kameel Hawa | Let me say
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Four in a row

Simple man, I am   I am a simple man, That prefers pleasure, to leisure, and leisure to luxury. see I see art in things I see things in art. It’s like I see in the end, what I saw from the start. Things appear to me once, then reappear again. It’s like my onlooking makes the spring run, and the grey cloud rain. Even before I can hear more music in the music, More meaning in the words. I can see more color in the color, More rhyming in the verse! I can count more birds on the tree, More fish in the sea, I can make the butterfly fly further than the bird, I can hum like a hummingbird Like you’ve never heard! I can do all those things Even before my telephone rings ! Money..yes have some! I don’t own money..none. I just have some.. I don’t buy with money. I just barter. They give me...

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Have a seat !

What is it that keeps forcing upon me the idea that this is a perfect chair? I have been meeting this chair regularly for the past 25 years or so in my favourite Riyadh hotel AlKhozama. By and large, it obviously belongs to the school of the prevailing furniture in the room, which is reasonably and more practical, quite austere, and maybe Art Deco. That of course , could partially explain the style of the chair, and equally my admiration of it. But today I felt that all this notwithstanding, I need to give a more fulfilling explanation, at least to myself. (That’s why you can also it turned downwards on the floor because I want to take a perfect profile photo). Then I thought, quite mundanely, that  only hope is to pretend I’m someone else who knows me, and answer as such: It is so perfectly elegant, balanced, comfortable, and for the latter...

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My wife got a Ph.D.

On the  morning of Saturday, November 21, 2016, at 8:30 am, we were at a rendezvous in the institute of Oriental Studies of the Saint Joseph University.  My wife Najah was at very last, and after a toil of nine years, sitting to defend her Ph.D. Thesis in front of a four member jury of distinguished professors. The subject of the thesis was one of the notable poems of Arab history, namely alAkhtal, and particularly his poetry of praise, as a poetic form. AlAkhtal, who belonged to Taghlib the known Christian tribe, became the poet of the Umayyad court. Najah in a 15 minute address presented her thesis, and this was followed by a two hour discussion, where each professor would, in turn, discuss his or her remarks on the thesis, and Najah will then verify, and explain her stand. When this was over, the committee, withdrew from the small...

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Laundry on the line!

It’s no more usual in our urban life to see long lines of laundry in the Sun!  But it surely is a moving scene. End of summer I spent few days in a known Lebanese mountain resort of Dhour Shwair. We stayed at a once niche hotel that has started regaining its stature near the well known pine forest of Bologna. From my balcony overlooking the back side of the hotel, with a quite a French ‘Provence’ scenery, I could see several configurations of intriguing pine trees, a variety of vegetations, and the hotel laundry. Long lines of white sheets in the bright sun. One of the memorable smell-feeling of our childhood is that of hot-clean-soap-smelling-glowing bedsheets, still to be picked up from the house roof or balcony. Such a eye-nose-face skin-heart filling encounter. The scenery of the hotel automatically gave me the confidence that the hotel cares about cleanliness. I took few photos of the laundry from my room and even from a...

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A happy kid, a kid with a balloon.

I saw in a hotel lobby a corner with a bunch of balloons. I asked an attendant standing by are those for everybody. She replied”for children sir”. I said ” yes up to what age?” She laughed. I asked if I could take one or too. She replied affirmatively. I took two. But as I walked away I saw a girl sitting by the side sadly and she looked at me. I gave her one. Nothing like a balloon for a kid. This is a tip: a baloon is the most inexpensive toy that will make any kid happy …. Including this one ;)) ...

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A cup of coffee please

Yesterday I had a small encounter with an order of one coffee at my Riyadh hotel, this time AlFaisaliyyah. I called room service and asked for a cup of Nescafe’. When the waiter came a while later, on the tray he  had the coffee powder in a small open pot. I noticed the ‘blond’ color, and told him this must be Nescafe’ Gold! He confirmed. So I told him I only  drink the normal Red Mug Nescafe’. He apologized saying that the Hotel only serves this type. So I called reception and explained, using an argument that I had used Before in similar cases, saying that the Hotel cannot serve a ‘variety’ of a drink, and not serve the main regular type. You can have Nescafe’ gold for those who might like it, but you cannot not have Nescafe’ proper first. Similarly if a guest asks for a cup of tea,...

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How art set me free!

Over several  months, every weekday off, I used to start every morning on a one hour walk for weight loss purposes. And one morning, it occurred to me to carry my camera along with me, and take photos of graffiti I find on the walls, on my way in the alleys of my early walk. This went on peacefully for several weeks, despite the sensitivity to photography in Saudi city streets. Yet one day as I finished taking several photos of one big collection of  graffiti on a wall, I found a police car parked across the road from where I was, and the policeman looking towards me. He signaled for me to approach him, and when I did he asked me for my residence permit. I gave it to him, and he kept it, then started asking me of why I was taking photos of what were to him...

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My Bouboulina Soap!

I am not a person known to manage my expenses, or act economically in any manner. Yet one exception can be pointed out, namely creating a soap bundle like this one (see photo), and naming it Bouboulina, after the memorable and coquettish old lady in the movie Zorba the Greek. So whenever in the bathroom, there are several flakes of soap scattered in the various soap bins, I now always make it a point to collect them and press them together to create a single piece big enough to be usable. This habit probably started when I used to suddenly be out of soap bars, and (especially due to the large size of my palms) I needed to create a sizeable piece that can be adequately used. With time this became an amusing practice, enjoying it like a kid that succeeds in making a toy of pieces of scrubbed objects he collects from the street. As for the naming, the various pieces of soap add one scent over another, reminding me of how BouBoulina described the overlapping of...

