Tuesday, November 30, 2004
I noticed however that one particular unique photo is missing. Now I don’t know if it is just a coincidence and I am being paranoid, or it is worth going back to the shop. There was one photo of me in a friend’s wedding unveiled. The thing is, its just one, there are no other photos of me in there, but it is definitely on the CD. Something smell’s fishy but I feel stupid going back to the shop having left it for a few days, and also I don’t actually want to point out the photo to the guy, as he is the main suspect.
Are they seriously that sad to look at other people’s photographs? Can you imagine telling the shop assistant every time you drop off a film, “hey buddy, do u mind not looking at my photos its just that there are some photos of yummy-looking women in there, that you can’t see.” His fantasizing mind will become gripped with the irresistible desire to have a peek.
I guess its just the fear that many girls like me have that you’re photo gets used maliciously and spread by some misogynist to dishonour you even if its by sticking ur head on a naked body and sending it by email or sticking it on a dating service for you to be the latest “hot girl on offer”. I’ve seen perfectly innocent photos being abused in this way, and the girl all of a sudden having to explain herself because of some prick getting cheap thrills. I remember even watching a whole 2-hour program about this on BTV. In some women-only weddings they even stop people using their own cameras just in case.
I’m just going to have to get one of those Kodak photo printing machines.
Monday, November 29, 2004Bahrainiblogs, which I havent had time to check out, in its launch phase, seems promising although I can't quite figure out how its going to work. Looks more like a forum, but too early to judge.
Secondly, and more importantly, the move towards blogging in arabic, which I am more interested in. The reality of the matter, is that the current english blogs cater for a very limited audience, and offer the view of a Western-educated elite, which is simply not representative. Homer seems to have taken the first step into switching or experimenting with arabic at least. There is also a new blog by Ali Abdulemam, a young professional, written completely in arabic, which shall provide another welcome glance into Bahrain. By doing this, I hope that blogging catches on with the mainstream non-english speaking internet users in which they will discover a whole new world. When this is achieved, only then can I conclude that we have our very own blogging revolution in Bahrain.
Saturday, November 27, 2004Al-Wefaq in particular, being the major opposition society which boycotted the elections in 2002 has been raised, since tomorrow, Almaqaal programme is hosting Sheikh Ali Salman, the President of Al-Wefaq on Dubai TV- in arabic of course. He will discuss the Opposition view on the political situation in Bahrain, freedom of speech, human rights, sectarianism in the country. I think you can phone in and raise any issues you want directly- segregation, revolution, BCHR, whatever you want. So you can get off my case, since I aint no spokesmen for Wefaq.
التوقيت: يوم الأحد 28/11/2004 م الساعة 23:30 بتوقيت الإمارات 22:30 بتوقيت السعودية
يعاد يوم الجمعة 03/12/2004 م الساعة 15:30 بتوقيت الإمارات 14:30 بتوقيت السعودية
Sunday 28th November at 22.30 UAE, 21.30 Bahrain, 18.30 GMT.
Repeated Friday 3rd December at 15.30 UAE time and 14.30 Bahrain time.
To watch online:
It will also be interesting to see how far Dubai TV will allow criticism of the Bahraini government, whether the program will be edited or live etc.
Friday, November 26, 2004
Here I lay in a Bahrain Jail.
My Bones grow weak, my skin grows pale
I cannot break my iron chains
But freedom runs within my veins
I do not seek this life of pain
But Rulers cannot rule my brain
All I ask is, set me free
And try and see what I do see.
I see a Land where brothers dwell
Where Sunni and the Shia tell
Their Children, not to wear the past
but follow their own star at last.
I see the marks upon the walls
Where human blood before me falls
and I am one with all who lasts
From images of memories past
You outside, in cars so cool
Think of me beneath the rule
Of power without pity men
Who keep their dark deeds from your ken
While you eat and drink in clubs.
Hoses, fists descend on us
Undefended I must sink,
Down to the floor, with brain like ink
Black and dark, until they go,
I try and keep my spirits low
Lest hired men, not from this land
Bury me beneath the sand
Oh World, do not abandon me
Do not pass by, while I can't see
The daily life you hold so dear
Inside my darkest prison here
Use your emails, use your pen,
To stop them brutalizing men
To say the world has had enough
Of Bahrain lies and other stuff
In Sydney, New York, London too
Remember me, I ask you
To free me from this life of pain
So we can both live free again
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
-Having lunch at 11.30 cos of the special offer on at the canteen. Friend: hey why don’t u come over my place for lunch, Us: yeah sure. Date is set. Day before lunch, Friend: how about you grab a couple of pizzas from the med school and bring them over, then I’ll pay you my half, Us: Errr, yeah ok. 2 hours before lunch, Friend: hey if you go now and grab the pizzas there a special discount before 11.30am…. errr..ok so its cheaper to have lunch at 11.30, do i change my lifestyle over it?
-when someone declares "F R E E F O O D" is being served somewhere, there is a stampede. I'm telling ya, someone decided to play a prank once, and came into the lecture and said there was free food downstairs, half the class ran out, stuffed their mouth, stuffed their pockets with whatever they could fit in. In fact, turned out the food was for an official event-but no one could hear the poor lady telling them to stay away, they were caught on camera and had to pay back the cost. As for FREE DRINKS, hell, a desert cant suck water as fast as these people gulp it down.
-the friends who get their year’s supply of toilet roll from library loo. I’m telling you these girls are what you’d classify as ‘classy chicks’, wouldn’t be seen dead without a pair of earl jeans and flashy trainers, yet their designer handbag is stuffed with a pinched bog roll.
-Friend: how about I cook dinner for you guys tomorrow night? ?Us: Yeah sure that would be nice, Friend: can you chip in for the groceries half-half???
-the fact that half the refectory’s cutlery and dishes goes missing every year. Oh, nice bowl, I think I’ll take it…i'll have that spoon too thank u very much. Apparantly was costing the university £3000 a year.
