Friday, May 26, 2017

Why am I here?

Lilly cursed under her breath as she took off her boots for the fifth time that day for yet another airport security check. And to make matters worse, they had already confiscated the prohibted and "dangerous" liquids from her carry-on that she desperately needed for her vacation. "You can have them!" She shouted at the security guard who had taken her mosquito repellent and hair oil. She then dashed off to the final gate to catch the transit flight to her destination. She had finally reached the last airport, but still had to take off her damned boots when all she wanted to do was get her luggage and doze off in the car until she reached her destination. "Why am I here?" she thought to herself, "There are several other places in the world I would rather visit than a corrupted third world country. Why in the world did I come to vacation in a place that is no better than the place I live in?" 

She was so upset that she collected her luggage, found her airport transfer, and spent the whole ride not able to control her tears. 

The driver received a call and handed her the phone: "It's for you." It was her father who had been worried sick about her as she was designated to arrive an hour earlier but had not gotten into contact with him. 

"Why haven't you called me? You said that you would..." he began scolding her.

"The flight was delayed and I didn't have service and the stupid security wouldn't let me in to the other side of the airport to make a call or purchase a SIM card, and my phone won't accept roaming here!" She blurted out annoyed from her father's  reaction. She was an adult after all, but according to her culture and customs she would not be a woman until she became a wife.

After all, it was not even her who chose this holiday destination, it was her father as he feared that she go to a place too far away, so he suggested a neighboring country with a warmer climate for Christmas break. She did not let this go as she was angry and humiliated by the treatment of the airport security and staff: "You are the one who suggested that I come to this damned place! The people here just talk, but there are no actions. I hate it here already and this will be the worst vacation ever!"

Her father taken aback by her reaction, told her to calm down and that he would call back after she reached the hotel.

The driver who witnessed this bizarre episode of an adult woman having a tantrum while supposedly on vacation, handed her a pack of tissues. She thankfully took them and apologized to him for speaking poorly of all his people and country.

"Don't worry about it." He said lightheartedly, "They even give us Egyptians a hard time at airports and security crossings, you're not alone."

"And I apologize that you had to wait for an additional hour, but our flight was delayed a whole hour."

"Don't worry about that either, they delay all domestic flights that are not fully booked to fill up a later flight that is also only half-booked. It's economical."

"I will not be flying with them ever again." Lilly thought to herself. "If this is the way the country's national carrier works, it's no wonder there is so much corruption, for if gold rusts, what will iron do?"

The following are the titles of the chapters that are to come:

Part 2- Too Touristy?
Part 3- Sick at Sea
Part 4- He Seems Perfect
Part 5- The Third Wheel
Part 6- Over
Part 7- But Still not Over him

What do you Want?


  When meeting people, many of us want to be liked and are neither too sure nor confident that there is a lot to like when it comes to us, so instead of putting ourselves forward, we unintentionally suppress our characters to make us more agreeable with others. This is not a breakthrough discovery, for children are known to be individualistic until they are taught to socialize and to put aside some of their individuality to be able to become more socially acceptable by other children who are different than them but have also been taught to do the same. This might not seem like a major problem when it is the insignificant things we give up to be liked by others, but how far would we go? One day you might change your favorite color to match that of your best friend and after several years, you end up  with no personality or character of your own merely changing and fluctuating according to those who surround you.

We were raised to think that our individuality brings chaos and disruption in the social system and community, and none of us want to disrupt that harmony so we confine ourselves to the social norms that we believe to balance the equilibrium of society. Fearing that we will be outcasts if we do not conform, we begin to trade our individuality for social acceptance. This behavior can clearly be seen in adolescents when you walk into a high school and find students worried about the way they are perceived and are afraid of portraying themselves as they truly are for fear of being bullied and alienated from the others. This behavior does not stop in adolescents but grows with individuals unless they can break from the chains and free their souls. 

Our success, beauty, importance, and status are only a few of the things that society puts its measures for and whether we agree with it or not, this is what we are ranked upon. For example if success equals a high-paying job, society will never consider you a successful person unless you have achieved financial success. How much would you need to have in your bank account to be successful? That is yet another part that is also determined by society in addition to what career path you need to take in order to be successful and have a high status in society. We are not encouraged to follow our passions, but to conform to a rigid system that defines our success or failure in society.

