Category Archives: General

Madrid. Again!

The sun rising over Franfurt, Germany.

Its the same feeling but with a bit more spice when I clicked the itinerary’s book & confirm button of the flight that’s supposed to take me away for two weeks; The countdown was long but worth every single day. It gave me that hope whenever boredom crawled. That secret internal smile of “heh who cares, m disconnecting soon” even though the “soon” meant a couple of months. a Multi destination journey starting once again in Spain, then Rome, and ending in Zurich.

Slicing things down, in Spain the plan was Madrid & its hype, by bus to tranquil Granada, by train to forgotten Cordoba, then by bus again to addictive Seville.

It’s gonna be a story-like sequel starting from Madrid. Moving on city by city in separate posts just to avoid never ending journals & spare the time. Thus, hereby, I start from the captivating Spanish heart, Madrid.

As always, the flight to Madrid is properly selected; a proper airline to have an appropriate start. Lufthansa, thank you for your unmatched services both on & off board.

If I was to define Madrid, it would be a city that forces you to fall in love with it. Loving Madrid is not by choice at all. Once you step there, it marks your soul and commands your sub-conscience to voluntarily come back again. It’s always awake, alive, full of energy, mouthwatering cuisine, tasty wine, excellent gin, art of all kinds, music, fun, and you name the rest. Its a traditional yet modern city that got something for everybody. For me, it hosts everything I look for. When visiting the city, make sure to brush away all pretentious (maybe Arabic) attitude and just be humble to enjoy the charm; if not, you’re still have a chance to enjoy the fancy, classy, flashy part which doesn’t add to the experience you get at the flashy classy districts present in every other city.

A panoramic view of Gran Via street;

Gran Via, the artery of the city was the center, from there and out of experience everything became handy and close; This busy street kept us on the move; Never bored, always strolling around the same places just for the joy of being there. A stop or two for coffee refill or sugar refuel, a taste of the various ice cream flavors, and mostly important was the daily routine at National Geographic cafe where the happy hour chit-chats & espressos were a must.

 

 

The daily ritual. Double espresso, long chit chats, and planning. This place is an addiction.

Night shot of Madrid; Taken from the hotel room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At sunset, the city changed the color and the mood. Tickled to start the night early, we strolled to La Latina, a Spanish district by far, where authentic Spanish food is served at an array of resto/pubs. Lured by the tinkling heard everywhere, we stopped at Artebar to attend a very local flamenco performance. Honestly, I was never a flamenco fan due to the simple fact that art to me resembles peace and tranquility while flamenco acts are loud and aggressively expressed. My perception changed last year; I came this year eager to catch up with what I had missed.

From left to right: two bailoras, chanter clapping, solo bailora at the Artebar performance, La Latine, Madrid

That night, the same performers more or less were there. What changed was the chanter & one of the bailaoras. The place was dim and old, equipped with few single metal chairs and a primitive  wooden podium; we were few; a trio of late 60s ladies , and a group looking like a family. Each carrying his/her wine glass waiting for the show to commence.

It lasted for almost an hour and a half with a break in between where they rested and changed outfits. I took this photo during the first half of the show. This photo and its color treatment manifests my exact feelings at that moment. A mixture of admiration, sadness, and joy. Many questions were hovering in my head during the act. Is dancing their main profession. Is it how they make their living? where do they live? Do they have families? Are they happy? do they make enough money to properly survive a not that cheap city? Do they really enjoy what they do especially that its a tough sweaty performance? I left the answers behind that wooden door. Maybe i can find answers during my next visit.

After the  show, we strolled around La Latina to immerse more in the district’s vibes. Our main drink of choice was mainly house white wine that kicks smoothly into the system. For dinner, tapas are always the option. Gazpacho with chorizos, patatas bravas, and albondigas with tomato sauce. Keeping it light to leave room for other cuisine attractions.

