Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Arguments I Don't Understand

1) Any suggestion that American foreign policy decisions have an impact on anti-Americanism is unacceptable.

Isn't it self-evident that if you pursue an interventionist policy of taking sides in world conflicts this will create both enemies and friends? If Jack and John are beating each other up and I intervene on John's behalf isn't it natural and expected that John will like me more and Jack will like me less?

Isn't it logical therefore that I should only intervene if I actually want to be part of the conflict and I'm prepared for it?

How is it that Americans expect that they can be actively involved in so many conflicts and everyone on all sides will still see them as neutral observers or something?

That is regardless of whether Jack or John were in the right to start with. In the long and complex history of American interventions, there were lots of times when Americans were on the right side and a few times when they weren't. That's if we were talking from a moral pov.

But morality is ultimately irrelevant in politics.

2) Islamophobia is racist.

How can that be? Islam is not a race. It is a system of belief. Systems of belief are not entitled to respect. They have to earn it. And they earn it when their proponents present them in a manner that earns the respect of others. In modern times, Muslims have singularly failed to do that. And so my anger against Islamophobia is directed mostly at my own co-religionists.

It is like Communism. I would describe myself as anti-Communism because having examined the tenets of Communism, it didn't inspire my respect. Infact it scared me. I don't think I'd like it if someone called me racist because of that.

***Caution: These are random thoughts inspired by a sleepless night spent flipping between Fox TV, CNN and Iqra TV. They're not very well-thought-out as they're a result of listening to lots of arguments with lots of holes in them rather any serious attempt to construct my own argument.


Saturday, June 21, 2008


It was our fourth date I think. A long time ago. Not the 4th time I saw him.

We'd been seeing each other as friends for about 3 months. Once or twice a week. As friends because that's what I said I wanted. He'd made it clear from day one that he was hitting on me and would continue to do so.

Then 3 months later I gave in and had to admit that the relationship simply wasn't shaping up to be 'just friends'. And yes that we were falling in love. After that, we started to see each other everyday.

And so this was our 4th official date as an official couple.

I was hanging around the clinic waiting for him to finish work. He was really busy that day and didn't get off on time. Which was unusual for him. He's like clockwork. Doesn't tolerate people being late for appointments, shows up for work on time and leaves on time.

Very unlike me too. I am always late for work. And when I get into something I can't drop it and leave it just because it's the end of working hours. I work holidays too if I feel like it, which is sacrilege to him. I take on projects because I like them, not because they fit into my schedule and so my schedule, if you can call it that, is usually pretty haphazarded.

But that day he'd been delayed at the hospital in surgery. And because he'd kept some of his appointments waiting, he told them that if they were willing to wait he'd see everyone. And quite a few them agreed to wait.

I sat in the waiting room and listened to his patients talking about him and smiling because there was a lot of good stuff. I felt so proud, like it was me who was getting the good reviews. Only the 4th date and I was already feeling this weird sense of affinity.

But as the hours dragged on, I started to get restless and stressed that it might get so late the date would never actually happen. It had to be the quickest addiction in history. If after seeing him for 3 days in a row, I could get so upset at the idea of not seeing him on the 4th.

I told myself to calm down, that he'd obviously had a gruelling day at work and would probably be too tired to go out, that I should get up and leave so he wouldn't feel compelled to take me out etc.....

And I did. I sent him a text message to the effect that am going home and would see him tomorrow. I guess he didn't see it right away because I was already in the car park infront of my house when he called me.

Him: Inti filbait? (Are you home?)
Me : Just arrived. In the carpark.
Him : Law tili3ti mish hayinfa3 tinzili tani sa7?(If you go upstairs you won't be able to come out again right?)

I looked at my watch. It was a little before midnight. He was right. My family was strange like that. The house rule was that I could stay out as late as I wanted provided I leave home at a 'decent' time which they defined around 9:00pm. It was weird. If I go out at 8:00pm and come back at 2 in the morning, that was fine. But 10:00pm to 11:00pm was to them a sure-fire indication that I was running wild, too Westernized and a threat to the family honor and social prestige etc.....Suffice it to say, if I were to step in through the door at midnight then that was it for the night.

