Friday, December 29, 2006

Flashbacks from England; Ascribo's Dissociation

It was a narrow path that runs between the Pitts River Museum and New Marston Neighborhood of Oxford, England. I can still see the blue sign indicating that this is a cyclist/foot path. I observe people smiling back at me as they stroll along the leafy trail. Horses in farms on the right, the gleams of sunset colouring the horizon with golden red, a boy with a fishing rod on the left. Soft breeze is blowing; water-flow under the small bridge is making a soft, pleasant bubbling sound, and creating, with occasional songs of birds, a romantic scene.

Not after a long time, I find myself sitting in a train, staring at a panoramic view of Oxford, and thinking about my past two months, and my next station. Against me a young boy is playing cards with his father, his Mom is reading The Times.

Shortly, the scene changes. I'm staying in a Victorian guesthouse, then I'm standing confused (again!) in a large supermarket. Rain washes it away, to find myself sitting in a garden by the lake. Then the lake becomes a ship canal, and I'm standing at the top of a high tower. It's just like a mixed-up filmstrip...

Finally I’m sitting in a waiting hall at an Airport terminal. A Virgin Atlantic Jumbo is preparing to take off, and I’m solving Sudoku in today's copy of The Independent. After a while, as I'm taking a final glance at the beautiful green piece of land that surrounds Manchester Airport, I think I should have stayed more in this pleasant land. Eventually I fall asleep.

Next morning, I wake up on a different combination of sounds that comprises the most irritating melody I've heard in my life. If a picture equals a hundred words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures. You'd better take a look at what I saw from my room's window:

What a cruel, abrupt transition! In less than 24 hours my deadly calm room that looks upon Lyme valley turns into what you've just watched. From now on, this would be the morning annoying alarm. No more green horizons. I think of that Airlines agent asking: "Are you sure you want to fly on Thursday?” Then I dismiss all those memories to where they belong: the PAST, in an attempt to get back to the awful reality.

But now, after I somehow got over the so-called: reverse cultural shock, I'm starting to have flashbacks of those memories. I never expected that I'll see it all again so vividly, and to the smallest detail. But here it is, I start to feel my personality dissociating.

Finally Ascribo tells me he wants to get back to England. He insists he never wanted to leave it in the first place. Now he wants to stay in that "PAST", writing about what he's seen and learnt. I have no choice, for now, he is the one who thinks and dictates; I only write what he says.
We'll call it: "Lessons from London". I think it's interesting that although he's spent just few days there, but he got most of what he's learnt in England from that old city, the heart of civilized world, More or Less.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Late answer to an Old tag!

Things haven't been going the way I like, or the way I imagined. I feel I'm busy more than my daily schedule can explain, and I feel there's no room for thinking! I haven't posted or even logged in my account for nearly two weeks, and the connection problems have only contributed to this. I feel that I'm growing so impatient that I can't wait for a page to load (1 minute for an average page is too much, isn't it?) or even that I can't write my thoughts down. I hope this will be only a temporary change, but I can't promise that. For all those who takes the trouble and time to check my blog (and I highly appreciate it), I can only beg you to check my blog every other week i.e. every fortnight. I'm NOT quitting!

For this post, and although I have a plenty of my thoughts that's nearly prepared for posting, I'm choosing to reply to an old tag by Karin. I hope that would encourage me to get back to expressing myself as it should be.

1) Was there any incident in your life which you feel, influenced you in particular?

When I was a 2nd year student, I changed my place of residence and moved to a new place due to some circumstances. I had to unvoluntarily break up with my roomate because it was the only choice available. I have to admit that so far this is the acute incident that changed me the most. Otherwise, I've experienced a progressive, gradual but big change. My early introduction to serious reading had its own impact on me, and many single books have caused a great deal of change in who I am. But the biggest change ever, albeit a slow change, was the result of my coming to University. I'm surprised that I can notice my change on a yearly basis, and my elective experience was only a part of that long chain.

