September 1, 2015

Claiming Back Childhood

Filed under: Canada,General,Just Personal — Tags: , , , — Eman @ 12:51 pm

I’m in love with this ad by GoRVing.ca , it touches me as a parent, because I believe, today’s children lack the one basic thing that should label them as children: their own space.
Parents, myself included, are failing horribly at giving our children the amount of freedom we were given by our parents when we were their age. We’re overprotective, too scared, very worried and paranoid that we have them under constant surveillance. It’s like we keep them in one huge transparent bubble, we allow them to look through it, go crazy in it, as long as we’re sure they wont burst out of it, not “so soon” at least.

To be fair to parents, I completely understand where this paranoia comes from, we’re living in an insane horrible world; what I don’t understand though is: how did we reach this point? and why, despite all efforts, why are things getting only worse?

I am trying, really really hard, to give my boys their own space, their own time, some freedom here and there, but I do know, that I need to do much more to let them experience real wild childhood, the one their dad and mom enjoyed when they were kids.

May 12, 2015

Scary Coconuts

Filed under: Just Personal — Eman @ 11:04 am

A few days ago I went grocery shopping, and when I reached the ‘fresh produce’ section I found lovely small coconuts on display, I approached the stand and the sight of them took me years back to a Sunday morning, in Germany, in a small summer fair I went to with a bunch of friends. That was the first time I ever tasted fresh coconut in my life. I remember the stand, the young man standing behind his beautifully displayed freshly cut coconuts, and the small fountain of coconut water beside them. And I definitely remember my first bite; the texture, the taste. I loved everything about fresh coconuts, I got a few pieces and snacked on them while walking.

Until that moment I only had dried shredded coconuts , which I’m not a huge fan of to be honest; I’d eat a bar of chocolate with dried coconut, some yummy Arabic desserts with it as an ingredient, but I’m not that much into it.
But I’m known for my obsession with coconut oil, not for cooking though, for beauty purposes. I find it to be a perfect skin moisturizer,  hair mask, body scrub, lip balm… I use it alone or get creative mixing it with other natural ingredients and it always works beautifully.

Anyway, back to the grocery shop… I held a coconut in my hands and thought to myself: “why the hell don’t I buy these regularly?”, and few minutes later I was holding it  inside my kitchen. I put it on the table, as if it was a beautiful centerpiece, couldn’t stop looking at it proudly, happily, lovingly… and then it hit me, I never bought a coconut in the shell before, how would I open it?
I know this might seem like a silly question to someone who’s used to buying whole coconuts, but believe me, I had no clue. So I did what I do best in such embarrassing situations, I turned to google.
After watching a selection of videos and reading a bunch of articles on how to “easily open a coconut”, I went back to the kitchen, had my gloves on, a pair of glasses (to protect my eyes from any flying bits as one video suggested), a hammer in my hand, I centered the coconut on the counter, and held my arms up high, which felt more like shooting  a crime scene from a twisted movie rather than an attempt at opening a coconut, but well, google knows best, right! so I gave it the first hit, a gentle one, and God! those coconuts are hard,  I mean rock-hard! My next step was supposed to be a harder hit, but instead, I chickened out, I got so scared, I mean,  what if I hit it and it bounced back hitting me in the head, what if I fell unconscious, I know this is how a child should think , but I couldn’t handle it, I gave up. and waited for my husband to deal with it.
My husband came home from work, he was excited to see a coconut in our kitchen, probably thought I was an expert and would prepare it in minutes for us to feast on, but I told him the ugly truth, he told me his ugly truth, that he never did it before either, but luckily he wasn’t a coward like me, he took the hammer and hit it, repeatedly… but he too gave up when he saw that absolutely NOTHING happened to the coconut. So, we sighed, left it there, disappointed and embarrassed (as our elder son was watching us fail).
I decided I’m never buying whole coconuts ever again, I’ll have to search for shops that sell it cut into slices and ready to eat.

The next morning we woke up to a lovely surprise: a  crack along the shell, my son was so excited, he woke up his dad to the news, all it took was one last hit, and the coconut was finally open, we de-meated it and enjoyed it together… well, I believe Adam didn’t like it that much, it was “too chewy” for his taste, but I certainly loved every bite of it.
Will I ever buy whole coconuts again? I might, only if my husband was ready for the work, because I’m definitely not gonna try opening them, ever, in my life.

