Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Jazz Bar

And so it was the Jazz Bar last night. Went with 10 people. 2 girlfriends & their husbands, one friend(F.) & his wife, 2 male friends(S. & W.), & one girl & one guy I don't know but who are obviously going out together or something.

We had our dark corner. A compartment with 3 huge couches on each wall & two tables & 2 chairs infront of each couch.

Everyone knows how it is with couples. Physically they are within the group but they end up talking & dancing with each other & living in their own world. So I ended up with the two single guys. Me on the couch, them on the two chairs.

Spent the first 30 min or so in silence. Was enjoying the music & trying to relax without smoking although I did bring my pack just incase. Wasn't really listening to them. Kept giving them blank faces everytime they talk to me. Couldn't really relax. So in the end I gave up & decided to have my first cigarette of the day.

Instant effect. After not smoking all day, I guess the cigarette made me relax too much. And the atmosphere too. Half dark, nice music. Basically I fell asleep sitting there on the couch. Was out for something like 15 min. Then I open my eyes & find S. & W. laughing their heads off at me. So I started laughing too.

The two of them immediately started teasing me about K. being away & having withdrawal symptoms, saying I should come on cheer up it was only a week. Then they moved on to flirting outrageously & everytime I would be shocked they would tell me that they know K. is away & what I need is male attention & they're just trying to be good friends making sure I have everything I need etc...

S. is Egyptian & W. is Lebanese so somewhere along the road they got into an argument about who were the bigger flirts Egyptian men or Lebanese men. They started trying to outdo each other - the target being me - flirting, fighting over who gets to sit next to me or to light my cigarette, or get my drink, blowing me kisses
At first it was really cute & funny. Thought it was sweet of them to try to make me laugh.

But at some point they got completely out of hand. Don't know what was wrong with me. Too sleepy?Too depressed to get into a fight over small things?Too high on nicotine & caffaeine & nerves?Just couldn't be bothered. It was a public place. They weren't going to actually touch me or anything so who cares.

Then F. sent me sms asking if I was baskar 3aree7a.Made me laugh but when I looked at him he didn't look happy so I guess he wasn't joking. Then one of my girlfriends sent me sms that she wants to talk to me in the bathroom. So I went in there & she let me have it using every Syrian curse you can imagine. Lik el3amma sho mastooola allah yakhdik. My favorite Syrian/Lebanese word is 'Lik El3amma' btw. Use it all the time. But I didn't like it at that particular moment. In that particular context. She was going on about how I was letting the guys get away with too much & now I'll never be able to control them again etc....Just walked out on her. Couldn't be bothered with that either.

So I got the message. People weren't happy. Don't know why everyone was picking on me & not on the guys.But it wasn't worth trying to figure it out. Came back from the bathroom & went to sit with my other friend & her husband.Playing fifth wheel appeared to be the order of the day.

This morning another fight with my Syrian friend who called me at work. It seems she thinks the worst thing I did last night was fall asleep on the couch. She doesn't think I looked decent at all. She went on about my attitude & my body language having been all wrong & sending mixed signals etc...that if I was too tired to go out & take care of myself I should've stayed home etc...Am trying to accept criticism here but she did get more than a bit harsh. Think she was angry because her husband said something about me & she doesn't want her husband to get a bad impression about her friends. Especially since am Morrocan & Morrocan girls don't have the best reputation in UAE. But she didn't actually say that.

To cut off the tirade I asked her what she thinks I should do now. She said I should get my bro to beat the guys up. Thank God she was joking about that!Apparently she thinks I should have a talk with the guys & tell them they were out of line & force them to apologize & not mix with them for a while. All of which I'll agree to. Just not today. Not feeling up to it at all.

Infact I got 2 missed calls from S. but didn't pick up. Tomorrow I'll call him & tell him what she said. Or maybe the day after tomorrow.

Am vaguely aware that I probably didn't behave very well last night. Am sorry for embarrassing my friend infront of her husband. But why doesn't any of this seem terribly important?

She's right. I am mastoola. After my great social success last night I think that from now I'll just go out on my own. If I go out at all.


Things I Never Wrote About in My Diary

1)Things that made me so angry that I couldn't write anything printable about them. Don't like to put profanities in writing even if I use them occasionally when talking. Always thought of writing as something elegant & refined.

2)Things am really, really ashamed of. Not embarrassed. Can write about embarrassment. Shame is something else, deeper & more profound.

3)Things that shock me but are so ugly I refuse to accept them. Writing about them might take away some of the shock, make them more ordinary. Don't want to get used to some things. Don't want to slowly come to accept them.

4)Money issues. My parents think it's vulgar & low-class to talk about your money problems with anyone outside the family. Or to borrow money. Even if you desperately need it & you're only borrowing for a short time. It's ridiculous how intimate & embarrassing this has become to me. If someone asks to borrow from me I get so embarrassed that sometimes I'll say yes just to get out of the situation - even if I can't afford it.Can't picture explaining that I can't afford it.

5)My first doubts about God & Faith. When those first started to happen couldn't talk, write, even think about them for years. Couldn't admit them to myself. That has changed now.

Friday, July 29, 2005


Tonight is R&B night at Rock Bottom.

Then there's the Jazz Bar & Dining.

Or my friends' absolute favorite Layali AlSharq.

The verdict: Both R&B & Sharqi music are out for tonight. Not in the mood for dancing at all. The Jazz Bar is nice. Lots of dark corners where you can enjoy the music without seeing what everyone else is doing or them seeing you. And it's my kind of music. Jazz, Soul, Blues.

Actually went & sat in the Jazz Bar alone a couple of times just cos I liked the music so much. But everyone kept freaking out at me for that as if I was doing something suicidal. Don't really see what's so dangerous about it. Abu Dhabi is a small city & very tightly controlled in terms of security. If 2 people raise their voices at each other on the street or in some hotel lobby plainclothes police just materialize out of nowhere. DOZENS of them. They're called CID's here. It's not like anyone can bother me if I don't want them to. And if they're stupid enough to do it I can just call a waiter or the security desk. Yeah there will be some muttered comments on the way in & the way out but so what?Sticks & stones etc....

The only danger I can see is that this is the kind of place that is bound to be a terrorist target - being full of Europeans & North Americans. But again if someone was going to blow the place up what difference would it make if I was alone or in a group?

My girlfriends refuse to go though unless we're a big group & we have at least one guy with us.

Anyway going there alone is not an option tonight because all my friends are going out & I said I'll go. So I cast my vote on the venue. Hope I voted for the winner. When we go to places where everyone is dancing if you don't get up & dance you're made to feel like a party-pooper. Might cop-out & decide to go to the Jazz Bar alone if they decide on one of the other two. We'll see.

Considering going out to buy something new for tonight. Want a black top to wear with my favorite black pants. All Black will suit my mood tonight. And dark lipstick. Gothic. Vampire.

Spoke to K. this morning. He was in the car with his parents so he let me talk to them. Thought the father's voice was the sexiest I ever heard on a man. Amazing voice. But didn't tell K. because I knew what he would do. He'd tell his father what I said & embarrass me to death.

K. showed me lots of pics of his family before. His father looks exactly like Rafiq AlHarriri. Except maybe taller. This Lebanese, Mediteranean look. The eyebrows, the bone structure. He's also a very well-dressed man. Kind of like Rafiq AlHarriri there too. Asked K. if they had any Lebanese blood & he said no. Which makes sense cos the rest of them do look very Egyptian.

His mother doesn't look like anyone famous. She looks like my elementary school principle. But I suppose I shouldn't hold that against her.

This morning on the phone his father was an aboslute sweetheart to me. The mother was a bit more formal.

Wonder what kind of impression I made. Sent K. an sms asking but he hasn't replied yet.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Leave Me Alone

Oh God. It's 9:00pm. Am in bed. Hiding under the covers. On my side. In my jeans. Lights off. AC is on FREEZING COLD. Laptop on my bedside table. Only my head & hands out of the blanket. Typing, surfing & smoking.

Have been like this for the last 3 hrs.

Now there's knocking on my door. Two friends are here to see me. Mom knocking on my door. Am keeping very still now. Laptop speaker on mute. Want everyone to think am sleeping & go away. Is it too much to ask for?Don't make me move. Please. Am too comfortable.

Now my phone is ringing. The girls are hoping to reach me by phone.

Now one of them is knocking on my door with the cellphone still ringing. Bummer. Should have remembered to put it on vibrator.

