Friday, 22 June 2012


"Let's go visit Mary today"-Dimbery says over the breakfast,-"She will be very happy".
I think it over. Why not? We can postpone visit to the library till afternoon. However I worry a little bit; what about the owners of the house? Would it be appropriate to just knock on the door of the house whose hosts I never met...."Don't worry",-Dimbery starts removing plates from the table,-"Madame is very old, she can barely walk or talk and mister can't even do either of those".
That makes me feel more at ease and we decide to get ready to go. Mary lives very nearby so we decide against the stroller. I dress up the kids and we head outside. 
Dimbery leads us along the narrow road of an old fashioned block till we reach one of those old Beirut buildings which is probably on the removal list already. When we are finally out of the elevator on the fifth floor, my feeling of uneasiness returns and I start to doubt fairness of our intentions. Small old woman opens the door, invites us in and instantly the feeling of antique feels my heart. Everything around seems to be at least one hundred years old. The old woman starts kissing and hugging my kids as if they were her own grandchildren. 
Mary greets us with a generous smile. "Come in, come in! I'll put some coffee and popcorn".
Dimbery drags the kids to Mary's room. I enter the kitchen, with Nazzoura on my hip, never seizing to be amazed by the age of every item in the house. The old woman looks at me smiling. "I am so happy you passed by,"-she says in shaking, tiny voice,-"Do pass by from time to time, nobody passes by here, it's only me and my husband. I have hypertension ..."-she shows me her swollen legs-"Doctor told me not to stand, but there are things to be done...." I look around, suddenly remembering my grandmother's house. Everything smells of the past. It is almost colored in black and white. Land of countless stories embraces me. I eagerly call for Oussama to come, knowing that he would be excited to hear them.
The old woman's eyes shine as she passionately talks of one hundred year old coffee pot, family picture where her father's uncle proudly represents some important political figure, pile of sewing machines whose missing parts will probably never be found, copper kitchenware that was used by her mother but now serves only for decoration.
Coffee is ready",-Mary calls, I smile, tell the old woman we'll be back in a while and enter Mary's room. 
Instantly the smell of church incense (bakhour) traps my attention. "I brought it from Ethiopia,"-Mary says, seeing me surprised at the scene of the pot on the floor with burning herbs. "It's from the church",-she adds,-"Everyone in my country lights it in the house".
I look around. Mary's room is small although comfortable. Piles of old unused items fill its corners. "They never opened them for the whole five years that I'm here",-she laughs. She shows us the balcony from which she waves at us. Kids seem so excited to see their house small with miniature Touti's dress hanging to dry.
We sip the coffee, eat popcorn, listen to some Ethiopian music, everything seems so real and simple. Mary tells us about her life, they are four children; three boys and one girl. Her older brother works in Germany, another one in Dubai, one in Ethiopia and she is here in Lebanon. She hasn't seen her family for five years. Suddenly she becomes sad and tears feel her eyes. "She misses her fiancĂ©",-Dimbery laughs and winks at me. I sadly smile. "I am planning to go next year inshallah,"-Mary says, slowly sipping her coffee. 
She start talking about her work, Madame is very good to her, her daughter passes by every night and together they bath her father, who can't move. However Mary has to take care of him throughout the day, change his diapers etc...there are house chores too along with cooking. She cannot complain at all-she says- they are very good to her. Every Sunday a guy comes and takes over so that she can go to the church. Her salary is two hundred dollars now, they raised it this year. 
Kids start nagging, they want to go home. Nazzoura is very sleepy. We thank Mary for the coffee and popcorn, she thanks us for coming. I kiss the old woman and promise to pass by soon. We go down by the half-broken elevator and head home along the same narrow road. Suddenly we hear Mary shouting overhead. Kids and Dimbery wave and shout back, laughing. Then she disappears again among the clustered balconies of an old building, deep inside the walls of her owners' family. 

Saturday, 2 June 2012

From the airport to my house and from my house to the airport!

Beautiful sunny morning. Me, Dimbery and kids are walking along the Mar Ilias street, playing hide and seek on the road. Touti needs ballet shoes so we enter into the shop, kicking each other at the doorway. The shop owner looks at us with a broad smile full of hope and anticipation. I ask about the shoes, along with Touti's nagging that she needs pink ones. He smiles again and politely informs us that only white and black are available, but if that cute girl insists he can paint them in pink in one day. Then all of a sudden he glances at Dimbery and asks me in mysterious tone: "Are there any problems?" Me and Dimbery exchange dull-puzzled looks. Seeing us confused, he continues in plain Arabic, handling impatient Touti her magic ballet shoes: "I have ordered one now from Ethiopia, she will be here next week inshallah, but I wanted to know ....are there any problems?"