-when you go to a restaurant and the bill arrives, they are the first people to get the calculator out. Offering to pay is simply unheard of?? Unless its booze that is.
-Starve themselves the whole week to scrape enough money to go binging Saturday night.
-sitting in the restaurant, your friend calls the waitress and asks for her separate bill! rude or what.
-using a handkerchief….i never quite understood this…why would you want to collect all your boggies on one bit of cloth?
-sharing bathwater..keeping the water in there for the next person to bathe in!!!! I can understand if it was 1948 and Hitler was attacking and no water supply, but in this day and age?
- a bidet is considered a luxury to be found only in 5 star hotels or extremely upper class apartments. So washing your arse is an unnecessary luxury.
-whats with the hot and cold taps – either you freeze to death or burn to death. Are mixer taps that expensive? I had to survive with this for over a year in my bathroom.
Coming from the Gulf-no i'm not boasting- but generosity flows through our blood, i mean you are taught to give, even if you don't have. Your taught never to ask your buddy for the money you lent him, your taught that your home is open even to strangers. I dont have anything against people hard-up or on student loans, but I guess I just wish they'd be more subtle about it. I got nicknamed the ‘peacock’ as I was apparantly too extravagent, and i'm telling ya, I made an effort to try and appear not so. I mean, I wore the same smelly tracksuit for a year, and hardly did any shopping, my allowance barely covered the basic necessities, but I just couldnt meet the miser-standard.
Only in the uk would you read a story like this:
LONDON (Reuters) - An elderly British man who lived in a run-down house, bought second-hand clothes and watched television at his neighbor's to save on electricity left a million pounds to a dog charity, newspapers reported on Friday.
Don’t get me wrong, dog’s charity is a worthy cause, may surpass any other more human causes you may argue, but what about your kids??
Even Shakespeare back in the 16th century says "A miser grows rich by seeming poor. An extravagant man grows poor by seeming rich." So this isnt a recent thing at all. Terms like scrimping and saving are common phrases, but looking at it in this context seems to make sense. The British live in a culture of scrimping and saving, doesnt matter if your rich or poor. Is it good or bad? Well that is subjective. If you compare it with the opulant lifestyles that some people live in the Gulf then I would say it is definitely good - as 'tabtheer' is a very bad sin, that 80% of muslims commit, so I cant argue with the scrimp-save culture. But its enough to hear the story of Sh. Maythem Albahrani back in the 12th century to see how the importance of appearances actually matter in the Bahraini culture.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004Irish Hunger Strike Commemorative Web Project addressing their 'comrades' in Bahrain :
[...] -- the struggle is united, the struggle is connected, and we can draw inspiration from Mr Abdul-Hadi and his comrades as easily as they draw inspiration from the actions of Bobby Sands:
"...it would be an honor for us to see our prisoners next to your freedom fighters like Bobby Sands, who is known in this part of the region as hero who was determined to give his life for the freedom of his people. They have sat example for us for our struggle for freedom and dignified life... Once again, thanks for the site and long live the memory of hunger strikers in Ireland."
Bobby Sands being every prison officers nightmare, died after a 66-day hunger strike in 1980. His is actually a rather sad story. I don't think they had intravenous force feeding back then. However, back to the point, how did Bobby Sands become the inspiration of Bahrainis? and then to see the Irish standing in solidarity with a Bahraini?!! And then to see a Bahraini reciprocate this solidarity?! What a combination, how did they come together. I mean its fascinating how fast human rights activists get on a case. It took like two days after Khawaja's arrest to get a petition signed by over 150 human rights organisation demanding his release!! All you need to do is put "Abdul Hadi Khawaja" on Google to see the reverberations of his arrest online. These activists are unstoppable and have to be some of the most passionate people around. Most of the time its all voluntary work so no money. Yet they have managed to create one of the strongest global networks today. Their link to the media cannot be undermined and the pressure they put on government policy to guarentee the rights of its citizens are one of the few global forces of good that exist.
I believe that it was this kind of campaigning, especially from the UN Sub-Commision on Human Rights, that put pressure on the Government to stop its 25 year track record of human rights violation and release the hundreds of political prisoners in Bahrain in 2001 with the imminent visit of a delegation of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention a few months later. Although the government had managed to postpone this visit for over 3 years, the UN threatened to take action against Bahrain for its failure to ratify the Convention Against Torture, but funnily enough when they did finally arrive, the prisons were squeeky clean and not a single prisoner of conscience in sight :) I mean you have to tidy your house up before you let any unwanted visitors in, right? So I do feel a sense of gratitude to all the campaigners who petitioned the UN to take this action, as I had many members of my family tortured and in prison at the time.
May the spirit of Bobby Sands live on!
Monday, November 22, 2004BuLahab so often talks about. Im so sick of verbose theories and the myriad of books discussing the dichotomy between East and West, the reasons behind 9/11 etc etc and the endless political cycle in Bahrain. I seem to take only the minimum dose of politics that is necessary to survive, which consists of newspapers and current affairs. Even with this amount I feel like im overdosing and can't escape this engulfing topic however hard I try to avoid it. I keep saying to myself leave the politics to the players on the field, at the end of the day there's no point in wasting (valuable?) brain energy on it, it can be a cancer that eats you up without you realizing and sends you early to the grave. Maybe its just my personality, firey and passionate, that always leads me to where the action is in order to judge for myself.
In real life, my political views are kept private, maybe that is why i'm using this blog to vent out these views as there is no other medium outside cyber space. My friends and I would rather spend the time spent in each other's company discussing more pleasant worldy affairs, such as the latest gossip on the social front and where to get the latest limited edition LV/fendi handbag. Where my interest in politics did grow was when I became involved with Bahraini student activists who impressed me with their knoweledge and energy and who actually tried to do something about their strongly held views. This was kind of an eye-opener for me.
