Thursday, April 9, 2015

Rain drops and Fate. By Ninnevah

I once heard a lecture on an old cassette (yes a tape- I guess my age is now shinning through) about fate. About how everything is destined to end up where it was written for it to go. This is a bit of a sticky topic because some like to use it as an excuse to justify doing being lazy or doing not-so-good things, claiming that they do not have free will. I don’t think it’s quite that black and white. The further the years go by the more I realise that so many things in religion, just like in medicine are not black and white and that the further you study these topics, the more you realise you don not know. I try to explain to patients multiple times a day that there is no "yes or no" answer. But patients don’t like to hear about probabilities, susceptibilities, increased vulnerability, possibilities. The same with religion, a lot more than I initially believed in, I now can see is open to interpretation. 
So back to this concept that I was tying to break down, the example given was that even when it rains, every drop of water that falls on earth has a journey. It may end up in a person’s mineral water bottle, to quench their thirst mid-summer, or will be used to wash away sins of an old person doing wudhu as it drips from their beard. The suggestion that even water drops would follow their destiny was intriguing for me. Every time I realise that I’ve gone a whole day without drinking any fluids (yes that happens often when you are working 10 hour shifts), you reach a level of thirst where you can down a whole 600 mls of water in one go. Usually when there are a few sips left, I try to divide it so that I’ve had 3 sips in total, or a few huge gulps followed by two little sips. That quenching of the dryness of your throat, relieving that need without even realising it was nagging at the back of your mind until you brought it to your conscious self. That action in itself, believing that that was expected, or pre-destined is something that I cannot get over. Some concepts will always be difficult to grasp and this is one of them for me. The idea that all those water particles travelled through ?clouds ?streams ?ended in springs ?chlorinated water collection dams ?travelling through rusted pipes were destined to satisfy my thirst on a particular day. 
The other concept that I find difficult to digest is that all water is recycled. Now I’m not going to go into this too much or think up disgusting examples because I am already battling nausea and I need to keep my water intake at a reasonable level so I’m going to end this here=)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Scent of Patients. By Ninnevah

Sometimes I see patients who stink. As in have such a strong stench that I push my wheely desk chair as far back as I can and work hard to not squish up my nose in an obvious way. Sometimes I can’t help but put my hand on my face for a few seconds while listening to them talk. I generally look for any reason to minimize what I need to examine of these type of patients. Many times it’s a “what the hell is a shower” type of smell where their clothes look a second skin where they have crusted themselves onto the patient’s body. I really can’t stand these patients and if I could I would open up a window while they were in my room. It’s sort of a combination of urine, old sweat and cheap cigarette smoke and even a tinge of alcohol mixed in with it. Sometimes if you are especially unlucky, there’s a public toilet component to it as well.
The other type is the chronic smoker. Now this is not specific to adults. Sometimes a parent or parents would bring in a child or children and the whole family would have the stench of cigarettes attached to them. It’s especially sad when children fall into this category because the parents have placed them at a disadvantage already. Being exposed to second hand- or even third hand smoke (yes that exists- don’t think you are so smarty pants by lighting your cigarettes outside- unless you change your clothes and shower each time you still place your child at risk) increases the risk of respiratory problems in kids, ie makes them more prone to asthma/ bronchitis etc, brings down their immunity in general. I feel this is similar to parents who do not vaccinate their children. Because of your misconstrued ideas you place your child at an increased risk. Bravo on your selfish parenting ideals! Like making pet dogs vegans because it’s “healthier.” Go read a book!

The third type are those that come in smelling like fresh linen or like fields of lilies. These patients I don’t mind rolling my wheely office chair all the way into their faces! They smell clean and like normal human beings! I love these patients! I take the time to ask how their day has been. I ask them if they need any further help or have any other concerns that they would like me to address at the end of the consult. I even address potential disease prevention issues other than their main presenting concerns. Conversation then moves onto other general health issues as well and it’s all done with a smile. There’s usually pleasant dialogue and they leave happy and satisfied. In conclusion- it’s better for your health to not be stinky when visiting your doctor.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Some days you will never get back. Ninnevah

My earliest spiritual memory, now that's an interesting topic. Every child from a fairly practicing family background would no doubt have the obligatory toddler in prayer clothes, holding prayer beads or lying face down, flat on a prayer rug. But that is far from the first "spiritual experience."
I remember going to eid prayers and the excitement involved with wearing new clothes, receiving lolly bags and getting to play with other kids my age. Again that does not add up to a spiritual experience. After that I remember going with mum and dad to taraweeh prayers in Dubai, i was probably in grade 5 at the time. I had my back pack full of crossword puzzle books and coloured pens, but I also wore brought my prayer scarf and tried to stand in line with mum for the first part. I use to day dream until my legs gave way and I needed to sit down. Or sometimes even lie down and fall asleep. But I remember day dreaming about the days of the Sahabah, and how they use to interact with the prophet s.a.w. I would imagine I was there as well. Watching Abu Huraira interact with his cats, watching the people in Medinah climb and pick dates off of the palm trees. Watch the prophet s.a.w having dinner while only helping himself to the food in front of him. This is what would be going through my mind while listening to the calm quranic recitation of the imam during taraweeh/qiyam prayers. It would make me feel relaxed and fulfilled. This was my childish version of spirituality. 

As I got older I would be able to control my mind a little more and would focus on the words being recited. I would be able to follow the stories of Khidr and Yusuf. While breathing in the heavy smell of bukhour, enjoying the feel of the plush carpet on my forehead, and heavy women with cold feet stepping on my toes every time a row reshuffles. 

