Reaching Singularity

My feet felt the earth, coldly warm and moist; a fertile earth that speaks of many tongues: that of the lemon, the olives, the oranges, the bay leaves.

The earth let out a sigh whispering to the wind its secrets.

Senses awakened,
Winds caress the lake beyond.
The smell of bay leaves.

I took the bay leaves from the earth. The textures brushed against my thumb like an ancient script carved in a fragile cloth. The words were beyond understandable; the earth’s alphabet written and shaped by the tongue of the winds.

There is an experience a longed for, that of singularity. To be one with nothing, and yet everything. The colors and shapes of the world limit your imagination. But complete blankness, an empty state of mind, has unlimited creativity, and unlimited potential.

It was the first and only time in my life I longed for nothing.

I closed my eyes. Breathing controlled in a very faint, slow rythm.

The earth enveloped my feet, the wind engaged with the bay leaves in my hands. I took a breath.

The sunlight slowly faded away. The tree I leaned my back on lost its support… I felt afloat. The wind no longer moved. Everything became still.

Element by element, my surroundings disappeared. I lost my feeling of the leaves. I could no longer feel the texture, nor the moist earth, or the sun’s warm rays or the winds chant.

The lake disappeared last.

My conscious, for the first time ever, felt indistinct from my subconscious, until it fell asleep. My subconcious arose, and I sang of feeling.

Lost fragments of thoughts wandered like spirits, until they, too, became ashes of a flame.

I was in total darkness, with no feelings of coldness, warmth, dryness, wetness…. no lust, no love, no hate, no fear… a state of nothing, and yet everything.

I did not even feel happy.

I did not feel any emotion… I do not remember any form of feeling or seeing anything except complete darkness.

The only feeling I could possibly relate to was peace.. but even that I could not define in absolute terms.

Hours and hours passed by …

Until my conscious surfaced again… and the senses rushed back, and the elements of my surroundings came to.

It barely passed a minute, in real life. But it was the best less than a minute I have ever experienced Syria.

I kept the bay leaves.

Meeting the One & Only Qabbani

People change. You would be lying to yourself if you say you haven’t changed. Yes stem character is there, but don’t kid yourself: You’re different every day.

Then comes along an experience that changes you drastically, or inertly in a profound manner. A near death experience, a movie, a book, eating chocolate for the first time, soiling yourself at the age of 23, etc.

Then there are people who you meet and you just sit and do nothing but listen. You’d love to sit with them longer, pick their brains, know their lives, hear their experiences, and listen to what they have to say.

One of those times where you don’t talk like you are used to but instead just keep listening with an open mind and have several bulbus abraini lighting up in your head.

And sometimes the location helps too.

This is how it was when I met Monsieur Qabbani. Our first meeting was next to the cemetery. First thing in the morning.

LOL!

So while the dead watched, him and I greeted and we walked away towards Qassa3 area, whose end is the beginning of old Damascus and is my favorite spot in the city. He had such a warm and inviting smile it was a simple matter of getting over with the formal first greeting to feel like I have known him for years even though I only got to know his blog recently.

We sat in a cafe called Steed upon my recommendation, but the service was terrible that morning despite us sitting next to the entrance (and something was wrong with the drinks I think). Next time we meet we’d stay in the cemetery and have some matteh LOL! Otherwise the scenery was perfect – great weather, lovely breeze, the cars, the women, the women, the women, and the smell of petrol.

What a romantic first date :D

So the conversations began. We talked about many things – starting from common grounds like work and blogging all the way up to how human beings think and the greater purpose in life.

His enthusiasm and positive attitude on life is rejuvenating and I was absolutely happy to finally meet someone who loves life (even if it is in a different way). The past few months have been horrible for me and I tried my best to keep my smile. His energy was contagious and it was just exactly what I needed.

And then the imbecile started looking at his watch O_o

And I wanted to shoot him (>0-0)>||+== -> ^(O__________O)””>

So I opened other topics for him to elaborate on LOL to prolong the experience! Sounds like a first date right?

But by that point I was drunk with words he was probably talking about lollipops and it seemed like they were the solution to all universal problems.

