In the Egyptian film “Ma tege Nor’os” (Let’s dance) starring Yosra. The main character, a married mid-aged wife, who was depressed of the boredom in her life, the daily routine, and the relationship with her husband which grew dull after many years being together following the norms of a society that dictates the same behavior of everyone and punishes anyone trying to revive his life in a different unexpected way. She suddenly discovered a dance club right in the apartment at the floor below to hers. With some cautious, she first approached the club to check it out, and with time, she found herself absorbed in dancing in a way that awakened her from her long sleep, colored her life, and changed her completely.

In a different way, the same thing happened to Athena. The main character in Paulo Coelho’s latest novel “The witch of portobello”. Athena, who had a hard time dealing with her life just after her divorce, and living alone as a single mother to her baby child, directed her anger on her landlord who used to have a daily night dance sessions with a group of people at his apartment just next to hers. Neither she nor her baby was able to sleep. When she faced him, he invited her to try it by herself, and when she did, her entire life changed as well.

As usual, Paulo Coelho addresses dancing in a spiritual matter. For him, moving our bodies to the music is a part of a sacred rituals that connect our souls to the divine. Athena’s new dance discovery where reflected on her work, her changed mood and new ambition for life changed her dramatically where she didn’t only became more creative and productive, but also managed to drag her co-workers into this and lifting the entire firm she used to work for into a new level.

LBC, the popular Lebanese TV channel, broadcasts a new dance show under the name of “Hezze ya nawa’em” (shake your belly you soft woman). The name is taken from a popular old Lebanese song that became like a folklore song which is played in most wedding parties till today. The show is basically a competition of belly dancing where female belly dancers from around the world compete with each other for the title of being the best belly dancer around the world.

Dancing has been a prominent part in the eastern Arabian culture. Belly dancing is what distinguishes Arabian dance from other western dances. While being fiercely attacked in the past decade by the Arab society because it has linked to prostitution for the amount of revealed body parts famous Belly dancers in Arabia used to show.

While belly dancing got more and more rejection of the Arabian societies, it gained more and mroe respect in the west because of the fascination of the western societies of this art. What is ironic is that the only cultural heritage that we, as Arabian societies, despise the most, is our only cultural heritage that is still respected and admired by the west!

What I find fascinating as well, is how a specific culture can build two different at odd sub cultures. In Najeeb Mahfooz’s trilogy, he highlights the differences of the lives of women in Egypt at the beginning of last century era. While most women were opressed not even having the right to go out of their homes, others, practicing belly dancing and prostitution were thriving and living a wild life.

In late 60’s and 70’s, there was a huge wave of Egyptian films focusing on the lives of belly dancers. Maybe it was due to the infleuence of famous belly dancers in Egypt at that time and their strong connections with authoritive people. Most of the storylines of those movies where drawn upon polishing the image of belly dancers and showing them in a better light. Poverty and men’s dirty schemes were the main reasons to drive a woman towards this profession. Some movies tried to draw a line between belly dancing and prostitution. The famouse movie “khalli balak men zozo” (Be careful of Zozo) starring the cinderella of the Arabic screen Suad Husni focused on the life of the daughter of an old belly dancer whom was ashamed of her moether profession, and tried to hide it of her noble boyfriend. Getting invited to a party at her boyfriend mansion, Zozo was shocked to see her old mother dancing for the crowd for money. Moments later, Zozo’s love for her mother won over, she found heself taking her mother’s place and dancing instead of her in a beautiful message that meant to highlight the human side of belly dancers.

In recent years, Arabian societies, dominated by the western cultural influence, mocked the western model of night clubs and dance. A lot of western night clubs opened in the Arab world. A lot of young people spend their weekend – Thursday night usually – dancing on western music and drinking alcohol.

While dancing is always a musing practice to the body and soul, belly dancing has a unique touch with a long heritage and stronger effect. An art that is waiting to be revived and get the respect it deserves.

Tomorrow is the New Year’s Eve. Wish you all the best dancing with your loved ones. Remember, it doesn’t matter what music you move your body to, it doesn’t matter who is your dance partner. What matters is your celebration of your body and soul and the joy you bring to yourself while shaking your belly.