A glass of Mahou beer at Mercado de San Antonio’s roof top

Mostly the main activity in Madrid is nightly. When the streets get crowded and people go out for drinks. Tremendous pubs scattered everywhere in the city, each offering special discounts and free drinks just to create footfall. A fierce competition to please;

What is best to try there, aside from wine, are gin & tonic and local beer. A nice venue we tried was Mercado de San Antonio. A mall-like complex of three floors. It looks like a tapas food court with very rich assortment of choices. The roof top terrace was packed; lovely mini bars and young crowds. Going out of there, we didnt miss to try the various flavors of croquetas. A lovely stand bar at the left corner of the first floor serves the best of those with a wide selection of  jamon, spinach, chicken, and cheese fillings. When you are there, just aim for it and please dont thank me 🙂

Mornings are calm and slow, only thinking of breakfast; Since we couldnt do churros late at night, we didnt forget to give it a try in the morning, and where else to have churros and hot chocolate except at the infamous Chocolateria San Gines. Located just next to Sol among narrow cozy streets and at a calm addictive neighborhood. We spent two easy hours without even noticing.  only interrupted by beggars who didn’t even have the time to beg before being driven out of the area by waiters.

Chocolateria San Gines street in the morning

Getting lazy during the last day. Final check and ready to leave

Time flies in Madrid; Many things done, various places visited, and a lot of memories attained. I didnt forget Santa Anna‘s first lunch, nor Sol‘s shoppings, nor La Latina‘s Sunday morning breakfast. But promising to keep this post short, I will fold my memories and keep them to myself.  Till that day, the best thing that happened in 2012 was Madrid. It still hides tremendous places to discover, tastes to try, and new faces to meet. That is what preserves its charm and addiction and leaves me attached to its known as well as its unknown; to that and many other reasons, Madrid, I am definitely coming back.

 

 

 

 

Nothing like…

There is nothing like feeling at ease with everything. When you wake up, when you dress up, when you chew well your breakfast, when you quietly go down the stairs towards your car, when you drive to work, and when you park.

The ease continues when you have your morning coffee and enjoy the morning aroma, when you open your Outlook, when you smile to each and every email downloaded, when you reply, when you answer the phone, when you receive an sms from your mom and reply back, when you make other people around you smile, when you start thinking of what to have for lunch, when you feel lousy and sleepy after the meal, when you refresh with an afternoon cup of strong coffee, when you regain power, and when you start looking at your screen clock every now and then.

The great feeling continues when the time becomes 6:00 pm, when you kiss-goodbye your colleagues, when you leave office, when you drive home & dive through the rush hour traffic, when you reach home and start being hesitant of going to the gym, when you force it upon yourself, when you shower and get back home saying “thank God I worked out”, when you have a light dinner bite, when your TV night show starts, when you switch off the TV, when you sink into the bed then remember you forgot to brush your teeth and smile again, when you brush ur teeth back and sink again into your bed freshened up with the mint-flavored saliva.

It climaxes when u rest your head on your cushion, when you drift away into the wonderland, when you dream, and when u wake up the other day smiling to the sun peaking through your window.

There is nothing than looking positively at everything whatever it is.

A hint

I always go round and around and always reach the same conclusion: Every thing in life is not hap-hazardous. Everything is intended. I am closest than ever to conclude that nothing in this life comes by chance. Everything is meant to be for a certain task that it will achieve later.

Why I say this, first because I believe in it. Second because this hypothesis now has solid proof of its recurrence. Third because this universe is the most arranged and organized chaos which surpass the human brain’s ability to comprehend.

28

This time it came at a crossroad. A mark breaking the old and starting the new. Although ambiguity dominance fills the air, but yet some areas are still lit maybe as a guidance  for the destined future.

As usual, the last thing I did being 27, was exactly the same thing I did being 26, 25, 24,…  calling the most precious, the  invaluable,  the dearest to my heart; my point of weakness, the person whose presence was a bless in each and every moment of my life and who will remain my utmost priority: Mom.