The strongest spiritual experience would have to be during the last few years of highschool. I was proud of my attachment to the mosque but not proud enough to let my ego seep through. I would look forward to those late nights in Ramadhan, to being amongst others with the same aspirations of trying to stay up as late as possible, sharing dates and yogurt for a pre-qiyam snack, reciting from our own mini mushafs. Booking your place in the front lines of the women's section, making sure no one else sits right over your prayer mat. Also trying to strategically be within the right angle to receive the air conditioning flow but also where the ceiling lights won't be too bright. The best place was were they fixed up temporary partitions to extend the women's section by borrowing a few meters of the men's side. This only happened during Ramadhan. And even when it was too crowded and we couldn't make it on time, there would be carpets laid out outside and parts of the carpark sectioned off for the women. Sometimes within temporary heavy sheeted tent wall with no ceiling. That way, when you were making dua, if you happened to have the guts to look up, you could see the stars over you, as you hear the waves of voices saying Ameen. The thought that during the last third of the night is when the Almighty descends to the lower skies and to be right there with no barriers between yourself and the sky. That is a thought that makes you feel so insignificant. That you begin to think twice whether your duas are worthy of His attention. It's enough to reduce you to tears just to be there. Where you start to only think of thanking Him rather than going through that long list you prepared at home of things to ask for. And at the end, everyone else is just as emotionally drained that most people initially avoid eye contact, but then you realise we are all in the same boat.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A bit of Russian culture. By Ninnevah

So I've been trying to get through Tolstoy's Anna Karenina for almost a year now. It's a pretty dense novel. And keep in mind that I'm reading an English translation of it and I expect a lot of the original significance is lost in the language. The paper back is quite thick and isn't they type of book to carry around in your bag in case you get a free ten minutes somewhere. So I eventually moved into the audio book. I started from the very beginning again as I had been reading the book very intermittently. I've reached past the point where my bookmark has been sitting in the novel and I've got to say I'm impressed with how it's picked up. I was expecting to have a few long 3 hour drives and thought I'd get through it then, but I'm generally not alone during these drives and you can't really make someone else listen to random chapters of a book they aren't following. So I've been listening to it in the mornings while getting ready for work. And on the way to work. The whole 7 minutes drive. So back to the story of Anna Karenina, it was set in the second half of the 1800's, 1870 I think. And most of the scenarios take place in either Moscow or St. Petersburg and it focuses on the social lives of some high society type people.

Now there's this other book that I also started reading a few months ago. I may have only reached till chapter two when my kindle battery died and I just haven't really been bothered to charge it. Okay it may have been more than two months and I may have misplaced my kindle. And may have only found it last night while clearing out some shelves. Also found the husbands ext hard drive that had been missing for a few back to what I was trying to say...the novel that I had started on my kindle was also set in the same timeframe.

Except it's about a Chechen boy, the son of imam Shamil. Who was kidnapped by the Russians. Brought up as part of the royal family and is now as an adult being returned to the Chechens. So I think this novel will focus on the identity crisis this person will have, being brought up immersed in Russian culture, enjoying their music, art, formal dances; the interests of Russian society and then suddenly being thrown back into the basic almost peasant-like lifestyle, and where war is such an everyday occurrence, the catch here is that while living the la-de-dah lifestyle he'd fallen in love with some high society princess. It's also translated from Russian, titled between love and honour, written by Alexander Lapierre. So both novels being set in the same era, same country from different aspects. I'm looking forward to getting through both:)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Half Awake. Ninnevah

I had an unpleasant interaction with someone yesterday and from the documentation of others I could see that that person had made a big deal about it behind my back. I got a bit emotional when I was on my own and let it put me in a bad mood for about an hour. I was on my own for that hour and used it to double check with someone whether I was being unreasonable or not. Overall it’s not a big deal, but I was thinking how it should be normal to feel upset or sad due to circumstances related to work. It shouldn't be a sign of weakness. The weakness would be how long you hold onto that grudge, or what actions you take based on it. I guess. This is what I tell myself to justify feeling horrible yesterday but back to normal today.

Sometimes I am so exhausted that my joints hurt and my head feels heavy. I know when I've reached the 36 hour mark when I develop chest pain on breathing. I don't reach that stage much but when I did do night shifts and then needed to stay awake the following day to attend an event/ catch up with friends/ return back to a more normal sleep routine. The worst aspect was driving home at this stage. I remember once I was out with friends on a post night shift day and trying to get from point a to b, I didn't realize it was evening traffic time. So apart from the headache and pain on breathing, I was falling asleep at the wheel. Not a new thing and in the past I have parked on the side of the road to sleep for a few minutes. A power nap. which sometimes works, but for me it ends up being about an hour or so long. But at least you can drive home in a more stable condition. The problem with this though is have you ever fallen asleep in a car with the sun shining on your face? The other thing is that you subconsciously have your foot pressing onto the break pad. Or maybe that's just me. I've fallen asleep at a red light too. Woke up to find other cars driving around me. I could have been dead and no one stopped to check up on me!! But yeah I had a sore ankle that day. I know I can't be the only one in this situation. It's gotta be fairly common.

Back when I was at uni, I've use to drive a land cruise so other drivers were generally scared of me. this tiny little young girl driving a huge car, I think others were worried that I was a very new driver and would accidentally hit / damage their cars. Yes I've had my fair share of falling asleep in morning traffic, really bad stand-still traffic.. I remember twice hitting the car in front of me due to this. But hey now I have developed the skill of sleeping with my foot properly on the breaks. Properly.

Anyways this was just a bunch of random thoughts. Just wanted to get back into writing again as I've had a few days being swamped with work. It's good to be back=)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hatha maqal hag kalam nafar hindi

I discovered this video a few weeks ago by Telfaz11, a brilliant Saudi based video network that churns out an amazing array of TV genres on youtube for local and regional consumption.

There is much to be said about the video itself and the social and political reality of the very large Indian/other labour force in Saudi Arabia and the gulf (and now increasingly the Levant). I’d actually like to focus on the new dialect of hindu/Arab that has evolved over the last 30 years.
The import of large numbers of labourers from third world countries such as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and other similar countries has been going since the early 1970s when the Oil boom made the Gulf region very rich. Since the majority of those brought in to the Gulf countries spoke only their local hindi or urdu dialects and spoke little Arabic, a new dialect developed that mixed those languages (and some English) and created something which I guess could be called pidgin Arabic (?).
The interesting thing is that it doesn’t actually use the formal Arabic as the basis for the language, but rather the local Arabic dialect such as Saudi, Emirati, Qatari etc…
For example, if you wanted to say “I want to go to School to study”
In Arabic: Uwaddu an adh-haba ila almadrasa l’adrus
In the local dialect: Abee Arooh Almadrassa 7ag Al diraasa
In pidgin Arabic: Hatha nafar yabee yrooh madrasa 7ag dirasa

