Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Airport Musings

  • Why is it that I am always either running late to get to an airport to catch a flight or getting there too early?
  • Why did the woman's smile at the boarding counter turn into a frown when she saw my infamous green passport?
  • Why do mothers don't notice how rude and annoying their children are?
  • When did Isreal suddenly become a 'cool' travel destination?
  • Why are Czech Airlines attendents rude and obnoxious?
  • Why did the customs lady in Prague refuse to lend me the pen infront of her so I can sign my entry card to Czech?
  • What was she saying in Czech with a sneer to the guy next to her?
  • Why did the weather turn cold and rainy after I packed for a summer weather?
  • Why did the woman sitting next to me during a direct flight from Toronto to Prague not shower before flying???

New goal in life: Get a private jet.

Good-bye Waterloo

So I left Waterloo for good. The sadness has been slowly sinking in for a while...slowly realizing...I have created a home here...I am leaving home...again.

I really thought I will be strong enough and that - come on - it has only been one year! How attached could I have grown in only one year?

Well, my fellow friend, a lot. I have grown attached A LOT. It only really struck me hard when I got on that damned bus to the airport. How hard it was, how painful, only someone who has gone through a similar experience can understand. I am leaving home - again.

I left behind a house that I have built warmth in, places that I created memories at and friends that I lived, laughed, cried and loved with.

You have been my family.
I love you and I will miss you.
See you soon =)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Arabic Wikipedia Day

August 26th, 2006 - I want YOU on your computer!

This post is for people who don't know what Wikipedia is, or at least know what it is but don't know how to contribute.

Wikipedia is the free online encyclopedia. Anyone can write in it about anything -within the rules of Wikipedia. For example, you can't go and create a node about youself and your hobbies unless you are like a famous person who deserves to be in an encyclopedia :P

So, are you a doctor? Are you a computer programmer? Are you a banker? Maybe you are just a very well-read person and you know more about al-motanabbi than most people? LOL Any 'knowledge' that you know more about, go and write a professional node in Arabic to add it the Arabic Wikipedia. Do try and learn the rules first so people don't get annoyed at you.

Arabic Wikipedia Day is really a cool, proactive step. It encourages even me, a strictly english contributor, to get out of my comfort zone. I know what I will contribute in Arabic will be of lesser quality, but that's what Wikipedia is for, right? It is open for everyone to join, contribute and edit work to create a body of knowledge that free and in Arabic.

+ Saudi Jeans

+ Naif

Have fun!

I can park a car!

I did my driving license in Canada. However, it is only a G1, which means I can only drive with a licensed and experienced driver next to me. This DOES NOT mean I can't drive. I did not go through 30 terrible hours of driver training and classes to be told I can't drive! I probably am a safer driver than a lot of people because I learned how to drive 'defensively' =) Thus, the day the bill is signed that Saudi women can drive, I will be one of the first to get down to the street and drive legally, safely and within the speed limit!

Anyways, this is not the point of this post. The point is...Well...Ok...I can drive but I can't park in a normal parking lot under 1 minute if my life depended on it! Let alone parallel parking!! The reason is ... Besides my spatial handicap due to my female genes (All respect to females who DO have high spatial intelligence!), is that I haven't had enough practice! This always annoyed me but I never got around practicing it.

Also anyone who is reading this post and was with us a couple of weeks ago might remember how much trouble I had parking Sahar's car :S Having all you friend plus a couple of strangers stand outside the restuarant waiting and watching you attempt to park is not exactly my happy place.

I was checking out my favorite blogs and guess what I found! Someone pasted a link for a simulated parking exercise in a comment here how a Saudi women should not drive before trying this exercise out. I was like Yippeeeee!!!!! Thanks SomeGuyFromAnotherPlanet =)

Ok, I did crash a few cars several times in every direction, but that's what simulations are for, alright! Eventually I got it right! My simple mind suddenly clicked..AAAAAAAAAHHHHH so you turn the wheel in THAT direction to backup in THAT direction...I seeee...hehe.