April 5, 2015

Sahlab is NOT Israeli

After attempts to label Falafel, Hummus, Baba Ghanouj and many other Arab dishes as Israeli, Israelis are now trying to represent Sahlab (also called Salep in Turkey, and Saloop in England) as an Israeli alternative to hot chocolate!!

This provocative claim has been circulating for a while on many websites and social media portals,  a lot of Israelis are trying to take credit for creating this delicious warm beverage, denying that it’s originally Arab. On the other hand, other Israelis are trying to be a bit manipulative, saying that Sahlab might be Arab, but there is a “variation”of it, aka “Sachlav”, that is created and served only in Israel.
Now the funny part is, that this variation of the Arab drink is not a variation at all, it’s exactly  the same ingredients, made the exact same way, served exactly as the Arab drink is served, making it an imitation, not a variation, and coming up with a Hebrew name so it sounds more Israeli doesn’t make it Israeli… and definitely not Jewish.

Which brings me to a very important point here: “Jewish Food”. Judaism is a religion, which, as a Muslim, I believe in, and respect, it’s not a nationality; you can be any nationality and still be Jewish. Arab Jews lived in the Middle East and North Africa for decades, in peace and harmony, and of course they cooked the food of the country and region they lived in. Whether couscous, falafel, hummus, baba ghanouj, or whatever, it was the food of that culture, cooked by Jews, Muslims and Christians of that culture, long before the state of Israel was even created.
And just like an Italian Jew serving Lasagna (or their “own version” of it) in Israel can’t claim Lasagna is Jewish nor Israeli, an Arab Jew can certainly not call Sahlab, Falafel, Hummus or Couscous or whatever food/beverage they cook or serve in Israel Jewish nor Israeli… it’s as simple as that.

Bottom line is: “Sachlav” is a desperate attempt at stealing away what’s Arab, and only Arab, it’s not Israeli, and it certainly is not Israeli & Arab as some are trying to promote, it’s just ARAB, live with it… and go create your own original beverage, be creative for a change!

We’re used to Israelis trying to steal our cultural heritage and yummy cuisine, but for international websites and news websites to publish articles advertising these lies without proper research!!!! well, it’s unprofessional, irresponsible and unfair. Shame on you!
Here’s a beautifully written piece commenting on this Sahlab vs. Sachlav controversy.

All this talking about Sahlab made me crave a cup of it, if you do too, here’s how to make it:

March 15, 2015

“عجايزنا” و”عجايزهم”

Filed under: Arab Societies,Women — Eman @ 9:19 pm

في عالمنا العربي تنتقد المرأة التي دخلت مرحلة الشيخوخة إذا فكرت بتصفيف شعرها، أو الاشتراك في ناد للرياضة ، أو  تعلم مهارة جديدة او حتى ممارسة هواية خاصة… فهذا عيب وذاك حرام وهذا غير لائق؛ هي الآن هدفها في الحياة مجالسة الأحفاد، تنظيف المنزل وملء البطون… وانتظار عزرائيل.
ناهيك عن وابل الأمثال المهينة والمحبطةالتي تنهال على مسامعها لتذكيرها ب”وضعها ” وبتخلف من حولها : ”بعد ما شاب ودوه الكتاب”، “بعد الكبرة جبة حمرة” ، ” رجلك والقبر” وغيرها.
انا مع المحافظة على العادات والتقاليد ولكن علينا ان نعترف بأن مجتمعنا يزيدها كثيرا ويستكثر على المرأة أن تكون ما تشاء أن تكون، حتى ضمن أطر مقبولة أخلاقياً ومنطقياً، قامعا روحها وعقلها، ونحن وبلا فخر، نعزز هذا الفكر المتسلط دافنين نصف مجتمعنا في بئر من المحرمات. بينما وفي ذات الوقت، يدعم الغرب سيداته، حتى وهن على مشارف الموت، لأنه على يقين، بأن دعم سيدة ولو على تصرف قد لا ترجى أي فائدة منه غير التسلية قد يشعل شمعة الأمل لدى الكثيرات ويبعث روح المغامرة داخل كل أنثى لتتحدى المستحيل والمعقول، ومن هنا، تتحدى نفسها وتبدع في كل المجالات، ومن هنا تخلق الأجيال القوية الطامحة، ومن هنا تولد المجتمعات المتميزة التي لاتقهر.
ويكفي أن يكون إسمك “إليزابيث” بدلاً من “منيرة” لتتحولي من مجرد مشاهدة لهذا الفيديو إلى بطلته.

