Friday, November 27, 2009

Sciences of Soap

As pandemonium impulses electrically though the nerves located in the heels of my feet that, once un-socked could be mistaken for potato mush, I know in my heart that neuroscience will always stop short of explaining the flipside to every step taken; the fulfilling of a long-term mental to-do list that frequently looms in the unreachable recesses of the mind, where the pervading pain biting my shoulders can act as a prelude to the tenable support I might have to provide to myself during more challenging seasons of fate.

Can I please, sit down for a minute?

Looking for support on my as yet unfounded, faith-headed principle, I see physics revolving around my existence as I dangle onto the edge of tolerance, offering countless rationalities to accompany every motion I chance at. But mon ami, these are just ‘hows’, not ‘whys’ or ‘for whats’ or ‘for whens’: these are merely fanciful engagements for the falsely inquisitive mind that nonetheless knows no tomorrow, feels nought but the jouissance of the present moment and consequently will fare poorly when I’ve crossed out an objective on that long-term mental to-do list, and am about to start another for which I should have already been prepared – hopefully also with extra insoles for another long walk.

You tend to underestimate the fear that arrives with a pang when your reasoning has been compromised, when you’re not even sure if you should be patient, when you’ve finally learnt how to properly slice that life-provided lemon only to grasp the fact its’ a coconut and you’ve opened a lemonade stall complete with banners describing it as lemonade so decadent the only other thing that comes close to it is lemon-scented dish-washing soap. At this point fear grapples you and underestimating your fear is the only step you can take to protect yourself, so you can forget it and somehow, get through the day, knowing its’ just that – just a day –, not telling yourself you don’t know how to cut coconut tomorrow, either.

But it’ll just get through.

Or will it?

Yes, it will. I know it will.

At this point although the knowledge that I won’t be betrayed or left behind can only export so much fear away from me, because I think, I share – maybe along with the rest of the human race - the collective tendency to blame what I cannot fault, fault what I cannot perfect, deem perfect what I am too finite to criticize, criticize what I cannot accept, accept what I am too inexperienced to denounce, denounce what I cannot foretell, foretell hastily in a bid to censure, censure what I cannot tolerate, tolerate what I have no reason to reproach and reproach whatever wasn’t done by me, I’m willing to stack it in the back-shelf in an attempt to redeem that sense of security that only stamps itself on the faithful.

If I haven't been forgotten till now, why would I be forgotten after now?

So it willl get through then. I guess I’ll just have to wait, distracting myself with the sciences that be, knowing how but not why or when or why. Until I do.

And then it snaps (electrically), and I realize, ‘thank God, this is just coconut.
Those guys actually got the lemon-scented dish-washing soap.’


Saturday, August 15, 2009

For what?

As Egyptian media accounts that the Raf’ah border is to open later this year to give way to religious Palestinians making for their annual Holy Pilgrimage toward Makkah in the final month of the Islamic Calendar, I begin to wonder what Husni Mubarak’s real intent is. After all, there is no doubt that those who are allowed to pass through Egypt’s Gates of Mercy will have to have been on a very narrow and short check list, and will have to adhere to certain principles, on a very long and wide check list.

Should we - as the Arab governments have - dote Mubarak with the most sincere of thank yous? This would mean complacency in his act of kindness, because after all, he was considerate enough to examine the fact that not all of us chant, ‘In the name of Israel, the most beneficent, the most merciful.’ Perhaps it is for this that in the recent war in Gaza left 92 mosques shredded to ballistic rubble in the recent 22-day war, and the shelling of not one was criticized by him.

I guess it can be safely assumed that Husni Mubarak considered it not within the rights of the Palestinian human beings to flee Gaza in the wake of the Israeli invasion in January 2009, yet somehow the relatives of the 2000-odd dead men, women and children (of just that war) have been cleared of terrorist status by Egypt’s secret-police scanner. Nice. Now 2k grieving relatives can have an extra weekly loaf of bread.

It is anyone’s wonder how much food the Egyptian border guards – forget the high government – consume on a daily basis themselves, as they regulate the passage of Palestinians toward Saudi Arabia, many of them who will be too weak from a lack of food, water, sanitary services and medical care to withstand the journey, elongated by border checks. It is anyone’s wonder how many band-aids the border guards have in their first-aid kits to apply in case one of them concedes a fatal one-inch scratch.