My book consignment consisted of:
-Al-aqni3a (arabic)- Nazik Saba Yard (novel)
-Salam Pax The Baghdad Blog (trying to see what the fuss was about)
-Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (ditto)
-Muhammed - Karen Armstrong (I like this lady-supposedly the best biography of the prophet (as) around)
-An Introduction to Arab Poetics -Adonis (curious)
-The Sorceress Woke Me Up - Qassim Haddad (supporting local talent)
-In the Shade of the Quran - Sayyid Qutb (a seminal must-read)
-Fooled By Randomness - Nicolas Nasim Taleb (brash choice-easy read)
-Shumaisi - Hamad Al-Turki (ditto)
-Harry Potter in Arabic (for my lil bro)
Would be nice to hear the opinion of anyone who has read these, or of any other recommended books.
PS does anybody know if it is safe sending banned books by DHL in the Gulf, do customs actually check inside?
Sunday, November 21, 2004
The Khawaja court case, by putting one man on trial, has reflected the complexities of the political situation in Bahrain, the independence of the judicial system, freedom of speech, corruption, and has increased the street's demand for the resignation of the PM. We called him stupid for saying what he said, but in bringing these important issues to surface, he is in fact the one that has put the government on trial.
This trial was a sham. I totally agree with the reasons he boycotted the trial. As I understood he is unlikely to appeal. How can you defend yourself in a judicial framework that is flawed in essence, not independent and politically driven? Trials are a mere theatrical play with the outcome decided in advance. Speak to any Bahraini lawyer and they will tell you that.
The irony is that Khawaja has been found guilty of inciting hatred of 'ni'9am al7ukm'. Now ni'9am al7ukm literally translated means system of governence, but in arabic it also means the governing regime which implies Alkhalifa-the ruling family. Khawaja is saying that he directed his remarks not at ni'9am al7ukm (regime) but at the 7ukooma which is the government. This distinction is extremely sensitive and thin. Now the Alkhalifa are both ni'6am al7ukm (the regime) and the 7ukooma (government) since the Prime Minister is a Khalifite. So this means that you cannot question the government headed by Khalifa bin Salman since you will also be questioning the regime at the same time, what kind of constitutional monarchy is this???
It is unfortunate that Mahmood.tv has decided to shut his blog down. He realizes that blogging under his real name, although courageous, means that he will be held accountable for every word that is written there and can face severe consequences for doing so. My advice to him would be, since you have put so much effort in the blog, maybe you should carry on blogging but stick to the topics you have comparative advantage, like cars, your pet dog and even international politics. Unfortunately, those who want to seriously tackle domestic political issues in Bahrain will have to do so under an anonymous name. I expect that from this day on, most political activity will go underground, most human rights files will operate from abroad. And this struggle for freedom will continue for a long time to come.
Indeed the political regime in Bahrain itself is finding it difficult to reconcile its tribal mentality with modern day notions of democracy, its main protagonists taking on different roles on a frequent basis, one day emerging as the champion of the people, a demigod, the generous benefactor, another day as a shrewd Saddam-like despot and another day as the victim, according to which the tone of voice and lines change to suit these roles. But at the end of the day, when the costumes are taken off, the true colours of tribal Machavellian rule are revealed. Although the hope remains that a new King would bring with him a new progressive outlook, I have to agree with Thomas Paine when he says:
One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings,is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion.
The people of Bahrain, have been struggling for over a century to change this balance of power. It is safe to say that no one wants a return to violence and and over the past few years, the street has perfected and understood the methods of peaceful protest and civil disobedience in airing their frustrations about this balance. But they are yet to define a leadership strong enough to rise up to the challenge.
So King Rambo has intervened and deigned upon us one of his oh-so merciful clemencies (like he did with 100+ convicted criminals in Ramadan), and will release Khawaja and the other prisoners by a 'makrama malakia'. Overriding the judiciary like this just shows that everything that happens here depends on the whims of the monarch, even our 'democracy' depends on the whims of the monarch. This is indeed extremely insulting, dare I use a quote posted on Mahmood's blog:
"As long as you are ruled by men and not democratic institutions which draw their just powers from a Constitution, you will suffer the insult of the monarch's whims." Steve the American
Such whims which determine the future political destiny of an entire population, such whims which lead to amendments to the constitution as the monarch pleases, such whims which are out of date in a modern state.
Someone please tell Rambo, that it is too early to play Santa Claus, and that this pantomime is getting boring, we need new actors.
For those who dont agree, I suggest you have a nice hot bath, a cup of cocoa and go back to bed.
Saturday, November 20, 2004
latest MP demands
Parliament of sheep
Friday, November 19, 2004Bahrain Centre for Contemporary Art is the sanctum that embraces me in time of need. It took BD 2 million to restore this old traditional house, but this figure doesn’t do justice to the sentimental value attached to the preservation and restoration of our architectural heritage. The one or two which the government has invested in restoring, such as the house of Isa bin Ali in Muharraq, have been turned into museum pieces, and there is only so many that we need of these. The ingenuity lies in trying to make money out of restoration to serve a dual purpose, for which BCCA gets 10 out of 10. Fatima Alireza, has not only managed to restore her father’s house, but also to make it a commercially viable endeavour by combining a restaurant, a spa, a pilates studio of exquisite class. Judging by the time it takes to get an appointment, it seems that Fatima, has succeeded in tapping into a niche market in Bahrain, and its not unusual to bump into the big names in the country here. On top of this, modern minimalist interior design perfectly complements the simple clay structure that is the signature of the classic abode of our ancestors. Many houses such as this one, still exist, but are in ruins and in a state of collapse.
I’ve been to many places around the world, but hardly anywhere compares to the thought of lounging in the sun next to the pool with a good book in the ladies spa, going for a quick Thai massage or facial and then being served an ambrosial meal on the patio in the privacy of beautiful surroundings. Not short of superb, this exclusive place is one of the few gems on the island where you can get away from prying eyes and enjoy a holistic experience .