Q:Will anyone believe am sleeping with all this banging on the door & my cellphone singing Buffalo Soldier?
A:They'll think am dead. Better get up before they call an ambulance & break down the door.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Strange experience that am living through. This falling in love business. Unreal.Sometimes I get this strange sensation - like am having a psychic out of body experience. Watching myself fall in love. Watching something grow actually seeing it grow. But am strangely numb. When this strange mood grips me it's as if am watching it happen to someone else. Like am not affected by it - just observing it.Like a dream but one of those dreams where you're half awake & you know you're dreaming so it's not really touching you but you still don't want to wake up because it's a nice dream & you want to know what's going to happen next.

Am not sure what to call this. A self-defence mechanism?It happened a few times & everytime I get to a point where something happens & I snap out of it. And then am me again. And then it's like an explosion of feeling. Wanting to be closer & closer. And about a million fears & insecurities.

Not sure exactly when my fears changed but they have. They used to be all about me.That am falling too fast, too hard. That he might hurt me. That is gone now. Now I FEEL myself falling harder & harder & it fills me up somehow. Can't get enough of it. And it makes me want to give & give. Every good feeling he gives me I want him to feel it too. And I start to panic because what if he doesn't?It's strange but it's almost like am responsible for him now. If he's not one hundred percent ok then it's a reflection on me.

He's going away tomorrow. And am in my strange out of body mood. I know am going to miss him & already nothing is the same. But it doesn't actually hurt yet like missing someone usually should. Again am watching myself miss him. It's only 10 days but tomorrow he won't be here & on some level I know everything will look different. We'll be in touch by phone but only short calls because it will be international & because he will with his family & they haven't seen him in a while. Nothing like our usual endless phone calls. More hurried, less intimate. And there is so much going on in my head & I need to talk.

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Monday, July 25, 2005

The Islamic Case for Terror II

Seems I have set myself a mission impossible. Visiting openly Jihadist websites has proved a lot more difficult than I thought. It's not a simple matter of googling Jihad because these websites are constantly being closed down. Then they go up again on new ISP's but you can't know these unless you're part of their network or a regular visitor.

Most of the websites that do come up on Google are those that call themselves anti-Jihadist. Those are a waste of time from what I've read so far because they can't resist the urge to indulge in a bout of Islam-bashing while simultaneously apologizing for things like the Crusades.

My comment on these is that it is very easy to selectively quote bits & pieces out of a religious script out of context & make them mean whatever you want them to mean. It's exactly what AlQaeda & it's supporters are doing. Wish those who promote the argument that terror comes from 'the foundational teachings of Islam' would wise up enough to understand something very simple: To the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world the Qura'an is the word of God & Mohamed is the Prophet of Islam.The only hope of defeating the ideology of terror in the name of Islam is to de-legitimize it using the Qura'an & the Sunna & the consensus of Muslim scholars.

So when you present the Qura'an & the Sunna as the sources of terror you are playing into the terrorist's hands. You are giving them the only legitimacy they really need.

I do not subscribe to the argument that Islam is a religion of peace. No ideology that touches on politics can be completely pacifist. War is part of the human condition & so it is natural that war is touched upon in the Qura'an & the Sunna. But I still don't see in what way or by what stretch of the imagination, Muslims are at war with the commuter community in London or Madrid, or the 24 children in Iraq who were asking for sweets from an American soldier or the Egyptian laborers in Sharm El Sheikh.

Verses in the Qura'an which call for war:

"Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors. And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." Qura'an[2:190-193]

"And a proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage that Allah is free from obligation to the idolaters, and (so is) His messenger. So, if ye repent, it will be better for you; but if ye are averse, then know that ye cannot escape Allah. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve, Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfil their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him)." Qura'an [9:3-4]

"Would you not fight people who violated their treaties, tried to banish the messenger, and they are the ones who started the war in the first place? Are you afraid of them? Allah is the One you are supposed to fear, if you are believers. You shall fight them, for Allah will punish them at your hands, humiliate them, grant you victory over them, and cool the chests of the believers." Qura'an [9:13-14]

But the Qura'an also says:

"O you who believe, if you strike in the cause of Allah, you shall be absolutely sure. Do not say to one who offers you peace, "You are not a believer," seeking the spoils of this world. For Allah possesses infinite spoils. Remember that you used to be like them, and Allah blessed you. Therefore, you shall be absolutely sure (before you strike). Allah is fully Cognizant of everything you do." Qura'an[4:94]

"O you who believe, do not prohibit good things that are made lawful by Allah, and do not aggress; Allah dislikes the aggressors." Qura'an [5:87]

"If they resort to peace, so shall you, and put your trust in Allah. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient." Qura'an [8:61]

"If they leave you alone, refrain from fighting you, and offer you peace, then Allah gives you no excuse to fight them." Qura'an [4:90]

"O you who believe, if you strike in the cause of Allah, you shall be absolutely sure. Do not say to one who offers you peace, "You are not a believer," seeking the spoils of this world. For Allah possesses infinite spoils. Remember that you used to be like them, and Allah blessed you. Therefore, you shall be absolutely sure (before you strike). Allah is fully Cognizant of everything you do." Qura'an [4:94]

"Allah does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. Allah loves the equitable. Allah enjoins you only from befriending those who fight you because of religion, evict you from your homes, and band together with others to banish you. You shall not befriend them. Those who befriend them are the transgressors." Qura'an [60:8-9]

"Say, "Come let me tell you what your Lord has really prohibited for you: You shall not set up idols besides Him. You shall honor your parents. You shall not kill your children from fear of poverty - we provide for you and for them. You shall not commit gross sins, obvious or hidden. You shall not kill - Allah has made life sacred -except in the course of justice. These are His commandments to you, that you may understand." Qura'an [6:151]

"You shall not kill any person - for Allah has made life sacred - except in the course of justice. If one is killed unjustly, then we give his heir authority to enforce justice. Thus, he shall not exceed the limits in avenging the murder; he will be helped." Qura'an [17:33]

"They never implore beside Allah any other god, nor do they kill anyone - for Allah has made life sacred - except in the course of justice. Nor do they commit adultery. Those who commit these offenses will have to pay." Qura'an [25:68]

"They commit a gross sin, then say, "We found our parents doing this, and Allah has commanded us to do it." Say, "Allah never advocates sin. Are you saying about Allah what you do not know?" Qura'an [7:28]

The Qura'an cannot be taken in parts. Verses that permit something must be taken in context & other verses that impose limits on the same thing cannot be ignored.Not if you believe that the Qura'an is the perfect, unchallenged, complete word of God which is the core belief of Islam.

to be contd.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Anti-Terrorism Protest in Cairo Today

Karim from One Arab World has managed to organize an anti-terrorism protest today.


Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Islamic Case For Terror?

Much as I hate to have to dignify the arguments & rhetoric of terrorists with analysis or response I do think it's time we as Muslims tackle their logic & refute it from an Islamic viewpoint.

Their argument is basically that in order to call ourselves Muslims we have to support them. Is it true?They are called fundamentalists because in their opinion & the opinion of many of their detractors they are the ones with the grasp of the fundamentals of Islams. So do we accept that?That they are what our faith fundamentally is?Why or why not?

It is difficult to know exactly where to start looking in Islamic sources. What we are looking at here is something quite different from your classical religious war. The purpose of this war the terrorists have chosen to initiate against us & the world at large is not to convert its victims but to kill them. The perpetrators of these crimes measure the success of each of their operations by the number of innocent people they manage to kill - the more the better. They're also not picky about their victims - they don't care if you're Muslim or not. They don't care if you're a child, adult etc...You're just a number to them.

So the question we need to answer is not whether Islam calls for forceful conversion of non-Muslims. Not interested in getting into pointless arguments about whether or not Islam is tolerant of other beliefs because in my opinion that is beside the point here. These people bomb Muslims as much as - infact much more if we look at Algeria or Iraq- than they bomb anyone else. Furthermore they have no qualms about killing even their own devoted supporters who they use as mindless human bombs. And when they kill they don't stop their victims & ask them if they support Bin Laden or not before they kill them. Their sympathizers are just as likely to be on a bus or in a cafe as anyone else. So they don't just target those who have other beliefs or those who disagree with them. They target everyone. It's enough to be a human being to become a target. It doesn't matter what you think or believe or sympathize with.

The question appears to be: does Islam favor or require or accept the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of non-combatants of all faiths & backgrounds to achieve a political or religious objective?

