December 10

Glen Abbey Golf Course: A Local Gem in Need of Protection

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When we were looking for a house closest to my husband’s work, Oakville was one of the options, but being used to city life most of my life I was really hesitant to make the move to a town.
We chose Oakville for many reasons, but the one thing that took my breath away was the iconic Glen Abbey Golf Course (GAGC); this beautiful open landscape, loaded with vibrant colors and fresh air all year round. Every time I’d miss the city’s hustle and bustle, I’d pass this beautiful piece of art, like a rare painting, and think to myself: wow! this beauty is definitely worth the move.

And then I learned that ClubLink has a redevelopment plan in mind. And to make a long story short, this “redevelopment” plan will result in less greenery, more buildings, transit, and… you guessed it: more waste, carbon footprint, pollution and ugliness.

We’ve been living in Oakville for around 3 years now, and I’m already angry at the amount of unnecessary construction taking place almost all around my neighborhood. The uprooting of old healthy trees and the removal of beautiful fertile soil to be replaced with extra stupid housing is just ridiculous, but it generates money, lots of it, unfortunately, and that’s why all the attempts of residents to stop these developments have so far failed horribly.
But to ruin a historic site of such a great cultural, national and environmental significance like the GAGC, one of Canada’s most famous golf courses, and home to the Golf Canada and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, now that’s beyond greed, that’s just a shameful crime.

Many Oakville residents are OK with ClubLink’s new plan, but many others are against it and are trying to stop the destruction of the GAGC and are showing their opposition to the development that will ruin the heart of te area. There are groups of people who have dedicated themselves to this cause, such as: the Save Glen Abbey Coalition, you can follow them on Facebook, and on Twitter, and the Rescue Glen Abbey group. Save Glen Abbey have begun an online petition calling on municipal, regional and provincial officials to oppose the proposed  plan.

So if you’re living in Glen Abbey or are a resident of Oakville, or simply against further damaging nature and harming the environment, I ask you to please join hundreds of other disapproving residents and say no by:

No one is sure we can save the Glen Abbey Golf Course, but we’re all sure we must do our part and never lose hope.

 

November 29

Take a Stand Against Racism in the US, Wear a Safety Pin

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I think we all agree that the situation in the US is anything but healthy nowadays.
Since Trump won the elections -and a bit earlier to be more accurate- the country has been in total chaos, it has become a nurturing environment for hatred and violence. We’re hearing of death threats, cases of attacks, harassment and vandalism, hate-provoking Nazi-style speeches, calls to make America “great” again, and attempts to label and register all those who should not “belong” in the States based on their race, color, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

I go to sleep, trying to forget all of this is actually happening, to pretend it’s some kind of a nightmare that will come to an end once I open my eyes the next day, but then I wake up to what turns out to be shockingly worse news.

Some of my friends in the US have chosen to give up the stress, they know it’s a lost battle already (changing the elections’ results that is), so they decided to get on with their lives, and are trying to look at any positive angle they can find, encouraging their disappointed fellow-Americans and looking for ways to spread love, trump hate, and to support those who need help, in the best of their ability.
But most of my friends in America are unable to find this comfort zone. They’re unable to accept reality; they’re angry. Angry at those who voted for Trump, angry at those who didn’t vote for Hillary, angry at those who skipped voting altogether, angry at their regulations, government and those among them who have shown a very dark side to them and who are doing all kinds of crazy things to wreck the foundation of their society.
Most of my friends in America are now scared, they don’t feel safe and are fearing for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. They’re, unfortunately, hopeless and aching with despair.
To those friends I say, don’t be discouraged by this crippling situation you find your country stuck in, and although you think you’re helpless, you’re not.
There are many like you who are fighting racism and are showing solidarity with those who are being discriminated against. And you too can do the same, by speaking your mind, by sharing any uplifting news of Americans who are combating the ailing share of their society, and are sticking to their virtues and principles. You can offer to escort those who no longer feel safe to walk around by themselves, and you can actually join what’s known as the ‘Safety Pin Solidarity Movement’.

