What I learnt from Beirut in between my relocation: (drops mic..)

As you may recall, last year I travelled back to Canada in order to get a feel of the country that was going to adopt me a second time round.  After three months of stress-free bliss and peace of mind, I went back to Beirut, determined and eager to pack my bags and move out. Little did I know that i’ll be stuck another ten months before setting foot in Toronto again.

Beirut, the city that everyone is in awe with. The city at which expats reminisce their good old days.

Beirut, the city everyone longs to visit for the wrong reasons and any Lebanese living abroad thinks would come to the glorious state they left it behind.

Beirut, the city that turned open minded adults into bigots and sank most of them to their lowest level in order to survive among the majority of the liars & cheats.

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Who runs Lebanon? The liar, the cheater, the whore & the money launderer.

Who succeeds in Lebanon? The hypocrite, the mistress and the corrupt.

Who suffers from the above mentioned? The law abiding citizen & the one who fears God only.

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I faced all the above mentioned entities my entire adult life in Lebanon, however within the bracket-ed ten months in & out Lebanon, I felt a level of frustration towards society itself that compelled me to share it with you all. Hell, I am NOT going to be seeing any of you soon (nor ever, even when i’ll be obliged to come for a visit) top to that, the whole society that is slowly sinking itself to its own expiration, I wish you hit rock bottom quickly.

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Ten months in Lebanon made me realize how much people changed. Maybe it’s the fact that I was surrounded by genuine people and a helping community back in Toronto, that its lack in Beirut shocked me even further.

Let me develop my point in this order:

About the prospect of work >> Do you know how many times I heard people wanting to genuinely help me ground myself in Beirut by promising me introductory meetings with X & Y for a job, a freelance project? And I will leave you guessing at how many of those people followed up on their promises. If I wanted to re-enter the corporate world I would have done it easily. I have the qualifications and I know the right people within that sector.  But setting foot in the tight knit world of blogosphere? Thankfully, I soon realized that I did not want to be part of a virtually pathetic hypocritical circle whatsoever when I can write and voice my thoughts far away from the influencers and their blind minions. I am more than happy to interact with people that relate to my content and me as a person. You don’t like what I am saying just now? Please go and Instagram caption your whiny remarks. I just love seeing people adopt two different personalities, one for the real world and one for the virtual one, different from each other as black & white. The virtual world in Lebanon? A pathetic scene in which every influencer badmouths the other yet comments lovey dovey remarks under each others picture.  Alas this world is attracting the next generation of 13 year olds (I do not want to imagine the future of such society..).

Let’s proceed.

How about liberal workers >> Lawyers, doctors and contract workers have stooped to a despicable level. You want to reach an agreement with one or close a deal with the other, then you will need to lie and make promises up to your teeth to reach a quarter of your (legal) demands and come out a sore (loser) winner. And then everyone wonders why court dates take decades to be resolved and infrastructural projects years to finish. Where are the workers that used to put their conscience first and ahead of their selfish gains? None existent. Dead. Literally.

Now my favorite >> Friends. Let’s just say that I no longer trust anyone I felt at some point in time close to and friendly with. You see, some people might think that because I am quiet I do not realize that I am being conned out of something and/or into something (depending on the situation). But I do realize the unfairness of being used out of my kindness. And I shut up. Why? Because I am better than that; that being fighting in settling a fair friendship with anyone that is not worth my time and kindness. Anymore.

No wait this is my favorite >> your ex want to become a part of that life of yours. Haha! Now that’s a funny turn of events. After being broken up for 5-7 years, the ex return with force trying to sweep you off your feet. Seriously? I am going to give up my future in a decent powerful country to stay in Lebanon and end up marrying you for all the wrong reasons that I can think of? I am not even going to answer that…. 

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Seriously, look around you, who is happy and living la Dolce Vita in Lebanon?

The lying and conniving businessmen (mind you, we have no clue what import/export or business consultant implies here…) and his possy

The dolled up thirty year old who is the proud owner of the latest Range Rover and condo in the downtown area (Mmmm..)

The proud mama smiling and obliging to everyone at face value yet bickering at those same persons behind their backs

The peoples’ pet  who trot their behind everywhere trying to please just anyone so as to be included in some sort of superficial circle and claim they made it (doing what? I think they themselves never figured that one out)

Those who put themselves first and the rest (every single person they know) later

and every single fearless Godless cheat in the city.

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How about us law-abiding respectful citizens of Lebanon?

We are scattered worldwide making a life for ourselves in a country that respects its citizens and a society that embraces and puts one another at a pedestal we would have never imagined coming from our closest friends back home. 