As we become molded into adults with several years of direct and indirect social training, we cease to recognize ourselves and who we have become then we begin the infamous search for our other half who is also a molded adult that does not dare to break social norms. One of you may be more free spirited and comfortable with themselves more than the other who has been an outcast for so long for not being able to follow the rules set up by society. You find yourself afraid of being rejected for who you truly thus try to keep the focus off yourself and on the other person until you begin to realize that your have not represented your character at all and if your significant other likes you it is only because you have become a carbon copy of them. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Girl with the Loud Laugh -Part II

This post is part two of the following short story: http://lamaobeid.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-girl-with-loud-laugh-part-i.html


Image result for couple at coffee shopAs they walked into a coffee shop he began having second thoughts: "What am I doing? I should go back to the library and study. I don't even know who this girl is. How..." but his thoughts were soon interrupted, "Hello?! Do you even live in this world?" She looked at him and was amused by how taken aback she was and she began laughing again and people at the coffee shop glanced their way. "Can you stop laughing so loudly?" he said and sat down not wanting to get any more unwanted attention from the crowd. "Why he is cute and serious." she said and as he blushed she could not help but to laugh out loud again. "I need to go," he said gathering his belongings "I would rather continue studying to achieve my lifelong goals than to waste time with a silly girl like you." "You are not going anywhere before I get your number." She replied. He was so struck by her boldness that he just stared at her.

"Who are you and what do you want from me?" he asked. "I like you and I have been observing you on campus for a while. After, I made sure you were single and the only action you are getting in your bedroom are the chemical reactions in those books, I decided it was finally time for us to meet." He observed her more closely, she was pretty and had nice eyes. He could not help but noticing that her skin tone was too dark for his liking, but did not give it too much thought at the time.

That day they left the coffee shop each of them with a new contact registered on their phone. They smiled and parted ways before going back on campus.

Image result for college campus friends
His friends noticed him walking in and they went up to him: "Where has lover boy been?" they taunted. "I was studying at the coffee shop." he lied hoping they would buy into it. "All alone?" they asked, but before he could open his mouth to reply, someone else did: "He was with me." He turned around to see the girl with a loud laugh who was there laughing at his friends astonished faces. "Who are you?" one of his friends asked. "I am his girlfriend. We are together. I have to get to class, but I will happy to meet you all later." she said as she walked away. "Wow, I cannot believe she chose a nerd." one of his friends retorted. " I bet she is using you to get to me." another one of his friends chimed in. "You guys can have her. I cannot even stand her laugh." he said as he stomped away angry that she had embarrassed him in front of his friends this way.

Image result for texting in bedThat night as he lay in his bed, he grabbed his phone and texted her angrily: "Stay out of my life." his phone buzzed a while later and the message on her screen read: " I am your life, without me you are nothing." "No, with you, I am nothing." he replied then turned off the lights to go to sleep. An hour later he was awakened with a buzz, he fidgeted until he found his phone and read the message: "Your friend was cute, send me his number?" this girl is crazy he thought to himself. "Goodnight!" he texted back. "But you're cuter :)" she replied. "I have an exam, we will continue this aimless conversation tomorrow." he replied. "A date?" she replied. "Whatever" he said and turned off his phone.

"Why is she so interested in me?" he thought to himself "no girl on campus was ever interested in me, after all, I'm just a nerd. She probably wants my help in an assignment. but she isn't in any of my classes. Who is she?" he thought before he finally drifted off to sleep.

What will happen next? Stayed tuned for Part III 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Filistia: Introducing Holy Land Products in a New Light




            Products from the Holy Land are especially appealing to followers of monotheistic religions, activists supporting the Palestinian cause, and those who are looking for high quality olive oil, olive oil products, and other products that the Holy Land is known for.







Filistia is a start-up company that aims to be environmentally friendly while taking their products global. The company founders Anan Abu Rmeileh and Mohammed Moraqtan met at university in 2006 and with their public relations and marketing backgrounds agreed that there is a big potential in the Palestinian market that needs to be tapped into. Following their interest, they decided to open an organic cosmetics line that would sell high-quality products both in the international and local markets. The Greek name ‘Filistia’ means the area from Gaza to Jaffa signifies both the location of the company and that the products and ingredients all come from the land.  

Filistia was established in 2015 starting with cosmetic organic soaps after years of training, planning, designing, and getting the product combinations just right. The founders believe that chemicals have affected people’s bodies and skin negatively recently and as the co-founder Anan told us: “The earth has many good things to offer.” On their website, they also highlight this through this message through the following quote: “Have you wondered why your grandma has better skin than yours? Natural products might have some benefits to tell!” Therefore, their soap is produced at a family-based workshop with no chemical additives.

