On the End and Such

The lights from the unfinished buildings flickered ever so picturesquely on the surface of the water front, like stars in a mighty heaven. I looked down unto the unusually empty streets; the streets that will become a war zone in less than a few hours. People robed in white where flocking to the beautifully lighted mosque. Some of, who will, as soon as they lift their damp foreheads from the soothing carpet, start their cars and start their daily battles against traffic and their computers.

Sami silently showed up from behind. Not making an entrance, unlikely to the usual, I initiated the conversation.
Me: It is time.
Sami: Damn man, that was quick, don’t you think?
Sami: I just thought it would be longer.
Me: I know. But we agreed. A deal’s a deal.
Sami: Yes I know that, but I’m surprised that it came so soon.
Me: I know, I’m sorry. You don’t have to make this any harder than it is.
Sami: So do you think that she’s worth it?
Me: Yes I think she is. She’s everything I ever wanted.
Sami: I know, I’ve never seen you so happy.
Me: Thanks. You can tell me that you’ll miss me, you know. I know you will
Sami: That’s my line. You can stop stealing my lines. You know, you wouldn’t have done it without me.
Me: Yes I know and I really appreciate it. I do. You’ll always be a part of me. We spent the best times of our lives together. But it must come to an end.
Sami: Ok then. I’m known to never overstay my welcome. And you created me, so you might as well get rid of me.

Silently, Sami shuffled off to the dark closet where such things as childhood heroes and adolescent dreams wither off and die.

For the first (and maybe last) time, it was I who came out the winner.


On Dating in Dubai and Such

This is the post that you’ve all been waiting for. I know that you are all giddy and excited by now in your seats and skimming through this post jumping to the main, juicy parts.


I spoke before about dating in Amman. Now dating in Dubai is a totally different thing like the difference between, let’s say, penguins wearing sunglasses and RFP’s ( I just had to put that somewhere)

Dating in Dubai starts with a phone call.

Her: Hiii
You: Hey
Her: Listen I’m going to be 20 minutes late. I am stuck in traffic. I’m so sorry.
You: Okay..

(10 minutes later)

Her: Hi again
You (a little exasperated): Hey
Her: Where is the place again?
You: Take a left from Jumeirah Road..

30 minutes later after reading the newspaper and calling a random childhood friend you haven’t heard from in the last 10 years and texting your sister, your date shows up.

At least she is looking gorgeous and is not too worried about revealing a little too much of the merchandise.

Pleasantries are exchanged. Shortly afterwards, what would be considered unthinkable elsewhere other than Dubai and major cities happens.

Business cards are swapped.

Now, even if business cards are not PHYSICALLY exchanged, and an eye doesn’t directly shoot unto the title and company, and fingers feel the texture of the card, they are mentally revealed through a few open-ended questions and insinuations.

Then, a quick algorithm is executed in her head that includes variables such as hotness and how fun you are vs. possible financial revenue. A junction is quickly reached.

Is he too hot that he is worth more than the hefty bonus I can get through business with him which will enable me to buy that Louis Vuitton handbag I really want?

A few minutes and a fantasy later that includes you cuddling with her under a blanket (or lack thereof), a verdict is reached.

For courtesy’s sake, this decision is not put into words, but can be conveyed from the turn the date takes. If it is mostly office stories and salary negotiation-like discussions, you know that you’ve been relegated to the “business contacts” category. If the date takes a turn towards playfulness, flirting and accidental physical contact you know that you’ve been delegated to the “possible romances” category.

You’d think your work is over by now. It’s not.

Your father didn’t tell you this, but women have categories for everything.

Later on, a second algorithm is executed. A quick skim at such things as your watch, shoes, teeth, car-key chains and few others depending on her kinkiness will provide the variables. The second algorithm will decide the longevity and permanency of the relationship. Please note that the results of the first algorithm are absolutely unrelated to the results of the second.

In contrast to dating in Amman, dating in Dubai has no curfews and is open-ended and can include two activities or more (ahem) Another point of difference would be the bill payment. Women in Dubai like to think of themselves as independent women enjoying freedom and success (HA!) so they will insist on breaking up the tab once it arrives whilst women in Jordan will pretend sheepishly to want to pay, but they fully expect you to.


On Misadventure No.6: The One Where I Learn not to get into Fights with Brown, Cleaner Dudes

I breathed a sigh of relief when I grasped my high school certificate that the days of getting into spur-of-the-moment group fist fights in the yard after school were long behind. That the time now has arrived for socializing, meeting people, partying, lying back and enjoying life.