To all you Saudi chicks, start practicing!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Pressure, pressure - I've been tagged...sigh

I've been tagged by Raven AND Omar. Thanks guys, really appreciate the pressure. I'm going to get an earful because I am making an exception by answering! LOL
(yeah, so I changed some things - bite me :P)

1) if you could have dinner with any three (FIVE for me :P) people (except Mohammed, Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr, Ghandi) then who would they be?(don't say Mother Teresa either) -

  2. Larry and Serge (even though apparently im not googley :P) - Every big shot out there is either writing a book or giving some interview about his 'views' on the future of technology. Except -correct me if I am wrong- those two geeks! Talk about smart :P If you really knew where the money is, you wouldn't tell the world now would you?
  3. Sheikh Khaled Elgendy - now THAT is someone who you can have really amazing debates about religion, al3a8eeda and life. I have so many deep questions I would like to ask. I feel he is a rare gem among scholars in general.
  4. Condolezza Rice - I'm curious about her. Read her bio on Wikipedia...very interesting.
  5. My Parents - and I know you won't believe this, but my parents will always be on the list of people I want to always have endless dinners with. They are the most fascinating people. We also have the most fascinating discussions on the table!
  • what would you eat?

Usually I like to take non-Arabs to eat Arabic(Lebanese) food. They are always so amused! With Khaled Elgendy, we'll probably eat masa22a3a (Although I don't like it, I'll tell you why in the next question). With my parents, caviar for sure!

  • what restaurant would it be?

One of the best authentic Arabic food restaurant I have ever been to is Abou Esseid in Cairo (People who don't like Egypt, you don't know what your missing). It is a very up-scale restaurant, with a lovely authentic ambience to it.

I would invite Khaled Elgendy to my home. Apparently we make a very good masa22a3a. I don't know because I don't like eggplant. However, I am sure he would appreciate it ;) Plus I know my parents would love to have dinner with him as well.

My parents...oh my... we have so many favorite spots all over the world. If I had to choose it would be that private club in London.

2) if you could force everyone in the world to read one book (except for the Quran or the Bible) what would it be?

AHHHH..what a terrible question! So many...If I was dying and choosing a book will save my life then: In A Different Voice.

The reason is that it serves two purposes. First, it teaches about ethics. The second is that each gender is always trying to understand the other. I am not a big fan of books that oversimplify stuff like 'why men lie and woman cry' and crap like that. Regardless of the criticism this book has received, it's a good read.

Also, this website: by Henry Makow. I don't agree with everything he says, but he opened my eyes about the negative motives behind the femenist movements.

Anything you read, always keep an open mind and a critical eye.

3) is there a tv show you'd cancel dinner with your best friend for if you knew that a new episode was going to be airing once only? what is it?

Non, you can download pretty much anything. Assuming no internet and no recording devices, it would be a one-time airing of an episode of Seinfeld that I have never seen.

4) if someone told you that you could only have one hobby/favorite pass time for the rest of your life, what would you pick?

Scuba dive!

5) which song is on the soundtrack of your life?

Easy! Cafe Del Mar, volume VI

6) how old were you when you had your first crush? who was it?

13, Backstreet Boys! (Quit Playin Games with myyyyy Heart!) LOL How can you NOT fall in love with them? :D

7) if you could read the thoughts of any one person, who would it be?

My father

8) if you could block your thoughts from only one person, who would it be?

God? lol dunno if that counts, sometimes I wish I could let my thoughts be heard without actually having to say it! Especially, when I am angry, upset or emotional. I have a hard time compiling thoughts into words.

9) if you could choose between life on earth forever or going to heaven, which would you choose?

Heaven for sure =)

10) when you die, what will your contribution to the world be?

  • Happy children and grandchildren! (there are too many depressed people in this world)
  • Lots of love, money and stories for them =)
  • Adding at least one concrete block to road towards the advancement of Arabs and our economy.
  • Published research or white paper in a top academic or professional journal (too ambitious?)
  • My Blog! =)

Now, who will I bless with tagging? I tag Genoveva, Urooj and Mr.Unethical! LOL You don't really have to though :P

Friday, August 18, 2006

New Blogger!

While completely ignoring the fiascos happening between bloggers in the saudi blogsphere right now, I'd like to formally introduce yet another new blogger - Clareeish!

