Often we take on roads we never trekked before and are afraid to move forward… because we are expected to walk on the familiar.

Often, we do things with one intention… but the fruit of our labour is something unexpected… often pleasant.

A drink to wash fears away ends up in a conversation, the beginning of something fabulous.

Or a long forgotten prayer finally answered when you least expect it.

When something is taken away, something is given back. Whether or not we acknowledge it.

My days have been very grey with splashes of rainbows at train stops… but now… I can see some colours seep through the canvas… as faint and pastel as they are… they’re enough to put a smile on my face.

I can finally look in the mirror and agree with my reflection, despite the disagreement over many factors.

We’re both happy.

The Inevitable Ramadan Post

Ramadan is different this time around. Things have changed over the past couple of years for me and many other people. Personally speaking, this Ramadan would be an interesting one.

Despite everything else, Ramadan has always been one of the happiest months. It’s undeniably mostly psychological, but often it doesn’t matter how we feel good and happy as long as we do. It’s these simplest notions of guilt and pleasure that we build our lives upon. Otherwise, why would we invent so many things to make us happy and detract us away from what upsets us, which, with no coincidence, we, too, built.

Life to me, right now, is nothing more than manufactured, by our greed for power and desire for superiority. My religious side has always been bumpy as it never is easy to be part of a multi religious and partly atheist family. Regardless, whatever religious systems present are moral codes to regulate society. The truthfulness of the poetry or legends behind them doesn’t matter anymore in 2010. What matters is the outcome – power and prejudice. Normally, people have given up, and those who didn’t stick to their own derived forms of established ethics. Which is fine. God is God, in the mind or in the metaphysical – it really doesn’t matter as long as we’re happy with ourselves.

I haven’t prayed in two years, bar some intermittent sparks of piety, and I almost but completely forgotten why everything is the way it is to begin with. Yet in the night God is my only companion, and I still remember when I was a kid, praying that my dad would buy me the Nintendo 64 with Super Mario, which he did, in the States out of all places. I remember how God always answered in one way or another. And I explicitly remember praying to be made redundant so I can be happy as I don’t have the balls to quit a job – because I like to see everything through – and it’s been answered.

And yes, despite the depressive episodes and my mood swings, I am, overall, genuinely much happier than before.

In any case, you can learn about Ramadan over many places, but moryarti summarizes eloquently here (and on a humourous note,here). If you wanna start learning how to cook, no better than abufares‘ wonderful, but obtusely detailed recipes. You can also read Mr. Tahhan’s blog filled with delicious recipes and foodly photos from different cuisines.

Wishing you all a blessed Ramadan and more importantly, happiness and content with who you are, and your life, regardless of whatever you pray to, or don’t.

Wishful Thinking

I received an email as a form of a joke but it has the undeniable truth of how we prioritize the aspects of our lives incorrectly.

The joke narrative, in brief, describes a group of businessmen crossing paths with a small group of people living a very simple life, one very similar to Abufares’ Tartous he vividly reminisces. The businessmen ask the villagers how they spend their days, and the villagers explain how they simply fish and enjoy family and friends around. Businessmen respond by giving them more elaborate fishing ideas, expanding fishing boats to fleets and running a multimillion dollar business after many years of hard work. The villagers ask what’s the point. The businessmen reply saying they can then retire and spend times with their families.

Which is what the so called simpletons have been doing all along.

It’s interesting when you let it sink in. We spend time away from friends and family, planting seeds in other people’s gardens and harvesting very little. We are afraid to tend to our own garden – others’ are more expanse, presumably greener, and presumably have better soil. As the years pass, our own garden deteriorates even further, making it even more difficult to refocus and grow our own farm.

We hop around, till our garden dies away, the plants and the trees and the people we know and love but have never given them the time nor energy, all while we tend to others to “gain the experience” enough to remedy the ever deteriorating situation.

How sad is that.

Shouldn’t we give focus and energy to people and issues that really matter? How many opportunities do you come across in your life? And how many parents and grandparents and kids can you have in your life? Your health and happiness?

The opportunity of a lifetime? It’s hearing every story your parents have to tell. To be with family, with friends, and with loved ones. To experience life as it was really meant to be, and die knowing more about the people around you and their stories than the stagnant businesses and skills you’re told you need but never really do. To die knowing that you left more than an empty and readily replaceable chair at work – to pass on your own story and have your spirit linger around the recliner where you spent your final days.