Furthermore - the concept of war or military Jihad in Islam assumes the existence of some sort of political leadership of a particular Muslim community or the Umma at large. This political leadership should gain its legitimacy from the consensus of the community - otherwise known as the bay3a. Only this legitimate leadership is allowed to declare Jihad.So the next question becomes this modern phenomenon of vigilantes - individuals who proclaim themselves to be representatives of Muslims & give themselves the right to wage their warped concept of war on our behalf - does this have precedence or support in the Quran, the Sunna or in Islamic history?Have Muslims ever been faced with a similar phenomenon before?When?Where?How did it begin & how did it end?

To be contd.

P.S.The number of dead in Sharm ElSheikh has now risen to 83 & 200 wounded.

P.P.S.Will continue this posting later. In order to examine the Islamic case for Al Qaeda I have to visit pro-Al Qaeda sites & read their rhetoric. Simply don't have the stomach for that today. Still too angry about London & Sharm ElSheikh. Meanwhile if anyone has anything useful to contribute on the subject it will be greatly appreciated.


Unfinished Post

Social psychologists would have it that while punctuality comes more easily to some cultures than others. So could it be that it's not my fault that am always late?

I live in Corniche Road so the new Corniche Road should have drastically reduced the time I take to drive to work. And I shouldn't have to drive to work anyway. Why can't I get up early enough to take the company transportation which is completely free & stops at my building anyway because several people from work live in the same building?Am not senior enough to be allocated company underground parking so when I drive I end up having to spend 20-30 min driving around looking for parking & eventually parking about 3 blocks away & walking another 20 min to work. In a suit & high heels. In summer.

Oh no. A colleague just walked in to tell me that there's been a bombing in Egypt.In Sharm El Sheikh. And Yahoo confirms.

Astagfirullah. Will nothing stop these people?49 people dead?Am so angry I could CRY. Can't bear to read those stupid, stupid, stupid claims of responsibility anymore. Stupid psychotic idiots.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Friends & Lovers

An old college friend was in Abu Dhabi for 3 days. Me & him used to take a lot of classes together, always end up as lab partners, working together on most of our projects basically we spent a lot of time together. He's an American. We used to get into the most horrible arguments about Islam & Middle Eastern politics. He really used to upset me. Used to get really obssessive about trying to convince him, giving him books, articles etc...& everytime there was a new event from the Middle East in the headlines it would start the argument again.

As luck would have it his work after college had nothing to do with what we studied. He went on to grad school in a different field altogether & now he works for UNHCR - the UN Refugee Agency. So he's visited some Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan & the West Bank.
This time though we found that we didn't argue as much. Our views on most Middle Eastern issues were more or less the same. We've both come a long way. Back then I think I still had the Arab victim/conspiracy theory mentality. Wasn't willing to consider any criticism of Arab, Palestinians or their leadership, saw Israel as the cause of the problem & the obstacle to peace. Am so over that. Had my eyes opened big-time. And he now has a better understanding of what it means to be a refugee. He was telling me that Palestinians are unique among refugees worldwide. Other refugees were displaced by war or famine or whatever but they do have a homeland to return to. Palestinian still don't.

Didn't tell him this but another reason why I didn't want to argue as intensely & call him a fascist etc... like I used to is that I maybe an Arab but he's the one who is actually doing something to help the Palestinians - occasionally even risking his life to do it. We Arabs like to talk a lot but who is the biggest contributor to UNRWA?The US. Who's the second biggest contributor?The EU. Who are the biggest 2 contributors to the Palestinian Authority?Same 2 answers. Support for Israel notwithstanding, the fact is Palestinians in the diaspora & in the occupied territories today depend on the US & the EU for their survival - not on their so-called Arab brothers. And when I think of the way Palestinian refugees are treated in some Arab countries well so much for patriotism.

He still has negative ideas about Islam but I didn't bother to challenge those. Religion is a private matter. Am not a missionary. Not my thing to try to convert people. Am ok with people not liking Islam as long as it doesn't cause them to become opposed to the human rights of Muslims as individuals. My friends did give him a hard time. Was happy just to watch.
Had a feeling he enjoyed it though. Think he's like me. We both enjoy a good debate/argument.

All in all I enjoyed his visit. K. didn't though. Think that answers my question about whether K. has a jealous/possessive streak without having to resort to Mohamed's suggestion about that top. He does. He thinks that I shouldn't spend so much time alone with another man. And that I talk about my friend too much. Too much time?The guy only had 3 days in town & am the only person he knows here. I mean hello. Was I supposed to offer to see him once a week?Besides I asked K. to come along & he didn't want to. And when my friends could make it I took them along.

And the talking too much comment made me laugh. All my friends are practically screaming & tearing out their hair from hearing me talk about K. so much. Look at my blog. Three quarters of it is about him. And am not allowed to have one or two discussions with him about a male friend - especially when said discussions are infact about the male friend's POLITICAL opinions?

Of course K. denies absolutely that he is in the least bit jealous, insists that he trusts me but says that he just didn't think I behaved appropriately. So we had a debate about this concept of appropriate behavior & I found out that apparently if I spend too much time with guys & talk to them on the phone for a long time they might get the wrong idea etc...Well who cares if they get the wrong idea?That's their problem.

He's chosen to go into a bad mood about this. My friends think that he probably just missed me because we used to spend so much time together & all of a sudden we didn't because I was busy with this friend. Which puzzles me even more because I did ask him to come along every single time & he was the one who said no. When it was HIS female friend who was coming from overseas & he told me he was going all the way to Dubai to pick her up I didn't tell him he was behaving inappropriately. And when he asked me to go along I did & was very friendly to her.

He says I always think in this tit-for-tat, feminist way. Don't really think of myself as a feminist but I do have a problem accepting things that don't seem fair. Just like he feels it's ok for him to kiss other women who are friends but when I asked him he said that it would make him extremely uncomfortable if I started doing the same. I mean I don't feel any overwhelming desire to start kissing all my male friends. Not used to it. But if I can give him the benefit of the doubt & assume he doesn't have bad intentions why can't he do the same for me in a similar hypothetical situation?

I asked him if he would stop doing it if it did make me feel uncomfortable he said yes & immediately asked me if that was what I wanted. I said no. First because am not really uncomfortable with it. And second because I know he only offered to stop because he wants me to promise what exactly?That I'll never go out alone with another man?That I'll never talk for more than (20?25?30?min) with any other man?That I'll never talk about or seem to give another man more attention than him?

Always thought that if you show your partner how much you care & that they're a priority with you they'll be secure enough so you don't have to deal with this kind of situation. And God knows I've done my best to make it clear to him just how important he is to me. Am not into playing games or playing hard to get at all. But am also a lot more social than him. Have a lot of friends. Travel. And can't really make promises I might not be able to keep.

So this is my decision: I didn't promise anything. K. is going to Egypt on Tues for 10 days. From now til Tuesday am going to give him lots of TLC & dala3 & 7inya & see if it's not enough to make him forget this & get out of the bad mood.

Monday, July 18, 2005


You think you own whatever land you land on.
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim.
But I know every rock and tree and creature,
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name.

You think the only people who are people,
Are the people who look and think like you.
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger,
You'll learn things you never knew you never knew.

Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned?
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains?
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?

Come run the hidden pine trails of the forest.
Come taste the sunsweet berries of the Earth.
Come roll in all the riches all around you.
And for once, never wonder what they're worth.

The rainstorm and the river are my brothers.
The heron and the otter are my friends.
And we are all connected to each other,
In a circle, in a hoop that never ends.

How high will the sycamore grow?
If you cut it down, then you'll never know.
And you'll never hear the wolf cry to the blue corn moon.

For whether we are white or copper skinned,
We need to sing with all the voices of the mountains.
We need to paint with all the colors of the wind.

You can own the Earth and still,
All you'll own is earth until,
You can paint with all the colors of the wind.

Vocal: Pocahontas (Judy Kuhn) Music: Alan Menken Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz From Disney's Motion Picture "Pocahontas"


Walk A Mile In Their Shoes?

"Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes."

Never criticize anyone until you put yourself in their place?I suppose the idea is that you must empathize more & criticize less. And that you shouldn't talk unless you know from experience that in the other person's place, under the same pressures you would have made better choices.

This quotation or something equivalent are often thrown at me. Am accused of being too critical. Seems I've been that way since early childhood. A teacher wrote in one of my second grade reports that I would do much better if I spent less time correcting the other student's work. It's true. Have memories of teachers yelling at me to go back to my seat when I'd be standing behind one of my friends, telling him or her what they're doing wrong.It started with my friends asking for my help but then it became a habit.

