Wednesday, August 30, 2006

That's What I Call Art

How does your friend react when you tell him you're mad at him bil msn?

P.S. drawing time: 2 minutes! drawing tool: computer mouse! Isn't it something!

(Hatem: you never got back to me with you know what, but I do like this one :) )

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Picture stolen shamelessly from a forwarded email I received today :) . click to enlarge.

The Magnifying Zero

I’ve come to realize that the major difference between the Arab media in general and the Israeli one is a matter of interaction with the viewers. While one is resonant and high-sounding, the other is reserved and digested; while one is too informative, the other is somehow too secretive (plz note that we’re not talking freedom of speech here, rather reports of breaking news). So both media outlets, on extreme ends of the scale, need to find their balance. Let’s take this piece of news for example:

“Israel kills 50 civilians in the occupied territories”

The Israeli version of the story would be to underestimate the news, omit any footage of the massacre, reduce the number of victims by half, accuse the deceased of being terrorists, and proclaim its right to self-defense. The usual bullshit ya3neh.

The Palestinian version of the story (and this has actually happened a couple of years ago, or so I’ve heard) would be to add another zero to the 50, hence amounting the number of the victims to 500.

So the international community (UN people), which could have been appalled enough by the fifty victims, would rush to issue statements and resolutions to condemn the massacre of the so-called 500. When discovering what has exaclty happened (which of course it will in the end), the number 50, that would have startled it in the beginning, now looks insignificant in comparison with the 500. So, instead of the: “OMG, those poor fifty people!”, the reaction would be: “Oh thank God, they are only 50!”

Not that I’m saying that our media has exaggerated in running the news over the past month and a half. Isreal ma bit2asser and it will surely provide us with enough morbid news supply for years and years to come. The problem is we’re accumulative, and sometimes it turns into a “khabissa” of news, instead of a clear and defined message.

hinneh kteer m3atmeen, na7na mrakbeen neon bi 50 alf ampere.

Just Stay Home

So the project of going to Italy for vacation was a complete failure (on July 12, I had already applied for my passport, and was on the verge of booking my ticket).
A month and some days later, the word vacation stopped meaning anything to me.
Oh, and may I say: what a "splendid" surprise it was when the Russian airplane crashed a week ago! (I knew I had reason to be scared when I flied on it last year!)
Today, my boss finally managed to convince me of traveling for few days…and he suggested… Turkey as a destination!
I had just started to dream about another escape when… well, you know shu sar.

"Tirkiya? eh rou7eh ndabbeh habibteh"

7adan baddo e7sedlo balad ya jame3a? yalla choose another destination, before I run out of my "good luck"! inno eft…

btw, this blog is going commentless for the time being. If you have any comment, plz send me an email, or go chez mysteriouseve. She's serious w self-restricted wma btinta2 these days. Eve-ntually just want to be alone and rant.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Fill in the Blank...

and you'll get this standard sentence, always applicable in Lebanon:

"Oh don't you worry! you live near ..., you'll never get your electricity cut off"

(examples: French Embassy, Istiz Nabih Berry, the Phalangist Office, Kraytem etc...)

Inno shu khass?!

C'est Ecrit

Car les violences contre le Liban retomberont sur toi (Habakuk, Ancient Testament)

For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee (the Book of Habakuk)

Do I Know you?

I realized I've been shutting out a whole year of my life. Not only it took me a few seconds, the other day, to remember the name of the first guy I've ever loved (well, love is too big a word for those feelings I had at 20), but there was this unusual incident a couple of days ago kamein: while I was zapping, I had to go back to Future TV, to that shrink who was talking about a certain issue chez les enfants. "Where have I seen this guy? He looks so familiar! Where ya eve where… wein ya 3ammeh eft… inno I'm sure I haven’t paid him a clinical visit some time ago" and then it hit me: I actually dated the guy for a short while, years ago! And even though there was nobody listening to my Eureka, boy did that sound so wrong!

Nataly, of course, replied to that with her usual: "allah yjarsek". But then we started remembering that "era", and all the names just flowed in. I felt strange. It was like remembering the past of another person. Someone, anyone, but definitely not me.