Happy New Year

Govenrment offices and public smoking!

Excuse me, isn’t smoking forbidden in public governmental departments in Jordan? I really have no official answer for this question, but from a personal experience, I can guarantee you that the answer is a big NO!

This is seriously pissing me off. While the Great Amman Municipality is gaining global prizes for what they present as an excellent plan for the future of Amman, I HAVE to get cancer for the dozen of times I have to visit their offices for the damn vocational license for my ice cream shop.

I have always been an optimistic person. I read the achievements, enhancements and promises of the government officials to improve things in Jordan and accept it with an open heart. I can ever see and feel how things are really improving at the high level of things. But when it comes to the government low-end employees, who are very important in the cycle of improving the lives of the Jordanian citizens, the picture is not as rosey as you read in the newspaper.

Those people are really depressed. Seriously, it is like there is “an agreed upon code” to mistreat their clients (the jordanian citizens). They put a grumpy face, a negative attitude without any intention to help explaining things out. When you ask them, they react as if you cursed them! They only stick to beraucratic rules that give them joy in tortunring people at hand! In addition to all of that, they barely let their cigarette off their hands!

The other day, I was thinking that as a tax payer, I would agree to pay those people their salaries and let them stay at home while bringing new ones to serve intead of them. For god’s sake, they don’t only do nothing, but they also help slowing down the working process.

And guess what, the e-government is just adding more hassle. When technology and beraucracy is a bad combination. When a person’s brain can’t see behind 1+1=2, technology can’t help. He would be spending more time figuring out how to work out the software rather than doing the task at hand. Today for instance they were searching for my name in their software, and instead of searching through the number of my file which is more credible, he kept of writing my name and family name and trying and trying without any result, at the end he figured out that they entered my name wrong in the first place.

I am a patient person, and can manage to keep my nerves down till whatever it takes, but can anyone do something about the smoking part?! It is really hurting our citizens!

انثى تحمل شرفها بين فخذيها

انثة, ترن الكلمة بعذوبة في اذني مصرحة بالخطوط العريضة هويتي التي احملها منذ خروجي من رحم امي. انتى, تشعرني بالغرور كما تشعرني بالاحباط. تملأ حياتي بالتناقضات, و الحيرة: ما بين تمجيد انوثتي و الاعتزاز بها و اظهارها للعالم, و بين طمسها و اخفائها وسحقها لحماية نقطة شرف على جسدي, شرف لايخصني وحدي فقط بل يتمدد ليضم شرف جميع من احب من عائلتي

انثة, تسمعها اذني فينتصب جذعي في استقامة تسمح لنهدي بالبروز. بلا وعي اختزل انوثتي في صدري, ابرزه لأعلن للناس اكتمالها. اشعر بقدسية انوثتي و اهميتها منذ نشوء العالم. يتناقض جسدي في ردة فعله لدى سماعه الكلمة. فبينما يشتد القسم الاعلى في شموخ, تتقارب فخذي في استحياء لحماية نقطة الشرف بينهما

بلا وعي اعود الى طفولتي, يظهر وجه جدتي العابس, تصرخ في وجهي كانني ارتكبت ذنب عظيم. كنت اجلس متباعدة الفخدين, طفلة بريئة لاتدري الكنز بينهما. لاتعرف انها تحمل شرفها و شرف امها و ابوها و اخوها و جدتها و ابنتها و ابنها و زوجها و و و شرف العائلة و المجتمع, مركز الكون و بئر الشيطان, اخفيه بين فخذي. اجهشت فالبكاء, لم اكن ادري مدى فظاعة فعلتي. كرهت جدتي و كرهت فخذي, كرهت جسدي و انوثتي . لم ادرك سوى بعد بضع سنين ان توبيخي لاضم فخذي كان مقدمة لسلسة من التوبيخات و الاهانات و مدعاة للتحكم و العبودية. ضم فخذي لم يعد يكفي, اصبح علي ان اغطيهم و اخفيهم , كلما زاد الغطاء, كلما ارتاحت عائلتي. امتد الغطاء ووصل الى رأسي والى وجهي. قاومت, و حاربت, لم اكن انا التي تحارب, بل الانثى في داخلي

