Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I created this avatar on my Xbox Live account out of boredom the other day. I tried to stay true to what I look like in real life. Concentrated on the lines below my eyes, fashion style (or lack thereof), hair, facial hair, height, body type and general skin colour. Its not exactly like me but its close... Not sure about the feminine pose though (I tried changing it but I couldn't!)... Anyway just thought I'd share that with you all.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
I hope you bare with me through these long periods of stagnation in between posts and thanks to all my regular readers, it is truly comforting to know that there are people out there who can relate somehow with what I am saying.
There is an Arabic saying I'd like to conclude with (this is a rough translation I made):
"I never argued with a knowledgeable person and lost; nor have I ever argued with an ignorant person and not lose...".
Sunday, October 26, 2008
PART 1 is available here
All characters in this story are fictional. Any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. Views and opinions expressed by those characters are for entertainment purposes only and do not necessarily represent the view of the author.
Gerome, was a tall man, with defined features and a full head of hair. He had an oval face stretched from top to bottom and hollow rings around his eyes with a clean shaven face and a good set of teeth, considering his age. He looked like a man who saw enough of this world to make him seem, to the lay person at least, as emotionless. But he was anything but emotionless, in fact, everything about him was driven by his emotions yet no one can tell from his outer shell. Overall he looked above average (arbitrarily speaking of course, considering how the standard is an inherently draconian conventional beauty), but was more on the skinny side.
He was holding the digital voice recorder in his right hands, as he always does this time of day. The recorder was gripped so tight his whole arm was shaking. He somehow, though, managed to press the record button (after several missed attempts) and began articulating his thoughts into it:
“I like it when I make women cry. It soothes me. Don’t get me wrong. I am not psycho, I am not sadomasochistic - I do not get off of making women cry - I am just a man. We like to feel like we are in control." His tone suddenly changes to a squeeky high pitched voice (reminiscent of some women's natural voice). "Women always complain about how their luck with men is always "horrible". How they always end up with the worst men who treat them like they are nothing but worthless objects." His voice gets even squeakier now, words start blurting out of his mouth. 'oo Janet he treats me badly, he doesn't listen to me, or talk to me. JANET he is not the same man he was when we first dated-" His voice automatically returns to its normal deep self and cuts in line almost shouting "Of course he isn't, you see he already got into your pants!" Gerome had a look of disgust on his face after saying that. But that look did not stay that way for long, every part of his facial muscles slowly relaxed to its normal position then went a little further making him look like a puppy who was almost going to cry. "-but I am going to give him one more chance..." "One more chance... how stupid are they? Can't they see that this is what they want... what they crave?" "Months later, numerous repeats of the same ever-tried sentence and poor Janet hears the same sentence from her dear friend saying in the ever so familiar exasperated tone, "ooh but he is not the same, he treats me badly but... but I think I can change him." "Bitches, public announcement, men don't change! Nu-uh, not even a little. Get it through your thick heads and stop deluding yourselves AND AND HERE IS A NEWS FLASH WE DONT WANT YOU TO CHANGE EITHER! new hair cut that makes your head look like a fucking melon? no thanks I prefer you looked like a human being! How about a new nose? boobs? CHIN!? NO just let them be thank you very much" Gerome suddenly exhausted collapsed on his green recliner chair. He continued in a quieter less direct tone now;
"In reality, that’s exactly what women want... to be treated horribly, to be kept on their feet at all times. They don’t want a guy who treats them well and does what they want. They don’t want a guy who stands up for what is right, because that’s dull, uninteresting; It is the very antithesis of creativity, the very antithesis of the art of luring women. It is, however, the best way to get them to bolt. Trust me, I should know-”
There was a knock on the door that interrupted his line of thought and compelled him to stop recording. He walked out of his bedroom, worked his way towards the door and then opened it . It was the pizza delivery guy bringing his pizzas with a smile. The pizzas were handed and he politely thanked him with a generous tip. He couldn't remember ordering pizzas but this always happens after an intense recording session. Gerome threw the pizzas on the coffee table then re-pressed the record button on his voice recorder and continued speaking into it.
“I like it when they scream too. That is the fuel that keeps me going. When I am groping a woman, squeezing her body, and hearing her scream her lungs out, I can feel like someone in this world is coming close to the pain that I go through each and every day. The scare that she experiences, the shock of realising that what she planned, and expects to happen is all gone, and instead is replaced by something spontaneous and quite alien to her. It is my way of luring women. Other men like to buy flowers (boooring!), take them to a movie & dinner (looosers), or cook for them (gay... just plain gay. Men's place is not the kitchen... except if its to be within easy reach of the sharp instruments in which case ... I totally understand)" a smirk started forming on his face. "My style? I like to hide in alleyways and jump on women when they can’t see me. I like to drug them after I make sure they scream ... and scream (that's the really essential part). Then I take them back home, and we live happily ever after... the good thing is there are a lot of Janets where I keep 'her'.”
Gerome took deep breaths after that. Mostly, to control himself but also in order not to lose it again. His neighbours could hear what he is saying. Besides, he can't afford to get excited these days as he was already off of his game. He couldn't even jump on that girl in the dark alleyway for some reason. Now, his voice suddenly changes into a tone so different to the previous ones, it is almost as if it is not coming from him (save for his mouth moving in just the right moments). Gerome, channeling this alien voice, starts speaking very ferociously, jumbling words together in the process:
“But sometimes things transform. I can see monsters hiding, lurking in the shadows of people’s expectations and perceptions. These monsters are intangible, but are very real. We all have them... women especially. These monsters scare me, I can’t deal with them. Whenever these monsters start showing their ugly profiles, I start moving as far away as possible from the source... or should I say, from the woman. It is what makes my hobby so difficult-" Memories from the past start pouring in "-I...I can't... I just cantitsNOTWORKING NONOTNOW.“
Gerome stopped the recording and threw the recorder on the coffee table in front of him. His hands then automatically reverted back to what now seems like its normal position, on his head, holding it like its a football. He was covering his face and fell on the floor in a semi-fetus position. He landed on the floor upright, and started rocking back and forth murmuring words that are unintelligible to anyone but himself all but for one word. One simple word, that escaped his series of incomprehensible jargon, "Please". It was repeated over and over again.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
What it is like to be wrong
I have never felt like I belong,
Yet, here I am writing this song
I am neither here nor there,
Indifferent about any affair
Going through life thinking,
What is it that I am missing?