            The founders of Filistia believe that in order for Palestinian products to be competitive in the market they need to be packaged and displayed in a way to attract customers and the product itself must be of high quality which is the basis they worked on when developing their products.  “There are Palestinian products that are fit to represent Palestine.” The co-founder Mohammed explained.  They have also met standards of a lot of international markets by being animal cruelty free, using recyclable packaging, re-using all their production waste and not using controversial products such as palm oil.


Filistia aims to be a leading Palestinian company renowned both in the local and international markets for its high-quality natural products which they will be adding to in order to form a whole line of natural products crafted in the Holy Land.



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

SouqBiladi.com : Palestinian Products Go Global


As we spend more and more of our time interacting with glowing screens in the virtual world, businesses have been changing their marketing and retail strategies to become a part of our new virtual lives. As we scroll down our newsfeeds come across interesting advertisements that have been directed towards us based on the cookies that our browsers have collected and our location settings that we share on social media or through GPS.

Souqbiladi.com is one of the businesses that chose its marketing and retail strategies to fit in with our technology centered lives. Souqbiladi.com is an online market specializing in natural Palestinian products made by Palestinian women, farmers, and artisans either producing individually or through cooperatives or companies. Customers can buy the products online only through the website or the mobile phone applications available for Android and iOS. 

The founder of Souqbiladi.com, Nael Obeid explains why the products are only available online: “The individuals and cooperatives whose products we are marketing and selling already market and sell their products at local retail outlets, farmer markets, bazaars and events, so we are aiming to expand their market to a new clientele that purchase their needs online. We are also making their products available for worldwide order and delivery that will introduce them to the international market where we aim to build a clientele of Arab expatriates in addition to others who seek renowned Palestinian products such as olive oil, olive oil soap, and embroidery.”

Souqbiladi.com sells products that meet one or more of the following criteria; organic, subject to free trade, produced by women, farmers or artisans, not tested on animals. Souq Biladi will be present at Birzeit Heritage Week in Palestine from July 13th-17th to network with individuals and cooperatives who are interested in entering the online market. Souq Biladi will be launching on July 14th, 2016. 





Friday, May 20, 2016

Googling Arabs: Common Stereotypes

As Arabs we tend to stereotype each other and we have created a hierarchy of power and respect depending on which Arab country you come from, so here are the results of Google-ing each Arab nationality and a commentary to go with each. The commentary comes after each picture just to help you match them up.

         


  No, just Zidane, the rest are slow






    Obviously they are either bored out of their minds on their small island or are running away from the alcoholics that conquer their island at weekends.

 
 
    Isn't it enough that they speak French? Why do you expect them to speak Spanish as well? And yes, they do eat pork, but only with their hands.


   Yes, Iraqis have guns, support isis and hate America, so stop messing with them.

 
   Yes, of course Jordanians like their king which is why they are desperate to go anywhere even Vietnam.


  Yes, they work at Fox News, but for all other jobs they import cheap labor. Alcohol? They don't actually drink it, but they just buy it to support Bahrain's poor economy.


 No, why would Kuwaitis work when they get paid by the government. They just go on cheap vacations to Asia using that money.


 No, they don't speak Arabic, they are originally French, but have been conquered by Arabs until the France freed them and taught them their mother tongue which they are still have not perfected because they are too busy celebrating holidays and partying all year round.


 Only Libyans that speak Italian like America. And they don't have to pay for electricity thus they always have money for booze.


 Google does not even recognize Mauritanians and keeps referring to the Island people instead. Oh well, most of us don't even know it's an Arab country anyways.


 Yes, Egyptian gods exist and they are the ones eating all the pork.




 Obviously, they can afford nicer vacations than their Kuwaiti counterparts and spend the excess money on booze.


 This is seriously the only option that came up. Well, it depends where they are living because apparently none of them are enjoying Lebanon.


Yes, they get free money and they used it to buy London, so they practically own it all, and your conspiracy theories did not go in vain for these are the people who voted for Sadiq Khan.


No, why in the world would they speak Arabic? And why does it bother you if they get sunburnt or not, are they asking you for sunscreen?


Yes, they want to come to Canada to eat pork and celebrate Easter, so let them in. They don't speak Arabic or any other language, so you can teach them your language and it will be their mother tongue.


