“Do not speak unless you can improve the silence” - Proverb

We talk to restore balance.

We talk because something tipped our inner peace. We talk because we want something from the environment: understanding, sympathy, love, the salt across the table.

Now what if we wanted less from the environment? What if we expected and reacted less? What if we knew that things only change when its time is up, not when we want it to?

Wouldn't it be easier to swing back in the groove?

As we grow old, the beauty steals inward.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson Photo by @Soumz

For a long time, it struck me as inane that a woman should bother so much that her appearances. Is there so little that a woman could think about than what she's wearing? How could the Saudi woman splurge her entire tens of thousands of riyal dowry on clothes instead of education? Or travel? Or a car and a rice cooker?

The Function

When you think about it, it's just how urban societies work that made appearances so important. Urban Social positions rely (if not entirely, then heavily) on appearances. 

In a woman's case, her main source of income is her looks. If she looks good as a girl, she get's the better husband. If she looks good as a married woman, her husband will keep her. And if she still looks good after three kids, she can still have other options if things turn boring sour.

Looks can be deceiving and it goes as far as brains. But who needs brains when we can have everything with a gorgeous face?

The Italians

Let's stereotype a bit more, just for examples' and sensibility's sake.

Italians are usually depicted loud and rowdy. When they talk, they TALK, with their italic Italianness and animate gestures. Yet in all that noise, there is expressive and desperate appreciation for beauty and life. There is the subtle knowledge that under all the noise, there will be a pause of satisfaction. That all have been said. All have been tried. And life, as sour as it gets, can't conquer the human spirit.

I see that gregariousness to take life by its details and make it beautiful in the Saudi and urban woman's attention to herself. To her appearances. And fashionably overfilled closet and mind.

That as confined and restrained and sour as life gets; the mere appreciation of beauty can set forth one's freedom and humanity.

And that's okay too, you know?

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

A Hadith once said that a Muslim dude needs to learn to fight, grow courage, pick a cause to believe in and die for, then hope that he didn’t offend too many people in achieving martyrdom.

A Muslim girl only needs to please a husband to be nominated for the glories of martyrdom.

Feminists, please restrain from hating. This ruling actually honors a woman’s efforts in keeping a single man happy, whether she does it alone or with sister-wives and/or secret mistresses .

It also says something about how hard it is to stay married to a man and pleasing him on a day-to-day basis. That marriage can be as hard as protecting a whole country from invasion.

That, even if we love the men we’re married to, it’s still a risk on our mental and physical stability. And if a sister can still love her man after years of marriage, in poverty and sickness or football nights, I’d like some of that drug she's using.

For who doesn't want a little bit of heaven on earth while being married?

“Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation” ~ Oscar Wilde

Fact

Depressed people swear by this: That as many positive thinking as they conjure in their heads, it doesn't lift the gloom. As many happy thoughts, achievements and positive self-images they reflect, nothing in the imaginary world has the power to pick up the awful drops of mood.

Cause

Positive thinking doesn't work because it's only smoke and empty calories. Just thinking it doesn't bring results or create change. Yes, it may help a little with beginnings and endings, but it doesn't feed the hungry, or fix a car or make the sun raise a little sooner.

Intervention

If a positive idea makes you more depressed, then it's no longer a positive thing, is it?

The big positive ideas may shy to admit their dirty little secret: That positive thinking only works if it's followed with continuous, tedious, positive sweating. Whether in series of steps or trials and errors, positive thinking need to be worked out, to be tested and proven to remain positive.

In short? Positive thinking is worthless without positive action.

Positive Minds

Since we can't change the world in bulk, doesn't it mean that positivity is limited to the work that we can manage? And the changes that we can handle? And the results that we can create? What, a made up room? A decent lunch? A scrubbed toilet? Hell, yeah.

Is that why the most positive people are the ones with lesser ideas in their heads, and more sweat on their brows?

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." ~ Kris Kristofferson

Crust

Having lived in different places made me realize that people are basically the same everywhere. Cultural and time zone differences aside, we are the same people wherever we are.

If there’s freedom of speech in Jackson, MS., then there’s the freedom of privacy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. If there’s material freedom in Jeddah, then there’s freedom of solitude in Jatibarang, Central Java.

Core

Whether I wake up in Jatibarang or Jeddah or Jackson, whatever cultural, social and material choices a place can give, at core, I remain the same. I still wake up as Hning here and there. I still start my mornings with coffee and Chopin. I’d still fall back to writing and meditation.

And that is all the freedom I need from the world, you know? Whether I can go out or not, whether I can work or speak or cause riots, whether the rest of the day brings crazy or lonely, my freedom is the consistency of rituals. Rituals that anchor gratefulness and engage the Silence.

Everything else are just auxiliaries.

There's this saying that the early birds gets the best worms.

In Saudi, everyone gets the best worms, at any time of the day.

So why not do it AFTER midday, when the fattest worms are awake too?

“Coincidence is the word we use when we can't see the levers and pulleys.” ~ Emma Bull

Variables

Other than the fact that she's a Saudi studying in the US, and that she's the only one who agreed to hangout as early as 8 am in Jeddah, I didn't know what to expect from seeing her.  I only knew that birds of the same feather sought each other.

And over breakfast, these were the facts: That she's a scientist, she critical and restless and wanted to create positive change in Saudi. She was in a place where she wasn't sure what her mission was. She mentioned wanting to start a center to help women who are stuck in domestic violence.

And she said, in passing, that she wanted to write a novel. (Which reminded me of my own NaNoWriMo project from last year.)

Formula

Things need to settle and ferment and finish to be better understood.

When I got home (stuffed and cheesecake-happy), I remembered that NaNoWriMo was due in a couple of weeks, and that it might help my new friend to finish her own novel.

But I shivered. That NaNoWriMo project from last year! That novel I wrote last year!

It was about a Saudi woman who defied the rules, and started a center for socially rejected women, focused on helping victims of domestic violence. The heroine's name was Hala.

Fuck, that damn novel's working title was Hala!

The girl who had breakfast with me this morning was no stranger. She was a character from my own novel.

“Those who flee temptation generally leave a forwarding address.” ~ Lane Olinghouse

There's a hadith that says when a boy and a girl are together in private, then the devil is their third.

Of course, this only works if two people repeatedly get in private on a weekly basis. Because if two people repeatedly, deliberately get in private a lot, they are prone to tempt temptation and focus on scratching an itch

But when the meetings are scarce, and the ghosts are clearly defined, it would (at least) take three dates until the devil can really say shit.

In fact, when a romantic couple get together, they don't just bring one devil. A romantic date usually consists of a boy, a girl and fourteen other ghosts from each side. These haunting and screaming parental, traditional, dogmatic ghosts easily stifle every flickering temptation a devil might squeak.