Desensitization, is what I am subjected to
Stupidity, is all that I am accustomed to
Intelligence was only a façade,
it was blindness masquerading in what I thought I had
It feels like I'm in an abyss,
in an abyss of absence
Absence which hinders any form of bliss,
which creates the very notion of numbness
I hope one day reason will triumph
beyond tradition, beyond even today's science
Sunday, September 07, 2008
It all started one night in a secluded dark alleyway. She was moving as fast as she could without actually running. In her mind, running would be a sign of weakness. Predators would be alarmed by loud foot steps and sense the fear, or so she thought. Thinking of all the news stories she read lately about girls going missing and coming back not recalling anything from the moment they went missing but whom otherwise seem like their true selves made her heartbeats race. She hears footsteps behind her. She walks faster. Footsteps getting louder. She simply could not take it anymore and turned around suddenly whilst readying her lungs for some serious "Help me" screams. Nothing but a cat and her two little kittens trying to eat whatever they can from the garbage can. Saying she was relieved would be an understatement. She was more than relieved. She was almost ecstatic about it. That's how she was, every feeling was very much shown and expressed without constraints. Sometimes those feelings seem out of place but in her mind they were as normal as any natural emotion in any given situation. Seeing the cats comforted her. It reassured her that no one was behind her and she was right. No one was behind her. The predator was in fact, right beside her, crouched in a corner, ready to leap on to his prey and paralyse it! But the predator didnt. It did not seem right to him for some reason. He stayed crouched as he saw her walk out the alleyway and on to the main road. A feeling of disgust arose from within him. A disgust in himself and how he handled the situation. A situation he has experienced numerous amounts of times in the past. He got up and started making his way back home. "The Great George, my ass" he murmured to himself.
She got up the front steps to her apartment building. Got the keys out from her purse and used it to get inside. "Is that you, Janet?" a familiar voice was shouting from somewhere inside the apartment. "Yes dad, its me" Janet answered in an exasperated tone.
"Your mom is dead" said her dad, out of the blue.
"I killed her... I did. I told her I would take care of her but I lied. I told her we could beat this... this... but I wasnt by her side. I had to work to be able to afford the medication. But she died because I wasnt there beside her. And she died today because of me"
"Dad, my mom died 3 years ago." Janet said in as calm a tone she could muster with what little energy she had after her recent alleyway scare.
"I ... Why?"
"She had cancer. You were always by her side, Dad."
"Yes, you were. Do you want me to make you something to eat?"
Janet took off her jacket and placed it on the coat hanger then made her way to the kitchen. She quickly put the sandwich together and took it back to the living room. But she found her dad already fast asleep. Drool dribbling from his mouth onto his flannel shirt. She took a blanket and tucked him in. This scenario is all too familiar to her. Janet doesn't want to admit it. She doesn't want to listen to the doctors diagnosis. Or to the numerous amounts of tests he was put through. Or his behaviour lately. She can't. Because if she did, it would mean she has lost the only person left for her. And that's simply not something her brain can process. But the symptoms are there, showing their annoying faces to her day after day. One of these symptoms included her dad reliving his wife's death every night. It is painful to watch but Janet tries to make them pass easier for her dad.
Janet is in her bed now ready to go to sleep. She closes her eyes.
"Memory loss, difficulty moving, inability to recall recently heard facts, difficulty embarking on everyday activities, mood swings, and behavioural changes... All symptoms of Alzhiemer's disease. I am sorry" The doctor says.
"No he doesn't. Do your damn tests again!" she shouts at the doctor. But he is no longer there. Looking around, she realises it was just a dream. A very surreal dream.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
It's quite depressing having nothing to do all day. I try to flesh out all my errands to fill up my days and thus get a sense of purpose in life but sometimes, I run out of errands and I end up doing the most peculiar things with my time. Take for example two days ago. I was going to the bookstore to get some sand paper for a project my sister was doing. On the way there, I saw a music instrument shop and I found myself walking towards it. I went in and the salesman asked me how he could help. I replied with a very confident and surprisingly purposeful, "I am looking for a piano" in a tone which surprised me more than anyone. It was a tone of a determined man in search of something very specific and certain. He nodded and showed me up stairs. 10 minutes later, I decided I was going to buy one of the pianos displayed.
Came back home that day with a bag of sand paper which I promptly handed to my sister. She casually said thank you and asked if that was all I bought from there. I said "no, I also bought a newspaper and will probably buy a piano". My mom, took her gaze off of her favourite tv show for a second then said, "you should" in a semi sarcastic tone, not sure if I was serious or not.
I've had my new piano for 2 nights now. I always wanted to learn to play the piano and now I am doing just that. It's keeping me sane these days. Also, my novel of the week has, as always, been a life-saver. I just finished reading Captain Corelli's Mandolin after a person I know recommended it to me. It's a mesmerizing, awe-inspiring masterpiece. I wish I could reach this level of sophistication in my future written works which I aspire to make one day.
Another update in my blog is the list of 'the 5 most recent books I have finished reading' which I have just insterted in my blogs layout and will continuously update as I go along.
Bored beyond belief,
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I had to do a complete physical check up before I started work. So I went to the medical center. Entered the building and went straight to the receptionist who quickly pointed me to a room in a manner that made it look like these instructions have become second nature to her. I followed her instructions, and got in to find a room full of people. It had two office tables - one empty (probably a guy on vacation) and the other table was occupied by a nice African woman working solitarily. Had to wait 30 min before she got to me. She finished my paperwork really quickly and told me to go to the lab to give "samples". I thanked her and proceeded to the lab. Got lost as I did not know where the lab is, so I was forced to go back to the receptionist and ask her another question. The Qatari receptionist shot me this look that expressed grave annoyance but I guess she gave me the benefit of the doubt since she told me exactly where the lab was without adding "-you ass" at the end of the sentence... at least, not out loud.
As soon as I entered the lab, I noticed the same people who were in the room I was in a few minutes ago. One of them was sitting down, apparently already dealt with the nurse behind the non-existent glass window (its like a square cut out from the wall) . The other guy was leaning on the window edge waiting for the nurse to finish entering his information into the PC. So I just queued up behind him and waited for him to finish. My mind then wandered off and next thing I know, I find an old Indian guy who apparently entered the lab and simply walked right past me to stand adjacent to the guy talking to the nurse. I got pissed but thought he was old and I just let it slide this time. So after the nurse finished with the first guy then the old indian guy whom, apparently, was also entering & providing his wifes info as well as his (taking an excruciatingly long time without any sense of remorse for cutting the line) it was my turn. I said hello to the clearly bored-out-of-her-mind Philipino nurse and she simply hummed "uhm ... uhm ... um...urgh...wh... uhm" after I gave her my information in the sequence I heard her ask the customary questions to the previous two people. Then, without uttering a single full word, she knelt down and got back up to standing position with a small red-capped cup in her hand. She placed the small cup within my reach and said "Ball". I stared at it, then back at her and heard myself say "ball?". "Yes, Ball. Bol" she replied in an agitated tone. I stared back at her and decided to just stay quite for a second... I knew what she meant but I would rather she pronounces it right or say it in English. After my cold stare and clueless look she added "Uriiine" and pointed at the cup. I took the cup and said, "thanks" with a small grin on my face.
