Friday, February 29, 2008


I recently created a (harassment) message template on my mobile phone that I send to my friends that reads (begs) "For those of you who have nothing better to do, pleeeeaaasssee check my blog". Today and since I have not added anything new recently, I received an sms that says "Since you have nothing else to do I suggest you update your blog". And like a good girl, I just did.

Adventure Tourism in Afghanistan!

Six weeks is how long Prince Harry was able to be "all that he can be" in Afghanistan. His adventure holiday was cut short from the original ten weeks that he was scheduled to spend due to a media leak. My gut feeling tells me that the leak was an intentional one orchestrated to bail out the prince from what seems to have turned out less fun than anticipated. The staging of the news was done brilliantly where adventure, urgency, Rambo, cool, 007, secrecy, heroism, royalty, glitter, sex appeal, and patriotism were all packaged in one headline. If a picture could tell a thousand words, the picture of Prince Harry told a million to a carefully targeted audience. The message was simply that “War is Sexy and we have Prince Harry to prove it". 

It must be a very hard sell for the USA and the UK to recruit for the wars they have staged in the Middle East when they have a very hard time sticking to one version of why they did start these wars to begin with. Prince Harry should make their task a bit easier now.

Although Prince Harry will be leaving Afghanistan sooner than expected, he and his battle group did perform heroic feats in preventing terrorism and in keeping the world safe. International Herald Tribune reports that "since Harry's arrival, his battle group has been responsible for around 30 enemy deaths".

The prince should join all the legends who throughout the past have served at romanticizing the invasion, colonization and violation of our lands. Great Britain seems to get the lion’s share of these great warriors with Lawrence of Arabia and now Harry of Afghanistan!  

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Royal Republics!

Yesterday I heard that Fidel Castro resigned. I was so impressed. I thought to myself that Castro has really done the right thing by clearing the way for a successor. Today I learnt that Fidel Castro’s younger brother, Raul (76 year-young), is now the president of Cuba. Fidel Castro fell faster than a hot potato from the pedestal I had placed him on less than twenty four hours earlier.

I find it ironic that we are witnessing in Cuba what is typical of many political models around us in the Arab world. In other words, republics that pass on leadership based on hereditary rights. The countries that come to mind are Egypt, Syria and Libya.

Egypt and Syria claim a republic for their government model. A republic is defined as “a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president”. A monarch, on the other hand, is defined as “one who reigns over a state or territory, usually for life and by hereditary right”. While Libya’s government model is a Jamahiriya (a state of the masses), which is in theory, governed by the populace through local councils. All three countries claim some sort of participatory process whereby people have a say in the selection and election of their political leaders.

A brief examination of the most recent presidential elections in those countries shows discrepancies and inconsistencies between what the system is in theory and what it is in reality. For example consider the following:

A republic in theory. Last election was held on 6 March 2003. The next election was to be held in March 2008. Could the timing of the resignation of Fidel Castro have anything to do with this? I wonder.
The results of the last election: Fidel Castro was reelected president with 100% of legislative vote.
Raul Castro was elected vice president with 100% of legislative vote.
Now that Fidel is dying, his brother has inherited the presidency.

Last election under terms of constitutional amendment that changed the presidential election to a multicandidate popular vote was held on 7 September 2005.
The election results: Hosni Mubarak was reelected president with 88.6% of votes, Ayman Nour 7.6%, Noman Gomaa 2.9%.
Ayman Nour is in prison today!

Mubarak is now preparing his son Gamal Mubarak to inherit the presidency from him. I am now accepting bets for those who want to speculate on who is going to be the next Egyptian President.

The election of the president is done by popular referendum for a seven-year term (no term limits). Last referendum was held on 27 May 2007, and the results were: Bashar al-Asad won as president with 97.6% of votes. I would love to know who is the braveheart who ran against the incumbent pseudo monarch and won the 2.4% of votes.
Bashar Al-Asad inherited the presidency from his father Hafez Al-Asad. This was made possible thanks to a controversial constitutional amendment to the age of the president that allowed Bashar to assume the presidency.

Libya – You are going to love this one
National elections are held indirectly through a hierarchy of people's committees; head of government is elected by the General People's Congress;
Last election was held in March 2006
election results: NA

Saif El-Eslam Ghadafi is widely believed to be the successor of his father Muammar to head the government. I am also accepting bets for those who would like to speculate on who is going to be the next Libyan head of government.

In view of the above, I am at a loss. What shall I call these regimes. They are neither republics nor monarchies. How about I create a new model for this new breed of imposters that I call “RoPublics”; where "Ro" stands for rogue and royal. A Ropublic would then be defined as a royal republic marked by a schizophrenic system of government where everyone pretends that the ruler is a president while in reality everyone knows that he is an imposter acting as a monarch. Presidential elections are held to enforce this state of denial and to reinforce that the people are crazy and that their fears of having their republic turn into a de facto monarchy are nothing but hallucinations.

