Friday, December 04, 2009

Our Boat Trip...

A friend of mine called me up one day and said "Mo, how about we go fishing?" to which I replied with a definite "I'm in". That set the wheel in motion for this trip. My friend called the tourism company that rents out the dow's (i.e. the big old traditional Arab boats) and we each called all of our friends to join. We managed to get 31 people to join us in a relatively short period. My friend accredited this feat to the great invention of facebook. I, on the other hand, accredit it to the great invention of the telephone (without which there would have been no facebook). Anyway, it was an interesting group of people with diverse backgrounds. We had people from the US, Croatia, UK, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar (obviously), India, Bosnia, and others I can't remember. It was interesting having that many nationalities in one boat. It was even more interesting to note that we all made it back alive.

The agreed day arrived. I remember it was a Saturday. We all woke up early and drove to the port at the Corniche and there it was, our boat; ported and waiting for us to board it. It was large and had chairs on its roof. When I got there, my friend who arranged this trip with me, took me to one side and whispered: "it's shark season... they told me" signaling with his eyes at the direction of the people working on the boat. "They want me to sign something about waiving their liability in case someone gets hurt". I laughed at that, then asked if he actually signed anything yet. He said he didn't. I said "good, don't!".

Anyway, I walked back to the group of friends who already made it on time. We exchanged pleasantries and then I mischievously proclaimed to the group that it is shark season and that everyone should be careful. The reactions were priceless. Some gasped, others laughed but the funniest one was from a guy who recently came from the UK and was uh, how shall I say this without offending anyone... Really fat! Upon hearing what I said, he literally took a step back, his face changed from a relaxed just woke up expression to one that looked like he just saw a ghost, and then said with a classic London accent (and remember these are his words): "fuckin... and NOW you tell us!?" which made a few of us (including me) laugh hysterically. That made him furious and shout "who the fuck do you think the sharks would bite off you skinny bastard!" as he moved his arms up and down as if to emphasize the seriousness of the matter. I almost died laughing at that moment. In between my laughter and my attempts to breathe, I heard him shout "...LOOK AT THESE!" as he pointed at his legs. I think I blacked out from laughter upon hearing that. I'm laughing just remembering it. That guy has a great sense of humor about his weight. And boy does he eat.

When everyone arrived, we got aboard the ship and we set sails. We all almost automatically spread out on the boat. Each sub-group took an edge and sat there playing cards with each other. I played a few times in a team till we beat the opposing team, then I moved on. Sat with a few of the people I met there and got to know them better as I waited for our boat to reach the fishing spot. As we got deeper and deeper into the sea, the waves got bigger and bigger, and I felt myself getting sicker and sicker. Motion sickness sucks... I never had that before. Not on a boat at least (I had it once in a theme park ride when I was 13). I therefore decided to stand up and move around the boat in order to distract myself from the motion sickness that I was feeling. So I thought I'd check out the roof and see what was going on over there. Went up the ladder slowly, in order not to upset my stomach, got high enough to the point where my head sprung out on to the roof area and got a full feet-level view of what was going on there. I remember this clearly, I turned my head slowly and saw someone on the suntanning chair ... tanning. Nothing strange there. Turned my head further, and saw something... well, strange. I saw two other guys up there, both shirtless (still don't know why) and one was holding the other guy's hand that was closed into a fist and was slowly guiding it to his body while saying: "...and if someone comes and does this...". That's all I needed to see and hear to know that I would have a better chance of not getting sick if I was to go back down the ladder. Turned my head to the suntanning person and said: "I'm not even going to ask..." and climbed back down and just sat in a corner by myself. I realized I felt sicker now that I have seen the 'wild' stuff happening on the roof than I was just moments before. The boat kept rocking backwards and forwards, which made me feel too ill to even think. A friend of mine noticed the pain I was feeling and asked if I would like to take some motion sickness pills, I looked up at him and said "thank you for offering me those pills now... moments before I'm about to die, especially since the pills take 30 minutes to actually start its effect!" He offered them anyway and I was desperate, so I took the box from him and began reading the side-effects. There was a long list, but what caught my eyes was that the side effects included nausea. I thought that was perfect, the pill can literally cause the very effect it is suppose to be healing. This reminded me of the time I bought milk in the UK and the allergy information box on the carton actually stated in red that 'this product may contain milk!'