2) What are you afraid of? Please name at least ONE example!

It's not difficult to find something that we're all afraid of. If I had to put it in one word I'd say it is: CHANGE! We all try to maintain our state of homeostasis and equillibrium and avoid any, even necessary, change. Change of place, of food, and of job are simple examples. Wider meanings include Loss of beloved, and Aging.

3) Is there any nature-event, you particularly like (i.e. thunderstorm, rain, snow ect.)?

I have always thought that natural environment has a great impact on people's personality. I have enjoyed comparing people from different environments and explain, to myself, why it's very difficult for people "from Sea" cannot get along well with people from "the inside" or from Mountains. It is simply nature. As being a Tartoussi, I can say that Sea can affect me greatly when it's wild and stormy. The way it calms down afterwards is specillay touching, and the relatively fast sequence of events, from wilderness to calmness, is amazing.

4) What kind of sport (if any) are you fond of or even actively pursue?

I am not an avid sport fan per se. During the early years of my youth, I've engaged myself so heavily in BodyBuilding. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not narcissistic, and I don't look like a monster right now, and I don't intend to be in the future. I have only changed my skinny appearance through sport into an "average" guy. The mental part of the sport, and I know most of you will disagree, has affected me so much. The hard work, patience, determination, persistence, and egoism of the sport are really unique.
In spite of being lazy most of the time, the activity that I'll enjoy most, apart from eating-out, is to go jogging alone for some 3-5 Kilometers, or to go swimming with a small group of fit friends!

5) Do you easily get nervous or upset? "Blow up"?

It's not easy at all to make me angry, although I get upset quite often. But once I'm angry, it will take some effort to calm me down. People will need to commit a very big mistake with me to make me go crazy. I don't usually take it personally, but the apathy, indifference, and lack of mutual and self-respect in some people is unbearable.

6) Do you dread getting older? Feel the biological clock ticking?

It might be early to do so, But I fear the aging too much. I feel that time is going against me, I'm always trapped between the clock pointers, and it's me who is the loser. If I had one wish that will come true, it will be that time would stop for some 10-15 years, or even more, until I can do what I want to do while young before going on with life. But you know, no one can help it. I can only be anxious about time passing, let me just wait and see!

7) Are you more a city-person or prefere the country-side?

That's a confusing question! Who would refuse the deadly calm pleasant coutryside? Or who would bear the slowness of life in countryside? I think we'll always keep complaining about both. Therefore, frequent change is necessary. But If you want my word, don't you ever think of spending your holiday days in a big city!

8) Do you allow any kind of fashion to rule over your taste?

Well, I wouldn't say that I allow it. It goes against me! I'm not I'm not an overly voguish guy. I wish we could simply ignore our (acceptable) appearance and start caring for the more important stuff. I really think that people who critisize each other for their "style choice" are superficial.

9) Are you more on the introverted or extroverted side?

I don't know if I've understood this right. I cannot draw a cut-off point precisely, for I think that I cannot apply one of them to me. When it comes to my inner feelings, I'm totally self-confident. I like spending, say, half of my time with others. But on the other hand, I feel obliged to spend some of my time on my own. That's not only from time to time, because I get really annoyed when I'm not let alone on a daily basis. A friend of mine has said that I'm wrapped with barbed-wires, and that I don't let anyone into my world that easily. That is true, but I add that when I trust someone, I profoundly do so. To summarize it, I'd say that I'm a guy with his own world and rules, who enjoys spending half of his time with others and cannot but do that, and who wants to be the only one making decisions for himself.

10) If you'd have to characterize yourself with one sentence - what would you say?