After the election of Trump, many Americans were inspired by Brexit and decided to wear a safety pin in public, and sharing their pictures wearing one on social media as a symbol of solidarity with minorities; to offer help, protection and safety to anyone who needs them. And despite some efforts to stop this movement, and although a lot of people are trying to mock it  saying it’s useless, many others, including some really influential celebrities are pro the movement, praising its simplicity, its non-violent nature and its noble goal.

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So, if you really want to help but you don’t know how, do wear a safety pin, and join many others in protesting racism, opposing hatred, supporting diversity and calling for the right to protection and safety for all Americans.

More about the Safety Pin Movement:

November 18

الشكاوي بين الشرق والغرب

 قبل بضعة أشهر وصلتني رسالة بريدية من وزارة الصحة الكندية، تبيّن لي فيما بعد أنّها عبارة عن معلومات توجيهية هدفها توعية الأهالي بمراحل النمووالتطوّر العضوي والذهني والإدراكي الطبيعي لدى أطفالهم والمتوقّعة في كل مرحلة عمرية بالإضافة إلى العلامات الفارقة التي قد تشير إلى مشاكل في أي من هذه الفئات .  في داخل الظرف كانت هناك أيضا دراسة ومسح: أسئلة عديدة على الأهالي الإجابة عنها للتأكد من أنّ الأطفال هم في الاتجاه الصحيح والمتوقع لهم حسب عمرهم. بالإضافة إلى كل هذا كانت هناك بعض الكتيّبات المُرفَقَة والتي تساعد الأهالي في تحديد ما إذا كان الطفل مستعدا للدوام في دور رعاية الأطفال والحضانة، وعناوين المواقع المتوفرة في الأحياء السكنية القريبة، ومعلومات حول أوقات الدوام المطروحة وحول دَور الحكومة في مساعدة العائلات التي يعمل فيها كلا الأبوين. وفي آخر ورقة كانت هناك مجموعة من أرقام الهواتف وعناوين البريد الإلكتروني والعناوين البريدية التي  يمكن للآباء والأمهات الاتصال بأي منها في حال وجود أية استفسارات أو تعليقات على الأوراق المُرفقة.

كانت لدي بعض الاستفسارات، فتواصلت مع الجهات المعنية. وبعد فترة من الانتظار تواصلَت معي إحدى الموظّفات، وحددت معي موعدا  للتحدث في الموضوع. وبالفعل قابلتها البارحة، وأعطتني الكثير من وقتها، وأجابت عن كل تساؤلاتي، وشرحت لي كل شيء وكانت صبورة ولبِقة وسلسة في التعامل لدرجة أحسست فيها أنّها صديقة أعرفها منذ زمن.
في نهاية اللقاء، وبعد أن تأكّدَت من عدم وجود أية أسئلة أُخرى لدي، فتحت ملفّها السّمين والمليء بالأوراق والاستمارات المرتّبَة بشكل جميل، وناولتني بطاقة صغيرة، “ثمّ نظرت إلي وقالت لي:” تفضّلي، هذا اسم مسؤولتي، وستجدين كل المعلومات التي تحتاجينها للتواصل معها بالشكل الذي يريحك.
“أنا: “ولكن لماذا، أتنتظر منّي أن أكلّمها؟
الاختصاصية: “لا، ولكن في حال لم يعجبك أسلوبي في التعامل معك، أو لم تكوني راضية عن أدائي، أو شعرتي أنّي لم أكن بمستوى توقّعاتك، أو حتى بكل بساطة لم “ترتاحي معي، فأرجوكي أن لا تترددي في التواصل معها، ولا تشعري  بأي حرج بأن تنتقديني فهذا حقك، وستعمل مسؤولتي على استبدالي بشخص أنسب.

