Monday, October 31, 2005

Born Again

One of the things I love about my job is the feeling I get the day one of our projects is released into production. Looking at the finished product I feel like a genius. And of course there is the relief. We actually managed to deliver something on time. And it works!It's like being born again, surviving a near-death experience. Almost a religious experience.

Wouldn't have thought so this morning. At 7:00am there I was sitting in my office half-asleep desperately trying to debug a data conversion & installation package which was supposed to be working just fine the day before. The guy in the office on my right was on the phone. However being too lazy to actually pick up the phone he always has it on speaker. So like it or not I have to listen in on all his calls, business or personal. There are times when I appreciate this. Am a woman. I love gossip. But not under the circumstances. He wouldn't shut up & after a while CURSORS & INNER JOINS & LEFT OUTER JOINS were merging together before my eyes & twisting into this giant whirlpool of SQL that I was drowning in.

So I go over, knock on his door & ask him to keep it down. So he asks me what's in it for him. Forgot that bit. We bribe him to keep quiet. He'll charge you a chocolate or a cigarette. But am fasting, I whine. Tough, he says. He's not. I go back in my office & search my bag just incase. There is a pack but it's empty. Bummer. So I go back & try to ask really nicely. He says ok but I owe him a big favor. Jerk.

Peace. At last. Still it was 9 before I got the offending script to return what it was supposed to return as opposed to what it wants to return. And please no one try to tell me code doesn't have a mind of its own because it does. You have to convince it to give you what you want.

Decided to let it run one last time as a test. We had a meeting at 9. Came back to my office at about 10:30 to find that the package completed successfully. So I started typing some SELECT & GROUP BY statements to see that the right data was in the right places. Gotta love SQL. It's a neverending story.

Called the support guys on the customer's side to tell them we were ready to install. Was still worried they might not have the machines ready. Or the network configuration that was agreed. Or the server architecture that was agreed. In any of these cases the installation wouldn't work. Have had that done to me before. It's embarrassing because even if it's their fault, it's still your product crashing after you said it was ready.

But these guys were great. Two of them are really hot btw & today they proved they're not just dumb muscle. Beauty & brains. Who can resist?

So it was a happy ending. So far. It's considered really good if the users still can't find a bug in your application after 6 months of regular use. We will be providing maintenance for a period specified by the contract. I think it's 18 months in this case. So will be keeping my fingers sort of half-crossed for the next few months but am optimistic.

So where's the catch?Other than that I won't be seeing so much of the two office crushes I mentioned above anymore?The catch is that now am stuck with nothing to do other than this. Just hope something new comes up soon.

Still - catch or not - I had a good day at work (el7amdullilah).


Sunday, October 30, 2005


Can't do it. Can't do solitude. Yes I've read all the philosophical quotes about people who dislike their own company being shallow & empty etc....But I still don't enjoy my own company. Am a restless, nervous type personality & left alone would drive myself crazy.

I need people. And I must say am not choosy. I don't ask for unswerving loyalty or deep spiritual connections usually. Just be around. You don't even have to talk. Just breathe. Show some sign of life & am happy. Infact people who try to get too close too fast scare me.

Have been like this since I was a child. At home I use my room to sleep & change. That's it. Activities that everyone else likes to do in solitude I do with people around. You find all my books in the living room because that's where I read. And it's where I used to study. Or write. Or listen to music. Not locked up in my room. In the living room. With people moving & talking around me. You find my laptop in the living room too. That's where I blog or surf or work if I need to do that from home. I used to have a pc in my room but never used it. Ended up selling it. Am a laptop kind of person. I need something that moves with me. If there's no one at home then I'll take my laptop or my book or my discman & go out to sit somewhere in public where I can see people. If am ever locked up in my room then it's because am on the phone. Or because am going through some kind of crisis.Or am sick.

I'll socialize with anyone rather than be alone. I mean it. You could do me a really bad turn but if you call & catch me oneday when I can't find anyone else to hang out with I'll probably go out with you. I might not trust you. I might be pretty unpleasant company. But I will go out with you because you're still human company. The people you see around me are not always people I like or trust or even respect. Very few of them are. Sometimes I wonder what that says about me.

I know that I've come to care more about quantity than quality so to speak. I need lots of people in my life because no matter how wonderful one person is or how much they care about me they cannot be there to keep me company every second am awake. Especially considering the fact that I've never been much of a sleeper. They will still have their own life to live. So the answer is more people. That way there will always be at least one person around.

Of course having been like this all my life I can tell you I've had my share of bad experiences. When I was younger my family protected me, controlled who I could hang around with. Of course I resisted this. Can't remember how many times I had this conversation with my parents growing up. Why do you spend time with him/her?Because there's no one else right now. Still they managed to keep me sheltered from the unpleasant manifestations of human nature so to speak.

