Friday, March 14, 2014

"There are occasions when a human being will stand out against pain, even to the point of death." ~ G. Orwell - 1984

This is what we have become: bodies we feed and clothe. Where is the love?
I remember it like it was yesterday, when most of the time at school, we used to convene as one entity and refuse to submit an exam or a quiz; especially when the teachers would treat us unfairly. In other words, our dear old fashioned teachers used to punish us with a drop quiz or test for a chapter we haven't studied previously or they haven't even explained. 
We used to present plain white papers as a sign of rebellion... a silent strike... a NON VIOLENT refusal of the status quo. 

Had we, unconsciously, known that rights are best fought for with an open heart and nonviolent resolution?

Today, I look at the world with sorrow.
Today, I look at my own sorrow.
And I regret....

I regret keeping silent all this time. 
I regret not writing for the past couple of years. 
I regret regretting my current state. 

What was it that kept me silent?
What was it that shushed me down?

Is it work? Is it the chase after tomorrow?
With all certainty, I am able to answer yes. 

Mass media, Social media, Electronic media, News media, Digital media.... etc. Many adjectives yet modifying one word; trying to reshape that one word; trying to hide it behind multiple choices. 
Yet, the answer is one: MEDIA

Managing us
Editing us
Dissecting us
Incapacitating us
Attacking us

That is MEDIA: a monstrous fashion, a boneless creature, an eternal shadow... The grim reaper.

People bend backwards under its control. They are addicted to its charm.

Many have tried to re-read Nietzsche's famous "God is Dead". But as I deconstruct this statement, a new meaning emerges. Under the light of the all-powerful, all-knowledgeable, and all-seeing eye of the media, god translates into human (since I believe that the meaning of the word god does not emphasize anymore a divine power, rather the unexplored parts of the human thinking machine = Deus Ex Machina), and dead reads that the brain activity is kept to its prehistoric phase. In a time where most humans on earth care more about upload, download, post, reply, comment, like, share, tag, tweet and the famous update, we are safe to rewrite Neitzsche's quote: Human brain is forever numb. 

Here in Iraq, the situation is an almost perfect sample to exemplify the above. 

I have been experiencing a rather disturbing phenomenon. No matter what people do here, their life rotates around prayer. They measure time with every call to prayer. At the gym, many ladies stop their workout to go pray on time. At school, many kids prefer to skip recess and go pray. In Lebanon, when the clock strikes 7h40, most households (if not all) gather around the TV to watch the news. After the news come the "entertaining" shows. After the shows a rerun of the news. And so on, so forth. 

It's become sickening the amount of which people rely on media. Yes, prayer is media itself. When the Sheikh or the Priest or the Rabbi preaches, aren't they repeating whatever the media has told them to say?
Don't they watch TV and follow the norm? 

This thought has gone too far. I have no clue as to where it might lead next time. 
This thought has gone to far, that my head is jammed now. Do I dare to say it all? Should I sugar-coat it to become "socially" shared?

Tonight, I'll prefer to stay safe. I will not upset the powers of media. Is it by choice? No! I just don't want to end up in "Room 101". 
TO survive we shut down our voice. To survive we accept our rights being taken. To survive we grow up. We lose our teenage zest. We let go of our vigor (عنفوان الشباب). 

And if we don't, we become the crazy ones, the institutionalized.
We become the Generation that speaks not, 
The Generation that sees not, 
The Generation that hears not.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Usual Double-Faced Coin

In Baghdad, life is going on the fast lane.
The amount of work makes up the counterpart of the lazy time I spend in my room, alone.

The TV becomes the greatest way to dumb down your brain. The moment I moved from the hotel to our allocated location -on campus, there was no more space for intellectual leisure.
With its presence in my room, across my bed, beside the door, it became practically impossible to read, write or even to think.

I am now addicted to a food channel: Fatafeat. It may seem funny, but it's not. Of course, with my stay here, I have to rely on my cooking skills for food. I have learned to make new recipes. I have learned to organize my time between school work and house work.

Sometimes, i feel like I've become a robot; timed and chained to chores and daily living skills. I am no longer the crazy creative one. I've become what i feared most of my life: one of them.

Them... Those who crave life as a linear equation y=mx+b. No matter what variables may arise. the result is always a straight line. A friend of mine once suggested that the world has turned into "Romibes": Zombie Robots.  I think, that friend, was one hell of a insightful person.