بصراحة، لم يسعني إلاّ استذكار المرات العديدة التي كنت أجد فيها نفسي في وضع استفزازي مع موظف(ة) في بلادنا، أطلب منهم تفسير شيء ما ويتجاهلوني بكل بساطة،  أو يجيبوني على مضض وباستقطاب وكأني ارتكبت جريمة، أو يرمقوني بنظرة عتب واستهزاء لأن من العيب أن أسأل. كم من مرة شاهدت كبارا في السن، يجدون صعوبة في القراءة، يستفسرون عن شيء ويتم الرد عليهم بطريقة غير لائقة، كم من مرة شاهدت آباء وأمهات يطلبون رؤية المسؤول في مكان ما لأنهم لاقوا معاملة سيئة وخدمة رديئة، وتمّت إجابتهم ب: “أعلى ما في خيلك إركبه”، أو: “إيدك وما تطول”، أو: “يمّا خوّفتني”… وانتهى بهم الأمر إماّ بالرحيل دون رؤية المسؤول، أو بلقاء مسؤول ألعن وأسوأ من موظّفيه مستعد حتى للتهجم على كل من يجرؤ على تقديم شكوى. من المؤسف حقّا، أنّ بلادنا تعج بالكفاءات والأدمغة المتميزة، والموظفين الذين لا تنقصهم الثقافة العلمية ولا الخبرة العملية ولا السرعة في الأداء، ولكن كثير منهم يفتقر إلى أبسط مبادئ التعامل السوي المحترف مع العميل/الزبون/المريض/المُراجِع.  الالتزام بأخلاقيات المهنة والتفاني في العمل واحترام الطرف الآخر، كلّها عوامل مهمة وأساسية لتقديم خدمة رائعة بل ومثالية، وهذا ما يفصل عالمنا العربي عن الغرب، وهذا ما يعيق إدراجنا كدول تحت قائمة العالم الأول. ومع أنّني أعي تمام الوعي، أنّ ظروف العمل في بلداننا أغلبها مُحبِطة ولا تشجّع الموظفين على التفاني في عملهم، ولكن ليكن وعينا وغيرتنا على تقدّمنا هو المحرّك الأساسي، وليكن حرصنا على إتقان عملنا هو دافعنا الأوّل والأهم، وعندما يقوم الموظفون بتأدية واجباتهم على أكمل وجه، وفي كل المجالات مهما كانت، فلابد أن يجني المجتمع بأكمله ثمار النجاح الذي سيؤدي إلى المردود المادي المبتغى، والأجواء الوظيفية المطموح إليها.

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October 29

World Of Threads Festival: a Showcase of Everything Beautiful

Last week, and after dropping off my older son at the Queen Elizabeth Park Community & Cultural Centre (QEPCCC) for his rock-climbing class, I thought I’d take the little one to the library in the same building to read him some books and give him the pleasure of having me chasing him around like a mad woman.
To my surprise, there was no library, there was a nice stand of books to read and share, a nice machine for picking and returning books from other branches, which I found super practical and awesome, but what would I do with my little boy for an hour and a half? After trying the lovely waiting area in the centre’s lobby, and losing hope in keeping Arkan entertained, I thought I’d take him for a walk in the many lovely hallways of the building.
They were all beautifully decorated with magnificent and extremely creative art pieces, so elegantly displayed, and really tempting to look at. I got really curious, so I read the small tags next to the pieces and the signs throughout the whole place, and that’s when I found about the ‘World of Threads Festival‘.

The festival is a not-for-profit initiative, run by volunteers Dawne Rudman (Festival Chair & Curator) and Gareth Bate (Festival Curator & Designer). It’s an exhibition of contemporary fibr and textile art, featuring innovative work submitted by hundreds of artists from around the world.

Fortunately, I was able to enjoy a huge part of the exhibition in the preparation phase, all galleries are officially open to the public today Oct. 29th, and till Nov. 27th. Admission is free.

I found the display area that presented the ‘Late in the Season’ group show to be stunning, and fell in love with this particular piece made of natural beeswax, it looked so realistic, and in real life, with the effect of light, it just took my breath away… unfortunately my mobile camera failed to capture the beauty -and the full size- of this amazing wall-to-floor piece.

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I also liked the Catwalk & Kimono Road, again, couldn’t take a decent shot of the whole corridor with my rather humble mobile camera, but here’s a glimpse:

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Here are some of the many pieces that caught my eye. Loved the attention to detail and the apparent hard work put in each piece.