And now?Have I managed to stifle the urge to correct?Unfortunately not. Seems to be getting worse with old age.

Going back to the above quotation, why does it make such little sense to me?Several reasons:

1)For me criticism is usually an act of empathy in itself. Don't bother to criticize people unless I like/admire/respect/love or otherwise care for them & think they can do better & actually want them to. People I disrespect or dislike simply don't interest me or keep my attention long enough for me to analyze or criticize them. Added to which, if someone falls off my radar screen in that way I really stop having any good expectations of them so why bother to criticize them if they're hopeless anyway?

2)Seems to me that if you are not walking in someone's shoes, if you're the outsider looking in, then you're more objective because you're less involved.Stands to reason that it's harder to see the big picture when you're in the middle of it.Besides does it make sense that if I see someone about to walk off the edge of a cliff I shouldn't say anything to them because I personally never walked off the edge of the cliff before?Does it seem appropriate then to be thinking oh well they might have their own good reasons for what they're doing?If it was me walking off the edge of that cliff I'd sure want someone to do something about it!

3)The underlying assumption here is that if you criticize people a lot it must be because you think you're perfect or superhuman. In my experience this is false. If you have a critical personality you're usually difficult to impress or satisfy & you'll be that way with yourself more than anyone else because obviously you see your own imperfections more clearly than anyone else's. Criticizing others doesn't make me feel better about myself at all.Nothing really makes me feel better about myself if I think I've messed up.

4)Popular belief would have it that criticism discourages people. And that if someone is already upset or suffering from the consequences of their own actions you're being insensitive if you remind them of what they did wrong. Instead you should give them sympathy & help them to forget.

Am I the only ones who thinks this is nonsense?If I am feeling down NOTHING makes me feel worse than for someone to come give me a hug & say oh you poor, unfortunate woman etc...It makes me feel helpless & that makes me panic. Don't make me feel like a powerless victim. Don't encourage me to overindulge in self-pity. Nothing positive or encouraging about feeling sorry for yourself & mad at the world. Ok give me the hug but do please criticize. Tell me how I could have done better. Make me believe there IS something I can do to improve the situation. I'd rather make myself feel like the villain of the piece than the helpless victim. The villain has power - he can decide to reform himself. The victim can do nothing but take it.I'll never understand what comfort people derive from conspiracy theories & making themselves out to be victims. It seems so depressing to me.

Yesterday a friend(M. - the one with the husband who flirts online) was saying to me that she doesn't know why she keeps coming back to me with her problems when she knows I'll always blame her for them. Then she thought about it & decided that the reason is that on the rare(?) occasions when I say she was blameless it makes her feel like a saint.Didn't know quite how to take that.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Road Not Taken

A while back I was struggling to write an essay on Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken for my sister's English Lit. class. Didn't have many thoughts on it at the time. Couldn't think of anyway in which it applied to my life. The concept of a Road Not Taken that made all the difference. Or a choice I made that was so pivotal in my life that its consequences changed the direction of my life & couldn't be undone.

Wish they'd let me give it a shot now. Am faced with so many choices & decisions lately. On Wednesday my supervisor called me into his office to a) ask if I can please try to make it to work on time from now on. b)tell me that he was recommending me for a big promotion this year. He was worried the tardiness would reflect on me & make it harder for him to get me the promotion. Now am way overdue for a promotion. But this was so much better than I've been asking for. He's letting me jump 2 grades. And my new position would involve coordinating with external contractors - most of whom are abroad so that means a lot of travel - something I really love.

Didn't tell him but my plans are to resign & leave by the end of the year. Some friends of mine started a small private consultancy firm in Morroco a couple of years back which seems to be doing pretty well. They want me to join as a partner. Had planned to sell some property my dad bought for me back home, throw in my savings & my end of service benefits to pay my share & join them. The advantages are obvious. Being a partner in my own business is better than being an employee. And in Morroco am a citizen so don't need to worry about having my residence revoked if I lose my job like I do in UAE.

And I would be with my family. My second oldest bro & his family will be leaving in Sept - immigrating to New Zealand. My parents & my younger bro & sis will be leaving in December to Morroco. My oldest bro has been living in France for the last 2 years & it doesn't look like he'll be coming back. So if I stay here I'll have to go live with my uncle's family. Won't like that at all.

Don't think my family will be happy if I decide to live alone as a single woman here. They don't mind short business travel but to actually set up house & live alone?When I travelled to the US for college my bro was there too or they wouldn't have let me go.

But time is so short. If I want to leave in December I have to give notice by October at the latest. And if I am staying then I'll need to seperate my visa from my father's & ask my company to sponsor me which will also take time. If am going to do that I'll need to get started soon. Have to let my parents know I changed my mind too. Can't just spring that on them.

Want to stay because of K. but these are such big decisions. If I pass up the opportunity in Morroco & they find another partner what will I do if I have to go back home at some later date?Look for jobs that pay about 20% of what I make now?Let's face it. There's simply no comparison between the job market back home & here.

Had dinner with him on Wed. but didn't tell him. Of course he noticed I had something on my mind. Said I wasn't ready to talk about it yet. He was a bit surprised because it was the first time I refuse to tell him something but he didn't press me. Don't know why I didn't want to tell him. Maybe I don't want him to feel pressured into something he's not ready for. Don't want to rush into anything. He already knows am leaving in December. No need to give more details.

On Thurs. had no time to see him. Was invited to a colleague's wedding. Woke up about noon & had to rush to get my hair done, manicure, pedicure etc...On impulse decided to get highlights & cut my hair. A completely new look. Of course that took all afternoon. Spent about 5 hours at the salon.

Khaligi weddings usually have seperate parties for men & women. Since my colleague is a male I knew I wasn't going to see him at the wedding & I don't know any of his female relatives. None of my friends at work were going & I couldn't get any of my other friends interested. So out of desperation I decided to ask my sister L. to come with me.

Don't know why L.& I don't get along better. When she was born I wasn't happy. Was used to being the only girl in the house. Was 15 when she was born. It was an aggravated case of sibling rivalry. Just kept my distance. Everyone else was pampering her. Didn't feel like she needed me to add to the numbers. Now I try really hard to get over this coldness. But can't seem to spend a lot of time with her. She bores me. Maybe it's the age difference but somehow I just don't have a lot of patience with her. She's your average, obnoxious teenage rebel. Maybe I also resent the fact that my parents aren't as strict with her as they were with me.

Wasn't really expecting her to come. For one thing I didn't give her enough notice & she takes FOREVER to get ready. But she surprised me by being really sweet about it. She asked me if I'll do her make-up. So I said yes. Then she asked if she could borrow my red dress. Knew there had to be a catch. My parents would NOT think my red dress was suitable for a 14-year-old girl. They'd freak. And she knows that. Thought ok she is going to be obnoxious. But again she surprised me by not insisting. I let her borrow something else & did her make-up. Mashallah I think she's a really pretty girl.

The wedding was Ok. One of my colleagues(M.) did show up & they were so sweet & hospitable the 3 of us didn't feel out of place at all. L.went crazy on the dance floor which I wasn't totally happy about. True it's a ladies only setting but we don't know whose going to see the video & the way she danced was just too much. But didn't make an issue out of it. She wouldn't have listened anyway.

Left really late. L. was really excited about that because she's not usually allowed out so late. She decided she was hungry so we went to the drive-in at Burger King. At 2:00am.

At home she wanted to sit up & chat while she ate. Tried to be nice but couldn't wait for her to leave my room so I could call K. Missed him. She didn't leave until 3:00am. Sent him sms are you awake. He called back right away & said yes I was waiting for you. Thought that was really sweet.

Talked about an hour. Was smoking like crazy. At one point
Him: Do you know that's your 4th cigarette in less than an hour?Kifaya.7aram 3laiki.
Me:How do you know?
Him: I can hear when you light up. You're really nervous.

Didn't comment on that. But felt really pleased that he noticed. Silly but I really love the way he doesn't miss anything about me. Makes me nervous sometimes if he's guessed something I didn't mean to show. But usually I like it.When we're together & I say I want to talk about something he switches off his cellphone. He's just a really intense single-minded person. Whatever he's doing he gives his full attention to. It's kind of sexy.

He's not really very big on sweet-talk & compliments. When he does give compliments they're usually sort of sarcastic & backhanded. But I don't mind because there are so many little things that he does that make me feel important to him.