Anyway, I was desperate as I said so I took the pills. It unfortunately did not help. In fact, I felt so ill after taking them I actually had to lie down. That same friend recommended I go on the roof and lie down there as, according to him, I wont feel the waves as much up there. I was too ill to argue (or think it through) so I just let him help me walk up to the ladder, and I mustered all the energy I got to climb the ladder by myself and from there he helped me get to the side bench on the roof. I lied down there on my back and opened my eyes only to find the suns rays shinning so bright, it actually hurt my eyes to open them. So I turned my head away only to lay my sights on an even more painful image. The two shirtless guys were still doing whatever the hell they were doing, except this time, one of them got the other pinned down on the floor, I could hear the guy on top saying "... and that's how you pin him down when he's coming at you..." I actually turned my head away and just stared directly at the sun. I thought screw this, I don't care if I go blind at least I won't have to see that sight ever again.

I just covered my eyes after that. Unfortunately though, I couldn't cover my ears. I could still hear them and I guess the good thing that came out of that, is my subsequent deduction that they were actually practicing some fighting moves. I still don't get why they had to be shirtless though... Whatever floats their boat I guess, but I really did not want to be anywhere near them while they were doing that. I was feeling too ill to move . I just lied there, eyes covered with my hands, and kept hearing them talk about how they would handle a bad guy lunging at them like this or like that.
I honestly don't know what hell is like. But lying there hearing them and being unable to move or speak, felt to me like I was in hell. At a certain point I was compelled to sit up as I was having difficulty breathing. I sat up, leaned forward and just put my head down. I felt awful and I knew I was going to throw up soon. I knew I had a choice too. I could either, throw up outside the boat in the sea, or I could just throw up on the roof and stink up the whole roof area. As I was about to turn to throw up outside, I heard one of the shirtless two say "what if someone does this...", that's when I decided I'd rather throw up on the roof instead. And I did just that. Twice. I never felt more proud of myself for throwing up, than I did that day. It was fantastic. I threw up all over the roof, and stunk up the whole place. I washed my face with a water bottle my friends got me and just went back down.
The shirtless two were still showing off their 'fight' moves to one another even after I threw up there. As I went down the ladder and heard the noise coming from them getting lower and lower till it became almost inaudible, I felt miraculously much better. I felt great in fact. Which made me wonder whether it was indeed motion sickness that was making feel ill all along. I don't really know.

We didn't actually reach the fishing spot because it was too windy so we just stopped next to an island and swam around. It was fun. No shark attacks thankfully. We all got back on the boat, ate lunch and sailed back home.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Writing again...

I attended a mini two-day writing workshop that I only realized was in fact a memoir-only writing workshop after I joined (and it was too late to quietly walk out unnoticed). So, I decided to stay and see what it's like.

We did a number of exercises there about specific major events in our lives and our teacher (the author of a book called "love in a headscarf" and a blog called spirit21 ) explained that these activities will be revealing to us and will hopefully make us realize that what one might think is uninteresting about their life, is really quite the opposite.

One of the activities involved each of us to write five of our most memorable vivid events in our lives in chronological order and then write down our feelings for each one. Then she asked each of us to look at what we wrote down and tell her how it makes us feel... and honestly, I looked at it and thought... "I really need to get myself a life." I always say that half jokingly, but now, as I looked at the most memorable vivid moments of my life, I realized there was more truth to what I used to say than I'd like to believe.

The teacher herself was amazing. She was articulate, clear and enthusiastic. But, I really hated the course. I didn't just hate it; it was more like torture to me. I tried so hard not to seem uninterested or skeptical so that I don't ruin it for the others. That kind of forced me to try and play along. Thinking about my most vivid events in my life made me remember moments which I'd rather not remember. So I stayed quite most of the time. Made a few odd (lame) jokes here and there, that a very few people actually got (and I bet regretted too), just so that I get my mind off of things.

Memoirs, by their very nature, require you to be self-conceited in a way. The fact that this course is for University students or fresh graduates is just beyond me. You think any student's 20ish years in this life automatically makes them wise enough to write something that will help people in some way or is in any way worth reading? if they do, I say they should get over themselves. To me, I am 24 and I think my real life is just beginning. I'm not saying that I wasn't surprised by some of my classmates samples of writings they read out loud. On the contrary, some of them were really deep and thought-provoking. But quite honestly, non of them made me want to read a memoir written by them or about them.