But once I was too old for them to manage that yeah I got burned. Again & again. I think it just made me more shallow. Out of self-defence I became this social butterfly - very superficial in my relationships. Just having fun. I still like people. I just don't trust them. I don't have very high expectations of anyone so I don't risk disappointment.I don't think I made many real friends as an adult. Apart from my husband & one or two other exceptions, the connections that matter today are the ones I made when I was a child - too young to have as many defences & walls as I do today. These are the people am most vulnerable to. Some of them don't care or appreciate but still they're like a bad habit I can't break. Maybe because I don't know how to replace them or to build something as deep anymore so I don't want to let go of what I have.

One of the reasons I hated the thought of leaving UAE is that I know so many people here. If I had moved to Morrocco how long would it have taken me to build a similar social network there?

My husband sometimes complains that I hang out with too many people I don't seem to know very much about, that everywhere we go I seem to know everyone, that am too friendly, too social. He gets jealous. Makes some people in my social circle feel unwelcome. And out of consideration for his feelings I try to cut back & keep a low profile for a while. But every now & then something in me snaps & I find myself telling him look you can't be there for me all the time. You say you need space. Fine. Have your space but I can't be alone. He says he hates to see me hurt or used or with people who aren't worth it etc...The same sort of thing I used to hear from my parents when I was a kid. And it's the same answer. I need protection from myself, my worries & fears more than I need protection from other people.

At my age you know yourself pretty well.Just wonder how easy it might be to improve now?I'd like to slow down a bit. Take time to get to know people one at a time as individuals. Make some real connections. Have more quality than quantity in my relationships. Practice trust, commitment etc....all those big words that intimidate me so much. More than anything I want to get along better with me. Is it too late?

Friday, October 28, 2005


Tagged by Charismatic Soul & Nightlegend. Thanks guys!

Seven things I plan to do:

1) Sleep more.
2) Stop using things I supposedly bought to prepare for my wedding so I don't end up having to buy them again.
3) Worry less.
4) Stop smoking.
5) Go back to reading. I don't read at all these days. Not even newspapers. Getting to be an ignormous.
6) Spend more time at home with my parents before they leave.
7) Spend less.

Seven things I can't do:

1) Eat alone.
2) Sleep with my hair tied up.
3) Drive without music.
4) See nice things in my dreams instead of work.
5) Stop arguing until I have the last word.
6) Stop criticizing.
7) Feel satisfied.

Seven things I say most often:

1) Ya7aram
2) Wish kayen?
3) Khair inshallah?
4) Yasalam
5) Suit yourself
6) 7abibi or 7abibti
7) Great

Seven people I want to pass this tag to:

1) Haal
2) Jane
3) Wonderer
4) AlSharief
5) Meme
6) Moonlightshadow
7) Me ®


Monday, October 24, 2005

Random Thoughts On Faith

1) Love to wake up at dawn to my father's voice reading Qura'an. There are a lot of Sheikhs with great voices out there. And I do enjoy some of them. But my father remains my favorite reader - much closer to the heart than a CD or the radio or TV or even the Imam at the mosque.

2) Ramadan is the month of giving but unfortunately I've come to hate standing infront of the Red Crescent desk at the Co-op or the mall & being asked to choose between an orphan or a dying child or a sick person or whatever. Between victims of an earthquake or a hurricane or a famine or war refugees. Like choosing from a menu at some restaurant.How am I supposed to choose when everyone apparently has the same needs?What's the basis for choosing?Race?No basis I really feel comfortable with.I always end up standing undecided for a long time & then leaving with a sense of dissatisfaction, feeling like I've abandoned someone. Like giving someone & preferring them over others is somehow depriving the others. Am I the only one who feels this way?I mean I don't want to be asked these questions. I just want to give money for charity & know that it's being put to good use without having to deal with any choices or decisions and feeling responsible for anything.

3) Why do some people think that zikr is 7aram?I really don't get this. It's something I see a lot here in UAE. That zikr or nasheed is bid3a. In Morocco the mosques are never silent - especially in Ramadan. In between prayers you hear zikr or nasheed coming from them all the time. I always notice this when visiting back home. You never walk past a silent mosque no matter what time it is.

But here they say anything other than Adhan or Iqama or khutba is bid3a?!

Sometimes at weddings I've seen people attend the music & dancing part & then run out screaming bid3a 7aram - if munshideen are brought in. I mean which is more 7aram?Singing in praise of Allah or singing & dancing to Ruby with members of the opposite sex - very often with women dressed not much more heavily than Ruby?



Maybe writing down conversations is not such a great idea. It gives me a chance to reread & analyze them too much.