Along with the histories and stories and emotional baggage,it gets pretty hard to listen to each other at all. Much less get a hard on.

So for as long that it takes for this roomful of ghosts to clear, and just before the devil might have a say about what kind of mischief we ought to have in private, I'd like us to have this cup of tea together, knowing (almost sadly) that this privacy is not going to disappoint the Powers-that-Be and the people whom we love as honestly as we do each other.

"We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” ~ Joseph Campbell

I know a happy man living on a USD100 monthly income, living in a 3x4m room in Jakarta. I know an unhappy man who rolls in three Mercedes Benzes, five houses, two wives and a million followers. How did the standards of happiness become so different from one person to the next?

Force of Mental Habit

We can't control the external world. A thobe is a thobe, but if you hate wearing it, well it's not the thobe's fault, is it? However you feel about a million or three, it's not the money's fault for being there or not, is it? Nor it is the country's, the government's, the spouse's, the children's or the cats' and dogs' fault.

If we can put things into our heads (longing, hating, loving, fear), we can also remove them. Especially the imaginary things, like a BlackBerry or a lost relation or "more, more, more". If we can teach our minds to love someone/something, we definitely can train it to un-love.

Since this special freedom of thought is forever ours, whether it's in a hermitage on a mountain or in the deep pockets of an urban slum, then we are free to choose between joy or misery anywhere we can choose our thoughts. ('Coz sometimes I can't think when the whole crowd's yelling.)

What would you choose to think today?

“When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears” ~ Anthony Robbins

I wanted to write 20 things that don't need to change in Saudi. Simple things that I cherish. Funny thing, the first things that came to mind were detailed, personal things. Nevertheless there should never be a list of "20 Personal Things Hning Loves about Saudi", so let's keep them to three.

Item 1. Saudi is a Culinary Whore's Halal Heaven.

There's so much to eat in Saudi (and enough money for most to go by). You can stuff yourself (and 3 other girls) full with Al-Baik, Bukhari Rice, Foul & Tameez at as cheap as USD5. You can find USD500 Caviars, and you can find the best Hindi sweets in the busiest corners of Sharafiyyah. We can know everything about a place from the things we eat there. So if there is so much to eat in a place, and food can fix even a broken heart, doesn't it mean that life is generally good in Saudi?

Item 2. Saudi has plenty of underground communities

Have you noticed how underground communities forge the most intimate and longstanding friendships?

By hobby: musicians, photographers, fashionista, Harley Davidson, books, poetry, filmmakers, bodybuilders, scuba divers, scuba diving photographers, writing.

By region: Jordanians, Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Indians, Pakistanis, Afghans, Bengalis, Iranis, Turks, Pinoys, Malaysians (they used to have acrobatic takraw sessions at the consulate), Indonesians, Chinese, Japanese (albeit limited to technology and sushi), Taiwanese, US Americans, other kinds of Americans.

If people can have the time and energy to pick up hobbies, doesn't it mean that their basic needs have been fulfilled? Or that they're that bored?

Item 3. Saudi has enough for the survival of all, and then some.

The standards of living in Saudi is well-off above survival. Most folks can get by. Most folks are protected from natural disasters and mosquitoes. Most folks can put their children through school and then some. Most folks got secure healthcare and pension plans. And everyone reading this from Saudi are folks who have gotten their hands on the relatively latest communication methods and technology, which is few scales above mere survival.

Maybe it's the oil. Maybe it's the fact that there are so much traffic international going on there, of people coming and going every year from the days of Abraham that the Lord gave pity to such a barren spot. And if we still complain about Saudi it's from boredom and saturated homogeny. Because not every country in the world is as generous as Saudi, it's that simple and true.

Ain't it glad to be Saudi today?

البهللة: هي البكش المفضوح من قبل الطرفين - @MahSabbagh

Happy National Day!

As a Saudi, I like Saudi as it is. I love Jeddah as it is. But if I may suggest a few changes on the following items, it'd be even nicer to be Saudi and live there.

Public Behavior:

  1. Not get (nearly) killed for being in or near a moving vehicle (highest traffic death toll)
  2. Not get killed while performing Hajj and Umrah
  3. Not get killed for arguing with authority
  4. Not get hooted at for taking a walk on the Pregnant Wall, the beach or the mall
  5. Not get hooted at for showing up in public without Abaya (girls) or Shmagh & Thobe (boys)
  6. Not get killed for expressing non-conformist ideas on TV, Internet, print publication or dress-code
  7. Not get incarcerated for being at mixed-sex parties or movie screening
  8. Not get assumed of flirtation for smiling and being courteous to strangers
  9. Not get killed for taking pictures of women in public
  10. Not die while waiting for a guardian's consent to work, travel, issue legal documents, get married, divorce, giving birth, enter court of law, and owning property (Boys up to the age of 25. Girls until they start shitting gold)

Work:

  1. Not get judged for starting, running and working for independent non-profit organizations
  2. Not get slowly roasted for NOT working at for-profit organizations
  3. Not get judged for being Saudi and work as a janitor, Baqalakeeper, servant, driver, builder, nanny, maidservant, officeboy/girl, etc.

Relationships:

  1. Not get judged for being Saudi AND unmarried in your 30s (it's the 21st century for Vimto'ssake!)
  2. Not get killed for being unmarried AND lacking virginity
  3. Not get killed for being Saudi and wanting to marry your un-Saudi sweetheart
  4. Not get killed for PDAs (Public Displays of Affection) between opposite sexes
  5. Not get killed for openly converting to an alternative sect, religion or sexual orientation

Others:

  1. Not get killed for being a pluralist, hence having no violent opinion towards most things. Especially on National Days.
  2. Not get killed for writing this. Hihi.

Anything to add? Thanks for reading and leaving comments.

PS. This post go-toot-tiny

Being a good Muslim girl, you look forward to the days when you can take a few days of fasting breaks during Ramadhan, right?

Oh, don't give me the face. I know you've been checking that calendar every day since Ramadhan started, and not just to make sure that Eid is (still) on the 10th of September this year. You look forward to the day when your time of the month is supposed to come. You look forward to having that lunch, and the afternoon tea, and the cigarettes in between. Smack in broad daytime Ramadhan.

Especially if you want the whole world to know that you're going through THAT TIME OF THE MONTH.

No? Yeah, I thought so.

So even if you have the legal excuse not to fast, you act it anyways. You don't eat or drink or smoke, just like everybody else during Ramadhan. Just to respect everybody's feelings. And to keep your bodily functions private.

I say, it's your day off. Have that cigarette and lunch and tea. Add your family iftars too. You'll be on your own when everybody else's Ramadhan is done and you have to skip the last lunches before NEXT YEAR'S Ramadhan because you had to make up for the ones you missed this year.

The Prophet once said that, if you don't like something, change it with your hands first, then your mouth. (And if all fails, by all means, keep your mouth shut.)