Boy was I wrong.

Not only did I get into the heaviest, most violent fights in my life, but the crudest weapons were also brought upon those fights.

It was a beautiful, spring morning. It was the first day of spring when you realize that the days of fistfuls of water dropping on your head and snaking down your neck and muddying your boots and the lecture rooms are long behind. My mood was as sunny as the weather. It doesn’t take much to lighten up my mood. A blazing sun, a good shave, and a starched white shirt will always work the formula. It was one of those days where you walk around, chest pumped high in the air, waving to people, winking to people, pointing imaginary guns at guys (ok I don’t do that, but I was just conveying the sort of mood I’m in), girls complimenting you.

Such a beautiful day for new beginnings.

When my lectures were over I hung around to socialize. A habit I become notorious for during my freshman year that it was rumored that I locked the university gates behind me after I made sure everyone left.

All of a sudden, an impromptu scuffle broke out. People started swearing on each other, fists and punches flew in every direction. It didn’t develop into a full-fledged fist fight, not until I showed up there attempting naively to break it up. The sides were evident.

(Deep presenter voice)

In the blue corner, dressed in jeans and shirts, weighing 100 something pounds, carrying their engineering rulers, are the college dudes. In the red corner, dressed in filthy rags, weighing 80 something pounds, carrying their broomsticks, are the cleaner dudes.

Somehow the sides shifted and turned masked by a cloud of dust, so that I found myself right in the middle and in front of one very pissed cleaner dude, blindly kicking and punching the air. I put my hand against his head keeping his distance away, in a vain attempt to calm him down, but his punches were landing everywhere. Two, three punches later, my favorite shirt was ripped beyond redeem. That’s when I lost it. I swiveled and threw the biggest arc of a slap I ever will. The smack landed on the middle of his face and he disappeared like those enemies that fade into nothingness once you kill them off in video games.

A few minutes later the fight was broken up by security. I used a mechanism that helped me survive demonstrations, car accidents and police arrests:

Mingling with a stupid-ass, Mary's-Little-Lamb face.

I emerged as I came minus a shirt. Thank God my partial nudity was quickly solved by a T-shirt from a kind friend. We stood there to discuss our heroisms, each retelling and bragging his contribution (or lack thereof) to the fight. But I didn’t say a word. I was too pissed about my shirt and was making vows to myself never ever get involved in any fight.

A friend of a friend was looking at me and smiling.

Me( Still in the fight adrenaline rush, fully ready to get into another one if the need rises): What are you looking at?
My friends tensed , sensing in my tone a little more than aggravation.
Him (Still smiling): Oh nothing. I just wanted to tell you that there was a cleaner guy chasing you with a broomstick. And I saved you from him.

I have no awareness or recollection of anyone chasing me with a broomstick. But the guy seemed truthful enough. And the conceding nods of his mates suggest that it is true.

Me (smiling): Then I guess I owe you my life.

The circle of friends broke out in relieved laughter.

It was a beautiful day, up until it dawned upon me that I could have been killed off with a dusty, filth-infested broomstick. Not the prettiest way to go, I'm telling you.


On Misadventure No.5: The One Where I Almost Got Killed by an Iraqi Mad Man

This misadventure took place right after I deservedly earned my driving license and ventured to rent a car to assuage the humiliation of waving taxis who brush you off like you were a fly on a wall in Dubai summer heat.

I came back late one day, desperate to find a parking at 1 in the morning. Now I am wise enough to realize that I might just as well wish for aliens to abduct me and perform experimets on me than to find a decent parking after midnight. When I did find what seemed like a too-good-to-be-true parking, I stopped my car, shuffled home for a deep, guiltless sleep.

Events taking place at 7:23:46 AM the very next morning.
(Me and Friend walking towards the newly-rented car)
Friend: Why did you take us from the sandy road?
Me: We’re late man! (In my polite tone voice used to shut people up before the normal flow of nutrients and caffeiene runs its course in my veins)
As we walk we passed by an angry Iraqi man lining up some stones against the pavement.

Iraqi: God damn those people, blocking the parking entrance. Aren’t they ashamed of themselves? Damn them to Hell.

My friend stopped shortly, to find out what the man’s problem was.