Me: No I can't.
Him: And what would you like to do?
Me: What would you like me to do?
Him: I asked you first.
Me: I don't know.
Him: Tayeb why don't you come pick me up and we'll figure it out together?
Me: Are you still at work?
Him: Yeah.
Me: Not too tired?
Him: Just hungry.

So I passed by one of his favorite restaurants to get some take-out. For him, I ordered his favorite sandwich. I thought we could eat in the car and then drive around a bit and go home. We were both too tired to do much that night.

But then I noticed he wasn't eating his sandwich. Just picking at the fries and side stuff. Totally unlike him not to eat, especially when he'd said he was hungry. I knew by then that his appetite is the one thing you can always count on.

I asked him. And he said well, you ordered this with cheese, I don't eat cheese.

Cheese is practically the only foodstuff my husband simply will not touch. I think pizza is the only exception to that. I mean, he won't even touch a salad if you've sprinkled parmesan on it which I will never understand.

And I love cheese. All kinds. Cheesecake is like my favorite desert. And you should see the look on his face when I am eating it infront of him.

We ended up going back to the restaurant and eating there. And the take-out was thrown away.

After that, I became meticulous about keeping cheese out of his food whenever I ordered or cooked for us even as I made sure everything I ate had cheese in it.

It was the first time we reccognized and acknowledged the fact that our relationship was definitely an 'opposites attract' kind of situation. Cheese was our first hint.

So why is this on my mind today? I had a few friends over tonight and we ordered take-out. Without thinking as I gave my friend the order, I said 'a club sandwich no cheese'. And she gave me this 'You?No cheese?' look.

It's not that I forgot and thought he was there and was ordering for him. No. When I saw the look on her face I suddenly realized that ever since he left I've been eating everything without cheese. My favorite food in the world and I haven't had any in almost 10 months. Not only that, I haven't even missed it.

I don't like cheese anymore. What do you know? We finally have something in common!

When I told him, he said something to the effect that he hoped that wasn't my way of springing a 6-month pregnancy on him. I think for a minute in there, he was really worried he might have gotten me pregnant last time we were together and I decided to keep it from him! Couldn't resist torturing him a little with that but eventually took pity on him.

Really strange though. I read somewhere about how married people grow to be like each other, that in some cases they even grow to look like each other in their old age. But I thought that comes from living in proximity and not living long distance.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Staying In

So this is my first weekend at home. The evenings anyway. I got some housework and some packing done. And I had time to blog and watch TV - two things I haven't done in a long time.

There is still some dread about what I'm going to do late in the evening today. I start to get restless around 11:00pm everyday so we'll have to see how that goes.

It is hard to explain my mood. Am feeling a bit restricted. But also satisfied. There was this distance between me and K that seems to have disappeared now. I was starting to feel that he was so preoccupied with what he is going through that he had no attention whatsoever for me. I felt on the sidelines of his life.

But I wasn't. He HAS been paying attention. There is a sense of gratification when I hear him repeating things I told him, that he has been listening, that he remembers, that he's been thinking about what I say.

We talk a lot more easily now. It's like that last clash broke some accumulation of ice. And we're as close as we've ever been. And we can't stop talking. We hang up and then half an hour later one of us calls again. We're running up phone bills again and for the time being, we don't care.

From time to time, we do have peace that way. Things are back on track like none of the bad stuff ever happened, like when we first met and fell in love.

Speaking for myself, I don't know how long I can go on before I break down and have hysterics from the withdrawal symptoms. I wish I was strong enough not to keep doing this. I wish I was strong enough to keep my need for him from manifesting itself as burden on him. But how can I when it is such a burden on me? Too much of a burden for me to carry alone.

And knowing him, he has backed himself into a corner. He stepped up and said ok I'll handle this. And he pushed everyone else away. And he forced us all to live with his decision. And I know that despite some initial resistance, his family has accepted his decision. So now he can't complain. He has to be strong for all of them. His mother leans on him. His siblings lean on him. His father is mostly his responsibility in everyway. Basically he wanted to take over and he has.