One of the reasons why I'm so happy to work with my hands (and my mouth shut) is because my hands seem to make a more sustainable difference than my mouth.

I honestly enjoy making people writhe with pleasurable pain when I give them a massage. I enjoy seeing a neat pile of anything I sort out. I enjoy writing, because it's something that comes through my hands too.

Even the satisfaction is more real when the work comes through my hands, you know?

Our hands bring forth the fruits of our hearts and minds. Bless our hands, writers, cooks, builders, drivers, hairdressers, maids, surgeons, mommies and playful daddies, for the good things we do with our hands, make the deepest impact, carve the deepest memories, and affirm the deepest faith. Amen.

What good things have you been doing with your hands?

I've been too happy to blog.

Blogging Writing had been my way of expressing dissatisfaction toward Saudi, family, society, work, fucking every and anything. Since I became happy(er), I kinda lost my drive to write. That's a dear cost for happiness to take.

ılıll|̲̅̅●̲̅̅|̲̅̅=̲̅̅|̲̅̅●̲̅̅|llılı

I had to be happy now. There's so much dissatisfaction a girl can take in a life time, you know? I'm getting too old, too sober and aware of the shortness of my time on Earth to be unhappily dissatisfied, even for the sake of writing. It's about time that I welcome some joy in my life.

I'm talking about the simpler kinda happy. Not cackling victory, or gleeful laughter, or absolute absence of grief. Just happy. Just seeing the world as it is, and still finding happiness. Just looking at my failures and flops and still be happy anyway.

Then forgive myself for indulging it.

ılıll|̲̅̅●̲̅̅|̲̅̅=̲̅̅|̲̅̅●̲̅̅|llılı

Feelings are contagious, see? We infect the people closest to us with our feelings. It's just the watery way we are.

It's not selfish to indulge in it, because joy is a very good kind of infection. I got to hear people say that they're happy to see me happy. They're happy for me even though they don't understand how I could be happy. They're happy even though I'm off the conventional path of "happily ever after". They're happy for me even though and even if.

And that's kinda awesome.

ılıll|̲̅̅●̲̅̅|̲̅̅=̲̅̅|̲̅̅●̲̅̅|llılı

I want this kinda awesome to spread. Which is why I started writing blogging again.

I want you to -- at least -- smell happy when you read my writings. I don't know how people can be interesting without scandalous headlines and gossip juice. I don't know how to translate this calm, quiet kinda happy into writing.…but I plan to figure it out, and you're most welcome to join and wonder along.

…as long that it makes you happy too.

ضع "السعودية" في جملة مفيدة…و لا أقول لك؟ ضعها في جملة و خلاص.

Untie is an article addressing the over-tightness of Saudi families. I would like to state for the record, that even though I think that you were so eloquently sexy in that article, Omran, I also think that YOU'RE WRONG and you're missing huge elephants.

In fact, families in Saudi are separated. Sex-separated, that is.

If having to go through life's milestones without your loved ones doesn't look like a broken family, then what does?

Define family

My mother couldn't witness my brother's wedding vows because it's an all-men ceremony. Even at the wedding reception, she can't really see her whole family celebrate together. Not really.

Sex-segregation or none, how about giving "family" its working definition? As family, we spend our days together whether good and bad and awful. Family members give each other first row stadium tickets in each other's live shows.

Because grief and joy are sexless and, in milestones, it's our family's approval we seek and fear, no matter how big a crowd we show for.

Taking away the right to be each other's witnesses is a dirty, emotional rip off. Aren't graduations, weddings and funerals the most important events that one would hope to go through together as a whole family?

I could care less if it's a grand wedding or Reverend Elvis in Vegas, when it comes to milestones (pinnacles of our everydayness) you can't just segregate loved ones from each other based the contents of their bras and briefs... It's just wrong.

Thou shall not remain a family when the crowd gets too big.

If Saudi hails itself as an Islamic country, where have the Saudis seen a hadith or Quranic verse that said: ولا تختلطوا. Where was there a religion in the world that said, thou shall not work and speak and mingle with the opposite sex?

I would love to know who came up with the idea of sex-segregation in Saudi (among other things). Because the bedus in the desert don't practice this kind of segregation. There's a sheet between where the parents and children sleep, but the desert and donkeys and darlings are together in joy and grief and scandals.

I heard that, in Jeddah, they're supposed to be more advanced than the bedus. I guess, even now, it can only go so far as the privacy of our Saudi living rooms.

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” Albert Camus

Featured on iToot.net

For someone with thousands of followers, the Timekeeper is a very, very quiet community leader.

Sure, he does his share of talking when he teaches and receives guests. When they ask for his advice. When a behavior requires scolding. Or forgiving. He’ll say enough to reinstate equilibrium but nothing more.

And with all that time he spends in public, nobody really knows him. Nobody really knows if he prefers mayonnaise or ketchup, or when his feet hurt, or when his heart breaks, or that being at his age feels like an engine running on secondhand spare parts.

Nobody asks either. Partially because most folks are too engrossed in themselves, and partially because they know that he carries too heavy a burden to bother anyone else with it.

But when it comes to sentiments, sincerity and soundness of mind, nobody doubts the Timekeeper’s silence. Much like when nobody doubted Buddha’s teachings when he reformed meditation. Or Muhammad’s trustworthiness when his tribe called him a delusional liar.

For we all know that words and silences are redundant in proving absolute truths.

Are we not friends anymore?

No, we still are.

Are you going to stop loving me?

No, I still do.

We didn’t have sex when we dated, are we going to start now?

In your dreams, Hon.

So what’s the difference between dating and not? Just the relationship status?

====

Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future. — Lewis B. SmedesThat was pleasant. Maybe some folks are too old and tired for drama. Age does that to people, you know; teach you thing or two about letting go and healing. Older folks are too forgetful to expect permanence and remember too well that all wounds heal. Some folks are just lucky enough to have romance outweighed with age.

A breakup is not the end of future involvements, not the end of respect and kindness for each other. A breakup can be an acknowledgment of unconditional love, whatever is the relationship status.

If I could abstain from posting for this many days without offending you, why can’t I keep it up for a while longer, a while longer than I should?

Renunciation is not getting rid of the things of this world, but accepting that they pass away. ~ Aitken Roshi The most precious belongings are those attached to the straightforward “i”. I have, I want, I am. And conjugated enlargements of that “i”: My head, my hair, my team. My wife, my house, my iPad. Our children, our country, our religion.

How often have we justified hurting others who sleight the “Royally Majestic Highness of Me, Mine, and Ours”. The troubles and conflicts and miseries in the world begin with the false appraisal of that precious “i”: the Why Me Syndrome, the Anything But Our Prophet, the Brothers in Gaza…

(In fact, the prophet didn’t mind people calling him names, and (other than BIG talk) the immediate neighbors of Gaza don’t really care for Gazzawis.)