I think I also hated that course primarily because, I write, in a way, to escape from the burdens of life. Its escapism that attracted me to writing in the first place. When it comes to memoir writing, it required me to write about the very thing that I would like to escape from. So it was very disturbing for me. It felt numbing somehow... just like sometimes life makes you feel. It was also strangely humbling to hear all of the people in the workshop write and/or speak about their life/memoir. It made me realize that I never really appreciated how much anguish or pain people go through everywhere. I just got this feeling that ... I am just like millions of others before me, every feeling has been felt millions of times before and so is every action and every move that I've done. I just got a feeling of discomfort at the very notion that kept creeping up on me ... That I am just a number among billions of others.

I am probably way over-thinking this but, alas, those are my random thoughts.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bloggers block

I have started a number of posts over the last few months and non of them were good enough for publishing. I think there are a number of reasons for that but it fundamentally boils down to a dilemma that I am facing when writing in this blog now. On the one hand, I don't want to get too personal here. But, on the other hand, this was one of the main reasons I started this blog; to have a place where I can write about whatever pleases me ( yes, including personal matters if I chose to). I can't do that anymore. It is so easy to find out who I am and what I do; that now, I just have to go through so much anguish trying to think of everyone who might read this and anyone who might get offended by it. This blog could end up being very detrimental to me and my career in the future. So, I thought of closing down this blog... I thought, maybe I should just stop blogging, possibly start twittering instead. Maybe get me a facebook account and flickr account too. Start poking people and taking pictures of ... stuff. But then I thought, "Naah...". And so I will probably continue doing what I already have been doing for years now. Blogging and emailing. Because if I don't, who else will?

So if the previous paragraph is a testament to anything; its that I really don't know what to blog about anymore. I have, what I'd like to call, 'Blogger's block' which is kind of like a writer's block except its for bloggers ... i.e. I don't know what to write about to be honest. I don't want to use this blog to give you lectures about what I think is wrong in this world or what I think people should do to be morally upright and happy. In other words, I don't wanna be no Oprah (not that I watch her show at all. Its just, sometimes, as I am surfing through the TV channels, I happen to come across her show that comes on every Sun-Wed at 2pm on MBC4. And when I come across her show, I, by sheer coincidence, drop the remote on the floor and find myself too lazy to extend my arms a few centi-meters to pick it up again and change the channel. So I am kind of forced to watch Oprah... every Sun-Wed at 2pm... on MBC4... forced...).

I also don't want this blog to be a diary of what goes on in my real life, at least not 'everything' that goes on in my life. I just write what I think is interesting and worthy of sharing with you all. So that is what I am going to do. I don't promise any time-line or schedule for posting (as I have tried that and failed). But I will make sure every post I publish counts (that I guarantee).

With that being said. I think I gotta mention this very weird incident I had on the plane taking me from Rome to London (over this summer holiday). It was a British Airways plane, and seriously, the word plane needs to have such a wide and flexible meaning if it were to describe that piece of machinery that I was on... it looked like the wings were held up by duct-tape! The propellers were shaking even before we took off! The fact that I am alive is beyond me.
But that's not what I really wanted to mention... I was sitting on the window isle (which gave me a fantastic view of the shaking propeller and duct-tape wings holding it together) and there were two empty seats next to me. I was getting comfortable and quite nervous at the site I was witnessing out of my window view so I took out my book which I was reading prior to getting on that "plane" and started reading where I left off. The book was called 'Happier' (see my book shelf on the sidebar of my blog). Anyway, this young Italian fella came and sat on the empty seat next to me. And next to him, an Italian girl who accompanied him on to the "plane" sat in the last empty seat. The plane took off (thank god) and I just delved into my book to distract me from the shaking wings and propellers.

The book was really interesting. It was written by a Harvard professor called Tal Ben-Shahar and it's very academic in nature. There is non of that '12 steps to eternal happiness' nonsense. It is very much a rationale discussion based on the positive psychology movement and its very clear in the flow of ideas its written in. But what's even more interesting was what happened on the plane while I was reading it.