Me: Yeah, yeah old man. Damn them sure!
Me (to friend): C’mon man, forget him. We’re already late.
(Seconds later)
I stood in complete and utter shock trying to digest the unbelievable spectacle lying a few meters in in front of me.
I blinked a few times, to see if it was the haziness, or me imagining things after last night's late arrival.

My rental car had all 4 doors wide-open, and an orange construction cone mounted on the ceiling as if my car was a dunce, forced to face the wall, and a scibbled note was patiently waiting for me to unfold it on the windshield.

Let’s just say the note didn’t have any nice words except “You”

History does repeat itself, except the wearing cones part.

Me: Fuck, what the hell is this?
A bespectacled, bald Egyptian guy and a Sudanese magically show up. When I say 'magically', I mean that one second there was no one there, the next they pop out of nowhere. The duo would have been completely comical and laughable under different circumstances. The scene was reminiscent of early Arab dreams of unity. There we were; a Jordanian, Egyptian, Sudanese and not so far away, an Iraqi, discussing the neighborhood affairs like politicians should. I hardly supressed the urge to chuckle, but the garveness of the situation stopped me short.

Egyptian: Lei ba2a? (Why?)
Me: Why what?
Egyptian: (Lei 3amalt kida?) Why did you do this?
Me: Why did I do what?
Egyptian: You blocked the entrance for the garage. All those cars can’t get out now. People want to get to work. (Waving to a horde of parked, immobile cars, with people looking out of the window, relieved to be able to finally move, and enraged to see the source of their inconvenience - me)
Me (in my head): Shit!!
Sleepy Sudanese: (Lei ya zoooowl? ) Yes man, why?
Egyptian: We called the police to remove your car. They came and blah blah blah, yadda yadda.

As I was explaining to the Egyptian that I had no clue whatsoever, the Iraqi came chasing after me, running towards me, picking up a rock to squash me to my shameful death.
Sami: Fuck man we're done! This is how it will end, in the hands of an Iraqi enraged mad man. Say your prayers quick!
Me (refusing to go away just yet, to my friend who was still in shock and stood motionless): Get in the fucking car quick.
Friend blanks out.
My friend snaps from his hypnosis and obliges.

Afterwards, all you can hear was the screeching of my tires skidding against the hot asphalt as I zoomed away through the narrow roads desperately dodging bystanders, looking behind my back for a black 4 wheel drive mounted by a fuming Iraqi.

When I knew I was safe on the highway, I started laughing hysterically, having known fully-well that I have got myself into yet another random misadventure, glad to be alive to retell it.


On Getting by in Dubai and Such

So it’s been a year (ok maybe a little bit more) since I landed in Dubai and started the best blog in the universe (Ok no one said I wasn’t the most shameless self-marketer and my self's biggest fan). It’s been a roller coaster since, though it tends to slow down as you grow with the city.

Here are a few unofficial pointers for getting by in Dubai that all sorts of people can make use of, but is intended to the particular niche that Jordanians are.

1- Get an Indian friend: If you think I’m joking, I’m not. Indians know the ins and outs of all the legal and illegal systems and pointers for getting through any process. If they like you, they'll help you. I advise to kindly refuse any sweets offered to you. That face you're pulling masking your pain won't pass as delight whatsoever.
2- Get a Lebanese socialite. It is no secret that Lebanese get well with almost every other nationality, because they secretly hide contempt for every other nationality. In order to know all your restaurants, hot spots, night clubs and brands you need to tag along a Lebanese socialite like a loyal dog. Beware that this lifestyle can ensure a le in your pocket and head. Proceed with caution.
3-Don’t get a Jordanian boss: Your fellow countrymen are most likely to use and abuse you on the pretext that you are their fellow countryman. What’s a couple of extra hours at the office between family? Before you know it you're a living incarnation of a zombie and you have bags the size of boxing bags under your eyes and you're stupidly smashing through glass doors. So you’ve been forewarned.
4-Get your shit sorted out: You can’t as much as pee in the bathroom in Dubai without having a proper residency. I suggest you get it sorted as quick as possible and don’t be a moron and stall as if nothing is at stake. A useful tactic is a strategy religiously followed by married women called the infamous nag.
(Flashback one year ago)
Boss: How is your task coming up?
Me: I’m almost done. When will my residency be issued?
Boss: It’ll be ready within the next 3 days, don’t worry

(1 hour later)
Boss: wanna have lunch?
Me: Sure, when will my residency be issued?