So it kind of takes out the grammar and the sentence structure and leaves in just the important keyword to convey the meaning.
Sometimes you will find some hindi or other words used such as
You are a trouble maker
Pidgin Arabic: Hatha  nafar wayed jinjaal
Where jinjaal is (I’m guessing) urdu for problem.
The interesting this is that even though throughout the last three decades there have been other nationalities brought in for work that don’t speak urdu/hindi such as Bengalis (mostly from Chitagong) and even Chinese, they all spoke the same Pidgin Arabic dialect, that how mainstream it became.
Arabs from the Levant, Morocco, Iraq and Egypt who move to a gulf country for work, also have to acclimate themselves to this new language, which creates very interesting variations of Pidgin Arabic in different dialects; such as the musical Egyptian accented Pidgin, or the Iraqi half arsed attempt at the dialect that confuses the Indian speaker to no end “Baba hatha kalam hag inta ma fee mafhoom”   
This evolution of language and dialect is fascinating to me because of my prior interest in the evolution of dialects in Arabic. I make it a habit to study old Arabic poetry to mark out the change in dialects from the old Arabic of say the 7th Century to the 13th Century C.E. It’s a bit difficult because of the lack of resources. So this quickly evolving form of language that’s happening right in front of my eyes is a real treat.

I wonder if there is research being done about this anywhere.  

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lettuce Trees. By Ninnevah

Let me tell you about the muffin man, I mean the lettuce trees. They were introduced to this region in the early 18 hundreds when there was a shortage of fresh vegetables. Diseases like scurvy and other vitamin deficiencies were widespread as the population relied on cattle and sheep for their main dietary intake. When lettuce seeds were introduced people were expecting the typical round iceberg type from Iceland, with the crisp white leaves. But instead what started to grow was the long lanky oval looking lettuce with green flaky leaves. A widely accepted theory is that this was due to the seeds being squashed while at the bottom of someone's bag while enduring the three month ship ride from England. 
A farmer decided to market these weirdly shaped lettuce heads as part of a genetically modified crop, claiming that since it had a larger percentage of the leaves being green, so it contained a larger percentage of vitamin g. People were ready to believe that something so simple was an easy cure to their diseases, farming of these oval shaped lettuces picked up and overtook the market of the traditional iceberg lettuce. 
With the introduction of modern science, it was shown that vitamin g was actually a hoax or just a marketing scheme which had caused the widespread acceptance and even preference of the oval lettuce heads. 
At this stage a research paper was published stating the harmful effects of the incorrectly named vitamin g, which actually was a toxin that affected a specific liver protein causing early liver failure. Eventually people switched back to the old fashioned Icelandic lettuce heads and the oval ones were only bought and eaten occasionally for its nostalgic taste.
Nowadays it is difficult to find this type of lettuce as people have become more health conscious and aware. Recently though there have been some sightings of "lettuce trees" which look very similar to this almost extinct species. The only difference is that instead of being up to 30 cm tall, these trees are known to grow up to 30 m high. Could almost compete with pine trees as windbreakers when planted in a row.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

On Fairy Tales

When and if I have kids, what kind of stories or fairy tales will I read to them at night?
I more I look back on my childhood in Iraq, the more I realize how much Arabic culture has an inferiority complex towards western culture, fairy tales included.
I remember as a child I had read to me the usual fairy-tale-ee stories like Snow white, Cinderella (not to be confused with Agatha Christie’s Cinderella), the ginger bread house, Little Red Riding Hood (In Arabic it was called Laya and the Wolf, and it scared the crap out of me) etc… and I watched the Disney cartoons, and looked forward to the various film adaptations etc…
A few years ago while chilling with my sister at UNSW library, I stumbled upon a book that went into the history of fairy tales, and how they were used at a time where paper and printing were controlled by governments and elites. These stories were printed in little booklets which were then passed on to the lower population to propagate an ideology of values about good and bad, and gender roles and hero worship etc…
During the 1960s and 1970s there was a strong push towards communism and Russia, and so I also grew reading translations of Russian and communist inspire stories (I wouldn’t call them fairy tales). I remember one story was about a man who was very ugly. He wanted to get married but no one would accept him. He worked with one man for a long time and earned his trust and respect, but when Mr Ugly asked for the man’s daughter for marriage, he was fired and rejected and ended up alone in the woods with only birds and rabbits as his friend. Then the war started, and he served his country honourably and it was then that people didn’t look at his face, but at his achievements and his service for his country.
This was a children’s story, it was illustrated.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I loved reading serials about adventurers which were mostly set in Egypt. I enjoyed it because the heroes were Arab and they had Arab names (one of them was a chubby kid called Tawfeeq Khaleel Tawfeeq al Kharboutly, and his friends called him Tekhtekh for short. Tekhtekh means chubby). I found out later on that those stories were just Arabized translations of English adventure serials, with Arabic names of people and places replacing the English names.
So, back to my virtual kids. What am I going to read to my Australian Muslim Arab kids at night? What values do I want to instil in my daughter? Go to sleep and only wake when a man kisses you? If you turn out ugly, serve your country? Is there a genre of stories for children which espouses a more balanced value paradigm than the usual crap they sell in stores and make movies from?

I guess that’s a bridge I don’t have to cross till I have kids. Saved by the bell! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