Nevertheless, I'm impressed: when I'm done with unwanted memories, I do have the ability to sending them to trash.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Irony of it All

The U.S. & Co. doesn't differentiate among Lebanese people, whether of Christian, Sunni, Shiite or other confessions, when the latter group checks in a foreign airport for example: Technically, we are all potential suspects of a Qaeda-related terrorist network.

The Israeli government and its IDF, in turn, don't make the same difference when leveling Lebanese villages and cities to the ground: Technically, we are all evil terrorists harboring guerillas in our living-rooms and under our beds.

They don't ask you for your religion when you're abroad. They say they have fallen in love with your Lebanese food, Lebanese hospitality, your "Ahla w Sahla" accent, Byblos and Tyre, Haifa and all the beauty of Lebanese women.

Funny enough, when it comes to differentiation and making judgments, we, Lebanese, seem like the only pros.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

House of Broken Dreams

It seems that the curse of demolished, old houses is haunting me again.

The Southern Suburb yesterday was more like a touristic place, with nearly one hundred cameras taking pictures of every little sign of destruction.
It felt odd that, just a couple of days ago, standing on the very ground where I was standing at that moment was a foolishly fatal act. The air was thick. In some places, fire hasn't been extinguished yet. A friend of mine lost her house there.

Heik, all of a sudden, some of us find themselves homeless, others are just guests with cameras.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hell on Bint Jbeil

This article, by Jihad Bazzi, sheds light on the sufferance the refugees have endured when trying to flee the bombarded cities and villages. What they have gone through is simply inhumane, and violating to every Human Right agreement on the planet. Sadly, it is nothing but the truth. Please take the time to read this translated story of Adel & Insaf, shared, I'm sure, by hundreds of other refugees.

The plane swoops down over the half-demolished house. It levels it to the ground. The gas bottles blow up; fire ravages it. There is no one inside this house in the Sakiyeh neighborhood of Bint Jbeil. Its five inhabitants have already evacuated it. They are four women and a crippled old man, called Mohammad Hussein Ahmad Bazzi, who now hides in the house next door, owned by Adel Bazzi. Adel had asked them to stay with him, as people take comfort in each others in times of war. Adel had carried the crippled man on his back, and made him feel at home since the first day of the aggression.

It's day 14 of the war. There are sixteen people in the house: Adel, his wife, his six children, his 85-year-old mother, his 79-year-old brother-in-law, Mohammad Rashed El-Hinawi, who had come to town for a visit before this war started, but couldn't leave afterwards. There are also their five neighbors, whose house the plane half-demolished yesterday, and which is being bombarded again today.

The ground shakes in Adel's house and everybody starts to scream. Adel takes a look out of the window and sees the warplane hovering about. It fires a missile at his house, destroying part of the first floor roof. Adel, on the ground floor, makes a snap decision for all those staying with him: We will leave the house. It all happens in a matter of seconds. He carries the youngest of his children, and throws him at the doorstep. The mother, too, carries a child and hurries outside. The other children rush out by themselves. Adel's sister, Alia, helps her mother make it to the entrance. As for his old brother-in-law, he goes out, leaning on his walking stick. Adel carries Hajj Mohammad on his back. Everybody starts running, some of them waving their white scarves above their heads. They have barely crossed for fifty meters when the warplane attacks Adel's house, turning it into ruins.

The Sakiya neighborhood is nothing but a pile of rubble. Adel makes sure he takes one last look at the building where he had planned to move before the war: those five stories he had built after 22 years of hard work, both in Lebanon and Dearborn, Michigan, in the United States, where he used to travel each year. Adel and his children hold a dual Lebanese-American citizenship, and it is for their sake that he has built this house in Bint Jbeil. He takes a look at the life he just had, but doesn’t see it. He just runs, runs with the old man on his back, and fifteen persons running behind them… Yet they have no idea where to go.