PS, I didn't intend to sound like something out of a travel magazine :) But hey, if anyone wants to quote me, feel free!!
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of
opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly
repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and
creates a country where everyone lives in fear: Harry S. Truman
Yellow, blue, purple, strippy, spotty, hell you can wear every single colour of the rainbow, but will it make a difference?
لقد أسمعت لو ناديت حيا ولكن لاحياة لمن تنادي
Wednesday, November 17, 2004interview with Gaddafi’s son, left me in hysterics… all I can say is that it is explicit, simple, and to the point…read on...
Saif Gaddafi, the state your father brought in here is changing hugely and changing very fast. How would you sum up the new Libya?
Actually, the new Libya is black, because we are African now and we are Mediterranean at the same time.
Why what were you before?? White, yellow?? 'African' was a good move- Arab is soo last season .
Will your father be standing for president in future national
The leader you cannot change. You can change everything except the leader because he is a leader.
But you can speak of the prime minister, about ministers, about regional governors and so on. But the leader is something special. You cannot inherit, you cannot take it from him. A special case.
Glad SOMEONE has finally admitted it!!! We wouldn’t want anyone actually thinking you were democratic now would we.
You will understand for now at least a lot of people are tipping you to succeed him. You have been very active indeed. Is that what might happen?
I can't survive with a direct democracy. You cannot have a direct democracy and a
military regime at the same time. They are against each other.
Huhh? Yes I totally understand, military regimes are so much easier to control than democracies, dont give yourself a headache.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!!
We could put him to good use though. Im thinking in the lines of sending him to Dry Dock Prison to rescue the boys in a Batman suit, no one would recognise him would they? They've been in there long enough now and can do with a few protein shakes themselves. Any other suggestions about what we can do to get them released? Their image is permanently stuck in my head.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Nabeeh Saleh Island in 1954 and in 1998
We live on an island yet what beach can you go to on a day out with the kids? Tubli Bay has gone from 24km to 10km due to coastline alterations and places like Sa7il Abu Sub7 in Duraz is not the best place to go paddling. Land reclamation leaves the coastline muddy, rocky and jagged. Where sewage is dumped offshore, I have seen it washing up on some coasts, with some coastlines being the closest rubbish dumps to dispose of waste. There was ONE project of opening a public beach I think somewhere near Hidd, but with over a 150 kilometers of coastline, this isn’t going far enough. I haven’t even touched on the danger that dredging sand from the sea bed poses on marine life and the coral reefs that Bahrain is famous for. Its hardly surprising that Bahrain (along with most other Arab countries) has not signed up to the Kyoto protocol against global warming, as the environment is about as important to the government as Alsaiidi’s bumfluff. Hell, they're reclaiming land so fast that map drawers can't even keep up. Yet 40% of the southern part of the island is a 'restricted area' off-bounds to the populace.
In the UAE, Sh. Zayed succeeded in turning a desert into arable land, and planted millions of palm trees. In Bahrain, which was once called the ‘island of a million palm trees’ we have conversely succeeded in turning arable land into desert. Increasing land prices and higher demand for land has meant the commercial value of a mazra3a or a public park is no longer viable in certain areas. Following the rapid industrialisation during the 1970s and 80s, the government’s failure in imposing strict guidelines and investing in the protection of preserved areas like the ‘green belt’ in South-West England has meant that we’ll be lucky if we have a single home-grown palm tree left on the island. Palm trees are considered a luxury piece of décor only fit enough to line the streets or Rifaa leading to the Kings palace in Safrya.
The damage is done on mainland Bahrain, but with a little TLC and a few palm trees seeds we might just be able to restore some of the island’s former glory. Oh yes, and how could I forget that the PM and the King have kindly left a few islands untouched, namely Jedda, Um Nasan (which you can see from the Causeway) and Um Sobban, which they have been confiscated for private use. At least there is some preservation going on, I hope they enjoy it!!
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Since today, half of Bahrain were celebrating eid and the other half fasting. The second group spent the last day of their ramadan depressed and in doors (talking of myself at least), waiting for sundown so that we can go celebrate too. I spent the whole day watching the final episodes on TV as programs reached their final closing chapters. I now need a good dose of prozac and a few consultations with a shrink. The only comfort is that i've got tonights catwalk parade in Seef Mall to look forward to.
Ramadan being our 30-day version of Boxing Day in terms of viewer ratings, this is the month I switched off Aljazeera and turned on Qatar TV. The latter channel pumping millions in drama series that show everyday during this month. If the BBC is dumbing down, then Arab TV can’t get any dumber as it wallows in the deepest gutters of dumbness. Not having any expectations for any programs that might kick-start my brain activity, I opened the TV on day 1 with the expectation of at least being entertained like a monkey. It was The Road to Kabul that was set to rock the boat this year. But Qatar TV after investing over 2 million dollars in its production decided to pull the plug after 6 episodes under highly suspicious circumstances. Unfortunately, what was left on offer didn’t live up to our expections not by a longshot. Most programs were as dry as a my gran's privates (mind the phrase). I'm not an expert in film production but is it that hard to digress from a linear storyline??
Despite all this, Ramadan just isnt Ramadan without the cheesy musalsalaat. One series that seemed to have an iota of meaningfulness was ‘ba3d alshataat’ with a story revolving round the problem of women in the Gulf who marry non-GCC citizens and the difficulties of being treated like a foreigner in your own country since your kids are denied citizenship. I gotta admit my eyes did moisten when the son was chucked out from Qatar on a one-way ticket after being convicted of harassing a girl. This particular series also used no-shit style of language, one of the husbands kept referrings to his wife as the ‘chalba’ (dog) quite rightly – what a bitch. You were mistaken if you expected a happy ending though.
