Sunday, December 29, 2013

Starco explosion: We need to change the prayer

Your zeitgeist 2013 was supposed to be my last blog post for 2013 where I invited people to share their happy stories and the lessons learned during this year. But, unfortunately, one day after the post, the Starco explosion came and changed many things.
I was talking to my sister-in-law over the phone when she suddenly said in Arabic:”Infijar”! So I said no…She said again in Arabic: “Akid, infijar!” I couldn’t believe. I denied it until I saw the worried and scared faces of my colleagues.
The explosion was at Starco and very close to Al Ahlieh School where my sister Yara was preparing for the scout camp along with her friends. Do I have to explain what I felt and how scared I was when I knew about the exact location? What if my little sister was still there? But thanks God, It was the voice of her chieftain Sara who calmed me down. They left the area before the explosion and they were all safe.
My brother-in-law works there as well.  We couldn't reach him by phone due to the bad network but finally he answered and again, thanks God, he was fine. After I made sure all my beloved were safe, I cried for almost one hour. I believe this was the reaction of many of us.

Oh my God! It’s in Starco, one of the safest areas in Beirut, exactly where I park my car almost every weekend to go either to Beirut Souks or Zaitunay Bay. I sometimes give driving lessons to my sister there as well.
I still can’t believe what happened. What if I was parking my car there? What if my father was passing by this area just like the taxi driver who died? What if my sister and her friends were still there preparing to enjoy their holidays peacefully just like the innocent Mohamad El Chaar and his friends?

At that time, when everyone in the office was shocked, scared and reading the news, my Facebook was opened as usual. I think we all know what the Facebook news feeds look like after an explosion. We all know the comments, shares and statuses we are going to read. We even know the coming ones! I personally couldn’t handle reading these statuses or seeing the same pictures for the 6th time this year: 6 explosions from July 2013 till December 2013. I shared exactly 2 posts then I decided to log out until I feel better. Facebook was giving me negative vibes lately anyway, and it was the right time to stay away.

Honestly, I am tired from reading the same “extremely creative” Lebanese statuses again.
I am tired from “14 March” supporters who usually write: “They are killing us”
I am tried from “8 Mach” supporters who usually write: “Allah yer7am kel el Chohada”
Or vice versa! It depends on the explosion's location, UNFORTUNATELY!
I am even tired from the neutral humanitarian people who share the call for Blood donations, just like I usually do.
I am tired from seeing the same pictures of people crying, shouting and rescuing each other. 
I am tired from the lazy people who don’t do anything but nagging on Facebook.
I am just tired.
When I reached home, I turned on the TV. And of course, here it is the déjà vu. I saw another mother mourning her son and another son mourning his dad. People were mourning their beloved; the same stories again, only the innocent heroes changed. TV turned off as well. I preferred to stay away, read a book and dream about a life outside Lebanon.

Don’t get me wrong. No I don’t hate my country. I love Lebanon. I love the south and the lovely villages there. I even love the villages that I've never visited before. I love Saida and Ghazieh that remind me of my grandfather and the yummi Lahm Baajin. I love Deir el Kamar, Beit el Dine and Moussa Castle that remind me of my childhood. I love Dahieh and its humble and popular streets. There’s something different there who makes me attached not detached.  I love Jbeil and its amazing festival. I love Batroun and Tripoli. I love my city, Beirut. I love my whole country but I just need to live in peace. It’s a human’s right. Isn’t it?

I love Lebanon but I am extremely sorry to tell you that, this time, I won’t pray for it. No. I believe we prayed enough and I think we should change the prayer. It’s not Lebanon and all these amazing places that need our prayers. Our minds and souls need them.  This time, I am not going to ask God to protect us from those who are using weak young guys and paying them from our money to kill us.
I will ask God to protect us from our weak hearts, our unstable minds and our own thoughts. I will ask God to protect us from ourselves. At the end, Prayer & worship without love turns you into an egotist-unknown

Let’s pray together!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Your zeitgeist 2013

A year passed. 12 months and 365 days passed. Another huge book is closed. The chapters’ titles are definitely the same: Family, Love, Relationships, Friends, Money, Work, University and School. What differ are only the stories and their details.

Goodbyes, newborns, hugs, fights, successes, failures, promotions, ups and downs happened during this year. But the good and the bad happened for a reason. The good made us happy and the bad taught us something (well, if we think deeply, yes it did). Everyone now is trying to set their resolutions. But, I believe that before making any new ones, it’s important to review what happened. Companies work on their reports before setting their new business plan and objectives. Don’t they?

That’s why I decided to close my year with this blog post opening the room for everyone to share their short stories, happy or sad, and write about the lessons they learned. You can mention your name or post your comment as anonymous. Choose the language that you want, Arabic, French or English. What matters is the share, and the smiles or the lessons that you might give to others. And, nobody knows, you might inspire someone.

Well, let’s do our own zeitgeist here.

My zeitgeist 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Unforgettable people

Throughout our life, we meet lots of people. Some of them stay in our life and others, for whatever reasons, just disappear. I personally get attached to people I meet and I hate seeing them go away. I honestly really hate goodbyes.

Even if people get out of my life, I tend to remember them especially if they taught me something or gave me a valuable advice. How many times do we remember a person, that is now a stranger, who previously taught us something?

These lessons and advice can’t actually be learned at school or at university. At the time being, they seem tedious and meaningless but they have strongly impacted our life by changing the details of it. For example, I once had an old helpful colleague called Mirna. We worked together for almost 3 years at New Horizons Computer Learning Center. In 2006, I bought my first car and Mirna was going with me to the gym after work when she suddenly noticed that I don’t know how to use the brakes smoothly. And, this is when Mirna taught me how to effectively step on the brake pedals in a way that increased my safety as well as others’ safety, and helped me better preserve my car. A year after, I stopped working with Mirna but every time I smoothly push down on the brakes I am reminded of the lesson she had taught me. I remember her regardless of the fact that we rarely talk over the phone or on Facebook.

In the end, she’s the one who taught me. Mirna might not remember it but I do. Maybe that’s why we never forget our teachers. And that’s also why I make sure to give my students small tips and advice that are helpful to their lives. I actually love teaching what seem to be small things to people even if they are strangers. It’s not because I want them to remember me but because it can impact their daily lives.

You can’t imagine how many people I remember every day because of the details they added to my life. Whether they are still part of it or not, I still have that inner smile that warms me whenever I apply the lessons taught.

Everytime I push down on the brake's pedal smoothly, I remember you Mirna
Everytime I search for my IP address, I remember you Kamel
Everytime I turn on the heater in my car, I remember you Imad
Everytime I receive Oprah's quotes by email, I remember you Iman
Everytime I use Photoshop, I remember you Elisa
Everytime I say good morning, I love you or I miss you in Armenian, I remember you Gassia
Everytime I do the happy dance, I remember you Nadine
Everytime I cook sweet potatoes, I remember you Farah
Everytime I read marketing articles, I remember you Rabih
Everytime I use the curler to do my hair, I remember you Sahar
And everytime I open this blog to write a post, I remember you Natheer

Thank you all. Some of you are mentioned and others are not, but that does not mean you didn't leave your mark on both my heart and my life. To wrap things up, and as Mike Lancaster said: "I think that's what we all want, in the end. To know that we left footprints when we passed by, however briefly."