Bint Jbeil is not the Bint Jbeil they knew. It is nothing but scattered islands of endless ruins. People are gathered in groups inside the houses… and just wait. In another part of the town, Insaf, her mother Zeinab and her two nieces are sleeping at the home of another relative. Fifty people are hiding under that roof. When someone from the South speaks of a home, he usually means a small two-story house. The father of the family always builds one for his children. And ever since the liberation of the South, Bint Jbeil had been an ongoing workshop. No, those houses, villas and castles do not grow as mushrooms, rather like ancient dreams which emigrants and locals have always had; dreams that make this town more beautiful and prosperous.

The number of houses is increasing… those beautiful houses with red bricks on the top. Suddenly, Insaf finds herself evacuating her home, along with her diabetic mother and her two nieces, who had come to spend the summer. She runs away; the house next door has collapsed on their neighbors, killing them all at once. Her neighbor himself paid them a visit half an hour ago. He told her he was going to get his family, so that they can all stay together.

Insaf has run to another neighborhood. She has no idea what became of her house. She is surrounded by fifty people, some praying and imploring God, others are just terrified children.

Imagination can go on and on when it comes to describing the situation, but no words can really describe the cruelty of the waiting. No words can describe how those fifty people left their house, holding the white fabric up high and planning to reach Tebnine on foot… Nothing can really tell how the planes then bombarded the surrounding buildings, dispersing the small crowd and causing everyone to cry hysterically. They had no choice but to gather up again, and go those few meters back, to that same room where they had been; to go back to the waiting and the screaming at each shake of the house, and each time the nearby rocks of the destroyed houses nearly blow their room away. There are no words to describe how these days pass by: crying and reading the Koran. Above their heads, there is a half destroyed roof; above the roof, a warplane; and above the warplane, a God that sees them, with no one else for them to look at, no one else for Him to look into.

Adel and his family run for forty meters. They see a house with an open door, so they make their way in. Adel says they will hide there for a while. The roar of the raids becomes louder; the house is shaking with them inside. The warplane is chasing them from a place to another. Adel runs again. On his back, he is still carrying crippled Hajj Mohammad. Around him are still his brother-in-law, wife, children, mother, sister and neighbors. But where to this time? To the nearest house they can possibly find. The house they have just fled is now destroyed. Death is hunting them down, and images are swarming in Adel's head: the image of their limbs stuck on the walls. But the plane disappears. In the dark, the group sleeps on the floor of the third house for that day.

Tomorrow is another day… Tomorrow is day 15 of this war.

The night is gone. At dawn, Adel Bazzi gets up and decides to head to the residence of Sayyed Ali Hakim, the Imam of Bint Jbeil. Adel knows that there is a basement there. He carries the crippled neighbor on his back, and tells his brother-in-law to follow. The group reaches the place, while warplanes are roaring in the sky. They make their way through the open door and seek shelter in the old basement. In the dark, they hear the voice of the Imam, praying, while people are repeating after him. Their number has reached forty. There is a biscuit packet that is yet to be divided, as daily crumbs, among four children. One of the men has been sneaking out in the last few days, crawling to the water tank, a few meters away, to fetch some water. But the raids will get stronger and stronger; and those seeking shelter in the basement will soon know they are very close to Maroon El-Ras, under the direct threat of the Israelis.

Sayyed Hakim asks everyone to stay here, and they all obey. From now on, there shall be nothing to feed them, not a drop to drink, not a ray of light to see. Because water is unavailable, they wash with clean sand, and pray in the place where they sit. It is in this same place that they sleep and wake up. For five days, not a single soul dares leave his spot, lest they trample the person lying nearby. The voice of the praying Imam is getting louder and louder, and they all repeat his words after him. When the voice of the Imam becomes hoarse; it is Abdel Karim, Adel's son, who raises his voice and continues, with everyone repeating the prayer after the fifteen-year-old boy. At night, Adel's four-year-old son moans. He tells his mom he's hungry. She cries. It's been five days, and nothing has changed. When the warplanes attack the Imam's house, demolishing it just above the basement roof, they feel that death is sticking to their skin. They just close their eyes and wait for it to grab their souls. But the arched roof of the old basement holds out. It doesn’t fall. Sayyed Hakim tells them that the roof doesn't protect them. He says that God is their Protector, and they believe him. They have no other choice.