On Comedy

I didn't write a post yesterday because… procrastination, so today I’m making up for it by writing a thousand words.
I guess this is a good time to be writing a thousand words, because I have confession to make. I have an addiction, one that is so private only my wife knows about it.
I am addicting to listening to comedy radio.
It started about 5 years ago when I get my Samsung Galaxy S1 and all of a sudden had access to THEINTERNET and 1.5 Gigs to access it. I found a streaming radio app and sampled a selection of what they had: Arabic, techno, talk back etc…
And then I found comedy radio.
I used to like and listen to certain comedians before this as well, this however intensified after finding this app and streaming it whenever I was by myself, when I’m driving long distances, and sometimes I’m on the bus or the train by myself with headphones. It eventually became so that I listen to about 15 minutes of comedy every night before I went to sleep.
I don’t know if it was the idea of control of access that was so exciting, or whether in listening to so much variety and style was giving me such an insight stand-up comedy as a craft, and the way it’s leveraged by comedians to push their respective ideologies on to the crowd.
I found some comedians resorted to the lowest common denominators such as depravity, sex, violence and vulgarity. They surprisingly had their market, because they seemed quite famous, people laughed and clapped for their performances which were at times disturbing in how low they ventured to get the most laughs. Fortunately recently I discovered there are even lower levels of humor, a friend of mine was telling me about a joke performed by some of those comedians called the aristocrats, which is so awful I have not even searched for it, and I recommend you don’t.
Another recent surprise was when Bob Saget (from Full House America’s Funniest Home Videos) came to Australia for his stand up tour. I was really excited and even looked up ticket prices because I was actually keen on going. My memories were of a naturally funny easy going performer. Thankfully my aforementioned friend recommended I watch some of Bob’s material on youtube to get a taste of his style. Oh my God it was the most awful not funny bizarre material! The only way I could explain it is that maybe his innocent father persona from Full House was losing him many roles and he decided he was going hard in the other direction.
I didn’t end up going to see his show.
I love watching the comedic performances that are based around political criticism or social insights. Comedians like George Carlin, Lewis Black, Chris Rock, Bill Burr, Dave Chappelle and others. Whose insights into society reveal the hypocrisy of the dominant culture and in doing so, cause us to both reflect and laugh. Bill Hicks was quite adapt at that, with his commentary on government and society that at some times I found I disagreed with, but I still love his humor and delivery.  
And then you have those comedians who are just funny, they aren’t known for their depravity or for their push for any certain causes, they are just very funny and thoughtful. Their humor comes almost without effort, it makes it a real pleasure to listen to them. Comedians like Dane Cook, Rodney Dangerfield (love this guy), Louis CK, Dave Chappelle (yes he gets a mention here too), Patrice O’Neill, Paul F Tompkins and others. They don’t need to yell or jump or swear or be vulgar to be funny, the humor just comes out of them, and it’s genuine and it’s powerful and its’ funny.
When it comes to local comedians in Australia. They have a lot to compete with when it comes to the global comedy scene, which I why I’m so excited and love local talent like Aamer Rahman and Nazeem Hussien. Their material is fresh, relevant, insightful and very funny. It’s a great balance of substance and delivery that reveals a real genius behind the laughs.
In the local context, their material is seen as an answer on our behalf to the powers that be; the media’s misrepresentation and vilification of minorities and the political establishment’s leveraging of this to stoke fear and win more votes. In that way they are empowering, they use their “powers” for “good” and in many cases they bear the brunt of their work and words in the media, on social media and outside comedy clubs by angry drunk men.
Humor is a thing, comedy is a thing, using humor and wisdom to address power and reveal its hypocrisy is a thing, and it’s important to support those voices and to cultivate this culture of political and social awareness in the community.
It took me the whole day to write this post. 500 words is easy to write in 15 minutes, but somehow a thousand words was a bit of a challenge, especially when I’m trying to adhere to the basic rules of #500WordsaDay of not preparing, just writing. I wrote about 600 words, and had to get started with my day job, and now I’m finishing the rest of the thousand words.
In Conclusion. Comedy is an art form that requires a keen insights into society and the power structures that control society, and it requires some great courage to stand on stage and tell jokes and risk people not laughing! It makes me nervous just thinking about it. What if people don’t laugh at your jokes!
But I digress.
953. Good enough.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An incoherent 4 am rant. By Ninnevah

Everyone seems to have their core causes that they wish to fight for. Whether it's racism or feminism or even something more specific like feeling that you represent a certain religion or identifying as part of a specific culture, or even your sexuality. This isn't necessarily a negative thing, but it can become self consuming when that seems to be your sole purpose in life and you find ways to relate everything back to it. A simple common daily activity like picking up your morning coffee- when you know the coffee person treated you a certain way which you picked up by the tone of their voice or how another person did or did not cut in front of you in line. And you analyse and relate it back to your internal struggles and somehow align things to be in your favour, to prove your point. I'm not at all these incidents, and even if I was I do not know what everyone is thinking so I cannot comment on whether these things are intentional. Or whether there is any basis to them. But I feel it drains a person and even can become tiresome to those around you when every simple action has an ulterior motive. 
Sometimes the little old white lady at the canteen just needs a new hearing aid and sincerely can't understand my lunch order and that facial expression she just pulled was her trying to focus on lip reading as well. She probably has a million things on her mind like how is she going to pay for said new hearing aid or her husbands treatment costs who has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer rather than why is this hijabi female working out here in our community. The same goes for all those other minorities that feel victimised. Not everything is about us. How self centred does a person have to be to truly believe that the universe revolves around them? Yes it's the right thing to be aware that these scenarios exist and that these minorities are discriminated against on a regular basis and it feels awful to be at the receiving end but 1) life goes on 2) not everyone is out to get you. So you can put down your banner and go on with living your life. Yes be aware and yes stand up for what you believe in. Not everything is a battle to prove yourself. 
Using culture and sexuality as two examples in the same piece of writing might be a little strange but these are two examples that I am seeing at the moment as people using as identification labels. Two different people I might add! And I feel they both meet the same criteria. There is more to life than fighting for your cause and there are multiple causes out there. I expect an argument to my point being that each person has a cause that they identify with and each cause needs supporters and spoke people and attention to be drawn towards it, which I don't disagree but when it becomes all consuming this is when I start to question your judgement. An identity does not need these crutches. Yes I'm calling them crutches because I don't like how dependant people become relying on them rather than their own back bone. Then the other side of the coin is- am I supporting the concept of individualism and selfishness.... There has gotta be a middle ground! 

Thanks for getting through my 4 am post on a weekday rant. I've impressed myself for getting this done while on my phone. Hopefully the next one I will be back to my normal self:)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Positive thinking in Algeria

I’m trying to find something to write about that wouldn’t turn sad, negative or fatalistic. At some point I thought about writing on love, but I realized that true love only makes you truly understand the destroyer of pleasures more. So that’s not going to be my topic.
My topic today is about positive thinking and optimism, and about cognitively restructuring your brain not to think negatively (or as some pessimists like to put it, realistically).
Of course overly positive thinking like having faith in all people or trusting that doing good things rewards you with good. That stuff doesn’t work, and you’ll end up with a lost wallet or a broken nose, or worse: both…
The art of positive thinking (Think positively, and you shall find good fortune) needs to be balanced with realistic thinking and awareness of your environment.
Two case studies:
1-      An uncle of mine travelled to Algeria from Iraq back in the early 1980s. While he was waiting with his bags at the line for [the bus?] My uncle turned around to the person behind him and beseeched the latter to look over his bags while the former went to change some currency.
Of course upon returning to the line, my uncle found that his bag (and his clothes, and passport, and basically everything he had) was gone. He was in a foreign country with only about $100USD in his pocket and no passport.
2-      Second story: Another uncle of mine (I have many uncles) also travelled to Algeria to retrieve the firs uncle. His travel was urgent and therefore he arrived to Algiers (the capital city) late in the evening, which for a city known for violence and disorder during that time, meant that everything was closed and boarded with armed gangs and questionable persons roaming the streets. He would have to somehow survive the night unmolested, much like an overnight mission in Dying light.