What if we remind ourselves that the “i” matters, but not THAT much? What if we learned to give up trying to become “i”mmortals? What if we value things and selves and relationships as they are? Not as we want them to be, or as we/they were once been.

It’s just a letter, man…if it’s so important, then it’d be understatedly and decisively working; whether alone or in a sentence or an epic.

Word?

Liberty: One of Imagination's most precious possessions.  ~ Ambrose Bierce I have fallen for you: The fact that you can make me happy, angry or sad with the flip of a hand infuriates me.

People don’t fall for just a bit. People always fall too much, too deeply, too fast. It’s just the thing with passion. I don’t call it love anymore; it’s self-enslavement. And it’s just ain’t right.

Isn’t that why they call it falling? We fall out of balance. We fall out of calm, boring and monotonous heavens to indulge a hormonal imbalance.

And we’ll believe it every time. We believe that every lover is different from the one before.  We keep falling in love with whatever we want to believe. We keep falling for the same reasons, the same set of qualities that we find completing ourselves.

(Don’t you know that you’ve been falling in love with the same person? They may have different names and forms, but basically they’re cheap replicas of the same core: Yourself).

True Love wasn’t supposed to stupefy. People aren’t supposed to love or to hate too deeply; because humans are too fragile to absorb the impact of a force so powerful as falling in love. Something will always break in the process. (What was it the last time: our heart, sweat, or bank account?)

And important things will get lost in return for too little. We lose functionality. We lose composure. We get lost. Instead of living for worship, we worship the living; failing our cause for life. We even justify it. We justify our heartbreaks and sacrifices for mortals by selectively forgetting what is important.

Fuck that. Nobody should have that kind of freedom and power over anyone else.

Fine, call me a coward for running.

But don’t you know that in my exile, I’m light? I am physically apart from the bondages of rapture, from the overdrive to embrace and shower you with passion. For at least in exile, noncommittal cowardice can be reinterpreted into other things. At least in exile, I can think. I can move. I can write. And believe again in an immortal god.

In this dispassionate, detached and dry solitude, I am free.

PS. Have you seen “Up in the Air”?

PPS. Thanks for the approval.

The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in. -Harold Goddard

Hemingway once said that retelling facts do not make a story, it makes a report. A good story is always true, as far as the storyteller’s experience and wisdom can reach. A writer has to make up the stuff that facts fail to tell, in order for the story to become true.

For instance;

Scene 1:

Indonesian, male, Mid-twenties to early thirties, lives in Indonesia, has a French girlfriend, only socializes with other Caucasians, speaks a cocktail of European of languages, has only graduated from elementary school.

What’s his life story? Why does he only hang out with Caucasians? Aren’t his fellow countrymen good enough to entertain him?

Possible explanations: It’s a matter of survival. If he doesn’t network heavily with tourists, and adds reasons for them to trust him by having a French girlfriend, he won’t eat.

Scene 2:

Saudi, male, early-to-mid thirties, married with kids, lives and works in Australia, supports innovative Saudis, writes about Saudi in both Arabic and English, but does not seem to want to live in Saudi in the near future.

What’s his life story? Why is he not living in Saudi if he’s so obsessed about it that he keeps a handful of blogs about Saudi society?

Possible explanations: It’s a matter a survival. He’s a natural artist. In Saudi, he had to choose between a corporate job or live on charity for the sake of his art. He had to choose between money and art. In Australia, he could have both. One for love, the other for sanity.

Scene 3:

Border guard captain, age unknown, spent his life standing up for his adopted home, seen his race molested through the history of man, sees an armada of foreign ships approaching the borders of what he loves and protects. Thinks about the families and homes behind him. Makes a decision. Fires and kills 19 people.

Make up his story. Just remember:

"It's hard to hate anyone whose story you know." ~ Roslyn Bresnick-Perry

“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” Buddha

Vipassana training: Day 7

I finally decided to ask Xifu the question that I SHOULD’VE ASKED from the first time we started meditating like professional monks and nuns.

“I don’t mind the stillness,” I said, switching my weight between numb buttcheeks. “Or the miseries that stillness brings. Or the blinding pain – NO, REALLY! – I actually DO believe in Buddha and his teachings…I’m only worried that something might break. Something like my heart, or legs...”

“You won’t,” said Xifu, “the human body can do amazing things. Sitting still for a full hour is one of the easiest challenges it had to endure.”

“What if something breaks?” I said, “The way my body shakes from pain and ache...”

“You’ll only become stronger. Both physically and mentally. You know this.”

DUDE, ARE YOU FUCKING WITH ME? Are you ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY SURE that nothing will break? REALLY?!”

Xifu’s didn’t say anything for a while. Giving me time to gather courage to look at him. (The courage to hear from another what I already knew, and did not want to believe.)

“Isn’t that the whole point to meditation?” he finally said, and with kindness. “Knowing thyself, and accepting it for what it is, good or bad or broken? You’ll be fine. In fact, you already are...”

Then he winked. As if he’d heard the stuff I didn’t say. As if winking was all that it took for me to believe; and let things become.

And let things, everything and eventually, be fine.

Because, dude, breaking thresholds of pain & fear & faith is a totally and an awesomely fine thing to go through indeed.

(In one way or another, at least, with hemorrhoids and weight loss and deformed buttcheeks and all.)

The Timekeeper’s idea of a house pet.

Alex

Plus: A squeezable handful of that house pet’s meals.

Minnie, Mickey...or is that Moe?

Momma’s SO gonna FLIP when she sees this. Hohoho…

"Happiness never decreases by being shared.” ~ Buddha As a student of his teachings, on his special day, for Buddha I send a solemn Fatiha.

Happy Vesak Day, everyone.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

PS. Here’s a fellow Saudi who observed the day in his own way, in Brisbane.

“If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” Mother Teresa

If someone has succeeded in detaching from the world, then what’s there left to do?

If enlightenment demands the trimming of the fat of passionate response, whether in love or hate or melancholy, then what’s there left to live for?

All emotions and needs come from hunger of some sort. Hunger for intimacy, for food, for prestige. And when we feed it, we’re only feeding our own stomachs. Then it either stopped there or turned to poop.

[Hemingway sets a dark example to this; when he detached so hard that he lost all grounds to live for.]

On the other hand, if detachment is an effort to feed someone else’s hunger, then it becomes what the prophet called صدقة جارية: a rippling, multiplying act of kindness. A fueled passion.

Because enlightenment, success and all those ecstasies aren’t supposed to happen then stop. What stops the detachment from becoming a meaningless act, is giving with kindness.

If we ever ran out of reasons to live for, then maybe we’re not being kind enough to others. Maybe we’re not listening carefully enough. Maybe we ought to get off our ivory towers and security blankets toy feed people with our own hands.