Before we forget: Adel's group which had left the last house consisted of 16 persons. But only 15 of them made it. Adel's brother-in-law was lost along the way. This stranger, who was unfamiliar with the alleys of Bint Jbeil, didn't even make it to the house of the honorable Sheikh… Nobody knows what ever happened to him.

On the memorable truce Monday, the twentieth day of the war, Insaf and her group get out of their shelter. They come out to the destroyed city, which is grieving for its children. What is the color of their faces in this exact moment of light?

People now are walking towards the salvation of their souls from this hell. Zeinab falls and twists her ankle; her daughter helps her up and supports her as a crutch. Insaf is scared that people will leave her behind, with her mother and the two girls. Hajjeh Zeinab, already defeated by diabetes, leans on her daughter and moves forward. Now everyone is taking care of one's closest relative. There are women crawling on their hands and knees… Old people falling down like leaves… They either are helped up by a passer-by, or simply remain where they fell when no one notices them. Out of all the days of this war, that day in particular remains deeply engraved in Insaf's mind; this path too, which have been crossed by hordes and hordes of people amidst all this destruction.

These war days have left them unprepared for the migration. When it comes to putting an end to this bumpy trip, amidst the ruins of a city with an exhumed heart, they are completely helpless. The few hundreds of meters they've crossed to reach the car of those waiting at the threshold of destruction have exhausted them. They just need a car, any car to carry them anywhere, far away from the days of Bint Jbeil. However, there are no sufficient cars to transport all these people. So he who found no car just walks.

It is only in Tebnine Hospital that refugees start telling stories to each others. But when photographers would approach them, they'd start yelling: "don’t take our pictures! Go to Bint Jbeil and help those who have stayed there. The children of the slaughtered city will tell stories about those who stayed under the rubble; the corpses eaten by dogs, the destruction… they will tell you about the woman who died in the shelter of a relative, after which he got her out and just laid her on the ground, scared for his children from the decomposing body. "My God", Insaf said, "the day we left was like Resurrection Day!"

Adel escorted his mother, children, wife, sister and all those who decided to leave. Sayyed Ali Hakim stayed in the basement with the crippled old man, which Adel had carried from one house to another. With them remained many others. Two days later, Adel heard that the Sayyed and the people in the basement have left the city, but the crippled man, whose picture had been taken, left Bint Jbeil and never arrived to Beirut. Last night, however, he was reunited with his family. As for Adel's brother-in-law, it has been said that he was found in the last house the group took refuge in. He was injured after the place was bombed. He spent days all alone, and it has been said that he left for Tebnine, but he is still missing.

Adel dug in the pile of rubble to open a door to the basement. He got out in Bint Jbeil, and his old mother collapsed. He carried her. On his way, he found a woman pushing her mother in a wheel-chair. He asked her to let him put his mother in the chair as well, for which he would take over the pushing. After putting one old woman in the lap of the other, he pushed the chair among the holes and above the hills, until reaching the Red Cross ambulance, which is large enough for twenty people… and off to Tebnine hospital. There, he shall ask for a cigarette. And from Tebnine to Saida, where his children shall eat for the first time in days.

Insaf is at her sister's place in Beirut. She sleeps at three in the morning and wakes up in tears at six. She recalls her days in Bint Jbeil. She tells stories and cries. She doesn't believe what has happened. Insaf is a tough woman. She knows that just like she survived Resurrection Day, she will go through this crisis as well. "Thank God for everything", she says, "in the next days, I'll be better". Hassan is at his relatives' in Beirut. He called the American embassy and explained that he had lost all the passports at his house. Everything was placed in one bag. The passports, the money, the gold and the papers… But he remembered his life when he ran away, and forgot the bag. Now, he's back to zero: His first house, his new building and his store in Bint Jbeil, are all gone. Israel has leveled all his lifetime efforts to the ground. And now what? "I will go and work in the States once more; I will raise money to rebuild the house". What if Israel comes back? "Let it come back!" What if it demolishes your home? "So what, I'll build it again" And what if it comes back to demolish it once again? "I will rebuild it. I will go on building my home in Bint Jbeil".