Monday, February 25, 2008

That dreaded word

I wish I could document the first time someone called me auntie. Little did I know what a historic moment that was. The more people called me auntie, the more I started looking for old buggers so that I can call them 3ammo. All of a sudden the baqqal became 3ammo, the zabbal became 3ammo, the pharmacist became 3ammo, the baker became 3ammo, anyone who looked slightly older was a 3ammo…all in the pursuit of that little girl who still wants to think of herself riding her bicycle and running free in the streets of old Amman…. How time flies and how quickly life passes us by. I can live with auntie for now, but I am not sure how I would handle the inevitable hajjeh!!!!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Monopoly & Israel: How Appropriate

There is an Arabic proverb that says “Iza lam tastahee faf3al ma she’t” (If you are not deterred by shame then do as you please). This proverb accurately describes Israel’s actions in Palestine today. In the case of Israel, the deterrent is not so much shame as much as it is the blind and biased consent and approval of a world that is robbed of its will to do what is right, legal and just when it comes to the Palestinians.

In its violation of Palestinian land and the lives of all Palestinians, Israel has mastered the game of Monopoly. It has continuously attempted to monopolize everything Palestinian, be it cultural, culinary, heritage, you name it. How Humus and falalfel became Israeli national dishes beats me!!! The traditional Palestinian embroidery suddenly found itself adorning hostesses in the cabins of El-Al airlines. Even the dog known as Canaan dog, or as it is commonly known as “baladi”,  is now documented as “Israeli desert dog”!!!! The list goes on and on. The encroachment over the cultural heritage of the people it occupies is somewhat understandable. What else could the borrowed people of Israel show for themselves in terms of history and tradition without revealing how Spanish, Russian, French, Iraqi, Hungarian, Polish, Moroccan, or German they are?

This brings me to the topic of this post: Monopoly, the game some of us grew up playing. The game that got us acquainted with all the landmarks of the city of London without even stepping foot there. The game that introduced us very early on to our entrepreneurial side without even knowing the meaning of the word entrepreneurship. Now Israel has encroached itself onto this game as well.

You see Monopoly is planning to introduce an international version of the game. In an attempt to have people vote on their favorite city choices, they listed cities with corresponding countries. The city of Jerusalem was listed by ignorance and lack of knowing better as Jerusalem, Israel. When the error in referring Jerusalem to Israel was brought up by Pro-Palestinian groups, Hasbro, the mother company of Monopoly,  rightfully removed the reference to Israel. This was enough to mobilize all the powers of denial in Israel in motion. These same powers are the people who fully know and understand that Jerusalem is and has always been legally deemed by the United Nations and the whole world as illegally occupied by Israel. Still they are in denial and they want the whole world to join them in this denial too.

The latest in this saga is that Hasbro has issued an apology to Israel. How ironic! The reference to Israel was correctly removed by an employee whose motivation is the accurate portrayal of facts. Little did this employee know that the higher up he or she gets in the echelon of his or her company, the little need there is for truth and the more need there is for playing dirty politics.

Hasbro and Jerusalem: How inappropriate!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What's up with "what's up in Jordan?"?

Is anyone out there wondering where Khalaf is? Well I am.
I must confess, Khalaf's blog is what inspired me to start my own.
He has not written in over a month and his posts are missed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Jordan Television’s Latest Mandate: Headhunter for the Kuwaiti Government!

On Jordan Television’s (Jtv) 8 o’clock main news bulletin today, the newscaster announced that the Kuwaiti government is seeking teachers in various disciplines; and like a good headhunter he went on to give instructions for those qualified and are interested in applying on how to submit their applications.

1. Is this really news that should be broadcast on the main TV news bulletin?
2. Has the world run out of news that we now have to resort to broadcasting such ass-kissing gestures?
3. Does anyone believe that the Kuwaiti Television (or any other Television for that matter) would ever announce on their main news bulletin Jordan’s recruitment requirements for employees in let’s say the hospitality and banking sectors?
4. Does the recent visit of the Kuwaiti Prime Minister to Jordan have anything to do with modifying the mandate of Jtv?
5. Until when will we keep on witnessing substandard work produced by Jtv and financed by our tax money?

Finally, the 8 o’clock news editor seems to be living in La-La Land. A brief survey of all the major sectors in Jordan, and one finds that brain drain and the severe shortage of skilled and qualified labor seem to be the biggest challenge to the proper development of Jordan. Advocating flight of skilled workers on the national TV network is really embarrassing.

If we are so desperate for the remittances and money transfers made by Jordanians working overseas, it does not hurt to be a bit tactful about it. "iza bulleetom fastatiroo"

Monday, February 18, 2008

La Daisy!