ابت ان تموت. احتارت, لماذا يمجدون الاناث من بعيد و عند اقترابهم منهم يقتلونهم؟ ارى عيون اخي تتوسع في انبهار عند رؤية هيفا تغني, و احتار عندما اراهم تتسعان بخوف عند رؤيتي اقلل من غطاء جسدي. هيفا لا تحمل شرفه, انا احمله

تزداد حيرتي كل يوم, تنازل الرجال عن حبسي في البيت لاننهم لم يعودوا يستطيعون تحمل مصاريف العيش. طنشوا الخطر الواقع على شرفهم لاجل راحتهم. ما كانوا سيرضون بذلك لو انها من اجل راحتي. اصبح علي ان احذوا حذو الرجال, نعم الخروج للعمل و لكن, ليس قبل طمس الانوثة, و كيف لا و ان الشرف لم يزل بين فخذي, احمله معي للعمل و امشي به في الشوارع و اعرضه للخطر عند احتسائي القهوه مع حبيب في مكان عام

تنازلوا عن القيود لاجل راحتهم, فالمقابل وقعوني على عقد من طرف واحد, لي حريتي بشرط ان ابقي فخذي مغلقتان, ابقي علي شرفهم مقابل ابقاءهم على حياتي. اتمني ان انزعه من بين فخذي و اطبعه على جباههم! فليحمل كل واحد شرفه بنفسه. لماذا يحملونني العبء و يلهون هم من غير حمل؟

مع حبي,

اطفو كالريشه في نهر الحياه

اطفو كالريشه في نهر الحياه. اسلم نفسي لنسمات الهواء. تقودني الرياح بكل اتجاه في سمفونية موسيقية تؤرخ خطوات رحلتي منذ سقوطي من رحم امي و الي المجهول الذي يتراءى امامي بجرعات مدروسة تصر على ان تجعل سمفونييتي مميزة كباقي سمفونيات اخواتي الريش
اسلم نفسي للريح كما يسلم المسلم نفسه لخالقه. احب الاسلام لاسمه. اسلم من دون ذكر الشهادتين, كما اصبح مسيحيا من غير لبس الصليب. احب انسانية المسيح ولاتعنيني الوهيته, اراها في اوجه الناس
. محطات عدة تضيء دربي. احاول قراءة خارطة طريقي في خبايا الفكر الانساني. تقف الاديان تباعا, كاشارات مرور تملي علي اتجاهاتي. احيانا اتبع مسار البوذية و احيانا اليهودية و احيانا المسيحية و الوثنية و السينتوليجية و و و… لااختار دربي, هو يختارني. يعجبني التنوع و تعجبني الصور الفوتوغرافية التي احملها على كتقي. اصور قدر استطاعتي
التفت حولي و ارى اخواتي الريش يصطفون في درب واحد, يشاهدون نفس المشهد و يلتقطون نفس الصور. تفوتهم لحظات النشوة التي تصيبني عندما يقع بصري على مشهد جديد. احدث نفسي و اتامل, اتساءل لماذا تختلف رياحي عن رياحهم, لماذا ابتعد عن فرح الجماعة؟ لماذا يغمضون اعينهم عند رؤية نور بلون مختلف؟ لماذا يحافظون على نقاء لونهم بينما تعدد الالوان يدل على دراية اكبر في مجرى الحياة الذي ربما نسلكه مرة واحدة؟
اشاهدهم يسجدون في اتجاه واحد. اتمنى ان انضم لهم. اشاهدهم يرسمون علامة خشبتين متقاطعتين, ارسمها لاشعر بانتماءي اليهم. اشاهدهم يجلسون بسكون لتامل الحياة, اجلس بجانهم و ابحر في خيالي. اشاهدهم يعتمرون قلنسوة مميزة لتمييز عرقهم, اتمنى سريان بعض من دمائهم في دمي لأنتمي. اشاهدهم ينحنون امام الابقار فانحني لهيبة الخلق. اغلبهم يرون وجه الخالق المذكر, و بعضهم يفضل الوجه المؤنث, انا احب الوجهين
احب التنوع و احب الحياة, احب الرحلة و استمتع بجميع المحطات. لااعرف ما ينتظرني في الطريق ولكنني ايقن انه في انتظاري ملايين من المشاهد الجميلة و عدة ملايين من المقاطع السمفونية التي ساضيفها الى موسيقتي

