Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Last Summer Days. [Akher Iyyam el Sayfiyyi]

The nice and short summer of Montreal is now quasi-over. But I like this season. In Lebanon, we used to get it much later during the year, but the feel (weather) is quite similar. Especially around the end of September, and October. In the morning you are very comfortable and warm, with a breeze here and there, and during the night, it stings just a little so that you need to cover up, but with a happy cuddly face.
It is just like that now in Montreal.

I came back from work at around 8:30 p.m. after a looong brain-draining work day. Laying one design after the other, by the end of my productive day, I was looking at the bustling metropolis surrender to the night, with sore blurry eyes.

Blink, blink, blink!
It burns, my eyes dried out of tears.
Blink, blink, blink!

At the bus stop, and before I walk home, I passed by the Pakistani baker just around the corner. He works in a small Jewish café, and he prepares the best samosa in French Canada. I am not too fond of spicy food. I know I am Lebanese and middle-eastern and such, but hey! I just can’t tolerate onions, garlic, or heavy spices. But I couldn’t resist my craving. It was one of those foods you eat while knowing that the next day you’ll be stuck with an acute stomach ache, but your masochistic appetite begs to differ, and convinces you that tending to this sudden, instinctive desire, is the reason you are alive to begin with.

You only live for a short while; go ahead. Have a Blast!

I pick up “nostalgia” at my doorstep, and together, we enter the lonely world of memories, the world of living in the past, and the world of days long gone.



Our memento tonight, takes us back to 1975. This year did not just witness the beginning of the “Great Lebanese War” (1975-1990), but it also witnessed happier times: “Mais el Reem”, a famous Rahbani play starring the International Lebanese Diva, Fairouz, was entertaining the Lebanese public. This “play” (as are all Rahbani plays) is charged with images and scenes, portraying the authentic, pure and simple lives of Lebanese dwelling in villages that inhabit the flanks of the mountains and are scattered throughout the country. Not only these images are long gone now (we never really lived them), but our generation even goes to the extent of claiming that they weren’t real to begin with, and they exist only in the Rahbani plays; or at least they don’t exist anymore. But strangely enough, these are the same images that we call to mind, once we speak of nostalgia, remembrance and recollection. It is these images (or similar) on to which we zoom-in whenever we need to summon to our memory, a nice, quiet, and peaceful tableau, where we can hide safely, and even for a little while, and escape the reality we do not want to deal with.

I play the DVD, and a smile is drawn onto my face.

It works every time.

Twenty minutes through my peace, and my voyage, I get awaken by the sudden urge to hug my notebook… and start writing…

Here it is! I wrote this.

acting is hilarious!

“Akher iyyam el sayfiyyi, wel sabiyyi shwayyi shayyi”. [The last summer days]

“Mais el Reem”
also features one of my favorite songs of all time:

“Ya Laure Houbbouki” [Laura's Love]



A little while ago a friend blogger, zee, wrote this spot-on comment regarding a blog, posted on Mar’s Comppulsive Yearnings, and this post falls in the same category:

“In some ways I can't resist to say that you all live in a sentimental bourgeois dream that has nothing to do with reality.
Sorry, but this was on my mind for quite a while ...”

I thought about what he wrote for days, and I honestly and sincerely thnk that this was by far, one of the best constructive critiques I received in years (a beautiful insight from zee). I am not even sure that we sould take it, or consider it as criticism.
However, I allow myself to speak on behalf of most of my compatriots, zee…
When I say that we do agree with what you advanced, you are absolutely right, and we know it, but in a way we can’t help it. This is the only authentically beautiful thing we have left, and together with our sense of humor and our love for life, these are the things that keep us going despite all the madness.

These memories are our balance.







At 1:34 AM, Blogger Mirvat said...

“Ya Laure Houbbouki”
oh my God, i love this song.. i froze for a minute there.. my mom used to sing it. and i remember there was a tv series where they would play it.. something like that or maybe not.. it brings back so many emotional states, that i don't even understand and that also is my response to zee's comment.i would not say dream though, it's a state. it's a heritage. that's what defines a heritage in my opinion.

thank you for this post _z

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Zee said...