March 1, 2015

Why I’m Against Ontario’s Updated Sex-Ed Curriculum

Yes, I am…

I know many people are just like me, and that many more are not, well, every person is entitled to their own opinion, I completely understand that, but seems like thousands of people don’t, and they want you to either convince yourself they’re right and give in to their own opinions, OR you give in even if you still disagree.

While I have no problem with many sections of the updated curriculum, I do strongly oppose teaching my children at school certain sexual topics like homosexuality, as well as oral, anal and intimate details of sexual intercourse.
Yes, I do, and it’s not because I think their curiosity doesn’t start at younger ages, or because I want to keep them in a bubble thinking they wont learn about that one way or the other, but because I want to be the one to discuss these things with them in the way I believe is best for them, and in a way that fits their mentality and age-group, and is within our family’s social and religious values given that we live in an extremely diverse society where everyone has their own opinions when it comes to sex-ed; What’s wrong with that?

1. Objectivity
A lot of people tried to convince me that the updated curriculum is not that big a deal, asking me to look at it “objectively”, so I read it again and again, I tried to be as objective as possible, but no, you can’t look at it objectively, simply because sex is personal, it is a very sensitive and intimate issue, and it should not, in my opinion, be discussed by individuals who will be trained to teach thousands of children -belonging to different religious and cultural backgrounds- in a unified way, giving them all the same message and with little or no respect to what they might be taught at home by their parents.

(more…)

January 12, 2015

Gazans Got Talent

The other day I watched an episode of the latest season of “Arabs Got Talent”, and besides the fact that I feel so proud watching the many unique talents of the Arab world, this episode touched me the most because of two participants, both from Gaza, Palestine; both had little or no training at all, both had  no professional supervision nor support, and both were simple yet unique, demonstrating ambition, will power, optimism and passion, which is surprising, coming from a place like Gaza, which has become a synonym for destruction, poverty, misery, suffering and misfortune.

Overwhelmed with pride and lots and lots of heartache, I represent to you, Al-Takht Al-Sharqi, this extremely talented band… watching till the very end, you will be able to witness one of the band members, the Qanun instrument player, who I believe is the youngest, wiping off his river of tears without him losing control of the instrument or making even one tiny mistake. This scene, scarred my heart for life, as it made me picture the agony he and many like him went through, and are still going through in Gaza.

And Mohammad Al-Shaikh, this extremely flexible young fellow, who’s been training  for only a year -on his own- without any professional help, with his smile, and charismatic presence… a beautiful young talent aiming at the stars.

And those are just the ones who made it to a TV show, I’m pretty sure there are many other talents waiting to be discovered.

Bravo Gazans, you teach the world the true meaning of persistence and determination… you are an example of unparalleled optimism… just like a rose blooming in a dead desert.

 

November 13, 2014

On Honest Compliments & Precious Moments

Filed under: Just Personal — Eman @ 11:10 pm

Today was one of those days… lots of things to do, so little time to do them, back pain, appointments pushed at last minute to be on the exact time of other appointments, lots of waiting, back pain, lots of driving, grocery shopping, back pain, delay in school bus schedule, back pain, lots of phone calls (which I’m not a fan of) and more and more back pain. Needless to say the sudden drop in temperatures didn’t help my back pain at all, but since I like winter, it was like a breath of fresh air that helped sooth me in a way, and to refresh my exhausted spirit.

And what I love about days like this is that, in the middle of all this chaos, God keeps sending people your way, good people, just to help you: lift a bag for you, open the door for you, smile at you, offer simple help that goes a long way, something you very much need on such crazy days.