But me, I'm his wife, I should have been the one person he always has to lean on. And I haven't been. I was so unsupportive of his decision that there was no way he was going to complain to me either. He was too busy listening to me complain and defending himself.

And he has reacted by distancing himself, disengaging, keeping me at arm's length. Which has only made me feel and act worse.

Slowly over the last few months I've had a change of heart. I've seen some things happen that have changed my mind.

So I tried to reach out to him. And got no positive response. Payback for not doing it as soon as he thought I should have? Lack of faith in my ability to keep it up, in that he can infact rely on me? Maybe a little of both. But now I finally seem to have made a breaktrhough.

So then what? Are we condemned to keep turning in this vicious circle with very brief and increasingly less frequent periods of calm like the one we're enjoying now?

I wish I can say I expect it to last. As much as it feels good when we are close, it's also painful because it just makes us want to be with each other more.

Speaking for me again, I think the answer is time. If it's going to be another one or 2 months then I think I can take it and behave myself and live up to all my present good intentions. But if it drags on and on, then I just don't know. Let's face it. I don't function well without him.

Would he bear with me when if and when I fail? He says yes. Would he not react by disengaging from the relationship? He responded to that by asking how I wanted him to react, what I expected from him.

What DO I expect from him? To stay with me, even if we're fighting. To give and take. To scream back if he needs to. To acknowledge my feelings. To reasssure me. To tell me why I'm wrong. To remind me of my good intentions. Anything other than to withdraw as if to say I'm not dealing with this, it's not a priority, if you're going to be that way then you're on your own.

I'm so tired of being on my own.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008


It seems a long time since I posted this. Almost 3 years ago.

I did know it all along. But it didn't stop me falling in love with him. Should it have?

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Saturday, June 07, 2008


K : Hello?
Me: Hi.
K : You're sleeping? What time is it there?
Me: 3:00pm
K : Late night?
Me: Very.
K : Did you go out after we spoke last night?
Me: Yes.
K : Where do you go after midnight?
Me: I went to a club, K. Where else?
K : To do what?
Me: What do people usually do at clubs?
K : They drink and get picked up.
Me: Or they dance.
K : Who do you dance with?
Me: Why are you asking?
K : Because you're my wife. I'm curious about who you dance with all night when you're out clubbing without me. It's very interesting to me.
Me: Who do you want me to dance with?
K : Ana illy basa'al ya L.
Me: I dance with friends, K.
K : Do they have names?
Me: Yes. Names that you already know. Same people I always dance with. No one new.
K : Well, stop it.
Me: What?
K : You heard me. This has got to stop.
Me: What has got to stop?
K : You going out clubbing every night. You're a married woman. You're in your 30's. Your father-in-law is dying. And you're out dancing every night. It's wrong and as of now, it's going to stop.
Me: This is how you see it?
K : This is how everybody sees it. Everybody except you.
Me: Everybody? Somebody's been talking about me and you've been listening?
K : Ma7addish yi2dar yitkalim 3laiki 2osadi winti 3arafa kida kwais awi.
Me: Then what?
K : You're in every Facebook party photo in Abu Dhabi.
K : Eh? Sakta leh?
Me: I don't know. I'm shocked I guess.
K : By what? You didn't know?
Me: I'm not on Facebook much.
K : No of course not. Where would you get the time? You're obviously very busy.
Me: I'm sorry. I should have been more careful.
K : Yeah, I'll say.
Me: K, I'm really sorry. It was stupid. I wasn't thinking.
K : Do you know how my family would feel if they see this sort of thing?
Me: You told me to stop and I will. There's no need to keep beating me up about it. I have tried to be supportive to your family as much as I can from where I am. I talk to them all the time. And I am very sorry about your father. If I gave the impression that I'm not then it was stupid of me and I'm sorry about that. You know why I'm doing what I'm doing and it's not because I don't feel for you or your family. What more can I say?
K : Khalas, khalas.
Me: K!
K : Bossi ana ta3ban wi 2arfan wi khalas ma ba2itsh 3arif hala2eeha mnain wala mnain.
Me : I'm sorry.
K : Yeah.
Me : I love you, K.
K : Tayeb. Aseebik ba2a tkamili nom.
Me : You don't want to talk anymore?
K : Ma3laish. Kefaya kida dilwa2ti.
Me : Ok.