5- This pointer was made for my own personal preference. Spare us the “We have this in Jordan” lame-ass joke. I heard it so many times on every single aspect of Dubai life that it churns my stomach every time I hear it.
Newbie from Jordan(looking around Sheikh Zayed Road in awe): Hatha zay tloo3 il-shabsogh 3ina, hehe (This is similar to Shabsogh street (Ok the Jordanian version is much funnier, so if you don’t know Jordanian, well, you’re the one to blame)
Newbie from Jordan (Looking at Dubai Taxi): Hatha zay sarvees il-3abali 3ina, hehe (This is like the taxi ride at Al-Abdali. For some reason, I feel obligated to explain a little more about those particular taxis. They are white, faded 70-something Mercedes Benz that carry 4 people for the lavish rate of approximately 1 Dirham through certain long routes. It is worth mentioning that such luxuries as personal space and air conditioning are non-existent and that’s where the famous hand-roll above the window evolved from. No really, if you see a guy with his hand rolled above the rolled down window holding a cigarette stuck in traffic, you can know that he’s an evolved specimen from the early Taxi driver.
And the most popular one..
(Drum roll)
Newbie from Jordan(Looking at Burj Dubai): Hatha zay Bawabet 3amman 3ina, hehe..(This is similar to Amman gate towers) It is also worth mentioning that those are the first towers to built in the mountainous city of Amman. It has taken 2 years and 2 poor Egyptian worker lives and is nowhere near completion. Ah well..

In conclusion, please leave the knife-wielding, belt-carrying, negative, complaining, bitching and moaning, tight-jeans, flat shoes - wearing, gel-styling, pinky-fingernail-growing, "p" "b"-switching, chain-cheap-cigarette smoking-Jordanian self behind.
Oo mishan Allah ma tidfa7oona, mish na2seen..

(And yes, I left this untranslated for a meaningful reason)


On Coming to Amman and Such: Part II

"Last call to all passengers on flight EK902 heading to Amman. Please proceed to gate 14. The plane is boarding now." Bellowed the speaker

"Ok it's time." I mumbled to myself as I pushed myself into the waiting room, crowded with couples holding each others' hands, children chasing each other, babies sleeping in trolleys, Asian business men with feet resting on their briefcases and a lady exchanging business cards with a man whose left hand was dug deep in his pocket.

I opened the thick, paperback novel safely coating my passport and ticket. I handed the bulky Philipino attendant my boarding pass, who fed it into the machine and handed me a chipped boarding pass. As I walked past the gate, I got a familiar, eerie shiver in my spine. It is the feeling I get when I'm in a restaurant or café and leave without my keys, cell phone, or worse important documents.

Open book. Tickets, check. Passport, check. I felt my pockets. Keys, check. I felt my butt. Wallet, check. Alter ego. I picked my brain. Ummm where's my alter ego?

I looked back at Sami who was eyeing the board flashing Emirates logo, muttering the time and flight number.

"C'mon man. We'll be late. They're already boarding." I said straddling my laptop bag.

I pointed towards the fanatic group of people shoving and pushing eagerly headed to the place that they and me call home. People who in one way or another resembled me, shared the same heritage and traditions with me, yet at the same time were nothing like me. I quickly skimmed around for babies, wondering which one will maestro the orchestra of wailing children 5 minutes into the flight.

"I don't wanna go"said Sami
"I don't wanna go. I can't"
"Why not?"
"I don't belong there anymore. I just, I can't stand it there. It doesn't feel right. I've changed"
"Don't be silly, we had a great time last summer, what's wrong with you?"
"I can't stand the familiarity, the how-have-you-beens, the could-have-dones. The questions, the meandering, the picking. The whys, the who's, the where's."

He fell silent for awhile

"I want to be alone."

I looked at the plane emblazoned with Emirates airlines logo, parked outside, with a tube stuck into its guts feeding huddling people and their luggage into it, like an umbilical cord feeding an unborn child.

"Look man. I cannot miss this flight. I already told your parents that we are coming and they're expecting us. Or me. Whatever."

"I know. Say hi to them. Will miss your mom's food. But I just can't do it."

"Sir, are you getting onto the plane?" interjected the Philipino attendant.
"Yes, yes I am" I said defiantly.