Basically I have it really bad.

Today I saw him twice. We had brunch with some friends of his. Then he went off to Friday prayer & I went shopping with D. Later in the afternoon we went ice-skating at Zayed's Sports City. Then we went for a long walk around the city. I think it's awesome.

But he didn't like my hair. Bummer. When he saw me this morning:
Him:What did you do to your hair?
Me:Don't you like the color?
Him:The color's ok but it's gone so straight.
Me: It's blowdried.
Him: Oh so it's not something permanent.
Me: No. Don't you like it?
Him: I like your natural texture better. You have beautiful hair.
Me: I spend all day at the hairdresser's & you think I look terrible. Everyone told me I look great last night.
Him: Did I say you look terrible?I said I like your hair curly. It suits you & it's natural.
Me:Whatever. It'll go curly again when I wash it.

Which I did. I excused myself, went into the bathroom & wet my hair. Really messed it up. Didn't even run a brush through it. Was so irritated.When I came back he stared for a minute then he started laughing & shaking his head & saying women are crazy. You gotta love it when men call us crazy when they're the ones who drive us crazy half the time.

Was quiet during brunch. Was still in a bad mood. I mean he KNOWS am nervous & tense enough so why is he giving me a hard time about something trivial like my hair. Couldn't he just say he liked it or just keep quiet?

When I left he called me.

Him: Still not talking to me?
Me:Who said am not talking to you?
Him: Sorry if I was rude about your hair.
Me: It's ok. Clearly we have different tastes.
Him: Yeah I don't like your hair blow-dried. That's what I'd call an irreconcileable difference. Maybe we need to reconsider our relationship. I mean how can we possibly have a future together when I don't like your hair blow-dried?
Me: Sometimes I think you never take me seriously.
Him: And sometimes I think you take yourself too seriously. Lighten up ok?Stop making mountains out of molehills.
Me: Ok.

I did feel better.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005


After all my fine words about matchmaking & arranged marriages here I am seriously contemplating doing exactly that. The two candidates I have in mind are my friend D. (K.'s patient) & my uncle T.(the one who thinks I have no roots).

It's an especially odd time for me to be thinking of this now because D. & I aren't talking. In Dubai we were discussing the way companies in the construction/industrial/oil sectors exploit their laborers & technicians. She is a safety engineer so she started explaining about some of the policies at her company that she doesn't like because they're serious hazards to the people who work in those areas & the difficulties she's facing in getting the management to implement proper safety procedures etc..... And I kept coming back with suggestions about what more she could have done. Was getting a bit obssessive I guess because I can't handle this modern slavery. It's so unfair. To import poor people from poor countries to make them work in conditions you wouldn't have your own citizens working in. I mean D. said that in one construction site she had to work on 8 people died in accidents that were all completely preventable.

Anyway she got offended because she felt I was being too hard on her - suggesting she wasn't doing her job. Later K. told me that it's not fair to expect her to save the world. Was that what I was doing?Didn't mean to. Just hate it when unfair & inhumane things are accepted as a fait accompli & become the norm.

So why do I want her to get together with T.?Well he is looking right now. Has been for a while. Today he came over for lunch & he was feeling kind of discouraged, like he'll never find the right person. He started making complaints saying women are crazy, they do this or they do that. And of course I got into the argument & started telling him that the fault was really his for not trying hard enough & being too picky etc....And I managed to piss him off too. He said that am always too critical & am forgetting that he's my uncle(even though he's only 4 years older) & not showing enough respect etc....

So am I trying to match them because they're the two people I pissed off?

Well it gives them something in common right?They can cry on each other's shoulders about the way I abuse them. That should break the ice no?

Seriously though the reason I thought of it was that when I was arguing with my uncle about the shortcomings of women I kept using her as an example of someone who doesn't do whatever it was he was complaining about. She just kept popping into my mind. It was weird. He'd say something & I'd say well not all women D. wouldn't do things that way & he'd say ok maybe she's the exception now I wonder maybe she IS what he is looking for.

The other thing is I worry about D. a lot. On the outside she looks & acts kind of tough but inside she is very gentle & sensitive & romantic. She keeps falling for real jerks who happen to be sweet-talkers. Hate to see her get hurt again & again & waste years of her life on people who just aren't worth it. At least I know for sure T. would take care of her. He wouldn't abuse her better nature like some of the people she keeps stumbling on.

If am ever on speaking terms with him again, maybe I should try to talk to him about her a bit more?Just to see if he'll get interested?And maybe I can do the same with her?

They've met at my place a few times & at a couple of family weddings. Didn't see an instant spark or anything. But that could be because they had no chance to sit & talk & really get to know each other.

I have a feeling they would be good together. But there are issues:

1)T. is Morrocan & D. is Palestinian. Nationality is not a big deal in my family but I think it might be in hers. Her parents are very close family friends but I don't know if this will be enough to persuade them to overlook the nationality issue. If she marries him she'll have to live in Casablanca at the end. I don't see him moving to the West Bank. Again how will her family take this?

2)T. is divorced with one child. She might have a problem with this. If she doesn't her parents might.

3)She's the type who falls hard & fast. He's not. He's really picky after his first experience. Am worried she'll fall for him & then wind up getting really hurt if he doesn't feel the same or if he does but her parents refuse him.

So?What do you guys think?Is it worth a try?


Monday, July 11, 2005

Everything Is Relative II

Me: Something's been freaking me out.
Him: So what else is new?
Me: Am serious.
Him: Something I did?
Me: Something you said.On Friday.
Him: On Friday?So why didn't you bring it up before?
Me: Was afraid you'll say something that'll freak me out even more.
Him: Getting good at that am I?
Me: You have your moments.
Him: So what is it?
Me: In Meena Salam. In the bookstore. You said I read too much about religion.
Him: So?You're always saying I read too much about work. Don't notice myself having quiet hysterics about it.
Me: Am not having quiet hysterics. Am trying to have a mature, grown-up discussion about your religious beliefs.
Him: Tayeb.
Me: What did you mean by imaginary restrictions to reassure ourselves?
Him: You showed me a booklet called fiqh elkhala'a.
Me: Yes.
Him: Don't you find that ridiculous?The Islamic way to go to the toilet?
Me: Yes.It was ridiculous but how is it reassuring?
Him: Think about it. To feel God is so interested in you that He cares whether you enter the bathroom with your right or left foot.Whether you eat with the right or left hand. Every detail of your life is watched over by this compassionate being out there. You're never alone.Some people never want to be alone. They don't want to make any decision. So they picture a mother figure kind of God holding their hand every step of the way.
Me: So you don't believe in any restriction at all?So why do you tell me it's haram to smoke?
Him: Because it's bad for your heatlh.
Me: No you said it's haram - as in God doesn't wish me to do it - so your God is a mother figure too.
Him: Smoking is bad because your body reacts badly to nicotine. God created your body. If He had wanted you to smoke He would have changed your body chemistry so it thrives on tar & nicotine. He could have made nicotine your sustenance, not your poison. You don't need a fatwa to know smoking is haram. Nature says it is. And God is Nature. Now does Nature care if you enter the bathroom with the right foot or left?God just cares that you do what benefits yourself & others. And it's up to you to figure what that is.If you don't you will pay.
Me: God is Nature?Are you a pantheist?
Him: La zindeeq.
Me: Seriously you don't think God provided any Guidance?
Him: Sure He did. He gave you a brain didn't He?
Me: I mean something from God.
Him: Your brain is from God.
Me: So why do we have Holy books?
Him: Those are words but you still have to teach yourself the language or they will tell you nothing.
Me: So you don't believe in Divine Wisdom?
Him: All wisdom is Divine.
Me: So why do you pray?
Him: Congregational prayer is good. A group of people get together & perform the same rituals. They bond around a set of decent values. It creates brotherhood. A good brotherhood. Ini uhibuka fi allah kind of brotherhood.
Me: So you don't believe in praying on your own - just between yourself & God.
Him: Sure but when I want to pray just between me & God it doesn't have to be a certain time or a certain place or a certain ritual. I can pray anywhere anyhow. The point of organized congregational prayer is the community spirit. Everything in Islam is like that. Umar Ibn Ekhattab used to say :"A3tooni ma yinfa3u elnas u3teekum ma yusaniduhu min elshar3."And there is a hadith:"Isa'alooni fi umoor deenikum wantum adra bidunyakum".
Me: I was right. You did freak me out even more.

to be contd.