But there is nothing that fixes my spirits and makes my day more than a genuine compliment coming from a pure and sincere heart, and no I don’t mean a compliment on my looks or my hair or my clothes or my place or things like that, I mean complimenting my efforts and appreciating my hard work. My son usually takes care of that part :) but today my son’s friend joined him. A very picky eater, from a culture so different from ours, with tons of allergies I never even heard of, dropped by unexpectedly for a visit, I prepared a quick and simple lunch for them, and heard him tell my son: “Is your mom a chef or something?”… Adam came to the kitchen and told me that his friend finished his plate in 2 minutes, and he never usually does that. Then they both actually left their video games and came to the kitchen, thanking me repeatedly, sat at the table around me while I was cleaning up the place, and had a small chat with me, and then the boy came to me and shined the biggest smile at me.
Now the great part about this is that I didn’t make something special, it was quite simple, but I made it with love, despite my crazy day, my pain and my exhaustion, I enjoyed making them lunch, I decorated their plates, and  I just wanted them to enjoy eating it as much as I enjoyed making it. And I believe that the positive energy was felt and was contagious, and came back to me in the form of a compliment and a big fat smile from a boy who spends most of his days at after-school programs or with nannies, and making him feel the warmth of home and a loving atmosphere made my day as much as it made his.

It’s these simple moments, when you feel how you’ve touched someone’s heart, and when you feel they’ve touched yours, it’s these moments that count, that make a difference, and remind you that, no matter how off track your day was, there are many simple acts of love that will not go unnoticed and that will put  your day back on track, making up for all the chaos (and back pain) you’ve experienced.

November 7, 2014

Israel Still Detaining CHILDREN… SOMEONE STOP THEM!

Filed under: Charity & Human Aid,Palestine — Eman @ 4:56 pm

All Israeli war crimes aside, I can’t believe the world is turning a blind eye to the detention of children by the “democratic” state of Israel.

This has to stop, this is insane, inhumane, intolerable, monstrous, unjustifiable and someone has to do something about it.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

If politicians don’t f**king care, I’m sure fathers and mothers and caring people still have conscious, hearts and BRAINS! what threat could a child possible pose? Someone speak up and save those innocent children.

 

Israel detains a 6-year-old Palestinian.

Israel detains a 7-year-old Palestinian .

Israel detains a 5-year-old Palestinian.

October 21, 2014

Help Warm Up Winter for Gazans

Filed under: Charity & Human Aid,Palestine — Eman @ 1:30 pm

As if death, destruction and psychological trauma weren’t enough to scar them for life, Gazans have to deal with hunger and face long harsh winters all alone.

Now that winter is already here, I really ask everyone, no matter where you’re living, no matter what your ethnicity or religion, to please remember those in need, especially those who are under siege and cannot get the help they need. Make this brutal season a warm one, make it a season to give.

Make winter for Gaza children a bit warmer!

Please DONATE! all they ask is $1. Yes, one single dollar can feed a child or keep him warm during winter. So next time you go out shopping for the latest fashion trends that will cost you at least $50, remember that all what a Gaza child needs is a $1 piece of garment that will keep him warm. 

September 17, 2014

المرأة وسباق الأرقام والتواريخ

Filed under: Arab Societies,Posts in Arabic,Women — Eman @ 10:04 am

             لفت انتباهي إعلان لشركة دوف جاءت فيه معلومة تقول: واحدة من أصل كل 10 نساء تفخر بالإفصاح عن عمرها الحقيقي، ويهدف الإعلان إلى تحميس النساء وتشجيعهن على الاحتفال بكل الأعماربدلا من الشعور بالحرج.