Coming to terms with my wasted times in Baghdad, I decided to join a gym. That place is a representation of a closed space (windows always covered and walls thickened by curtains). The gym i visit daily is only for women. In Iraq, many of the ladies I've met so far were forced to veil themselves. They told me that after the Great Fall (2006 - Iraq War and American Invasion), it was nearly impossible for girls and women to go out on the streets without getting harassed. Hence, the one solution presented itself with the veil.

Oh, the many things I witnessed here.

One day, the school held a Game day for the whole school. Surely, we had many veiled girls (ages between 7 to 15). The most surprising on that day was not the feeling of loss among the students who were not able to team up for team building activities. The most surprising was not the kids inability to play without violence. No! The most surprising were the girls who showed up to school unveiled, in their most beautiful attire. Yes! it was very surprising to see them. I could not recognize one.

Everybody asks me how life is in Baghdad. My mother mostly inquires about the basics of life: food and water. My father asks about security issues. Is it safe? Any happenings around? Friends think I have moved to a jungle.

Isn't the world itself a jungle?

The Middle East is a war zone. Eastern Europe is a war zone. Northern Africa is the war zone itself. The rest of the world just follows in this circus of checkmates.

The world's just an infinite reproduction of violence. And I am in the eye of the storm. Wherever I go, be it Beirut or Baghdad, is just the other face of the same coin.


Confined in a box of gold, 
No one to sway with me, 
No one my hands to hold.

Repressing all desires,
Repressing all the love,
The breath becomes tainted,
With colors dark and bold.

The eyes are all teary,
The heart is deeply void,
Alone in my darkness,
I cry forever more.

The memories bring me back to
Those places I ever miss,
The smile's long forgotten,
In hallways full of dust.

The people all around me,
Whispering grimly like ghosts,
Blindfolded by my emotions,
I can't feel the sun.

The warmth is ever missing,
My hands are very cold,
The nights are oh so lonely, 
Confined in a box of gold.

For you I am yearning,
Save me from this scaffold.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

First Impressions & Co.

It's been nearly 5 months.
Moments of awakening gently crawled into my memories. They pushed me to writing, to expressing their delusional states. 

It's been nearly 5 months. 
My compass rotated for some time now. 

When I landed in Bagh-Dad, the very smells in the airport crippled my senses. A wave of contradictions carried me back to some dark past I've only read about in history books. The people swarmed out of the plane like a breakout form a prison. The lights were dim. The police officers struck me with their same-looking mustaches. Most of all, i was devastated by the gate of the airport. It was in ruins. The pillars were crumbled down; the lights fell off a long time ago; the wires, uncovered, were colored with death. 

Sitting in the car, passing through the airport security, the scenery changed acutely. Suddenly a very modern piece of greenery appeared. I started to feel the colors come back to life. On the road, houses were made out of bricks. Their stagnant grey and yellow contrasted beautifully with the turquoise mosaic of the mosques. 

Sometime passed. I was trying to incubate everything around me. This is what my life will become from now on. This is IT. I've toiled much in the past, in Beirut. Beirut... how i miss Beirut. Whenever i felt like clearing my mind, regenerating my strength or just simply go for a ride, my one and only destination would be Beirut. Hamra str., Downtown, Ashrafieh, Rmeil, Starco str.
To each area a story, to each story a lesson, to each lesson ... ME.

Right after we hit our destination, i started to compare everything here to everything in Beirut. 
It was a not-so-cool experience so far. I was scared. I was on double thought. Could this be it? Is this even a place? A country? Do people actually live here? Am i being blinded by nostalgia to Beirut? Back home isn't any sweeter.
Soon, all green turned to grey -literally. The soil of the land was grey. Palm trees everywhere. Yellow taxi cabs and white private pickups. Colorful lamps hung on the streets from pole to pole. Bridges intertwined like a spider's web, organized, well engineered and magically set in the midst of chaos. There was a certain dichotomy, a kind of smooth schizophrenia that lay itself into the eyes of the beholder. Bagh-Dad deployed itself to me as the classic Black & White.

My thoughts were everywhere. In my head, everything smelled fuzzy, seemed hypnotic and felt unsure. 
My first month was about over. I was kept confined in a box of gold. During the day, I danced in mud and at night i was back in my luxurious cage.