Monday, April 26, 2010

Kalam by Isabel Allende

"It's not the truth we tell that makes us vulnerable, it's the secrets we keep."

Isabel Allende, the renowned novelist and niece of the late Chilean president Salvador Allende, might be better known for her magical realism novels such as The House of Spirits, Of Love & Shadows and Daughter of Fortune, but my two favorite books are her memoirs, Paula & The Sum of our days.

Listen to her conversation with Michael Silverblatt, and enjoy her amazing and unique sense of humor at the Lannan Audio Archive.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A job that I love.

For years, I felt fulfilled and believed that was because I was one of the lucky few who have a job that they love. My career and profession gave me a lot of pleasure. When I lost that gratification and the feeling of being accomplished, I assumed it was because I've fallen out of love with my job.

I have recently realized that I was wrong.  My lack of fulfillment actually has nothing to do with my career at all. It has to do with my true calling. I miss my true vocation. I miss being a mother.

I miss caring for my kids and seeing them on daily basis. I miss cooking their favorite food (yes, in spite of the hate-hate relationship I have with the kitchen), and sitting with them around the dining table and discussing what they did at school, or at sports practice while eating dinner. I even miss eating the yucky leftovers in their plates. I miss buying their cloths, washing their laundry, making their beds, and watching TV with them,.

I miss driving them to swim, baseball, soccer, tennis, and basketball practice, and in the process, driving them crazy by playing nothing but Celine songs in the car. I miss listening to their usually out-of-tune piano practice, and going to their parents-teachers conferences and hearing good, and occasionally not so good things about them. I even miss feeling exhausted at the end of the day but going to bed feeling content and assured knowing that they are sleeping peacefully only a few feet away from me, ...........

Basically I miss them like crazy.

Since the probability of having a new baby at my age is slimmer than that of winning the lottery, or of Zamalek winning the league, or of Arabs enjoying true democracy and freedom in the near future, I hope that I will get a chance to enjoy the feeling of a full-time mother again, when I am blessed with grandchildren is shaa Allah. That is if my kids would allow me to help with raising their children.

Can't wait.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


The 2010 Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest), a traveling cultural roadshow that tours Palestine annually, will be taking place May 1-6.  A variety of international artists will be participating including Suheir Hammad, Pankaj Mishra and new patrons Philip Pullman and Emma Thompson.

In an effort to promote the “the power of culture over the culture of power,” PalFest counters the travel restrictions imposed upon victims of Israel’s military occupation of Palestine by connecting international artists with Palestinian audiences.

According to PalFest Chair and Founder, Ahdaf Soueif:
There’s tremendous energy to PalFest, and huge amounts of goodwill pushing it forward… This is a literary festival that makes a difference, both to the hosts and to the visitors.
Since its inception PalFest has reached audiences of thousands in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem.  In 2009 the festival expanded to include events in Jenin and al-Khalil/Hebron, and this year PalFest will once again be touring the West Bank while visiting a variety of different locations.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Collateral Damage

If you are still in doubt of  the extent of the suffering of the Iraqi civilians under the American Occupation, or of the inhuman, brutal, and undoubtedly criminal treatment  the Iraqis are subjected to by the American soldiers and contractors stationed there,  you will definitely become wiser after reading the gruesome horror stories  recounted by army & navy veterans in  "Collateral Damage", a collection of essays compiled by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hanan alShaykh

Hanan alShaykh is one of my favorite Arab Women Writers. Well, she is actually one of my favorite writers period. She just happens to be an Arab, and a woman. 

I read I Sweep the Sun off Rooftops, a book of short stories, a couple of years back, and I absolutely loved it and I easily bonded with each character in each story, although each one of them came from a very different background. 

I wanted more, so I started reading her novel Beirut Blues which is written in the form of letters from the female protagonist to different friends, relatives, and acquaintances, depicting the ordeal, struggle, and the determination of the citizens of Beirut in the years of the civil war. Not sure what went wrong there, but I did not enjoy the novel, and after reading the first couple of letters, I  just dropped the book and never went back to it. The problem could have been the fact that I did not find the book in the original Arabic, and I was reading its English translation.

Recently, I was advised by my daughter to read Women of Sand and Myrrh set in an "unnamed" gulf country. It tells the story of four women (two expats and two natives), and how their lives intersect and impact each other in different ways. The story is divided into four parts, each is narrated by one of those women, similar to the structure of Miramar, Naguib Mahfouz' classic novel. This time, I was not able to put the book down until I finished it.

The Women of Sand and Myrrh revived my fascination with  al-Shaykh's work so I immediately picked up The Locust & the Bird, My Mother's Story which is a biography of Hanan's mother Kamila, and her fight for the freedom of her heart and body, after being coerced, at the age of thirteen, into a loveless marriage to the much older husband of her deceased half-sister. Even after having two daughters (Fatima & Hanan) by this husband, and in a complete defiance of the extremely strict and hostile  mores of  her Shiite family, Kamila insists on a divorce & abandons her two daughters to marry the love of her life.  Fascinating and intriguing to say the least.

I am currently reading and enjoying The Story of Zahra. Next I plan to read Only in London.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cairo Science Festival: 18 April- 20 May

In Collaboration with & Concurrent to the Cambridge Science Festival  

بالتعاون وبالتزامن مع مهرجان كامبردج للعلوم

Be Part of the First City-wide Science Festival:

Students, members of the general public, schools, research groups, IT and Science & Technology companies are invited to join the first Science & Technology festivity in town. See the festival program for detail. For more information e-mail us at

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Visitor

In my humble, but 100% true opinion, movies are not what they use to be. 

95% of  all movies produced in the last 10 years or so just suck, and I wouldn't waste my money or time on any of them. 

Among the 5% of movies that are worth watching, I really enjoyed a low budget, emotional, beautiful, and subtle movie, about a lonely man, Walter, who finds a new interest in life when he develops a friendship with Tarek, an Arab drum player, and his Senegalese girlfriend Zainab, who were staying at Walter's seldom used NY apartment. When Tarek is arrested, and is found to be an illegal immigrant, Walter tries to prevent the deportation of his friend, but he is outraged and defeated by the death of some American values after September 11.

After not hearing from her son for a couple days, Tarek's mother, Mona, comes to NY, meets Walter, and their common struggle to free Tarek, brings them close together, and leads to a warm relation at the purest humane level that was delightful to follow.

"The Visitor" stars Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Hiam Abbass & Danai Gurira, and is directed by Thomas McCarthy.