I don't feel that I have an answer to this question. You'll have to excuse me.
But if you'd do me a favour, do you think, fellow readers, you can draw a conclusion from all what I said and describe me in one sentence? I would be grateful.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Own Tag to All of You

I've always found it difficult to answer your tags. I think I haven't even answered all of it yet. It annoyed me that I couldn't write my own tag to provoke your imagination and challenge your contemplation. But today, I've faced, rather unintentionally, the most challenging question in my life. I thought I'd better seize the chance, use that question, and tag all of you!

It was some piece of writing I had for a test. The question was this way: "Which of your qualities you would like your child to have, and which of them you do NOT want your child to have?" I started to think it was a little bit selfish to for somebody to fulfill his own desires and correct his own mistakes through his children, but soon I realized that it was a typical Pros and Cons task of writing, and I found myself drawing a table!

Can you now imagine what I had to write on either side of the vertical line? It was MY qualities. In no time, for the first time in my entire life, I had to think what I love and hate about my own self. I felt I was dissecting my personality then classifying my own characteristics, sending these to Heaven and those to Hell. Under the r header were those that I wish to be buried with me, and under the a were those I want to be transferred through to the next generation.

I found it difficult to write an honest auto-critique in 30 minutes, especially if you consider that it was my first time to think about it. But now, You have all the time you need. It's just a one-questioned tag, and I'll be waiting for a sincere answer, an honest Self-criticism!!

"Which of your qualities you want your child to have, and which of them you do NOT want him to have"

My tag is to:

Angel (as a sweet welcome to the world of expressing one's self)
Rami the merciful

...and Everyone!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Tram Ride to Manchester Old Trafford

My days in England were drawing to an end, I had seen too much but missed too many...As if I was having a good dream, I had to wake up in the end. I felt it was too early when I had to go to Manchester to confirm my flight reservation.

The contradiction of my feelings was summarized in the flight agent's question: "Are you sure you want to fly on Thursday?"...That was a tough yes/no question, and I knew that either answer would not make such a big difference.

After I managed to take what seemed to be the right decision, I had good four hours before my bus. I had no idea where to go in such a big, fascinating city, but the tram seized my attention. I remembered that early in the 20th century, we used to have such a thing running down the (at that time) narrow streets of Damascus. We were "Occupied" at that time... No doubt, we evolved ever since: Now we have some 30,000 micro-buses filling the used-to-be-nice-streets of the oldest city in the world…

Manchester Tram

At Piccadilly Gardens, I was staring at the list of different tram lines and stops. I remembered that a friend of mine has suggested Salford Quays if I had spare time in Manchester. I had no other choice, I got my ticket and went on...

Salford Quays was a nice, romantically calm place. It reminded me of the magnificent by-Thames wharves in London. Being located near the canal in the older part of Manchester, they used to be a kind of ship building dock. I was crossing one bridge there when a red sign in the horizon caught my eyes. It said: "Manchester United"!!!

Sir Matt Busby

It was a long walk before I reached 'Sir Matt Busby Way' and eventually found the place. I haven't been so excited in my whole life. I knew that at the other side was a huge stadium, home of the Red Devils. After a long period of hesitation, I decided that I should try to look inside and find a reception or something of that sort. I had no idea what was waiting for me!

ManUnited Trophies

It was another walk inside before I found the museum of Man. United. All the trophies, medals, formal shirts, and other memorabilia of the red team were there. I found the reception after a while...

- "Would you like to join the 4.30 tour?"
- "Would that go into the stadium?"
- "Yes"
- "And can I take photos?"
- "As much as you like"
- "One ticket then, please!"

Old Trafford

It was my first time to go into a real stadium. Although I couldn't get a ticket for the best-of-all-matches Menchester Utd. VS. Arsenal, I felt that it's not a bad thing to see an empty stadium! Especially if it was Old Trafford!