As I am not that expressive, i molded the call to be as one of the usual weekly calls. Intentionally though, I wanted to hear it from her: Happy Birthday… with an assortment of blessings and recites I wanted to hear not because I was opportunist, but because i needed that load of positive universal energy in this critical period I am passing through.

It was never for me a game of numbers. I never believed in quantifying time. Time is untouchable, unmeasurable, and cannot be contained. As part of this universal mesh where everything is interconnected to the whole until its tiniest bits, I believe my mission in this interconnected intricate system is not over yet; thus I am granted a new mundane year to live. Happy birthday to me.

Sorting things, recapping, and prioritizing is definite. The old should be filed and archived, and the new book should be widened properly in order to get a smooth initiation.

Its gonna be a critical year for me. Much needs to be done, many decisions should be taken, and many steps should be appropriated.

US-China Tensions

The US-Taiwan arms dealJust to be brief and cut it short: “The US cannot by any means impose its resolutions upon China, that would be a huge mistake the US can commit”.

I am saying this just after the rising tensions between the Chinese government and the US congress after the $6.2 billion weaponry deal signed between the USA & Taiwan last week. Upon it, the US will supply Taiwan with ground-to-air defense rocketry, few defense ships, and 60 Black Hawk helicopters.

If the US is looking to fortify its as-considered a US base nearest to China, Chine in return can play the game differently. Via Economy. We all know that most of the US companies are moving their manufacturing into China for the sake of cutting costs. What if China decided to take economical measures against the US companies? Can you imagine the economical harm this can cause?

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Sometimes

Sometimes I feel confused. I enter a state of a hiatus. I stop understanding what should I do, and why should I do what I am supposed to do. Sometimes things become so trafficked, so chaotic, so unsorted. In such situations I lose control and retreat.

Sometimes i stop thinking about the “whats next”. I keep my self into “Whats now”. Maybe its avoidance, I dont know, but its a fact.

Sometimes I start a criteria of evaluation between the achieved and the yet to be. I find myself fine with it. Personally satisfied and that is whats keeping me in shape. I retain control over the current and manage perfectly the next step and what may be coming.

Its a time I am passing through currently. Thinking a bit further into where I should be, when a next step has no option except being made. Alternatives are always present but if I am looking for a change its a bit difficult; Many reasons are keeping hindrance, but sometimes what we are looking for and what we want, we reach.

Anyways, things are concluding faster than I can imagine. In a short notice I will find myself into a new kind of a world. I am looking into something more exciting, with a better environment, more challenging, and a personal space to be creative in my own way.

Sometimes I stay awake late, just to write about sometimes.

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, in a place not that far away, in a place which is understood to be ethical, true, transparent, intimate, brotherly, and friendly, a short story staged itself without thinking of its end. A story that was meant to remain revolving around its occurrence since it was thought to be build solidly on basis that are unshakable; It was supposed to be an everlasting source of trust and hope, sharing and caring, dreaming and imagining, good unintentional demeanors, and an ever flowing fresh spring. It was supposed to be as pure as morning mist, clear as a newly bought studded solitaire, shiny as the morning sun amid the clear blue sky in a springy day. It was supposed to remain because nothing was materialistic, nothing was mundane, nothing was superficial. At least I managed and meant it to be as such.

Once upon a time things weren’t that complicated. Fluency was abundant above all, throughout all, improvised not acted.  Once upon a time I believed it was a systematic click. I deceived myself of its brotherhood. I bypassed and threw back awkward hints of its impurity. Once upon a time I made my home warmer, my heart wider, my support endless, my listening unconditional, my thinking positive, my food tastier, and my privacy shared. Once upon a time I felt safer, happier, unconditional; I made it till the last second. I surpassed what I knew hurts, I accepted sharing, I never imagined the blackness, my vision was blurred.

