kameel Hawa | Life Today
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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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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 other tourism

Leave a small empty gap in your traveling bag, when you are going on a trip. Just as a symbolic reminder that when on vacation, make a little space for unplanned coincidence. At a moment of boredom loiter around to where you had never planned. Walk in an unknown allay and you might find a small shop where you have an unforgettable chat with the storekeeper. Walk along, you might notice an opening under a stone arch, where a small family run restaurant can offer you an ‘un-touristic’ meal, the like of which you will find no where else. It won’t be only the food, but the conversation, and the homemade cookies or drink. And maybe a little souvenir that you are given, or you buy for few pennies. And nearby, in an old bookstore you will find a worn out book that you will keep and cherish forever. The empty space in your bag are for things, you never had in mind. A small walk to...

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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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The coke article

A few years ago, I wrote an article about Coke’s return to its old classic logo. Long since forgotten, I was surprised to come across this plate (pictured below) in our Beirut office, which made me want to revisit what I had written. After some digging, here it is. The double name on the plate made me smile. So the name “Coke” is brought in again!! But “Cocacola or Coke?”, the consumer answer I would guess is: “who cares”! WHAT’S WRONG WITH COKE? Why the nostalgic return to the old Coca Cola graphics and “Marilyn Monroe” bottle became a problem rather than a solution.   Several years ago, Coca Cola took a rather risky decision to revisit its former brand symbols, bringing to the forefront the original long cursive calligraphy in its logo. The old, abandoned sexy Coca Cola glass bottle, once admired in the fifties, also made its way back onto supermarket shelves....

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