And ♥s.

He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The skies rumbled from the Archangel’s fury. The Prophet had just returned from a meeting, bruised and bleeding. Obviously, his audience didn’t stop at booing.

“Shall I destroy those bedamned ingrates?” said the Archangel. “Take a pick: a plague, a deluge, or a false note from the horn? You know what, pick all of them!”

“Dude,” said the smiling Prophet, “and make me lose my job?”

“UNBELIEVABLE!” said the Archangel. “Haven’t you done enough already? This project is going nowhere! Not in your life time!”

“Then maybe in the next; if angels ever learned to think ahead a bit.” -- “Don’t you dare...” -- “Right, sorry. But seriously, maybe their children will listen. Or grandchildren. Give them some credit.”

“For throwing shit at you? For responding with cruelty at your kindness?

“For being scared. All bad behaviors come from fear. And if they behave this badly, then it’s probably because that’s how much they already, implicitly believe. They just don’t want to admit it.”

“Dude, cool stuff! Where did you get it from, the Gospel of Matthew?”

Nah.”

News flash: Humans are designed to love more than one partner in their lives. Maybe not all at the same time. But still…

“No one loses anyone, because no one owns anyone. That is the true experience of freedom: having the most important thing in the world without owning it.” ~ Paulo Coelho

Vasopressin.

That’s the name of hormone that controls intimacy and bonding behavior in both humans and animals. Too much vasopressin makes a monogamist. Too little of it, the polyamorist.

So, yeah, polyamorists rejoice. Here is the biological explanation to why we are like most animals; designed to love with more than one partner in the span of a lifetime.

[Of course, penguins and pigeons are naturally monogamists…but who wants to be compared with birds?]

And while you’re at it, start diluting a cocktail of love hormones in your partners’ drink to keep them from wandering.

But. Srsly.

Every theory on human relationship is an effort to simplify.

It takes the theoretical cocktail of wealth, nurture, genetics, psychology, socio-cultural and religious traditions to explain how long-term relationships happen. Whether monogamous, polyandrous or polygamous.

Either way, whatever relationship we’re working on, there’s no point in overrating and sanctifying monogamy, or trashing those who switch partners; because humans do carry vasopressin. And get bored. And hot chicks/chucks are all over the place.

And, again, those who have been through a lot of love-crash-and-burn-and-love-again in their lives are better appreciators of the restful monotony in monogamy.

Or celibacy. Hihi.

What more.

Rather than make vasopressin (or any other love hormone) as an excuse to start/expand/confuse/end a monogamous relationship (already demanding as it is), why can’t it be used to explain other social behaviors?

Why can’t love hormones explain deep, satisfying friendships with a bunch individuals of diverse backgrounds instead? Or indulging geeky behaviors over some pet, or bonsai and other inedible hobbies like that?

I mean, does deep love have to ONLY be about who sleeps with whom? And how many?

Really?

What is she, Arab or Jewess?

The general assumption is that all Saudis are Muslims. If, within 300 years since the first revelation, Islam had spread across the Arabian Peninsula, then every Saudi should – at least – not be Jewish, right?

So goes the theory.

Stop reading here if you’re sensitive about this. I try not to offend anyone. Though I realize that I can’t make EVERYONE happy. Move on if this isn’t working for you.

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Things to know before entering an Acehnese coffee shop:

a) Keep an open mind and a strong stomach, especially in matters of hygiene. So many people have had their coffee there, and didn’t die the next day. 
b) Generally, women can’t sit in Acehnese coffee houses.
c) How to say: “Be’ mameh that!” – Not too sweet! (Each cup holds enough sugar to secure a dentist’s annual income).
d) Acehnese coffee is so good that it might not exactly be halal coffee.

To illustrate the last point: you know how Turkish and Arabic coffee is usually grounded with cardamom seeds? Some Acehnese coffee is (rumored to be) grounded and roasted with ganja seeds.

The effect of which will make you more sleepy than alert. If not easier to amuse…

The virgin coffee (no ganja, or elements thereof, included) I used to have before work was squeezed from Bang Ismael’s coffee bags. Simple Acehnese coffee that – if 200ml of it was served undiluted - could cause arrhythmia in a horse.

P1010147

      “Strangers are friends you have yet to meet.” - Anon

There’s no such things as strangers. Not really.

Imagine the first day at a new school. Scary. New. Chaotic. We’re forced to treat every stranger with the same generalized kindness.

That clear slate of unfamiliarity doesn’t last. It’s just the thing with theories of mind: we recognize each other pretty quickly. And we’ll find familiarities with every stranger. We would attract and recognize the most familiar to ourselves first.

The deeper we look, the more similar we seem.

Try looking in different places. At a mall. Or a ball game. Or the fattest vein of a traffic jam.

Once in a while, take a looonger look. Look at a stranger, or a whole bunch of them, and see how we all want the same things. A decent meal, a tight nap, secure our children’s future, and A LOT OF GREAT SEX!

What, you didn’t think I’d know that part?

Take another look…then tell me how you felt.

"True strength lies in submission which permits one to dedicate his life, through devotion, to something beyond himself." - Henry Miller

…one who fights for his rights, or the one who accepts his fate?

“The second,” said the Timekeeper.

“Really?” I said, “Isn’t that kinda lame and cowardly? Aren’t people supposed to be tough and demand and protect their rights? Aren’t people supposed to at least PROTEST?”

“Child,” he frowned with warning, “if a sweeper’s broom is stolen or broken, his job is to get another and promptly return to sweeping. Not waste time in protesting thieves.”

“Why?”

“Because sweeping is his job. If a man does his best at his craft and worship, where is the cowardice in that?”

“That’s not what I’m asking. How are we supposed to stand aside while the thief gets away with his crime? Oughtn’t somebody put a stop at that?

The Timekeeper didn’t reply in words. He just gave a smile I’ve seen given to imbeciles.

In that smile, I began to realize what I was really asking. Where I was asking from. Whose job description and fate I was protesting.

And he said, “The sooner you get back to doing your job, child, is the better.”

So I wrote.

…it’ll come back to you.

The greatest mistake you can make in life is continually fearing that you'll make one. - Elbert Hubbard
Click on the image to read the rest of the article.

Sometimes, it may come back in a different form; like a memory or a dream. Sometimes, it’s you who’ll have to change to achieve/arrive at the important. But you know how packaging never matters as much as the essence.

Not if it’s really important. ‘Coz, boy, when the important happens, there ain’t nothing in the world to slow it down.

Like what? You tell me.

“Uniform ideas originating among entire peoples unknown to each other must have a common ground of truth.” Giambattista Vico

Writing about religion and spirituality is easy.

If we look at our common interest, instead of conflicts of interests, we’ll all come to an agreement.

The soul doesn’t need money and food and fame, but it sits in every thing and every relationship. Even your cats and cacti.