We have crossed out Lebanon from our mind and heart, its corruption, its people and the jungle way of doing things because being successful without crossing a dark passage leads 3/4 of the time to failure.

We succeed without our last name, our family ties and monetary influences. And most importantly we succeed and are recognized for our own merit not bedroom escapades.

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You can raise hell and object to every single thing I mentioned above, but deep inside you know that I am right. What I just wrote is thought by almost everyone, except you, living in La la land, I mean Lebanon.

Tough Luck with that!

Cya

ps: my deepest and outmost respect to the couple of people still believing in their Lebanon and striving against all odds to make it through bad and badder. Respect to you and keep on writing and voicing yourself (for your countrymen).

Small habits that can change your life goals.

 

Today I decided to share with you some habits that I have adopted not too long ago and that have considerably changed my outlook on life. These behavioral changes might have crossed your mind from time to time. You may even have adopted them on the short term, however have you tried on implementing them on the long run?

Well I have and for some time now I have been feeling at ease. Not only because I am religiously abiding by them, nope. But because with it came a sense of peace and acceptance of who I am and where my life is leading me. Such changes led me to re-inspect my life and the person that I am becoming irrelevant of my surroundings’ approval or not. One word of advice; we are the generation that is always blooming compared to our parents’ generation. Hence we should not let past generations keep us from going further.

Now to the subject matter in hand, the following is for you;

Less social media when you are out socially . Focus on the present and not past and future digital content on your phone.

Read Everyday . I am old fashioned and I love reading books. So should you. Reading expands the mind and enriches your vocabulary. Try it. And no, articles on some shady websites are not considered reading material.

Make your health a priority . By eating healthy and working out daily. The world (pollution) has changed and we no longer have the strong immune system our grandparents bragged about. Make time for your health.

Learn from people you admire . And that I say literally. When you are with the person you admire, pay close attention to his/her body language, communication skills and get motivated by that person’s positive push and accomplishments. If he/she succeeded, why can’t you?

Plan your day the night before . What works for me is writing down on a piece of paper next day’s tasks. Ticking them off one by one along the day motivates me to further end the day with everything I set my mind, to be done.

Take action, even when it’s scary . Nothing is scary in life. Being scared is a state of mind. Have faith in your self and bare in mind that you need to work a lot to make it happen in this world.

It is okay to be introvert . You don’t need to always be out there surrounded with people to make a statement. Sometimes it is okay to shy away from your friends. I happen to have a lot of those me, myself and I times and I quite honestly love them. These are the moments that are productive for your inner peaceful self.

Invest your time in the arts . Art, music, dance soothes the eye, the mind and the body. Try once in a while listening to an old record, going to an art exhibit or take some steps with the melody on the record player. Let me know what state of mind you will be afterwards.

You are your number one priority . Not your family nor your friends. You are. Never forget that.

We are already in March within the new year. Last year passed far too quickly. I vouched not to let 2017 pass quicker without putting myself on my top priority list. This behavioral decision might come as a shock to some people who always relied on my compassion and patience. This time round however, my adopted habits are staying on the long run and as an arabic saying goes “eza mich 3ajebkon, balto el ba7er” .

Thank you!

Instagram; the Unsolved Mysteries.

Disclaimer:  A couple of years ago I wrote a post about digital influencers, though it sparked anger on a couple of them that reversed it on my state of mind (whatever), I just want to warn anyone and everyone before hand that this post is about no specific Instagram user, so hold down your horses!

I will go straight into the subject and point out several things I have come to notice on IG without fully grasping its meaning/point.

1-  Everyone is a self- proclaimed public figure. What? Why? How? and what do you do in life Mr?Miss?Mrs??  Ok, Chill people… next

2- “Watch this space”. I am watching it. I follow you remember? I even turned the notifications on (again, remember that spam roll you went on to make us follow you religiously…) I am watching your space, you’d better post something relevant or else your space will be void of my watching..

3- The InstaStory/ Snapchat retro glasses. Seriously, go buy a pair please and enough with the fake plastered one..

4- Animalistic instincts? Enough with the deer/dog and now a new specie up and going around your head, although I see the resemblance with the real you (for most). Just enough already..

5- Customized hashtags anyone #Xloves, #Ylisting, #Ztravels . I don’t see the point as hashtags are considered to be a shortcut into finding a niche from around the world in one place blabla yet when you click on these specific customized nonsense, you sense that its the person who has created them living that bubble in his head. 

6- To those who post rarely yet when abroad > You traveled. Great. Why are we going to endure the spam that comes with it on our feed. We got it you are in #XTravel, #YinDubai .. oh look we infiltrated the above point here. You traveled, thats great, go enjoy your destination instead of it online, fully edited as well. 