The best thing about the meeting was that we were both natural although I myself kept Moogle on an extremely tight leash, which meant less sarcasm and a more serious face hehe.

It is imperative you have a chat with Qabbani, period! Allah eyhanneeh and his soon to be Mrs. Bless them both!

The next guy I am dying to meet is the one and only Abu Fares, followed by Hani Obaid and Qwaider!!! So yalla Q come here sometime – and Hani, I am planning to visit Jordan probably this autumn so stay tuned!

Now I end the post by giving you one of my fav articles Qabbani wrote.

Trip to Syria pt 2 – Sightseeing!

My photoblog is ready but just needs a little brushing up, therefore I thought it best not to postpone this post here and I would be posting some other photos on my photoblog once it is read (should be done in these two days – I just need to edit the header now that my hair has grown back :D )

Alright, anyway, on to the important stuff. I stayed in Syria for 5 days only. I spent the morning and the late nights with granny, and the rest of the day I was out with my best friend, his fiance and all of the rest of the gang… well, not all of them since most of them were out of town. I will post on my best friend later as part 3 of this trip.

I went one day to Safita, my village. I called up Abu Fares and said hi, but apologized for not being able to make it to Tartous which is incredibly close to Safita (and on a clear sky is visible from the Safatly mountains). The other Kinan was also there, and he SMSed me that it was raining. At that time I was under the rain taking photos on my way out of the village. I was only going to Safita for 3/4th of a day and I had to spend it seeing my family there. I saw dad’s side of the family (mom’s side is in Damascus). They were all nice and jolly as usual, which is what I like about brief trips. Staying there for prolonged periods inevitably surfaces many pending family issues, so it was a great idea just to make a brief visit and enjoy the moment.

My grandpa’s health has improved. He has been suffering with some issues in his hands, which made him very sad because it made him stop his job, what he likes doing best – his blacksmith business. Yup, my grandpa is a blacksmith! He has been hitting with the hammer since he was a kid. He’s a pretty strong man ;) Funnily, at the age of 90, he still didn’t stop smoking. He has been smoking for 80 years, he makes and wraps his own cigs. I told him several times to stop smoking but there is little you can do to convince a 90 year old to stop an 80 year old habit.

Back in Damascus, I spent half a day at the Ancient City itself, which was a bit sad because I had little time to take photos and enjoy the place (I usually spend most of my summer holidays there). I didn’t even go inside the Umayyad Mosque to take photos. In fact I didn’t take any proper photos of places, because I didn’t bring my tripod with me and because most of the landscapes I wanted to shoot were now occupied by the military (and my dad is paranoid so I didn’t take a risk).

Trip to Syria pt 1 – Humble

I came back from Syria overwhelmed with emotions. I haven’t enjoyed Syria as much as I have had in this brief trip. I have a lot to talk about, so before I go into the sightseeing and the other things, I want to talk about the humbleness that I only get to feel while I am there.

Unlike many other expat Syrians (even a lot of local ones), I don’t spend my time in Damascus in flashy, expensive restaurants, around classy people in prestigious cars and nicely lit high-class areas of the city. Instead, I spend most of my time in the middle and lower class areas of the city – namely anything to the east of my house: Qassa3, Bab Tuma (as well as Bab Sharqi) and the Ancient City (or Old City if you’re not a puritan). I myself live in a middle class zone which is also the middle of the ever expanding city.

Before I head down there, let me report that my grandma is well and says hi to you all :D

She is managing quite well, given all the disgusting circumstances going on (I don’t have energy to tell you of it at this moment). She can’t really go out shopping for groceries, so she has some friends who pass by and bring with them some goods. One of them is actually a lady who passes by every couple of weeks or so to clean the house from granny. She brings some stuff with her from the farm to sell to granny for a small buck. Another lady passes by more frequently – but she is so incredibly poor that she spends most of her time going to mosques for food. It is a good thing that mosques do their job and our charity money is well spent. She often passes by and gets good for granny, and granny insists that she either stays over or, in the very least, eat a good meal and take some home.