We may walk different paths, have different possessions, speak in different dialects. But once we remove the papier-mâché of our balloons and prophets and rituals and slogans...and we'll find The Ten Commandments, the Pillars, the Dharma; repeated in every religion, monotheist, polytheist and atheist.

Like I said, writing in this niche is easy. The resources are abundant, the subjects endless, and the underline is the same.

But this niche is sexy because we’re voyeurs, and the soul is naturally secretive. It’s not the holy and sacred and transcendental that attracts us to this niche. It’s the sweat and grime, and leafing through ancient – yet common - hurts that gave this niche its schadenfreude-esque zest:

Knowing how you got through your hell, would make me feel better about staying in mine.

Blessed are those who work on their craft and service with love. Blessed even more are those who preserve with steadfastness even on the brink of obscurity.

Mighty are those who manage to handle fortune and fame without failing through. Because, you know, when luck picks up, and your ego is flattered, there’s always this HUGE possibility that the sense of satisfaction and pride turns your service to shit and your flow comes to a momentary, disgusting, gloating halt.

I wish I could blame it on Froggles. The darling. God couldn’t pick a better agent to my verbal demise. The way he said it couldn’t be any better:

“Hning’s blog started as a place for her to blabber endlessly about her personal life. Also, like many bloggers, with time her blog evolved, and she found her voice and...[compliment] [more compliment] [then OVERKILL:] GREAT WRITING.

So in honor of Labor's Day, in honor of all of those who remain steadfast at work however the world reacts to them, here is to you.

Your steadfastness IS your best of luck.

Ps. Mom, click: click: Blogazette.net

Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the and the blind can see. ~ Mark Twain

Of about 75 posts since January, traffic seemed to knot around these 13. The first one, though, is the main product I’m trying to sell; what I think you ought to take home if otherwise I’ve failed to amuse...

Everyday Love

(Because kindness at love, is work)

Everyday Work

(Because kindness at work, is love)

And 13…

…because FAITHfulness in both love and work is the Best of Luck.

At the end of the day, the only gain is a life well spent. And the best to spend life is in good company. And the best of company are those who leave us with these two things:

  • reasserting the truth, (remember what you’re here for. remember who you are. and what you believe in.)
  • inspiring forbearance (pep talk for life: you are and will be okay. i believe in you. you matter.)

Because, if everything else is at loss, then come what may.

و تواصوا بالحق، و تواصوا بالصبر

Look, to be absolutely fair, paying Rp18’000 for a not-so-good cup of macchiato is total rip off. I could’ve gotten something way better in Aceh at Rp2000 (that’s LESS that one Saudi Riyal), with some not-so-legal smokes on the side for spice instead of the stale thumbnail-sized cookie.

(Of course, going to Aceh from Jakarta would cost about Rp 2 MILLION (that’s a LOT more than 1 Saudi Riyal)– but…another story.)

Anyway, you know what, with (overpriced) things, it’s the stories around them that matters more than the thing:

  • The long walk that came BEFORE getting to Bakoel Koffie on Jalan Senopati. (need a map?) I haven’t forgotten how hard it was for a girl to enjoy long, thoughtful walks without the scary cars stopping beside you, in Saudi.
  • It’d just rained on that lovely Friday afternoon. The black asphalt glimmered with golden sunset rays.
  • Did you get that part? It was Friday afternoon!
  • The smoking room amazed me. The artist/architect had gathered antique window panels (along with its original glass) from other buildings, arranged them like a puzzle and formed two walls of the room. Just look at the pictures attached with this post! Crazy stuff, man!
  • Being alone made it easier to converse with inanimate objects. I asked the windows whose houses they came from? What kind of views did it use to expose, and what kind did it elude from the outer world?
  • I wrote and published “Servants”.
  • I fell into a romantic journal-writing mood too. No, I can’t show you those. The juice that comes out from writing in places as gorgeous the smoking room in Bakoel Koffie are usually personal muck ending with slightly too many indecent exhalations exclamations. Such as: “Enak sekali.”

…to be Chinese in Glodok, on May 1998?

…to be Black in the US South and South Africa in 1960s?

…to be Tutsi/Hutu in Rwanda?

…to be Native Indian in 17th century United States?

…to be Protestant in England in the 16th century?

…to be Jewish in 1940s in Germany?

…to be Kurdish in Iraq, in 1980s?

…to know that my ignorance actually is my luck?

…to realize that, maybe, we’re all descendants of survivors?

I lied. Nothing is for free, even at work. Especially at non-profit work.

The down-payment for social reform is usually based on something tangible. Something real. As real as blood and tears.

The bigger the effort to stick through, is the more concrete a reward is needed, right?

It’s just that, after a while of getting cash, certificates and cups, compensation seem to take more abstract forms. Immaterial. Transcendental. Personalized.

Hence, the tendency to indulge in stories.

Look here, mate, for thirteen years, the Quran was revealed in the ancient form of “chicken soup”. The general theme in Makkiyyah surahs held stories about previous prophets, job descriptions, and their hardships and rewards. Nearly all the chapters in the Old Testament and Bhagavad Gita are like that.

That is why, in all of their beginnings, Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha, King and Mandela indulged in a certain number of years on meditative seclusion. To listen to stories that...

  • ...described the terms of a job that might cost their lives.
  • ...might answer: IS IT WORTH IT?
  • ...provided a sense of continuity; someone in the past had done it too.
  • ...clarified exactly whom is their audience, and what message they’re going to send, and why – for God’s sake -  should they bother.

All I’m saying is that, great men, leaders, prophets, oracles, whatever…merely were humans who listened to enough stories from the past.

Enough stories to retell a better version of the future.

Now, isn’t that something?

Pain and suffering, they are a secret. Kindness and love, they are a secret. But I have learned that kindness and love can pay for pain and suffering. ~ Alan Paton

I can only promise you one thing, that this is as happy an ending as you want it.

Let’s start with the fact that they were siblings: Murad, Solomon and Ishmael. Let’s have it clear that they were designed to be guardians for each other’s wellbeing, or each other’s living nightmare.

Near the start of a certain pilgrimage season, Murad asked for Ishmael’s brotherly help on a business he was running. Ishmael, the kindly small-time clerk in some obscure bank, quietly sold his house, quit his job and moved his young family to Jeddah to concentrate in helping Murad.

“He is my brother;” thought Ishamel, “I won’t rest if he’s in trouble, and he wouldn’t abandon his own brother, would he?”

The first to offer kindness are usually the first to get screwed over. After that season, Murad said: “Don’t you have a job? Why are you still in my office?”

“I thought this was a full time gig.”

And Murad shook his head impatiently, “Sorry, that wasn’t the deal. Here’s your pay for the season, now leave.”

***

I know, I know, I promised you a happy ending.

