Donate your bag for a Noble Cause

I like this idea. Finally, a way that expensive handbags that I personally find pointless and a waste of money could be put to a good use…

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Facebook Mom

My mom has never been a traditional mom, meaning that she’s never bugged me about marriage or suitors or what not, which is pretty cool given what I hear about mothers giving their daughters a hard time about this particular issue. But make no mistake: a mother will always be a mother.

 

In addition to being untraditional in her parenting style my mother is quite an insightful, understanding and creative woman. You see, she was married when she was around 18 years old right after she finished high school, but I personally believe that had she pursued a higher level of education she could’ve been a financial analyst or an excellent interior designer. In fact there was a time when she was considering pursuing her higher education and started asking around about colleges but then she found out that she was pregnant with my brother and dropped the idea.

 

Be that as it may, my mother is a woman with so much to share and a lot to say, so when she recently discovered the power of Facebook as a sharing tool, she immediately jumped on the wagon. She’s become perhaps the most active one in the family on Facebook, posting things that she finds interesting or insightful, or commenting on other people’s different activities. Yet, she didn’t comment much on my own activities on Facebook or said anything about the people on my friend list, but make no mistake again: a mother will always keep an eye on her daughter and the people she interacts with.

 

Having said all that, I was a little surprised when my sister told me that my mom calls her from time to time to either complain about me refusing to consider traditional proposals or something like that, which is something any mother would do, but what was more surprising to me is when my sister told me that mom once called her to inquire about “someone on Facebook who keeps posting comments on my profile and I keep removing them”. Of course my initial reaction was: who on earth would that be? I mean, I do delete some comments from time to time for different reasons but there is definitely no one who keeps posting and whose comments I keep deleting. No one. So I just told my sister to tell her that none of my Facebook friends is a “subject of interest for me”, but I don’t know if that will be good or bad news for my mother.

 

So, it’s interesting when your virtual life intertwines with real life, but really sometimes you need to take certain precautions to avoid possible misunderstandings.  But to think of it I find that it could be helpful, for now I’ve discovered another side of my mother, and it makes me feel guilty because now I can’t deny the fact that she worries about the issues she rarely brings up, just like any other mother.

 

It’s a double-edged sword, really…

 

Life is Good Award

“The Life is Good Award” is actually a scanned Hallmark greeting card that comes with some questions to answer, so here goes nothing. (I know I don’t get it either, there’s supposed to be a picture above but I’m too lazy to copy-paste it. It’s 2 am. I’m on a vacation. whatever I just don’t want to!)

 

1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this? If you aren’t anonymous, do you wish you started out anonymously, so that you could be anonymous now?

Well there were times when I thought it would’ve been nice to blog anonymously, because you know sometimes you can’t avoid get too personal with your ramblings or just because it would be different, exciting in a way. But honestly I don’t think I’m a a person who can be anonymous for a long time. Besides, I’ve been interacting with people virtually for a long time and I used to be anonymous at first but that was 2004, and I was 20. It’s kind of obsolete now if you ask me, at least for me.

2. Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side

I’m not stubborn, although sometimes I do refuse to give in for certain arguments for certain reasons, but generally I’m not stubborn. You can change my mind in an instant, sometimes it even borders on rediculous.

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?

Good question. Here’s what I see: a reflection of  myself.

4. What is your favourite summer cold drink?

Caramel vlavoured frescato, or whatever they call it in other places, that’s Costa Coffee calls it

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

I read, watch a movie or something, or just daydream.

6. Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life?

Who doesn’t? This is a question you ask to someone on their deathbed and they would still say yes.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching?

The over achiever, whatever that means. I didn’t exactly build an atomic bomb but I’ve always had a high GPA.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see?

I’m really sleepy right now, I don’t even feel like thinking what “poignant” exactly is supposed to mean. Is that good or bad?

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog, or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people and events?

That question was accidently and very deliberately ignored.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?

I hate talking on the phone, save for rare occasions. And I love to read. You do the math.