Translated by Eve.
Thank you Delirious and Archmemory for looking over my translation.

Monday, August 07, 2006

In Beirut

Mirvat, big thank you for the translation! Click here to listen to the post in Arabic.

In Beirut

In Beirut,
there’s something, like that, just like that…
Stuck in the air, printed on the walls of small roads,
Dripping little by little from the trees right after the rain…

There’s something that makes my foreign friend drive recklessly and ignore the traffic lights. Something that makes him tell me about some of our places. Places that I haven’t had the chance to see and colors I couldn’t understand. He starts understanding the difference between mjadarra and mdardara, he starts talking politics, he loves Fairuz even when he doesn’t understand a word she says. He starts building a house in the mountain, where he would spend the rest of the summer. And sometimes, so many times, he would get carried away and say: “Us Lebanese will never learn…”

In Beirut,
there’s something that makes him love her more than i do…
There’s always a shortcut road that takes you to the sea. There are always cameras taking pictures, fearing that the eye would forget, fearing that the heart would drift…
There’s a road built just to carry your dream, while you walk, not knowing where.
There’s something in people’s eyes, like a question, like the old buildings, like an escaping look, like the ruin.

In Beirut,
there’s a secret that you don’t know until you’re at the airport with your bag… until you’re estranged stranded in young cities, one after the other, forever longing to your crude city, the city where “the difference between the darkness and the light is one word”… And you miss the familiar chaos where the cars park on sidewalks and people strut in the middle of the streets… And forever, for as much as you hide away, you’re haunted with the fever of Beirut, and you know the illness is part of you and you know that she will never leave you.

In Beirut,
There’s something bigger than me, and bigger than you. There’s an April that never ends. And a place, a place that, whenever you lose yourself, whenever you fall, whenever you hurt, you come back whispering the letters of its name once anew, in Beirut.

In Beirut, there’s something, like that, just like that…
Stuck in the air, printed on the walls of small roads,
Dripping from the trees after the rain…

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Nos Noms

Thx you Houdac for translating this post of mine into French.

Tu sais ce qui me dérange aussi ? c'est comment ils prononcent nos noms avec leurs accents occidentaux. Ton village et le mien, tous ces endroits où mon père nous emmenait nous balader. Comme ça, à tout va go, comme un étranger qui t'informe que ton amour ancien s'est marié ou est mort ou s'est suicidé, sans qu'il se rende compte de cette douleur que tu as dans les yeux.

Cela m'énerve comme les mots sont déformés dans leurs bouches…comme ils essayent de prononcer ces mots mais sans grande réussite…et comme ils lisent…ils n'essayent même pas de demander ce que signifie tel ou tel nom.

A de pareils moments, je ne pense plus qu'à prendre la télécommande, la leur jeter à la figure : « son nom est '3aita ach cha3b’, ‘3aita ach cha3b' nom de Dieu ! ou 'Majdel Selm', ou ' Maroune errass, ou '3ein ebel'… » D'accord, n'en dis rien. Je sais que c'est difficile de porter un regard comme le notre propre sur nos lettres, nos noms, notre langue…tout en nous ! Mais moi je suis amoureuse de la dureté même de notre alphabet et ta voix rauque quand tu prononce du fin fond du cœur : « 3aytaroun » !

Mais attends, tu ne vois pas comment ils parlent du fleuve 'allitani' ? Comme si on n'avait pas l'habitude d'y aller avec notre bande d’amis, étendre nos serviettes colorées, jouer aux cartes, et toi me porter, m'immerger dans l'eau !

Comme si jamais il y a eu d'enfants qui jouaient sous ses arbres. Comme si jamais plus il n'y aurait encore plein d'enfants qui joueraient sous ses arbres…

Tu entends comme ils parlent de 'lkhiam' ? Comme si jamais je n'y avais passé de vacances, ou q'un des enfants des voisins y avait l'habitude de se moquer de moi ! Comme si elles n'avaient jamais porté en elles ces voix qui hurlaient la nuit de souffrance, torturées dans leurs geôles ! Comme si jamais on ne leur a chanté, à chaque fois qu'on a demandé à celui 'qui part vers mon pays " اللّي رايح صوب بلادي" de transmettre nos salutations.