But what overwhelms my comprehension is the disparity in behavior that the government of Egypt has accepted in their own authority over the border crossing. Why allow the Palestinians to go for Hajj? What is so special to Mubarak, who strings the country’s decision-makers to his fiddle, that he would permit the mass-exodus, albeit temporary, toward Saudi Arabia and possibly financial and military aid, amongst others? If the aim of closing Raf’ah was to, as was said, stymie the influx of weapons into Gaza and the West Bank, what makes him so sure that this can be avoided during the two-day grace period?

Clearly it is not in fear of the Arab alliance, a multitude of horse-totting PROs who are really just two sides of the same glitter-ordained pillow upon which he tucks under him every night. I don’t regard his compassion worth mulling over, and if anyone states otherwise I suggest they grab hold of a Palestinian passport. But that isn't needed; the silence tuned by him and the overshadowing coverage of his grandson's death in contrast to the media attention of a blatant racial, nationalistic and facist crime committed on an Egyptian national in Germany narrates itself. If he won't speak up for Marwa al Sharbini, why for the pawns on his chessboard of power?

I do have one theory though: Maybe it is to give false hope to the people, and halt 14-year-old Sa’id and his 13-year old friend Hamdan, who are breadwinners of their families, digging one of the many 700m-1km long underground tunnels that have spurned out of necessity since every single border post across the region has been suffocated slowly since Hamas won the elections democratically in 2005. Even though they have to skip school like all the other boys their age who partake in the same, Sa’id explains it is a lucrative business, and elaborates a pack of cigarettes bought in Egypt for 10 cents can be sold for a dollar – 10x the profit. He says if he has to, he’ll do it to the day he dies. When they stop digging, the tunnel will be bombed, and they’ll have to start from scratch again. By then, it’ll probably be Eid, so the border will be reopened.

This, however, is just speculation, and I have not got the answer I want. So as I stand on the curb, I still wonder, what is his intent?


Friday, July 17, 2009

9-5 Army

As the sky transforms to the heady sounds of bird laughter, something in the most improbable sense becomes a proponent of unproductivity across the country, indeed the world; tiredness is injected into the souls of the 9-to-5 army, and as they attempt to relish another drab twenty-four hour rotation, it crashes – wave after wave – into their feeble barriers of morning caffeine and water-right-in-the-eye, hastily conceived and probably not made to order. Sometimes these waves are so entirely overwhelming that some never make it past the crash-back-to-earth phase – not until about 9:01 AM, anyway.

Summer has arrived.And as difficult to get through as it is, we make it. How?

In the 9-to-5 army, everyone has a nickname. Partly-panted comes down the stairs in a ball of regurgated wool; the shave was perfect and his best shirt is on, but he somehow came to the conclusion he could hook up his trouser button and slip on his left sock at the same time… which made him swallow the other sock which was in his shirt pocket, when he slipped down the stairwell, when he lost his balance, when his pants tangled his feet, when they came off halfway.

Hot-headed rushes down the steps past Partly whom he considers an ignominy in motion, but overdoes it and bangs into the wall after tripping on Partly’s outstretched elbow, with which Partly was trying to extract remnants of the sock from his throat. Generally a perfectionist, Hot swears at Partly and at the fact he is already 4 minutes behind his schedule, picks himself up, swears again, and proceeds down the second set of stairs into the living room and out, into the car. But he has forgotten his car key. Or has he?

Didn't Partly-panted mumble he left it in the ignition last night. Last night?

Before the swear word is fully out of his mouth, Partly-panted (who is now Fully-panted) arrives on cue into the passenger seat next to him, clutching two cups of creamed coffee. ‘What were you saying?’‘You forgot to lock the doors and remove key from the ignition last night?’‘Oh, it wasn’t me. It was my friend.’

On the verge of exploding into another morning vent-out so common amongst the youthful metropolis proletariat, Hot-headed doesn’t – just. He doesn’t because in his inner-most heart he knows that somehow, this one momentary leisure of early-morning coffee with a best friend is what makes his companion’s day, a sanctum of solace that allows them to surpass their routine that is guaranteed to be imposingly ascetic, and anemic.