He loves me...He loves me not...He loves me...He loves me not...He loves me...He loves me not...He loves me...He loves me not...He loves me...He loves me not...He loves me...He loves me not...He loves me...He loves me not...He loves me...He loves me not...He loves me...He loves me not!

La Daisy ma habnee!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Suppose the Iranian government arrested and beat Katie Couric

"held her virtually incommunicado for six years and promised to release her only if she would spy for Iran. In such circumstances, Iranian investments in public diplomacy toward the United States wouldn't get very far, either."

These are not my words, but those of Pulitzer prize winner journalist and New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, writing about Al-Jazeera's cameraman Sami al-Hajj held and forgotten in Guantánamo Bay since 2002.

In this powerful column  Kristof outlines the damage that Guantánamo Bay has done not only to the tortured innocents such as Sami al-Hajj but also to the civility of the whole world who is just standing by watching without having the courage to stand for what is just and right.

Shame on the free world for holding the truth hostage of their blind bigotry and indifference. Shame on a world that claims itself free while its soul is chained and its will is corrupted.

Free Sami al-Hajj. Free him NOW!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sweets For My Sweets!

Have you ever had a dessert that tasted so good it made you gradually slow down in eating it so it takes longer to finish?

This thought crossed my mind this morning as I was having a most wonderful conversation with my mother. My mother and I start our days with a usual good morning and short debriefing call every weekday. On weekends this morning telephone visit is prolonged in order to cover the week in review in addition to some recipe talk, Fulla (her cat) talk, occasional gardening issues where both of us are never happy with the gardeners nor with the state of our modest produce, and of course the crucial gossip we might have missed out about one of my sisters. I am sure she holds the same gossip sessions about me with my other sisters. I am also sure that I will never find out from my sisters what my mother thinks or disapproves of as far as my life is concerned. My only consolation is that they will also never find out from me either.

This morning I realized that my mother is the sweets in my life; she has always been the dessert that only got tastier and tastier with time. I also realized that I had to savor this dessert as slowly and as carefully as possible since it is, like anything else in life, bound to finish after sometime (long time I hope).

The only reason for this doom and gloom thinking is the age of my mother. She is getting old. For some reason I am starting to feel the pressure of time. I am starting to feel the need to gradually slow down and seize every possible moment with her. It is extremely comforting to know that she is in excellent health physically, mentally, and morally. In fact I am always amazed at the level of energy she has to be there for every one of her kids, grandkids, and friends. She never misses out on any occasion to be present where she can share the joy or the sadness with someone close. She is always there…always. Never make the mistake to say that you feel like having something in front of her, because you can be sure that she will make it for you. She is so full of love; no chocolate bar in the world could fill you with so much warmth.

I have always felt extremely grounded. I have always stood on solid grounds. I have always felt extremely fortunate. I have always been a happy person...a contented person. All of these blessings have been because I have had the most amazing anchor of all….all of these blessings have been because I have had the most amazing angels of all...all of these blessings have been because I have had the unconditional love and approval of a most wonderful person I call "mama".

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Olive Oyl: A Question of Love

When I think of all the love affairs I grew up watching, one still sticks out as a real mystery: that of Popeye's and Olive Oyl.

I was always lead to believe that Popeye and olive Oyl were madly in love with one another. Well I know for sure that Popeye was head over heals with her. The amount of Spinach he guzzled to reclaim her from Bluto was enough to make sprouts come out of his ears. Yet Olive Oyl never struck me as someone ready to reciprocate the affections of Popeye.

In the rivalry between Popeye and Bluto for Oilve Oyl's affection, she always struck me as a bitch. She was always cranky and unhappy about one thing or the other. She often seemed fickle and only ready to be with the highest bidder. She was never appreciative of Popeye's great feats of courage to rescue her from the evil Bluto. At the same time she often struck me as not minding the company of Bluto. As a child, I used to find this as mind boggling: who is she really in love with? As an adult, I still find it mind boggling: How does she do it?

I wonder was anyone else ever weary of this thin-built flapper? Or is it only me?

I told you so!

No end to driving ban in sight....Why am I not surprised?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Life's Backward Cycle

Friend's George Costanza's view on life.

"The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A death. What's that, a bonus?!? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you go live in an old age home. You get kicked out for being too healthy, go collect your pension, then, when you start work, you get a gold watch on your first day. You work forty years until you're young enough to enjoy your retirement. You drink alcohol, you party, and you get ready for High Scool. You go to primary school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back, you spend your last 9 months floating with luxuries like central heating, spa, room service on tap, then you finish off as an orgasm!! Amen"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Love Jeopardy Game

You have to guess the word described.

1. The lightheadedness and state of bliss one feels after that first kiss with that very special someone.
What is rapture?
After his first kiss Omar walked around in rapture for days.