7- Unnecessary comments such as “I love you” “Miss you”. From the looks of your social (media) life you were together two days ago. WTF? lucky you #Blessed #FriendshipGoals 

8- The new trend > Live videos. Take a chill pill, or at least go live doing something interesting. 

9- InstaStory dilemma. Its supposed to be a story, hence not a one picture posting. That’s what an IG profile is all about my dear.

10- Those with two profiles > one public and one private for friends and family. I wonder what is posted in the private one when all is already in the open in the public one? One of those mysteries, you don’t say…

11- The dedication to fans post celebrating Xk followers. Should we pat you on the back for the workload done? or the internet card in your wallet?

12- Those accounts with only selfies and quotes as captions. You, sweetheart, are unfollowed pronto.

13- Quotes and only quotes. You know there are specialized IG profiles for that. At least, implement what you are preaching sister.

14- Oh wait, I am done… Do you have any other points that puzzle you about Instagram ?

please do share it with me… and I hope that no one took this too seriously to the point of bashing me with comments…

Have a great week everyone and stay dry from all that rain!!!

xo

ps: this nice featured pictured was taken randomly from the www when using a specific hashtag for exploration…. no way!!!! 

New Year resolutions? Yes & No and how it all changed for me!!

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With less than a week to go till the New Year, many of us have different kinds of expectations of 2017. Some of us can’t wait to put behind 2016 and move on whereas others are a bit nonchalant and quite frankly dismissive of this whole end of the year fiesta. This is where resolutions come in (with a bang). It is not until a couple of weeks back that I took a look at the passing year and realized that I, Patyl- Astrid, have completed unconsciously many of the New year resolutions of 2014-2015 and 2016 combined in one single year. How did I do that? Did I mean to cross off those jotted points from my diary? (yeah I am one of those- with the diary I mean) What did I feel when I came upon this discovery? To be honest, I was dumb struck! Why? Because as I mentioned it earlier, I did not plan it, nor realized any of it until I was done.

 

Resolutions. Resolutions.

 

If we look closely at each other’s resolutions, we notice that we have more in common than meets the eye. The first thing we all jot down is cutting down on vices and embracing the opposite. Mine, as well as your resolution for the past so many forgotten years has been to start a healthy lifestyle by going to the gym and cutting down on alcohol and junk food. Am I not right? Well to be realistic such drastic change cannot and never has begun over night. It takes patience, a lot of it, and most importantly acceptance that this is what we are going to dedicate to become within the upcoming year. And how many of us failed at it within a couple of months of the New year? The reason? We are so determined to jump on the gym bandwagon for the sole purpose that we started to get nauseated by the end of the year back to back parties and dinners. We think solely on the spot by letting our momentary feeling take the best of our decision- making. Once we heal (for some by the end of January) we get back to our drinking /night out splurges.

A shout out to the single ladies out there as well as those spoken for, don’t we all just want to be in that secure ‘the one’ kind of relationship and tie the knot? Come on, I know that you dream of your wedding day and those who are tying the knot during the holidays are not helping with their Instagram postings. One of the resolutions I have witnessed many to vow by in the next year is falling in love with ‘the one’ and settling down. Seriously? I did not know that there was a timeline set for such thing. Now if you are already with ‘the one’ then maybe you are stating on taking the next step and getting engaged. Now, even that you can’t just pinpoint it on paper. It is something that both parties have already agreed on prior (whether you are going to wait a couple of years before getting married) or happens on a sudden whim from the boyfriend/the one, one night at dinner or after implementing an orchestrated adventure for two. Both cases, ladies you are not in charge of the emotional side of things. Your heart controls you. Single ladies you can’t force yourselves to fall in love and girlfriends you can’t impose your other half to take the next step if he is not ready yet. Hence, do enter the new year on good foot. Embrace your future day by day. Do not jump big leaps and fall into oblivion. Those single hearts out there are going to be full of love when the time, I mean, the right person comes along.

 

Resolutions. Resolutions.

 

I am not trying to turn you against your New Year resolutions. I know too well how exciting it is to imagine oneself in the near future as a near perfected woman. The New Year brings out an emotional roller coaster within us. A strength, a determination that, we only witness in the month of December. You know what I am talking about, right?

I want to tell you ladies that writing down open- ended generalities as New Year resolutions will only bring you down when they are not fulfilled. Why don’t you jot down your resolutions into a step by step goals? Why not embrace the fact that much of your goals are set to become part of your lifestyle than just a box to tick off once you have accomplished it.