I went and stood outside of the small occupied rest room in the lab. Looked around the room which was basically a waiting area for men. There were at least three men each sitting down with a blank expression on their face and a small newly filled cup of yellow substance inside. The door to the rest room opens and the old indian comes out with his cup grasped in his two hands like it's the holy grail and with a look of pride in his eyes for some reason. I decided not to ponder why he could possibly be proud because no rational theory would ever be pleasing to me or anyone else. I got in to the rest room and locked it up. Gave myself an imaginary pat on the back to encourage me and began to unscrew the red cap from the small cup. I tried to, you know, but unfortunately nothing would come out (Since I already went to the bathroom at home before I came to the medical center). I kept trying to think of relaxing thoughts in the hopes that they would help me finish my business. But all they managed to do was make me feel half asleep. So I just got out with the look of defeat on my face. I could see all the other guys looking at me with their acheivements stored in the small cups they were holding and I decided I needed to get out of the lab to find some water I could drink in order to help speed the process.
Looked around for a water cooler but I couldn't find any so, again, I was forced to ask the receptionist. She pointed me to a corridor and I followed it. Found a water cooler hidden away in one of the turns and I think I drank about 8 cups of water. I could honestly feel the water in my stomach churning and moving while I was walking back to the Lab. Got inside and sat in the now empty waiting room then just stared at the floor trying to think of other ways I could speed the process. Looked back up and found the nurse gazing at me. I got a little uncomfortable from that so I told her in as cool a tone as I could muster that "I couldn't go" as I rolled my eyes at the rest-room's direction. She smiled, told me to go drink more water. I did. Went back and waited. I saw man after man going in to the restroom with an empty cup and coming out a minute later triumphantly with a full cup. And that just depressed me. "How can they pee on demand?" I thought to myself silently. I went in to the rest room after that and tried but there was too much pressure. So I kept thinking of the beach to relax and it was working I was almost there. Then, just before I was ready to go, I heard this extremely loud bang on the door and it just completely messed it up. I came out to find a Qatari man in his 40s who honestly looked like a gorilla who just came out of the jungle and let himself go (beer belly and everything). I gave him a look of disgust and he just walked right passed me. I decided at that very moment that it was time for me to leave and come back tomorrow. So I queued up outside the non existent window to give back the empty cup and get back my papers. Next thing I know, the gorilla man comes out with his full cup and he simply cuts through the queue and stands right in front of me... That's when it hit me, when I realised that this is what I am going to have to deal with for the rest of my life... at work, in the streets, in the malls, everywhere. I just felt so low after that. Handed in my empty cup with the look of defeat in my eyes and said, "give me my papers. I will come tomorrow."
Drove back home, sat in the living room. Found myself with the urge to go to the bathroom... went there and I pee'd three times in a row, I kid you not. It was extremely frustrating. They wouldn't let me take the cup home with me for fear that I would use someone else's "specimen". After my marathon in the bathroom, I just fell asleep from lack of energy that was expounded on dealing with the queue-illiterate mentality that I am surrounded by.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Everynight, Blue-Chi & I Will post a simple schedule of places we are going to visit the next day (including estimated times, locations in Muscat, etc), so if you want to witness a Qatari specimen walking amongst you just make sure to keep visiting that blog throughout these upcoming three days (Tue 29th till Fri 1st of Aug). Also, I would love to meet my readers and fellow bloggers who happen to be in Oman. So if you happen to be in Oman during that time and have some free time to kill plus willingness to meet a Qatari nobody with his fellow Omani friend; you will know where & how to find us.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Weeks later, I still didn't feel anything regarding my achievement. It was anti-climatic if anything. I looked forward to starting my job, my real life but nothing else really. I went to my graduation yesterday ( you can check out the free streaming HERE click on the Monday 14th of July 1:30pm ceremony, Cardiff Law School - turn to the 13:00 minute to skip the boring intro. I am actually the 6th guy they call out (the one who mistakenly has his tie under his white graduation scarf) which is pretty cool). When I put my graduation robe earlier that morning, I felt nothing. Went to my graduation ceremony hall, sat down and felt nothing. Went next to the stage, my name got called out, walked on stage & shook the Head Master's hands but still felt nothing. You can literally see it in the Graduation streaming(Click HERE for Broadband & HERE for Dial-up, skip to 13:00 min I am Mo (6th guy called out)), I looked like I was walking to Starbucks or to the grocery store, was not nervous at all. When I went to sit down after the "hand shake and receivement", I felt like I just wasted my time and my family's time (whom I am truly grateful to, for making the time and effort to come see me). I just kept dozing off after I sat down, losing any hope that I would get any sense of satisfaction or relief for all the hard work that I put into my studies. That is until the last sentence that the last presenter in the ceremony said, where she stated something like:
"... Confident that your studies have been a valuable contribution to your lives, and a determination that your talents will be used in the service of humanity"
That's when it hit me. When it really sunk in. I felt a sense of relief. All my hard work did not go to waste after all.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Click Here for the New York Times article
Friday, July 04, 2008
Also, this time they actually published my real name! Check it out:
For people who actually want to read my published essay in full, Click Here. I have to warn you though, it is quite dry and full of grammatical mistakes since I wrote this essay, including its necessary research, in less than two days (and apparently the Journal's editor isn't very good because most of the essays in this journal contained grammatical & spelling mistakes). It's ironic really, that the essay I spent the shortest amount of time & effort on, gets to be the one that earns me the highest grade out of all my other essays, & gets published too. I tried applying this technique (of rushing through my essay in two days) for my land law assignment this year and it did not turn out as well. The good thing though, was that it was a non-assessed essay so I guess I was saved.
Friday, June 27, 2008
My end of year results:
That's it. I am graduating in a couple of weeks. I am a law graduate... God, that sounds... wrong. It seems like only yesterday when I landed here in Cardiff and met Blue_Chi, who truly has been like a mentor to me (that makes him sound so much older than he actually is, he is in fact only 2 years older than me). Honestly, one of the most important things that I feel I was blessed and privileged to have been able to experience here in Cardiff University, was getting to know people like Blue Chi, who, impressively, has been able to put up with my peculiarities & quirks for a whole year (which is no easy feat!) and has taught me a lot about life in general, even though he might not know it. Thanks so much dude!