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Masks
Masks
The Day After
The Day After
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Uncle Mike
October 20

Over-Parenting Is Not A Good Thing

A couple of weeks ago my son’s school was having its annual open house for parents. It’s usually a day where parents get to meet their children’s teachers, get to know the school, take a look at the classrooms of their children, know any additions to the school staff, meet classmates of their children and their parents and so on.

I dragged my little one, Arkan, who is almost 2 years old now, and went with my older son, Adam, to his school, and we were among the first people to arrive. So we got the chance to chat with all teachers and most of the school staff, comfortably, walk around to see everywhere Adam goes to, his favorite spots, and his least favorite ones too, and needless to say, hyper Arkan was just overwhelmed with excitement, running around like crazy, trying to climb up desks, hide inside lockers… and eat crayons 😕.

On that day, like every year, many children volunteer to do a certain activity to entertain the visitors, like playing a musical instrument, showing off some martial arts skills and things like that.)… I guess he was so happy to see that part of his older brother’s life that he knew nothing about.

Since we were early, we were done with our school tour early, and had a lot of time to enjoy all presentations and volunteer activities. A couple of Adam’s classmates and their parents were walking around with us, when one stopped and asked us to watch her son play the piano. I got all excited, and ran to get a nice spot, and the kid started playing. He was amaaaazing! I loved every piece he played, loved his talent and skills, his confidence and charisma. The mom, was looking at me and the other parents who were gathering, probably to see our reaction and feed her ego with our compliments and impressed or jealous faces. She saw me urging Adam to dance to the music (and boy is he a great dancer 😍),  and watched me rocking Arkan, who, at that particular moment, made his way from my arms to the floor and looked as if he was raised in a night club with all his silly dance moves 😀

She got closer to me and whispered: “Does Adam know how to play the piano?”, and I replied: “Nope, he doesn’t like to play the piano”
Other mom: “Mine either, but I force him because he’s so talented”
Me: “He sure is, but why force him?”
Other mom: “Because he’s so good, look!”
Me: “He is excellent, but what’s the point in forcing him? so we can have fun and dance to him play this music? for him to become famous? (or for you to show off_ thinking to myself) ”
Other mom: ” Because it would be such a waste”
Me: “If you say so” … because I really really had no energy to argue.
Other mom: “He’s also learning 2 foreign languages, plays hockey, baseball, and goes to Taekwondo practice every other day”.
Me: “Hmm, impressive, good for him (or you)”
Other mom: “He only likes Hockey, the rest, his dad is forcing him.. laughs a stupid laugh. You’ve got to keep them busy.”
Me: (you’re sick) “Nice, nice, any new “hobbies” you’re thinking of forcing on to your son?”
Other mom: “Hahaha, you’re funny. But no, this is already too much.”
Me:” (so you do know it’s too much) Well, I really have to go, see you around!”
Other mom: “See you!”

But then I thought to myself, wouldn’t I love it if my son was the perfect boy? This talented piano player, that awesome drummer, the impressive karate kid, the cool hockey player, or the genius inventor? Wouldn’t I love it if he was the straight A’s student, always top of his class? Wouldn’t I just love it if my Adam was the best there is?
Hell yeah! But if that meant forcing him to do something he’s not into with all his heart, then what’s the point? What makes a child perfect in the eyes of others, doesn’t necessarily make him happy or successful. We need to stop pushing our kids to do things WE like, or keep them busy every second of the day because this “should” make them better people!
What many parents are doing to their poor kids in the name of “investing in their future” is just shameful and is killing every bit of creativity and sense of self that children possess.
Kids need a break, they need to know that their value isn’t in the grades they get or the amount of activities they’re engaged in, they need to understand and realize that their abilities are not defined by a mark on a piece of paper alone, that their happiness and success shouldn’t be measured by what people perceive as good and special, but by what will unleash their hidden potential, light their eyes up and drive them to give all they’ve got. It’s the sense of accomplishment, from their own point of view, the hard work and confidence that they will reach their goals if they walk the right path, for them, not us, and if their parents invest in them, the right way.