So, with quick thinking, he took off his shirt and placed it with all his things in a plastic bag, and walked around the streets of Algiers in his undershirt with his plastic bag swung over his shoulder. In doing so he took on the persona of the One who knocks

And he actually survived the night that way, until the morning where he found his wayward brother (who was able to find temporary room and board at a hotel) and helped him return to Iraq.
You may have come across a situation where positive thinking, realistic thinking and airy fairy thinking has resulted in positive or negative outcomes. I would love to hear those stories as well. I find in many cases that real life stories are more wonderful and magical than any film.

This may be the first blog post in which I don’t reach the 500 word mark, but it’s ok. I’ve conveyed my ideas today.  

Day three and still going. By Ninnevah.

Once in a while you get a patient that isn't easy to forget. Generally once they walk out of the door, you need to reboot yourself, prepare for a new first impression for each consult. This in itself is tiring. Now when you see a patient that emotionally drains you, or that you can't help but worry about you need to take that extra step of clearing your mind before calling the next patient in. I had one of those today. A 21 year old young man. Going through multiple social stresses and barely keeping it together. I was proud of him for seeking help. He was answering my questions diligently and trying to help me to help him. I could see the emotional exhaustion through his facial expressions and body language. It was like a 12 year old child seated in front of me and I just wanted to reach out and give him a hug, tell him that things were going to be okay. That life isn't meant to be too difficult and that we would help him navigate through it. But I obviously didn't do that. I'm already the only hijabi in this area so I didn't need to give people more reason to think I was mentally disturbed myself.

 I remember a tutorial back when I was a student about maintaining personal space etc. If a little old lady breaks down and starts crying because she feels she cannot manage after her husband of seventy five years has passed away, I am not allowed to give her a hug or rub her arm, as we were told, the most I am allowed to do is pat her with "two" fingers. That is very specific. Be weary if that ring finger rubbed against her woolly cardigan!!

The other scenario that is quite common is when you've just spent a stressful week looking after a patient in hospital that has been very unstable and either the patient him/herself or the patient's partner/parent want to express how grateful they are by giving you a hug. I have been in this situation a few times. Maybe because I look fluffy and hug-able in my fluffy hijabs and scrubs?
This isn't meant to be a grey line. I think the guidelines are pretty straight forward. Maintaining professional behavior and all that blah blah blah. But isn't this drying out part of what makes us human?  Aren't we all reliant on some form of human interaction? 

So let's end this post on a lighter note. During one of today's consults, an elderly male patient jumped up mid conversation to "catch a tenant who hadn't been paying rent." As in he killed the spider that I'd mentioned in my first post. I had completely forgotten about it until today. And I now don't have it's blood on my hands!! That's a relief because I'm a typical girl especially when it comes to spiders:)
 Well thank you for reading till the end of this post. my first two have been just shy of five hundred words but this one has finally made it over! Yay!!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The 9 Steps towards Colonizing Mars

There has been an interest over the last 30 or so years in colonizing Mars. It has always seemed to be the focus as the next milestone in space travel, exploration and human scientific advancement.

Knowing the human race and its ironic celebration of human endeavor, all while wiping out whole societies to make way for factories run by slaves from another society. Colonizing Mars would  be the epitome of humanity’s unity and achievements in advancing itself. Here are a few predictions of what would happen if humans did colonize Mars and discovered a native peoples there:

1-      They begin friendly communications with the natives, earn their trust, maybe supply them with drugs and alcohol
2-      They would realize their human mission of civilizing/saving/liberating the peoples of Mars by forcefully invading them and taking control of their resources
3-      Faced with resistance and anger. They would ride that moral high horse and craft a narrative of courage, civility and love against the powers of darkness, hatred and backwardness
4-      Leveraging a misinformation campaign of the impending hordes of savages about to kill the men, rape the women and skin the children alive, the humans would proceed to do just that to the Martians. 
5-      The humans would follow the eternal edict “In order to save the Village, we had to destroy it” and engage in a systemic campaign of physical and cultural devastation, uprooting established systems of governance, education, economy, trade etc… and putting in place incompatible Earthling systems that further serve to oppress the native people of Mars
6-      Language will again play a part here to further oppress, marginalize and otherwise destroy the people of Mars. New expressions such as “Pulling a Martian” or “a Martian Hangover” or similar to give the term Martian negative connotations.
7-      History will be rewritten for people and groups who are not capable of writing history. Massacres and other measures of oppression will be Earth-washed and the colonization of Mars will be known as the Discovery of NewEarth
8-      NewEarth will look to the casual observer to be a new civilized society full of culture and technology. There will be monuments to the founders of NewEarth and museums of natural history and space operas. A closer look will discover the multitudes of ostracized, poverty stricken native Martians who make up the majority of arrests, diseases and malnourished cases. They will also be the ones working to death building the grandiose cities of NewEarth, but you wouldn't know it, because it’s not in the museums, and it’s not in the news, and it’s not recorded in history.
9-      The people of NewEarth will begin to eye Jupiter with a sense of greed and the weight of the civilizing burden the people of NewEarth have had ingrained into them.

And thus goes the cycle. We have a new shiny planet now, most of us do not benefit by that, while a tiny percentage are wealthier by orders of magnitude, and we now hate and fear a hopeless, devastated native people of Mars.  

The Oppression of Language

This is a theme I frequently find reading into history, race or language. The way that language is structured can sometimes be used as a tool of oppression against others.

The first time I was aware of this was in the Malcolm X film when he spoke specifically about this, that certain terms like “blackmail” for example were used in very negative connotations, which in the context of a wider system of racism and oppression can be quite devastating.

Other terms I came to know had racist connotations is the term “mufti-day” where –in New Zealand at least- we didn't have to wear uniforms. Well it seems the first time it was used was by British soldiers in the Middle East as a way of denigrating the highest Muslim authority in the land, the Mufti.
Or something as otherwise inconsequential as a color “nigger brown” that was used to describe the socks worn by nurses in Sydney in the 1970's. The school of Nursing at the time proscribed these color socks to all nurses.