Here I was really deep in thought reading a paragraph about how to become generally happier this year than the year before bla bla and as I was reading that, I saw, through my peripheral vision, the Italian girl extending her arms and touching the guy sitting next to me on his arms first. Then moved to ... well, touch other areas of his body until she landed on his... "stuff"... and I am trying to read this paragraph on how to be happier bla bla but I could not concentrate because that girl was touching that guy's you know what and kind of ... playing with ...the "stuff"! So I tried to move the book and read it in a position where it would block my peripheral vision from seeing this debauchery that is happening in the seat right next to me but I couldn't because the seats were really tight-spaced.

I got a little angry at how rude they were but my mood suddenly changed. It dawned on me right then; how absurdly ironic that moment was. There I was, reading a book about happiness and this guy sitting next to me was simply getting "happy" without lifting a finger. I laughed at myself. Closed my book and with it my eyes. Then dreamt of a happier place where life wasn't constantly and metaphorically slapping me on the face.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Overwhelmed...

I am overwhelmed by the amount of people who actually commented on my previous post and on their unbelievably sweet, kind comments that have truly humbled me. My unrelenting gratitude goes to each and every one of you who commented and read my post.

I have a few responses to a couple of the commentors to my previous post though. I will just get right to it.

@Anon (2nd one): There has not been any definitive tests that show or determine for certain any link between vaccinations and autism. I have taken the same vaccinations as my little sister and so did all my other siblings and non of us have become autistic. I read so many stories and articles/essays/books about these speculations about vaccinations causing autism and to be honest, non of them were built on anything more than a variation of, "after the vaccinations I noticed my son/daughter changing". And it is usually always the mother's who make these speculations (at least from my sample of readings I made on this topic), which makes me wonder whether it is only a mother's way of trying to find someone to blame for what has happened to her dear child in order to help her deal with the situation or whether it is actually what happened.

Do the chemicals in the vaccinations cause problems in the person taking them? I don't know. However, as of present time, autism has not been proven to be directly linked to vaccinations. It's causes are still unknown that is what I can tell you is known for sure.

@ Nasser: Thanks for your kind comments. I really appreciate the fact that you found my blog (and blogposts) good enough to be shared on different popular sites for Qataris. It was flattering to see all those commentors on the other sites say all those nice things about my little sister and myself. But, Nasser, I don't use my real name in this blog for a reason. I just don't see the point for me to use it here to be honest. Plus I'm generally a private person. Please, the next time you want to link to my blog or reproduce any of my blog posts, just credit it with my nickname (mmk080) and a link to this blog (as per the Creative Commons License seen at the bottom of the site).

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And to all commentors,

Your amazingly sweet comments overwhelmed me. I appreciate each and every one of you for taking the time to actually comment on my previous post. I am especially grateful to all your prayers, I am sure it is no coincidence that after writing that post and your prayers, my sister actually uttered her first words to me in I don't know how long... It's been a few days now and she started speaking again (not like before, it's just one word or so at a time but its still great).

Thank you all for everything.

Stay tuned as there are more posts in the pipelines.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Little Sister

I actually deliberated for a very long time with myself about whether or not I should write this. But, after a public reading event I participated in last week, I was given some advice by someone I met there who said, "if you get worried about how people would react to your written works, you will never be a good writer." So, in the spirit of what he told me, I have decided to write this post.

My little sister was born in 1995. She is the youngest one in the family and was diagnosed with Down Syndrome disorder when she was born. It's a chromosomal disorder that affects the child's cognitive abilities and facial appearance (in varying degrees). It was her who inspired me to write a "Work of Fiction" which eventually got published.

My sister grew up as a happy child. She learned to walk when she was a year and a half, I believe, and learned to talk when she was 3. In other words, a bit longer than what the average time it would take for a normal child to master these two vital techniques. But, she managed to develop a refined sense of humor much faster than any kid I know could. She always managed to make us laugh in the house. It was such a raw sense of humor that you could never really see coming.
For example, I used to go up to her kiss her and ask curiously,

"how much do you love me?"
"as much as the sea." she would answer in the most nonchalant tone.
"and how much else?" I would ask.
"as much as the sky" she would reply in the same tone.
I would then see how far I could take it and would repeat
"and how much else?"
she would pause for a few seconds and then say,
"as much as the Boat" in an aha! kind of tone.