... I am, for the first time in many dark dark months, actually happy. I want to thank all of you bloggers out there (you know who you are) for making my year a more bearable one. I am not going to go all sentimental now and say something about how much I care about you all or how special you all are. No, you are not special people. You are special virtual entities & persona's that are absolutely great and entertaining. If you all (well, most of you) are like your alter virtual persona in real life, I think we all could look forward to a better future for us & our children.
Friday, June 20, 2008
- My picture
- My friend's picture
- My voice narrating what's going on (Plus weird accent).
You can expect it published soon in this blog.
P.S. The digital version of the University Newspaper edition that has my short story published has just been put on their website. If you want to check it out, Click HERE (it's a 21.3MB PDF file). My short story is on page 34 of the PDF. In the real life version, it's in the back page of the seperate supplemant that is attached to the main newspaper.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
1. Link the person(s) who tagged you (Grey)
2. Mention these rules on your blog.
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.
Six Unspectacular quirks of mines are as follows:
1. I hate tags. I really do, I despise them with my very being & soul. I understand that they are good for page ranks etc. I also understand that they can be good fun. However, I don't like them. I feel like they are a new generation of chain mail, except with chain mail they kinda have a purpose (usually selling a stupid rumor or product). I am just too nice not to comply when someone tags me. So that's why I am doing this, Grey's blog is quite entertaining, so this is like my thank you to Grey for keeping it up!
2. I can sleep for a really long time. My friends back home called me King of Sleep. My all time record of sleeping was 17 hours- straight. My cousin slept for 17hrs 30min so I am hoping this summer when I get back home I can break his record and go for an 18 hr straight (there isn't much else you can do in Qatar).
3. I talk to myself sometimes. My brother thinks I am in the brink of becoming insane when he hears me do that... actually my family in general think I am becoming quite erratic... & they are right, I am becoming quite erratic... because of them! I love them and will do everything I can for them, but I think I need to get my own life now. I just need them to stop giving me lectures when really, all they want me to become is a carbon-copy of them... which, I simply am unable to do. I tried. I just got a different mentality. They are just going to have to accept the fact that I am not the brother/son that they want me to be... I am better than that. It will take them some time to appreciate that, as soon as they let go of there incessant lecturing.
4. I've got a temper. I believe I inherited it from my dad. No, I know I inherited it from my dad. It sucks, but I developed this amazing defence mechanism that kicks in whenever I feel like I am getting angry. It's called sarcasm... truly saved my life a number of times.
5. I am too nice. I would go out of my way not to hurt people's feelings, sometimes even on the expense of me sounding weird.
6. Almost everyone who knows me can be split into two groups. People who think I am 'quite slow' or 'not the sharpest tool in the shed' & people who think I am a genius. The former group has had more weight but the balance is slowly shifting now. I am hoping my parents perception of me will shift into the latter group sometime in the near future... I want that for the sake of my perception of them. I don't think I am a genius or anything like that, but I know for a fact I am not slow.
NEW TAG GAME!!
Here are the rules for my new mmk080-created tag game.
(i) List the person who tagged you.
(ii) Promise yourself that you will ignore every tag other than this one from now on. Reading these rules means you hereby accept them as a binding contract that can be enforced against you. In the case of breach of said rule, punishment will be imposed in the form of guilt caused by knowing that you have just made mmk080 cry. And lets face it, no one would like to see that.
Do it for mmk080. Do it for yourself.
(iii) I Tag everyone in the world right now and everyone that will exist in the future.
Monday, June 09, 2008
(Digital Version - turn to p.34)
Anyway, this reminds me of an incident that happened in high school. I remember I was in Grade 9 (14-15 yrs old) at the time. There were two groups for English class, low group (i.e. English as a second language) and high group (English as a first language, which also included literature from Shakespeare etc.). I was in the latter group in Grade 9 and during high school I really didn't care about anything so I did the minimum of what I had to do when it comes to homework or any type of school work.
However, this one day I went back home from school and my dad, unusually, gave me this lecture about how important school is bla bla bla which, surprisingly worked! I was motivated and decided to do my English homework (it consisted of writing a short story or essay; can't quite remember about what exactly) as best as I possibly could. So I did a first draft, second draft, and a final draft, which I subsequently handed in to my English teacher, Mrs Wales. I can still remember her name and even, the way she looked; She was from Indian or Pakistani descent but was born and raised in Britain (had this thick British accent and everything).
The day after I handed in my homework, Mrs Wales went around the room, as she normally does, and gave out the corrected homeworks. When she came over to my table, she threw my homework on the desk in front of me and said, "tell whoever wrote this, it was good". I replied with a very deserved, "WHAT?"
"Clearly, you didn't write this" said Mrs Wales as she was continuing to hand in the other students homework
"I wrote this!" I said, in a shocked tone.
"No, I know your abilities and you are not capable of writing this"
So I kept arguing & arguing with her until she got angry, which made her shout really loudly. So I just stayed quiet. Went back home that day, told my parents what happened and they just shrugged it off (so to speak). A few weeks later she moved me to the low group English class. I just didn't give a shit about English after that.
Well, I hope Mrs Wales ends up reading this blog post somehow... if you are in fact reading this, Mrs Wales (who worked in Qatar International School in 1999 or 1998), I have something to tell you... You were wrong about me, you oppressive Bitch!
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Here are the rules for the new Suburban-made tag game:
- Go to your refrigerator, and describe the contents in the style of a movie tag line
- Locate the least popular condiment in and tell us what it is
- Name the most embarrassing thing in your fridge / freezer and justify it's presence there.
- Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.
- The half cut cucumber has endured immeasurable pain but it was nothing compared to what the year old cheese has been put through. Love (Camera zooms in at tomatoes). Romance (Camera moves and aims at the chili). Action (Camera stays at the chili). Betrayal (picture of slender canned olives flashes by). And forgiveness (picture of barbecue sauce that fades out into a black screen slowly).
Coming to a cinema near you this July. Rated R 18+.
- Coca Cola... Apparently drinking this means I support Israel and the Saudi friends which I am hanging out with these days (who really are genuinely good people) literally refuse to drink it and instead demand Pepsi... I will blog about that later though.