2. To kiss and caress.
What is spoon?
Under the moon in June sweethearts spoon and swoon.

3. To stare at something wolfishly.
What is Ogle?
Some men can’t help but ogle women walking by.

4. Spiritual love.
What is agape?
I gape at the selfless purity of agape.

5. Heat of passion.
What is ardor?
If two colleagues fell in love, there would be ardor in the workplace.

If you are impressed, don’t be! I got these from February’s edition of Reader’s Digest.

I wish you lots of ardor mixed with spooning that would put your head in serious rapture…As for agape we will leave it to the birds for now…..and no ogling please!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

An Open Letter to Royal Jordanian Airlines

Recently and while on a Royal Jordanian (RJ) flight to Amman, I witnessed a series of appalling behaviors and observations that grabbed my attention in an unusual way. In fact, and in order to catch every detail possible, I started jotting down notes on a news article that I had printed out to read while on board.

It started with boarding the plane; every crew member was busy doing something except greeting the passengers. I headed to my seat and it happened to be on the first row. This allowed me full view of the interaction between the cabin and the ground crews, in addition to the usual interaction with the cockpit.

Shortly before the flight was ready for take off, a ground crew member whisked in a “package” (big box) with the cabin chief’s consent. This was all done so swiftly, which prompted one of the stewardesses to tease the cabin chief about the story behind this "package". He whispered something in her ear to which she answered “is it for the husband or the wife?” (She did actually say the names and they are some big timers in Jordan). Once the “package” was secured on board, the cabin chief then informed the captain of the package as a matter of fact. The captain seemed puzzled, annoyed and just in plain disdain. His authority as captain was challenged, undermined, and surely paralyzed given that the recipient is “so and so”. Nevertheless, and maybe in a desperate attempt to reclaim his authority the captain did inquire on whether the package went through the proper security checks. He was assured by the cabin chief that it did.

Once the flight took off, a large noise was heard, and both crew members looked at each other “ah, this is the garbage bin in the toilet”. The aircraft we were on is one of the newer ones in the fleet of Royal Jordanian. It was sad to see that it already felt old, worn out, badly kept, and worst of all dirty.

The flight I was on was luckily a short one. Throughout the flight the same stewardess and the cabin chief were seated right in front of me in seats designated for crew members. I had to endure listening to counseling by the cabin chief to the young stewardess on a love affair that she is having with a married man. The details were kind of gruesome (nothing graphic though), and they were bordering on the vulgar. In fact the cabin chief used foul language twice, which was at least heard by this passenger.

My overall observations were:

* Both male and female crew members did not look well groomed. Their hair seemed messy and oily. Their shoes were not polished. Their uniform was in bad need of laundry. The overall image of the crew was tired and worn out. In addition, some of the crew members had their uniform so tight, it was about to burst. I am not suggesting drastic measures similar to those of Singapore Airlines, but a minimum clean-cut presentable look could set a healthy image for RJ.
* The crew was busy socializing among each other instead of catering to the needs of the passengers.
* The aircraft was not properly cleaned. In fact, before going into the toilet, the cabin chief asked me to wait in order for him to fix the fallen garbage bin. He did fix it while leaving a bunch of toilet paper on the floor!!!!
* RJ still allows certain individuals, regardless of how prominent they are, to act as if they own the company and to falsely assume a sense of entitlement towards it. Believe me as long as RJ falls hostage to this sort of conduct, RJ will go no where. It is a matter of ethics and I leave it at that.

My message to Royal Jordanian:

You got us all extremely excited when the airline joined the One World Alliance. We even willingly accepted on many occasions to pay a premium on flying the airline believing that you guys are seriously working on pulling your act together. What I saw recently was typical of an airline that lacks the minimum standards of hospitality and professionalism. What I saw recently was reminiscent of the bad old days.

Upgrading the hardware (the fleet) without focusing on the software (the people) is tantamount to building a nice hotel with lousy service…it does not work!!!! The two go hand in hand.

The hot shot that had a package transported and delivered via your esteemed company could have easily employed and benefited ARAMEX (a national courier company) to make the delivery. This is but a small example of blatant abuse of power and authority, and of squandering of taxpayers' money under the pretext of falsely assumed privilage. I would not be surprised if the the people who are abusing tax payers' money are the very people who are not paying taxes at all.

Finally, and in the bigger and more important picture, RJ is the first encounter visitors have when they embark on their journey to visit Jordan. The flight experience is key in setting the tone on what is to be expected. It is RJ's duty and our best chance to reflect a civilized, clean, hospitable, and professional face to our great country Jordan.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

If you like Scrabble you will love this

I recently discovered Scrabulous.
It is an electronic version of Scrabble online. Try it and you will get hooked.

I love it.