LAYLA… 5

(5)

Several days passed since I saw Saif. I was afraid to go to their home, I even faked illness to avoid going to school and seeing him, and pretended to be asleep whenever he came by to ask about me. I couldn’t even imagine looking him in the face. I was the one who exposed his sister’s secret, which was perhaps the only thing that brought her to love herself a little bit. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror, I was full of shame and disgust, for myself and for Nora, I couldn’t look at her, I couldn’t stand her voice, and for the first time in my life I allowed myself to think that I hate my sister. For the first time in my life I could understand how my mother felt, to have such an unspeakable bitterness in your heart for your own flesh and blood.

Several days have passed and I thought I couldn’t get away with my faked illness anymore. I knew that the next day I should go to school and see Saif. I was thinking the whole time about what I was going to say to him. I thought the best thing was to never bring up the subject, as if nothing had happened. I thought that the best thing was to forget about the whole thing. I also thought about Nimrah, perhaps this was what’s best for her. I told myself that she’ll eventually forget about it and go back to her normal life.

I sat in the living room, watching my mother cooking in the small kitchen passively. I was counting the seconds, hoping tomorrow will never come. I watched my mother stir the reddish broth in the huge pot, and all of a sudden I found myself counting the rounds she gave, slowly, indifferently. I think it was perhaps after 15 or 20 rounds that she lift the spoon to her mouth and slurped, tasting the hot stock.

“Ah, I knew the salt wasn’t enough!” She exclaimed. “Nora, go to the grocery and get me some.”

“But I just went there few days ago and seeing that despicable old thing twice a week is more than I can tolerate.” Nora replied as if she had the words prepared at the tip of her tongue, waiting to be unleashed. And then with the same readiness she suggested, “Let Layla go”

“I can’t let your sister go there alone!” My mother said in a tone that resembled a squeal. “It’s almost dusk.”

“Don’t worry about her.” Nora fired back. “I really can’t think of a reason that would make anyone want to kidnap her.”

My mother gaped at her angrily, and I saw where that was going so I decided the best thing was to say that I would like to go because I haven’t left home for a few days because of my sickness and I needed some fresh air. My mother hesitated at first but I convinced her that I was big enough and knew my way, besides it wasn’t dark yet. Nora had already left the room as if she had made up her mind not to go anyway.

I made my way to the grocery worrying with every step that I would run into Saif on my way. I tried to walk faster to go there and back home as quickly as I could to avoid any awkward encounter.

When I reached the grocery the place was shadowy and dim, since there was only a small window that allowed little light in, especially in the last hour before dusk. Something about the place felt evil and threatening, and I could hardly stand to talk to Abu Ashour, with his picture connected in my mind to that of Nora and Saif.

There was no one but Abu Ashour in the store, which made it feel even more daunting. I walked in with heavy steps, trying to stay as far as I could from his desk, and with a voice that hardly amounted to that of a whisper, I told him what my mother wanted.

“What?” He said with his usual yellowish smile. “I can’t hear you. Come on, come closer.”

I felt uneasy and tried to raise my voice a little bit more, but he insisted that he couldn’t hear me and asked me to get closer to him. I walked a little bit closer to him and raised my voice.

“Ah, salt!” He said as if he already knew it. “Well, I have none here but I could get you some from inside.”

He then walked toward the inner store, and after a few steps he turned around and said, “aren’t you coming with me or are you still afraid of the dark?”

I wasn’t afraid of the dark, but the look in his eyes and his malicious smile made me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t move. He rolled his eyes and yelled at me again. I looked at the darkened store inside and felt a shiver down my spine, and before I knew it I found myself running away.

I didn’t know where I was going but I knew I wasn’t heading home. I didn’t know it until I found myself standing before Saif’s house, panting, knocking on his door.

He was so happy to see me, which made me feel even more guilty, but I couldn’t think of that because my mind was fixated on one thing. I was terrified, and I needed Saif to feel safe.

I didn’t tell him what happened, I let him think that I was shivering because I was still feeling sick. He brought me a scarf that belonged to his mother and Nimrah made me some hot tea. I looked at them and it hit me then, like a bolt from the blue, how much more I felt at home with them than with my own family. A family that I could only remember by the salty taste of tears rolling down my lips.