Jajaja Mirvat, I'm not quite the cold and annoying bastard I show to be at times - I also like to dream, to muse, to hear songs ...
_Z, very enjoyable post. If you can upload it to Rapidshare and then give us the link, all of us can hear it; that would be great!!! If you can, make sure it is compressed in mp3 format, it gets too large otherwise (as you noticed on my music post attempts).

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Mar said...

Thank you for such a GREAT post z.
You and mirvat are both right.Those memories are our balance. It is more a heritage than a dream. I strengthen that bond to my heritage through dreaming.

These memories are real, they're in every corner. All you have to do is look closely and you'll find that they're real.

I taste them in the fruit. Smell them in the summer breeze and the winter wind.I touch them when I hug my family after a long absence. I feel them when you're lost somewhere in the mountains and you ask a stranger sitting on his porch drinking his evening tea, about where you are, and that very stranger invites you in for a sip of tea and insists that you will have dinner " We7yet Alla bt'ba" ( In God's name you're staying for dinner), yeah, that complete stranger!
It stirs emotions when you go to a grocery store you've only been there once and the vendor asks you to take the grocery and pay him some other time because he can't break a $100. Yii walaw ya 3ammo ma3le ma3le bta3tine bokra... I feel like crying then, because that kindness kills me.
It's when I listen to my grandpa's poets and endless stories...
The list goes on...
It's there, you cherish its existence when you move away and look at it from a distance..It stares back at you reaffirming it's existence...When you go back, you embrace it and it devours you, every time.
It's there...
Man I'm posting this comment in reply to your comment Zee.

At 4:17 PM, Blogger Mirvat said...

i just came up with an idea as i read mar's comment, mar and _z, what about if we had a shared conversation kind of a post about the nostalgia, like these things we're talking about, along with eve, hashem, mononoke, rouba and gus. we all have our poetic tendencies. and then the post will reflect the mosaic of our thinking and character and even memories.

it would not be Q&A but more like a relaxed conversation, exactly on the line of mar's words here.

At 4:18 PM, Blogger Mirvat said...

if not i'll make a compilation of what we already have which is by itself great.

At 4:24 PM, Blogger _z. said...

I am at work now, I'll reply with a longer comment tonight, but yeah Mirvat, I am game.

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Mar said...

I'm in.

At 1:03 AM, Blogger Mirvat said...

how about i start by posting things we already have, i will include your comment mar, than you add your pieces in the comment section. we'll call it our "sentimental Lebanese bourgeois dream" ;)

At 2:03 AM, Blogger _z. said...

zee, thanks for the tip, I still didn't find the song, but eve might be able to send it to me. She mentioned that Hilal has it.
Will post it and let you know as soon as I get it.
Now that big expectations were built around this song, I hope that you will still be able to find it nice.

Mirvat excellent idea, write down our crazy nostalgic ramblings somewhere.
yalla I'll start here.

Mar, I just got to read your comment to my post. Amazing!
I miss that kindness too! It also reminds me of my summers in the mountains. We would be biking all day long, and running around in the apple orchards. When we got tired, we would rest under the shades of a big walnut tree (jawzeh), or on the steps of a closeby porch to a house, or in some strangers' courtyard, looking to cool off and catch a breeze.
A few minutes after we park our bikes, and take off our caps, the door opens, and out comes the Woman of the house to greet us with frozen glasses of sharab el toot (berry juice) and sandwiches (halloum w khyar). We drink, eat, rest, and head off politely, waving thanks and goodbyes... On our way we would pick an apple, wash it in the cold fresh waters of the many natural springs in the village, and continue to Rachid's Supermarket... He should be expecting us by now.
We drop by "Hello Mr. Rachid" (marhaba m3allim Rachid!), and discuss "intellectual" issues (we were 8 or 9), and matters of concern to us.
He would then offer us Bonjus ice cream (bouza 3a talej), and a Kinder Surprise chocolate.

I later found out (years after), that it was my father who had ask Rachid to cater for our desires whenever we dropped by, and not to take our money (lira w noss); he would then pick up our bill (on trust) whenever he drove by, in his white Datsun 120y, for groceries, or for an afternoon cup of coffee and a game of backgammond.

