Monthly Archives: August 2011

Forgiveness

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I got this beautiful story off of Paulo Coelho’s blog:

An old man sold toys in the Baghdad market. Knowing that his sight was not quite perfect, his customers sometimes paid him with fake money.

The old man discovered the ruse, but did not say anything.
In his prayers he asked God to forgive those who cheated him.
“Perhaps they’re short of money and want to buy presents for their children,” he said to himself.

The time passed and the old man died. Standing before the gates of Heaven, he prayed once more:

– Lord! – he said. – I am a sinner. I did many wrong things, I am no better than the false coins I was paid. Forgive me!

At that moment the gates swung open and a Voice was heard:

– Forgive what? How can I judge someone who all through his life never once passed judgment on others?

 

بنات الثانوية

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3eidkom Mbarak! 🙂

Since today was the first day of Eid, it was also the last day of Ramadan TV shows; most of them aired their finales today. I’ve only been keeping up with two shows, the rest were too dramatic for my liking. It seems like every year, there’s a certain theme that all the directors and writers agree on. Last year it was how men are unfaithful cheaters, the year before it was domestic abuse, and there was that one year where homosexuality and AIDs were pretty popular on TV (of course, Shujoon was the carrier), etc… This year, though, it’s ‘the evil mother’: the mother who won’t let her son marry the girl he loves because of the difference in social status, the divorced mother who won’t allow her children to see their father, and so on. There’s also the middle-aged woman having a midlife crisis by getting involved in a relationship with a man 20 years younger than her (Al-Malika), but that’s another story altogether.

The one show I’ve been consistently keeping up with is Banat Al Thanawiya, and that’s because I’ve read the book before by Mohammed Al Nashmi. The book is sold at Virgin Megastore in Marina Mall, but from what I’ve heard it’s not allowed in public schools; students are punished if a teacher finds a copy of this book with them. I wasn’t all that impressed with the story, I found the plot to be rushed and uninteresting, because the events were very cliche. The main characters, Mohamed and Samar, fell in love way too quickly — in both the book and the series, which were drastically different from one another. In the book, Mohamed holds Samar’s hand the very first moment he meets her. I can see why Kuwaiti channels banned the series, I suppose, but the writer has stated that most of his story’s plot was twisted to suit society’s views. Censorship committees probably considered the book to be breaching certain traditional values, and thought it would spark too much controversy.

Though the novel was very poorly written, with way too many grammatical errors and very simple language, the story itself was a controversial one that, in my opinion, should’ve been aired unedited.

The novel’s story is as follows: Mohamed and Samar meet at a shady ‘gathering’, a double-date of sorts. The moment Mohamed meets Samar, he takes her hand, and she moves away — because she didn’t expect the ‘relationship’ to begin so quickly. Of course, it is conveyed that Mohamed and his buddy do not have ‘pure’ intentions, and that’s proven when Mohamed holds the hand of a perfect stranger the moment he meets her, and scolds her when she moves away. The relationship escalates, and they find themselves falling in love with each other, surprising themselves — they expected it to be nothing more than a fling. Strangely enough, they don’t know each others’ full names; they are on a first name basis for months. They grow physically intimate, and the writer describes these scenes in his book. The couple even rent an apartment on Valentine’s Day for one night. Of course, that would explain why the story was changed; according to Middle-Eastern traditions, physical intimacy before getting married is inappropriate. Samar also takes up smoking, which she picks up from her ‘bad girl friends’ — but this wasn’t shown in the series.

As their relationship develops, Samar starts fantasizing about what it would be like to have children with Mohamed, but doesn’t say so out loud. To her great joy, Mohamed is having the same thoughts; he throws hints at her numerous times, how he’s relying on her to help their son with his homework. At this point, they still aren’t aware of each others’ last names…until one day, Mohamed takes her out for ice-cream at a local ice-cream store. She waits in his car as he goes down to the store to get their ice-cream, and as she’s waiting, curiosity gets the best of her when she sees his civil ID on the floor. She picks it up, and when she reads his last name, it changes everything. She goes home and cries later that night, not telling him what she has just found out.