I walked into the empty waiting room and through the tunnel, my heavy steps echoing against the walls, my bag beating against my hip. I sat on my seat, beside the window, fastened my seat belt and listened to the instructions. In case of emergency, the plane has 6 emergency exits, here, here and here. In the unlikely event of ..I mumbled after the virtual waitress on my screen. An isle across from me, sat a green-eyed brunette, with a gold chain proudly displayed on her chest. She was looking directly at me, long after I broke eye contact.

Even alter-egos, in make-believe worlds, need a break.


On Dating in Amman and Such

So I noticed that things have become quite serious around here, and I'm only assuming that my fans are missing my usual quirkiness.

So here goes nothing, again..

Today my topic of selection is dating in Amman. There can be no spot on God's given earth that is more complex in this aspect than Amman. (Ok maybe Saudi Arabia)

So you managed to convince that girl in school or work to see you after office hours after lots of negotiating, offers, counter-offers, counter counter-offers, you get the picture.
Now, the girl will go out with you for 1 out of 3 reasons:
1- She has nothing better to do with her life.
2- She feels like getting a free lunch/dinner/coffee.
3- She sees potential in pursuing a relationship with you.

So the girl walks into the meeting place and peers suspiciously around, like a hunting hound sniffing for tracks. This is done for a one of two of reasons

1- She wants to check if any of her blood-thirsty, broad-shouldered, knife-wielding brothers, cousins, 2nd cousins or x-boyfriends are around. (Please check my Amman corridor post to know what I mean)
2- She wants to check if you are good-looking enough and/or rich enough to be worth the 1+ hour out of her lifetime.

Let’s assume that no major relatives or acquaintances are around and you’re not as ugly as a mountain troll. The girl approaches and sits down. You make a few silly comments about the weather or work, crack a joke or two, ask a one or two questions. And somehow the girl starts yammering about one of the things you instigated. Now, If you like the girl, and would actually like to also pursue a relationship with her the best thing to do is:


Ok let me rephrase.

Put a sock in it. Bite your tongue. Stuff a foot in your mouth. Whatever you choose.

She doesn’t want to hear anything about your 2-day vacation in Syria with your homeys, or your fake promotion or options in your car or your cousin in Dubai who you will move with soon. Let her blabber her brains out about her shitty job, abusive boss and jealous coworkers. Fact is, the more she blabbers the more she likes you. If she sits and stares into space or plays around with her food or drink, then you’re in deep shit and pretty much ruled out already, because no, she’s not daydreaming of how awesome you are or what you will name your 3rd baby, she’s thinking about that other guy who is the exact opposite of you and doesn’t need to flaunter his alleged assets or care much for her feelings and why the hell isn’t she with him now instead of the endless bore that you are.

Here’s the tricky part. Just because her mouth is moving up and down endlessly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand the words are coming out of that hole called mouth because there’s a 50% chance that those words actually mean something. So I’ll strike it up a notch and say


I know how hard it is to concentrate and how easy it is to drift into thoughts about WWF, 50-inch LCD’s, Playstation 3, Pamela Anderson running on the beach naked and so but it’s worth it.

Halfway through the date women tend to fiddle with their cell phones, no matter how interesting you are. Women are in love with their cell phones and most probably she is texting her best friend whom by now knows all about you, something along the lines of “its goin good J” or “this sux L” or “am bored :@” depending on how much you listen to my advice.
So she looks at her watch and it’s 8:09PM already and she says that she must leave. I suggest you listen to what she said if you don’t want to confront her knife-wielding, tongue-twisting, 1992 BMW-riding cousins to beat the daylights out of you.
If your cell beeps a little before midnight with a gentle message wishing you a good night and sweet dreams, then you have to know you have been given the green light to ask her out for a second date.

Which I hope for your sake you don't scew up.


The Rocking Horse

Well, the natural course of thing that preludes are followed by the actual main parts..Duh..

Here goes nothing..

When I read this, it feels like someone else wrote it. Some different person, yet I know it is me, 7 years ago in a dark room, in Amman..I feel like talking to the writer. To ask him about his opinion on things. And I imagine if I ever got the chance to talk to that person I wouldn't tell him anything, I wouldn't open my mouth.. I would just like to sit there and listen for hours and hear out his naive, childish opinions on life, love and dreams and hopes he holds on to them as long as possible..

And so it goes..