Commentators Stand

The tour itself was a great thing. I got to know lots of interesting things about Manchester United. The stadium, with a capacity of some 76,000 spectators, was the biggest in UK. Because of its location, it was almost completely destroyed in the second world war when the bombardment targeted the nearby ship canal. It was rebuilt and maintained afterwards, but the remains of the old part is still there as a tribute to the great history of the pre-war Manchester Utd. I learned about Sir Matt Busby, who was a football player and then a manager of the club for some 20 years. I heard about the Munich air disaster and other aspects of the team history. The enthusiastic fans of Manchester were something of a noticeable importance, and of course, the sponsors (now are AIG, and Nike, who runs the megastore as well). I became familiar with the anatomy of a stadium, the places of journalists and commentators, and the reserved seats for Managers and VIPs. It was 90 minutes that I will never forget.

Home Team Seats

I had to leave then: to leave Old Trafford, to leave Manchester, and eventually to leave England. I don't even know if I am meant to go back to any of them, I have nothing left but hope and sweet memories. I wish that one day I'll be able to take that tram to Old Trafford and watch the Red Devils playing a home game against Arsenal. You see, I couldn't but become a fan of Man. United!

Tram stop

For those of you who are thinking of going to England in the near future, please don't miss that chance. For Ascribo's sake, take the tram to Old Trafford!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Do you know Firas?

Some people really surprise me with simple questions: "Do you know Firas?"

When I moved into this city, the first question anyone would ask was: "Where are you from?". When my answer to that was Syria, the next question was: "Do you know Firas?". I was surprised, everyone: juniour doctors, nurses, medical school clerks, and even exchange students were showering me with the very same question. And to make things more tricky, there was one colleague who was supposed to come to the hospital after a few days. I didn't believe that every one knew him by name even before he arrived.

Then I had to ask the only logical question in such a case: "Who the hell is Firas?"...Well, it turned out that Firas was a medical student at the local university. Sure, I didn't know him.

I don't know why on earth everybody was asking me that question. What difference would it make if I knew Firas, or had another friend back home who, by chance, was named Firas too. To me, asking such a question sounded like asking someone from France: "Do you know Jacque?" Or asking a Chinese guy: "Do you know Chan?"

Finally, I met Firas. He was rather astonished that everyone knew him by name, and knew that he was from Syria. For me, I felt like I found a treasure. Not only because I can answer the question now, but because I learned a new trick.

The next time I met a student who said was from Scotland, I immediately asked: "Do you know Andrew?"...

I let you to imagine how puzzled he looked!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I’ve been tagged!

I have been tagged some time ago, by both Abufares and Karin. I have to admit that I have always found personal questions, and specially the “What is your opinion?” ones, very difficult. Maybe I wasn’t trained to answer them at School. I have always had something ready for the answer, which I didn’t have to formulate or even criticize. Or maybe I am better at writing the inflection of my own thoughts than forcing my mind to go in any specific direction. Anyway, I’ll try my best at this challenge!

1. Which is the single best post you’ve read on any blog? Please provide link.
Well, that’s easy. Since my introduction to blogsphere was through Abufares, I always liked his post: Born Behind a wall. I am not wrong if if say that I haven’t read any better post since.

2. Which is the best post you’ve written? Which is your worst? Please provide links.
To myself, the better post that I’ve written (well, I have quite few posts to choose from) was the one about writing.
When I want to write something, I think about it for a long time. Or maybe it’s the other way around: when I think of something for a long time, I go ahead and write it. I always thought about writing, then I decided to start my own blog. So it’s not a surprise that my best post will be the tought that made me go blogging in the first place.

Oh, the worst one? For the same reason, I think my worst posts are the ones I haven’t written. I hate the idea that some of my deepest thinking moments are gone and will never be back again. I should have written those down.

3. How about a place you’ve never been to but would very much like to see.
That’s easy too, because it includes the whole world!

4. If you were a member of the opposite sex, what would you have done differently?
This is a confusing question. I cannot really find a good answer. But as we say in Arabic: “everything is beautiful in its time!”. But surely, I wouldn’t have pumped iron for 2-3 years!