She finds out that Mohamed comes from a Shiie family, while she comes from a Sunni family. It breaks her heart because she knows they will not be able to marry each other in the future, as the union of Shiia and Sunna in marriage is usually very difficult to convince both families to accept. She can’t hold it in for more than a few nights, and she does end up telling him. He hangs up on her, but only because he’s angry she went through his things rather than just asking him. After they kiss and make up, they sit down and discuss their future plans. Mohamed tells her he plans on speaking to his mother and seeing what she thinks. So he does, and his mother tells him she has no problem with it, and would like to speak to Samar’s mother. Samar’s mother, on the other hand, expresses undeniable rejection of giving away her daughter to a non-Sunni. When the mothers speak, Samar’s mother tells Mohamed’s mother that she would not have a problem with their marriage, as long as Mohamed would ‘convert’. Mohamed and his mother are both open to the idea, but his father strongly opposes it, along with all of his uncles. Long story cut short, he goes against his father and his uncles, and he converts. Mohamed and Samar marry each other, both as Sunna.

On their wedding night, they stay at a hotel. As they are settling in, Mohamed gets a call from his mother and his sisters, saying his father won’t let them in the house until he has seen Mohamed (to basically yell at him and tell him what disgrace he has brought on their family). Mohamed apologizes profusely to Samar, tells her he won’t take more than an hour and he’ll be back. Samar is understanding, tells him it’s fine, she’ll wait for him. He drives over to his house, deals with his father, and gets his mother and sisters in the house. As he’s leaving, he calls Samar, tells her he handled everything, and is on his way to get some knafa for them to have for dinner. An hour later, he still hasn’t returned. Samar calls him, and he doesn’t pick up. She spends the entire night calling him, and his phone is off the whole time. When the morning came, Samar still hadn’t slept, and she hears a knock on the door. Her mother and sisters are there, and they tell her Mohamed died in a car accident. Samar laughs, tells her mother, “No, he’s on his way back, he’s just bringing us some knafa.” Personally I think the knafa was an a w f u l touch. It made the death scene turn into a comedic moment rather than a sad one! Granted, most of these writers absolutely suck at properly creating grievous scenes, but knafa just ruins the whole thing! I was actually telling a friend of mine the book’s story the other day, and he laughed his heart out. Knafa and death should never, ever be on the same page!

I didn’t find the show’s ending to be realistic whatsoever. I understand that they were attempting a ‘happy ending’ sort of deal, but if the happy ending isn’t realistic, kill the main character and get it over with. Mohamed’s mother suddenly turning into a saint and hugging the girl she once referred to as a low-class trashy peasant just doesn’t register in my head. Whatever floats the audience’s boat, I guess…

The Social Pyramid Makes or Breaks You

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Sometime in February during my Junior year of high school, my English teacher said something to me that made my classmates laugh — which, of course, made me immediately take what he said as an insult. Later on that day I mentioned it to a friend who said that I shouldn’t have been offended, it was actually a compliment, an honorable one at that. I spent five days a week, two hours a day, and nine months for a whole year with this teacher. He had a good understanding of my personality and my character from the way I behaved in his room and from my opinions during certain discussions we would have as a class. Usually by February, all teachers have a good idea of what kind of person you are. So his comment was a result of several months of observation and contemplation, since he he deemed it fit to say to me.

I don’t remember what exactly caused him to say it, but if my memory serves me correctly, one of my classmates had a slight cold and he sneezed, so I got up and passed him a tissue box. My English teacher looked at me for a few moments and then said, “You’d be a good nurse.”

I was surprised. I’ve been told I’d be a good journalist, a good writer, a good lawyer, a good counselor, and many other career suggestions. But I’ve never been told I’d be a good nurse. The stifled laughs of two or three guys in my class with extremely low IQ’s made me say, “A nurse?” and my teacher persisted, “Yes, you’d be a very good nurse, you’d take good care of patients.” And I didn’t answer, not wanting to pursue the topic in front of my classmates. So we both dropped it.

But now, 6 months later, I have a completely different outlook on this. I’m trying to understand what it was that made me take offense at what was obviously a compliment. What’s wrong with being a nurse? Nurses are the ones who have taken care of our grandparents as they took their last breaths in hospitals, they will care for our parents when they grow old, and they care for us and our families and loved ones when we fall ill. They’re patient, understanding, caring, and gentle; they do everything they can to ensure that you are comfortable even though you are in pain. They don’t just take care of you physically, they take care of you emotionally as well. It’s very common to see nurses calming down scared children if their parents are not around. They do a good job of keeping patients’ fear under control. I think they’re a lot like teachers, underestimated, under-appreciated, and underpaid. They put up with a lot of bullshit too; lots of disrespect and mistreatment is aimed their way as a result of families’ frustration, but they take it with stride. In my opinion, they are every bit as important to the patient as the doctor.

