Thursday 31 July 2008

Dreams in a Beauty Parlor...

I am a firm believer that every woman, whatever her age, looks, shape, financial status, nationality, race, religion...should take time to pamper herself. It can be done in a public Hammam, at the hairdresser, in your own home, in a spot in nature or at the beauty parlour...It can be done anywhere, but it must be done. Beats therapeutic shopping.

I don't care how broke I am, I always make it a point to go to the beauty parlor. OK, yes, am a vain, narcissistic coquette - sue me for being too bourgeois. Or if my Oriental feminine slants irritate you too much, you can always consider booking me on a sea resort getaway - Gitmo style. I don't care. I'm sticking to pampering myself.

So my pampering ritual consists of waxing, nails, eyebrows, hair - a good 5 hours, once every two weeks. Not bad really. I know other women who spend every day changing their nail color and having their hair done. I just settle for once every fortnight. And I feel absolutely great afterwards - to the horror of the "feminist" readers. Don't you just love controversy ? I relish it.

So today I went to the beauty parlor. It was jammed packed. All women of course. Frankly it has nothing of a real beauty parlor look or feel to it.

I always swallow two panadols before heading there. The staff's kids run around screaming their heads off, tripping on your freshly painted toe nails, snatching the towels from your lap - a nursery / beauty parlor. And the rooms where the torture sessions take place - waxing - they look more like very narrow prison beds, and one wrong move/kick of the leg and you might end up in the next cubicle...

Of course, you are made privy to hearing all kinds of personal stories - intimate stuff but you pretend you hear nothing.

And among the giggles and blushes, you occasionally hear a loud "Ouch, akhhhhh, this hurts, easy on the bikini line. Stop, you're killing me. I hate you for torturing me this way " or " a few more hairs here, la'a, no, here...right here...and the girl exclaims for the 100th time, in total desperation " Wallah I removed everything. Here take the mirror and see for yourself..."

Ah! Mirrors.

There is one small and one big mirror there. The small mirror is always missing because someone has monopolized it, inspecting and ensuring there are no hairs left or that her eye brows are PERFECTLY symmetrical.

The big mirror on the other hand is broken in the middle and when you are taken by this insane fantasy of admiring yourself after the whole work is done, you see two of you staring back...kind of split in the middle.

But then you pretend you look absolutely perfect, since you have just spent 5 friggin hours being plucked like a live chicken and blow dried until you feel your skull has evaporated.

But everything returns to normal when you are waiting for your nails to dry, sipping your coffee and cursing the hour...unless one of the kids bumps into your plastic chair and spills it over your freshly done nails which means a new start all over again and another hour to go in this beauty parlor/nursery/torture chamber.

But today, things went relatively smoothly. The kids were asleep in one of the torture cubicles. So it was not really necessary to discreetly bring out my cotton balls from my bag and stick them deep into my ears all the way to my eardrums.

But I was in for a surprise - well not really.

This beauty parlor/nursery/torture place has a radio blasting away, a TV blasting away - over and above the phone and cell phones endless rings, over and above the usual cacophony of female voices, talking -- non stop.

How can women talk that much without getting tired ? They talk on the phone, talk on the cell, talk amongst each other, eavesdrop and involve themselves in other's conversations when they were not included to start with. Snoop around with great curiosity like some private detective, about to uncover this or the other when it is none of their business...I mean how do women handle all of that, all at once and not get tired ? This I never understood.

So I was saying, the TV was on and suddenly everyone, I mean everyone went solemnly quiet. A total silence. What on earth happened ? I raised my head up there to the wall where the TV is literally dangling from and what do you I see ?

The famous TV - soapy, sentimentally jerky, Turkish serial called Noor.

Noor is made of 450 friggin episodes. So far 150 have run on the screen. And everyone, I mean everyone is talking about Noor. At the grocer's, at the hairdresser, at the beauty parlor, at the electrician, at the plumber, at the telephone company, in government offices - I hear nothing but Noor.

Did you know what happened to Lamis in Noor ? Did you see how Hiyha loved Tartempion in Noor ? Did you hear about Madame Castafiore falling pregnant in Noor ?...and it goes and on and on...

I obviously don't know the cast's names because I NEVER WATCH THIS TURKISH JUNK.

The other day I went to a doctor's clinic and fuck it - he was watching Noor. He said " how can I help you ?" I said "Don't bother, I suddenly feel quite well. Will pop by again some other time."