5. Do you remember a childhood recurrent dream or nightmare? Good or bad, tell us about it.
I always (even recently) had a dream, or I should say a nightmare, where I feel like I need to run very quickly but couldn’t manage it. I think that stands for all my unfulfilled desires

6. Make me laugh or make me cry, put your words to use.

That is the most difficult one. I haven’t been any good at making people laugh. But on the other hand, I am not boring! What can make you really crying is the real suffering of people, which is not very hard to find in this part of the world. I don’t have such a story yet, sorry!

7. Do you regret the unfulfilled dreams, the inaccessible roads, the uncharted lands?
Each experience in life can teach me something new and valuable. Had I not had the missed opportunities, I would never have been able to know the real value of anything. I don’t regret anything I had missed, but only the opportunities that I wasn’t able to learn anything from.

8. What is a friend to you? And what are you to a friend?
Friendship is one of the few things that gives meaning to life. A friend is someone who I can trust without hesitation. Someone who I can spend my time with and enjoy it, without me or him getting bored. Someone who can offer a shoulder to cry on in the hard times. And a little bit more…

9. T.S. Eliot measured his life with coffee spoons, how about you?
It’s quite difficult to measure life. Let me say I would consider the number of friends, real dependable friends, as a meaningful number in my life.

10. Write your own epitaph, or if that is too hard, how would you like your epitaph to read?
I can say no better than: “Remember man as you walk by, as you are now so once was I, as I am now, so you will be, so prepare for death and follow me.” In Arabic, I would write what AlMa’arri said:
خفف الوطأ فما أرى أديم الأرض إلا من هذه الأجساد

Are you happy/satisfied with your blog with it's content and look?
I’m not totally satisfied with the tepmplate options. I don’t care about the look, but about the accessibility. I want my blog to be as easy to read as possible. For content I have a list of thoughts to write, but no time!

Does your family know about your blog?
Not all of them. Only those who can spend some time reading my nonsense know about it.

Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog or you just consider it as a private thing?
I can write my posts and keep them in my notebook! I’m writing for people to read, comment and share ideas. I only seem to care too much about my e-anonymity.

Did blogs cause positive changes in your thoughts?
Sure. Blogging has helped me to know that it could be difficult to let people understand how exactly you’re thinking. It’s a great source of learning how to present your ideas in an acceptable way.

Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or you love to go and discover more by yourself?
I love to discover new blogs and new people. I can easily find an interesting post, but finding an interesting blog is more difficult.

What does visitors counter mean to you? Do you care about putting it in your blog?
Number of visitors has a great meaning for me. But the more important is the feedback I receive. A single comment worth 100 visitors. You can never tell if all those visitors enjoyed what you’ve written or not. But when some one can bother to write two or three lines, that means a lot.

Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?
This seems like judging people’s appearance by the way they write. Everybody tries that, but it can hardly be successful. I’ve had many e-mails friend who turned out to look in a different way than I have ever imagined.

Admit. Do you think there is a real benefit for blogging?
I think yes. Even if nobody is reading what you’re writing, you can read it yourself after 10 years or so, and sure you’ll enjoy it. If you didn’t, it is simply a way of getting things off your chest!

Do you think that bloggers society is isolated from real world or interacts with events?
Bloggers can get their ideas from nowhere but real world. Our lives affect what we think, what we say, and what we write. Even when we try to imagine something, our imagination is based on our reality to a great extent. However, I think bloggers doesn’t affect real world that much, they only interact with each others and those who actually read!

Does criticism annoying you or do you feel it's a normal thing?
I am happy to receive any critisim. I would like to know how people receive me or think about me. I only don’t like critisim in public.

Do you fear of some political blogs and avoid them?
I enjoy reading different blogs of different kinds. I like to know how different people think about different things. That includes politics and everything else.

Did you get shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?
I truly belive that everyone has the right to say or write what ever he/she wants. Arresting bloggers is something like depriving them from their rights, or like punishing someone because of what he/she has written. I really detest that.