Sunday, July 10, 2005


"None feels secure from the Plan of Allah except the people who are the losers.''
---- (Qura'an 7:99)

"Certainly no one despairs of Allah's Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.''
---- (Qura'an 12:87)

"Verily, you will not guide everyone whom you love, but Allah guides whom He wills and He knows best those who Will be guided"
---- (Qura'an 28:56)

"If Allah so willed He could make you all one people: but He leaves straying whom He pleases and He guides whom He pleases: but ye shall certainly be called to account for all your actions."
---- (Qura'an 16:93)

"Is he then to whom the evil of his conduct is made alluring so that he looks upon it as good (equal to one who is rightly guided)? For Allah leaves to stray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. So let not thy soul go out in (vainly) sighing after them: for Allah knows well all that they do!"
---- (Qura'an 35:8)

"Light upon Light! Allah doth guide whom He will to His Light."
---- (Qura'an 24:35)


"I am a Prophet of Allah but I do not know what will be my end."

(Bukhari, Sahih Bukhari, Chapter "Al-Janaiz")

"No one of you will enter Paradise by his deeds alone." They asked, "Not even you, O Messenger of Allaah?" He said, "Not even me, unless Allaah covers me with His Grace and Mercy"

[Saheeh Muslim, 4/2170, no. 2816]


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Everything Is Relative

Been thinking a lot about something that happened on Friday. Walking round in Meena Salam we came across a bookstore. Like always I found myself drawn to the religious section. There was a good selection of books in Arabic & English by various well-known names. Most of them I already read or heard of. But that wasn't what got my attention. There was a nearby stall full of these little religious booklets & glossy pamphlets that are written by these obscure-sounding ElMarhooms & Sheikhs usually on one topic only. Like whether listening to music is halal or haram. Or wearing hijab. Or imitating non-Muslims.

Don't know why am always curious to read them. Maybe it's just vanity. Because I see them as the work of inferior minds so I like to look at them & think well thank God am smarter than that. It's weird but sometimes I think ok I might not have the right answer yet but at least I know these are wrong answers. And the more wrong answers I find the more optimistic I feel that by elimination I must be that many steps closer to the right answer.

Most of them are so shallow & so intolerant & so downright stupid because they make the most grandiose claims like guaranteeing you a path to heaven if you follow 4 or 5 steps that they specify or curse you to Hell if you deviate from another 4 or 5 steps.

K. asked me why I read so much about religion. Was surprised. Of the two of us I would have thought he was the more traditionally religious one(because he prays regularly). And yet he's right. I do read a lot about religion. Not just Islam either. Am curious about anything that sounds like a religious philosophy.

Asked him if he didn't. He said no. He was over that phase. I said well maybe I was still searching. He said but how does it help to read books about other people also searching even if they think they have all the answers?We're all lost. It's the nature of life. The more you read, the more you realize that everything is relative. He said that that scares some people. They need a solid ground - some absolute values.They don't want to face the fact that we are actually on our own in this world. He said that we invent imaginary restrictions because we find them reassuring. In reality we are completely free - free to make our decisions & live with the consequences.

He shocked me. For a minute in there I thought I was talking to an athiest. So I asked him if this is how you think then why do you practice religion?He said religion tells us that God will help those who help themselves & he prefers to read something that has practical use rather than a lot of theories about things we can't really do anything about.

I said so the answer is that if you can't understand something just put it out of your mind & pretend it doesn't exist?He told me he just thinks that spending too much time speculating about the nature of life just keeps you from actually experiencing life, that God is in everything & life is too short so make the best of it.

I don't know. Am not sure I understood him correctly. Haven't had a chance to talk more deeply about it. But something in me is disturbed by hearing this from someone who in outward appearance seems to be pretty well-balanced & disciplined religiously. I think am one of those scared people he mentioned who need the absolute values. Even if I haven't found them yet at least the hope that oneday I might keeps me going. I find no comfort in thinking everything is relative. Quite the contrary infact.



I will never ever ever ever stay up all night when I have to go to work in the morning again. NEVER.



Spent this weekend in Dubai. An unexpected trip. K. had to pick up a friend B. who was coming from Sweden. She was flying into Dubai Airport. He told me that he would be leaving right after work & asked me if I want to come along for the ride. He said we could show his friend around Dubai & come back late tonight.

Sure I did!I love Dubai. But not just for the ride. Called D. & asked her if she wanted to come. She said great but we can't go all the way to Dubai on a Thurs & come back without experiencing the nightlife. My sentiments exactly. So we spent about an hour on the phone trying to get a hotel room. No easy job at such short notice in Dubai. We managed a room at the Royal Mirage. EXPENSIVE. So we had to find more people to share the bill. Not a problem. Two more girls could make it so there would be 4 of us.

K. thought it was really funny. He said trust me to turn a trip to the airport into a party. I asked him if he wanted to stay in Dubai overnight too. He said he'd have to see if B. had to go to Abu Dhabi tonight.

So K. & I drove out about 2:00pm. My friends were going to meet us there. Funny how me & him always seem to end up in these endless long drives in the middle of the desert. I fell asleep for about half an hour but then he woke me up to say he was really bored & if I don't wake up & entertain him he was going to fall asleep behind the wheel. You could probably drive the Abu Dhabi- Dubai road in your sleep but I didn't want to take any chances. You hear stories about camels straying on to the road & overturning cars.

It was really nice. Was really relaxed. Practically talking in my sleep. Saying the first thing that came into my head. Will probably regret half the things I said later.

We went to the airport, picked up B. She's a dentist too & she's in town for a qualifying exam at the Ministry of Health. She's going to be moving to UAE soon. She used to live in Iran which I found really interesting. What a small world!We drove to the Royal Mirage to meet my friends who were checking in. On the way I found out that B. was a convert or (revert as she prefers to be called). A Sufi. Why is it that everyone I like always turns out to be a Sufi?Well not absolutely everyone but I seem to have a thing for mystics.

B. said she had no problem with staying in Dubai overnight which was perfect. She could be the 5th person to share our hotel room. The more, the merrier. The prob was now trying to find someplace for K. to spend the night. For a while it looked like the poor guy would have to spend the night in the car. Either that or pay half a month salary to spend the night in Meena Salam or Burj AlArab.But then he managed to get hold of a friend of his & invited himself to stay with him.

Well it was amazing. Dubai is like a dream world. Straight out of Arabian Nights. It's all about luxury & service. Like having the world at your fingertips. You can see anything in Dubai. Opera, ballet, theater, folklore from just about anywhere you can imagine. And food from everywhere.You can go jet-skiing or water-skiing or sailing or sky-diving. Desert safaris, Deep-sea fishing, bowling, golf. We even went ice-skating. And then of course there is the shopping.And the spas. You run into famous people everywhere. Artists, writers, politicians.

But all of this of course if you have money. Dubai has another face. On every street you see those poor Asian laborers toiling away in the hot sun & the newspaper boys on every traffic light. And you know that this is a city where people like them have no rights. They work abnormal hours & they are paid pittance if they are paid at all. Some of them get paid once every 6 months & they end up working basically for their food & board. They have no access to medical care & are not allowed to bring their families. Because of D.'s work as a safety engineer we know that many companies don't bother to observe the safety guidelines to create a healthy & safe working environment for these people. And we know that when accidents happen there is very little compensation for them or their families.

And then there is the prostitution. It is really quite offensive to see it so openly & so widespread in a supposedly Muslim country. But it makes sense in a way. More than 70% of the population are expatriate workers more than half of whom are not allowed to bring their wives if they have wives. And the same problem exists in neighboring Gulf states so Dubai attracts men from all of these areas & women from Asia & Eastern Europe & Somalia & Lebanon & Morroco, you name it.

In Abu Dhabi, a single woman or a group of girls out on their own might be considered a little bit free or open if they are not wearing hijab but people will still be respectful & watch their step. In Dubai we are actually offered money. Every woman is seen as a potential prostitute & it doesn't help to wear hijab because you have a bizarre situation where some prostitutes will be carrying shaila's & 3abays to wear incase they have to go with an arab or local client who doesn't want people who know him to see him with a prostitute so he makes her cover up so if seen she would look like his sister or wife or relative.

I wouldn't want to live in Dubai. It's nice to come as a visitor. But to live here day in, day out you'd start to see too much & this is not a city where you want to look too deep beneath the surface.