This is one of the most brilliant talks I’ve heard about this topic so far, hope all parents, especially the competitive ones, would learn from it and take it easy on their children, because, trust me, over-parenting is destructive.

October 6

مشكلة مدارس الشويفات مع أكسفورد وكيف نتفاداها

oxfordقبل بضعة أيام وخلال تصفحي للفيسبوك قرأت الخبر المتعلق بسحب مدرسة الشويفات لكتاب اللغة الإنجليزية للصف التاسع لأنه وصف الفلسطينيين بالإرهابيين. وفي موقع آخر، أُشير إلى أن مدير مدرسة الشويفات في المملكة، لؤي الشوملي، سيقاضي أكسفورد التي أصدرت هذا الكتاب، لإساءتها للفلسطينيين بهذا الشكل. وهو التصرف الطبيعي في مثل هذه الحالة بالطبع: سحب المادة المسيئة، ومساءلة المسيء قانونيّا. ولكن استوقفتني هذه الجملة المعترضة للشوملي: “متمنيا أن لا يتم إخراج الموضوع عن سياقه باعتباره خطأ بشري يتعلق بعدم المراجعة والتدقيق على التعديلات التي يتم إجراؤها بشكل سنوي على المناهج لإضافة المعلومات والمهارات التربوية والعلمية إلى منهاج المدرسة.”

وفقا للشوملي، قامت أكسفورد بإجراء التعديلات دون إعلام وزارة التربية والتعليم ولا المسؤولين في مدارس الشويفات. إذا كان هذا الكلام صحيح، فالسؤال الذي يطرح نفسه هو: لماذا يتعامل الغرب معنا بهذه السلبية؟  ألا يحق للعربي أن يطّلع على أية تعديلات تمس كتبا يدفع ثمنها (يعني مو ببلاش)؟ لماذا نُعامَل وكأنه لا حق لنا في إبداء رأينا أو الاعتراض أو الموافقة على ما سيُدرّس لأبنائنا؟
والإجابة هي نحن أنفسنا، ثقتنا العمياء بأن كل ما هو مستورد من علم أو ثقافة سيكون خاليا من الأخطاء وأفضل من أي شيء عربي. ولامبالاتنا المُخزية من جهة أُخرى. لماذا أصفها باللامبالاة؟ اسمحوا لي أن أشرح لكم من خلال تجربة شخصية حدثت معي هنا في كندا.

قبل ما يقارب العامين، طلبتني وزارة التعليم في المقاطعة التي أسكن فيها لأقوم “بترجمة وتدقيق بعض المواد اللغوية، ويُشترط أن يكون المترجم متفرغا وأن يحضر عند الاتصال به” هذا ما كان واردا في البريد الإلكتروني، وطبعا، عند التعامل مع جهات حكومية في كندا، لا يتم إخبار المترجم بكل التفاصيل إلا وجها لوجه.  عند وصولي لمكتب المسؤولة، وبعد توقيعي على عدد لابأس به من الأوراق القانونية التي تضمن عدم تحيزي في الترجمة وتحفظي على تفاصيل ما سأطلع عليه، طلبت مني . المسؤولة أن أجلس، وقالت لي: “دقيقة وسأرجع لك بالمواد” . ذهبت، ورجعت بصحبة مساعدتها، وفي يدي كل منهما جبل من الملفات والكتب
صرفت مساعدتها من الغرفة، أخذت نفسا عميقا، وقالت لي: “أترين هذه الكتب والملفات؟ كلّها باللغة العربية، وهي كناية عن المقرر المدرسي للغة العربية ابتداءا من صف روضة أولى وحتى الصف التاسع الأساسي. هذا المقرر سيتم تدريسه في أغلب المدارس العربية والإسلامية الخاصة في أونتاريو، سواء  كانت تلك المدارس التي تُدَرِّس دواما كاملا، أو التي تُدَرِّس يوما واحدا في نهاية الأسبوع. وبما أن الكمية كبيرة والوقت قصير، ولأني أريد مترجما واحدا فقط أن يقوم بهذه المهمة، فسأطلب منك أن تأتي كل يوم لمدة 4 ساعات حتى تنتهي من كل هذه الموادّ. أريدك أن تقومي بالتدقيق اللغوي للنص، ومن ثم سأطلب منك ترجمة النص، ترجمة شفهية فورية، وسأقوم بتسجيل الترجمة كمرجع”.
“أنا: “ولكن أليس من الأسهل والأسرع أن أكتب هذه الترجمات؟
المسؤولة: “صحيح، ولكن أريد طرح أسئلة بناء على ترجمتك الشفهية، لتوضيح المعنى العام من المواضيع المطروحة. أي أريدك أن تقومي بتدقيق لمحتوى النص أيضا. فكما تعلمين، كندا بلاد تضم مختلف الثقافات والديانات والمعتقدات والتوجهات. ولا أريد لأي شخص يعيش هنا أن يتلقى أي معلومة قد تكون مقبولة في ثقافة بلاده الأصلية ولكنها تسيء أوتهدد حرية أي شخص ينتمي لثقافة أخرى”.