Did you think about what will happen to your blog after you die?
When someone dies many things are no longer of any importance for him. I basically try to deliver my ideas to people and to have them written somewhere before it’s too late. When I die: No ideas, no blog.

What do you like to hear? What's the song you like to put its link in your blog?
What I like to hear depends on my mood. I like classical music, and I think the one I like to put in my blog is Fur Elise, for Beethoven.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

England is Miserable

I will just start by clearing up any confusion might have been caused by the title: it wasn't me who said that!
Not only I can't imagine myself saying such a thing, but also I don't feel that I have the right to do so. It'd feel like someone who lives in a messy house walking into a Hall and criticizing this mis-placed paint and that. Even though that could be true (from an objective point of view), but the rational question in that case would be: "Why Don't you start with cleaning up your own house?!"

For me, and after all, England is a romantic dream coming ture. All the beauty of nature, houses, towns, and people keep astonishing me every time I see more. Maybe I haven't lived here long enough to take all the advantages for granted and start complaining about the relatively few disadvantages...But anyway, I still think of England as an amazingly charming place.

It was a young Scottish doctor who said in a casual conversation: "England is miserable, it is over-crowded. The weather is horrible, and English people are miserable too. I think this has something to do with the weather."

What? I thought to myself. If England is miserable and over-crowded, then what does Scotland look like? Paradise?
I always heard about Scotland, the beauty of its nature and the kindness of its people (Although I haven't seen it myself, to be honest). But that "English is miserable" was the most tempting invitation to visit Scotland I have ever received!

What I am trying to say is how do people think differently of the very same thing. I tried to imagine myself trying to reach any sort of agreement with that guy. It sounds literally impossible.
To me, the reason behind that is our different backgrounds. Imagine two people having an argument about miserable lives of soldiers, with one of them thinking of a corporal, and the other of an admiral. How on earth can they reach an agreement?

For all of that, I think most of conversation's faliure can be attributed to the lack of any common ground. People talking about the same thing from different perspectives can end up very furious with each other in no time. I truely believe that agreeing on simple-abstarct points should be the start of any successful conversation on any controversy, especially with the subject being cultural differences.

You can browse all over Forums and Blogs on the web and you'll find loads of examples of people who have no idea what they and the other have in common. Even worse, many tend to be bad listeners, and then comes misunderstanding, and the worst of all: fixed ideas. No wonder why they call it: "clash of civilizations"

Well, any conclusion? Just try to remember that the same thing might have completely different meanings to different people. End of story

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Trains Story

I had this conversation with an Oxford student:

- How are you going there?
- By train
- I see. By the way, Do you use trains that much in Syira?
- No. We usually go by bus. It's faster.
- Bus is faster than train. Why?
- Well, we have some very old trains.
- Why is that?
- Well. Before the Word War I, Ottomans were building a railway network. Sultan Abdul Hamid II, with the help of Germans, created a unique, narrow-gauge, railway network. One reason behind that was to prevent the allies from bringing their trains and using the existing network. That was supposed to make it difficult for the allies to take over the region if they won the war, and so they did.
- Do you still have that network?
- It's still there. With date of start as old as 1900, it's a kind of a railway museum. However, we are "trying" to build a standard railway network, because nobody makes the narrow-gauge trains anymore, even Germans don't.
- Why Don't you make your own trains?!
-'s....I....I don't know

That was a hell of a straightforward question that kept me awake all night trying to figure out: Why on earth don't we make our own trains?

I was reciting that conversation again and again in my head:

- Why don't you have fast trains?
- Well, Because the Ottomans....

Wait a minute. Who? and When? Why we keep blaming our own problems on Ottomans, who left us before our grandparents were even born? And World War I !! As if it took place last year. Imagine going to fictitious Germany and asking someone: Why your country is destroyed? --> Well, because the allies bombed it during World War II.
What a goddamn answer would that be?