Another powerful reminder of the oppressive use of language was made clear to me when I attended a workshop on Aboriginal Health, where a man “Graham” gave a 2 hour presentation on Aboriginal beliefs and practices related to health. I was struck with the terms Graham used to describe concepts that were much more powerful, complex and important than the English terms he was using to describe them.
Terms like “medicine man” when referring to a spiritual and physical healer that’s part of his family and whose power of healing (or Baraka) was quite powerful, or “magic” which came to mean the intangible energy of life that runs through everything living and otherwise, which can be harnessed for the wellbeing of the community as well as a part of a natural ecosystem, and “Auntie” which came to mean an Elder, again an important person in the family/tribal structure who keeps the family bloodlines, cares for the family/tribe and gives council.
It seemed as if these terms in their original language had a multilayered depth to them, but this depth was completely disregarded when translated to English. The language had served to reduce the terms, and therefore their place and importance in Aboriginal society, and in doing so was another method of undermining Aboriginal culture and civilization.

Of course again this may not seem all that bad, if not coupled with the appreciation of the full effects of British colonization in Australia. Seeing an Aboriginal woman in front of me speak with such clear pain and anger of the brother she never knew, who was taken from her mother some 50 years ago. Of the way this pain traveled through her mother and her and her children, searching for justice or closure somewhere. Which of course they wouldn't get easily because they’re not white.

More relevant today is of course the closure of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia, because of Tony Abbot’s language, reducing the communities to be a “lifestyle choice”.

The language of oppression is all around us. It’s up to us to be aware of it and to fight it. 

While at Safeway Ninnevah.

If you see a teacher from school or lecturer or even your doctor while you are out living your personal life do you generally take the minute it takes to say hi, wave or acknowledge that person in any way? I always thought it wasn't a big deal and would usually pretend not to notice, be busy on my phone, engrossed in reading the  Mac and cheese frozen meal label. Yes I was at Carrefour in this scenario. If eye contact was accidentally made then yes I would smile, wave, if they were close enough even say hi. But it was all done with dread and a heavy heart. 
Today while I was trying to decide whether two punnets of strawberries were worth six dollars (yes all my scenarios involve food- but notice how I've changed my general diet to a more health conscious one!) a random elderly patient walked passed me saying hello! Followed by the sing song pattern of - how are you? Good thanks and yourself- fine thanks- that's good! All without anyone stopping what they were doing, he was already out of the aisle by then and I'd already moved onto the lemons, but I did appreciate being acknowledged. I haven't really given this much thought before but I guess it's human nature to like to be recognised for your position in a community. Or maybe even just recognised. I felt pretty smiley and upbeat after that quick interaction and it got me thinking of how many missed opportunities I've had of making someone else feel just as smiley. But then again if you saw an old high school teacher at a supermarket with his family/ kids wouldn't it feel like you were invading their personal space? There must be some list of rules with regards to social interactions towards professionals in a non professional environment. Ie if I bump into my accountant while at the botanical gardens. This is pretty far fetched for two reasons, first being that I don't have an accountant, and secondly I can't remember the last time I've even been to a park! But for arguments sake if I did, it would be handy having a summarised flowchart to follow including the different variables like- are her children present? Then say a quick greeting while complimenting her kids. Does she look like she doesn't want to be seen with person standing a little too close to her? Don't say hi and quickly walk in a different direction. Is she holding what looks like a suitcase of cash handcuffed to her wrist while frantically texting someone? Merge into the bushes and watch intently! She may need a witness if the drop off goes bad! I would definitely laminate and wear that flowchart on a lanyard. I recognise myself as being socially awkward at times so any type of cheat sheet is more than welcome:)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

First attempt- by Ninnevah.

I'm going to have a try at this 500 words a day thing. I like the concept of it. Of emptying out your thoughts on a daily basis. Or even just passing on an idea or describing an incident. Thank you for letting me be part of this blog:)
My first entry, here goes!

Trying to focus on the 40 year old man seated in front of me, he looked fit enough, dressed in a casual billabong tshirt and three quarter khaki shorts. Trying to explain to me how involved he is in cross fit and lifting weights at the gym. I was trying to move on to explore the next possible contributing factor to his elevated cholesterol levels. He didn't smoke, no genetic risk factors, no binge drinking. There was one more area we hadn't explored yet. The one that people are mostly dishonest about. Most people assume that if you work off the calories at the gym then you can eat what you want, generally speaking that's common sense but sooner or later that type of lifestyle will catch up with you. So finally I interrupted his talk about gym machinery and asked about his diet. His seven year old son sitting patiently beside him took this opportunity to be part of the conversation. Dressed in similar clothes as dad, of bland greens and beiges, he began to tell me about all the late night take out wrappers he would find in the mornings. How mum and dad never saved any fries for him. He was a kid on a mission as though I would advocate letting him in on the crime. The father at that felt he needed to intervene so I let them have their moment of dad implementing what he believed was essential parenting skills, loudly whispering to his son that this was not the time or place to get into this. From the corner of my eye I saw a black shadow scuttle across the opposite wall. Only I had seen it as it was behind the patient. It emerged again from behind one of the baby food posters. An ugly dark spider. Aren't they expected to disappear in winter? Don't all spiders die in the cold? I glanced back at the father and son seated in front of me. Both highly committed to convincing with harsh whispers. The dark blob was on the move again. This time he ran all the way past the Pap smear equipment box and into the cupboard under the sink. He couldn't have been that big if he fit through a closed cupboard door. But spiders are like contortionists aren't they? I made a mental note to go find some insect spray once this consult was over.

Triangulating cultures for a clear signal

There is much to be said about seeking to understand other cultures from a position of humility.

I once remember a person who at the time was challenging my religiosity as an independent decision, because in his mind no rational thinking person can lead to a belief in the unknown. Even upon telling him of my various phases of thinking and reading and self-questioning, he was convinced this was still under the umbrella of the blind belief of the religiously minded. When I asked him what exposure he’d had outside of his secular Anglo-Saxon Australian cultural medium, he told me of his various exposures to different cultures and beliefs:

1-    His grandmother going to church on Sundays

2-    Incense sticks at his Hindu friend’s house

3-    Me

So essentially this man had no real exposure to other cultures. He did not genuinely seek a humble understanding of different modes of thinking, believing or seeing the whole, and so clearly his arrogance gave him this thin veil of self-satisfaction.