طبعا كان واحدا من أشد المشاريع إرهاقا، وأكثرها تطلّبا، ولأنها مسؤولية كبيرة فقد كنت تحت ضغط نفسي كبير، ولكن كان من أكثر المشاريع إثارة.
احترمت حرصهم على بلادهم وقيمها، احترمت الجهد الجبار الذي يبذلونه في سبيل توضيح كل شيء، مع أن عقلي العربي ثار ضمنا واتهمهم بالعنصرية في البداية، ولكن عندما فرغت من العمل ووجدت أنهم لم يعترضوا على الحجاب في الصور، ولا على صور المصلين والجوامع ولا على المواضيع المطروحة لأنها لا تهدد حرياتهم ولا تؤثر  على قيمهم، فقد زاد احترامي لهم وزاد إعجابي برقابتهم المتفتحة البعيدة عن التحيز.

لم يهمهم أنّ من قام بإعداد ومراجعة هذه الكتب هم مجموعة من اللغويين والتربويين من داخل كندا، ولم يهمهم أنّ هذه الكتب  لن تُدّرَس في المدارس الحكومية أو الخاصة الكندية بل ستقتصرعلى بعض المدارس العربية والإسلامية، لم يهمهم أن المقرّر يتم تدريسه منذ سنوات في مقاطعات أُخرى في كندا، لم يهمهم أنهم لا يفهمون كلمة واحدة أو حرفا واحدا من أي كتاب أو ملف، بل جاءوا بأهل الاختصاص، واستثمروا وقتهم ومالهم في سبيل تفادي أي إساءات أو مشاكل هم في غنى عنها.
ولهذا أوجّه كلمة لوزارات التربية والتعليم ومسؤولي المدارس في شتّى الدول العربية بأن يحتذوا بكندا في هذا الموضوع تحديدا، وأن لا يثقوا ثقة عمياء فيما يصلهم من غيرهم.

لا يوجد أجمل من التبادل الثقافي شرط أن يكون هذا التبادل واع ومسؤول وأن يكون لنا رأي واضح قوي وصريح في كل ما نستورد. لدينا العديد من الكفاءات العربية التي يمكن أن تُستثمَر في تدقيق ومراجعة ومراقبة الكتب الصادرة من الغرب قبل تداولها، سواء أعلمتنا الجهة المُصدِرة بتعديلات أم لم تعلِم، ليكن قانونا نلتزم به بأن ندقق في كل الأحوال. بهذه الطريقة يحسب لنا الغرب ألف حساب ويعي أن العرب ليسوا متلقين فقط، بل هم مفكرون وواعون ومهتمون بالمحافظة على تاريخهم ومعتقداتهم ومبادئهم السياسية والأخلاقية والاجتماعية.