Once upon a time I devoted everything for the well-being of it. I progressed, preceded, stood, kept foot, then retreated to manage misunderstanding my way, my own way. Once upon a time I left things as is, I accepted time to heal it, I’ve been proactive or recessive depends. Once upon a time I was nothing but true. I was nothing but clear. I was nothing but a brother. Once upon a time I never cared about slips. Once upon a time i was the most forgiving even when it came to touch my dignity. Once upon a time I was me.

Once upon a time I chose to remain me whatever circumstances may blow. I managed successfully to remain I. And I am still I due to what I inherited thankfully. I will remain me what so ever may happen.

Once upon a time it was all existing. Once upon a time it was a concrete real fact. That was in a time that is not now and will never be.

Once upon a time was something that is not anymore.

AND ?!

And she passed by the door with her endless dress, black as a night, elegant as a queen. I didnt have before & still dont have the audacity to interrupt her path though she may be hinting me suspiciously, wickedly,  smartly, but I felt it. She is mysterious, her way is vague, her location is unknown, but she is present all the time. I enjoy gazing at her while she sues the corridors with her LG in her ears. Her scarf contains the colors of the lushy springy grooves and the smell of nature. her hair is dark, black it or brown who cares? its perfect.

And then silence becomes the highlight, the day light dims, the clouds hovers the sky aimlessly, and she stays she!! She the mysterious, the trendy, the untouchable, the inconceivable, & the intact.

And things remain, and time elapses, and images come & go, and incidents repeat, and her endless dress changes colors, and she remains she, and me remains me; me inside the window, and she out there, free.

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Demarcation Lines

In a very casual gathering at one of the most attractive and lively open-air pubs in Dubai (i.e Shochos), I came to this conversation with Dana about Beirut life and living. I was stunned by her way of thinking regarding the previously called demarcation lines that used to split the Eastern Christian Beirut from its Muslim west during the bloody civil war that broke out from 1975 till 1990.

As a Lebanese, I used to hear here and there that most people tried to stay away from this area after the war in order to avoid any suffering that may result in the sensitive instability in the yet unrest country. Usually “birds of feathers flock together” applies perfectly to the Lebanese multi-factional society. Christians accumulate in Christian “labeled” areas and Muslims do the same despite the educated minority from both side who already surpassed this divisional thinking and are enlightened enough knowing the dangerous consequences of such unhealthy inbound seperation.

Dana was different. Although she lived in the same bloody area and still, she insisted on the idea that these areas are the most interesting places to live at in Beirut due to the cultural & educational mixture; to her, its compelling how much experience someone may get living in such environment; he/she can know the other more easily and understand him through daily interaction and erase the border of difference the war had created among fellow Lebanese citizens away from political-driven media reports that triggers vagueness. I liked her thinking approach, and I wish it gets some more insight.

Dana is a Lebanese expat in Dubai; She works at MAGNA GLOBAL media agency as an account director.

(I refrained from mentioning her religion due to my own belief in religious in-differences)

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Whats for the Last week in May 2009

It may be a busy week, Locally, Regionally, and Internationally:

1- Israel is undergoing intense, large scale, all level, air-land-sea military manipulations. Hizballa announced a state of tension for any unexpected situation deterioration.

2- More intensification of the Lebanese Election process. It’s already set on fire, more yet to come.

3- More collapse of the Musad spy cells. Every day, dangerous information is being leaked into the Lebanese media.

4- Talaat Mustafa is accused in the Suzan Tamim case. The court sentenced him to death already. He collapsed during the manifestation.

5- Iran to continue its military defile’. Another 2000 km range rocket added to its library.

6- Volcanic activity monitored on the North West of Saudi. Several middle scale earthquakes and Radom emissions called for large scale evacuations in the region in the raising expectation of a volcanic reactivation after a 700 years of calm down.

7- Calm weather to stretch all over the region. Mid 40s in the gulf, mid 20s in the middle east.