- It's in my freezer. It's a competition between two items there. Either it is the 4 pieces of Beef Burgers that I bought a year ago which have an expiry date of 17 May (no year printed though... I assume it is 2007 since I bought it before last years exams in May). Or it is this mysterious box that is in the top shelf of the freezer that has been frozen shut, I am not sure but I think it is a box of chicken nuggets that my brother and I bought two years ago when we moved into this apartment (well, used to be a box of nuggets... I have no idea what it turned into now and no way of finding out what either since the ice has formed a barrier that acts like a lock that cannot be opened by no key).
- I acknowledged who tagged me above and I tag the first 5 people who comment on this blog post and who haven't been tagged by this game before (I am sorry but I just don't believe I can even think of this many bloggers at this early hour of the wee mornin to link to or name specifically).
Second tag came from my good friend Blue_Chi, and it's rules are as follows:
# Pick up the nearest book.
# Open to page 123.
# Locate the fifth sentence.
# Post the next three sentences on your blog and in so doing...
# Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.
The book is called Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Complete Guide. I located the fifth sentence on page 123 and here are the next three sentences that proceeded it:
We did everything together: ate dinner as a family every night, rode our bikes, played tennis, watched TV (the few hours a week we were allowed), went to church and socialised with other families. We had very little time on our own and were not encouraged to join clubs that would take us away from our family activities.I tag the first 5 people who comment on this blog post and who have not been tagged. (I suck at this tagging game, I know).
So I had always expected that when I had a family, though it would be much smaller, it would be the same kind of close-knit family life with shared activities.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
I have blogged about the pressures of exams a while back and some of you might think I was a bit over-dramatic with my mountain climbing analogy (I am so sorry about that by the way, its just that this is what law reduced me to; the use of mountain climbing analogies & feeling like 10 years have been shaved off of my life expectancy, is all I have now) but even though I am naturally a "worrier", the pressure you are faced with from these flawed exams is so immense that... well, lets just say if it wasn't for my family & friend's support, I don't know how I would've dealt with it.
Why are the exams flawed? because doing the law exams here is like gambling; Nay, it IS gambling. I will not go into the details because I don't want to bore you. What I will discuss, however, is the devastating effect it has on some students.
So I've been in Cardiff University for three years now (those exams I just done are hopefully my last exams & I will graduate this July since in the UK it only takes 3 years to graduate). In my freshman year of university doing the first year of the undergraduate law degree there was an incident which I think demonstrates the amount of pressure we get put through in the law degree (unnecessary pressure, if I may add, mostly caused by the inherent gambling quality of the exams). A final year law student from India who had been studying in Cardiff University for two years, committed suicide during the revision period before the exams (here is the University paper article about the incident). Now, I know it's an 'extreme' example of what the pressures of the exams can have on some students but I really think it highlights how impossible the law exams might seem even to a clever person like the aforementioned student from India (who was actually a graduate of Delhi University when he first embarked in his, unfortunately incomplete, law degree here in Cardiff Uni).
I really did not know that student, so I guess when I heard about this (from Blue_Chi in the library) I just thought he did not know how to handle the stress...
Fast forward to this year (ie 2 yrs later), I met this guy who is a Muslim (and thus against suicide in all its forms supposedly) and who is a really friendly dude and very socially active. He was one of those familiar faces you meet in the supermarket & have a little chat with though you don't know him that well but you've met him so many times that you end up thinking of him as a 'friend'...
He jumped off of his 5th floor apartment this January in an attempt to commit suicide. He was studying Law in Cardiff Uni doing a postgraduate course. Apparently he jumped off when he found out he failed one of his modules. Fortunately though, his stupid suicide attempt failed. He is alive & well with no lasting injuries. After being taken to the hospital and operated on, the doctors said it was a miracle he is still alive. I did not hear the doctors say that, my other friend told me, since I did not go visit him in the hospital after his suicide attempt. I am just very awkward in these situations. I can just imagine myself going up to him, while he was on his hospital bed with bandages all around his body, put my hands on his shoulders and say, "Better luck next time, man" or something equally inappropriate. So I just did not visit him. I am also pissed off that he would do such a stupid thing because he failed a module. But then again a part of me can understand the state of mind that a student is in when he is embarking on exams or just dealing with the pressures of this degree, especially if you are alone in a foreign land without your family.
I felt helpless in the revision period and I literally went through all the five stages of grief and relived them every 30 minutes (I kid you not). First there was Denial; "I have no exams". Then Anger; "Screw the exams!". Bargaining; "Can't I have one more day before the exams?". Depression; "I am going to die in the end so what's the point?". Acceptance; "I accept that I will fail in the exams".
But I digress, going back to the main topic, law exams are flawed because they have an inherent gambling quality to them and the pressure is very immense since most core modules are based on a 100% exam with no assessed essays (plenty of compulsory non assessed ones to waste your time though) therefore if you wake up on the "wrong side of the bed" on the day of the exam, all the work you've done all year equates to nothing.
However, I have finished all my exams now and overall I did better than I expected. I hope all the work that I put into my studies will pay off in the end. Looking back at my 3 years in Cardiff Law School I can honestly say it is an excellent university, except for the flawed exam system of course, and I had an amazing time here. I would highly recommend this Uni to anyone interested in studying law in the UK. Just keep in mind how the element of chance is going to play a bigger part in your degree mark than anything else and then you'll be good to go!
P.S. This is just my opinion and I am aware that some law students may not share my sentiments however, I just thought I would share it here with you guys because I have nothing else to do... I think I am going to go play xbox now.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
My exam is tomorrow. Wish me luck.
P.S. Sorry but I am not going to update this blog till I finish my last exam on the 28th of May. Bare with me for a few weeks.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
They started this new system in my local Starbucks where they ask for your name or initials after you order your drink to avoid any confusion about whose drink it is when you go to collect it. So anyway, every week day there is usually a different barista and the conversation goes something like this:
"Hi! can I have a Grande Latte to go?"
"Take away or to stay in?"
"Name or initials please"
Barista stares at me for a sec. "Name or initials to put down on your drink" (apparently she thought I said No as oppose to Mo)
"Mo... EM- O!"
I pay and they usually get my name right but occasionally they get it wrong. Today, was one of those days...
My name is Mio today. Apparently, I come from a family of Cats!
Saturday, April 26, 2008
This is what I've been doing for the last week or so (which I will continue to do for the next month... YAY!)
Anyway, I thought you guys might enjoy seeing my revision technique. It is suppose to make remembering things simpler and supposedly makes things clearer too. It's called Mind Maps. And I am currently using the iMindMap software which isn't cheap (i.e. it's not free) but does the job better than the other programs I've used (at least in my opinion, it does).
Here is the mind map which shows this topic, from one of my law modules, in it's "clearest" and "simplest" form. Make sure to click on the pic then zoom in to the middle cloud and branch out from there.
