Saturday, December 24, 2011

One thing---Nothing---Everything

A Sufi once said: "Every religion serves a Divine purpose. Hinduism
teaches us how to master the body. Buddhism teaches us how to master
the mind. Judaism teaches us how to master the intellect. Christianity
teaches us how to master the heart. Islam teaches us how to master the

word to 108. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sunday morning in Hong Kong

Sun is bursting on crisp water this morning and the view of Victoria Harbour is clear and inviting.

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Location:South Ln,,Hong Kong

Friday, November 18, 2011


A little known poem penned by one of the world's best selling poets, Gibran Kahlil Gibran, in the July 1926 issue of "Syrian World" (NYC's first Arab American English newspaper):

By Kahlil Gibran

I believe in you, and I believe in your destiny.
I believe that you are contributors to this new civilization.
I believe that you have inherited from your forefathers an ancient dream, a song, a prophecy, which you can proudly lay as a gift of gratitude upon the lap of America.
I believe that you can say to the founders of this great nation, "Here I am, a youth, a young tree whose roots were plucked from the hills of Lebanon, yet I am deeply rooted here, and I would be fruitful."
And I believe that you can say to Abraham Lincoln, the blessed, "Jesus of Nazareth touched your lips when you spoke, and guided your hand when you wrote; and I shall uphold all that you have said and all that you have written."
I believe that even as your fathers came to this land to produce riches, you were born to produce riches by intelligence and labor.
I believe that it is in you to be good citizens.
And what is it to be a good citizen?
It is to acknowledge the other person's rights before asserting your own, but always to be conscious of your own.
It is to be free in word and deed, but it is also to know that your freedom is subject to the other person's freedom.
It is to produce by labor and only by labor, and to spend less than you have produced that your children may not be dependent upon the state for support when you are no more.
It is to stand before the towers of New York and Washington, Chicago and San Francisco saying in your hearts, "I am the descendent of a people the builded Damascus and Byblos, and Tyre and Sidon and Antioch, and I am here to build with you, and with a will."
It is to be proud of being an American, but it is also to be proud that your fathers and mothers came from a land upon which God laid His gracious hand and raised His messengers.
Young Americans of Syrian origin, I believe in you.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

BBC's One Block in Harlem

Although it starts off with a questionable introduction about the subject matter: "Harlem: It means ghetto, political activism, impoverished despair" it is worth hearing my former master's thesis advisor, scholarly mentor, the late Manning Marable's analysis of the historic meaning of Harlem in the black imaginary.

"Harlem was a school for civic education"-Manning Marable

Part 1:

Part 2:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

On Spirituality & Religion

Although it can be problematic to see the two as isolated binaries, I once had a friend brilliantly characterize the difference between spirituality and religion:

Spirituality is an experience with the Divine

Religion is an explanation of that experience.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My new job

Sometimes there is an upside to flight delays.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Propeller Ct,,États-Unis

Monday, September 5, 2011

Old world beauty solutions

at "Old World" prices, aka "I get all my beauty secrets/tips from my younger sister 10 years my junior." And I wanted to share my natural beauty product discovery with my online family: using Rose Water sold at Middle Eastern markets as a post-face wash toner. High end brands like Kiehl's will try to market the low-cost natural remedies as skincare delicacies by adding pretty packaging and rose petals in order to justify boosting the price. This one from Kiehl's sells for $16 (ignore the link polyvore forcibly added as part of me using the website image for the product). But...
Kiehl's Rosewater Facial Freshener and Toner - Toners -...

Kiehl's Rosewater Facial Freshener and Toner - Toners -... (clipped to

You can get the same version from Sadaf at either your local market's "ethnic food" section, a Middle Eastern grocery store or your mama and baba's food cabinet for $2.50 (obviously the last option would be even less).

Monday, August 29, 2011

West LA Farmer's Market

Yesterday's Farmer's Market I scored the deals thanks to my Arab-dar and liberal use of the Arabic. A Tunisian vendor gave me the below six items at more than half off!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Mississippi Ave,Los Angeles,États-Unis

Thursday, August 18, 2011

UPDATE on Family in Latakia

I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayers, duaas and concerns from friends and folks from the worldwide brotherhood and sisterhood I have not yet met. The latest word is that my family in Latakia seems to be safe. They have quarantined themselves in their apartment---that being the safest retreat from continuous round of shelling from the outside. I have also been told that there are electrical and water shortages. Apparently CNN is reporting that the Syrian regime, sounding too much like a Tom Cruise suspense fantasy flick, is declaring a "Mission Complete" in Latakia.

This is a photo I snapped last year of the newly built Rotana resort hotel on Latakia's invitingly warm waters. May beauty and calm befall the residents.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Please Pray for Latakia

My mother's family in Latakia continues to endure the daily terror of the Assad regime. A few days ago, the Syrian navy shelled this city. I have no idea how my family there is doing. In the meantime, please join me in praying for them and their fellow country folks' safety. Maybe even contemplate calling your representatives and find out the US government's strategy, policy and position on responding to the regime's reprehensible violent response to demonstrators and protesters. Below are photos of the seaside city I took almost a year ago to date as my siblings, mother and I visited her family in Latakia.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Obama on a "Debt Limit" in 2006

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government can not pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, "the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”
- Senator Barack H. Obama, March 2006

Monday, July 18, 2011


Surprise sunflowers in summer...Gentlemen still do exist.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hard to leave

So far, one of my most favorite corniches in the 'Arab world'...literally a five minute walk from my uncle's home.