But that didn't take anything away from Rachid, he was the nicest man. Many times, our feeding crazes were on the house (bonjus + unika).
He listened to us while we entertained him, and we were glad that we had a grown-up as a friend and yet another place where we could hang out.
Him having the village's chocolate supply helped his case tremendously, but still Rachid was known for his genrosity and good spirit.

Tfaddlo ya ahla bel shabeb! (Come in, welcome young men - youth)

At 3:02 AM, Blogger Mirvat said...

this is what i have:

At 2:23 PM, Blogger jooj said...

_z, that is a very nice post.

Sometimes I wonder about how much Fairouz and Ziad have made a difference in my life. Ya, to that extent.

What are our lives but a collection of meaningful moments and memories? This is not to say one cannot find meaning and joy in the current day.

"Ya Louro Hobooki is one of my favourite songs as well. I must have seen Mais el Reem play like ten times or something; everything about it is beautifuil. Not to mention Ziad's Mais Reem musical masterpiece. From what I recall, it was a man who song that song in the play. Does anyone know his name?

At 2:56 PM, Blogger _z. said...

jooj, thank you for your superb comment. Ziad definately has his mark on my life, my writing and my sarcastic ironic view of things.
Fairouz was the melody that accompanied my memories.

You are right, in the play it is Joseph Nassif who sings the song. I have had a miserable time looking for that version which I prefer.
Eve, with the help of Hilal, sent me the Fairouz version which I posted on here.

At 5:45 PM, Blogger laila said...

z, great post, i had to read it in parts bass i like

shou shta2et for the rakhweh in montreal!

At 8:55 PM, Blogger Mirvat said...

thank you thank you thank you
i can't describe how i felt when i listened to the song..

At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Rima said...

Pardon me but if you want really to get intellectual , well i must say , a bourgeois never dreams,actually it's own existence is into non-dreaming,dreaming is the job-non-job of the bohemian, bobo in french.

Our dreaming of beirut and etc, is like Tchekov's aristocrat lost russian characters used to dream about Moscow.

At 11:06 PM, Blogger Zee said...

Huuhh, thank you so much for sharing "Laure Houbbouki" _Z .. and a good thing for alerting me right away. The song is beautiful and I particular like how the female singer phrases the melody and keeps the mood going throughout the song.
As for Mirvat's "sentimental bourgeois dream" project, I don't know if I should feel flattered or simply have some Lebanese red and enter in, into a dream myself, something I haven't done for almost 30 years ...
Folly aside _Z, you were right - it was not on my mind to only place critique, I am just so god damn concerned of how the world is turning, and that concern expands beyond the fragile borders of Lebanon.
Besides, I am a bourgeois stinker myself and observe daily my incapacity of inaugurating true change.
Just take my flow of comments with a grain of salt at times ... more digestible that way.
My concern when I posted at Mar's blog (Marguerite) was that the so called "educated-middle-class" is somewhat in denial of their obvious dis-empowerment. Just an observation, not a moral statement. I believe everyone (including myself) has to provoke their inherent abilities to find out new ingenious ways to go from here. The result will be empowerment ... and through this a dream or dreams might come true. That would be a dream I consider dreaming on the most.

At 11:12 PM, Blogger Zee said...

thank you for your beautiful renderings, and thank you for having patience with me.
By all means, I like your dreams ... -:)))

At 11:59 PM, Blogger _z. said...

and that is exactely why I thank you zee. I did not take it as a critique, just an observation as you specified.

by the way, that is true change... what you're doing... it starts from here.

At 12:00 AM, Blogger _z. said...

yalla princess. Take a trip up north.

wlek tekram 3younik sitt mirvat! you're more than welcome.

hope you're well rima.

At 3:10 AM, Blogger Eve said...

you're welcome _z. I love the song too. It's the only one where i can twist the name (laure), change it to my real name, and pretend there's actually a song for me out there (inno eh layla shou bass inteh bighannoulek al laylou ya layla, ana kamein baddeh ghiniyyeh :ppp ) great post ya _z, katter min amthelon :)

At 9:28 AM, Blogger AM said...

Hey, just thought i'd let you know that i remembered you yesterday when i heard the song on the radio on the way home :)

At 10:07 AM, Blogger _z. said...

eh eve, why not, menghannilik!

am :) it is a nice song isn't it! very old school.


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