It is the "Three Certainties" topic from my Trusts & Equity course which, by the way, is grrrrrrrreat!
I need your best wishes as I am going to do my last exams in 3 weeks and as you can tell from the mind map above... I need all the wishes I can get!
Saturday, April 19, 2008
The sad thing is, this is not a wholly uncommon thing amongst youtube commenters. The good thing though, is that these provide invaluable means of entertainment for everyone else.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The young boy had quite a normal childhood considering he was the youngest of three boys. He played, he got bullied, he laughed, he loved, he got hurt, but he always managed to project a sense of naive optimism... that is until he was abused. He didn't know at the time... but his child inner siren went off and he made a stop to it - whatever it was. Little did he know that 'whatever it was' was in fact, a moment that would haunt him for the rest of his life; a moment that defines everything about him- every action, every personality trait, every touch, and every emotion; a moment which has caused him to withdraw from the world for several years; a moment which has brought darkness in the eyes of the young boy; darkness to a home that seems like a workshop for crushing souls because it was there... it is still there.
Then his baby sister was born. "There were complications, she has a small hole in her heart" that's what they told him when he inquired about why it was taking so long for his mommy to get back from the hospital. He could recall it did not take that long for a baby to come out of mom's tummy last time, he was leaning with his elbow on the evidence, he was leaning with his elbow on his other sister's head.
A week later, his mom holding his new little sister appeared through the front door. The little thing in his mom's arms looked like the cutest little person he had ever seen. She was fast asleep, pale, and extremely kissable. He ran and hugged his mom first, but it felt strange... there was something wrong. This was not the mom he knew before. She looked like her, she sounded like her, but she seemed... different, almost ... broken. He brushed those thoughts away as a symptom of the "whatever it was" experience, and plus, he thought, his little sister did have a hole in her heart which from what he has seen in cartoons, is something easily fixable with a little band-aid and a hug, but deduced it can still cause a mom to be worrisome and distant for awhile.
A few months with the new baby made the young boy get accustomed to her. Her hair grew straight and she seemed very energetic, even when she couldn't see anyone around. His mom, however, was still as distant as ever. He would notice her going to the bathroom quite a lot when he and his siblings were around their new little sister. But he didn’t think anything of it. He loved hanging out with his baby sister everyday and nothing seemed to convince him to leave her alone. However, he eventually forced himself to find the time away from his little sister to hang out with his cousin one day. This cousin wasn't the most pleasant kid in the world, his idea of having fun is bullying smaller sized kids (which pretty much included everyone in his school since he was huge) and eating tooth-paste (he seemed particularly fond of ‘Signal 2’ brand of toothpaste). The young boy caught the cousin eating toothpaste once, he never told him he knew his secret. But he was the young boy’s cousin so he had to entertain him since he was nevertheless a guest at his home. Everything was going as typical as a day with that cousin could go; it was boring, annoying, and occasionally funny. The young boy heard a lot of hurtful words from the cousin over the years but he always managed to brush them off as immature tooth-paste eating blabber. But this day there were words that simply stuck to this young boy’s head; "I heard your sis is a mongoloid".
The young boy kept thinking about what that word meant and sought to find a definition in his 'childrens dictionary' but with no avail. So after exhausting all other feasible options he decided it was time to ask his mom about it. He went into her room and found his little sister lying on her baby mat sleeping, and his mom sitting on the couch reading a newspaper. After finding the right timing, which took him about 10 minutes after sitting down next to his mom pretending to read a magazine, the young boy asked:
"What is a mongoloid?"
It was like the question was a flamed arrow that struck her heart.
"Where did you hear that word!?" his mom snapped back
"My cousin told me, that she was a mongoloid…" The young boy said whilst pointing at his baby sister.
Tears started rolling off of mommy’s eyes... she was crying and he didn't know what he did wrong. He started crying as well and leaped off of the chair and hugged her real tight. The tears were rolling off her eyes and falling on the young boy's shoulder. He was never the same after that. It was only later that day that his oldest brother explained to him that that 'Mongoloid' term was used, in that instance, as a derogatory name for people with their sister's condition; people with Down Syndrome.
Notes about this story:
- This piece got published. Click Here to See the post I wrote about that.
- My inspiration for writing this piece is My Little Sister (Click to read about her).
Thursday, April 10, 2008
The camel voted most beautiful can reportedly fetch as high as 1,000,000+ Saudi Riyals. But how does one distinguish between an attractive camel and a not so attractive one? well, I will let Sultan Al-Qahtani, one of the organisers of the event (as reported here), answer.
When asked about this he said: "the nose should be long and droop down, that's more beautiful". But that's not all, "the ears should stand back and the neck should be long. The hump should be high but slightly to the back."
It's weird because those are the exact features I look for in a woman...
Some female camels in the competition are reportedly forced to wear harnesses around their "privates" in order to counter the many attempts from male camels to mount them. To be fair, those male camels were probably used to months of lonely travel in the deserts and thus never saw female camels (because they were back home cooking stuff and cleaning, of course) before, let alone a high concentration of 'beautiful' ones in such a small space at the same time, so I am afraid they couldn't keep it in... they couldn't help but go with their instincts which all point to... you guessed it, mounting them all. This problem compelled the organizers of the event to create a "two strikes and you're out" mounting rule. In other words, if the same camel tries to mount another camel twice then he will be escorted away and disqualified; and lets just say, it's the humiliation that really gets to those offending male camels.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
I think that my blog has been lacking some of my personality that my friends in real life have experienced. My last two posts have been a little more personal, which I think explains why my visitor statistics have improved 100% (from 1 visitor each day to a big whopping 2 visitors each day) and for that, I want to thank myself (the first visitor) and my good friend Blue-Chi (my second visitor) I could not have done this without you guys!
Therefore, I thought long and hard about how I can make the visitors increase by another 100% (in other words, I thought, how can I let my personality shine through more clearly in my blog?) and then I got it. I found just the right way to let this happen naturally. And that is by typing in the most notable TXT messages that I have sent out to a variety of people I know and then publish it in this blog to let people get to know the real me. And hence, possibly gain an extra two visitors... or perhaps lose two....
So here are the most notable txt messages I have sent out recently. I would just like to note that my phone has a QWERTY keyboard so some of the messages are long because of that (plus, I love txting!). Also, I have completely taken out any personal information like the names of friends I have sent these txt messages to or any other private info for obvious reasons.
My perspective on Life (Txt message #1):
After a realisation I recently made, I thought I'd share it with my friend...