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The invisible silence

By and large, cities have spoiled the reputation of sound, nearly getting it dumped in the same category with noise. City music itself built a sort of continuum with bothering noises. Cities swarm with noise, big and small, close and far. The passing by cars, trucks, busses and trains , the planes flying over, the cranking of shops, elevators, televisions, mobiles…all around us is noise. Echoes of noise persist even after their sources have withdrawn! This explains so well the term “noise pollution”, that was ‘in’ for quite a while, but now seems forgotten. But one can only realize the nature of this pollution, when good chance takes him to a far away mountain village. Yet even here some traces of noise remain. Reaching still further away, on mountain slopes, fields or even empty deserts with no horizon, one would suddenly encounter that infinite invisible silence. The quality of silence becomes...

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The forgotten things around us

We have been conditioned by a sort of hyper awareness, to those flickering products of the digital age, that continue to embark on our lives with new changes, and apps! But what about the other things? The long list of things that, mainly out of habit, we keep using without giving them any attention. Things that have witnessed little change, not only in our lifetimes, but even through the many ages before. Count on your fingers: The soap bar, the cotton towel, the glass of water, the cup of tea, the chair, the bedcover, the fork and knife, even the pencil and pen! They are all there, as good and useful as ever. We use them, and are used to them. Some become favorites, and ‘love’ items, others just silent, handy and obedient standers by. Put together they constitute a sort of a silent majority of our existence. If they haven’t changed much...

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The age of two speeds.. HAPPY NEW WHAT YEAR?

One of the earliest notions we learnt about this age is that it is the age of speed. Everything is happening faster than ever before. But now and strangely enough, it seems that time itself, is somehow running so fast, as if out speeding the speediness of the age! The day ends, as if with fewer hours, the month by only a portion of a month, and the year ends as if with few months spent only. How often we hear the remark, years start and end in a glimpse. The new year evening arrives, and the past new year evening had just been celebrated only a while ago! And this has made us hardly able to follow the sequence of the rapidly passing years!Increasing the speed of everything became one of the most desired targets of modern society. Starting with the spread of travel and transport, to speed of production, to the speed of...

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No one told me?

During school days I learnt that Al-Akhtal, the poet of the Omayyad dynasty, was Christian, and the story was told in the context of proving the tolerance of the Caliph, as in his lines of verse, AlAkhtal boasted that he entered upon the Caliph drunk, ‘dragging his tail’, as if he was, on the Prince of Believers, a prince. But besides this story, which left me and my classmates with a good doze of happiness at the time, I hardly heard of other names, not even what exactly was the poet as a Christian, and how did he practice his faith, and who were his folk. And only after many, many years I started hearing about the poet’s tribe Taghleb, that was apparently a major tribe at the time, that was Christian and resisted joining the new expanding faith, and suffered for that in more than one way. Then I heard...

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Cut a piece of your wife’s’ dress, or How not to look at a modern painting

The best way to look at a piece of modern art, mainly abstract art, is to forget that it is abstract. It’s been quite a while since non-artistically inclined persons (whatever that may mean) started complaining that they look at works of modern painting and understand nothing. No one can blame them. No one can blame them for not understanding, as actually no one is sure that there is anything to be understood. Maybe there is to feel, or even figure out, or even interpret, but that’s not the same. And no one can blame them for complaining, because they were made to believe, through art critics and gallery blabbers that they should look at art and grasp genius! And so understand was used as if a synonym of ‘to appreciate’. And hence whenever you cannot understand, then you cannot appreciate and vica versa. With time a great drift was happening...

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Taste in time

It seems that in human history, artistic taste and aesthetic values do not evolve or get finer with the passage of time.They mainly  take different forms and shapes. Artifacts made in old times and by various civilizations, are almost always found to possess indisputable artistic and aesthetic qualities, sometimes and to our surprise, unmatchable today. As if societies old like new, and especially mature epochs of civilization, have a natural inborn artistic talent, and a spontaneous inclination for balance, contrast, harmony, and whatever it takes to create what is visually attractive and inspirational !   In short we have no grounds to assume there is a primitive savage art, and contemporary refined art. Actually some of the things displayed in art shows today look more savage than anything one can imagine. And so many of the items we see from old days, are so perfect, that they become an enigma, and raise in our minds questions on how is it that such ancient civilizations with their limited...

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“shadows are shy reality”

I like shadows. They are like shy reality! Another form of reflection without a mirror. The kinship of shadow and loneliness is so eminent. The gaze and the haze. The resonance of silence.  The lonely and the shadow share that shallow existence, that yet persists and endures in careless surrender. – I found few lines of verse for great poets on the shadow, I thought I will add to this post./ KH Between the idea And the reality Between the motion And the act Falls the Shadow For Thine is the Kingdom By T S Eliot And, as his strength, Failed him at length, He met a pilgrim shadow. “Shadow” said he, Where can it be- this Kingdom of Eldorado? By Paul Laurence Dunbar I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me, And what can be the use of him is more than I can see. He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head; And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed. By...

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