March, 2009

Dear Schools: ENOUGH Bullshit!

Dear Schools: ENOUGH Bullshit!

It makes me sad to see the wasted amount of potential leaders, scientists, braniacs and people with inhuman levels intelligence.

Like Qwaider mentioned, schools have mostly become a social status – how much your family can really afford. We have grown a mentality where when someone says “I graduated from Oxford” is perceived as a God and one who says “I graduated from Damascus University” would probably be annihalated on the spot.

Lots of institutions, I am sure, do not offer an education up to par with the price tag. Here in Dubai there was a haitus over a recent (and, as usual, unexplained) price hike in one of the schools. The government eventually had to jump in and regulate price hikes the schools can get depending on their perfomance as a school – which seems fair but the means of measure might probably be flawed.

There were many truly dumb idiots in my university, and I don’t mean only academically (not smart vs intelligent) but the only reason they were on campus is because their families could afford it and they happened to pass the TOEFL test, on the third time. “Non profit organizations” feed on people with big wallets who are willing to pay anything for social recognition.

If that seems appalling, take a look at this story. This girl was thrown out of class because her mother did not have enough money to pay the fees because she is unemployed (the semester is almost over). The humiliation! To be denied education when you had nothing to do with it. I am appalled beyond measure, among with the hundred of people writing Gulf News an email right now or have commented.

In my job I got to see many people arriving, as we called them, “a package”. You get to hire someone with all sorts of three and four letter acronym certificates, but give them a task and they’d do everything written on the “Do NOT do the following” list at the end of every chapter given in the book.

So, what’s up?

Some people buy their certificates (fraud), some people buy it in the sense of paying for the education and not learning. Others pay loads of money on false promises – regardless of potential. And then you get the group of people who cannot afford education but have so much potential if given the chance. The idea of “poor people are dumb” stems from the fact that they were never given the opportunity to be educated at any age.

There’s a huge debate on whether education should be free, and whether it becomes socialism if it is, or if the quality is rendered abysmal when the government pays for it.

This is not what I am talking about here.

I am talking about the opportunity to educate people, and to have a better responsibility of selecting candidates to enroll based on their potential and wit rather than wallets. There is a social responsibility towards the community and towards education. I understand the schools have operating costs and wages to everyone working there, but come on. Throwing a girl out of class for 500 dollars? “If we allow one we should allow all” – I understand, but throwing the girl out in the middle of her class, in front of everyone, isn’t the way to solve this issue.

I would really love to see a private university or college or school dedicate a class that’s free for all, general education. If every school in the country does that, imagine how many kids would learn something new every term. Granted, they might not end up as “intelligent” as those who are paying and are getting a full education, but in the long run the average level of knowledge in the population will go up.

Or am I too utopic?

When Mom Reads Something She Shouldn’t

As you know, I have had several journals that speak of my days and nights on this planet. One or two of them got trashed and another burnt, but a couple survived, one of them thick enough to chronicle three years or so.

At any rate, when mom was here some time ago, she was doing her usual cleaning and rearranging when she stumbled upon The Book.

If I were wise enough I would have put The Book among other notebooks, novels and volumes of academia to undermine its presence. But no, I had to stash it away in a labyrinth of obstacles and out of reach, making it quite an important item to justify my mom’s leafing through it.

Most of the stuff I write, even now, is incomprehensible gibberish, random thoughts and philosophies and reflections on almost everything, all in abstract monologues. One day it might be a book of significant human achievement, you’d never know! In between those abrupt and wacky thoughts are normal, human-friendly accounts of what transpired on that given day.

My mom happened to flip to one of the comprehensible pages, which, of all things, told of a certain experience I had in college. My friend, in a nutshell, visited me with a couple of very posh and very expensive cigars.

Now you know I am a non smoker and, back then, being very righteous and goody two shoes, I did not allow myself to write that my friend and I smoked cigars. To hide the truth, I wrote “my friend and I have sinned”.

Done laughing? Good… mom wasn’t laughing. She was horrified. Her hopes of having grandchildren got butchered.

Her very own son was sinning with another man.

She had to read more, so she read the pages before and after. Of course, I was quite creative in my writings, and with the “sin” part consuming mom’s thoughts, you can imagine how she felt when I wrote on how breathless I was after sinning, how I had to consume lots of liquids to remove the taste, how my room was smoking, and – which I am sure almost gave her a stroke – I frequently coughed and gagged, and most importantly that it felt really good and my friend and I laughed so hard.

It took mom several days of preparation to open the topic with me.

“Kinan,” she started, after having me sit down for a talk. I expected this to be another bridal shopping lecture.

“Yes mom”

“I… I know of your sin”

“huh”

“Kinan 7abibi it is ok, I am your mom, you can tell me everything”

“what”

“I won’t tell anyone… we can talk about this”

“Talk about what?!”

“People make mistakes, people do stupid things, it is ok… I just want to protect you”

“From WHAT! What the HELL are you talking about?!”

“When you were a kid did anyone touch you?”

“O__O”

“It’s ok Kinan… I just realized, omg I am a horrible mom! I never asked if anyone hurt you in school…”

“Um.. no, I am fine…”

“In college… did anyone do anything?”

