you’re not from Eritrea, Ethiopia, or Sudan, but I probably wouldn’t advertise too strongly that your dad was from Kenya.  This might be really hard, given your skin tone and everything, especially if you’re bringing Michelle with you.

To avoid any dangers of getting deported to Nairobi, I would just keep mentioning that you are the President of the United States.  It might help.

When you leave, Israeli security officers are going to search your bags.  And they don’t do it casually with a smile like our airport security here.  They go through your stuff like a wife looking for evidence of an affair.

You might remind them that you, as the President of the United States, sign their checks.

And they’re going to strip search you again.  Yes, on the way out too.  Strip searches in Israel are “buy one, get one free.”

They perform the strip search in a section of the airport aside from where the normal operations are conducted.  You’ll run into a few of your Palestinian-American constituents when you’re there.  I know it’s a weird place for someone to ask to take a picture with you, but to us, it’s just part of visiting home.

You don’t have to mention to us that you are the President of the United States.

We already know.  We supported you, twice.  Maybe you can return the favor?




March 2020

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