Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Happiness is a tiny Spiderman

I've seen true joy and happiness. The embodiment of joy and happiness and innocence is a little boy. In a spiderman suit.

This is the third time I see him on the 70 bus, and everytime I see him, I'm overwhelmed with smiles and warm feelings.
He can't be older than 4 or 5. A little asian child, with eyes that are laced with jems that reflect glee. He rides the 70th steed with his mother, who is patient with him and as willing to humour him and play his little superhero games. The first time I saw him, he was sitting on the seat in front of me. I lie when I say sitting. He was anything but. He was standing, balancing and jumping, while his mother held out her arm protectively all the bus ride, keeping him from the clutches of the bus floor, or the rails or the bruising brakes that always happen on these godforsaken buses.
He was facing me, and throwing smiles and little bursts of laughter and noises one would expect to come out of a kitten. And suddenly, he flicks his wrist at me, and makes a PSHHHH sound. I'm caught. I'm in his net.
Of course! how could I not see?! this was Spiderman. My favourite version of spiderman! I suppose it was the lack of the Spidey Suit that threw me off. Thinking of it now makes me smile and even laugh.
After casting a web at me, he proceeds to attempt to climb onto the bus window, scaling the glass like a real pro, with his mother holding on to the back of his shirt to keep him from toppling (what does she know? spiderman doesn't simply slip!)
I giggle and smile at him, and PSHHH. Another web to keep me quiet. He means business. This time, I dodge. Not foreseeing this defense, he pauses for a second, shocked, then grips the game by the tale, and ducks behind the back of his seat. And suddenly its a war of wits. Batman and Spiderman are battling it out on the first two rows of seats on the number 70 bus to Horn Lane. Marvel, eat your heart out.
This skirmish lasts for the next few stops, with a lot of dodging and ducking and diving, and of course, some hits for Spidey followed by screeches of victory.
For those next few stops, I was in a comic book, with speech bubbles and loud sound effects drawn out in capital block letters in bright colours and warped in action. No one mattered. This was a battle that I was more than happy to lose to such a valiant opponent.
Alas, comics end. The mother lovingly gestures to the boy that its their stop, and has to tear him away from our little game. She smiles at me, and I would've smiled back at her were it not for the fact that my face was frozen into a silly smile anyway. As they tumble out of the bus, I look out at my little hero, on the pavement, jumping around, with bundles of energy needing an outlet. And already he's doing a little show, and I'm so taken by him that I nearly don't notice the random giggles and chuckles and "awww"s that the passengers are letting out.
But comics come in series. I saw him again today. With more if not the same amount of energy.
And this time I was sure he was Spiderman.
He was wearing the Suit...

Thursday, 17 April 2008


"hey k. what did you have for breakfast?"

"a cigarette"

"with butter and jam?"

"no. Just jam."

"Oh. Cool.. (pause) HUH?"

Monday, 14 April 2008

Six Scenes in no particular order


The sun stained the Mediterranean pink, Grapefruit pink, as it melted into the water, dissolving and tinting the sea. The waves rippled slowly, creating an illusion of migrating fluid creatures, moving from one horizon to the other, moving in unison and in tempo, with the music in my ears setting the beat. Rachmaninov, and Moonlight sonata... And i sit in front of this sea of love, and all seems to make sense, in fact, nothing makes sense except for the sight in front of my eyes... Why would i leave it's side? The waves may snarl at me, and warn me of its depths.. but it suffices to sit on the sand, and watch the sun bring a day to its end. It will rise tomorrow.. the Same Sun. Same sun sets and rises, we live one day. Our whole lives have been one day continuously, and will continue to be one day.
Same Sun, but never the same sea.