Woohooo! clap-clap-clap-clap-clap!!

I know, I know, the is what? The 50th person I've encouraged to become a blogger? hehe, I should get something from blogspot for this, despite all their shortcomings.

There is a difference though with clareeish and that she already used to 'blog' in her own way before. Clareeish is by far my favorite artist because her work speaks to me more than any other. Maybe because I also usually get to see all her work in progress too :P

The rest of you can see her finished work here.
Welcome Clareeish!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

al-bo3bo3 (translation: the boogey-man)

albo3bo3. al'3oul. the boogeyman. Yes, I'm 23 and I just had a boogey-man nightmare. Funny, right? Except if you know what shape my boogey-man takes, I don't think you will find it funny anymore. Unlike your boogeyman, mine is very real. In fact, I'm probably having nightmares because I will be meeting him very soon. very soon.

Let me introduce to you the religious policeman, or the RPM. Although the 'religious' or 'moral' policeman is not an alien concept to many religions and countries around the world, the RPM in Saudi Arabia is a very prominent member of society. You have the teacher, the pilot, the mosque's imam, the doctor, the normal policemen, the firefighters....then you have.... the RPM. This is my boogeyman. Here is why...

Around the world and over the centuaries, there has always been people who are righteous. They believed strongly in achieving a utopian state in the community they live in. As a result, they took it upon themselves to advice, correct and punish all who represented a blemish in that shiny dream.

Ok, sounds nice. I'm a believer in discipline and its importance. Sure, why not? Some heartfelt words of advice never hurt. Or actually putting cuffs on the bad seeds of society isn't a bad idea. And in Saudi Arabia, we have just that: dedicated personnel to take upon themselves to make sure our society is squeky clean.

So, why am I afraid?
Would I ever do anything that would offend my God? No
Would I ever do anything that would upset my family? No
Would I ever do anything that would shame myself? No

Then, what's the problem?
Well, In just a few weeks, I will be moving to Riyadh. Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia. Riyadh is much more conservative. The more conservative a community is, the more servile they are. Ane the more servile they are, the stronger the RPMs are. RPMs flourish in Riyadh. I lived in Riyadh for the better chunk of my childhood. On several occasions, starting at 9 years old, although I had my trusty abaya and scarf on my hair, I got shouted at by RPM to cover my 'nudity'.

wtf? I hear you say? Well, apparently I had to cover my face as well. You can just imagine the trauma of a young girl going back to her mother in tears telling her the story of the man who yelled at her for being naked in the street. Mother explained that those RPMs are trying to enforce their own cultural beliefs as religious requirements. All I had to do in the streets of Riyadh is to keep a low profile as possible and cover my face around them to avoid harrassment. And so I did.

Ok, sunshine, so RPMs are a fact of life in Riyadh, you already know how to deal with them and you never really break the law in any way that will put you in a risky position (read: go on dates) - take a chill pill.

Well, my dear reader, the fact is that there has been many stories on how RPMs find those people with suspicious behavior. Their location and day-to-day activities are volunteered by equally righteous neighbors.

Guess who is going to live in Riyadh, alone, as a single girl, working for (gasp!) an American company that (gasp!) employs foreigners and (gasp!) allows the mixing of genders on its premises???!!!

Yes, yours truly. I may go live alone across the globe from my family and that it normal, but in RIYADH?!


Yes, it seems so. It also seems that I am in denial. My subconsious is afraid. very afraid. If being a single girl living alone isn't bad enough in the eyes of those RPM, I don't want to know what they think of working for the 'infidels'. What if some concerned neightbor (oh we know how 'concerned' neighbors can be in Riyadh) calls them up and reports me? I might lead the most boring life ever and those nosy bastards will still want to investigate why I live alone? This is the second time I dream of RPMs raiding my house and arresting me. I'm not worried about burlgers, I'm worried about being investigated, for the simple reason of being different. Let me tell you, it's not a nice feeling.

THE question of course is: am I blowing all this out of proportions? Did I just have molokia for dinner? Or is this just a reactions to some complex I developed as a child?

It is a known fact that RPMs in Saudi Arabia get carried away a lot. They act in a strange, erratic and dangerous behavior.