The more you seek to understand cultures, the better you come to understand your own self, and the world in which you live. Whether it’s coming to appreciate the depth and power of Mohammad Iqbal’s poetry through its English translation without having the privilege of reading it in the original Urdu (though listening to the urdo recitation of his poetry has its own magic), or feeling the love in the words of an Aboriginal Elder when speaking of their connection (and the pain, and the hurt, and the loss, and the anger) to the land, or even listening and empathizing with the suffering of the Dominican people under Papa Doc’s brutal 30 year rule from reading Junot Diaz’ “The short and wonderful life of Oscar Wao”.

Failure to be open and attuned to other paradigms feeds a form of arrogance, a form of pride used to push young men into a war, killing other young men, so rich old men can get richer. It’s used to make people forget that they’re essentially the same.

A recent example in the US of a school calling for the appreciation of languages reading out the daily flag allegiance thing in Arabic, which was met with wide rejection and outright refusal of the very idea of Arabic being acknowledged in this way, some people were even offended because “they fought in Afghanistan”. The funniest bit in this incident is Fox News’ coverage under the headline “I pledge Allegiance to Allah”

The Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammad, continues through his speeches to call on people to seek to genuinely understand one another, and to avoid this arrogance of self-satisfaction, resigning to think what you have (culture, language, world view) is all there is to know. The more I think about this concept, the more I see its effects in every day life here and abroad.

This post is going to end just shy of 500 words, and that is to leave enough space to introduce a friend (Nina) who is going to be trying her luck at writing 500 words a day with me in my blog.

Why my blog? Because she slept with me.

The end

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Paper and The Pixel 2

In my last post I spoke of the difference between reading, writing and and the consuming zombie food that is watching television. Today I’m going to speak about creativity on paper and on pixel.

When I was working overseas, I decided I was going to try my hand at calligraphy. I’d always appreciated and dabbled at Arabic calligraphy, one of the first logos I ever made was for a University Islamic society. A calligraphy of the organisation’s name in Arabic

msa logo by iraqiguy on DeviantArt

I attended a class that run by a world renowned calligrapher from Iraq whose knowledge and skill were extraordinary. He’d even written the whole of the Quran by hand!
He used to speak at length about how calligraphy was a noble art because it penned the word of God, and how Iraqis are so much better at calligraphy than Egyptians because the latter were more prone to dancing and singing than something as serious as calligraphy. Great guy..But I digress

I attended maybe 5 classes after work and was enjoying my baby steps into this fine art, when I noticed another class mate more senior than I writing out beautifully, when I shared how impressed I was with him, he smiled and reflected the road to any real skill was still quite far. HE’D BEEN DOING CALLIGRAPHY FOR 15 YEARS!
I dropped out soon after for a number of reasons. I got promoted and so had a larger work load, soon after that I returned to Sydney, and every now and then I would reminisce about that hour, every evening, in which I’d be spending all my efforts and focus putting pen to paper, and drawing out the letter Sceen over and over again till I got it right.
Now adays when I want to reproduce calligraphic work, all I have to do is find the right font. Nowhere is the conflict between paper and pixel more pronounced than this. An ancient and noble art for practiced for centuries is now a 700 kilobit file anyone can download and use.
Calligraphy (of all languages) and other similar art forms are being lost to the trappings of post modernity. The value,  sacrifice and identity that comes with those forms is being stripped, and what remains is the prettiness of things, the squiggly lines, reproduced in china for a dollar ninety nine and worn proudly by the multitudes of peoples who think their new toy defines their uniqueness.

I’m noticing there is a real desperation to my writing, so I’m going to take a step back.

The reality is that change is the only constant, nothing changes and therefore we need to take this into consideration are walk into the future. The Muslims in the past rejected the printing press and gun powder out of a sentimental holding on to the past, and it cost them dearly, and we, today should be aware of this as make sense of the speeding rate of change.

  Moral of the post? Don’t be a Luddite, it’s not a good look 

Post 4: The great battle of paper and pixel

This article is about the struggle to watch all the awesome things on TV while at the same time reading all the awesome book and writing all the articles I want to write. In this scenario the paper is reading and writing, and the pixel is consuming television. Ebooks and MS Word are not included in this comparison for the purpose of symmetry.
I’ve always felt that reading non-fiction is like forcefully opening rooms in my brain I didn't know existed, and that reading fiction was like force opening rooms in my heart I didn't know existed. I have found reading to be enriching and eye opening.
This opening of my world has sometimes been quite depressing, and other times quite heart-warming.  The best illustration of this idea is the meme of the three men standing on books to understand the world, the higher the book stacks they stood on, they saw different parts of the world, and the man on the highest stack of books saw the heavens. (I tried to find the image to include it in this post but like everything else, it’s only where when you’re not looking for it)

On the other hand, Television in all its manifestations; Series, Films, Reality TV etc… has become an easy consumable with specific time periods and the convenience of no prerequisite brain activity. The imagination is done for you, the empathy for characters is given to you a gold platter with sound tracks and actual tears and zooming etc… Sometimes you even have a narrator tell you exactly what transpired just in case you were too lazy to move your brain cells around to spark an idea.
But it’s fun, the stories are getting more and more intriguing, the acting is getting better and the special effects are more real than actual reality.
I’m reminded of the film Idiocracy (If you haven’t watched it. Watch it!) that describes a phenomena where clever people mostly die out and stupid people breed and live and eventually outlive all the clever people. In the end the most popular contraption is an all in one bed + lazy boy + toilette + fridge + Television unit. It’s the ultimate end for the lazy all-consuming zombies we are all about to become if we go down that path.
I realize the irony of using a film to convey an idea that films and television are bad.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh, maybe it’s only because I feel guilty for binge watching three seasons of a stupid jingoistic uber nationalist American TV show (I know, I've just described half of Television) and I really need to give more time to Roberto Bolano  and his Third Reich.
Or maybe I’m angry at myself for developing a level of apathy and helplessness towards the injustices we see around us, that I’m taking it out on myself.
No. It’s the first one.