To: A good friend of mine
U know u don't have a life if the only thing that gets you down on a Saturday, is your highlighter pens running out.
My perspective on Law ( Txt message #2):
After receiving an Arabic message, that was in essence, equivalent to a chain-mail, and was essentially an announcement that, roughly translated, states that a Muslim group decided to protest the film "fitna" (Which I have already discussed here) from being published by claiming that it is all Muslim's duty to boycott Dutch products from 10th of April to the 25th of April and stated that it is only 15 days so adhere to the boycott loyally THIS TIME [emphasis added]. Then they added that I should apply this msg to myself first then send it to all the people I know to get "ajir" or religious virtue. Here is my reply to the relative that sent me this:
To: A relative of mine
The Unity of brain and conciseness has decided that the boycotting of dutch food products goes against our very humanity and ideals as muslim human beings. The Dutch government did everything they could reasonably do to prohibit the movie entitled "Fitna" from being published, yet the lone MP that backed that film decided to publish it through the internet where there are no laws for prohibiting such a thing nor any "real" ways of policing the upload of such things by individuals.
Dear brothers & sisters, there are hooligans in every race, ethnicity or country. Do not seal the fate of a whole country's economic stability on the basis of one hooligan's work. It is not right.
Please apply this msg to yourself and imagine how you'd feel if the whole fate of your country's economy is based on the actions of one hooligan who happens to have a government job and shares your nationality. Share this with people you know and I hope, your brain and conscience will shine thru.
Lets just say my relative wasn't impressed with that txt message I sent.
My perspective on everything else (Txt message # 3):
To: My landlord
Hello [landlord's name] this is [me],
Firstly, I want to thank u for fulfilling your landlord duties promptly when it came to fixing that leaky pipe, I really appreciate it.
However, I would appreciate it even more if u at the very least, let me have a say when u decide on making renovations to the flat (i had no problems with the floor in kitchen, the water was drying). In the last week or so i've had no privacy. The people u sent knock on my door at 4, 5pm and sometimes at 8, 9am whenever they felt like it, until i told them they cant do that.
2day, one of the guys fixing the supposedly broken floor in the kitchen literally came into the flat while im in bed [since they work for the company that deals with the maintenance of this building, the concierge gave them the key to my flat, hence he was able to get in], opened the door to my room without knocking... it was clearly a mistake by his part but i am very uncomfortable these last few days and very unhappy with the way things have been handled.
I am sorry for the long msg but i just got to get this off of my chest.
And there you have it; my post; my blog; my self.
(if you enjoyed this please comment, I'd love to hear your opinions!)
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Arab way to customer service:
First of all, I want you to click and read this short but vividly described experience between Kishor Cariappa and a waiter.
Secondly, look at BlueChi's eloquently described experience with a company called Emax.
Thirdly, Suburban wrote a harrowingly funny experience about the same aforementioned company Emax but then decided to edit her post once they fixed her product AND I am sure, after Emax realised that her blog is read by many people who actually started to link to her, it seems she got a little bit of respect (see the power of bloggers?).
Finally, I think it is fair to say, that those experiences are not confined to Oman only, but are very evident in Qatar (as well as other Arab countries I've visited) to the point where this is what I, and most people I know, expect from companies generally. I am not going to mention any specific incident I had in Qatar because frankly, I had a lot of them to the point where it just became one of those day-to-day living problems that is just "normal" and expected by people.
Western way to customer service:
For the "alternative" way to customer service I will simply state my most recent experience with a company's customer service here in the UK. That company is Bose, and I was contacting them through email so here is what happened:
To: Bose's Customer Service dept.
Date: 4th of March
Hello, I bought one of your Bose Ipod Sound docks (white) when they first came out [Which was in 2005!] to compliment my (then) new ipod mini but then I bought a nano and now an ipod touch and I had to simply put up with this extra space when plugging my new thinner ipods.
Can you please send me the new docks for the ipod touch and ipod nano (not ipod nano phat but the 2nd generation thinner one)?
Thanks in any case,
I honestly wrote this due to boredom, not expecting any reply. It is clearly rushed as you can tell. A day later I get this:
From: Bose Customer Service Dept.
Date: 5th of March
Dear Mr [Me]
Thank you for your recent e-mail to BOSE®.
All post 3rd generation iPod#s with an integrated docking connection are compatible with the SoundDock digital music system, the required docking insert adaptor, to enable you to utilise the insert supplied by Apple with your iPod, is now included with the system on all new purchases.
However, I have arranged to send you one, please allow 5-7 days for delivery.
Please contact us on 0800 614 293 (Mon. - Fri. 8.30am - 8.30pm; Sat. & Sun. 9.00am - 8.00pm). One of our representatives will be happy to assist you with any further questions you may have. Alternatively, visit our website at <www.bose.co.uk>.
I read this and remember the strong feelings that were invoked from within me that I mentioned in the beginning of the post? Those feelings were feelings of utter shock and confusion. "Is that it?" I thought out loud. Aren't they going to make me go talk to someone in London or something? or perhaps pay the postage costs even? Or even prove that I do have their product that I claim I have by sending a picture of it perhaps? More importantly, I thought, aren't they going to insult me?
Nope, they want nothing from me but my satisfaction. It took them a month to actually ship it and for me to receive it. But the part I wanted for the product was actually sent for free and without any strings attached.
I am quite homesick these days so a part of me kind of wished Bose would screw me over so that I can get a feeling of nostalgia and thus ease my homesickness but oh well! I guess you can't always get what you want. And to Bose, you have just gained a loyal customer!
Saturday, March 29, 2008
"I am going to respectfully disagree with most of you here.
I am all for freedom of speech and expression. I understand the importance of upholding that right and I understand that if you stop a video that offends a person(s) then you would probably have little videos out there on youtube or google video or whatever.
However, this video is purely an act of provocation to Muslims. And it is not like insulting a whole group for their appearance or actions or even personalities etc.; it is in fact, insulting what they hold the dearest and most precious in their life, it is like insulting their very being and soul. So do not expect Muslims (me being one of them) to just see this video, shrug their shoulders like they are in “the Brady Bunch” or “Happy Days” and say “Oh well.” This is insulting and we’ll be vocal about it. Of course I am in no way approving of any act of violence in any form or shape and I am ashamed of anyone who uses this religion as an excuse for violence as a response to such weak acts of provocation like this video…
Legally the entrenched right of Freedom of speech and expression (Human Rights Act 1998 s.12, 13 here in the UK) can be overruled if it is deemed that the information being published will be a threat to public safety e.g. publishing sensitive information from an ex spy (say) which could hurt the government and ultimately the people. Legally this video was refused publication because it was a threat to public safety … why? because it is completely an act of provocation and frankly a very low blow built upon ridiculous unsubstantiated allegations with no message other than Islam = Terrorists and also completely insulting us by for example, the scene where u hear pages being torn and a message coming on the screen saying “that was not the Quran being torn”…
I think their should also be another exception to the noble-natured right of freedom of speech and expression but not a legal exception but an ethical moral one… some of you might of heard of it. It is called common decency. But law is law … not morals… the latter is up to the individual to uphold there are no real policing to that.