And we have a nice list of things to blame:
because the Ottomans..Because the French..Because the Occupation..Because the war...Because the imperialism..because of Israel...Because the goverment..because the Hell......We can always find somebody or something to blame our own mistakes on. We blame it on the weather if we're left only with it, and we haven't got any English weather, you know! But still, we can say: Because of the heat, or the wind, or the change anyway!

Have you ever heard in our part of the world somebody saying: We or I? Have you ever said: "It's my own fault"?

So, let's try to find a descent answer to that question: "Why don't you make your own trains?"
- "well, because we're a little bit lazy and stupid. that's all"... Or "Because we had two failure generations, and the third looks even worse"...Or "Because we are the best people on earth in finding execuses"...Or "Because we never admit our problems, so we'll never be able to work out solutions". Can You think of better replies?!

Why don't we Build our own trains?!

I'm still waiting for a descent answer!

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Before going on with my blog, I would like to discuss what I think is the idea behind blogging: that is Writing.

As you may or may not know, History has started since our ancestor caveman decided to sculpt some symbols representing his daily life on the wall of some caves. You can say that all people and, probably, civilizations who lived before that are pre-history. We simply know nothing about them.

What started history was that basic, simple, ridiculous recording of whatever early human considered as important to him. Written language might have passed through many phases before the appearance of Alphabet. But still, some people can look at some cave walls and say: somebody lived here...

It might have taken a long time since people started writing books, philosophy and other sophisticated subjects appeared later...But in the beginning, there was the word.

As Abufares once said: "Words give us the unlimited freedom to soar with the eagles or to fuck with the chickens". Indeed, words have unlimited abilities...
Words are the way to share your experiences with people you have never met, probably many generations after yours. They are the means of spreading human knowledge and the reservoir of all intellectual products. They will enable you to draw a picture of all places you have visited and to trasnfer your feelings to your readers, to let them into your own world.

Still, in the 21st century, many people are living out of reach of history. It may be strange that in the midst of all this communication technology, people know less about each other. The need to express one's self is as urgent as it's always been.

Writing is a way of revealing ourselves to the outer world. It is almost the only way of a long-lasting expression. You may still stand up in a Speakers' Corner and shout as loud as your throat can allow; but as your voice fades away, nobody will be able to hear what you'd just said.

You don't need to be a philosopher or a creative thinker to come up with interesting pieces of writing. You can just, as the early caveman started History, start writing about your own daily life. We all have daily lives that deserve writing about, not least your life.

Everybody likes to see the reflection of his own life experiences written down somewhere. And interestingly, we enjoy reading about our own self, or what resemble it. But yet, if you have a very exotic way of living, be sure that everybody would like to know about it.

Don't wait so much. Go on and let everybody share your ideas and impressions with you. Let them cross the borders of your mortal body and last as long as there's somebody able to read. Start catching the flow of ideas that pass trough your head before they vanish. There maybe someone who'd like to share them with you, or at least the person you would be after ten years.

You have some choices here. You can get a pen and a piece of paper and write down whatever nonsense you're thinking of. You can go into a deep cave in a remote area and hide a treasure trove of knowledge there. And always, you can simply sign-up!

Keep up the good work!

Friday, August 11, 2006


I hope you are not already bored stiff waiting for my second post, and for the answer to that BIG question: “Why they don’t just take your money and not send you anything?”

I’ll try to put the goddamn answer down here. If you reached the bottom of my post that would make me happy. If you managed to leave a comment, I would be in great delight.

So whether you were a poor guy who was unlucky enough to buy something from a shop in Damascus, or an expert merchant who believes that "Business is smartness"... It doesn't really matter if you believe in that silly motto or not…
If you are someone who can sell a 300 SP item for 1200 SP, or you are still trying to find a way to convince your customers that all the Chinese goods in your shop are all French-made (No offence!) Just go ahead and read the answer!