 

 

Related:

LAYLA… 1

LAYLA… 2

LAYLA… 3

 

LAYLA… 4

For Currency Collectors

For some reason my brother dug up his old currency collection today. He was a collector of, well, everything that’s anything. Anyway, I found some quite interesting pieces, it was like touching tangible bits of modern history, and the nominees are…

1- A 2 piasters coin (20 fils) from Jordan, dating back to 1949. I remember the 2.5 piasters coin but I never knew there was a 2 piasters coin!

2- A ten piasters coin from The United Arab Republic, which is the union between Syria and Egypt that began in 1958 and ended in 1961, but as you can see this coin dates back to 1967 because Egypt continued to be officially known as The United Arab Republic until 1971

 

3- A 10 piasters banknote from Egypt, dating back to 1940

Interesting… do you have any?

LAYLA… 4

(4)

 

The association between Nimrah’s name and her coarse looks was nothing short of ironic. She was given the name Nimrah, which literally means tigress, as soon as she was born, based on a common belief that naming the baby after a predator protects it from dying young, since before she was born her mother had given birth to two babies, one of them died few hours after birth and the other lasted for no more than 3 days before it was found dead in its cradle. No one ever knew the reason behind the deaths, not only of Nimrah’s siblings but also of the many miscarriages and stillbirths in the Village. Some say it was something in the air, some sort of a poison. Some say it was the spring water that still carried the remnants of the children slaughtered in the upper land’s blood baths some hundred years ago. But the most commonly believed theory was that of the curse cast upon the Village after a woman deliberately suffocated her bastard child to death shortly after he was born. It was easy to see why this seemed the most plausible for the people in the Village, given that it involved a curse, a scandal and a death: The three most feared misfortunes.

 

Whatever the reason was, one way or the other Nimrah did survive. I couldn’t tell for sure if the name has anything to do with it, because my father used to say that she would’ve survived even if they called her a squirming maggot. At this Noura would usually joke that it would’ve been a pity because any other name of the sort wouldn’t have suited her serrated “fags” climbing over her front teeth. I remember how my mother used to smile sarcastically and shake her head in dismay. She once uttered something under her breath I didn’t understand, but it was obvious she made sure my father and Noura couldn’t hear it.

 

It was no wonder given all this that Nimrah seldom looked in a mirror. Those reflective surfaces were her life-long enemies. Whenever she passed by one, she had never so much as gave a sideway glance. It was as though she knew what she was going to see, or worse yet, feared it. As I said, there was no reason to wonder here, unlike that morning when the oddest thing happened as I stood in the hallway of Saif’s house and saw Nimrah, for the first time, standing before a mirror at the end of the narrow dimly-lit hallway.

 

I couldn’t see her face as she was giving me her back, but something about her looked majestic. Maybe it was her upright posture or the light that fell upon her from the right and twinkled on her frizzy curls. It could be many things, but as I look back at it now I believe beyond doubt that it was the air of confidence around her that I saw for the first time then. It wasn’t one of arrogance like Noura, it was something different, something I rarely saw in any one in the village.

 

As I left the house with Saif, my mind kept going back to Nimrah. I couldn’t help but wonder what could possible have happened to change her in such a way. I wanted to ask Saif but I couldn’t find the right word to form a sensible question. At last, I decided to depend on Saif’s habit in finishing my sentences and spoke out.

 

“So, what is it with Nimrah? She looks…”

 

“Happy?” Said Saif with a knowing smile.

 

“Well, maybe, but that’s not exactly what I meant. There seems to be something different about her, she’s not her usual self. Do you know what I mean?”

 

“I know. And I know she deserves to be happy.”

 

I was mildly annoyed at the way Saif mystified his answers. I knew he was hiding something and I was dying to know what it was, and I knew that he wouldn’t keep it from me unless it was something that would upset me, because Saif knew as well as everybody that when it came to secrets, the village has its own circulating mechanism: Everyone may know it except for those who shouldn’t. Unless someone broke that circle, the secret is safeguarded.