 Tunisians do everything, you don't need to resort to Google.


     They marry foreigners because they are almost extinct and there aren't enough of them. And stop looking for them in Dubai, they are already extinct there.


 People kept asking what Yemenis chew until it became banned; curiosity kills. Obviously, they need to carry daggers to protect themselves from creepily curious people like yourself.
 

The Girl with a Loud Laugh- Part I

It was a stressful time for  university students that year as finals were coming up and the exam schedule was very tight. He finished his classes that day and as he walked out with his friends, they suggested that they go to a coffee shop to smoke hookah and play cards for a couple of hours. He politely declined their invitation and told them that he had to go home as his family were renovating the kitchen and needed his help. He walked out with his friends to the university gate, and waved them away as they stuffed themselves in a cab and were soon out of sight. He then hurried back into campus and headed straight to the library. He needed to pass his exams and he was not about to waste his time smoking hookah and playing cards while he stressed about passing all his classes, but he did not want to be called a nerd and be teased by his friends, so he did not dare tell them that he had planned to spend his time studying at the library after classes for the next two weeks.



As he walked into the library, the librarian greeted him as she knew him by name. He was the last student to leave the library every day during exam weeks. She was proud of him as his name was one of those printed on the door of the library as one of the top students at the university. He reminded her of her own son who always came to the library and studied until he graduated at the top of his class and was offered a scholarship to further his studies in Germany which he happily took. She was sure this young man would also receive a scholarship abroad and do great things in life.




He walked to the end of the library to his favourite table which was never occupied, sat down and spread out his his textbooks and began studying vigorously. After a couple of hours of having his neck bent over his books, he took a break to stretch his neck and arms, and as he looked up, he noticed a female student sitting alone on the table in front of him and staring straight at him. He blushed instantly and looked back down at his books. "Who is she?" he thought to himself, "And why is staring at me like that?" He was not used to so much female attention as he spent most of his time with his male friends in places void of females such as traditional coffee shops which were culturally taboo for women to go to. He looked up again to check if she had stopped staring at him, but he blushed again as he realized her eyes were fixed on him. "Why doesn't she just look at her books" he thought to himself. He looked at his watched and was relieved that the library would be closing in five minutes. He quickly out his books into his bag and hurried out the library with his eyes glued to the floor until he reached the university gate, hopped into a taxi and hurried back home.

That night, he tried to make out who that girl was, for he had never seen her in his classes or around campus before. "What was she doing in the library?" he thought "She obviously had not looked at her books at all. Does she just come to the library to stare at people who study? Maybe she is looking for a student to tutor her." He then fell asleep and set his alarm to 6:00 AM , so that he could have enough time to review for his exam before his 9:00 AM exam.

The next day he walked out of the examination room feeling confident that he had done very well, while his friends began complaining how difficult the test was and hoped they would at least obtain a pass. They then headed towards the cafeteria to get lunch before their next class started. He excused himself and said that he had to go and do something. His friends were at an age where they always joked about girls and so they teased him about having a girl that he was hiding from them. He blushed and quickly walked away from them as their laughs rang in his ears. He headed towards the library this time hoping that the girl who stared at him the previous day was there, and he wanted to know who she was and what she wanted from him.

He took his place at his table and began studying as he did the day before. He heard footsteps, but did not look up to check if it was the same girl from yesterday. He kept his eyes glued to his book as he heard the footsteps grow closer. He then fidgeted as he realized that the chair right in front of his was being pulled out. He quickly looked up and saw it was the same girl who was now grinning at him. He blushed and looked back into his books. After a few minutes, he mustered up the courage to look back up again, and there she was still staring at him! He looked back at her and asked: " Do I remind you of someone you know?" She laughed loudly, and everyone in the library looked towards them annoyed by the disruptance. She turned around, put her hand on her mouth and waved looked at them apologetically, then turned back to him and apologized. "No, you do not remind me of someone you know." she said grinning. "Then why do you keep looking at me?" he asked, and she again burst into laughter. The librarian rang her "silent bell" which she used when the library was getting too noisy. "Let's go talk somewhere else he said." as he put away his books, and got up. She had not taken any books out of her bag, so she grabbed her bag and walked out with him grinning the whole way.

He was afraid that his friends would see him walking with her and taunt him endlessly and he had two more hours until his next class, so he suggested that they go to a coffee shop nearby and she happily agreed.... TO BE CONTINUED IN PART II