Et là, maintenant, quand ils disent 'Baalbak', ont-ils la moindre connaissance de son histoire, de ses histoires ? Savent-ils que ses rochers sont plus vieux que tous leurs pays réunis ?

Tu sais ? Finalement, après tout ce qui s'est passé, pour une fois le monde entier entend parler de nos noms…des noms que nous-même ignorions. Il faut que tu voies comment ils prononçaient 'deir 3amess’ il y a quelques instants, ou 'deb3al' ou 'rachkananay'. Ils le faisaient comme celui qui attend qu'on vienne le secourir d'un effrayant ogre.

Soit ! On est ainsi, il ne se souviennent de nous qu'ainsi. Ils ne nous connaissent que tels : des experts de misères et de guerres. Ils ne savent pas qu'autant on a expérimenté la tristesse, autant on a appris à rire…même si souvent on rit de nous même.

Tu sais à quoi je pense aussi ? Je voudrais embrasser cette grand-mère et ce grand-père qu'ils filment avec leurs caméras, qui leur disent, avec leurs accents du sud « Monsieur, je ne vais pas m'enfuir d'ici ! »…même s'ils traduisent bien ces mots, penses-tu qu'ils comprennent réellement ce que veux dire « Jamais nous ne laisserons notre maison seule la nuit, dans le noir ! » ?

Toute cette dé nos noms, à leurs yeux, ne sont pas plus qu'un journal télé.

Ici et Là-bas

I have also come across this post translated by Bonoboo47

M'y voici donc. De l'autre côté de la mer. La deuxième face de la lune. Là où tout est beau et confortable, même si c'est toujours un peu froid.

Il fallait que je parte. Toi tu sais.
Ils sont entrain de dévorer cette terre, et moi... je ne le supporte plus.
Le spectacle aux frontières était douloureux.
Tous veulent rester; tous doivent partir.
J'ai failli les attraper par les épaules, les secouer comme ça, et crier: "comment... n'ayez pas honte de vous..." j'oubliais que moi aussi, avec ceux qui partaient, je partais.

Le pire c'est de voyager en bateau, tu sais?
L'avion; quelques minutes et il s'envole. La voiture; un coup d'accélérateur et elle s'éloigne. Mais en bateau; tu restes planté là, à regarder le port malgré toi... tu regardes la terre s'éloigner, les gens devenir petits, une main qui s'agite, une main émue qui ne peut plus s'agiter, un sac en plastique qui vole dans le vent, une fille qui pend son linge, des maisons fermées où il n'y a plus de filles pour pendre le linge, ton rêve qu'ils ont égaré... ton rêve que, peut-être, tu as laissé s'égarer...

Il n'a pas compris, mon ami à l'aéroport, quand j'ai posé ma tête sur son épaule et que je me suis mis à pleurer.

Non, je ne suis pas heureux d'être en sécurité. Je ne suis pas bien... Je suis écoeuré... Je suis étranglé de l'intérieur... Je suis ici à l'abri, et vous, vous êtes toujours là-bas. Ici je suis une ombre, pas plus, mais vous au moins vous êtes vivants. Ici je ne vaux pas plus que 5min dans les informations. Je suis un numéro. Nous sommes tous des numéros. Notre identité, c'est les cadavres et la pierre détruite... Ici nous sommes sauvages, nous ne savons pas vivre ensemble. Nous ne savons pas aimer. Nous ne savons ce qu'est la Nation, avant la religion...

Je suis là et pas là-bas
Là mais pas vraiment là
Là mais je me suis oublié là-bas
Pas du tout là
Avec vous là-bas

Je commence à dire n'importe quoi. Toi, fais attention à toi. Chantes-moi cette chanson de temps en temps... Si tu chantes toujours.