 

I knew Saif trusted me, and I knew that he would tell me when he made sure I knew the value of secrecy for what he was going to tell me. It didn’t take him much time to establish that, he usually did it with a few words.

 

“She deserves to be happy.” He said once again, and I was ready to hear what’s next.

***

 

“Namirah has gotten a letter.” I said.

 

My mother raised her eyes and looked at me with an amused smile. Noura too gave a smile, but without lifting her eyes from what she was knitting.

 

“Is that a fact?” Said Noura in an unsurprisingly sarcastic way. “Who is it from? The natural reserve?” she gave a small laugh and glanced towards my mother is if waiting for the usual reproach.

 

“No!” I said earnestly. “It’s from a secret admirer”

 

“Oh, please Layla!” Noura said “The last thing you need to add to your graces is a bad sense of humour!”

 

“I’m serious!” I insisted even more earnestly. “Saif told me she found the letter on her windowsill this morning. He never lies!”

 

“Poor desperate Namirah!” cried Noura. “Obviously she wrote it to herself. Or maybe it’s her other personality. Wait, it could be her imaginary friend!”

 

“Siaf would’ve known it. It wouldn’t have escaped him. If he knew she was lying why would he lie too?”

 

“Why not?” My mother said tilting her head.

 

Noura started to look disturbed and incredulous. My mother said nothing else, only smiled and continued to peel the vegetables on her hands.

 

“Well, I don’t believe it. It’s absurd! Why would anyone send that funny face a letter of admiration?” Noura persited in her denial.

 

“Exactly the same reason why no one would send an insolent arrogant girl like yourself one.” My mother said half-jokingly.

 

“No matter what you say, it’s beyond absurd. And that secret admirer, if he even exists, must be a sorry desperate old man with a major deformity” Cried Noura, obviously annoyed as she stood up and walked towards the bedroom.

 

“You know her father can’t know this” I said before she exited the room. She stood in her tracks and turn around with a cunning smile that suggested she had an evil idea.

 

“I know that very well, but thanks for reminding me.” She said as closed the door to the room.

 

The next day Noura seemed so normal that I thought she either had forgotten all about it, or was up to something malignant. My fears came true when Noura volunteered to go to the grocery store to get the salt mom needed for cooking. It was suspicious because I knew how much Noura hated to go there. It wasn’t the errand she resented, but the man in the grocery store himself. Abu Ashour was a widower in his late fifties, he wasn’t exactly popular, but he didn’t have a bad reputation either. Yet. Noura has always felt uncomfortable around him. She tried to avoid those trips to the grocery store as much as possible, and when she had to go, she made sure to make him feel how much he disgusted her. Hence, I found it very weird that she would offer to go there.

 

As we approached the store, I observed the eerie smile on her face, and then things started to get clear. I remembered that although Abu Ashour didn’t have a bad reputation, but it was very well-established that the grocery store was a rumor mill, that’s why elderly men gathered there in the afternoons, to share a cup of tea and some breaking news. And, if you want to get the word out on anything, all it takes is a random chat with Abu Ashour. Noura was very well aware of that fact.

 

As we entered the store, I felt the pressure building up on my chest. I felt my heart petrified into a rigid stone as I waited for Noura to take her next step. I stood there helpless, unable to speak, clueless as to what I should do.

As Noura asked for the salt, I noticed how she was trying to look a little bit less disgusted as Abu Ashour eyes lingered on her in a very awkward way that even I felt uneasy. She tried to avoid looking at him, and in an instant, in a calm yet obviously eager tone of voice she blurted out the words I dreaded.

 

“So, I hear freaks too have secret admirers.”

 

“Which freak are we talking about here?” Abu Ashour said with his yellowing teeth visible through his guile smile. “I didn’t get any love notes if you’re talking about me. Unless you…”

 

“You wouldn’t even dream of it!” Noura interrupted. “But who knows? One day the frizzy-haired giant gets a love letter, the next day it could be you!”