By summer 2016, I stopped smoking. An accomplishment by itself because it was one of the many vices that I did not intend to quit, even though I repeatedly written it as a New Year resolution. I don’t even think about it nor crave it till present day. How did I do it? Well I unconsciously started smoking less. A pack a day turned into ten cigarettes a day and so on so forth.

Moreover, being in a relationship with my boyfriend of more than a year, I know we are meant to be together (forever) by tying the knot someday soon yet not having a date in mind does not make me want to go write down 3/3/2017, right? I want to remind you that I have been single for many years prior just like yourself (and at times with the wrong type of men), and I did intend on finding my one the upcoming year. However what I realized when I met my boyfriend was that I can’t put a ticking time bomb on my heart. He came un-expectantly into my life (way after I had given up on that aspect of my life) and I do not intend on losing him because of some time set goal.

My career is up till this day in shambles and I am not worried about it. I am carrying on with my artistic projects and I am not setting unimaginable goals. My goal for my art is near attainable than my grandiose dream ever was (for now of course, remember being passionate should not set you limits).

I took control of my life summer 2016 and from than onwards everything seems to fall into place. When you are at peace with yourself and from within, you can set your mind to do almost anything. Everything is possible from then onwards. Hence my accomplishments step by step. I know you will all reach that point one day, hopefully sooner than you think. Just don’t go writing down general predictions on your to-do-list only to be disappointed flash forward six months within 2017.

From Bentley to Uber; an upgrade!

I was 18 years old when I started taking driving lessons with my father’s driver. I was not to keen to learn ‘manual’ and opted for the easy ‘automatic’ because like most Lebanese drivers I wanted to buy my license. However to clear my conscious (and that of the driver/teacher) we decided that I would get my license only after he didn’t feel threaten for his life on our daily lesson. And the day came and I graduated from “Anto’s Driving Academy” with flying honors and started cruising in the city in my mom’s car (to the rather arched eyes of hers).

Flash forward 13 years, after three car change and a promise of a Bentley Continental GT as my wedding gift, I made the drastic decision of selling my car as I was moving out of the country for good. For someone who has, all her life, been used to being chauffeured around and driven herself from a place to another, the mere thought of being car-less brought a panic attack onto my pampered ass.

Abroad we are all use public transportation whereas in Beirut we do not acknowledge them, which is understandable when looking at those filthy buses roaming the roads of the capital. Thankfully, the ‘service’ has upgraded itself from the famous 1980s Mercedes. But then again, we think twice before riding one (rather I do).

I learnt a lot from letting go of my comfort (place/toy/zone) and here is what I have come to realize:

We are way too attached to material things. We think that we will not be able to survive without them in our life. That they are what keep us going everyday. Slight wake up call guys! We can do without them and there are alternatives to ease us around (Uber? Private cab?).

We only acknowledge BMW, Audi and Mercedes in this country. These cars bring status. As a previous owner of one of this brand, I admit that was my sole reason behind owning one, although the gift came unexpectedly one spring day 6 years ago. I realize now that this is so over rated given the number of people who can afford one if their credit history permits them through the bank. + you cannot buy class through material things (thats a proven fact. Look around you!).

The country’s infrastructure is not too well developed to be parading with the latest model of any given high end car. I know too well how many times I had to change a tire because a nail had ruptured it. It is only these past couple of years that I came to realize how much money is thrown on unnecessary luxury when we can all do well without (what if you owned a Honda?). Here it is wise to mention that with each passing year, the price of your car depreciates. My 51K straight from the dealership merely brought me back 13K. Talk about fairness (and another panic attack).

Too much traffic. Yes. Too much due to unnecessary cars on the roads. Carpooling anyone? Or has that concept not reached the shores of Lebanon? I guess it hasn’t yet.

Now that I am back for a couple of months I am happy that I do not own a car. Why? well for the simple fact that I got my sanity back from this stressful sport. I gotten used to being driven around in Canada, (hey!!) subway station everyone. Buses too. More importantly I walk walk and walk. Just a few days ago, I walked under the rain to get to my appointment. 40min walk daily > what better way to keep your blood flowing. And I realized once again how shallow and Lebanesey I was by driving from X to Y instead of just walking the 15min trajectory (and instead of drowning in traffic for 30+min). If those reports of 500K tourists visiting Lebanon in a few weeks true, I wish you luck my fellow people.

Btw did I tell you how addicted I have become to Uber? Yeah that too.

Good Week to you all 😉

 

BookReview: Honour by Elif Shafak

It hasn’t been long since I started reading novels from Middle Eastern authors, among whom Turkish writer, Elif Shafak, my first read being “The Bastard of Istanbul”.