I have to admit that I've been thinking about this:

"Him: Ah bas da kan abl elgawaz. Ma kanshy yinfa3 a'ool ghair kida mana kaman 3ayez atfarag.
Me: And now?Khalas shib3an furja?
Him: Shab3an eh?Dilwa'ati ana atfarag zay mana 3ayez filbait. Aseeb ghairi yitfarag leh?Mish mudtar abadan.
Me: Are you serious?
Him: About what?
Me: That all the rules change now because we're married?
Him: It was a joke. You know. Haha?Don't make an issue out of it now. I'm not in the mood."

Was it really just a joke?Or his subconscious mind speaking?

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

A Tree Knelt In Praise

I know that I shall never see
A poem that bows quite like our tree
A tree who like us loved to pray
In adoration every day

A tree who humbly knelt in praise
To God and never chose to raise
Itself above the other trees
Instead remained as if on knees

A tree who gave our scholars shade
And never asked that it be paid
A tree whose needles never hurt
But gently fell upon the dirt

A tree whose worth cannot be told
Or ever lent or bought with gold
A tree who showed us all its height
With God by bowing with delight

It taught us all to clearly see
A Garden lies beneath a tree
And then it showed us with a sigh
That trees, like us, must also die

In an age of folly, play and mirth
A tree has died with brow on earth

-Hamza Yusuf / March 2005

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Customer Is Always Right?

Even the customer of your worst nightmares apparently. And I mean that literally. This particular customer is giving me nightmares. I have dreams about him. Like now. I went to bed at 3:00 am last night & I had this horrible nightmare about him & his project so here I am - awake at 6:00am even though am off today. And it's Ramadan so I can't even have a cigarette.

The project started at the end of July. For me personally it was a bit of a challenge because it was my first time dealing with someone who is not in IT. In all my previous projects the user is the IT department of the organization. They're IT people themselves but they don't have the resources or the people to handle the project so they outsource it to us. This means that you're dealing with people who know what they're doing & what they want.

In this case though - the contact am coordinating with is not in IT. This is not a problem in itself. After all we're supposed to be able to help everyone - not just people in our business.

But this guy is one of those people who don't seem to get the difference between technology & magic. Explaining that something he wants is not viable because he doesn't have enough technical resources for it for example is an incredible challenge. Explaining that he can't change the entire design of the system & expect that there will be no delay is an impossibility.

We have 6 programmers working full-time on his system. He has succeeded in making them all hate me.

The story goes something like this. I have meetings with him where we have tortuous discussions about what his requirements are & what is the best way to implement them. Finally when am ready to have a nervous breakdown, we appear to reach an agreement. So I go & type up a requirements document & send it to him, asking him to confirm that this is what he wants. He makes me chase him for a couple of weeks then he finally sends it back approved.

So I sit & work on a design, have meetings with my colleagues & we decide on everyone's share of the workload & we get started. When we're ready for a demo, I call him to set up a date. He says oh yeah I was going to call you. And proceeds to explain all the parts of his process that he forgot to tell me about but he wants the system to handle. Even worse, he seems to see himself as some sort of expert in IT because he subscribes to a couple of IT publications. So he reads an article somewhere describing some new revolutionary feature & decides he wants it but doesn't remember to tell me that until the project is almost done. Of course trying to explain that his system doesn't have the scope for the feature he wants - or that it's redundant or that is too expensive in terms of resources, a waste of time. He's very rude. Will usually tell me that he's much older than me & more experienced etc...& finally will tell me that if I don't like it I can have my management contact his management.

So I go to my manager - who essentially takes the attitude that the customer is always right. If the customer wants us to build a pyramid every morning, tear it down by end of the day & build a new pyramid tomorrow, then we'll do it - provided he's still paying our fees. We don't want our customers taking their business elsewhere.

Basically the answer from my manager is always get him to put it in writing, that he has changed his requirements & that he is responsible for any delay, set a new deadline & do what he wants.

So I go back & fight with the customer about the proposed new deadline. He will usually refuse to accept the time I say is needed. And he will have his management contact my management like he loves to say. And my manager will ask me if I need more people to meet his deadline. Everyone knows that involving new people when the project is already so far advanced is creating more trouble. I have to babysit them until they know where we're at & where we're trying to get etc...They will fall all over everyone's feet. And all this will mean time wasted. In the end I'll get about half the time I need.

Then it's up to me to break the news to everyone in the team - that they basically have to do everything all over again & it needs to be ready yesterday. I know am being unreasonable so I don't blame them for resenting this. They're getting bored & demoralized. It's supposed to be my job to keep them motivated. As far as they're concerned it's my job to get the requirements straight & if they keep having to work extra & redo everything then am not doing my job. They don't know about all the pressures am getting from the customer or from management & it's not really their problem or their job to know. Sometimes I feel so bad for all the hard work they did I end up doing some of the changes myself just because I don't have the nerve to ask them to.