 

“Frizzy-haired giant?” The wrinkles around his eye disappeared for a moment.”You can’t be talking about her!”

 

“Well” Noura said even more calmly. “Of course I can’t, who in his right mind could believe it anyway? It’s just what people are saying.”

 

Noura walked out of the store with her eerie smile turned into a victorious grin. My heart was no longer petrified, and I felt the guilt ripping through the flesh like a thousand knives. Saif told me because he trusted that I wouldn’t tell anyone who would break the circle, and I betrayed his trust.

 

I couldn’t confront Siaf for a few days after. I was didn’t know what would happen to Nimrah, but I knew that whatever was going to happen was my fault. I waited for a few days, unable to eat or talk. All I could think of was Nimrah and Saif.

 

One morning when I couldn’t take it any longer, I rushed out to Saif’s house, not knowing what to expect, nor what I would say or do, I only wanted to make sure they were okay. As I reached the house and was about to knock on the front door, I heard pounding and shouting inside. Their father was shouting and banging closet doors and drawers. The only words I could make out were “Tell me where are they or I will crush your head under my feet.” I crawled up beside the door, unable to move, trying to muffle my whimpers. Then the shouting stopped, and all I could hear was crying, drawers opened and closed, then there was silence.

 

Related:

LAYLA… 1

LAYLA… 2

LAYLA… 3

 

 

 

 

تحفة الزمان في دواوير عمّان

عمّان… مدينة التلال السبعة والمليون دوار، يعني عدد الدواوير يقارب عدد المطبات باستثناء إنه الدوار مش ضرورة حتمية إنك تلبس فيه…

وكون ابن ياقوت الحموي في كتابه معجم البلدان لم يتطرق إلى هذا الجانب المهم من جغرافية المدينة كان من المناسب في هذا المقام توثيق بعض المعلومات الموجزة التي قد لا يجدها القارىء في بطون الكتب والتي قد يستفيد منها السياح الراغبين المحبين للمجازفة والذين قد تسول لهم أنفسهم قيادة سيارة في شوارع عمّان

وفيما يلي نبذة مختصرة عن أبرز الدواوير في حياة المواطن اليومية

الدوار الأول: هو  شبه دوار، يعني لولا كثرة الدواوير لقلنا إنه دوار من قلة الدواوير،  أقرب ما يكون إلى رقعة مستديرة من الرصيف يمكن الصعود فوقها بالسيارة حتى لو كنت سايق ميني زي تاعت (مستر بين)، بمعنى آخر ممكن يشيلوه ويحطوا مروحة. ويكتسب هذا الدوار شخصيته لوقوعه أمام مدخل شارع الرينبو في جبل عمّان أما غير ذلك فلا شخصية ولا بطيخ له

الدوار الثاني: دورا النزهات وشم الهوا، يعني النسخة المدورة من طريق المطار، وأكثر ما يميزه منحوتة مستطيلة الشكل في وسطه ووقوعه بالقرب من شاورما الريم

الدوار الثالث: دوار كبير نسبياً وقد يكون زنخ بعض الشيء لوجود منافذ كثيرة حواليه يعني ممكن تكون ماشي بأمان الله تلاقي واحد كسر عليك عشان يفوت على شارع الأمير محمد، أكثر ما يميزه وقوعه بجانب فندق الرويال

الدوار الرابع: يقع قرب رئاسة الوزراء مما يجعله موقعاً مثالياً للتظاهرات والاعتصامات

الدوار الخامس: دوار سحري، بمعنى أنه في ازمة ولا ما في ازمة بضل ماشي (رأي شخصي) كما قد تكون الرؤية متعذرة فيه في فترة الانتخابات مما يوجب الحيطة والحذر

الدوار السادس: دوار صغير زنخ  بودي عالصويفية

الدوار السابع: يعتبر هذا الدوار مصدر أزمة رئيسي في حال وجود شرطي ينظم السير عليه، يتميز بوجود منحوتة كبيرة بنية اللون في وسطه تسبب الكثير من “اللغط” بين المواطنين، وأحسن نصيحة هي أن تتجنب هذا الدوار في حال كنت قادماً من شارع عبد الله غوشة وكانت أزمة، والنصيحة زمان كانت بجمل ويجعلكم لا رديتو