Man, I'm worried. I know my family is a bit worried as well. But, they are letting my do my thing. How will I live? Will I be so paranoid that I wouldn't even turn on the music in my house too high? Will I just go to work then come back and hide in my cocoon?

bleh. So boring. I apologize, I will try to have more pleasant dreams =)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Just Jump!

I'm alive!!!!!!!!!! LOL. I did it! I did a tandem freefall from 14,000 feet high for 60 seconds then learned to parachute for 7 minutes. IT WAS THE BEST EXPERIENCE EVER!

When I finally arrived to the place in the middle of nowhere, we watched a 10 minutes training video then trained for 20 minutes with an instructor on the ground. It was then I started getting the jitters. Am I really, really, really going to do this? LOL

We got on the airplane, went up to 14,000 feet, then... the airplane opened I could not believe that I could see the ground like that. I was the second in line. We stood by the airplane OPEN door and counted to three On three, we JUMPED!




The freefall is such a surreal experience... It is funny how familiar that feeling seemed. Think speed boat on steroids but of course without anything to hold on to! Guess what I was thinking while falling...

OPenParachuteopEnParachute..WOW THIS IS AWESOME....OpENpaRAchuteopENParaChuTE...ok ok ok NOW OPENPparachuteOPENPARACHUTEOPENPARACHUUUUUTE......

hehehe...As always, even with all excitement, I followed the instructions. I ain't gonna turn a rebel right now. I did everything the instructor told me. He even told me when we finally got to the ground is that when a first tandem jump DOES go according to directions...he doesn't know what to do? LOL usually he was to spin, turn and maneuver to fix the position. yay I get an A+ in skydiving :P My video is hilaaaaarous. All you can see is my mouth WIDE OPEN. You can't hear my shouting because of the heavy music background...but you can definately read my lips: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

Then when we opened the parachute, the pull up was so hard. Now, I did go parasailing before, but navigating a free-flying parachute...HOLY arms could barely take it.

For the longest while, the ground seemed sooo faaaar away. But when it DID start to come closer, it started to come closer REAL FAST. very scary. However, we had a smooooth landing. On the ground, I was like: AGAIN! LOL. Then I stood up real quick and asked, where is my brother? ... my mom maaaay forgive me for doing this (She's used to it) but getting my only brother into it? hehe...he better not have a SINGLE scratch on him!

Hamdilla, everything went perfectly. The people at Burnaby Skydiving were awesome. A bunch of free-living souls. It was so refreshing being around people who live on the edge like this. It is so different from my well-planned, strategized, calculated, budgetted, and over-analyzed life. My instructor was doing his 5,000th jump! Amazing... Now that I did my 1st tandem jump, I need two more to qualify for the first freefall. Will I do ahead and get licensed to skydive? I dunno....

For the longest time my parents resisted to let me get a driver license (I wonder why?LOL) Despite that, I managed to get a scuba diving license and completed the 1st step towards a skydiving license...hmmm... do you think there is a connection???

After that, my friends and I tried to get to a cool chinese restaurant in Hamilton, but we didn't make it on time. I had a great time anyways, we stopped by a pizza place and discussed what's next on the list.

Take a guess =)

Friday, August 11, 2006

It's my birthday and I can jump from a plane if I want to!

Yes, ladies and gents. I'm doing it! I admit when I woke up this morning I asked myself: "Am I really going to do it?"...."umm....YES!" LOL. Yay, adrenaline! LOTS of it :D

It was really a nice start to the day. I received a couple of e-cards and happy b-day calls from friends and family. I am especially happy because my MBET friends actually remembered! I really didn't expect much because MBET is over and all. Plus, I generally don't make a big deal out of birthdays (I just use them as an excuse to do dangerous things :P like uhh...SKYDIVING)
However, it turned out that they are true friends =))) Thnx!

My friends from Saudi also called and/or emailed. My cousins in Egypt called as well. I miss them so much! mom called. Uh-oh. I was dying, DYING to tell her what I have planned for my birthday. She kept asking me, so how are you doing? What are your plans for the day? My cousins and sister know already, but I am hoping that she will not get any word about it. I did feel that I should still be responsible though. So, I told my father and asked him not to tell mom. I assured that it is safe and it is only a tandem jump not a freefall.

