Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A salute to Abu Fares

For some months now, I have had the pleasure of following a most enjoyable and engaging blog, maintained by Abu Fares (abufares said...the world according to a tartoussi)..
Now, isn't the Internet just amazing!?...
I have never met the man, but through reading the posts in his blog, full of delicate, charming and sincere images of himself, his likes and dislikes, and 'the world according to a taroussi', I feel that I have really come to know, and like, Abu Fares... Not more so than after reading his latest offering...
As the title suggests, his latest post 'what I like', lists a number of things Abu Fares likes.. He then promises to list things he doesn't like in a subsequent post.. I eagerly await that...
In a comment in a previous post, Abu Fares mentioned that reading a post on my blog was for him like 'looking in the mirror..'.. Well, his latest post made me realise exactly what he meant!.. There are quite a few similarities between what I like and what Abu Fares likes (thinkers vs. talkers, good food, walking in the rain, good food, sports, good food, reading, good food, Syria, good food, beautiful intelligent women, good food, 'trains, planes and automobiles'... and did I mention good food??..), However, I must point out that there are one or two things on his list that I do not like..
For one, I am a tea-total.. not on religious grounds, I reluctantly admit, but more because of personal convictions, that were later underpinned by professional experiences (you only need to see once the consequences of a drunken rage on some poor helpless victim, or the humiliation and self-destruction that alcoholics degenerate into, to be put off the stuff for life.. even 'in moderation'...)..
While I like most things mechanical, I loathe motorbikes.. with a passion.. Again, that is probably a reflection of my professional experiences.. I guess it is not surprising, since I spend a sizable proportion of my working day trying to mend, often with frustrating futility, victims of motorcycle crashes!..
The next item on the list is more of a 'can't do' rather that a 'don't like'.. and that is cooking!.. I am absolutely useless as a cook.. In fact, only I can eat what I cook!.. I blame it on the fact that I am blessed with a wife who is, without any shadow of a doubt, the best cook in the entire Galaxy.. One of my English colleagues, having tasted my wife's cooking, often introduces me as 'the best-fed man in Lancashire', to which I reply: 'In the Western hemisphere, my friend!..'
Nevertheless, the similarities far outnumber the differences.. M*A*S*H.. the private space (now, a room in my house that I built to use as a gym.. in years gone by, it was my photography darkroom in my parents' house).. and most importantly, the privilege of being part of a phenomenon called 'blogosphere'..
So, my friend Abu Fares, I am honoured and privileged to have met you in cyberspace.. I am delighted to discover that, despite our differences, we have so much in common.. Who knows?.. Perhaps one day we will meet, be it in your beloved Tartous, in my beloved Damascus, or even in this 'Green and Pleasant Land' that I now call 'home'...
(Photo by SB: The Red Arrows, Royal International Air Tattoo 2002, RAF Fairford)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A soul-searching reply to a simple question..

A few days ago, Ascribo, of 'Thinking Aloud' ( posed a challenge for me.. He 'tagged' me.. whatever that means!.. As I understand it, if you get 'tagged', you will be asked a question (or a number of questions) by the person who tagged you.. These are often deep and searching questions, and their answers, I suppose, are meant to reveal about you a lot more than you perhaps want to reveal!..
In my case, the tagging question was:
"Which of your qualities you want your child to have, and which of them you do NOT want him to have?"

Now, on the face of it, this seems like a simple question.. surely, I can recognise some qualities in myself that I want my child to inherit.. or can I???...

I must say, it wasn't too difficult to identify the traits that I wouldn't want to pass on to my children.. I possess certain qualities that, for the benefit of the human gene pool, best die with me!... but let's not dwell on those too much!..

I tend to be quite forgetful.. I always maintain that I have a brain like a sieve!... My memory is as good as the piece of paper in my hand (nowadays, as good as my PDA!..).. In other words, if it is not written down (nowadays, jotted down in my PDA), then it will be forgotten!..

Also, I am messy and untidy, to the deep annoyance of my obsessively tidy wife!.. I have a sign on my office wall, saying: 'A tidy desk is the sign of a sick mind'... Need I say any more?!..

I am not very organised.. I tend to be a bit of a 'scatter-brain'.. I often start on a task, and find myself digressing, and getting involved in a hundred-and-one other matters, leading to confusion and delays.. Some kind souls might call this 'multi-tasking'.. but if I were to be truthful, I would call it 'avoidance tactics'!.. Interestingly, this only happens when I am forced to do administrative tasks, paperwork (which I loathe with a passion!..), or house work.. Thankfully, I always manage to maintain focus when dealing with clinical matters, mostly because I enjoy what I do so much, and not because of any great brain powers!..