We've been through the above 3 times already. This project is starting to haunt me. Everytime I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel this happens & we end up pretty close to square one. Even worse, it's exploding - it's becoming so bloated & over-loaded with garbage that I know it's going to be a nightmare to maintain later no matter how well we try to document it. I hate this project. It's not the quality of work I feel I can be proud of. Too many patches. Too many shortcuts. It's not efficient. Everything it does can be done much better using a fraction of the resources & in a fraction of the time. I've worked on similar projects in less than a month which worked much better. Now I find myself forced to slave away for 3 months to create this monster. It sucks to find yourself getting zero satisfaction from that much work. But the customer wants it like this. I think the customer should be shot.But am sure my manager would give me some nonsense about shooting customers not being good for business.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

My Family & Other Animals

One of my favorite books of all time. Read it back in high school & it made me addicted to animal books.

First became interested in the book when I watched a TV interview with Durell's sister who stated that one of the changes in her life after her brother's book became famous was that people were always asking her:"And which Other Animal are you?"

Went on to read the rest of Durell's books. Another unforgettable one is called Rosie is My Relative - about an alcoholic elephant. Hilarious.

Then I started on the James Herriott books next like All Creatures Great And Small. And then a host of other Penguin Nature Classics. And then on TV there was Animal Planet. But always stayed loyal to "My Family & Other Animals" as the favorite. First love & all that.

If you love animals, are a nature-lover & you enjoy the British sense of humor, this book is for you.

Would recommend that you read the book first rather than watch the movie. The movie is missing many of the funniest bits & if you watch it first it will kind of spoil the book for you.

Here's an excerpt from the beginning of the book:

"July had been blown out like a candle by a biting wind that ushered in a leaden August sky. A sharp, stinging drizzle fell, billowing into opaque grey sheets when the wind caught it. Along the Bournemouth sea-front the beach-huts turned blank wooden faces towards a greeny-grey, frothchained sea that leapt eagerly at the cement bulwark of the shore. The gulls had been tumbled inland over the town, and they now drifted above the house-tops on taut wings, whining peevishly. It was the sort of weather calculated to try anyone's endurance.

Considered as a group my family was not a very prepossessing sight that afternoon, for the weather had brought with it the usual selection of ills to which we were prone. For me, lying on the floor, labelling my collection of shells, it had brought catarrh, pouring it into my skull like cement, so that I was forced to breath stertorously through open mouth. For my brother Leslie, hunched dark and glowering by the fire, it had inflamed the convolutions of his ears so that they bled delicately but persistently. To my sister Margo it had delivered a fresh dappling of acne spots to a face that was already blotched like a red veil. For my mother there was a rich, bubbling cold, and a twinge of rheumatism to season it. Only my eldest brother, Larry, was untouched, but it was sufficient that he was irritated by our failings.

It was Larry, of course, who started it. The rest of us felt too apathetic to think of anything except our own ills, but Larry was designed by Providence to go through life like a small, blond firework, exploding ideas in other people's minds, and then curling up with cat-like unctuousness and refusing to take any blame for the consequences. He had become increasingly irritable as the afternoon wore on. At length, glancing moodily round the room, he decided to attack Mother, as being the obvious cause of the trouble.

"Why do we stand this bloody climate?" he asked suddenly, making a gesture towards the rain-distorted window. "Look at it! And, if it comes to that, look at us . . . Margo swollen up like a plate of scarlet porridge . . . Leslie wandering around with fourteen fathoms of cotton wool in each ear . . . Gerry sounds as though he's had a cleft palate from birth . . . And look at you: you're looking more decrepit and hag-ridden every day."

Mother peered over the top of a large volume entitled Easy Recipes from Rajputana. "Indeed I'm not," she said indignantly.

"You are," Larry insisted; "you're beginning to look like an Irish washerwoman . . . and your family looks like a series of illustrations from a medical encyclopedia."

Mother could think of no really crushing reply to this, so she contented herself with a glare before retreating once more behind her book.

"What we need is sunshine," Larry continued; "don't you agree, Les? . . . Les . . . Les!"

Leslie unravelled a large quantity of cotton-wool from one ear.

"What d'you say?" he asked.

"There you are!" said Larry, turning triumphantly to Mother, "it's become a major operation to hold a conversation with him. I ask you, what a position to be in! One brother can't hear what you say, and the other one can't be understood. Really, it's time something was done. I can't be expected to produce deathless prose in an atmosphere of gloom and eucalyptus."