A middle class citizen who feels lucky

last week Batir wrote about his personal financial situation as a middle class Jordanian man living in Amman and how he feels lucky that while he has to work 12 hours a day to maintain a decent life for him and his family, his work is mainly based on mental work rather than physical one.

Batir’s post is an excellent piece of work that helps highlighting what people are going through in Jordan in order to maintain a good life. I thought that maybe we can turn it into a tag and pass it around in the Jordanian blogsphere so that we all can testify and give real examples of Jordanian citizens dealing with everyday life’s responsibilities.

Like Batir, I feel also lucky for having a job that doesn’t require any hard physical work. I am also lucky for having a good English language, computer skills and good educational background that are essential to modern economy.

Unlike him, I don’t have a family of my own to support, which lay back a lot of responsibility and pressure for having to look for a second job. I work for 10 hours a day and I know that my current salary wouldn’t be suitable to give a decent life for a whole family. I am approaching my 30s next year while knowing that if I ever wanted to get married, I would be able to make it financially before another 5 to 10 years without compromising much of my level of living.

Most Jordanian young men, if not supported by their families, spend their first 5 years of their professional life saving for their marriage, and another 5 years after their marriage paying the loans they took to cover wedding and opening a new house expenses. Some of them start their lives with a big loan to buy a new house that they most probably carry it with them through their entire life.

My dad started his marriage life with loans, and till today he is struggling to meet them up. Through the years he has been able to provide us with a very decent life. Our family income may have been to the lower side of a middle class Jordanian family income, but we have always lived a lifestyle that has been above than we make. My mother had to work as well for years in order to help my father with family expenses.

My father’s business has always done well, but never good enough to get rid of the never ending loans cycle. He mainly worked the last 30 years to cover the bank interests and our family expenses forgetting any luxuries in life that he would life to treat himself with. We were his only luxury.

Even with his tough financial situation, he provided us with an excellent education. He taught us in one of the best private schools in Amman. Investing most what he gets in us in order to provide us with the essential tools to carry on in life.

I am afraid that I am taking my father’s path once again. I already took a loan to start my own business (Licky Licious) with my friend. Meeting up with the loan’s disbursements along with others expenses that we face daily for starting this business are eating up most of my salary. I have learnt the hard way that starting one’s own business in Jordan is never an easy task.

I have big hopes for my new business to give me the financial uplift that I am looking to. It took me 7 years in order to be able to take such a move, and while others spend their first couple of years saving to get married, I decided to take the risk and doing something for my own. Ofcourse my working hours would be doubled once we open it and ofcourse I will be dealing with a lot of more hectic, but maybe one day I would be able to look back and say: I did the right thing.

Let’s pass this as a tag. I tag Hayat, Hala, Kinzi, and Pheras

Abdoun’s baby and society’s absurd reaction!

So after few days of me writing a post about domestic workers sexuality in Jordan. A new baby born is found abandoned under Abdoun Bridge. After investigation, it turns out that the parents of the baby are a female Asian house maid and a male Arabian house guard.

I just wish I have a larger voice where I can reach larger audience before something like this happens, but what I can do, I am just a blogger! I don’t write in daily newspapers and I don’t appear on TV, I am neither a government official where I can take some action. But in the other hand, maybe it is just a bless that my voice doesn’t reach out, because the reactions of the officials and the society at large is just too absurd (check out Pheras’s dismay of official’s reaction) where I am starting to believe that it may be better to keep things ignored.