Anyway not to get too depressing. It was a nice day, with really nice company. I think B. got a good introduction into Dubai. As much as traffic would allow we took her everywhere. And we did go dancing in the end but not for long. Everyone was too tired. We were back in our hotel room at about 1:30 am. They went to sleep. I was on the phone with K. for about an hour. Then he went to sleep too so then there was my laptop.I don't know what time I went to sleep on Thurs. It felt like I'd only been sleeping for 5 min when the girls woke me up.

We went down for breakfast. And K. & his friend joined us. We all went shopping in Souk Madinat jumeirah but I was too exhausted so I decided to sit in a little cafe & K. stayed with me. His friend was this really funny Egyptian guy who was clearly hitting on all my friends & B. too!

Around lunchtime the others joined us again. We'd just finished lunch when the news from London came through on TV in the Cafe. It was panic after that. K. couldn't get through to his sister or his brother-in-law. You just couldn't call the UK. The lines were so bad. So we were just going from news channel to news channel & we had the laptop on also looking for news & trying to contact people. It was 4:00pm before we'd confirmed that everyone we knew in London was safe. We left for Abu Dhabi immediately after. No one was in the mood for anything.

I was home about 6:30pm & I went to sleep right away. Got up about 10:00pm. And here is the result. It's 4:30 in the morning & am still up blogging. Am going to be a zombie at work. Sent K. sms about 2:00am to tell him that ever since I met him I haven't been getting enough sleep. He messaged back that he always has that effect on women. Hahahaha.Very funny. I called to ask if he was going to sleep. He said yeah unlike me he hadn't had any sleep all day. But we still ended up talking a good 25 min before I took pity on him & let him go.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005


They've bombed London. More people killed on their way to work in the morning. And they call this Jihad?Jihad against what?The worldwide commuter community?

Have so many friends in London. Have been on the phone all day. Thank God they are all alright although a little worried about backlash & against them as Muslims. My friend M. is a doctor & she has already had abuse from relatives of some injured people at the hospital.

K.'s sister also lives in London. And she takes the tube to work so he was pretty worried when the news broke. But she called to confirm that she & her husband & their kids are ok.

Sitting at a Cafe in Dubai right now with K. & D. & two other friends, watching coverage on TV. Why is it that no Arab or Muslim country has reacted yet?Only Pakistan & Afghanistan.We should be the first to react because we're always hit by terror in two ways. First terrorists kill us more than they kill anyone else as they showed in Algeria &Morroco & Egypt & Afghanistan. And second the world will blame us for it because it's done in our name.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Complexity or Just Perversity?

Last night I was on the phone for 2 hours with a friend who is having problems in her otherwise happy marriage because her son has been diagnosed with autism & her husband is in denial & has become extremely difficult to handle. The poor girl feels as if she has 2 children on her hands both depending on her strength & no one to lean on.

Did my best & she thanked me so much for being a good friend that I felt a little guilty - like I didn't deserve her gratitude. Why?Because the whole time I was talking to her I couldn't wait to get off the phone so I can talk to K.

The truth is he's the only person I really feel like talking to these days. With everyone else, am only half-listening. Get so impatient too.Everything else that I do in my life feels like just filling in time until I can see him or talk to him. At work am easily distracted - always day-dreaming, thinking about what am going to wear & say & do when I see him, analyzing everything he says & does. With my family there is guilt that am hiding something from them & I only spend time with them out of a sense of duty & because I don't want them to start asking questions.

Infact am working very hard to act normal, to prove to everyone around me that am still the same. And am very sensitive to any comment that I changed. I don't even talk to my friends about him because I don't want to be teased. If it was just some crush I wouldn't care about being told am obssessed with him. I'd take it as a joke. But now if they say it it would feel like the truth & the truth always hurts I guess. So I don't want to hear it.

It's so hard to figure out exactly what am feeling. It's so complex. Am I happy?Yes & I think that's the problem. Am so happy it's making me feel guilty. Like I shouldn't be so happy when not everyone around me is. Like I shouldn't be spending so much time with him for my own pleasure.Like falling in love shouldn't take up so much of my energy & my attention that there's nothing left for other people. Am not used to being so self-centered.

Today after work I had to go to my uncle's house to help out because they're moving house.Everyone was there, my parents, my sister, my bro & my sister-in-law.We were packing & moving things & unpacking until 5:00pm & then my uncle ordered food & we all had lunch together. The kind of family get-together I normally enjoy a lot. But today I didn't. Was so resentful. Wanted to be with him. Was worried we'd ending up staying for dinner too & I wouldn't get to see him at all tonight.

Managed to get away about 6:45pm. Called him from downstairs infront of my uncle's house. He didn't pick up & he didn't call me back right away. So I took a cab back home. Had a shower & changed. When I came out of the shower I found 2 missed calls. So I called him. He called back right away. Asked him why he didn't pick up earlier & he said he was in the mosque. Then he said he missed me.

Instead of saying I missed him too I started going on about how we couldn't expect to see each other all the time because it wasn't practical because we both had lives etc...A little voice inside my head was screaming what are you doing?But I couldn't seem to stop talking & I know I sounded too aggressive. And he didn't interrupt me. He just let me finish. That's an irritating habit he has. He always lets me finish. I wish he'd interrupt me when am saying stupid things because it might make me stop.

Then he said he was really sorry. He hadn't realized he was crowding me so much. And he said that maybe because he had no family here & very few close friends he hadn't considered that my situation was different & that I had family & social obligations etc...Which of course made me feel like a monster. I hurt him & there he was being understanding. More guilt.

Then he said that maybe we should take a time-out tonight, that I must be tired working all day & then moving house. I asked him if he would call me tonight. He said that if I find that am not too tired & sleepy I should give him a missed call.

Great. All day I've been going crazy to see him & I blew it. I spent one hour frantically debating whether I should call him & tell him the truth. That it's really other people who are crowding me when all I want is to be with him. And that that scares me.

Did call in the end.But I didn't say any of that. Just asked him where he was. Could hear voices in the background. He said he was out with some friends & he asked me if I was ok. I said fine & that I just called to atamin 3laik. He told me not to worry & to get some rest. So I said bye. He didn't say ok 7abibi at the end of the call like he always does. Maybe because there were people around him. Or maybe he's mad at me.

All of a sudden I feel so tired. Like I want to go to bed & sleep & never get up again. In the morning I'll make it up to him. Right now I can't think anymore.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Can I Run For President?

Is there something in Islam that prohibits a woman from becoming a head of state?I don't know what is the 'official' or conventional wisdom on this issue. Thinking logically though I can't see why not but if anyone has a conclusive answer I'd be glad to hear it.

Some arguments I have heard against:

1) There is this hadith:

"The hadith, related by Abu Bakra, states "God has benefited me from a word I heard from the Prophet (PBUH) on the day of the Camel, after I had been about to join the ranks of the people of the Camel. [Abu Bakra] said ‘When the Prophet was informed that the people of Persia had crowned the daughter of Kisra as their ruler, he said: No people will ever succeed if they hand their affairs to a woman.’" Sahih al-Bukhari, trans. by M.M. Khan, Kazi Publications, 1983, vol. 5, p. 508, no. 508; vol. 9, p. 170-171, no. 219."

2)And this Ayah:

"And the divorced women shall undergo, without remarrying, a waiting period of three monthly courses: for it is not lawful for them to conceal what God may have created in their wombs, if they believe in God and the Last Day. And during this period their husbands are fully entitled to take them back, if they desire reconciliation; but, in accordance with justice, the rights of the wives with regard to their husbands are equal to the husbands’ rights with regard to them, although men have a degree (darajah) over them. And God is almighty, wise. "
(Quran 2:228).

So if the interpretation here is that men are somehow superior to us by a degree then I guess the argument is we shouldn't be allowed to rule over them.

3)And this Ayah:

"Men shall take full care (qawamuna) of women with the bounties which God has bestowed more abundantly[preferred] (faddala) on some of the former than on some of the latter, and with what they may spend out of their possessions. And the righteous women are the truly devout ones, who guard the intimacy which God has ordained to be guarded."
(Quran 4: 34).

So again if we interpret this to mean qawama(guardianship) belongs to men over women then a woman cannot be the head of state because she would have to listen to whoever her 'guardian' is.

4)Women are forbidden to lead prayer so they should not lead countries.

5)Women are emotional & may start a war because they have PMS.

When I was in the States, these verses & hadiths were often thrown at me by people who were anti-Islam as proof that Islam subjugates women. When I tried to do research into their context & interpretations there were too many different answers so I declined to comment because I didn't want to present my personal opinion as Islam.