"Yes, dear," said Mother vaguely.

"What we all need," said Larry, getting into his stride again, "is sunshine . . . a country where we can grow."

"Yes, dear, that would be nice," agreed Mother, not really listening.

"I had a letter from George this morning - he says Corfu's wonderful. Why don't we pack up and go to Greece?"

"Very well, dear, if you like," said Mother unguardedly.

Where Larry was concerned she was generally very careful not to commit herself.

"When?" asked Larry, rather surprised at this cooperation.

Mother, perceiving that she had made a tactical error, cautiously lowered Easy Recipes from Rajputana. "Well, I think it would be a sensible idea if you were to go on ahead, dear, and arrange things. Then you can write and tell me if it's nice, and we all can follow," she said cleverly.

Larry gave her a withering look.

"You said that when I suggested going to Spain," he reminded her, "and I sat for two interminable months in Seville, waiting for you to come out, while you did nothing except write me massive letters about drains and drinking water, as though I was the Town Clerk or something. No, if we're going to Greece, let's all go together."

"You do exaggerate, Larry," said Mother plaintively; "anyway, I can't go just like that. I have to arrange something about this house."

"Arrange? Arrange what, for heaven's sake? Sell it."

"I can't do that, dear," said Mother, shocked.

"Why not?"

"But I've only just bought it."

"Sell it while it's still untarnished, then."

'Don't be ridiculous, dear," said Mother firmly; "that's quite out of the question. It would be madness."

So we sold the house and fled from the gloom of the English summer, like a flock of migrating swallows.. "

From My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Can't stop writing...

That is never a good sign with me. Blogging is the only thing I really feel like doing these days.

Feeling lonely and kind of lost. Why lonely?Because all of a sudden there are all these distances between me & everyone I can really talk to. Spending all my time around people I have to be polite & charming & entertaining around. Not that they don't matter. They do in their own way. Never thought there was anything wrong with fair weather friends. It's just that when it's not coming from inside you being bubbly is exhausting. So any chance I get I want to be alone with my laptop, taking a break.

So why all the distances?Some of it is not my fault. Two of my closest friends(D. & M.) are going through rough patches. They are busy with life & when we do meet I have to be strong for them. My own issues seem insignificant next to theirs & I know I'll be told that am lucky & should stop complaining.

My parents are so worried about me that I don't dare even give them a hint that am not totally over the moon. That migraine stuff really spooked my family. So much that it's getting on my nerves. Even worse if I look unhappy they immediately start blaming K. Which is weird because I've always been moody & high-strung. You'd think they'd be used to it. But I know that leaving me here is tough on my Mom. And they haven't known K. long enough to be comfortable about it. Am really tired of answering questions all the time about whether everything is ok & he's treating me well etc...

Bottom line is I have to keep the mask on at all times around my family. It feels like am being watched all the time. There's no privacy except alone in my room.

Then there is the Ramadan social whirl. Always guests for iftar or we're eating out. And am always expected to be the life & soul of the party. The organizer.The first one to arrive & the last one to leave.

It's all becoming such hard work because the fact is I do feel down - even if no one thinks I have a right to. It's a new experience for me - this being told what to feel.

Am sad - not just because he's not here. Because he left on such bad terms. And it didn't get any better. Everytime we'd talk it would somehow get worse. We'd both say a lot of stupid things & fight over everything.

At one point he said talking on the phone wasn't working & was creating misunderstandings so we should wait until he gets back & talk face to face. Which I took to mean he doesn't want me to call him anymore & so I stopped. Today he took his exam. Last night I really wanted to call to wish him luck. Was up all night agonizing over whether I should. Was so worried. And then I got pissed off. For heaven's sake the man is my fiance. We're legally married. Shouldn't we be past the stage where I am so unsure of my welcome that am afraid to even call him?Is this even normal?Do all married people live like this?

In the end I decided to sms. Sent him an sms & waited for a reply until I fell asleep. Nothing. Nothing all day today too. Until just after Iftar. An sms saying:"Just to let you know it went fine. I see you've been really worried."

Sarcasm. So now am the bad guy because I didn't call. When he was the one who suggested we shouldn't talk on the phone in the first place & didn't bother to reply to my sms for 24 hrs.

Ignored that. Went out for tarawee7. And then to a friend's house. Going back home at about 11:30 I stopped by the Co-op to pick up some stuff for Mom & ran into a friend of his. The guy had a lot of shopping & he doesn't have a car yet because he just moved here from Egypt & doesn't have his license yet. So I offered to give him a lift.