So that was that. The irony is that ever since his father got sick, I've been wishing he'd open up and talk to me about how he's coping. And he hasn't. He's completely shut me out. And when does he finally open up? When I do something stupid and let him down. When I feel so guilty and crappy about what I've done that I can't think of anything to say. Other than I'm sorry, which feels so inadequate.

I did check Facebook and email everyone I know who has pics of me up and ask them to take them down. Just checked again and most of them seem to be gone. Which is nice of them. Don't blame them really. They didn't mean anything. Can't blame anyone other than myself for this. It is so hard being at home without him. I hate this big, empty apartment. It makes me feel like I can't breathe. But I was selfish to think only of my feelings and not his.

I called him a little while ago and he didn't pick up. I am so worried about him. He sounded awful.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Girls, Girls, Girls

I don't fit in with other girls. I don't get them.

I sit in the middle of a group of girls who believe in traditional values. Girls who have been looking for a husband since they were about 20 years age, some before that. Some of them are married now, some are still looking. They talk about their experiences in meeting a man, having him express an interest in them for 5 minutes and then being disappointed because he did not go and knock on their father's door the next day.

SAY WHAT?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And all the other girls nod wisely and tell the story-teller that she is right of course, that if he was a respectable man, he would 'yidkhol elbiyoot min abwabha' which mean 'enter a house by the door' i.e. openly and not clandestinely, by declaring himself infront of her family and making his interest official.

How on earth do you build up that level of expectation from a virtual stranger! You don't know him. He could be a psychopath, a conman!

Every single time, I hear a story about a girl who slapped a guy's face and then he married her for slapping his face and they lived happily ever after, I sit there open-mouthed! Do these people even know what marriage IS? Can they begin to imagine the one million levels on which a man and a woman can click or clash?

What's the concept here, that all men and all women are clones and any man can marry any woman provided he likes the way she looks and is satisfied that she wouldn't speak to another man outside marriage because well, she refused to speak to him, didn't she?

It is so surreal. I am left with this disbelief that I'm actually having this conversation, that there are people who believe love is haram. If love is haram then what is halal? Hate?!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whenever I talk in these gatherings, they look at me like I'm a heretic. Girls my own age! Educated girls! In 2008.

They talk about how you can't possibly speak to a man and not turn into a promiscuous, sex-addicted slut no man would ever want as a wife.

I probably AM a slut in their eyes. I mean, I loved my husband before marriage. And marriage was actually his idea. I was just caught up in the experience of falling in love. I couldn't have helped it.

And yes, there have been men in my life before my husband. And yet I never felt my virtue was in any danger. I always felt capable and confident that I could take care of myself and impose my own boundaries on the relationship. The man I was with either respected that or didn't. If he didn't I considered it his problem, not mine.

But then I've also known girls who can't remember who they may or may not have slept with last night. I had friends who were much more 'liberal' than I ever was and to them I was relic of a long-gone and decayed age. They couldn't understand me either.

And I have to admit I never understood them either. I couldn't understand the concept of sex without love and non-monogamous sex always struck me as something yucky and unhygeinic, sort of like using someone else's tooth brush, or unwashed underwear. I just never could see the appeal.

And girls like that never seemed too happy or well-adjusted in life generally. Morality aside, I never actually met a girl who was promiscuous and whose promiscuouity was making her happy.

So where is the truth? What is the magic formula? Somewhere in the middle? But where IS the middle point between such different planes of viewpoints on life and love and sexuality?

The number of girls I can see eye to eye with on these issues appears to be dwindling all the time. Everyone seems to be one extreme or the other.


She's With Me

Non-descript room in the beginning of the year:

Husband to my best friend on the phone: Yeah, she's ok. She's with me.

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