So Noor was on and hence the silence.

And the women's remarks

- This X is sooo handsome, really handsome...

I looked and this X looked like some Turkish truand about to go for the kill in one of Istanbul's dark alleyways.

Another woman said - "Nooo, the other guy, Z. is more handsome, Ya Allah shoo heloo."

I looked again and this badly shaved guy, with the rugged look and the hair gel reminded me of those sleek cheap playboys who guarantee to pass on their herpes or warts, should you approach them.

And a third said - " Laaa, noooo, what are you talking about! Look at Y, he is the loving"

So I looked up at the screen again, and saw a guy with a moustache thick and long enough to cover his whole face and eyes darting passion - a passionate anger. Loving indeed.

The worst part of course, is that this crappy Turkish serial is dubbed in the most grotesque, heaviest of Syrian accents.

The only place where Noor was silenced was at the hairdresser (not to be confused with the beauty parlor - two distinct places OK!).

I think this hairdresser is originally Armenian, because about 3 weeks ago I went there for a hair trim, and Noor was playing. He stormed out of his tiny back office and said in the loudest of voices - Kiss Emm this Turkish crap, shut it NOW.

But getting back to the Beauty parlor...

So I said to one of the manicurists - For God's sake, will you please explain to me what is so attractive about these guys ?

She replied without raising her head - What do you expect - we are surrounded with females all day long. They look like men and we feel like women when we see them

So I pushed a little further - I was bored and feeling a little mischievous

- But you are married aren't you? Implying that she does have a man around her - some supposedly positive yang energy.

This time, she straightened her head up and just raised her eyebrows, as if to say...

And continued filing away dreams to the sound of the Turkish drivel called Noor.

Painting: Iraqi artist, Jabel Al-Saria, 2007.

Friday 25 July 2008

My Country, my Homeland - Ya Baladee...

Helwa ya Baladee.
Beautiful my country, my homeland...

Dust everywhere...A thick veil of desert sand. Indifferently, indiscriminately covering my windows...

Upon the suggestion of an online friend, I appealed to some domestic help.

Geeta, a kind, very sloowwww Sri Lankan soul showed up. She helps me, once a week, to dust off the veil that separates me from the outside world...

We were scrubbing away, today, in unison... The radio was blasting away and Geeta's Arabic and English are very poor. Terribly poor.

Dalida's song played on - Helwa ya Baladee - Beautiful my country-homeland.

I threw the old dusting cloth, and reached for the tissues...

Geeta in her very basic Arabic said :

" Mama enta leish tebkeh ? Enta kharbaan ?" Translation - " Madam, why are you crying ? Are you sad, hurt, broken ?"

Kharbaan - I did translate it for you, before , you little minds. Did I not ?
Kharbaan means non functional, destroyed, broken...

Yes, Geeta, very Kharbaan...

So here is the song I heard, while dusting my thickly veiled window...

And I translated it for you - not that I expect a reaction.

A rough translation :

My country, my homeland – Ya Baladee.

One nice word or two – beautiful Ya Baladee
One nice song or two – beautiful Ya baladee
My hope was to always
Return to you
And be beside you - always.

Memories of all bygones,
Do you remember Ya Baladee ?
My heart is full of stories
Do you remember Ya Baladee ?
My first love was in my country
Will not be possible to ever forget it

Where are the days before our goodbyes?
We used to say separation/ distance is impossible
We had always hoped to stay/remain
in a sea of Love
by the twin shores...

One nice word or two...
beautiful my Baladee
One nice song or two
beautiful, my Baladee

where is the Love of my heart? my Baladee
He is far away from me,
and everytime I sing, I think of him.

Tell me, my love. Where did you leave me to go to ?
This beautiful tune is to be sung by both of us.
What is more beautiful
Than the words my baladee
in a song,
in between two lines...

Another touching version by the Syrian singer Assala can be heard/watched HERE
Not that I expect any reaction. Not that I expect anything...

Monday 21 July 2008

A Place and beyond...

I have so much to write on the other blog - on Iraq, of course, who else ?! But I simply can't be bothered anymore, for now...Truth.

Iraqis are totally fucked up, messed up. Ditto for the Arabs. And spare me the Yankees, they are a subhuman race, up to their necks in lies. They are beyond salvation.