I'll call him Abou Nour. I don't know his name, but I know he has a daughter. And I see a light in his face, a tender glowing ember in his wrinkles and his sun whipped skin. Pupils outlined in a light blue of age, leading to a soft brown of tenderness.
He doesn't beg. He walks Bliss St, with a few lighters and packes of gum, and occasionally some lottery tickets. I first saw him in my second year of university, he came up to a group of people I was with, and when they waved him away or apologised, he did not persist. I saw something in this worthy of respect, so I went after him and I gave him some money. I don't usually like to give beggars money, except if they are old. But like i said, Abou Nour doesn't beg. He got used to seeing me, and if i didnt have change, I'd apologise, and he'd reply by placing his hand on his head or on his chest, and say "thank you thank you, your kindness humbles me".
I saw him on my last visit to beirut. He was buying a coffee from Abou Naji's, so I said hello, and asked him if he needed anything, to eat or drink. He, as usual, placed his hand on his chest, and thanked me, but declined. I persisted, a sandwich? His coffee? a bottle of water! He gratefully refused. As I went to the till to pay for my cigarettes and bottle of water, I asked Radwan behind the till, if Abou Nour usually gets coffee from here, he nodded, with numbers in his eyes and floating above his head, as he calculated the many amounts of change he was returning simultaneously. "Add 4 coffees to my stuff". The numbers paused and fell momentarily as he made sense of what i said. "What?". "Take the price of 4 cofees from me, and don't forget that i paid when he comes for the next 4 times." A brief smile as he nods his head downwards. "Tikrami". As I left, I saw Abou Nour, who was unaware of my actions. "3am, let me get you something to eat, please? Its nearly lunch time. Change your mind. A zaatar saj? It'll take a minute". He kept refusing, showering me with praise of my generosity. In the end I told him i was traveling, and he wouldn't see me for a while, and afterall it was only a sandwich, and he accepted. He ordered the cheapest sandwich without any extras. As the Saj dude was making the sandwich, Abou Nour disappeared for a while, and came back shocked. "You paid for my coffee also?!?" "Yes, please, don't think of it. If we don't take care of you, who will?". Abou Nour looked at me in silence, searching my eyes for some sort of explanation. I think at one point he was thinking whether some ill or harm had come to him as a result of me, or someone I knew, and this was me making up for it. To be honest, I found his confusion confusing. If people did more selfless acts, it wouldn't be confusing. And thats the way it should be. I cannot explain why I was doing what I was doing, and I cannot say I was getting anything out of it. I'm not praising myslef, not feeding my ego. This was something that one does. period. Abou Nour doesnt say anything for a few minutes, and I feel him looking at my face, searching for answers, while I look at the saj being made. He breaks his silence by stating "I'm from the South". I do not flinch, perhaps he's trying to provoke me, to see if I know, or to see if this will change me. "Ahla wa Sahla' i say, and ask him about his being in Beirut, to break the stare and the silence. I find out his lives in Beirut with his wife and daughter, and here I tell him, i am an only daughter too. And he becomes my father in 20 years for a mere 3 seconds. I give Abou Nour the saj, and tell him goodbye and he thanks me silently, and i walk off quickly. I do not want thanks, I dont need it.
And then the oddest thing happens. My dad appears in my head, and nods, and smiles, and cries. and I'm crying his tears. I'm suffocating. I'm gasping for breath as I walk up Jean D'Arc and i can't explain it, and i'm trying to stop it because I don't like to cry in public, and if I'm crying here of all places its like crying in a roomful of my peers. But I cant. So i put my head down, and cry.


I'm in the shower, and I'm tired, and agitated and I stand there naked, arms crossed and clinging to my shoulders. I look up through my closed eyelids at the ceiling, letting the hot water flow over my face, over my lips, and divide onto each side of my nose. I splutter out water from my nose and mouth every once in a while, panicking fleetingly as I battle my phobia of suffocation and drowning. And then water fills my ears, and the sounds are drowned, literally, except for a low rumble. It's all I hear.
Its the twin of the rumbling sound you hear on board a plane. And suddenly I'm on the plane back to London. i've left beirut and my mother, and my friends, and i'm on a plane, strapped in economy, trying to shift away from my neighbor whose asleep, bending onto my shoulder and beginning to drool.
And i move my head, and its gone. All I hear is water hitting the tub floor, and spurting through the shower head, my eyes open and i see my feet, wet, in the shower in Beirut.


Look man, I don't like pain. So bear with me.
He looks at me, clasping my wrist in his gloved hand, and nodding slightly, but not really caring. And I hear the familiar sound, like a dentist drill, but not in your mouth, and needle-wielding.
Man, do you mind if i play my music loud? Inno, will it disturb you?
What are you going to play?
Akhouna Jimi, no I don't mind. he says, monotone and with a poker face that could make anyone fold.
Ok, ok. Yalla. Leik, its important you get it perfect? Ok? Ok. I'm talking to much. Khalas, go. Just dont let me shift or stuff. OK. yalla. Ouf. ya lateef.
and it burns. Shit, I forgot this part.
It burns and I swear out loud, and he raises his eyebrow towards me, and still concentrating on my wrist, he mutters "TO me or the pain?"
La2 man, la2. To the pain. Kiss ikhta akhou sharmouta, ikhsssssssssssssssssssss.
Trial of fire and ink.
5 minutes later, Little Wing is flying in my head, and I'm in pain, but unmoved, and its numbing and therapeutic and cathartic. And in fact, part of me is enjoying it.
No, its not sadism or masochism. Give me a break.
I'm not sure what it is, perhaps its a pain I can control, I know its beginning and its end, so I know when my relief is served. And that makes me happy. To be able to draw the rainbow after the storm myself.
45 mins later he's done. And my arm is hot and throbbing and signed.
and its perfect, and I'm smiling. I've been smiling for he past 30 mins, to the surprise of his assistant, who at one point asks me if I'm in pain, possibly to check I've not gone catatonic, and I guess some concern considering my anxiety in the beginning.
Yes I'm in in pain. It hurts like hell, i tell her, but its ok. No pain no gain. (Cliche feefmeiser, cliche)

No pain no gain.


They killed the Captain.
They butchered Bob Dylan.
They made Cobain turn in his grave and Bowie want to be in one.
They made Bryan worse.
They pissed off Andre.
They suffocated humour.
And on top of it all they were unnecessarily loud, invading my territory, and delaying the playing of good music.

They killed the Captain.