Why don’t they take your money and send you nothing?

  • Because nobody here (I mean UK) would even think of stealing (just out of curiosity!) your mail from the pigeonhole messagebox
  • Because when you go to the shop and buy an item for £49.98, the shop assistant would give 2 pennies back. Not two "Chicklets" chewing-gums, not two pieces of sugar, not even two medic wound-plaster
  • Because a driver here would stop at a red traffic-light, whether the road was clear or not. And in the absence of any police officer
  • Because although smoking is still allowed in public places, the guy sitting next to you in the park would ask for your permission before lighting his cigarette
  • Because you can close your eyes and drive in the cyclists lane safely
  • Because a porter would knock at your door before coming in even if he knew that nobody was in there
  • Because they call the National Health Service here: the Trust, and eventually, they trust it
  • I can count endlessly, but…
Simply, if we all trusted each other, life would be much more easier than if we
all thought: “he is going to take my money and run away

Trust is not something that can be built overnight. But on the contrary, it could be destroyed at the drop of a hat…
Trust is something that could be connected to reputation, but is actually different. It is the reputation you have for a stranger, someone that you have never met…
Trust is not something written down in any textbook, it is not something that people learn at school, it is not even something clearly defined. It is that bleary feeling of safety we have towards the public. It cannot be achieved by an individual effort, but by collaborative one.

I would not go as far as saying that anybody is trustworthy. But there should be a certain limit that would enable you to have a simple, normally unsuspicious approach to everyday life.

I don’t know what level you can feel, but believe me: it deserves to give it a second thought.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Shopping & Shopping online

I used to wonder why some people add "Shopping" as a hobby in their profile. Living in Damascus - Syria, I used to hate shopping, and to avoid it most of the time. I would just tell my brother to go downstairs and get whatever we wanted for lunch or dinner. I don't really like it when you have to answer 99 questions before being able to get 1 kg of sugar for your tea. I am not anti-social, but I don't like being (or feeling that I am) interrogated for no obvious reason. However, it wasn't difficult to do shopping (or shall I call it buying). I used to feel good about the limited choices I had, but sometimes I couldn't find what I needed. Anyway, that was in the past...

Since I stepped into the UK, everything has changed. Now I would stand for hours in the supermarket wondering which bread is better, trying to tell the difference between pink and red salmon, or even trying to explain the big difference in price between two packs of noodles. I would get very confused when I find that the cheap one is very good...That would trigger my imagination to start a failed attempt of figuring out how the expensive one would taste. It was very diffucult to move from the very limited to the other extreme end. But...!

As if that wasn't even enough, I had to try shopping online! I have to admit that it was extremely difficult for me to have all those choices! It was even harder when you cannot touch or feel the item you're buying. You can never make a successful estimate of size, although "dimensions"are often mentioned. And the 1-click-buy button was so easy that I pressed it twice, which meant that I made a duplicate order!

When I was first introduced to shopping online by Abufares I had a simple question: "Why don't they simply take your money and NOT send you the item? Or Why don't they steal all the money in your credit card?" I asked. His simple answer to that was: "You have to buy from trusted websites, and you'll have then to trust them!"
That answer was enough for me at that time, but I would never say that I understood the real reason...

Let's get back to my duplicate order! I got very confused that night. What should I do? Then I came across another maggical button: Problem with this order? I had no choice but pressing the button...But I hesitated a little bit before moving to the next step: Contact the seller...I have to admit that I thought: Would they reply? But I contacted them anyway...

It was 07:41 a.m. the very same morning when they refunded the whole value for my item, plus the shipping cost (obviously it wasn't shipped). I was even thanked for buying from their store, although I haven't really been to their store!

Sometimes you have to look for answers to your own questions. Although the mistake I have made was partially an answer to my previous questions to Abufares, I was able to find the complete answer by other means. If you are still reading and not bored to death, you can get back to my blog later and find out!