I’m glad my point of view has changed since February, and it was a long, intense process that required me to think twice about a lot of my beliefs, but I’m still wondering what kind of brainwash society puts us through that has conditioned all citizens to having the same views on the same matters. They look down on nurses, garbage-men, street-cleaners, salon workers, and waiters, but not parliament members that steal money and disgrace the country, tarnishing its reputation universally. Is it about status? Is it about money? The more money you make, the more respect you gain? Why isn’t it about honor? Why isn’t honor enough? If a man or a woman is doing something good for society, and he or she is doing it with honor, don’t they deserve as much respect as that trashy parliament member you think so highly of? Where would we be anyway, without these “low-class” workers? I think it’s so wrong that non-Kuwaitis are cleaning the streets of Kuwait. There is no logic or honor behind it. It should be Kuwaitis cleaning up their streets, although they should not be dirty to begin with. But unfortunately, I doubt a great number of Kuwaitis would volunteer to clean up the streets, even though it is our land and our responsibility.

Just something to ponder over.

Dinner with Wolves

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“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.” – Benjamin Franklin

I think this quote’s awesome. Wolves are obviously symbols of those who are powerful in society and hold a high-status position that intimidates everyone else. The lamb, of course, is the poor, weak citizen whose in a constant state of fear and anxiety, because he’s aware of how vulnerable he is in comparison to those who rule his land. The reasons ‘wolves’ is plural and ‘lamb’ is singular is, in my opinion, because when it comes to decisions being made regarding society, somehow the higher you are on the social pyramid, the louder your voice is. So, when two wolves agree to sit down with a lamb and discuss in a civil manner what they should have for dinner, that’s true democracy.

Happy Birthday Tim Burton

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Yesterday was the famous Tim Burton’s birthday. He’s the glorious genius behind Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Edward Scissorhands, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd,  and 2 of the Batman movies. He’s also a poet, who has written the poems that the movies Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands were based on.

This is one of the best scenes from Nightmare Before Christmas, when Jack, a skeleton from Halloween Land, discovers Christmas Town.

It was late one fall in Halloweenland,
and the air had quite a chill.
Against the moon a skeleton sat,
alone upon a hill.
He was tall and thin with a bat bow tie;
Jack Skellington was his name.
He was tired and bored in Halloweenland

“I’m sick of the scaring, the terror, the fright.
I’m tired of being something that goes bump in the night.
I’m bored with leering my horrible glances,
And my feet hurt from dancing those skeleton dances.
I don’t like graveyards, and I need something new.
There must be more to life than just yelling,
‘Boo!'”

Then out from a grave, with a curl and a twist,
Came a whimpering, whining, spectral mist.
It was a little ghost dog, with a faint little bark,
And a jack-o’-lantern nose that glowed in the dark.
It was Jack’s dog, Zero, the best friend he had,
But Jack hardly noticed, which made Zero sad.

All that night and through the next day,
Jack wandered and walked.
He was filled with dismay.
Then deep in the forest, just before night,
Jack came upon an amazing sight.
Not twenty feet from the spot where he stood
Were three massive doorways carved in wood.
He stood before them, completely in awe,
His gaze transfixed by one special door.
Entranced and excited, with a slight sense of worry,
Jack opened the door to a white, windy flurry.

Jack didn’t know it, but he’d fallen down
In the middle of a place called Christmas Town!
Immersed in the light, Jack was no longer haunted.
He had finally found the feeling he wanted.
And so that his friends wouldn’t think him a liar,
He took the present filled stockings that hung by the fire.
He took candy and toys that were stacked on the shelves
And a picture of Santa with all of his elves.
He took lights and ornaments and the star from the tree,
And from the Christmas Town sign, he took the big letter C.

He picked up everything that sparkled or glowed.
He even picked up a handful of snow.
He grabbed it all, and without being seen,
He took it all back to Halloween.

Back in Halloween a group of Jack’s peers
Stared in amazement at his Christmas souvenires.
For this wondrous vision none were prepared.
Most were excited, though a few were quite scared!

For the next few days, while it lightninged and thundered,
Jack sat alone and obsessively wondered.
“Why is it they get to spread laughter and cheer
While we stalk the graveyards, spreading panic and fear?
Well, I could be Santa, and I could spread cheer!
Why does he get to do it year after year?”
Outraged by injustice, Jack thought and he thought.
Then he got an idea. “Yes. . .yes. . .why not!”