In the end the brother ran off with all the money, the brother got addicted to drugs, the girl became a prostitute, the other sister got divorced, the father went bankrupt, the drug-addict strangled his sister's son-in-law. I mean you just can't do all of that in the last 45-minute episode. We are all in desperate need of rehabilitation now. Is life in the Gulf really this tragic? I dont know about other people, but I dont hear that much violin music in the backround where I live.
The other series was in classical Arabic- Shahrazade. We all know the stories of a Thousand and One Nights, so for me I watched this just to listen to the dialogue in classical Arabic. Way7ak, Mowlay alsultaan, ajunninti ya imra’ah? I9muti. This was great- set in a scenic part of Jordan, beautiful instrumental music, good acting. It was reallyyyy slow in taking off in the beginning. It took like 15 episodes before it finally got round to some action. I think its just the image of sword-waving Arabian men riding their horses through the desert as the sun sets that does it for me. But even that gets boring after a while.
Public warning number 1- never go to a salon the day before Eid. This year I heeded my own advice and went on Thursday. With Eid announced last night unexpectedly, most Bahraini women went into immediate panic and im guessing half of them drove to the nearest salon. My friends were telling me all hell broke loose as you had to wait for over 3 hours to get a blowdry. On Eid, you have to look your best, even if that means going to the moon and back to get your manicure done.
I'm at that funny age, where you’re slightly too old to be given an eidya (money) but slightly too young to start giving it away. So I formulated a robin-hood style strategy- take from the old and give to the young. The same amount of eidya I get, I then give away to the younger ones. I estimate this strategy will work for this year and the next. But the year after, money is gonna have to start coming out of my own pocket.
Unfortunately, I also failed on my ‘spiritual insurgence’ I got caught up reading the English translation of the Qur’an and all the footnotes and didnt manage to finish it on time. At best I appreciated the different perspective it offered, at worst I thought it was a completely different book!! But I only managed to get to page 486 of 1798 pages. Im up to Surat Yousif, my favourite part…!! Yousif, what a prophet, he’s da man. That particular chapter is so action-packed it makes a Hollywood thriller movie seem boring, especially the way he tries to resist the seduction of the lady. I also wanted to try camping at the mosque. Every year in a couple of mosques around Bahrain some very devout muslims (mostly the older generation) go to the mosque with their sleeping bags and spend the last few days of Ramadan in total prayer and meditation- it is called i3tikaaf. I thought this was bizarre at first. But now it seems like a great idea. Take some time off life and just try and improve the relationship between God and yourself. Immerse yourself in supplication and higher awareness. Didn’t work out this year, but next year I’ll be down there, I’ll throw in a couple of free yoga classes if anyone is interested in coming along.
Those were my scattered very rough thoughts regarding Ramadan. With this Eid, I hope we can rejuvinate our senses and optimism in anticipation of happier and more peaceful times.
عيدكم مبارك و عساكم من العايدين و السعيدين
Friday, November 12, 2004
Al-Quds Day Festival and March
May Arafat rest in peace, and may the sun rise over Al-Quds once again.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
He'll get away with it. He'll get a job based on it, he'll pay back the 2000BD in a few months. No one would ever know.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
مسكَ الملكُ زمامَ الحكم
ونادى.... ياشعبَ الأمجادِ
قولوا ماشئتم في علنٍ
فلقد وّلى دون رجوعٍ
ولّى عهد الإستبدادِ
وطني.. ألكلّ به حرٌّ
ألعاكفُ فيهِ والبادي!!
(بالنقد) سترقى مملكتي .... فانتقدوني !!!
( نقدُ ) الشعب ذُرى أحلامي
تفكيري.. أرقي وَسُهادي..
ماجَدوى مِأذنةٍ شَمَخت؟
إنْ لَم تصدع بالإرشادِ!!
إنْ لم يَنشُر وعيَ نُهوضٍ للحقّ
فما جَدوى النّادي؟!!
فرح الشّعبُ بهذا الأمرَ
ولكنّ الخوف بدى بادي..
فابتسم الملك يطَمإنُنا
يتغنى بالصوتِ الشّادي:
ولّى الخوف وولّى القمعُ
وولّى زمنُ الإستعبادِ
أن تُبدو ما شِئتم عَلناً...
صاحَ صديقي عبد الهادي..
والقَهرُ بعينيهِ يُنادي:
أين المسكَنُ .. أينَ المطعَمُ
ماذُقنا غير بقايا مائدةٍ..
قد طفَحت بالزّادِ
شُرفاءُ الشّعبِ قضوا جوعاً!!
وجداوِلُ خيراتِ بلادي،،
سِيقَت لبحورِ الزّنّاءِ النّهّابِ العَمِّ (القوّادِ)
وملايينٌ.. صُرفت هدَراً...
للشّبعى باسمِ الأعيادِ!!
إكراماً لهمُ إذ وقفوا.. في صفّ العمّ (القوّادِ)
والتّجنيسُ العشوائيُّ.. خلط الصّالحَ بالأوغادِ..
ياحاكمَنا عفواً لكن..
أصبحنا والخيرُ بوادٍ..والشّعبُ البائِسُ في وادي
ياحاكِمنا عُذراً لكن..
مِن قَبلِكَ عِشنا بظلامٍ.. وبِعهدِكَ صِرنا بِسَوادِ..
فليَتَنَحَّ السّارق فوراً...
قطَعَ الملكُ خطابَ صديقي..
بِحديثِ الألَمِ الوَقّادِ!!!:
أدرِكْ يا ربّاهُ فؤادي!!
لا تُبقيني ربّي أبداً..
إنْ لم أُصلِح أمرَ بلادي!!
ياوَلدي شُكراً... فبفضلِكَ أصبحتُ بِوَعيي وسَدادي!!
فأجابَ صديقي: عبدُ الهادي..