Before I hung-up the phone I heard my mom call out..."Don't do anything crazy like you always do! And if you do, take your brother with you!!"

hehehe...If only you knew dear mother what I am up to this year :P

btw, bloggers, I will need help with composing an apology letter when I send her the video of me and my brother in mid-air... I welcome any suggestions!

ICE: In Case of Emergency

Yesterday, my brother came home late. I know he finishes class by 4pm. However, it was 9.30pm until he actually came back. Naturally, I was worried sick.He is not carrying a Canadian Driver's license to help identify his number or address in case of an emergency. He is only carrying the Saudi ID, which is in Arabic (someone really smart didn't think it was necessary to have at least an English translation on the back). As a result of that, it would take a long time before I know if anything bad (لا قدر الله) happens. I was worried also because we are alone here in Canada. If anyone checked his mobile, they won't easily find a Canadian number and it would takes ages before they find the house number.

So, when I received this forwarded email, I really liked it and wanted to share it with everyone.

Btw, he was at the library and was swamped with so much work that he forgot to mention it to me. It's ok, I wasn't mad. We just agreed to always call-in with each other =)

Recently, the concept of “ICE” is catching up quickly. It is simply, yet an important method of contact during emergency situations.

As cell phones are carried by majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or person who should be contacted at during emergency as “ICE” (meaning In Case of Emergency).

The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when they went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn’t know which number is call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose.

Following a disaster in London, the East Anglican Ambulance Service has launched a national “In case of Emergency (ICE)” campaign. In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital staff would then be able to quickly contact your next of kin, by simple dialing the number stored as “ICE”. For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc. A great idea that will make a difference !

Tell everyone you know. It really could save your life, or put a loved one’s mind at rest.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cry for help :P

Dear bloggers and lurkers,
This post is a cry for help! Help me! I am losing it! LOL. Here, let me tell you a little story.

Back in 2001, in my senior year of high school. I was your average teenager. Wait. That's not right. I was not your average girl, but I was your typical video-gaming fanatic. I lived and grew up with the video-games that were around in that period. From PC games to console games such as Super Nintendo and Playstation, I was in love. That video-game world was my sanctuary. I was the invincible mortal kombat fighter, the fastest car-racer, the ever-winning Crash Bandicot. I was the UNBEATABLE super Mario.

In that world, I ruled. So, for all you gamers out there, you understand why we get addicted. More than addicted. If it was up to us, we would transport to that world permanently and rule that magic kingdom. I had dreams to participate one day in international gaming contests...And win.

However, it was that year, year 2001, when my virtual alter-ego died. To be exact, it was the night before the final Physics tawjeehi (senior high-school) exam. As always, I hid away in my world of treasure, monsters and magic whenever real-life was too stressful to face. On that dark night, out of the blue, I was pulled away. Pulled away so hard that the roots of my love were killed and my growth was stunted.

It seems that when life is most stressful that you can achieve incredible levels in your game, right? It was exactly that. I was swimming with Spyro, the super-hero dinosaur in the depths of a pixelized lake in search of treasure, when my mother suddenly PULLED the cable connected the playstation with the TV and the socket.


All I can think of was when was the last time I saved.

I haven't saved for an hour and 45 minutes.

God knows how much you can do in an hour and 45 minutes.

It was horrendous. A terrible violent death of a (relatively) budding love. I felt actual physical pain when I was returned to the mundane world so violently...

I never touched video-games ever since.

During those last few years after that important, life-changing event. I understood my mother. She was looking out for me. She was worried not only about my grades, but my personality and my mental health. At some point, I even remember that I thanked her, even though I missed out on PS2. LOL

So, what is this post about? Well, ever since I came to Canada, I made some new friends. Friends who told tales of new games, new worlds, new lives. I listened. I was enthralled. I listened for a whole year because I resisted all temptations to touch that keyboard. I knew. I knew who I was and how I can be. I held adamantly unto my role of a fascinated observer by putting up the defense of too much studying.