Now after the incident in New York where an American Muslim woman lead a Friday prayer & also after women finally got the vote in Kuwait I'm beginning to hear them over here a lot - from Muslims this time. I noticed them coming up in social discussions more & more as people debate current affairs & contemporary issues.

Personally I think No. 4 doesn't make sense. Even if it's true that women can't lead the prayer that is a matter of ritual. It has no practical reason. You can't really question rituals like prayer. It's just like asking why we have to do rukoo3 once & sujood twice in every rak3a?No special reason. That's just the way it is.

But being a head of state is a matter of political rights. It's a matter of Sharia.That IS open for debate. So fine if a woman is President & she can't lead Friday prayers, get someone else to lead them. Don't see why that should stop her from being President.Who says the head of state must head the prayers anyway?

No.5 I simply present but refuse to comment on or on the whole naqisat 3aqlin wadeen interpretations because I find that when I get into these discussions I forget that my mother raised me to be a lady.


Sunday, July 03, 2005

What The Stars Say....

Not really a huge believer in astrology but just out of curiosity I thought I'd look up some Libra-Taurus compatability readings last night.

I know horoscopes aren't true. But they do give you a starting point. You read what your personality traits(or someone else's) are supposed to be & then you agree with some & the parts you don't agree with you think no that doesn't work like that, it works like this. It's just a good tool for analyzing people.

"Pragmatic Taurus can help perfection-seeking Libra to be more accepting of life's flaws, and sociable Libra can help habit-driven Taurus to move out into the world and make interesting new contacts.
"Libra is the great perfectionist of the zodiac. You use the words "fair" and "equal" a lot. You believe passionately in fairness, which can cause you unhappiness, because life and people aren't always fair."

Ok this part is true. Am more of an idealist/perfectionist. He's much more matter-of-fact about things. And am definitely the social butterfly in this relationship. He's more of a workaholic, into his work & his research.

"You have a positive hatred of emotional storms, so you probably have trouble expressing your own emotions honestly. Anger, hatred, jealousy, neediness, intense desire - frightening stuff, all of it, and expressing it can get you into trouble (meaning that other people might get hurt or angry with you).

It's true that I don't like showing them. But it's not like I can help it.

"The bull is an extremely masculine animal, and the Taurus man can incline to the macho end of the masculine spectrum - partly because the sign is so physical, and partly because Taureans are so sensitive to the collective roles which society expects of them."

Oh NO!A male chauvinist!

"Taurus men can be infuriatingly simple and wilfully, deliberately obtuse when they get that unpleasant feeling that you're trying to change them. When they don't wish to understand something, they just block it out. They tell you you're being unreasonable, irrational or silly, or they smile sweetly and walk away, impervious to storms of tears and verbal abuse.

Yeah that sounds familiar.

Have to get some work done now!

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A friend I work with thinks her husband is having an affair on-line. Or at least that it started online. A few months ago she started to notice that he was spending a lot of time on-line which was suspicious since he's not the internet-addict type. Infact he used to hate computers so much that he never even had his own email. They shared one & she used to answer all his email for him.

So she did some detective work, checked the history & temporary internet files to find out which sites he was visiting & joined all of them - forums, chatrooms you name it.And she would make a point of talking to all the girls until she found the one. Subhanallah. It was just his bad luck that the girl couldn't keep her mouth shut & couldn't stop talking & telling the whole story. She even forwarded my friend some of his emails to read.Of course the poor girl has no idea that he's married with 2 children.Now their relationship has gone off-line & they are going out together.

Am amazed at my friend's patience. That she would have the strength to sit & chat with this girl for HOURS & hear stuff like this. My friend would even laugh at some of the things her husband said to the girl.

And she can still live with him.She can face him everyday & act normal. I mean he has NO idea that she knows.

This morning she came in my office to tell me the latest & I expressed my shock. She said it wasn't the first time she caught him playing around. More shock!And she said that infact this affair of his was practically harmless because she could tell the girl is 'bint nas' - implication that the girl wouldn't sleep with him.What a mentality!I ask her but aren't you afraid he might fall in love with the girl or marry her?She said no he won't. He hates commitment. When he realizes he can't get the girl he'll get bored.

So I tell her if the situation is like you say you can end it just by telling the girl who you are & that he is married so why not do that?She said no.Then he'll know she knows & she doesn't want to face that.

I asked my friend what made you so hard & cynical?She used to be such a romantic. She answered in one word. Marriage.And she talked for a long time about how selfish men were & how it didn't matter how much you give to them they never appreciate it, they're all liars. And she did start crying. I felt bad for forcing her out of her emotional equilibrium.

We had to go into the bathroom until she could get herself together again & she told me that basically she survives by thinking of her children first & that she has given up trying to change him because he doesn't want to change.

This has come as a shock. Both of them are very old friends. I had no idea their marriage was in such trouble. Not even when she started talking about this on-line thing. First I thought she was joking. Then I thought maybe she wasn't but it was some harmless online chat thing.

We always knew he was a bit of a womanizer. But everyone had assumed he'd settled down after marriage. And they were so much in love when they got married & seemed so happy. That was only 4 years ago. If this happened in 4 years what shape will their marriage be in in 10 years?

Am upset & I feel bad for my friend & also for the girl he met online who is also a victim & who is probably falling in love with him. Am also worried that next time I see him I won't be able to keep from saying something. Don't have my friend's patience & fortitude. When am angry with someone I don't hide it very well.

Is marriage really the end of romance?


Saturday, July 02, 2005

In The Year 2005.....

Who would believe this article?

"But King Mohammed VI has threatened dire consequences for a Rabat newspaper that portrayed his wife, Princess Lalla Salma, roaming barefoot in the palace, bossing the servants, enjoying carrot tagine and playing with the royal heir - whose circumcision ceremony was marked in traditional fashion with amnesties for 7,000 prisoners."

7000 people?7000?What kind of world is it where judiciary decisions about whether or not people do time are made because a member of the Royal Family was circumcised?And we're supposed to be a constitutional monarchy?What's so constitutional about that?It sounds pretty feudal to me.

I wish so-called human rights organizations on the international front would quit patting our regimes on the back because this year they tortured 5900 people instead of 6000 people like last year. It's ridiculous to talk about 'improvement' when it comes to things like torture & causing your political opponents to 'disappear'.These are crimes, they have to stop & those responsible have to be punished & the victims & their families have to be compensated. Imagine if it was an individual doing this. Imagine saying that so-and-so used to torture & murder his neighbors but now he's much 'improved'!

I hope that if we ever achieve true democracy in Morroco that we would follow the British model. Having attended a couple of Greenpeace demonstrations in London back in 1999 I was struck by the contrast between them & demonstrations in Morroco.In Casablanca the atmosphere is always so bitter & angry. Everyone is shouting & not letting anyone else get a word in edgewise. You're constantly being jostled & fights break out every 2 minutes. The security police beat people with clubs. And that's when it's an authorized demo & the authorities don't decide to break it up in which case you'll get Israeli-style tear-gas, bullets in the air, stampedes & much worse violence.

In London, you can't tell the difference between a political demonstration & a festival. People are singing & dancing & having a lot of fun while getting their message out. They set up colorful stalls to sell you t-shirts & mugs with their message on them. In the true Anglo-Saxon tradition, everyone is more than a little drunk. Like it's some sort of a celebration. You have to struggle to remember that these people are here to OBJECT to the state of affairs. That they're supposed to be upset about something. How can you when they object with such good humor?

The police are polite & friendly. I was walking around looking lost & 2 police officers walked up & asked if they could help me. And they do. They help little old ladies cross the street. They help to reunite little children lost in the crowd with their parents. They get the paramedics for people who pass out from drinking or the crowd or have seizures etc....They keep drunks from disturbing the peace. A friend of mine commented once that the police were acting like the bouncers in a club. They're just there to keep the peace - completely indifferent to the political message behind the event.

It's wonderful to see people so completely relaxed & matter-of-fact about democracy & dissension - as if it's the most natural thing in the world.In the Arab world I think we live up too much to the stereo-type of the 'hotheaded Arab'. Passions run too high. Passion has its place & it's not politics.In politics I really think that things get better when cooler heads prevail.

These thoughts ran through my mind when I read the Guardian article about the G8 protests in London.

Look at the headline. "A nation on the move: thousands prepare to march and dance". Unquote. Let's hope we learn to march & dance & instead of march & fight & disappear or die.