ففكّرت بالموضوع، لماذا تحاول المرأة دوما إخفاء عمرها؟ وتغضب عندما يسألها أحد عن سنها؟ والجواب طبعا معروف وبديهي: لأنها لا تريد الاعتراف بتقدّمها بالسن… ولكن لماذا يا ترى؟ الجواب أيضا بديهي، لأنها تربت على الخوف من الكبر، ولأن مجتمعها ربط أهميتها وكيانها ووجودها كله بالأرقام،  وحدّد “تاريخ صلاحية” لكل مرحلة من مراحل كينونتها،  فبدلا من أن يدفعها المجتمع للإنجاز، صار يخيفها من كل دقيقة تمر، من كل يوم يمضي، من كل شهر يدخل، ومن كل سنة تنتهي قبل أن تنفذ ما هو مُتوقّع منها. فلكل وقت رقم، ولكل رقم كنية، ولكل كنية أهمية في تحديد ما إذا كانت هذه الفتاة تستحق الحياة أم لا، ما إذا كانت أهلا للإعجاب أم لا… والأسوأ ما إذا كانت تستحق أن تسمّى أنثى أم لا.

ففي الصغر، البنت أميرة، صديقة أمها، دلّوعة والدها والعائلة بأكملها، ويل لمن يحزنها، وويلات لمن يمد يده عليها، هي تطلب فتُلَبّى، تأمر فتُطاع؛ بعدها تصبح صبية ، شابة فتية، ومن هنا تبدأ التسميات والتعريفات ومن هنا يبدأ سباق الأرقام والتواريخ، فالسنتيمترات تحدد أنّ هذه طويلة وهذه قصيرة، والكيلوغرامات تجزم ما إذا كانت هذه رشيقة أوبدينة، وتكبر أكثر فأكثر، وتزداد الأرقام تحكمّا في روحها ووجودها وتوجهاتها وكل حياتها، ولا تعرف مخرجا من السباق على متن “القطار”، القطار الذي طالما سمعت عنه، والذي هو هاجس من حولها.

فهي تعرف كل محطاته، والمحظوظة تكون قد تلقت دروسا كافية للّحاق ب”القطار” في وقته. فكل بنت تعرف أنها لو لم تلقى شريك حياتها في فترة معينة، فإن القطار سيفوتها، كما تعلم كل فتاة أنها لو التقته وارتبطت به ولم تتزوجه خلال مدة معينة، فإن القطار سيفوتها، وإن تزوجته ولم تنجب منه سريعا، فسيفوتها القطار أيضا، وإن أنجبت بنتا لا ولدا، فعليها أن تحاول وتحاول في أسرع وقت أن تنجب الذكر، كي لا يفوتها القطار… إن تطلقت فهي على وشك تفويت القطار، إن تطلقت ومعها أولاد، فقد فاتها القطار، إن ترملت فهي مشكلة، إن ترملت مع أطفال فهي مصيبة لأن القطار حتما فاتها… إن  لوحظت شيبات شعرها فهي كارثة، فقد فاتتها كل القطارات، إن تجعدت بشرتها فهي مأساة تذكّر من يراها بأنها “خلص، راحت عليها”. فللوظيفة مدة صلاحية، وللزواج مدة صلاحية، وللإنجاب مدة صلاحية، وللجمال مدةصلاحية، ويل لمن تحاول أن تفكر حتى في تحقيق شئ انتهت صلاحيته، وعار على من تفصح عن هذه الأرقام التي تكشف صلاحيتها، ولكن مسموح لكل من التزمت بتاريخ الصلاحية أن تفتخر ب”إنجازاتها”، ب”شطارتها”، متناسية أن كل شئ في الدنيا نصيب، وكل شئ في الدنيا رزق مقسوم. وأن أي نجاح على أي صعيد هو من ناحية مجهود شخصي ومن ناحية أخرى رزق أو حظ، وأن محيطك يلعب دور كبير في تحديد هويتك شئت أم أبيت، لذلك أرجو كل المجنمعات الذكورية (وليست هي العربية فقط) بأن يعدلوا تجاه نصف مجتمعهم، بأن يشجعوها على الاستمرار والإنجاز والنجاح بعيدا عن أية أرقام، أو تواريخ، أو أعداد. دعوا المرأة تنطلق وتعكس جمالها الداخلي على مجتمعاتنا، سواء كانت طفلة أو شابة أو عجوز،  إن كانت عزباء أو متزوجة أو مطلقة أو أرملة ، سواء كانت  أم أو جدة، فالأنثى هي الأنثى، مهما اختلفت التسميات ومهما كان الرقم.،

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