I remember she used to love watching music video clips and liked to dance like the girls on the clips did. She loved to sing as well. And reenact her favorite moments of the Khaleeji Soap Dramas. I remember this one time I was with my aunt upstairs, and all of a sudden my little sister comes barging in wearing a small hijab that she put on her head and started shouting at me. I knew she was reenacting a scene from this 'mosalsal' or Gulf Soap drama we saw together on TV that afternoon so I just played along. I tried to calm her down by apologizing. But she continued shouting back at me and finally said "NO! I am divorcing you!". At that moment my aunt and I exchanged surprised shocked glances at one another. 'I don't remember seeing anyone on the show we watched this afternoon say that' I thought. Then I heard myself say, "but why!?" and she replied "... cuz I am pregnant!" then simply walked out after leaving that bombshell of a line. At that moment my aunt and I just burst out laughing... My sister was around 8 yrs old at the time and she just had the biggest imagination ever.

The day I was suppose to leave the country to head to the UK to attend my first year of University, I came back home at night and went straight to the sitting room downstairs to say goodbye to my little sister whom I knew will have to go to bed soon. As soon as I walked into the sitting room, I found a bunch of my little cousins there with my sister and they all came to hug me and say goodbye (one of them asked me to get her a present when I come back right after the hug) but my sister refused to get off her chair and say goodbye. I walked up to her and said:

"I am leaving habeebti, don't you want to hug me before I leave?"

She did not even acknowledge what I said. I won't lie, I was a bit hurt by that. I kissed her really quickly and ran up to my room to pack my bags (last minute packing is my thing). As I was closing the last suitcase, sitting on the floor, trying to figure out how this number lock works, I heard small footsteps in the corridor behind me. Before I had a chance to turn around to see who it was, I felt these small arms wrapping around my body from behind. As soon I saw the arms, I knew it was those belonging to my little sister, who kept hugging me real tight for awhile. She then kissed me on the cheek and left the room to sleep.


While I was in the UK studying to get my law degree, I used to get phone calls from back home every now and again giving me updates of what is happening there. I grew concerned when they told me that my amazing, sensitive, funny little sister has stopped speaking. At first they thought it was her just being very moody. I feared something worse but decided to wait it out, maybe it was my little sister's form of rebellion, I thought. Weeks passed, which became months, and still not even one word was uttered by my little sister. It was like she has taken a vow of silence. I went back home on one of the holidays, saw it with my own eyes. She would communicate with hand gestures, she would stare at her hands for a long time and would do repetitive movements over and over again. She would, for example, continuously stack her numbered cards in a pattern on the carpet (usually a square, sometimes rectangle) and would rock back and forth on her chair over and over again when a song comes on tv. She would also get highly irritated if you interrupt her continuous movements and sometimes, when we call her name she wouldn't even hear us. It was like she was in another world. My mom and other sister would get quite ticked off by this. They assumed my little sister was being arrogant or stubborn and to be honest, I don't blame them; at times I thought that too.


A few months after that, I was back in Cardiff to continue my University studies, my mom took my little sis to get her diagnosed by a child psychiatrist back home. I didn't know at the time about that. But I remember calling my mom one day and telling her what I feared... which is that my sis is showing signs of autism. She said no, the doctor told her my little sister was depressed and prescribed some antidepressants for her a few months ago. I almost flipped out. There is no way she was depressed. She was only 10. I asked my mom to please take her to another doctor and ask specifically to check whether she has autism or not.
After noticing my sister getting worse after taking the antidepressants my mom took my advice and took her to another doctor who was actually doing his doctoral thesis on autism and asked him to diagnose my little sister. According to the doctor, my mom's description of my little sister's behavior was an indication of an extreme case of autism. Since there is no definitive test for autism, nor any real definition of what autism is exactly ( autism is like an umbrella term for a spectrum of disorders or conditions ), one is therefore forced to rely on the parents assessment. What is known, however, is that autistic kids behavior follows a certain pattern and if it is not mitigated at an early stage it will only get worse over time.