September 30

Celebrate ‘International Translation Day’ In Style

It’s September 30th, a day that is having more importance and a growing number of celebrators every year. A day that is gaining more popularity and is helping spread more awareness about one of the world’s oldest and most important professions: translation.
Translators are awesome. They help humanity cross borders without moving an inch, they connect cultures and pass on civilization from one generation to the other.
Translators Rock!

Every year, I try to share one of the many great aspects of being a translator, as well as the countless challenges that face one.
This year, I’m not in the mood for any serious-talking, so, for a change, I decided to share with you a fun and cheerful idea to celebrate today.
If you know a translator/interpreter, and you really want to make their day, how about you surprise them with one of these very thoughtful and extremely cool gifts: Awesome gifts for translators/ interpreters.

And if you’re a translator yourself, why don’t you try out this quiz: Mind your languages! Then, treat yourself to whatever makes you happy, because, you deserve it!
Happy Translation Day everyone! Hoping that we’ll be more appreciated and valued, hoping we wont be underpaid and overworked forever, and wishing that those of us who work in conflict areas will always be safe and sound.

September 19

Mom, Are You A Vegetarian?

Adam: Mama, are you a Vegetarian?
Me: No habibi. You know I eat meat… sometimes.
Adam: I also know you’d pick Falafel over Shawarma any time. You also prefer veggie burgers not chicken/beef burgers… oh, and you always eat spicy VEGGIE Sushi.
Me: I like them more, that’s all.
Adam: You also eat veggie poutine Mama, and order that veggie Thai something (referring to Pad Thai), and always get excited about meatless pasta dishes.
Me: Hmm, that’s true actually.
Adam: The other day you ate a veggie crêpe instead of fish sandwiches like me and Baba.
Me: Yep.
Adam: You make us these weird vegetable & hummus sandwiches.
Me: But you like them right?
Adam: Not as much as meat sandwiches though. Oh, and you also pick the meat out of the stew from your dishes and eat the rice with just the vegetables.
Me: (And I thought no one actually noticed :D)
Adam: You watch lots of shows & documentaries about vegetarian food.
Me: I’m just curious and try to get inspired to make more yummy veggie meals.
Adam: So you ARE a Vegetarian?
Me: No I’m not.
Adam: Ok, ok. I think you are, but anyways… Can we order Pizza?
Me: Sure, what would you like?
Adam: Pepperoni.
Me: Ordering on the phone “We’d like to order one Pepperoni & one small cheese Pizza please”
Adam: Pfft…
September 7

Back to School Ecstasy


Today was the first day of school in my area, and boy don’t we just love these back-to-school days with all the hustle and bustle they bring us!
Traffic jams, crowded sidewalks, delightful school busses, colorful bikes (and their tiny bells), some uniforms here, some fashion statements there, kids laughing, others crying, smiley faces, teary eyes… a very interesting mixture of emotions this day, not only on children’s faces, but also on those of parents.

Like children, you’d see parents who are having a hard time letting go of their little ones _or not so little ones_ on the first day of school. Parents who are already exhausted from a long summer vacation and wish they could still get a couple more weeks to relax and do all the things they wanted to do with their kids but couldn’t for one reason or the other.
Parents who didn’t get enough of their kids, who miss them even before they went to school, who feel guilty for waking them up from their deep sleep and dragging them to a place away from home.

And the other parents, the joyous and excited parents. Parents who were waiting for this day since June, parents, who, as much as they love their kids, have just had it with vacation and all its stress and drama. Parents who need school more than anything, who thank God for the teaching profession… parents who can’t hide their happy smiles and cheerful energy, because, today is, all about them.
Today they get to forget about everything, for a few hours, and focus on themselves. Today they get to sip coffee in a café, the grown-up style: scream-free, whining-free, and mess-free.
They could go for a walk WHENEVER they want to, or maybe run their butts off like there’s no tomorrow. They could relax and watch a grownup movie without worrying about language, violence or anything else. Today they could sleep in, for as long as they want, and everything can just wait. They can go shopping in peace, they can grab a bite like an adult, they can listen to whatever they want, they can surf the internet for hours and hours, they can finally go to work not worrying where their kids will be and how they’ll spend their time.
It doesn’t matter whether the parent is working or not, the back- to- school day is very special to every parent, they feel like someone has taken a really huge burden off their shoulders, they feel, how do I put it? …light and free.