Moral of the story, don’t watch too much TV.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Post 3: Clicking Fingers

Every man gets his rizq, and part of my rizq yesterday was my unplanned attendance to a spoken word poetry slam in Parramatta yesterday, and I have to say I did not enjoy much being there.
Maybe it’s just me, I’ve never been into the whole poetry thing, it has to be explained to me, I need to be “in the mood” with other poetry inclined people to see the light.
I mean, some poems, in Arabic or English, can make me pause and can touch me deeply, and even though it’s infrequent, it is profound. But I digress.  
The poetry slam yesterday had three competitors performing, and it may have been the irksome way they changed their pitch and speed to make an impact –which, if done well, can be amazing, but it was unfortunately not done well-, or it may have been the lame clicking fingers instead of clapping that was happening throughout the performance, oh that little lameness was driving me up the wall!  I was not impressed by the whole event.
Not until the end anyway. The winner was a young passionate girl whose performance was so powerful that she walked away crying!
I was not crying…
Also, I say young because I’m in my 30s and everybody is younger than me at this stage.
Following that, a winner from a previous competition was allowed to give three performances which again I did not understand and therefore spent… The Time… TWEETING! in this fashion….
style of
spoken … woooord!
Yeah, I still don’t get it.

Finally, Ahmed went in for the kill. .
Wearing an Amnesty International hoodie with “I fight for good”, this tall otherwise quiet person (well I’ve never met him, but at first instance he looked quiet), and he gave a most rousing performance in which he narrated his travels and experiences in Istanbul.
Now if you know me, you’ll know I absolutely love Istanbul, and hearing a good poet reflect on the beauty and romance of a city so dear to me, it made me put my twitter away and look in awe as this man through his words drew a picture of a city right in front of my eyes, and illuminated it, and gave its people life, it was profound!
His second performance was a beautiful piece about his grandmother, and it made me miss my own grandmother. His way of describing her henna tattoos from another time was beautiful it almost reached far beyond my thick skin and gave me shivers.
Finally came the reason for his powerful verses. The poor kid is in love! And it seems the kind of love that was not shared back, oh my heart broken for that man! Unrequited love is like caviar, wonderfully rich flavours that came from the guts of a fish. Poor fish! Poor Ahmed

Monday, March 16, 2015

Post 2: My First Romance.

This is the story of my first book romance.
When I was about 6 (yes, the best romance starts from a young age) I remember I used to look at covers of books at my parent’s book shelves around the house. There were so many books I was never out of book covers to look at, to study, to wonder what kind of stories lie beyond those covers. I hadn’t started reading at the time.
Some covers were black and white photos of famous people, others were drawings of what I expect the book would have been about. One book in particular grabbed my attention with its cover of a drawing of a woman sitting. I used to like to look at it a lot.
A year or two after, I started to learn to read, and part of my adventures in reading -other than reading shop fronts and business cards out loud- was to read the book covers I’d previously been studying like mysterious artefacts; The 7 Pillars of Wisdom- the life of Lawrence of Arabia, Between the two palaces- Naguib Mahfouz, The Interpretation of the Jalalayn.
And the book with the most enchanting woman on the cover? It was titled “Cinderella”
Now I was no fool, I’d heard the story of Cinderella by then a thousand times, and I knew it was not a novel, so until I was able to read at a higher level, this was a question I was asking myself whenever my eyes fell on this cover, is this the [real] story of Cinderella? Is there more to the fairy-tale? I decided to try and read the first line of the book, maybe to get an insight into what the book was about?
The first line went “Damn it! Said the queen”
Well that didn’t help much! It still feels like a Cinderella story!
Months come and go, I develop a higher reading level, I get hooked on to young detective stories, but because they were not always available, I used to trawl the streets of Baghdad looking for big and small bookshops looking for new books to read. Once I was nearly kidnapped coz I went to a particularly seedy part of town.
My reading speed increased, I was buying 2 books a day, a finishing them by the time I got home, I need to kick up my reading game, I started reading more “mature” books, I discovered the magic of the most read-and sold author in the world, Agatha Christie.
Oh she was amazing, her books were lengthy and they had a solid plot, and a confusing array of characters, the protagonists were smart, sharp, and knew just when to strike, especially the little Belgian detective, M. Hercules Poirot. I loved reading his stories most of all.
Years later, I was about 11 or 12 at the time, I realized I’d forgotten about Cinderella. I can definitely read her now, and I went to the same bookshelf and found the book with the cover of that majestic woman on it, waiting for me for the last 5 years. The title was “Cinderella”.
The Author? Agatha Christie

First post

500 words
This, after 2 weeks of thinking and pondering on what to write about, is my first attempt at the 500 words a day challenge, or commitment, whatever it’s call.
I used to read, and write, a lot. I used to enjoy and be addicted to read as much as possible, somehow along the way my interests became games and TV shows and films and other brain numbing activities.
The thirst for knowledge and experience is still there however. I still have ideas to share, stories short and long to write.

Since I loved historical fiction so much, I had an idea of writing a novel that narrates a fictional account of a major even that changed history. The more I thought about this story, the more excited I became, to be able to incorporate intense personal emotions such as love, fear, loss, grief, and then to juxtapose that with the incredible tsunami of the historic even that’s the back drop to this. I fills me with excitement when I think about it.
Yet, I haven’t written even one word about it.

This is why I have decided to start writing.
Well…This and the fact that my father advises me to write every time he sees me. Why don’t you write, Nasser? You have the language and the knowledge and the insights, all you need to do is put pen to paper. If I were your age and had your language, I would be writing volumes, etc…

So, this is it. I’m writing, and like the first time an overweight person goes to the gym, I’m getting tired in my head, I think I’ve written a thousand words like the gym first timer thinks he’s run 3 kilometres, but like he sees he hasn’t finished his first 500 meters. I look at my word count and see I’ve really only hit the 310 word count.
My focus is shot, my phone next to me is calling out to me with its flashing sound. The computer just made that facebook notification sound, and I want to catch up on the latest offering Last Week Tonight has for me, but I’ve started, and I need to finish my first 500 words.

The discipline of writing, well, in fiction or nonfiction, is an art and a science. I know the art because when I read G Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen, or Amin Malouf’s Leo Africanus , I am taken by the story so quickly that before I know it I’m a hundred pages in. Not all writers have that effect.
It’s a science because my work in digital marketing segments, analyses, and a/b tests content in front of thousands of visitors, readers and engaged users to come up with the most call to action, headline or ad copy. Hence your inability to read an article most of the time without then clicking on a link to another article. You think that’s just a coincidence this happens?
It’s not.