Of course K called while I was dropping the guy off & that turned into another issue. What was I doing giving the guy a lift when I only met him once in my life & did I know what time it was etc....I said excuse me you didn't mention before that you don't trust your friends. Next time please don't introduce me to people you don't trust. Basically it just turned into another argument. One-sided argument. I say a lot of things and he says inti shayfa kida?I say yes. So he says tayeb tisba7i 3ala khair.

His friend is not the issue. The issue is the current atmosphere. Anything would cause a fight now. We're both mad at each other. He's mad at me because he says he feels he's been very understanding & patient & supportive & am never satisfied. He says the more he gives the more critical & demanding I become.

And am mad because he won't communicate when something is wrong. I can't read minds. Sometimes I don't even know something pissed him off until ages later when he's totally lost it & is throwing accusation after accusation at me. The worst thing is when I realize he's been holding a grudge for sometime I think back to all the special moments we shared during that time when I was not holding anything back & realize that he wasn't with me in those moments. He was holding something back if he had a grudge. That hurts. It takes something away.

K. & I get along usually say 80% of the time. But when we do clash the clashes are never resolved. Things cool down between us for a while - like now - then we miss each other so we go back & act as if nothing happened. That's not my choice. Am the one who believes in communication & analysis etc....That's the way he wants it. I go along with it because basically when he stops being mad & turns on the charm I can't withstand him for long.

Now am worried about the future. Was I right to go along with it & not try to get him to change?Was it lazy of me to take the easy way out on this?

And another question. Does wanting more of him mean am not satisfied with him?Why does he take it that way?Is love something that you can ever get enough of?Does he want me to say ok fine you loved me enough you can stop now?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I Love My Blog

Thank you blogger.

I don't know....

I will search until I find
Something I can never find
Something lying on the ground
At the bottom of my mind.

They say that if you look for love outside yourself then you see emptiness & nothingness within and you are afraid. From others you need reassurance - confirmation that you are substantial. That you can be found. Alone you fail to see your essence so you hope that if you can make others see you then you will catch your reflection in their eyes. So you surround yourself with mirrors, with illusions & then reflections of illusions. Layers upon layers of nothing really. And to you others become nothing more than the looking glass - having no importance of themselves - existing only as far as they feed your alter-ego - your fear of nothingness.

So what about me?Am I the candle in the wind or the wind itself?Why do I want to know so much?What do I think knowledge will heal?What hurts?What lacks?

And yes love only fills me up when I can't see myself anymore. I want it. I want to be made to forget myself. The unburdening. That absence of insecurity, of inhibition. Why can't I make it last?Why do I keep losing it?

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tagged: 5 Random Things About Me

Tagged by roora.

1) Have always wished for long, straight, pitch-black hair like my Mom's. Indian hair. She's got masses & masses of it. Mashallah. Instead I've been blessed with long, curly hair of some indeterminate shade of light brown. All I can say is the spiral curl effect is nice if you do it once for a crazy look to go to a party or something but to live with it day in day out?Have always been bummed by the fact that my hair appears to be the first thing people notice about me. Only last week someone referred to me by saying :"and who is this curly, bad-tempered-looking person?"

See that was at work. Another one of my problems. It's very difficult to look professional when you have hair like mine.Don't always look bad-tempered but it's true that my hair is so in your face. You see my hair first then you have to wait for my face to come out of my hair. If you're in a hurry - or am in a hurry - you never see my face at all. You just remember me by the hair.

The only good point is that when am embarrassed I have somewhere to hide. People will say come on come out of your hair.

If I could ever change one thing about my appearance it would be my hair. As luck would have it I ended up marrying someone who loves curly hair. So now even blow-drying is not a frequent option - let alone a perm. He gets this pained look on his face whenever I do anything to my hair - like he just swallowed something that didn't agree with him. Of course that makes feel great & wonderful about myself.

2) Am a middle child. Two older bros, a younger bro & a younger sis. Was an only girl until 14 years ago when my sister showed up. Have never forgiven her for taking away my queenly privileges & being spoilt by everyone instead of me. To add insult to injury, SHE has long straight black hair!

3) Am very competitive at work. I get really tense if someone else is doing better than me - even if I happen to like the person. Used to get pretty upset when other kids got higher grades at school too.

4) When very worried my hands get freezing cold & start sweating. Sometimes at home I go & hold them on top of the stove to warm them. When I was little I used to go to my parents & complain my hands are cold & they would rub them for me. Too embarrassed to do that now. Too grown up for it. So now I just dry them on paper tissues every 10 min & ignore the hypothermia. It will go away on its own usually when am calmer. Or I find that smoking really helps.

5) I talk in my sleep.

I am tagging Haal, Al Sharief, Charismatic Soul, Around the Clock, Zoss & Tota.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Home Sweet Home

While visiting the website of MSF to see what is being done & what more can be done to help the Asian Quake victims, I came across this.