Every year, I make sure to drop off my son to school the first day, although he takes the bus to school, just like my parents used to do every single year with all five of us, and there are many parents who do the same with their kids every year.
Today though, I couldn’t but notice that unlike other years, the happy parents were an overwhelming number, and to be honest, I enjoyed watching every single one of them. They were everywhere. After finding their kids’ classes, these parents made sure to document the big day with a picture of their kids in the class lineup (which was most likely uploaded to multiple social media networks), kissed them goodbye, and jogged, yes, jogged out of school before the class was even dismissed. The look on most parents’ faces as they were leaving the school was just priceless.
There were these two dads in particular that made me, and many others, laugh like crazy, their reaction was hilarious. One was walking towards his car that was parked next to mine, apparently a working dad, judging from his suit and laptop case, which means, that he’s most probably heading to work, not to some fun place where he can enjoy being child-free, but still, once he stepped into his car, he checked his hair in the rear mirror, put on his seat-belt, turned on the radio -on a really high volume-, rolled his window down, and screamed: “yo hoo!” at the top of his lungs, while driving away.
The other dad, was walking in front of me on his way to the bike parking racks, and I don’t know if he was a stay-at -home – dad, or a work-from-home-dad, or about-to-go-to-work-dad, no idea, he was wearing a t-shirt, shorts and slippers, he apparently came with his kids on their bikes, he was humming some song, dancing to the beat in his head, got on his bike, got a really deep breath, looked at us all and said: “is it me? or is today… (now he shouts) friggin’ AWESOME!” and he disappeared into the woods, just like that.

These people and their pure joyful -and justifiable- selfish excitement made my day. My day, which, unlike many other parents, will not be that different, because with my eldest going to school, I still wont have the freedom to spend my time the way I wish, since I have the neediest creature there is to share the house with: my toddler 😀 yep, I’m proudly struggling to manage house chores, raise a toddler, work from home, develop my skills and maintain what’s left of my sanity; but I can’t complain really, I thank God that I’m lucky enough to be worrying about just that and nothing else of what other parents in many less-fortunate parts of the world have to deal with.

May every child have the blessing of health, a family, a safe environment and a right to education.

And parents, enjoy the school year as it lasts 😉

 

June 13

Young Muslims Stand Up For Islam

Every time a terrorist attack takes place, and media announces that the terrorist is Muslim, or affiliated with ISIS, you find all Muslims around the world investing A LOT, if not all their time,  trying to denounce such unfortunate and heartless acts, making it clear that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam whatsoever, or defending Islam and the Muslim communities -especially in the West-  or simply explaining what Islam is all about, time and again.

As many of AquaCool followers know, I’ve promised myself a very long time ago to stop wasting any time trying to defend Islam, because I’ve come to the conclusion, back then, that many don’t want to reason or listen or read anything that is in the defense of Islam or Muslims, and would rather just attack and condemn no matter what.
But years, many years later, I have come to realize that just like there are thousands of people who couldn’t care less what Muslims have to say, many other thousands actually do care, and they are working, hand in hand, with Muslims, to help clear the picture and combat Islamophobia.
For these people who are restoring Muslims’ faith in humanity, I will continue to share any note-worthy initiatives, or projects that still didn’t go viral, in hopes of spreading the word and helping more and more realize that Islam is, in fact, a religion of peace.

And what I’m sharing here is one of these projects, a very impressive effort of some young Canadian Muslim students, who put together this video; no fancy talk, no fancy editing or anything of the kind, just the truth, plain and simple, told in a sweet and an honest manner, with a touch of humor, by students driven by a lovely passion for defending their religion and an amazing enthusiasm to represent it in a clear and simple way that appeals to all people, especially the youth members of their community and all over the world.
Not to forget the appearance of my father, who helped shed some light over some misconceptions about Islam, Fundamentalism, Islamophobia and Terrorism.