Then, school was out...For good. I was out of my studying bubble. Without an armor to cling on, I was a weak, helpless girl in the face of temptation. It started out by my usual hanging out with my friends, then they started talked about this new RPG game they are playing. Heavens...I love RPG. They kept talking about knights, elves, goblins and zombies...A huge world of quests, treasure and wonderful new creatures. They knew how much I loved that world. They must have known. I wasn't satisfied with all this talk. I had to see for myself.

I followed them back to the dragon's den. It was a dark basement, cold (literally - to overcome overheating), dark and with humming computers, fully equipped with the latest, most expensive video cards, surround sound system and LAN network. Video-gaming Paradise.

As the story goes with any tale of seduction. A look, then a touch, then a taste...I was hooked. Like some kind of drug. The first night was magical. 12 hours straight to get the hang of it. Somewhere in those 12 hours, there was a re-birth. My friends were so welcoming as well. They gave me the most comfortable chair, the best headphones and explained the game so I can venture in that world as quickly as possible.

The name of the game is Oblivion. I was enchanted.

So, my friends, this is why I haven't been blogging for a while. I woke up everyday to rush to our little lab and conquer my enemies. Occasionally, we take breaks to eat and do various mundane human activities. Even then, my mind was still in Cyrodiil. I am a dark elf mage. A magician of sorts covered with heavy Dwarvian armor. I am still way behind than my friend the acrobatic master thief and the strong armored warrior. However, I still play to the best of my abilities. I do not look at the clock anymore. My love has been re-kindled.

Now, here is my dilemma. If you think that I am already knee-deep in problems, I beg to differ. The way you identify a real gaming addict is when they try to hide it. When they put the game on top of their priority life and everything, EVERYTHING comes in second. I feel like I am in quicksand. I can still breathe. I can still see the light. But, I am sinking...And sinking quickly. I have another confession. I come from a family of gamers, including my father. So it is in my genes. If video-gaming is anything like alcohol, then I am really in trouble. What is it about that magical world that draws me? Or is it that this world is so damn boring that it makes me look for more?

If you want to help, then here is how: If you know where I can buy some cool spells or some minataurs I can fight or zombies I can summon to play with, then please email me. If you hear of any conquests to travel to a lost island to find some enchanted crystals or mystical forests that I can explore, please don't hold back. Maybe it's not game over yet for this small, mundane world. Maybe I can redeem myself and keep myself at bay from the beautiful, utterly huge, magical world of Oblivion.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Reflections? huh?

lol ok I guess I should do the I'm-reflecting-on-my-life-because-I-just-graduated. LOL. Honestly, I'm not like that. My wise moments of reflections and visions come randomly. I have no control over them. Generally, they come during showers and boring lectures. hehehe.

I guess I have nothing to reflect about because this year was ALL about reflecting. Plus, my plans are already laid out. I know where I am going, when I am going and what the hell I am going to do there! And that's just the way I like it. Clear, organized and neat.

I would say that the most important lesson I learned this year is SWOT. Yes, we all know SWOT, but what I learned how to apply SWOT analysis to real life. To succeed, you really define you strengths, accept your weaknesses, take full advantage of opportunities and minimize threats.

I learned that not every genius is successful and not every successful person is a genius. The determining point is Planning and Execution. If you plan, calculate and excute your moves right, you got a better chance of succeeding. It is not your grades, how fast you can solve a math problem or even your IQ. Those definitely help, but they do not guarantee anything. It is funny how much emphasis I used to put on those surface issues. Now, it is all about results.
On a side note, since I am still hanging around Canada for a while until my brother finishes his English program, I had some time to make a good meal. I made molokia today!!! That's my favorite dish, which is basically a type of green soup. A dear friend found it randomly in an Arabic store and bought it for me. My grandma would be so proud to find out that I know how to do this dish. Yum!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

My friends are bloggers too! 2

Some of my awesome MBET friends started blogs as well! Check them out. Genoveva, Sahar, JB and Urooj. They are smart and fantastic people! It has been an honor meeting them, working with them and becoming their friend =) I wish them all the best of luck, success and happiness!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

MBET: check

I am DONE with my degree! More later =)