Autism is usually identified in the time period before a child hits the three year old mark, but since my little sister had down syndrome (which affects her cognitive abilities) it was harder for my family and I to identify autistic behavior from down syndrome behavior. And to be honest, my little sister didn't show any autistic attributes until she reached 10 yrs old or so. Which makes me almost certain her autism is not the typical kind. What she has is, I believe, called Regressive autism which basically means, the child grows up and develops their speech and social skills normally but then begins to regress into their own world and lose those skills. This is what happened to my little sister.

I came back from university and the little sister that I knew... the one who loved to dance and sing, who used to tell me her love for me was as much as the boat, who hugged me right before I left the country to study abroad ... was no longer there.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that... I miss my little sister...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Book Launch Event: What Happened?

This post describes what happened in the book launch event which I participated in and have mentioned in my previous post.I will begin by taking you through how my day started and then subsequently work my way up to the end of the event.

It was a Wednesday and I had a conference to attend to in the morning for work. I also had a meeting to to attend in the late morning that lasts up to mid afternoon. Then, another meeting popped up at the last minute which started right after lunch and did not end till 6:30pm. As a matter of fact it did not end then, I just had to excuse myself since I needed to be at the book launch venue at 7pm.

My original intention was that I would use all afternoon to prepare for the event in which I will be one of the first speakers where I am expected to read a small portion of my article that is getting published in the book. That obviously did not happen because of that meeting that popped out of nowhere. So there I was at 7 pm in the avenue where the event was suppose to be held, and I was exhausted. I scanned for the closest good coffee place and got myself a caffiene shot to keep me on my feet and not collapse.

Holding my Latte cup in one hand, I casually strolled in the avenue which is now semi-full. My first thought at that moment was "Shit, I did not print out my article... this is just wonderful!". Then I noticed a stack of copies of the published book and heard a sigh of relief come out of me. I just picked one up and sat down to wait for the editor to come (whom I have emailed for quite some time yet never met). She finally did arrive and I introduced myself, shook hands then sat back down and kept sipping from my caffiene/fuel cup. Found a friend there who also happened to be one of the speakers in the event. Chatted with him for a bit. Then a girl from the row in front of us, turned around asked which one of us is [insert my real name here]. I replied,"That's me..." in an unsure tone. She thanked me profusely for writing such a wonderful article, and said she was glad there are Qatari guys who think this way. I was too tired to show any emotions at that point so I told her I was glad she liked it, then the event started.


Cover of the book


There was first the anouncements, Sponsor's comments, then the editor's welcoming speech. Then my name was called as the first speaker. I was too tired to be nervous. People clapped as I walked up to the stand. I sat down, placed the book on the table facing everyone and held the mic with my left arm. Then I began by introducing myself. I paused after every sentence because I was thinking of what to say next while I was there (since I didn't have time to prepare). I explained why I wrote my article (which was critical of typical marriages in Qatar) and my explanation was something along these lines:

"[pause]... My article is about marriage in Qatar... I wrote this article because I am a 23 year old male who ... fulfills all the 'eligibility reguirements for marriage' that... are set by society... And therefore ... Society, in a way, imposes on me the fact that I should be thinking about marriage right now... [long pause] ... And I have...

My thoughts, and conclusions or outcomes that came out from my thoughts are in my article in this book."


Anyway, I read the first paragraph of my article after that since I didn't have time to choose a paragraph to read then repeated my speech in Arabic.

After the event ended I walked towards my friends and colleagues who managed to come to see me speak publicly. Thanked them for coming and they complimented me on a great speech. They then had to leave so I decided to walk back towards the editor to thank her again before I left.

As I was on my way to the editor, a Qatari woman in her 40s/50s (I think... she was with her 10 year old daughter) stopped me and I remember thinking to myself, "here it comes, the sandal on my face is coming as I predicted..." and I prepared for some harsh words thrown in from her as well. But she did nothing of that kind. Instead, she extended her arms and gave me a copy of the book and asked me to sign it! I remember I was caught off guard by her request and I heard myself say "...Why?". She replied politely and explained that she would really like having the writers signatures on the book and said, and I quote, "god bless you for that article". That made me almost blush. I smiled and took the book from her hands and wanted to sign it real quickly to fulfill this wonderfully nice woman's wish. After managing to locate a pen, I signed her book and thanked her for coming.