Now I'd like to say am surprised but unfortunately am not. There goes my government making us all proud again. When will our government begin to show some sign of care for its people?

And on the patriotism question again why should I have any loyalty for a government that would abandon me to die in the middle of the desert from thirst & hunger?How depressing to think this is how much my country cares about its citizens. If I was one of these 500 abandoned immigrants I'd save my loyalty for MSF which bothered to actually go looking for those people & help them. Those of them who are lucky enough to survive should know who to thank - the basic humanity of organizations like MSF - not the country which made their lives so unbearable they had to try to flee their homeland & then when they failed to immigrate left them to die.

The Asian Quake news made me sad. But this?This makes me FURIOUS. God what a day.


South Asia Earthquake Kills 19400

That is the latest figure from Pakistan alone. The earthquake was also felt in India and Afghanistan but thankfully it didn't seem to hit as hard.

Let's all pray for the victims & the survivors this Ramadan. I can't bear to look at the footage. It is awful. Nearly 20000 people dead in one day.

So many natural disasters in recent years. Devastating earthquakes in Turkey & Iran. Then the Asian Tsunami. Then hurricanes Rita & Katrina. Now this.

Mother Nature sure seems to be mad at us. Am not really an expert on the issue but it seems to me that we've been messing with the balance of nature too much.

For those of you who would like to make donations to help the survivors, the Red Crescent here has already started accepting donations, cash or otherwise. The Red Cross or Red Crescent probably started in your area too. Personally I find them the most reliable & efficient & least politicized charitable organizations around. I also trust Medecins Sans Frontieres.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Harira is the national soup of Morrocco. We like to joke that it should be written in our Constitution. It's eaten all year round really. In Ramadan however it becomes a daily favorite for Iftar.

Harira is mainly lentil & lamb soup. Usually I don't try to make it myself because am really lazy & impatient in the kitchen & so I want things that you can have ready fast. But today I was in the mood so I made the attempt.

Harira is made in 2 stages: Le bouillon(takata) & Tedouira.

Le bouillon:

500g of lentils
500g of lamb meat cubes
2 large onions(chopped)
2 lemons(juiced)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1.5 kg of blended tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon saffran
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ginger
4 stalks of celery, chopped
1.5 liters of water
Salt to taste

1) Soak about 500g of red lentil in salted water for about an hour.
2) In a large soup pot, cook the onions, the celery, the spices and the blended tomatoes for about 15 minutes.
3) Add the lentil together with one & a half liter of water & the meat & bring to boil.
4) Reduce the heat and simmer for one & a half hours or until the meat is cooked.


1 bouquet of coriander
1 bouquet of parsley
2.5 of water
1 tablespoon of yeast
1 tablespoon walnut butter
300 g of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt

1) Mix all above ingredients in the blender to get a smooth mixture.
2) Bring the tedouira to boil in another saucepan - stirring to avoid clotting.
3) Add the tedouira to the meat in the soup pot.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Ramadan Kareem All.....


So Many Labels....

Being a Muslim is so complicated apparently that people don't find the word descriptive enough & feel they have to add additional labels to it. Some of the labels I keep coming across:

1) Secular Muslim.
2) Liberal Muslim.
3) Moderate Muslim.
4) Salafi Muslim.
5) Sufi Muslim.
6) Islamist.
7) Mainstream Muslim.
3) Observant/Practicing Muslim(Can you be a non-practicing Muslim?)

Interesting the way Islam keeps giving birth to all these divisions & under each one of them you find numerous sub-divisions. Historically when Muslims differed in opinion they split into religious sects. Is it that in modern times we split into socio-political directions of thought that merge with the religious & span across traditional sects?Is this the beginning of the end for traditional Islamic Sectarianism?Instead of Sunnis(Malikis, Shafi'is etc...) & Shia & Ahmadis & Abazis & Alawis are we now going to be hearing about secular Muslims & Liberal Muslims & practicing Muslims?


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Quiet Contemplation?

Driving along the new Corniche Road not thinking about anything. Just enjoying the view & the drive. All too soon I found myself at the Marina mall. Decided to keep going, past the old Arabic-style cafes & the yachts at the harbor behind Havana Cafe.

It used to be one of my favorite spots - long before they ever built Marina Mall. Leaving civilization behind as much as is possible in Abu Dhabi. Just rocks to sit on & the Gulf.

Didn't sit on the rocks this time though. Didn't feel like getting out of the car. Switched off my cellphone. And turned on the radio. Imarat FM. Didn't matter. Just wanted some background noise. Then I just sat there staring out at the sea. Of course I fell asleep. For 2 whole hours. Guess am not really the type for quiet contemplation.