So now, this video having been denied entrance through the official channels, is using the internet - where there are basically no real laws or at least its a grey area nowadays to publish it in. Fine. But what about your morals? Don’t you have any common decency? (I am speaking to the dutch makers and MP who helped put this video online after being rejected from publishing it legally).
I hope this at least makes u get a better idea of why Muslims are vocal about such things. Don’t let the makers of this video fool you. This is not their way of trying to reinforce the noble-natured right of Freedom of Speech as much as it is a pure act of provocation to Muslims generally.
Sorry for the long comment."
I think I need to make myself clearer here. Let me summarise the aforementioned comment which got wonderful thought-provoking comments that attacked not only my view but me personally and my blog!
Friday, March 28, 2008
I think love is highly over-rated. I truly believe that love is NOT eternal. It is temporary, just like a lit candle - sooner or later the wax will run out and the fire will burn out. Ultimately love is a temporary high, just like sex (although, arguably, a longer lasting temporary high - but nonetheless still temporary). Fortunately though, when love burns out what is left is what I like to call the byproducts of love; Namely : trust, compassion, respect, companionship (you know, sex! usually reserved for partners, sometimes friends (I hear); hopefully not for families), etc. This is, however, by no means an exhaustive list of those byproducts, just the main ones.
I think that what people (men or women) are really after, is infact those byproducts. Their oblique intention is those byproducts (even though they might not conciously be aware of that). Their direct intention is "love" but their oblique intention or should I say, what they subconciously deem as a virtually certain event to occur, is those byproducts of love. And it is those byproducts which we are all after, not love.
Of course those byproducts can individually be acheived by other means besides love, I am aware of that. But I believe the easiest, most satisfying way to get these bundles of "byproducts" is through love. That's why most people are yearning for love. They are really yearning for someone they can trust, be compassionate about, respect, etc.
Obviously, this is only a "theory" from a 22 yr old guy so you should probably take it with a grain of salt. To be honest, I am not sure if this is what I keep telling myself to feel better to the fact that I still did not find "true love" or if it is actually what I believe. I think it is more of the latter...
Here is the blog post that inspired this comment and inspired me to put my ideas into words, and hence in this blog.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
After reading three of Dean Koontz's books (in a relatively short period, at least to me), I grew a bit frustrated for I kept feeling this totally predictable sensation when reading stories. I kept seeing a common theme not only in Dean Koontz's books but in almost all fiction novels I have read till now. A totally cliched, everything will end up fine in the end, kind of feeling. And if everything did not end with a disguised form of "and they lived happily ever after", they just end with a completely anti-climax ending that simply ruins the whole novel for me (an example of this would be Douglas Coupland's JPod). Another example would be where the main character will always look like he/she is either going to die or is in a predicament he/she cannot escape from unscathed, only to miraculously escape from it truimphantly - it's a common theme I have come to expect from such novels (an example of that besides ANY Dean Koontz book would be Dan Brown's books, and more specifically, Angels and Demons where the main character (Robert Langdon) was at one point towards the end of the story pushed out of a helicopter and he survived the fall by using his PANTS as a PARACHUTE... completely ruined an otherwise excellent book).
Franzen managed to reignite my otherwise dwindiling interest in novels by completely avoiding the aforementioned common theme landmines in his novel. He managed to do that by not having a "real" overarching plot. There are no real answers given to the complex issues that he deals with in his book, there is no patronizing "and they all lived happily ever after". It's a real story with real characters that are imperfect just like everyone of us. I will give a small description of the five characters without mentioning any spoilers.
Enid and Alfred are the parents of Gary, Chip, and Denise (in chronological order). Alfred was an engineer in this company concerned with making railway tracks. He quit his job just 6 months before he was entitled for retirement. Enid is the housewife who used to try her hardest to deal with her stubborn husband who not only quit his job he has worked on for years, but done so without telling her the reasons for quitting. Also, she refuses to acknowledge that Alfred has Parkinson's (I keep confusing it with Alzhiemer's for some reason) disease now. As a matter of fact, the story in essence relates to everyone, including Alfred himself, denying the existence of his condition until it gets too much to simply look passed...
Gary, the oldest son, is a successful man living with his beautiful wife and three boys in the city. His wife does not like his mom, Enid, very much. I will not say anymore about him or his plot except the fact that I enjoyed his particular plot the most.
Chip is the intellectual in the family, he lives alone and teaches in a college. He has a particular dislike for capitalist societies and the excessive commercializing in society nowadays. He is also working on a script for a play and owes his sister Denise a large amount of money which is something causing him great distress. I will not say anymore about him except to mention that it is the most unpredictable plot I have ever read.
Denise is a rising star chef working in the city. Her story is the juiciest story with lots of drama. Again, it was unpredictable and very satisfying how the character developed through the plot.
All these characters and plots are connected by Enid trying to get the whole family for one last christmas dinner in their home at St. Jude (their hometown and place where Enid and Alfred currently reside).
I have enjoyed this novel immensely. So much so that I have searched for interviews with Franzen and found quite a few good ones (the most notable is Charlie Rose's video interview). One of the most interesting tidbits of information I learned was that this book is the only book to ever be selected to join Oprah's book club and then later removed. Usually, a book is selected to be in the Oprah book club then weeks later Oprah will interview the author on her show - which as I mentioned before didn't happen. In a nutshell he made remarks in an interview after being selected by Oprah about how it made him "uncomfortable" and how he did not want a "logo of corporate ownership" stuck on his book cover. Obviously, Oprah wasn't too fond of those remarks so she simply removed his book from the selection (unprecedented to this day) and cancelled the interview with him issuing this statement to her fans in her website. Almost all the articles written about this incident were on Oprah's side and sure it is her show she can do what she wants with it but I cannot help but sympathize with him (see this article). For his side of the story after the Oprah incident which is sure to haunt him for the rest of his career, watch the aforementioned video interview.
This book has been awarded the prestigious National Book Award, his acceptance speech is available on their website.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys well-written, original, immersive works of fiction.