ومضى الملِكُ وما مِن شَيئٍ قد طَراَ على بُؤسِ بِلادي!!
وأتانا مِن بعدِ زَمانٍ، يدعو ويُنادي:
قولوا ماشِئتُم في علَنٍ..
فلقد ولّى دونَ رُجوعٍ ..
ولّى زَمنُ الإستِبدادِ!!
فَنَهَضتُ أنا لأُقاطِعَهُ:
أينَ مَطالِبَنا يا هذا؟!
أينَ صديقي عبدُالهادي؟؟!!
Tuesday, November 09, 2004website. Apparantly to mark this opening they will hold an unforgettable launch party that will rock Bahrain (literally) and includes such delights as a few car bombs and suicide attacks. Those on the hit list:
-American ambassador’s residence
-hotels and other entertainment venues
-University of Bahrain
UoB, what the hell is that doing on there?? Maybe they mean UCB…watch out Strav…And why isn’t the fifth fleet mentioned?? Naaaah, this is way too dodgy.
I wouldn’t take this threat too seriously. But just the thought of such an attack on Bahraini soil, I mean the country is soo small that a bomb might just dislodge it from the sea bed and what remains of the island might start floating into the Indian ocean.
I finally figured out how to watch the BBC's documentary called The Power of Nightmares online. Its a 3-part series, exploring the philosophical, historical and contemporay context behind the way we view Global_Terror. It is highly controversial as it claims that Al-Qaeda is a myth and looks into the philosophies of Leo Strauss the spiritual godfather of the neocons in the Whitehouse to explain what drives the US's foreign policy. Check it out for yourselves and check out the tonnes of reviews online. A program definitly worth watching though.
Information Clearing House Stream
The bitch uses intimidation and aggression to get her way; she may be effective, but she is not liked and can become isolated.
The geisha, as one might expect, is manipulative woman - usually young - who uses female charm, but often finishes by serving the menfolk rather than directing them.
The guy is the woman who becomes as masculine, and as corporate, as possible, and apes male behaviour.
The invisible woman - well, we've all known one of those kindly, long-suffering females who may have good ideas and a diligent track record, but who are ignored when it comes to getting the credit. Guardian
Im sure we all know someone who fits into one of these stereotypes, but like the article suggests, a woman can be all of these things in different environments. As for me, i'm a bitch at home, a geisha at university/work, a guy on this blog (as some have pointed out by questioning my gender) and an invisible woman in social circuits.
I guess God was referring to the first three types when he said ان كيدكن عظيم (mighty is the snare of a woman).
Sunday, November 07, 2004
لن يقول لنا الصحافييون المتحذلقون أن ذلك خطأ، ولن يدان هذا التعذيب كما أدينت
عملية عرقلة السير(الإرهابية الكبرى) وكما أدينت عملية قذف الحجارة (البربربية
الإجرامية الوحشية!!) لن يقولوا ذلك، وسيعتبرون هذه الإجرءات تطيباً لخاطر الناس،
وليست تحشيداً وتصعيداً في الموقف وتحريضاً مباشراً.
Back to domestic politics. Things arnt looking too good, and I’m actually starting to get worried. It seems that this post-mithaq era isn’t stablising at all, and no ‘they lived happily ever after’ ending is in sight. Reports are circulating now that Khawaja who was going to boycott this morning’s court sitting, was carried forcefully to court. He showed the marks of severe physical torture on his face and body. Upon removing his shirt to show the judge the marks of torture, the judge swiftly issued him with another charge of undermining the judicial council, and postponed the sitting to 21st November. It is not Khawaja that is on trial, but freedom of speech. What happened to "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death your right to say it." -Voltaire. All of a sudden, when Khawaja said something nobody liked, this statement went out of the window.
Everyone was expecting the King to come to the rescue and issue a Royal pardon by Eid, but seems like good old uncle K isn’t having it. Unfortunately this really does show that an old dog doesn’t learn new tricks. Cosmetic changes to the system are starting to wear away. The new Interior Minister is as incompetent as the old one, as it is clear he is continuing the same old stone-age policies of commanding his Pakistani and Yemeni troops in the Bahraini Public Service to clampdown on protestors. The same methods of torture and arbitrary arrest, and now more laws to tighten public gathering and demonstration. All I can say is so much for freedom of speech in a country where the Chair of Parliament Dhahrani says that "if I was in the governments place, I would have ended the protests with a bulldozer".
In addition, across the country in the past few days, anti-PM slogans were shouted in all the religious festivities like the Imam Ali processions and even in the Laylat alqadr supplications. I was there and trust me, people are not happy, the wave of backlash has gone beyond the control of the Opposition figures themselves. People defied Sh. Isa Qassim’s (the leading cleric in Bahrian) calls to not protest. Just see the type of signs people are scrawling every where in the photos below:
The posters say:
Some of the Prime Ministers achievements:
-more than 80,000 poor people
-No less than 6000 homes are verging on collapse
-A national has to wait more than 12 years to get a council house
-the loss of 40 martyrs
-more than 20,000 families living under poverty
-Poverty line is set at 309BD. Whereas the starting salary for a national in the public sector is 159BD and in the private sector 80BD.
-more than 44,000 applications pending in the Ministry of Housing for a council house or loan.
Khawaja is indeed proving to be a political hot potato for the government. On the one hand, they want to severely punish him for what he said, thus they want to keep him locked up and reprimanded, and condemned for the longest sentence possible, sending a message to others. However, this line to Khawaja has backfired massively as every single international Human Rights organisations has condemned the arrest. It has proved a public relations faisco. In addition, a long drawn out trial isnt in the interest of the government either, since in trying Khawaja for his statement that the PM is the root of corruption in Bahrain, Khawaja's 12-strong defence team will also be putting the PM on trial, and proving that indeed the PM is the root of corruption. Apparantly, BCHR is in possession of some sensitive papers that would severly embarress the government.