Am sure if Jesus reappears, he will just shake his head in disbelief and give up. Opting instead, to sit in some cafe, smoking a hubbly-bubbly...He'd probably say "Fuck it, they are not worth it. I've paid my dues." And I'd probably join him and we would just suck on our Arghileh waiting for further instructions from above, from within...

By then, God would also be totally out of it too. And He'd just order some natural disaster and wham ! Mission accomplished.

Then we can all truly relax and be done with it. Things and people will finally fall into their natural order, into their natural place...

Re-reading that first introductory paragraph, one would automatically assume that the writer - Moi - is on the brink of some major nervous breakdown. Far from it. I'm just too lucid, that's all.

I remember once reading some Egyptian writer and as usual can't remember his name, he said to the effect - people drink because they can't handle a faulty reality and they can't handle facts.
I hardly drink, I just settle for a wishful apocalyptic "deliverance" scenario, instead.

I have moved beyond anger, beyond grief, beyond sadness, beyond fear...I am in a place that has no name. I just walk around with a startled expression of disbelief, occasionally punctuated with what may sound like a hysterical outburst, when in fact it nothing but an encounter with a very faulty reality.

I think, I am beyond, behind, out of my times...Some faulty reincarnation, where the pre-incorporation, negotiation process, went sour...

In other words, I never felt I fitted in from the very beginning.

It feels like as if I was ushered into something I was not ready for, or knowing in advance, the tragic-comedy - I had hoped I'd be spared the plot.

Since then - I suppose it was my day of birth, I kept wondering what the fuck am I doing here ?

I remember as a child, looking on at the adults surrounding me and thinking to myself - How can they be so stupid ?! I believed that everything was way too obvious, but it was not to them. Hell, I saw it, why couldn't they ?

I don't think am particularly intelligent. As a matter of fact I scored below average, or just average in the famous IQ test. To my great disappointment, it was a further confirmation, to me, that I simply did not fit in.

Later on, I decided that IQ tests were simply faulty, too. So I devised my own, instead.

Being a Semite, I was told that Semites smelled things in advance - hence their long noses. Not that I have a particularly long nose, but that sense of smell has been genetically relegated to me, by default. So I smelled instead -- making up for my lousy IQ scores.

I am not sure why my olfactory sense took up a political twist with the years...

With the years is an understatement. I understood from very early on that everything was political. But I also understood that there are things that can be moved beyond politics...

That sense of beyond used to and still pushes me forth...

When I smell the scent of Jasmin, or Rose...I am reminded that there is a world beyond. Fragrances have this effect on me. They transport me to another world, where Truth does not need to prove itself. It just is.

The same applies to colors. Colors are the most amazing things, but we take them for granted. Nature is colored. A way to remind us to distinguish the different shades...

Harmony of colors are primordial to me. I am totally obsessed with colors. I suppose that derives from my sense of not fitting in. And trying to achieve harmony through patterns and colors is my own way of creating the "place."

Place, a place, my place...

Have you ever wondered when someone says - "Hey, this is MY place!"

We are all trying to find a place or recuperate one. Imaginary or real.

It can be a "place" in politics, an idea, a higher belief, a home, a family, a relationship, a country...

Some go through life feeling out of place. I know the feeling, until I created my own. Until I espoused it...

Exile - I have known exile. Exile is a very hard thing. How can I describe it to you in words ? It's like your fibers know, but your body does not/cannot follow...

Exile -- if prolonged and if you can't find/return to your "element" - it degenerates into Nostalgia...and Nostalgia if left "untreated" through accommodation, acculturation (my, all those fancy words!) degenerates into a chronic pathological quest...

The biggest mind fuck becomes -- what is the quest all about ?

Then you become obsessed with fragrances, colors and places -- creating, re-creating or finding your own...

Painting : Iraqi female artist, Widad Al-Orfali, 2002.

Friday 4 July 2008

I Want To Drink Tonight...

I want to drink tonight
so as nothing to remember
I want to trap myself in smoke
and fear no consequences

I want to drink tonight
and surpass my limits
I want to confess my lost dreams
covered in smoke's veil

I'll light up with cigarettes and burn out with liquor
Now that I've taken fright
may everything turn into ashes

I want to drink tonight
erase everything and everyone
I want to disappear in smoke
and look back never again

Apt lyrics from a beautiful voice -- Haris Alexiou from Greece. And of course, this song is dedicated to my wonderful Greek Friends...I believe they can and will relate.