It was quiet, star-less summer night. Large, gray clouds veiled a silver, luminous moon. It appeared like a shy, young girl hiding foolishly behind transparent curtains. A gentle breeze blew sending involuntary shivers all over my body. The breeze carried the scent of wild jasmine and the sweet smell of strawberry-flavored argeeleh smoke.
I looked upon our “football-field” A dusty road .Two rocks were sufficient to make a goal. The constant kicking, stomping and occasional falling of the kids sent a cloud of dust making the kids seem like restless ghosts. I shifted my sight to the balcony next to ours. A miserable, tense teenager sunk deep into his tawjihi textbook, clenching it tightly like a pirate would clench to his treasure map. He wandered back and forth like a newborn gazelle that has lost its mother, unnoticing my sympathetic eyes. From the horizon the figure of an exhausted, filthy yet strongly built man shaped. It was the cotton candy guy. He was empty-handed except for a single pack of cotton candy. Usually, he would shake the whole neighborhood with his fresh, joyous shouts and sweet tunes of his harmonica. Today he was mysteriously silent.

The doorbell rang destroying my utopia. I opened the door. The heart-warming face of my father greeted me. “We have visitors” he said. With him was a ragged, untidy man in his mid-thirties. His unshaved beard made him look like a werewolf. He had clumsy features and dark, vacant eyes. He smiled baring yellow, smoke-stained teeth. Holding his hand tightly was a 7 or 8-year-old kid. He wore jeans shots baring bony, hairless legs. On his wrist was a large Casio watch with all its unnecessary accessories. He seemed anxious. Something was familiar about that kid. I realized I was staring at a mirror image of myself 10 years ago. The guests entered.
“We’re gonna sell our rocking horse” my father whispered into my ear. I was dumbstruck. All of my childhood memories hid inside that horse just like the Greek soldiers hid in the Trojan Horse before opening the city for their final assault. I guided our guests to the horse. I turned on the lights of the basement to reveal the horse. He seemed older and weaker than last time I saw him. Dust covered him and rust built-up between his hinges. Some spider even built cobwebs all over his body. The kid jumped enthusiastically on his back. He smiled a wide, ear-to-ear smile as he rocked back and forth, back and forth. Bittersweet memories rocked in my mind, just like the horse; Most kids enjoyed pretending to shoot each other to death, harassing girls or beating the Hell out of a defenseless kid. Yet on his back I slayed hundreds of sinister, cold-blooded dragons, I dueled valiant, iron-covered knights and saved the beautiful Princess before escaping with her to a deserted island. When the darkness of my bedroom would seem too scary and threatening, I would take refuge next to him and he would protect me from all the goblins and ugly trolls. I used to spend hours caressing his hair and stroking him gently; he would answer with a smile .He taught me the secrets of the universe in exchange for a few lousy cookies I fed him. Sometimes I would talk about the real-life dragons I lost against, I would complain about the bullying “knight” of my schoolyard and weep over the Princess whose heart I tried uselessly to win. He would nod understandingly and sometimes, just sometimes, he would speak with a god-like voice lightening my burden. Then we would share our triumphs and forget my losses. He was my best friend.

“I want it Daddy, I want it!” the kid cried beggingly. “You can have it” I answered unbelieving the words I just said. The kids’ eyes twinkled like little stars and he jumped up and down like a bunny. “Thank you, thank you!” he repeated. The kid’s father carried the horse away. Conflicting emotions raced inside me. My eyes moistened and my lower lip trembled as I bid the horse farewell. I managed a crooked, half-smile, knowing that another kid’s childhood has just started.

The horse winked back to me.

The End(for now)


Prelude: The Rocking Horse

I emerged from freshman year in university with an unlikely 3.42 GPA and a crack in my heart the size of my heart itself.

It is always like that with first love.

I shed a few kilos, was continuously 20 minutes late for my early lectures and rarely shaved. Nothing made sense anymore. The pain of the breakup hurt, but the “we know” sympathetic look in the eyes of my friends is what killed me.

The long road to healing started with a decision. My decision was very simple and straightforward; whatever behavior associated with broken-hearts I’d do the exact opposite. I am sometimes like that. If broken-hearts people did badly in their studies, I am going to do excellent. If broken-hearts lost weight then I am going to gain extra weight. That is when I committed to two much-loathed activities; studying and working out.

I got the GPA that enabled me to go further with my studies in a very competitive environment (and a little luck really) and gained a few kilograms that would give people the social permission to come up to me and say things like “you look good”

But really, I am getting off the topic here. What I wanted to talk to you about are the people that are shoved into your path by destiny to unknowingly help you out of what you at that time believe is the end of the world.