Another solution, is to get naughty Khawaja to say sorry to good old Uncle K for being rude to him. There have been countless intermediaries sent to put pressure on Khawaja to sign a public apology and backdown from his remarks. And trust me, in this country, when the government puts the pressure, it is really hard to resist, as it uses every tactic in the book, the carrot and the stick, to force you to do as they want. Judging by Khawaja's previous stands, this man will not back down voluntarily. However, under torture every man breaks.
On the other hand, if they release him, he will seem to have won, and in this country, the Alkhalifa are 'untouchables', u cannot question them, you cannot critisize them and you cannot confront them. Alot of people also believe in this 'do not bite the hand that feeds you' situation. The issue is that they are not 'feeding' enough, otherwise, Bahrainis wouldnt bite.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Bahrainis, especially women are increasingly fearful of driving on the weekends especially at night. And I agree, its probably safer to stay at home. I get a headache from my own family when I go out Thursday night telling me to take extra care. The proliferation of Saudi drunk drivers (they're bad enough when they are sober) has dramatically increased the risk of driving anywhere downtown but especially on the highway going to the Causeway – that along with the risk of a crashing into a wandering camel. The latter proving more fateful 99% of time. In fact, it is a miracle for anyone to survive a Camal crash. But miracles do happen, one of my friends did survive alhamdullila, although instead of being given compensation and medical cover, she was ordered to pay a few thousand BD to the owner of the dead camal (some Sheikh)!!! I couldn’t believe that one when I heard it.
Anyway, a car crash a couple of nights ago on the Causeway must have been one of the worst crashes I’ve ever seen in Bahrain. Some pictures here  . Some dumb-arse Saudi trying to overtake , crossing the barrier hit an oncoming car killing his Bahraini wife, the driver of the oncoming car and the 2 Bahraini women a 14 year old girl who were with him who toppled over the bridge into the sea. He survived with a few broken bones!!!
Who hasn’t been cut up by some crackbrained Saudi driving at 180kph who loop in and out of lanes like their in a bumper car in the local fairground? And if your unlucky enough to drive up next to one at a traffic light seeing their pea-brained pathetic solicitations. The local economy needs their money, but Bahrainis are getting sick of being Saudi’s backdoor whorehouse and piss parlour on the weekend. But if we must be exposed to their danger like this, at least they should be subject to traffic penalties (for parking and passing red lights), and should be specifically targeted for routine breath tests for alcohol and if guilty banned from ever coming to Bahrain again.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Anyways, hope you like the new look. PS all the guys that linked up to me can you change the link to this one. The old link should stop working soon.
كنت أسير مفردا أحمل أفكاري معي
فازدحمت من حولي الوجوه
قال لهم زعيمهم خذوه
سألتهم ماتهمتي ؟
."فقيل لي: " تجمع مشبوه
قرأت في القرآن : " تبت يدا أبي لهب "
: فأعلنت وسائل الإذعان
" إن السكوت من ذهب "
أحببت فقري، لم أزل أتلو : "وتب
" ما أغنى عنه ماله وما كسب
فصودرت حنجرتي بجرم قلة الأدب
.وصودر القرآن، لأنه حرضني على الشغب
Ahmed Mattar Biography
If there is such a thing as collective depression, then the circumstances of the election are just right to encourage it. At least the scandal in Florida four years ago gave people something to focus on; there was a battle to be raged. This time, despite some lingering uncertainty over the final result in Ohio, there isn't the consolation of injustice, of having someone to blame. Depression is not a very focused thing and yesterday's mood was universal only in that it allowed people to group their individual reasons for cheerlessness around the huge disappointment of the election result...there was a unified sense yesterday morning that the prospect of having Bush back in business made all the small, crap things in one's life worse.
Woke up this mornin', got the election blues - Guardian
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Sh. Zayed Highway in 1990 and in 2004
There are two types of rulers, one who the history books will remember well and another who will be remembered not so well or as they say in Arabic, ‘ila mazbalat altareekh’ or condemned to the garabage can of history. Zayed was the torch that shone amidst the ‘sycophony’ of Arab leaders, as the BBC describes him (I like that word - SYCOPHONY). After I sent my condolences to all my Emarati friends (by text message naturally), I sat contemplating Zayed’s legacy.
Zayed epitomized just and fair governance and made sure that the economic development of his country was strategically directed, managed and distributed to every corner and to every citizen. It was in this way he entered every Emarati household and every Emarati heart. They built a nation and they built it together. If our leaders can learn just one thing from Zayed, it should be the importance of TRUST and SINCERITY between a ruler and his citizens. The best obituary I have come across is in the Guardian.
At this point of reflection, another question came into my head. What if we were part of the UAE? This may seem ludicrous now, but back in 60s, this was what the late Sh. Isa bin Salman had to decide when we were in the Federation of Arab Emirates – shall we be part of this new country or should we be independent?
“In 1968, the British announced that they would completely withdraw from the Gulf region by the year 1971. This sent the Trucial rulers into a frenzied series of negotiations with each other and with the other British protectorates; Qatar and Bahrain. The British tried to join these areas into a single autonomous country but the respective rulers could not agree on boundaries or political representation in the new grouping. Bahrain and Qatar were particularly aggrieved and left to become independent nations. The Trucial sheikhdoms were prepared to enter a federation with Abu Dhabi and Dubai (in that order) as having the heaviest political weighting, representation and most importantly of all for the smaller sheikhdoms, the heaviest financial obligations. With this formula the United Arab Emirates was formed in December 1971.
At the time many outsiders dismissed the UAE as a loosely assembled, artificial and largely British creation. While there was some truth to this, it was also true that the emirs of the smaller and poorer sheikhdoms knew their territories had no hope of surviving as independent states. Despite the doomsayers, the UAE became a major international business centre and one of the most stable and untroubled countries in the Arab world.” Lonely Planet.