 I finally get what he is talking about and playfully turn to Dimbery: "Are there any problems, Dimbery?" I ask her, enjoying the fruitful situation. Dimbery gets it too and starts an innocent talk about language difficulties that Ethiopian girls have upon their arrival to Lebanon. The owner does not seem comfortable anymore, he nods impatiently and offers Touti a larger size to try. After a short silence he resumes his thoughts-out-loud looking at me. "We all order from that agency; all our sons ordered from them, they are very good. Here is her picture.....she is Ethiopian no?"-he puts some papers on the table in front of him. 

Colored picture of a beautiful Ethiopian girl seems heart-breaking to me. "Yes", Dimbery confirms " she is Ethiopian...."-she turns to me and adds smiling-"her hair is nice". "We had one Nepalese",- the shop owner continues in a matter-of-fact tone, "She stayed three years and then left. My policy is: from the airport to my house, and from my house to the airport" , he proudly adds,"she never went outside the house unless accompanied by us. That way we were happy and she was happy. "-he concludes with a self-confident smile.  
"I bet she was",-I take the shoes and pay him ten thousand liras. "Bring them back after the class, so I paint them pink in one day"-he reminds us and looking at Touti adds in playful silly tone, that is manufactured especially for kids: "Bye-bye"! 

We step out and start talking about the incident. Poor girls. Dimbery keeps repeating his words, "From the airport to my house, from my house to the airport....." Shame on him she says. I sadly nod. We'd like to talk a little bit more, but kids prevail and we're into the hide and seek game again. 

Friday, 2 March 2012

Living into my life....

For me, it was always very difficult to be really present in a moment. Either for the purpose of escaping from reality or out of lack of interest in the activity at hand, my mind would always wander in the imaginary world, while my body was at actual work. From playing piano to washing dishes, it has always been difficult to concentrate on the actual activity that I was doing. I never tried to understand why and how I was never present in the real life that I was living. It became a habit somehow to live as half-ghost half-human always absent minded and never really enjoying the reality of things.
As I understood that most of the human race lives in the same state of half-living and started to discover fashionable books that emphasize the importance of the present moment, the real reason for my lack of concentration became much clearer. My body has become accustomed to do things almost automatically, independent of my mind that was thinking on totally different matters. I could play a sonata, while thinking about my son's runny nose, stopping every now and then, repeating it all over several times and calling that practice. I attributed my failure to play one piece from the beginning till the end without making mistakes to the lack of practice, while this of course did contribute to some extent, the greater blame had to be on the lack of concentration on the actual piece at hand. I could stop dreaming of perfecting my piano skills until one day I suddenly realized that I actually never played! It took so much time to get into the habit of thinking only on the piece I was playing, that I started wondering whether this specific habit of mind-wandering extends to affect all aspects of my daily life.

Every now and then I would catch myself walking without seeing the world around me, cooking without smelling, playing with my kids without enjoying; my life was a living state of constant half-presence. Why? Maybe I got this habit as a kid and my brain became conditioned to it. I don;t know. But what I know for sure is that I would not want to continue to live like that! I guess acknowledging it is the first step, then comes living and loving the every moment of my life! :)

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A perfect Orange day...:)

I was (ashamingly) surprised how much one can teach a child through the actual daily life. After several years of trying to homeschool, I keep on preaching that homeschooling is not a way of education, it is a way of life. But unfortunately I rarely apply that in my daily life. Anyway, today we decided it will be a perfect Orange day. :) As we cooked recipes of orange cake, orangina and orange marmelade, Assoumi learned more math than he could have sitting at the desk with the math textbooks in front of him and me loosing my patience at every single error. He learned searching in the index by pages, reading the words (so English), explaining the fractions....and memorized the recipes lol! it was easy and fun! We gathered the oranges from the garden, thus physical education along with fun was just a logical time-spending. From youtube we downloaded a russian song on oranges and memorized it...:)

the only thing that is bothering me now is that we should have written some book on oranges, but as my inside (mean) voice is nagging on me, trying to make me feel guilty, I remind myself of what I think must be my goal in life "Do only those things that come to you naturally! "

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Getting sick....

With being sick there is always pre-sick and post-sick periods. Before getting sick you feel apathetic, can't say what is wrong with you, try to fight the feeling with coffee, coffee and more can't do anything right, feel sleepy and tired all the time. Then "BOOOM" you get sick you lie there in your bed, with fever, stomachache, nausea....nagging kids, more crying more nagging....poor husband who seems to have 100 hands performing 100 tasks at once. You look at the weather outside, so warm and sunny after gloomy chain of chilly rainy days and curse your luck..:/ Super crowded room and piles of unfinished chore add to your misery and you finally decide that all your life is meaningless; you are terrible mother, terrible wife, terrible housekeeper and terrible teacher.
So, sitting here in bed, drinking warm Anees, nursing my baby and hoping to recover this afternoon, I dread the post-sick period that is coming. :/ I try to look at it from a different perspective. I gained some new insights, got some rest and mmmmm lost some weight lol! :) anyhow, things happen and that is life. Will try to eat properly and recover as soon as I can..:)

Thursday, 26 January 2012

For a Mother....