My savior knew nothing of my severe condition, yet she showed more compassion than anyone who did. She came in the form of my English Communication skills lecturer which I easily aced without opening a book.

My Professor believed in me like no one did. I heard a lot of people say to me through my still-young life “You have lots of potential” but few people acted upon it. My Prof loved my compositions and always asked me about them after lectures. She said I’d be a great writer someday and maybe this blog wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for her encouragements. One day she told me to remain after class. She said that the university is holding a competition for creative writing and that I should participate. I said I’ll try. It is very like me not to commit to anything, early on. But at that moment I decided to commit to it.
I racked my brains for days trying to come with something semi-decent but couldn’t write a single sentence. I would write a sentence and then scribble it off brushing it away as tacky or worse; artificial, soulless. Then one night after midnight while waiting for then-newly released music video “Bye Bye Bye” of ‘N Sync on MTV India, a light bulb flashed in my head. I started writing and writing and writing. The dawn was breaking, creatures of the night were crawling to their hideouts and birds chirped like I never knew they could. It was 4 in the morning when I finished writing yet the time that passed felt like it was only the 5 minutes that ‘N Sync would harshly and squeekily declare that it ain't no lie. I handed my piece over the next day but my Prof said that the deadline has already passed. I was disappointed yet relieved. I didn’t want anyone to read what I wrote. She said she’ll hold onto it for next year’s competition, which I thought was a white lie that that I was learning that adults like to do every now and then, just because they can, and because no one can commit to anything that long, especially a Prof with classes to teach, assignments to mark, and grades to be given.

But after one, whole year a friend told me my name was hung on the announcement board to report to the Language center. Again, I cynically thought it had to do with my oppositely shameful performance in Arabic Communication skills, rather it was an invitation to read my piece out in front of an audience of students, professors and the Dean of the university.

I won.

My Prof handed me a neat, printed copy of my piece, dotted with punctuation marks and resolved grammar mistakes. I thanked her but she was the one who said it to me..

You have lots of potential. You're the one who won..


On Parents and Such

So your parents decide to show once more in your life even though you gave off subtle hints that you don’t want to be part of their lives (not to mention less than subtle hints from their part)

My parents arrived at Dubai Airport carrying luggage worthy of Santa Clause on Christmas Eve.

Me(Checking an entire set of luggage that looked similar to those Russian dolls fitted in one another) What the hell is this?
Father(making more than a distressed face when mother wasn't watching): It’s your mom. I told her many times what’s the need for all this?
Me: It’s ok if you’re migrating to Canada.

My parents list of demands began once they stuffed their luggage in my car trunk. The list includes but is not limited to: (In no particular order)

What is Facebook?
What is an I-Pod?
We want an I-Pod.
We want a Facebook.
Why don’t you post our pictures on Facebook like your other cousin (who opened their eyes to the scandal that Facebook is)?
Come back to Amman
Stay in Dubai
Stop making fun of people
Stop seeing and flirting with a certain girl
Start looking for a decent girl to settle with
Give to the poor
Women chasing after men are whores (Actually there is no real demand there)
Invest in stocks in Dubai stock exchange.
Put a Quran in my car to protect me from the evil eye which they are convinced is fixated on me.
Lower down the music
Slow down

The last two were almost always requested simultaneously.

Sadly but truly, I discovered that a fundamental reason of my gladness and peace of mind of being in Dubai is that I get to live away from the annoyance that parents can occasionally be. I can come whenever I wish, I can go whenever I wish, I can hang in my apartment wearing nothing but my boxers for one whole day, and poke my belly button for the mere fun of it.

But if I really want to tell you about parents I’ll tell you how they are normal people like you and me. That for the most part, they are as clueless and lost as you are rather than the righteous, better-knowing people they claim to be. That they did the best that they could do with what they had, which doesn’t amount to much, even when they made you believe they are the richest people in the world. That if given the choice, they would do it all again, the same way, even when they say they wouldn’t. That even when you spent the better part of your early years rebelling against their will, that you will inevitably grow into their image, inherit their insecurities and perspectives. And someday, whether a day from now or in the far distant future, you will look back and admire all that is they achieved, even if it were in your opinion it was mere survival, and just hope to achieve an iota of what they did.

Still I find it hard to tell them all this, but I know they know. At least, I hope they do..