“Honour” is my second read from the author and to be honest I was not 100% sure I wanted to tackle a subject that is controversial; honor killing. However, I slid the book among a couple of other, bought it, got it home and left it on my bookshelf for a few weeks before grabbing it for a night read a few days ago. Contrary to other books, I felt I was pushing myself to read the first couple of chapters before the plot started to unfold and the story behind the characters started to interest me.

“Honour” is the life of a Turkish/ Kurdish family who immigrated to London in the 1970s. The book is divided into different time span and space. We have a remote Kurdish village in Turkey around the 1940’s, London during the 1970’s. And at last, 1990’s London within the confines of a prison cell and the home of one of the characters, Esma.

The story is summarized as such:

Pembe and Adem Torpak leave Turkey for London. There they make new lives for their family. Yet the traditions and beliefs of their home come with them – carried in the blood of their children, Iskender and Esma. Trapped by past mistakes, the Torpak children find their lives torn apart and transformed by a brutal and chilling crime. Set in Turkey and London in the 1970s, Honour explores pain and loss, loyalty and betrayal, the clash of tradition and modernity, as well as the love and heartbreak that can tear a family apart.

The book narrates the murder of the mother figure of the Torpak family by her eldest son, Iskender, who in turn is paying for his crime in a prison cell and voicing his story through written letters (1990’s). If you have noticed I unconsciously wrote murder and not honour killing because that is what I believe it should be labelled. I, being firmly opposed to any kind of violence when diplomacy is an available option.

“Honour” further paints the level of intolerance of western countries towards immigrants. Something that is not far-fetched from modern day society. Moreover, it shows the resistance of full integration and clash of values between the immigrants and their adoptive country.

This book affected me. Born and raised in the Middle East, I have seen the importance of the role of the Arab man in society and especially within his family. I have seen the acceptance of the Arab women of their limited role as well. This model of upbringing clashed with my own upbringing which was a blend of Middle Eastern and western values (having lived in Canada during my childhood and stayed in the UK during my adulthood).

And like any story the end plot surprises the reader with a final twist. I am not going to say more. Grab the book and have a good read!

Yours truly,

Bookish Bookworm.. xo

 

 

Newly Mommies & their Daughters.

I was told by my sister that I have a tendency to be conservative, whether it’s my take on social issues, relationships and family values. In two words; i’m old- fashioned. Well to be honest, in this world full of extreme liberal viewpoints, I am proud to be known as one (although it annoys my sister very much).

I have decided to approach a subject that has been on my mind a lot recently. A subject that has caught my attention thanks to the increase of newly mothers out there. Mothers that I am sure unconditionally love their toddlers. Yet mothers that have put their child out there on social media a bit extremely. I am not a mother YET, but one thing I know is that I would never share pictures of my children to the world to see. It is one thing to upload a family photo every once and while especially if you care to share your bliss with your closest friends and family (abroad). And it is another thing to dress up your child with the latest fashion and initiate a “strike the pose” memorabilia for your friends to see (assuming that your FB & IG enclose friends and acquaintances alike).

You are proud of your children. I know you are. You want to show the world your princess. I somehow understand that too. However I do not understand the following >>>

1- Girls under ten wearing lipstick and blush.

2- Again, girls under ten wearing crop tops and very short dresses, skirts and shorts.

3- Pre- teens already having a spa day with their mommies; proudly having their manicure done and the ‘event’ snapped and posted on social media.

4- It might be cute to buy a special dress (to your teenager) on her birthday, but when the outfit turns into an exaggerated gown with the whole tutu/glittery/combination of short-long dress, then you might want to  re-consider the image you are sending of your angel to your social sphere.

5- Teaching a 6 year old to pout and make a duck face instead of smiling genuinely to the camera is not an achievement.

Children are innocent human beings that were brought into this world by two people in love. Up until their eighteen birthdays, your baby girl is supposed to be under your protection and your guidance. She is supposed to be watched over by family and not looked upon by whomever is following you on IG or within your circle of friends on FB. The most crucial years are their childhood and teenage years. They have their whole lives to become grown ups. Let them be instead of teaching them on becoming a miss at 7, 8 or 9 years old. Our mothers were strict bringing us up. Every age had its own beauty. And each stage, we were to experience it at its own pace and time. Needless to say, social media is no longer a private matter whether your page is open to the public or not. An important aspect to take into consideration is the presence of predators and sick people out there. They are not confined to the far away western world only. They are very much present in the Middle East as well. Be private. Not a social media hippie.

God Bless your children!

xo