“O__O”

“I read your journal… when you sinned”

It then dawned on me. I refrained from being angry at her leafing through my journal, so I just said “No mom it’s just me and my friend smoking”

That didn’t make it any better.

She was prepared to hear me confess or fulfill her hopes by telling her that yes I sinned and I need some therapy.

But she wasn’t prepared to hear that I smoked.

Thinner Wallet How To: Celebrate March!

March, in my life, is a month of celebrations, and the road to a thinner wallet. Of course I am the sort of person who goes all-out on gifts. Don’t you love gifts? I certainly do!

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So without further ado, happy birthday to:

Sis - thank you for terrorizing my childood. Enjoy your last few years of your 20s :P
Cousin - thanks for having me waste money on your stupid DHL gift. I would love to tell you to go to hell but you don’t believe in it :P
Sis’ best friend – you’re hot. But I am more interested in your younger sister; she still has a few more years to reach your age :P
Mom - happy birthday mommy! Best woman I know EVER! And thanks for constantly sending me on guilt trips. And happy Mother’s Day!
Granny - happy birthday teta! Love you loads, miss your food and smell and soaps and happy Mother’s Day as well!
Rocco - thanks for always being a schizo like me! You old bastard. How’s it feel being in your thirties? Sucks eh? With two kids? You were happy man, what happened? Why do this to yourself?
Moryarti - great guy, great friend, and has a chronic disorder of returning my calls after 48 hours. Sigh. Slow old buggers!
Christina - thank you for FedExing my teddy bear boxers all the way from Spain and having me open it in front of everyone in college!

Hungry Zombie: A DHL Story

I was pronounced dead on arrival, on a warm Monday evening at roughly 7 PM.

I remember it was a tough, long day at work. I had many problems wrapping up all my tasks before I leave my position in two weeks’ time. Exhausted, I slept in the car while my sister drove. Lights passed from the window, briefly illuminating my unconsciousness as I swam along the shores two weeks from now.

An SMS woke me up. I read it in disbelief. It was regarding a delayed DHL shipment of mine. I sent my cousin, in Sweden, a lovely birthday gift, in a giant 70 cm frame to his desires.

I called up the DHL office, and a gentleman answered my plea for aid. He said he would inform me as soon as he gets information.

Hours of agony passed.

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burst my bubble

What a nice warm evening… on a day like this I would be cruising around Dubai, enjoying the lives of other people.

The man called me back.

“Yes sir this is regarding your shipment,” he said.
“Aha..”
“It cannot be delivered,” he announced, rather unapologetically.
“How come?!” I inquired, rather naively.
“It has been damaged..”

It was then when I went into epileptic seizures and died.

There is no afterlife. At least, there wasn’t any for me. I hung around in blackness and whiteness – they all seemed the same for a dead man. There are no colors, not even black nor white. The world of the dead is smudged, colorless, and, as you might have figured, lifeless.

But something happened… something strange happened.

I woke up in the morgue. I didn’t feel much pain – but I didn’t feel myself alive either. Cold and barefoot, I looked in the mirror, only to see parts of my skull cut open, and a tag nailed into my right temple. The paper read “Brain hemorrhage, followed by isolated explosions”. Hmmph.

I felt hungry.

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hungry knows no looks

There was no food around. I remembered I put a snack bar in my jeans. I looked around the cabinets, and rifled through other people’s items. You’d be surprised what they keep in their jeans, them people.

I found a paper in my jeans with “Airway Bill” and a number written on it, as well as what appeared to be a phone number. I scratched my head – my exposed brain rather – and to my dismay half of my brain plopped on the ground.

Hungry, eat must I, thinks me. Foods be must here, not, know not I, speak must eat food. Look squishy brain floor. Not too squishy. Cut, open people, not fresh. Must fresh eat. Number on paper, call, must, deli? Fresh.

“Hello, DHL how might I help you?” answer food, end other line.
“Directionssss”
“Yes sir you can find me in …”

Walk. Long walk. Slow, numb legs. Hate. Slow legs, hate I. I miss squishy squishy. Was faster with squishy. Must eat.

DHL. Red sign. Nice. Big. Not squishy. Glow. Glowwwws. Hm.

Walk in. Person. Horror face. He point me, half squishy gone. Full squishy he has. Smell good. Smelly squishy.

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must have squishy

“Braaaaaaaaains” squishy squishy.
“GRAAAAGH! HEELP! HEELP!” squishy squished.
munch munch munch
“Helloooooooooooooooooooooo,” squishy sez.
munch munch burp.
“Sir are you there?”

Huh?!

I snapped out. I was in the mall, my sister looking at my face and laughing. I realized I was talking to someone on the phone. The DHL guy.

“Yeah, I uh, sorry what did you say?”
“The shipment’s been damaged sir. What would you like us to do?”
“Just send me a damage report, screw the frame, if the photo is OK you can deliver it.”
“Will inform them sir and get back to you.”
“Ok thanks.”
“Welcome sir. And oh sir!”
“Yes?”
“Looks like your shipment was not insured, so the max you can claim from DHL is 100 dollars.”

I was pronounced dead on arrival, on a warm Monday evening at roughly 7 PM…

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