“This is where your grandfather used to sit, and tell me stories of his grandmother’s siren phone and her great cooking.”

Wishful thinking.

The Brave & The Fool

“Countless were the occasions,” I wrote, many years ago, “where I set out to write these memoirs of mine, but a strange sentiment – mixture of terror and anguish – always stopped me from carrying through.”

I have written many memoirs since then, and looking back, I can only laugh at myself for the fool I have been. For putting work and career before everything else, and everything else before me. I don’t dwell on the past like I used to, and as they say in Arabic, اللي فات مات and it should be.

Today (probably literally, but mostly figuratively) I stand at a crossroads where many men have stood before, weighing options and outcomes of decisions with factors including personal preference, spiritual gain and happiness, family obligations, societal and life expectations, and financial metrics.

It’s not particularly challenging, mind you, if you only put the necessary factors in. And I am not exactly old enough to be worried too much about many of those metrics, but circumstances are there whether I wish it or not. However, before I start my family, I need to live in one.

Now what is making a difference is the little history of experiences I had previously regarding similar decisions. Of course I am expected by everyone to make the wisest decisions that would satisfy the majority of mankind but myself.

Looking back at all the shit I have written over the years, I think enough is enough. They’ve all been bad decisions, their only good outcome is providing me the wisdom to choose differently this time. I refuse to be “just another one”, because though I am not sure of where I belong, I know how to tell when I don’t belong.

Whether or not I have the guts, though, is a different matter. But what I can smell, and very strongly, is the sea and freedom. And it boils my blood for it to be so close and almost tangible that I am even considering otherwise. Fuck it, I’ve had enough.

On Being Superficial & Such

To those of you I know who might be reading this, the post is not directed at you. It’s merely an observation of myself, nothing more nor less.

I never understood how someone can become superficial, but over the years I have transformed into someone who is, and, looking back, I am trying to understand how all of this happened.

It continually drives me insane when people remark on those less fortunate and judging them by their cars or clothes or the restaurants they go to, and associate that with their manners. Less fortunate people might be more predisposed to be “vulgar” but I am yet to find a proof that everyone who drives a 170,000+ dirham car is no less vulgar than the average or less than average Joe.

And the “mafia wars” of races and cultures is pathetic, and I am one of the biggest victims here. Jokes of Lebanese vs Syrians coupled with events in the recent years have engraved my brain with the notion that we are in a cultural war of dominance. Reinforcing that notion are a couple of bad apples from both sides – all while completely disregarding the fact that one of my best friends and one of my childhood friends and buddies are Lebanese, and I trust them with anything I have.

Having met the “good and regular” apples from the Lebanese basket I have come to realize how uneasy and paranoid I am around people, always thinking that there is a mental war brewing between us, when there isn’t. Over time it has diminished, and I make a conscious effort to keep that in mind; it is unfair to both of us to skew interpretations based on a narrow field of vision I have imposed on it.

The ironic part is that the Syrians I would consider friends can be counted with one hand while holding a fork.

So how has it come to this? It hit me when my ex said it bluntly in my face – I am the most superficial person she has ever met. Of all things we argued about this is the only thing I really wanted to look at because I know I was never like that. Prior to my exposure to human beings at the age of 17 I have been the most empathetic person I have come to know (not that there was someone to feel empathy for, but you know, books have people). During college, it persisted, but after that something went wrong.

Blaming Dubai for this won’t solve any issues. But the city and the environment you’re exposed to in that city will profile you no matter what – it’s merely a matter of how predisposed you are to being molded and stepped over that affects how much profiling it does. And in my case it has been a lot, I am ashamed to be, but not ashamed to admit. Back in the good green Levant it doesn’t even cross my mind. Most of my superficial “filters” are automatically switched off, amongst other things that make my brain work like clockwork. Back home I am a completely different person, and people who have seen both versions can attest to that.

Over the past year things have significantly improved yet it’s been difficult to pull this off alone. Telling people I am a racist bastard who needs help made me even more paranoid, but now that I’ve covered a good distance myself, I do feel that I need more social support to help me through.

I won’t blame you if you judge me. I’m doing my best to fix myself and I won’t let myself down. Most other things in my life have failed miserably in the past couple of years, but if there’s one thing I am going to put a 1500% to salvage from that wreck it is me.