Solomon, the middle brother, took pity on Ishmael’s plight and promised to help. Without telling anyone, Solomon borrowed a hefty amount of money to reinstate Ishamel’s family in a house, arm them with a car and start an office that Ishmael can go to everyday.

Next, he borrowed more money to show that his business with Ishmael was doing excellently well.

At some point, there was more money borrowed than the means to pay it back. And the facade took less than a decade  to fall apart: Solomon sent to jail, Ishmael died of heartbreak, and Murad demented under the weight of his prestigious positions and wealth.

***

I promised you a happy ending, didn’t I?

For one, both Solomon and Ishmael slept and died with clear conscience. They can look back and say, “I did my damndest even when I couldn’t afford it.”

Evidence of sacrificial acts of kindness can be seen in fruits of that passion. Having been through poverty, all of Solomon and Ishmael’s children came out self-sufficiently successful. Solomon’s children were educated under prestigious scholarships. Ishmael’s children, though as sweet and mild as their father was, command a silent kind of strength that burying a parent at fifteen years old would bring.

All of Solomon and Ishmael’s children futures seem bright and promising.

Murad’s children? Unbeknownst even to themselves, they’re self-dedicated to different kinds of poverty: seclusion, distrust, and ire.

Whether or not they realized it, they grew up nourished with money from the blood & tears of others. Whether they realize it or not, they don’t sleep well at night; bearing the sense of guilt and moral debt that are beyond their means to return.

Isn’t that a happy ending of some sort?

Be like salt.

Salt is reliable, readily available and within everyone’s reach.

Whether or not we believe, whether we know or not how it came to exist, salt will be salt. Whether plentiful or scarce, whether added into a dish, or thrown over one’s shoulder, it does the same job. Whether it is called, salt, garam, ملح or NaCl, it works & reacts the same way to its surrounding: making it salty.

Specialists and intellectuals and artists may argue, but the underline is the same: salt is indispensable and for only salt can do the job.

Be like salt.

Do your job whenever it is needed. Do your job whatever is the pay. Be reliable at your job, no matter how varied your surrounding might be.

Be good at just one thing, no matter how underrated. Don’t worry about other people’s tastes. Don’t worry about appearances. Preserve your rasa; your essence of being.

Because with practice & time you’ll be really good at it. And when you get really, really good at it, it’ll turn into a killer marketing by itself: The sublime assumption only you can do the job as well as you do.

Like salt.

[Don't miss Part I. – (H)ning]

11. Jamie Lee Curtis vs Tia Carrere (True Lies, 1994)

Slap fight in an out-of-control limo. Another Arnie flick.

12. Charlize Theron vs Teri Hatcher (2 Days in the Valley, 1996)

NEVER provoke a woman wearing a skin-tight white spandex.

13. Ziyi Zhang vs Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, 2000)

Fast and furious display of youthful, experienced, and skillful assault with deadly intent. All this and not a single naked skin is shown.

14. Rachel Weisz vs Patricia Velasquez (The Mummy Returns, 2001)

Academics duking it out with the fate of the world at stake. Who would’ve thought?

15. Denise Richards vs Aunjanue Ellis (Undercover Brother, 2002)

Tough hombres stopped their barroom brawl to watch these fine ladies tearing each other apart. Classic!

16. Rosamund Pike vs Halle Berry (Die Another Day, 2002)

Chicks trying to skewer each other (I didn’t mean that in a sexual way). Naturally, it’s another James Bond flick. Last word: “I broke her heart.” Ouch!

17. Cameron Diaz vs Demi Moore (Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, 2003)

Blonde vs brunette. To the death. You KNOW you’ve had dreams about this!


18. Uma Thurman vs Vivica A. Fox, Uma Thurman vs Chiaki Kuriyama, Uma Thurman vs Lucy Liu, and Uma Thurman vs Daryl Hannah (Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, 2003-2004) (Oh, just dig it up yourself! – H)

Quentin Tarantino sure loves catfights. All four exquisitely brutal rumble in one movie! (albeit split into 2 parts)

19. Holly Valance and Sarah Carter (DOA: Dead Or Alive, 2006)

Fighting. Bare-knuckled. In the rain. In bikinis. ‘Nuff said!

20. Sienna Miller vs Rachel Nichols (G.I. Joe, 2009)

Two leather-clad women duking it out in a military bunker. Sure, it’s a bit cartoon-ish, but so is the toy-based-movie

Honorable mentions: Sigourney Weaver vs the Alien Queen (Aliens, 1984). She didn’t make the cut because her opponent is, well, not exactly human.

Best quote: “Bitch, you don’t have a future” (Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Vol.2, 2004) That’s harsh!

Footnotes:
  • Battles between inmates in women prisons are out, unfortunately, due to the fact that there are too many and none of them stand out.
  • Bollywood movies are also out for similar reasons, but hey, send me a note if you think you’ve seen something worthy (preferably one NOT involving a song-dance routine).
  • No doubt, the list will be contested. Personally, I am HOPING that the list will grow due to moviemakers’ ever increasing creativity for presenting female violence in the most, uh, stimulating ways.

I’m so glad I didn’t write the article below; otherwise I would’ve sounded too conceited even for my taste.

"Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." ~ King James Bible Matthew 25:21

I did, however, write the following in retrospect:

If only we could see everything that we do as an act of service to others, and ultimately to the Greater Goodness, wouldn’t it make grievances more brief? And our jobs easier? And our joys more precious?

Learn to serve.

Work to serve.

Love to serve.

Then stick to it: Pledge loyalty to whom/what you serve.

Who’s paying?

Yeah, I know that this sounds like impossible bull because we feel that we are rarely acknowledged for our services. Then again, maybe the amount of thanks receive equals the amount that we give.

Have you thanked your teeth for not falling out overnight? Have you thanked the hands that sewed your clothes? Have you thanked the people who paved the roads and invented matchboxes and laptops?

Maybe we owe the world MORE than it owes us, and we just haven’t caught up with the tab.

time

Because the planets and the universe do not run on a straight forward line. It’s circular. So it will take its time to complete its cycle. The more valuable the service, is the longer the cycle, and the greater is the satisfaction.

The strength of faith can be measured when a body is burned, buried and definitely dead.

After the burning at the stake, they gathered Joan of Arc’s remains for burial, and found that her heart – scorched as it was – in tact.

After his public self-immolation, they cremated the Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức’s remains, and found his heart fire-proof. That heart is still in display.

It is said that Muslim who pass away with al-Qur’an memorized by heart (oh that organ again), their remains will be protected from decay.

Remember what I said about our bodies bearing witness to our lives? That our looks betray our thoughts and feelings?

Maybe that’s why the Lord is the Only One with the right to judge our hearts. That you can only guess what hides in a heart postmortem.

When what remains no longer doubts.