Then the weirdest thing happened. I handed the book back to the Qatari woman, then saw what looked like a stampede of girls who wanted my signature (mind you, I am sure I am not the only speaker they wanted a signature from but still...). I was overwhelmed. I did not see this coming. I was signing so many books (some girls had three books each for me to sign), that towards the end of it, I got so used to signing books, I would sign without even looking. I would sign the book whilst simultaneously talking to the owner of the book and asking each one where they were from and what they do then wrap it up by thanking them for coming and then smile politely.

It was quite a unique experience, and I never saw this coming. I felt like some kind of celebrity and what surprised me even more is the fact that I never felt any different. I was still myself. I still felt grounded and didnt feel like any of it got to my head which, I guess could be a symptom of my exhaustion... but I choose to think that it is just my good strong character ... I guess I may never know.

In conclusion, considering how I am a celebrity now. Anyone here who wants me to send them a signed book will be required to send a cheque by the amount of $250 to my bank account or through paypal :P

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Public reading: Souq Waqif, Wed, 11th Feb. Doha, Qatar

I wrote an opinion piece a few months ago entitled "Marriage in Qatar". I wrote it after reading a news article in one of the local newspapers in November of last year, about a book which focuses on how Qatar has transformed. I emailed the editor of the book asking if it would be okay to submit an article. She told me the deadline for submission passed months ago but 'send me your piece' and she will let me know if she could include it in the book. So, I spent around 3 hours writing what I think is wrong with the way people marry here. It did not take much time to write because I have this frustration that is bottled up regarding this issue which is affecting me now more than ever. It was like I just threw up everything that was causing me pain into words on a sheet. I felt better after finishing it and felt a bit lighter too. Anyway, I sent what I wrote and it is now getting published in a book that is launching next week. Here is a description what the book is about:

DOHA: Souq Waqif, in collaboration with the Qatar Foundation, will launch this month the second book in the Qatar Narratives series, Qatar: Then and Now (pictured), which features essays on the present generation’s reflections on how life has changed in Qatar since the last generation.

“We will be launching the book, Qatar: Then and Now, before the end of this month. This volume highlights male and female writers who submitted essays, opinion pieces, and memoirs through which they invite readers to explore how everyday issues are addressed in modern society as opposed to methods used by previous generations of Qatar,” said Maya Saikali, art director of Souq Waqif.




I am going to be one of four writers who will do a public reading of a segment of their written piece in the book launch event. So, if you happen to be in Qatar, come to Souq Waqif and go to the Waqif Art Center at 7pm this Wednesday and cheer me on!

Since Souq Waqif will have a number of bedawins (very traditional Arabs), I have a feeling one of them will hear my "open minded" views that are critical of typical marriages here and decide the only way to deal with me is to throw their sandals or shoes at my direction... Note to self: Gotta call George Bush and ask him how he dodged those flying shoes.

Hope to see anyone of you who can make it, there.

Friday, January 23, 2009

BBC decides it will not air a fund-raising appeal for Gaza

The BBC, along with other broadcasters in the UK, decided against airing a fund raising appeal for Gaza arguing it would compromise their "public confidence and impartiality". (Source)

In unrelated news, a Miss World finalist has had her hands and feet amputated due to a rare virus she caught which was, unfortunately, misdiagnosed and eventually lead to the amputation. I have decided against providing a link to a charity dedicated to helping the handicapped in order for my blog not to lose its public confidence and impartiality... I do not want my blog to take the side of the virus or the handicapped in order for it to stay 'objective' and 'accurate'.

sigh...
When did journalistic integrity and rationality go out of style?

If providing an outlet for humanitarian support to victims is undermining impartiality,then the only impartiality this effects, is the one which separates compassion & mercy from mercilessness & tyranny.
Impartial is another word for being fair. How can avoiding to make decisions that compel you to choose between compassion and tyranny, be avoided by claiming that it will undermine your fairness? By avoiding to make such decisions you have, by your own avoidance, made an unfair and partial decision. Which, in effect, shakes the confidence the public had in you. Shame on you, BBC.


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Links:
Gaza fund-raising Appeal
Handicapped Charity
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UPDATE: BBC defends its decision after it was criticised.
UPDATE II: Brazilian model who lost hands,feet to infection dies.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Song for Gaza




Check out the Artist's site HERE for full lyrics and bio.

And yes, I am still alive (in case anyone was wondering that :P).