I enquired here and there about the real reason why Bahrain decided to stay out, and the expected answer I got was the rift between the Alkhalifa and Althani, each one wasn’t happy with the other one being in the federation. However, the late rular of Bahrain also demanded that Bahrain gets two votes on the Supreme Council rather than one due to its population size. Typical Arabs as they are, they all agreed to disagree and Bahrain and UAE went they’re own separate ways. We can only fantasize about where Bahrain could have been today under the leadership of Sh. Zayed had history taken an alternative course.
May God have mercy on his soul.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Only in Bahrain
video this morning provoked within me the deepest sense of anger and sadness. It portrays scenes we have scene many times on TV in countries like India, Sub-saharan Africa - but in this case - it is in the Gulf country of Bahrain. Yes that part of the world with Sheikhs who swim in swimming pools of oil.
It shows 3 generations of a family in Karranah living in a poverty trap. The grandfather, a 75 year old man working on someone else's farm, saying at his age he shouldnt be working but forced to provide, he should be in his mijlas with his misbaa7, but who would feed the kids? What really touched me was the son, Hani, who with a smile tells the lady, what do u think of my flat? The place was unfit for human habitation, but on 85BD a month what can he do. As for the kid who says 'nitrazzag rabna ba3ad waish insowi' what future does he have. This may not make sense but each word uttered is echoing in my head. Lost innocence and oppressed existence.
Yes, the violin music helps, and i'm not one for sentimentality, but why am I crying so heavily? The injustice and knowing that we shouldnt have a single Bahraini living like this in this day and age and the hopeless feeling that there isnt much I can do.
We can donate money, but the poor people of Bahrain find it humiliating accepting donations unless it is through the mosque or other official body. Very few businessmen are philanthropists in Bahrain, ONE exception that comes to mind is the late Haji Hasan Alaali, who built houses, scholarships and other charitable schemes for the poor. Ultimately the government is responsible for this however. 'Where is all the money from tourism and oil', Hani asks. Good question Hani, never mind the slums you live in, you'll be glad to know that a 500 million F1 racetrack has been built. I tell the lady who I go to thread my eyebrows the same thing. With her 6 kids and unemployed husband she works non-stop during the day charging pittance for plucking peoples unwanted hair. She uses this bizarre technique with her finger- more about this another time, but lets just say she only has 4.5 fingers on her right-hand now just to maintain her family's ramshackled existence. She is good though and I have a nice pair of eyebrows to vouch for this. It does ease my guilty conscience slightly by going to her and overtipping.
Some villages dont have paved roads or entrances, and projects to develop sewers are taking years and years to complete. It only takes a short trip to Rafa3 down the road to see miles of tree-lined roads and artificial landscapes to see the stark contrast. It is this inequality that tears me apart. I live in both worlds which are not the same Bahrain. We've all seen the nice Bahrain - malls, skyscrapers, artificial islands, villas etc. Now it is time to acknoweledge the other Bahrain - the Bahrain of squalor and deprivation.
I thank BCHR for highlighting the plight of the village. I thank Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi Alkhwaja for all their efforts over the past couple of years as the heads of BCHR. You are truly noble men and I hope the government's reprisal will not hinder or shake your determination in standing for our human rights. Poverty, discrimination, victims of torture, naturalization will remain on the agenda for many years to come.
I thank King Hamad for building a new village in Morocco named after him. I thank the PM for purchasing two more islands in Thailand. I thank Sh. Zayed for the much needed homes he has built in Bahrain which the government has assigned to merceneries in the defence and police forces.
*I'll try and get in touch with BCHR to get english subtitles. Quick get in there before Batelco blocks the site.
Monday, November 01, 2004list of treatments on offer. Its longer than the menu in Alabraaj restaurant.
Mind, body and soul- my mind is in 5th gear right now as I try and make sense of my studies and daily attempts at the Times Crossword; its Ramadan so my soul is getting replenished with high doses of spiritual medicine with the blessings of Allah; all that’s left is my body- the vehicle which drives your mind and soul around. Late night TV, and early mornings and the constant grind really takes its toll out on you physically. So I decided to go get covered in boiling hot stones.
On the tin it says: “Stone massage is a unique connection we experience with nature, offering a sense of profoundness and sacredness that we too often forget. It's a deep healing and unique moment that enhances our awareness and brings us closer to our true essence. It is the perfect treatment that is as enjoyable and healing for the client as it is for the practitioner.”
I don’t know about the Indonesian masseur, but as for my experience, I cant recall a thing. Yes that’s right, I fell asleep. She kept prodding me to wake-up, I’d do so for a couple of minutes and then I was off again. My conscious and sub-conscious were at war right there on the massage bed - sleep, don’t sleep, sleep, don’t sleep. So much for getting closer to my true essence.
Mahmood Ramadan asks his mother for her prayers
The face of Bahraini anguish
Lawyer denied access to detainees
Well done, you've just made it on the government's black list
Why the rubber bullets? A herd of cattle would get better treatment from the mercenaries
Its bizarre, it wasnt a precalculated move at all. I was online, decided to set up an account on blogspot, next thing I know I had to make up a nikname, 7alaylia came into my head spontaneously (although now i'm having second thoughts). Within the space of 5 minutes I became a 'blogger'. Next thing was the template. Im still trying to come to terms with the pink. Is there anyway I can change the colour without changing the whole template? The basic HTML I learnt on my undergrad multimedia module is finally being put to use. Im discovering that blogging is becoming an art in its own right. There are books written about blogging, and blogs which have been published into books. Havent read any of them. Im just trying to make sense of it myself as I go along.
Now time for the disclaimer. I dont have an agenda, but I have strong political beliefs, influenced by what I read, hear, and see on the ground. I know many people, been to many places, and active in many fields. All I can offer are my own down-to-earth views based on my worldview of things. I read everything and anything in pursuit of knoweledge, because knoweledge will lead to God. Always.