I have a habit of postponing tasks that I hate... If I had to tell one of my kids off for something they've done, I would keep finding excuses to do it 'tomorrow'!.. I always end up handing in my Tax Returns form within (almost literally) hours from the deadline (God bless on-line applications!..). I somehow try to convince myself that if I ignore those tasks long enough, they would simply go away!.. Sadly, they don't.. and I should be old enough to know that!!...

On the good side, I am a hardworking and motivated person.. I have managed, against some steep odds occasionally, to maintain my sanity and my focus, and achieve things that I am very proud of..

I am a very tolerant person.. I always try to see the good in people, and find excuses for their acts.. (even though some of those closest to me disagree, and even though that trait had certainly affected me adversely over the years, I still feel it is a good trait..). Nevertheless, I become a vicious monster if any harm were about to befall my loved ones..

I am (usually) pleasant and sociable, and it takes a lot to make me angry.. but believe me, you don't want to be around when I am!..

I think I am caring and thoughtful, and I would go out of my way to help those who need my help..

I believe I am an honest and principled person, with a high sense of duty and purpose.. Now that is a trait that I would love to pass to my offsprings...

After writing all that, I paused a bit, and thought.. What traits have I actually passed on to my children??.. Let's see...

From the outset, let me tell you that I have three absolutely delightful children, whom I absolutely adore.. and although they are so different in many way, they are remarkably similar..

  • All three are very hardworking individuals.. They seem to thrive on challenges, and they give their best when under pressure.. Check

  • All three are highly principled and honest. They would say what they think, and they would stand steadfastly by their beliefs.. Check

  • Each in his/her own way, they are very caring and selfless.. Each of them would do anything to help others, even complete strangers.. Check

  • All three are very pleasant and sociable.. (although they do somewhat vary on the sociability score..).. and by the way, all three have a remarkable ability to sulk!.. Check.. on both accounts!

  • Much to the annoyance of their mother, they are all messy and untidy.. I can't think where they get that from!...

  • My children are proud of who they are... They all have a highly developed sense of belonging, and a deep love for their roots, something that my wife and I have tirelessly instilled in them.. (I know.. this is not an inherited trait.. but at least it is something that I can get the credit for!..)

Well, for someone who professes to being a private person, I am not doing too bad here!.. Here I am baring my soul, warts and all.. (and it's not a pretty sight, anyway!..).. Nevertheless, the exercise made me realise, yet again, how lucky I am, and how blessed I have been to have such great children..

So, for that alone, thank you very much, Ascribo...

(Photo by SB: A lilly in my garden)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Rambling thoughts on a momentous day..

So the verdict is out!.. Saddam is guilty of 'Crimes Against Humanity'.. and as a punishment, he is sentenced to death by hanging..
There is no doubt in my mind that this ruthless butcher thoroughly deserves the death sentence (although, in principle, I do not support the death penalty, I am willing to make an exception in this case!..). Nevertheless, I was really troubled by a number of things relating to this..
Why on a Sunday, when that particular Court never convened on a Sunday throughout its 1-year's duration??.. Is it becuase Monday is the last day of campaigning for the Mid-Term elections??.. Am I being too cynical when I link the timing of this sentence to the Republicans' electoral troubles?.. I know I am not the only one!..
Despite my views that the sentence was the correct one, I cannot help but note that the trial was a circus!.. only it was the dancing bear who was calling the tunes, and not the ringmaster!.. To my simple mind, the fact that the trial was so farcical has made the outcome so much less significant.. Saddam's supporters can, justifiably, scream 'Foul'.. All the political meddling, and all the flagrant bias demonstrated by the Court and the trial judges take away from the phenomenal significance of this monumental event.. This is, after all, the first time a former Arab ruler gets to be tried in his own Country, albeit with the Country under occupation...
But what troubles me most is the way the Western media has reported this event.. Even the more 'high-browed' organizations , like the BBC, have shown unbelievable levels of ignorance, when they report on how the Shias are celebrating, while the Sunnis are protesting!.. As if Saddam did not kill, torture and oppress as many Sunnis as he did Shias.. As if his inner circles of cronies and co-opressors did not contain Shias, as well as Sunnis, Kurds and Christians.. Any 'observer' worth his/her salt would tell you that the curse of Saddam, and the excesses of his henchmen, have reached every corner of the Iraqi society..
At this moment in time, certain questions immediately spring to mind.. like 'who's next?..' , or 'when will other people be held responsible for their Crimes Against Humanity?.. People like Bush, Blair, and Olmert, amongst others?'..