Sunday, 8 March 2015

Women's day in Jeddah

Grammar class.
Present real conditionals.

If you heat the water, it boils.

If you don’t sleep at night, you will possibly be exhausted the day after.

If you kill someone in KSA, you die.

-Under what conditions a person who killed is punished by death, asked the class. 
( what a weird way to reinforce the idea of conditions.)
- If he intended to kill.
- If there is evidence.
- If there are witnesses. Some of my students reply.
- Great. How many witnesses are needed, I ask. 
Plenty of numbers in the air. They are given time to decide in groups.
- You need 2 to 3 men, they all agreed.
- Good, two to three men. But, what if the witnesses are women, I asked. They paused, the buzz started again, more intense.

- One woman is half a man, came from the back. I raised my eye brows.
A sea of lava, on the west side of Wabha Crader.
- Sorry, what do you mean? I asked in a blur. An explosion of Arabic. A rare after, lunch-break liveliness sparked.
- Two, said another.
- How many women are needed as witnesses? I rephrased the question.
- Three.
-  Four to six.
- Alright guys, chat with your group and come up with an answer.
- Women might not say the truth, Ahlan said hesitating. The other girls didn't seem to quite agree. 
- Interesting.
- No, no it's because women are….you know….sensitive, Abeer rushed in.
- No, Miss. It's because they might lie to help each other, Walaa said with a cheeky smile.

- I nodded with wide eyes. Then, one of the girls at the back, Asma, threw something in Arabic. 

The whole class started barking. Back and forth barking.

The girls were shooting words I could not understand. 

Passion loaded words. Her partner fired up, was pressing a 

finger on her shoulder blade. 

Whatever Asma said, the whole class rose against it.  

They wouldn’t let her get away with it. She didn’t seem to 
want to, either.

Its cause debatable, its force indisputable. 

It took a while to calm this simultaneous, untamed sharing of ideas. I was dying to know what exactly sparked it.  Reminded respect towards our self and others, no matter what.
- The reason they say a woman is half a man is because she can’t pray all the time. You know, the period.   
- We don't pray on our period, the other girls, added
- Yes, I mumbled. 

Their sparkling eyes went through me. 
Noticed my hand resting on my bloody womb. 
Observed its pain. 
Death carrying life.   

My eyes stroked the floor, 
tangled into the sunlight, 
flew outside into the shaking date tree leaves, 
then climbed down the seemingly still, straight tree trunk, onto the hot, dry earth.

Inside, the air was unsettled 
and sharp
as a tightrope.

Touched Space

"Future Conditionals” 

appeared on the whiteboard.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Half a lentile seed

opens the eyes 
to infinity,
even if it's smaller
than a lentil seed.

(Had I not sat on this grass after work,
 I would have kept passing ignorant of this tiny weed's  existence,  
as I've been doing for the past 2 years.)

το άπειρο
κι ας μην είναι μεγαλύτερο
από σπόρο φακής

Friday, 27 February 2015

Let music be

weekend flowers 
bloom in colours!

A picture taken at the end of the "Boulevard Du Swing" concert. We are grateful to places like the French Consulate in Jeddah. Generally, public music events are pretty rare in the country. Being allowed to organise one becomes increasingly tough.

Now that these measures are tightening, 

we sprinkle water to soften the air. 
Music is the language of the heart.
So many are so starved for a moment of peace.

Let's let the music be the jasmine 
that calls in our oneness as humans.

What is our purpose after all, 

if not true brotherhood? 

Let music be, Inshallah

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Ode to the Unnamed

Each semester, I get asked "Miss, why did you come to Saudi?" I would pause, and ponder upon this unexpected yet logical question. I would explain. Then, they would ask again "But WHY Saudi?". 

I am yet to give a fully satisfying answer. I'm in the process of finding out...which is awe-some.

Sometimes ignorance and prejudice prepares you for the far worse, until you see what there is to see....
Then, the veils melt..and WHAT a sight,
what a sign.

During my two years in Saudi, some people said they enjoy their time here. Alhamdullah (Thanks to God, in Arabic), I am one of them.

Yet, only one person has ever said "I love Saudi" and she truly meant it. That's my friend Clare. I am deeply moved and inspired at her ability to express such a profound and beautiful feeling. At the time, I was struggling to get my head around things...including setting up the veil (tarha) around my head. I wondered...what is it that I am blind off?

The other day, while walking I pointed to the wild plant growing between the pavement panels and confided to her "I LOVE this plant". She looked at me, rounded her eyes in wonder-puzzle. The same wonder I had before. "But it's just a weed", she said. I smiled.

Her question answered my old question.
Said nothing of its peculiar umbrella shape, 

of seeing it in the most neglected-by-man corners, 
of Cyprus, UK and Saudi Arabia....
where everybody thinks nothing grows 
but God or whatever you like to name it, cares.

Its name might be unknown to me, 

but each morning we bow to each other. 


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

New Treasures

 of us
 a ray 

in me

39 days
 to Easter 

Guide me 
to fast
from unkind thoughts,
water my lips with faith,
be in love
be love.

I just adore chrysanthemums. 
Deriving from the Greek "chriso" and "anthos", meaning "gold flowers". 
To me, however, they are more like sunflower number 2 
(since sunflower is already taken).

Inspired by Brian Peterson's workshop, went to Al Balad souks last night.
Got myself a late birthday present, my first macro lense.  

Lied in bed anticipating for the morning light to rest upon these delicate, fairy fingers. 

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Sleepy skies

                                           Thank you
Faizal, Mena, Heba, Badr and...
Lemon peel with
our freshly picked pelargonium, 
mint and lemon grass leaves 
from Mena's beautiful herbal garden.

A sleepy song..for slow mornings

Friday, 13 February 2015

Blooming Week

 A week blooming of inspirations it was.

The highlight was an inspiring workshop 
with Rosana & Ina at Effat University.
The two skillful couches 
"held the mirrors for us" to see who we are, as Rozan simply explained.

Often we cannot control or change an uncomfortable situation. What we can control is our reaction to the situation, which changes the perception of the situation.

We shared our stories of failure, 
sighted with relief 
and the fulness of fresh perspectives. 
Thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on activities that enabled us to reprogram our response to failure...and re-evaluate it as part of our transformation.

Then, came across Lauren Singer ,
Lauren has produced no trash for the past 2years. Unbelievable,yet after finding more about her, it is do-able and with no sweat...just a few pinches until we get into the trash free routine. 

This turned my attention to my neglected recycling habits (during the past 2 years in Saudi). Alright, recycling here isn't as accessible as elsewhere, but the option exists.
I can carry the recycled material to work) 
The option exists
and excuses are no longer accepted. :)
Embracing the holy of it all.

...I'm already feeling the flirty air of this coming weekend!
One more chance to treat a special someone,
your self!;)