Decided to sit on the rocks after all. Took off my slippers. Rolled up my jeans. And waded in a bit. Found a pile of rocks low enough to keep my feet in the water. And what comes to my mind in the middle of this communion with nature? I want a cigarette. So I go back to the car, find my pack & lighter but nothing to ash in. Don't like the idea of ashing in the water or on the ground. Pollution & all that. So I decide that later I'll go for coffee, breakfast & a cigarette.

It was nice sitting out there, playing with my feet in the water. Made me want to go for a swim. But the sun was beating down on my head & being only just about recovered from my migraine I didn't want to tempt Fate.

Decided to go to the Emirates Plaza for breakfast. Remembered to switch on my cell after I ordered. Of course everyone was going frantic. Stupid & insensitive of me really.

Didn't happen to be carrying my book with me. And didn't want to read newspapers. Am off politics lately. Don't want to know what's going on. Decided to go for some magazines. So was flipping through Vogue & Cosmopolitan over breakfast. Perfectly mindless trivia. Just what the doctor ordered.

So after sleep & food I was ready & raring to go. I wanted action. Sick & tired of sitting still. Sat there thinking for a while. Then I remembered our new apartment. K. already moved into it because the lease on his old place finished in September. Decided to go see what it looks like now that it's lived in.

It didn't look lived in at all. Unless you count the boxes of books in the living room. The computer desk. And the suitcases in two of the 3 bedrooms. K. moved like a guy. Threw everything into a box or a suitcase & now he lives out of a suitcase I guess. But I was happy. It gave me something to do. Spent the rest of the day tidying up. Even drove to IKEA at one point for some magazine racks & files for his papers & pamphlets which I couldn't fit properly anywhere in the desk or the bookcases.

When I was done the housewifely urge was still upon me. So again I went out for some groceries from the Co-op in Khalidiya & came back to cook lunch. Called & told him to come home at lunchtime. When he did show up he flipped. What did I think I was doing, I was supposed to be resting, I was being irresponsible etc....Basically told him that if he didn't want me to have migraines he shouldn't shout at me. Blackmail. It worked though.

Couldn't stay with him too long. Had to be home when my parents get back from work or they'll worry. Didn't really want them to know I've been out all day. I AM supposed to still be on sick leave.

My uncle T. was at our house for lunch today - mainly to see me I guess. He brought me chocolates which is really sweet. And he brought me flowers before. We were talking about Ramadan. Usually in Ramadan he'll either eat Iftar with us or at my other uncle's house. He made a comment again about how much he hated being single in Ramadan etc...And for some reason - the matchmaking idea came back to me again. I know D. is pretty tired of being single too.

Called D. & told her to come over. Am really abusing the fact that no one says no to me these days.

The two of them always seem to get along - laughing & kidding around & stuff. She is like one of my family anyway. I want things to go past that though. Don't know how to do that except to contrive to bring them together more often.

He left after Maghreb. She stayed with me until about 9:00pm. Then she said she'd better leave & let me get some rest for work tomorrow. She was worried if she stayed too late my Mom might turn against her again.

K. called about 11:00pm. To thank me for cleaning up & cooking he said. About time too!And to ask if it was too late to stop by & see me. Told him to call my Dad & ask him. Dad was really sweet - telling him ahlan wasahlan elbait baitak & you don't need permission etc...But after they hung up Dad told me K. shouldn't stay too long because I need to rest.

He only stayed about half an hour but am glad. When he left he called me from the car. Told him about D. & T. He thinks I should stay out of it. He really has something against arranged marriage or any form of matchmaking. Noticed this more than once before. One of the subjects we never agree on.


Good News

Mom says I passed all the tests. Passed some of them twice.
It is just a severe migraine. There's an inflammation of some nerves & soft tissue in my shoulder. They say it might have been caused by a local injury or a virus, a toxin acting on the nerves(like tar or nicotine) or possibly the migraine itself. But no permanent damage. Apparently it is responding well to anti-inflammatory drugs - even if it is taking its time about it. I still feel pins & needles but only in the back of my upper arm but thank God it is much better.

No diabetes. No muscle or spinal damage. No brain tumor. No multiple sclerosis. And no stroke. Not even pernicious anemia. El7amdullilah.

The bad news is I probably can't afford many more such migraines. This time there was no permanent damage. But the idea that they can cause nerve damage is scary. I can't remember injuring myself but I really hope that is the reason. Or the virus. Just not the migraine. They can't be sure of the cause though. And so I can't be sure it won't happen again.

If nothing else at least this crisis has improved my medical info in leaps and bounds. So I'll be back at work tomorrow. And what do I miss most after a week of being stuck at home in bed? Driving. I miss my car. Am off for a long, long drive.

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