Someone once said that confusion brings out the extremes and - true to his name - Bang Muh is a hardcore Makkawi Mutawwa and a poster boy to the ideal Wahhabi.

He threatened his family with hell and set the lines between males and females. He wore his thobe three inches too short, threatened little unmutawwa children and carried arms for Taliban during the war with Russia.

A dude scarier than hell…until you hear him speak in rural Javanese.

When he spoke in Javanese (and you have to eavesdrop because it’s rare) he addressed he elders properly, agreed in sweet “inggih” instead of decisive “eyiwa”, and offered thanks instead of shoving it.

You see, in Javanese, his preschool lullabies were delivered. In Javanese, you’d hear his struggles for acceptance, and see his bruises from growing up amongst the hard rocks and Mutawwas of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

As short as his thobes got, Bang Muh couldn’t be just a Mutawwa. He’s a story. And it’s the stories that he kept untold, in the language that he rarely whispered, that settled his definitions of home and identity: A brother. A son. A Saudi-Jawa.

Growing up in Jeddah during the 80s was like living inside a television. The shows that ran from 6-7 am, were anchored in your mother’s native tongue, hollering at you to hurry up and go to school.

School hours, from 7am to 2pm, were anchored by a selection of teachers, calling you stupid in three Arabic accents, taking turns with your schoolmates’ untied sneers.

[On the way home from school, you ask the driver to take the long way home, just so you can prolong the precious silence. Once in a while, your faithful driver complies. He’s heard. He understands.]

Growing up in Jeddah was great when you got out of the TV and watched it instead. In the afternoon, there is an hour of cartoons on TV. You’re given the break to be a child again; dreamy and certain for fact that Adnan and Lina misunderstand Absi, and the Bionic Six is your lost biological family, and that Captain John Silver is the hottest guy in the world.

When Maghreb prayers was announced from seven minarets in the neighborhood, you brace yourself for all the forces of hurt to amalgamate and gather on the homework table.

[Even now, all grown up and a lifetime away from Jeddah, worse than cartoon closing credits, hearing the call for Maghreb prayer retains its power to sink your heart.]

You hated homework. But school marks had the power in changing the world. You can make your father proud, your mother content, your school teachers and mates respectful. So, yes, you’ll ace all of the subjects as long that you believed everything on TV and that Nimnims are real.

Your father comes home from work and if he weren’t too tired to watch, you’ll anchor your own TV show. You’ll report how your day went, and reassure him about the clarity of your life’s purpose. And that he’s not wasting his money on your private education.

You won’t tell him though, that at bedtime you’ll gather your little brothers under the bed and calm them with soothing words, and wait for the raging storm in the living room to pass.

You won’t tell him though, that in Jeddah during the 80s, amidst the cultural disarray, broken accents and adult expectations, your life’s purpose was to protect your little brothers’ childhood from the kind that you’ve had: a premature bullshit.

مافي خط تـلفون أرضي

Remember a time when a paid-yet-silent phone line meant the untimely death of cyberlife?

Yeah, we still have that here. This is a village after all. We don’t have malls equipped with free-floating WiFi. We don’t have coffee or internet shops that are free of strategically located suspicious spots in its booths.

Forget the internet; rural electricity can’t even stand heavy rain. *drylaugh*

We speculated on reasons that might’ve caused this communication outage:


  1. Recent earthquake in Sumatra (phone's been dead since).
  2. Someone stole the phone cables for the copper. (It’s happened before! This IS a village!)

Since neither of those problems can be solved with a massage or a village Elder’s frown, we’ll have wait until things sort itself out.

Until then, I’ll be posting in brainburst mode: Wordy posts. No pictures. No hidden quotes. No Multimedia!

Because slow, mobile innernerding can barely hold a connection, much less bear the weight of my frustration research and decorated posts, see?

Don’t wince like that.

I’m the one who’s got to choose between traditional posts or contagious public internet booths.

[Hning’s Note: This guest post is by Iwan Amir – a guy friend who keeps his hair very, very long.]

Even from the earliest movies, women were not to be messed with.

They wield weapons as well as any man. Fight with the ferocity of a horde of Ewoks. And kick butt while looking oh so fine. They make you ask, “Why did those eighteen men attack her? Now they’re bloodied and broken.” The following list of my top 20 best catfight movie scenes, which is sorted in CHRONOLOGICAL order so we can see how some things remain the same.

Note: only one-on-one fights qualify.

1. Marlene Dietrich vs Una Merkel (Destry Rides Again, 1939)

Yer basic clawing, hair-pulling and clothes ripping. Considered revolutionary at the time. Uh-huh.

2. Paulette Goddard vs Rosalind Russell (The Women, 1939)

These ladies presented us with a no holds barred catfight-o-rama at an elegant ball decades before Trish Stratus trashed Melina on the WWF ring.

3. Martine Beswick vs Aliza Gur (From Russia With Love, 1963)

Fighting over a man: Bond. James Bond. And they call this Gypsy culture (I’d sue if I were them).

4. Haji vs Lori Williams (Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill, 1965)

Russ Meyer's finest scene. I still can’t believe that they did it without being obstructed by those huge breasts.

5. Raquel Welch vs Martine Beswick (One Million Years BC, 1966)

Well-groomed cavegirls fighting without breaking a nail. Raquel is da bomb!


Raquel Welch - Prehistoric Cat Fight by soulpatrol

6. Brigitte Bardot vs Claudia Cardinale (The Legend of Frenchie King, 1971)

Brawl between two European goddesses in a very American Western setting.


Catfight "Legend of Frenchie King" by goodcatfights

7. Pam Grier vs Jeannie Epper (Foxy Brown, 1974)

Who can resist a lesbian bar fight? Pam showed da sistas who’s da ma’am.

8. Michiko Nishiwaki vs Sibelle Hu (My Lucky Stars, 1985)

My absolute favorite. A Hong Kong cult movie classic where you’ll be stunned before the first punch is even thrown in this scene, and I’m NOT talking about the ‘80s hair-do. I love this fight not because of the realism, the gore, the special effects, the skin, or other philosophical meanderings, none of these are in the scene. I love it because despite the serious atmosphere of the scene, it was downright unintentionally (is it?) hilarious! You’ll know what I’m talking about when you watch the scene.

It’s dubbed in English, unfortunately. Just leave your brains behind and let your jaw drop.

9. Moon Lee vs Yukari Oshima (Iron Angels, 1987)

Brutal, bloody, and jawdroppingly awesome. Lee sez: "I am just a poor defenseless woman.” Yeah, right.

10. Sharon Stone vs Rachel Ticotin (Total Recall, 1990)

Too bad Arnie interfered. Now THAT is what I call a third-party-driven divorce.

End of Part I.

[Footnote: Part II will bring Teri Hatcher, Rachel Weisz, Hale Berry into the ring…]

 
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