الدوار الثامن: دور الباصات والحافلات العمومية، غير ملائم لضعاف القلوب

دوار الملكة عالية: دوار ما إلو داعي وأكبر دليل على ذلك إنه الحفريات قائمة حالياً لإزالته ووضع إشارة مكانه…

دوار الداخلية ودوار المدينة: بشبهوا بعض وأزمة كتير

دوار عبدون: اللي بتشوفوه على التلفزيون لما يطلع واحد أردني في سوبر ستار أو إشي زي هيك، بكون في مذيعة وناس بتصرخ

الدوار الصغير اللي بعد دوار عبدون: دوار زبالة وما إلو داعي، كان محلة إشارة ضوئية وقاموها وحطوه، غلطة كبيرة! لأنه في ناس بتكون نازلة من دوار عبدون وما بكلفوا خاطرهم يوقفوا على الدوار اللي بعديه، يعني مش مبروك الشارع مبروك الدوار والسيارات اللي على الدوار كمان

دوار الكيلو: عادي دوار زي هالدواوير

دوار الواحة: أكثر ما قد يجعل رؤية هذا الدوار مثلجة للصدر وباعثة للسرور في النفس هو أنه عادة ما يأتي بعد ما يكون الواحد ارتفع ضغطه في أزمة الجاردنز أو شارع المدينة

دوار خلدا: يا ريت كل الدواوير زيه، منظر بس

الدوار اللي عند مكة مول: عليه نوافير، ما بتوه

الدوار اللي جوا المطار: هو نوعاً ما مدينة صغيرة لأنه بتقعد 7 سنين وإنت تلف فيه، مما يجعل وجوده هناك مناسباً إذ قد يعطي السائح القادم للأردن فكرة عما ينتظره

On Teaching

 

When I was a child and they asked me what I wanted to be I often said that I wanted to be a teacher. I don’t know if that was a real early calling or just a childish cliché – You know how it is, it’s either a teacher or a doctor.

 

Yet, growing up my desire to teach grew up with me and I found myself making carton boards when I’m studying and pretending that I’m actually teaching imaginary students. Later on I started giving private lessons but that wouldn’t cut for me. I needed the class and the students and the black board and the chalks… the whole package.

 

Graduating from university, reality hit hard. I found myself getting into translation, telling myself it would only be temporarily but it turned out that when making career choices it’s hardly ever temporary. Change isn’t easy once you get the hang of something, or is it? And of course the money was another issue; there was no room for comparison…

 

But I still didn’t give up on teaching. I thought that maybe I can peruse my higher studies so that I can teach at university or something, but it seemed a bit far-fetched. Yet, good things could happen when you least expect them, no?

 

Out of the blue, I was contacted by the German Jordanian University to give classes in Audio-visual translation, AKA subtitling, which is my field of work, and what do you know? I grasped the opportunity tooth and nail, without so much as a blink. I mean, I’ve always wanted to teach but not even in my wildest dreams have I thought that I could be teaching 4th year university students this soon.

 

It was a great opportunity that I can’t describe how grateful I am for. After all, God gives us more than we ask for, no doubt about that. The people there were great, very cooperative, and very open-minded. I got to lay down the study plan as I saw fit and was at a complete liberty to execute it. The students were great too, each of them having a special quality of their own.

 

Truth be told, at some point I thought I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher, for I cannot be strict or, for that matter, mean. But it turned out you don’t have to. It was one of my best moments when the students told me they loved the class and found it very interesting, and when the head of the department asked me if I was thinking of making a career out of it and that I was welcome to join their staff if I ever thought of pursuing this any further.

 

So, if I’m to sum it up in one sentence it would be: I’m grateful for having the chance to teach something to those students, and to learn a whole lot from them and from the experience as a whole.