In Christmas Town, Santa was making some toys
When through the din he heard a soft noise.
He answered the door, and to his surprise,
He saw weird little creatures in strange disguise.
They were altogether ugly and rather petite.
As they opened their sacks, they yelled, “Trick or treat!”
Then a confused Santa was shoved into a sack
And taken to Halloween to see mastermind Jack.

In Halloween everyone gathered once more,
For they’d never seen a Santa before
And as they cautiously gazed at this strange old man,
Jack related to Santa his masterful plan:
“My dear Mr. Claus, I think it’s a crime
That you’ve got to be Santa all of the time!
But now I will give presents, and I will spread cheer.
We’re changing places I’m Santa this year.
It is I who will say Merry Christmas to you!
So you may lie in my coffin, creak doors, and yell, ‘Boo!’
And please, Mr. Claus, don’t think ill of my plan.
For I’ll do the best Santa job that I can.”

And though Jack and his friends thought they’d do a good job,
Their idea of Christmas was still quite macabre.
They were packed up and ready on Christmas Eve day
When Jack hitched his reindeer to his sleek coffin sleigh,
But on Christmas Eve as they were about to begin,
A Halloween fog slowly rolled in.
Jack said, “We can’t leave; this fog’s just too thick.
There will be no Christmas, and I can’t be St. Nick.”
Then a small glowing light pierced through the fog.
What could it be?. . .It was Zero, Jack’s dog!

Jack said, “Zero, with your nose so bright,
Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

And to be so needed was Zero’s great dream,
So he joyously flew to the head of the team.
And as the skeletal sleigh started its ghostly flight,
Jack cackled, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

‘Twas the nightmare before Christmas, and all though the house,
Not a creature was peaceful, not even a mouse.
The stockings all hung by the chimney with care,
When opened that morning would cause quite a scare!
The children, all nestled so snug in their beds,
Would have nightmares of monsters and skeleton heads.
The moon that hung over the new-fallen snow
Cast an eerie pall over the city below,
And Santa Claus’s laughter now sounded like groans,
And the jingling bells like chattering bones.
And what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a coffin sleigh with skeleton deer.
And a skeletal driver so ugly and sick
They knew in a moment, this can’t be St. Nick!
From house to house, with a true sense of joy,
Jack happily issued each present and toy.
From rooftop to rooftop he jumped and he skipped,
Leaving presents that seemed to be straight from a crypt!
Unaware that the world was in panic and fear,
Jack merrily spread his own brand of cheer.

He visited the house of Susie and Dave;
They got a Gumby and Pokey from the grave.
Then on to the home of little Jane Neeman;
She got a baby doll possessed by a demon.
A monstrous train with tentacle tracks,
A ghoulish puppet wielding an ax,
A man eating plant disguised as a wreath,
And a vampire teddy bear with very sharp teeth.

There were screams of terror, but Jack didn’t hear it,
He was much too involved with his own Christmas spirit!
Jack finally looked down from his dark, starry frights
And saw the commotion, the noise, and the light.
“Why, they’re celebrating, it looks like such fun!
They’re thanking me for the good job that I’ve done.”
But what he thought were fireworks meant as goodwill
Were bullets and missiles intended to kill.
Then amidst the barrage of artillery fire,
Jack urged Zero to go higher and higher.
And away they all flew like the storm of a thistle,
Until they were hit by a well guided missile.
And as they fell on the cemetery, way out of sight,
Was heard, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good
night.”

Jack pulled himself up on a large stone cross,
And from there he reviewed his incredible loss.
“I thought I could be Santa, I had such belief”
Jack was confused and filled with great grief.
Not knowing where to turn, he looked toward the sky,
Then he slumped on the grave and he started to cry.
And as Zero and Jack lay crumpled on the ground,
They suddenly heard a familiar sound.

“My dear Jack,” said Santa, “I applaud your intent.
I know wreaking such havoc was not what you meant.
And so you are sad and feeling quite blue,
But taking over Christmas was the wrong thing to do.
I hope you realize Halloween’s the right place for you.
There’s a lot more, Jack, that I’d like to say,
But now I must hurry, for it’s almost Christmas day.”
Then he jumped in his sleigh, and with a wink of an eye,
He said, “Merry Christmas,” and he bid them good bye.

Back home, Jack was sad, but then, like a dream,
Santa brought Christmas to the land of Halloween.