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?!
- We...it'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!