I take the long way home after a night out, with music in the passenger seat. He talks, I listen. He tells me of his broken heart, the rain dogs, the barfly.
He recounts stories of catholic girls, girls at the bottom of his glass, the redhouse his baby lived in, and sometimes he hums violins and pianos. And I listen.
He's my favourite companion. An ironically silent one. And he doesn't get annoyed if I drift off. After all, I drift off into his arms.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Method in the Madness

I don't know what happens to me in the night.
It's not a physical transformation (obviously.. although that would be beyond the coolness that can be contained in this realm of existence)
Its a mental one I suppose.
I get Ramblings. I guess thats where the title "After-midnight Ramblings and Daytime dreamings" came from.
I ramble after midnight. I get sudden bouts of thoughts. Or sentences. I become a receiving antenna for the random words and reveries riding the atmosphere. They click in place and I get a thought. A sentence. And suddenly its said outloud in my head. Like i'm supposed to hear it.
And it grips me. And I'm transformed.
it would be wrong to say they're completely random when they are spelled out in my head. That isn't true. It couldn't be. They must be words that I'm meant to hear. Meant to construct into a sentence. It's my psyche finding a way to talk to me.
Communication within my system, for my system. I'd be thinking of something, a situation, an emotion... and voila. Hey presto, c'est ca, bob's your uncle. Message received loud and clear.
i don't always like it. But who am I to silence myself?

You think I'm crazy... So do I.

Rambling of the night?:

I'm not perfect, in fact, I'm anything but.
And I don't want to be.
If that's what you want, what you're looking for..
Then dont stop, just skip me.

Skip me...

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Poem in a time of cholera and contradiction

Burn them,
Burn them all.

Burn the fairytale endings and the moonlit nights,
Burn the heart shaped carvings on the old oak trees,
Burn the kisses off the young lips,
and the skin off the hands that caress.

Burn them.
Burn them all.

Burn the books that tell of eyes that sparkle
and hearts that warm.
Burn the Neruda poems, burn the Sonnets.
Burn the tales of Lost Lenore.

Find the lovers, find the Romeos,
Build walls to keep them in,
and set fire to the kindling underneath them all.

Burn the tears of joy and the echoes of laughter,
Bottle them up in a jar,
and toss it to the floor.

Burn them.
Burn them all.

Tear the sheets from the beds, and the pages from the books,
Cry treason, treason, treason, till you can no more.

Let it all burn to the ground,
Throw ash and smoke to the heavens,
In flames that burn hotter and wilder
than both Joan and Fawkes could endure.

Burn them.
Burn them all.

No redemption here
No mercy, no more.
Burn it all.

Burn it all,
And toss into the fire your soul...

Because without them,
What is there to exist for?

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Making love to Jimi Hendrix

This post is not going to be long, I've come back from a night of listening to good live blues music at Quadrangle, where my friend Hassib was playing with the Monday Blues Band. I haven't heard them in a while, and hearing them brought back many memories, both good and bad, but I don't mind. Memories brought back for a quick drink are always welcome...
I'm drunk on a few glasses of wine and more than a few good solos. And its the best feeling I can conjure at the moment... My smile has driven my cheek muscles into a fit of pain, but once again, that pain is welcome to stay. Its a friend, and all friends are welcome.

Lightening is striking outside, and thunder soon follows like a loyal dog, and all that is running through my head is Little Wing.. My friend Mich (who was singing as a guest performer tonight) blessed me wih the gift of Hendrix.. While he sat on our table, catching up, I told him I wanted to hear some Hendrix, I looked at Kamal (the guitarist and leader of the band, in his 50's) and mouthed "hendrix!" a couple of times, but he was busy and I dont like to intrude... Especially when music is being played.. Mich looked at me and smiled "just shout, Karma", and I smiled and looked at my shoes, telling him no, let him play his vibe.
Mich went on stage, sang a few songs, (many improvised, mentioning his visit to London and his failing to call me, let alone see me,) and then i heard the opening riff, and my heart was stuck between skipping beats and beating too fast. Mich looks at me, smiles and points, as he starts... "Well she's walking... through the clouds..." and I can't contain myself... the whole night had passed without a sign of Jimi, and now, a few moment after I decided to leave, Jimi is in my ears, and not just any Jimi, THE Jimi song of all songs, the mother load, the big kahuna, my oxygen.
I am sat there, smiling and wanting to cry, and wanting to jump on stage and hug him for choosing the perfect song, the right song, THE song.
I look at Maria whose sat next to me, and I tell her how i'm going to cry I'm so happy, and she has a look on her face that tells that she already knows...

Music is in my blood.. It's in me. I can't explain how I get when I'm around it. It's the constant muse and joy and happiness, and hearing my friends perfom made me feel so homesick and nostalgic and happy all at the same time...

As I walked to the car with Maria, I was a bundle of Adrenaline, and I let Jimi take the wheel, booming through my car speakers, crackling every once in a while because my radio station jammer is crap. But he steered none the less. All the way home..

They sang Little Wing man, they sang little wing...

Rest in peace Jimi. Hope you're lighting guitars on fire wherever you are...
As for me, I'm going to dream of Zebras, Moonbeams and Fairytales...

By the way, Mich, you're now officially forgiven for not calling while you were in London. Love you man.