Saturday, August 27, 2005
When my cousins were younger, they’d come over and want to start playing straight away.
I’d tell them that that was antisocial and that they had to sit for a while and make polite conversation before they played.
The two boys put up with this for years.
“What did you do today Omar?”
“We went to the supermarket”
“And what else?”
“We bought cheese”
“No, that’s the same story as the supermarket story, that’s included in the supermarket story - you have to tell me something different, separate”.
Until their little sister came along and put me in my place and liberated them.
“When people visit people they make conversation with each other”
“We’re not people, we’re children”.
Not surprising from a young lady who sternly replied ‘’I’m not a cat, I’m a woman’’ (in English) when she was all of nine years old when I told her ‘’bon appetit cat’’ (it rhymes in Arabic).
My official title for my young cousins is “The Monkeys”.
A term of endearment that I first bestowed on the elder child Fouad and then his successive siblings as they came along.
He was just a toddler when he was first “knighted” and would occasionally protest.
“He called me a monkey!”
When his younger brother Omar was born, I made sport of saying, “Omar’s brother’s a monkey” to circumvent calling him a monkey directly.
He finally cottoned on to this.
“No, not you, Omar’s brother is a monkey”
He finally figured it out and said “Guy’s brother is a monkey”.
Saul Bellow observed that all fiction is biographical.True - most fiction is derived from fact whereas most non-fiction is fiction in that it is the writer's perspective and opinion.
Friday, August 19, 2005
My friend's African maids took pictures of themselves standing next to the fridge to send back home.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Seeing a friend off at Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport this morning, I was surprised to see cigarettes, albeit Marlboro Lights, being sold at the airport pharmacy (it calls itself a “parapharmacy”).
Most pharmacies here used to sell herbal cigarettes (which were probably no healthier than regular cigarettes).They smelt like marijuana – I was smoking them at a pub once when the proprietor kindly asked me to refrain and gave me a complimentary pack of Marlboro Lights.
I prefer the old airport to this Hariri-built Saudi style marble box.
It had a lot more charm and character.
My overwhelming memory of the old airport was that there always seemed to be some fat middle-aged veiled chador-clad Shiite woman passed-out on the pavement next to the outside departures gate, overwhelmed by the heat and the emotion of seeing a son or daughter off to a distant land, being administered to by her kinfolk.
That doesn’t seem to happen anymore at the new airport.
I don’t know – maybe this new airport’s too fancy for faintin’.
But another feature of the airport remains - it’s still the only real melting pot in Lebanon, where you’ll find people of all creeds, classes and ages all united, for once, by one thing, the desire to leave this country.
The good news for fans of fainting (if there are any fans of that genre) is that fat middle-aged veiled chador-clad women still faint with astonishing regularity in Egyptian soap operas.
To save you the bother of watching these annoying programs, here’s a brief synopsis of almost every one of them: a son or daughter wants to marry someone from another class, big drama, fat middle-aged veiled chador-clad mother faints, etc, etc, etc.
A far cry from the fainting spells in Victorian era novels.
‘’Oh dear, I’m feeling a little peculiar, I’m all of a perspiration – bring me my smelling salts, summon an apothecary’’ is a lot more refined then today’s screaming, shrieking shrills.