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Location:Beirut, Lebanon

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Si o no? the sexified "I Love Lucy" dress? Please disregard the accompanying hairstyle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happening right now

Partaking in some homemade tajine in Rabat while speaking on world politics in Darija/French and watching M6 #BeautifulHosts

Seaside at Oudayas

I look dumbfounded by the intensity of this heat + humidity moment in Rabat.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Hassan II Mosque

Or "Hassan deux jama3" if you are attempting to instruct a red "petit taxi" with your mix of Syrian dialect and limited French.

This mesmeric (complete with interior escalators---take that over-the-top sheikh zayid mosque!) half a billion dollar masjid pushed out slum-dwellers with no compensation. What the postcards won't show you regarding the the "view"

And of course the wall-E mobiles:

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Once you have seen one Arab corniche

You have seen them all

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Location:Boulevard Franklin Roosevelt,,Maroc

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Toma La Calle": Revolucion España 2011 continues

Named "15 May," a continuation of the protest that started in Madrid's Central Plaza that took place on the 15th of May has organized a nation-wide "manifestacion" (or protest) the day after I leave. Below are flyers all over Granada publicizing the movement by Los Indignados :

Apparently there is a twofold shock with this movement:
1) People that would not normally participate in political protest (as opposed to the typical activists) are the dominant participants and organizers of these protests.
2) They have spread to the barrios of Spain. This was unprecedented, especially since the stock leftist activists and anarchists don't have a presence there.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My de facto office in Granada

"You know, you are the only one we allow here to use our Wifi (weefee) and not consume anything." And beyond that, they bring me mint limonadas as I comb through the massive back files of writings due months ago. This is one of the Spanish waiters I have come to know in this past week and a half at my de facto office, known to others as the Casa Pillar lobby/restaurant. Unlike many of the Spaniards I have come to know during my visits to Madrid and now Granada, he speaks English fluently and initially caught me off guard when I first met him. I walked in entering through the bar side of the restaurant/lobby focused on finding an open cushioned wicker chair to prop me and my mobile offices on for hours. He started reading the Arabic name plate necklace my father bought me years back from Abu Dhabi. Although I have come to find a sizable community of Moroccans and Syrians in Granada, I was thinking: what is this Spanish-looking man doing reading Arabic? So I asked in Spanish. And he responded in Arabic: "I lived in Tehran for 7 years." Even more confused, I later asked, "how and why did you learn Arabic in IRAN?" It turns out that his mother converted to Islam while he was young and moved the family to Iran after marrying an Iranian man, where he went to school and learned Arabic as part of his standard grammar school education. I come to learn more about him everyday that I am here, and close down the place with my attempts to coordinate my skype sessions with my PST family, friends and work colleagues.

And this is one of the beauties I have come to know of traveling as an independently 20-something woman, the almost instant connections that emerge out of everyday, sometimes even transactional, experiences. It's unfathomable to think that I only have two full days left here, especially as I am only starting to apprend a conversational level of Spanish, getting my navigational bearings down, and fostering friendships with affable locals.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

This happens everyday...

and thank the Creator for mysteriously designing me with most miraculous metabolism to handle it!

Of course, as a testimony to the inferiority of the Spanish cuisine, the heledaria considered the best in Granada is an Italian ice creamery branch (and compared to its adjacent competitors, much more reasonably priced).

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Tunis must be the 'entrancing' bab capital of the world
(I am well-aware of my nerdiness, perhaps I should create a category for it):

the old city

Sidi Bou Said

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sometimes your paradigms need a little shifting...

...especially when it comes to my impressions of Parisians (well maybe only need to do the shifting for the African Parisians).

It's 1:13pm/13:13 in Paris as I write this. I am sitting in Air France's Business Lounge I bogarted my way into. This has been but one part of a series of events that speak to the good fortunes I have experiencedsince boarding my flight in LAX. As soon as I landed I started time strategizing for what I thought would be an impossibly lengthy layover. Given that most airlines will not check your baggage more than 5-4 hours before a flight, I was thinking about a master plan for dividing the 9 hours before my next flight. Since I did made the bookings, LAX-CDG and CDG-TUN, separately, my luggage did not continue on to my final destination of Tunis. I approached the ticket counter with my apprehension given that I was an American who was going to "ask for something altered." Afterlaughing at my Arabic pronounciation of "Tunis" (as it sounding like me saying "To Nice" in English), the Air France ticket counter clerk told me it was my "lucky day" and checked my luggage in 9 hours before my flight. I then re-entered terminal 2 with my carry-ons. As I was unloading my electronics on the scan trays I realized my phone was missing. I was sure that I left it out at the chairs by the ticket counter as I was re-arranged my the content in my carry-ons to consolidate three bags into two. As I walked back, my mind was racing, preoccupied with "next steps": find wifi connection, go onto my mobile me account, locate and wipe the phone, etc. I thought it was long gone within seconds of leaving my sight. When I returned, I saw a young woman on a phone that appeared to be an iPhone. She looked at me and realized it was my phone. She was calling mycontacts to find out the owner's name! I thanked her profusely and returned to the security line. And now here I am at the Business Lounge I probably was not suppose to be in feeding on chevre, perrier, and free internet with French news playing in the background.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On the Eve of LAX--->Paris--->TUNISIA

One of the intentions with this blog when I started it almost four years ago was to track traveling escapades and the tandem thoughts that joined them in that voyage. I am sure, although a night very much like tonight, one given to an atmosphere of nervous excitement, I never thought I would be blogging about an impending trip to a post-revolution Arab/North African country---especially the one that weathered the storm for Arab Spring to bloom. Less like four years ago, when I was preparing to spend a month and a half in my parents' homeland, I have naturally resolved to expect the unexpected and oxymoronically, to eject the expectation of the unexpected. I find that when I enter a place, space, situation tabula rasa only decorated with the vow to have good intentions, that I am the recipient of splendid serendipity, or as I learned today, "rhyming events." I guess that's an expectation to be surprised by adopting an expectation-less approach.