When I just look at it I am simply amazed that such humbleness still exists, despite the increasing amount of malice that is overcoming people. I am simply eternally grateful that granny has some people to look out for her while we are away – even though dad is there but I just don’t want to go into family politics at the moment.

Downtown in the Ancient City, as well as parts of Safita (my village) – and I stress on parts of Safita – I have observed similar humbleness. People are just trying to help each other out in any way, big and small. I am thankful that I have great, loving friends over here in Dubai to look after me and for me to look after them as well. I am just happy as well that granny isn’t really as alone as I previously thought she is. She just feels lonely sometimes, and that is understandable, but I am glad she isn’t alone.

Before I close off the topic, I went to Friday prayer in the wonderful mosque next to our house. I have been praying there since memory serves me, and I have never enjoyed the Friday khutba as much as I do from the Imam of that mosque. When I went there last Friday I was deeply saddened to learn that he had took on a terrible disease over the past two years – but he is still adamant on preaching the khutba but someone else leads the prayer. He is an amazing, gifted person, and he has, for me, changed the way I look at Friday prayers. God bless him and restore his health. I really do love him.

I wanted to write a lot more on the topic but I am getting a feeling I bore you with my long posts ;) so here I am signing off. I will be reading your blogs tomorrow from work ;)

PS: I am preparing a photoblog… hihihihi

Avoiding Bride Shopping

So mom is here.

And like all Syrian moms (and ultimately all moms from the this region), the topic of marriage opened up within minutes of arriving.

“So Kinan do you love someone now?” she said as I was still struggling with her one small bag of 700 kilograms.

“No mom,” I said, “and I am horny,” I added just to please her ears.

It was then that I discovered how to fight off the menace of being coaxed into arranged marriages and be frowned upon by your friends and other people who think you are too much of a loser to not be able to get a girl for yourself. I don’t believe it is the case always, some people really have no choice but to marry this way, and others just willingly choose to. Each to his own, and I don’t hold it against anyone.

I would rather though pick a girl of my choosing. I don’t want to marry my mom (since all moms pick someone who is a replica of them).

“OK,” she said, “we will talk about this later.”

Indeed.

No more than 5 hours later, in the comfort of our home, mom opened the topic.

“So I saw Rummanah in the summer, they told me they are living here in Sharjah!” my mom said in uttermost pleasure. I was nibbling on kibbeh at that time. Moms know when to strike. But, I now have my secret weapon.

It is funny though, mom’s family. It consists almost exclusively of females. Most of the men die at a very young age in mom’s family (not exceeding 50 years of age), so the whole family primarily consists of widows and unmarried girls/teens/young women/spinsters. As a method of survival, of some sorts, I have discovered, through observation, that these women reproduce on their own. As if the now-widowed women store their late husbands’ semen for future use. They seem to be infinitely multiplying and every time we visit them, there are just so many more of them. All the men are called by their first names because they are so few, whereas the women have to be called by their entire family tree to know which girl we are talking about.

So as you would have guessed, I had no idea which Rummanah my mom was refering to. Her cousin? Her aunt? Her second, third, fourth, twentieth cousin of some obscure named woman? Who knows.

“Wow that is great,” I told mom and she knows I don’t mean it. I always run away from those oestrogenous family gatherings.

But I can understand my mom. If I got the early death gene from her side of the family, I more or less lived half of my life by now, and I would be struggling the final 5 years with some absolutely unique kind of disease, and then be alright for a year or two and then pass away suddenly while attending a party or sleeping.

So technically, now is the best time to get married.

“Yes I know,” she said.

“Well how about you find me a good wife?” I suggested. This is the secret weapon all of us men-running-away-from-arranged-marriages should have. The key though is to appear serious.

You should wait for her reply.

Here it is! “Oh really? Great! I will do that as soon as I go back to Syria!” she said happily.

This buys me one year before the topic is opened again or before I will be rejecting some bride-shopping sprees next year (assuming of course I do get a holiday next summer).

So here it is folks. Don’t resist. Just entertain your parents’ thoughts for a while and the fuss will be over in no time.