According to Suher’s Bushnaq, a writer at Al Ra’e newspaper in her article yesterday 12/9. She believes that we are giving our domestic workers a lot of freedom and that with such freedom we are subjecting our selves and our families a lot of potential risk. She brilliantly calls at the most popular Jordanian newspaper to subject our domestic workers with more slavery conditions than they already endure.

And to make her article more professional, she sure had to consult a social counselor which I have no idea from where did she get her degree because I believe that social counselors should know at least with basic human rights concepts. The quoted social counselor name is Rabab Allam. She said that people should NOT give their domestic workers any day off including weekends! (Notice the tone of slavery and the violation of every law of workers rights). She also asked families to keep an eye on their maids and restrict their freedom (as if they have any).

Bushnaq goes on describing how families after hearing the news of the baby are taking stronger measurements to prevent such condition to happen to their maid. Those who used to let their maid go out to the supermarket and owning a cell phone are stripping them from such luxuries. We are basically doing a group punishment for all domestic workers in Jordan for what we perceive as an unaccepted behavior from two people.

This case is really hitting on my nerve. The stupidity and ignorance of our society is highlighted like never before. Acknowledging our maids sexuality means tightening their freedom instead of respecting their choices. Instead of punishing them, why don’t we try to sexually educating them and provide them with condoms to at least have safe sex? But as we say in Arabic ‘Faged al shay’ la yo3teeh’ (One that he doesn’t have a thing, can’t give it)

And I leave you with Khalife Omar ibn El khattab saying ‘Matta esta3battom al nas, wa qa waladathom ommahatehom a7raran’ (When did you enslave people and their mothers born then free?)

May God be mercy on us!

Would you tell your loved one that he/she is dying?

When the doctor informed the old man at Grey’s Anatomy’s yesterday’s episode that his wife, whom he loves the most in life, is dying of cancer. The old man asked the doctor not to tell her in order to spare her the fear of knowing that she is dying. Unfortunately, (or is it fortunately?) in the USA, doctors have to tell their patients the exact status of their conditions. The doctor told the old wife that she is dying of cancer in 4-6 months. The old lady in return asked her not to tell her husband so that to spare him the fear of losing her.

On the ground, my family had to face this kind of situation twice. The first time when my grandfather (mother’s side) was diagnosed of having cancer at an advanced stage where there was no point in treating him. The family decided not to put him through the hassle of chemotherapy and they never told him about his condition. He only suffered much on his last days, and he passed away without knowing that he had a cancer.

We recently faced the same problem, this time with my grandmother (father’s side). She was diagnosed with cancer last year, and was treated with chemotherapy without even telling her that this kind of treatment is for cancer’s patients. Her condition has only gone worse, and yesterday morning she demanded my aunt to call my father to go and see her. She said “I am dying, let him come”.

With the amount of spread of this deadly disease, and without a requirement for Jordanian doctors to be loyal to their patients and inform them about their condition status, Jordanian families are facing the hard question whether to tell their loved ones that they are dying or not. It is an impossible situation, and with our cultural preference of keeping things in secret, people usually go with the decision of not telling, snatching those they love the right of knowing that they might be living their last days, and thus knowing how to prepare themselves to leave.

I have always believed that if I ever get diagnosed of having only few months to live, I would want to know, but yesterday watching that old couple madly in love with each other while wanting to save each other the fear of knowing it, I am not really sure where I stand. While we all know that we are dying one day, knowing that “death is near” is very frightening. I may want to know myself, but would definitely want to spare my loved ones that pain.

It is a tough call. Sometimes we deprive our loved ones from their basic right for what we believe is the best for them, and our love can easily turned into a betrayal of their trust and their right to know what is going on in their bodies. Maybe if everyone write it down and made it clear what they want, people who love us would find it easier to decide to tell us that we are dying when we are or not.

My grandfather was crying yesterday because he realized that he is losing his life partner (they never told him about her condition as well). She on the other hand, lay in bed seeing all whatever believed in manifested in front of her. She called my aunt: “Look outside there is a huge beautiful cross”. Ofcourse my aunt didn’t see it.

May God help her through this.