So he slows down just enough to be able to spray-spit his coffee back into his cup.

‘What friend? Why did someone else take this car without asking me first?’
‘Something major happened to his dad, so we had to take him to the hospital right then. He’s fine though, got him in there just in time.’

And despite the weariness, despite the wear-and-tear of personal fabric amongst commercial billboard thumb-tacks, a splint has ignited a different kind of fire from the one that the anger would have incensed because he unknowingly aided a good deed when it was required, and became part of the bigger picture. It was what he needed most - and his day was made too.

That said, this doesn’t happen every day. But they do, if you keep your eyes open, often enough to keep us in check. Many have methods to get through the day, to feel that inner peace; their own abdication that persists in moments of testing difficulty, sadness, sorrow and the like. For those who don’t, it’ll take time, but its’ there; a friend, a hat, a song, a drive, a client, a customer, a bus ride on time…something really stupid that somehow that shooes the blues away.

‘In a mad world, only the mad are sane’ – Akira Kurosawa

Find it, and use it; As long as you let the summer blues become summer greens and summer hot pinks, it doesn’t matter how silly it is.Because, in that way, if being normal meant there was something wrong with being different, you know you'd rather be completely mental, anyway.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

25 Different Types of People

There are 25 different types of people in the world. I say this not in jest, but after careful consideration of the factions that horde our personal spaces in manifold; you know – the dog people, the cat people, the XBOX360 live-ins, the PS3 swear-bys, Evolution X vs the new Impreza STi… and so on and so forth. Actually there might be more than 25 different types of people – no, there ARE – and on impassive derision you are probably one of them. I don’t know why I said that, but then, I am too, so we’re together on this.

Its worth thinking, I think, that if you dare not to be different, but instead dare to be yourself, then difference is a guaranteed toy in your happy meal of poised disposition. But then this begs the question, how different (whether as a result of remaining true to self or sticking the nail out) should we even dare to be? Meridith West said once, “If you want to stand out, don’t be different – be outstanding.”

Ah, the twist :) Heres the explanation...

Personally, I’d ditch all the difference in the world if that meant I could eternally remain in the optimist type-of-people group. What is worth thinking, is it is not that a thousand men descend to the conquer of a single warrior, but that a single warrior can so powerfully grasp the attention of a thousand men. A potential for heartbreaking massacre churned in with wallowing pity and the makings of probably a boring novel, turned into a scroll of heroics and a testament to the man’s character with the semi-emotional get-you-up pricks of arousement you get from the soundtrack of a well-made, high-end movie. But its also different, because although it used the same optimistic blueprint, nobody in the world could have done it like you did, and somehow… you’re still unique, just like everybody else. And you’re outstanding. Just because you did it.


So I’m at this KFC down Sheikh Zayed road right, and man, It used to be a lot easier, a lot simpler. At this point and time I’d rather be exposed to the centripetal force of a wind tunnel, hanging for my life off half a wisp of bamboo than confront the Filipino behind the counter whom I saw share a room with like 6 other people (and since I've never even eaten from this chain I'm not about to start), but my friend is all for this within-budget, wrapped up new KFC offering that guarantees the Michelin Man look (its an active ingredient) in what I’m guessing is pretty quickly.

We’re looking into these three big blocks of cheap fat-filled cheese sticking on week-long refried grease wrapped in fake white-bread tortilla with ink from the KFC wrapping paper diffusing into the overall goodness. As if this is not enough, the apparent lack of cheese prompts the counter-girl to ask, ‘want cheese with that?’ In my mind her accent sounds so nose-boogey filled, the intentions it avidly fails to conceal are only far from innocuous. Ew.

Since this is Dubai, by the time I walk out of the shop bricks have been removed from the pavement and red-tape barriers are set on cones to cordon off the parameter. While this may have been necessary as a pointless expenditure by the government which I totally agree with (because ofcourse, there goes my Salik), theres’ now hardly any space left on the side-step for me to get onto wider ground. Then, whoa, the guy coming up is huge. Maybe life hasn’t been very kind to him, so I tip-tap back a few steps into the outlet to let him enter and occupy both doors as he does so. How is he going to get out straight onto this pavement?, I’m thinking. But then, it doesn’t matter, its’ probably a one way trip anyway. Or the bricks will have been put into place again by then.