There comes a moment when we suddenly realize that being a full-time employee and part-time mom, is not how we would love to spend those charming years of our family lives. So we quit our jobs, ignoring peoples' hurtful remarks about burying our lives in the four walls and try to adapt to our new roles as full-time moms and house-keepers. The honeymoon of everyday cozy routine begins. We prepare thoughtful dinners, read millions of stories to our precious, happy kids, spend joyful time nursing and cuddling with our very little ones and make sure we have enough free time to post our warm and beautiful lives on facebook. However, this dreamy life is not meant to last for long. Unfortunately, without the strong foundation and with all the publicity supporting the "business-lady" princess image, that cozy-rosy home life is bound to be very soon dead and reborn into the angry and stressful existence, constantly resenting the everyday boring routine. Precious kids will become little monsters, who live with the basic goal to make their mom's life hell, while thoughtful home and cooking a burden that can be done by anyone without all those exceptional skills and diplomas that we had spent our lives earning. So, the same cycle begins again.....searching for a full-time job that we deserve and hiring a maid (that we also deserve).

We are like foreigners who left their home country long time ago, and now don't feel they belong neither to their homeland nor to their new home. Because, being at work, no matter how satisfying our job is, we would always be half-present with bigger part of our hearts working on the motherly matters of our deserted homes. Paradoxically though, staying home, our brains will lone for the busyness and style of out-of-home "decent" jobs. No matter what way we decide to go, we can never reach self-satisfaction and our lives never seem to be perfect, even if our facebook posts suggest otherwise. We can accept our fates, of course, be it a full-time employee, who is missing on her kids' amazing and so quickly vanishing growing world or a full-time mom, who is missing on golden opportunities of the modern society. However, accepting something without being really convinced is like a silent volcano waiting to explode. When things are smooth, life is smooth, but when can get really bad and pointless.

Where is the real problem lies? What is that we all we all search for? To me it's an image. Simply an image that we try to upload. Business image is great, but it makes us leave our kids and homes behind. Also it is very difficult to sustain. Home-stay mom image is not so great and doesn't not appeal for us. There are other images that many mothers fall into easily as well. For example, many moms adore to be called "shiny kitchen mom". Those women usually spent their lives learning the valuable skills of home maintenance, therefore image of the "shiny kitchen mom" is in craved in their heads. When I tried to suggest to them to do something else than wiping floors three times a day, they would look at me in surprise and sign. Are they happy the way they are? I really don't think so. It is interesting to note, however, that although "shiny kitchen moms" are usually under educated kind of women, some women with higher education manage to fall into that category as well, except that in their case they are wealthy enough to hire someone else to shine their kitchen for them. The problem is that no matter what image we decide to wear it is still an image and if the image is lost, we are lost and our whole life becomes a mess.

Let's rewind a little bit to the day our baby was born. What did we feel? How did we imagine our life would be from that moment on? Did the image of a "business lady" directly popped out from the back of our minds? Or was our imagination taken to the piles of laundry and unwashed dishes? Or was they mourning thoughts about burring our precious degrees inside the four cement walls? I bet we didn't think of all that! All we could see and feel was the warmness of the miracle of motherhood, that priceless gift that we were just given; we felt dissolved in the moment of absolute love. Image of a mother, that has been cherished through ages, is fading away with shocking speed. We are continuously being reminded that we can not be mothers by ourselves. We constantly need urgent help of the modern industry to give birth, feed and raise our children. From epidurals, that make sure we deliver our babies, to the up-to-date educational system that guarantees our kids will know how to write and count, our lives are structured in a way that role of a mother is ironically rendered to wiping floors or yawning in from of the computer screen. Therefore, image of a mother, warm, earthy force that gives and sustains life has been broken into pitiful pieces of a woman who can barely take care of her own needs. It is not at all surprising then, that being given the most noble image ever, we start our motherhood journey by searching for a different one.

The whole social system as it is today does its best to make us believe that image of a mother is not worth as an image. It's not fashionable, cause it doesn't sustain the country's economy. Nevertheless, it is the most beautiful image that we have. The problem is that due to our up-side-down world we see it from a different perspective. True image of a mother lies in her child's innocent eyes, in the eyes of her newborn life. It is that simple and pure heart that has been forgotten as we grew on. It is that first laugh and those first tears that flow freely, without the fear of being rejected. It is there and has always been there, inside of us, waiting to be reborn once again. Can we make friends with that child inside and see motherhood through the eyes of our children? Can we open our hearts to the exciting opportunity that life has given us? Maybe it's hard, but it's worth trying. And to me, it's the most challenging part of motherhood.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Between the greenery of carob leaves...

I wish I had a better camera to picture this beautiful combination of yellow grape leaves and green carob leaves, an amazing sunny ray falling on the rosy cheeks of y kids, warm cozy murmuring of our colorful pigeons......
Such a sunny day! I wish I could make the dinner outside....maybe I can; let's see....I'll peel the potatoes that kids just brought and lettuce salad all outside, then I'll bake the dinner inside...yalla let's start! :)