قعدوا في بيوتكم و فكونا

Few days ago, I had this message from “Kuwait News” on my mobile
“ The parliament passes a law to impose a fine on anyone who dresses or behaves in anyway that may indicate that he’s a gay, or she’s a lesbian”
And the strange thing is that the parliament voted unanimously in its favor, in one session!!!

WOW; didn’t know that such issue had such a national priority. I doubt if it was even properly discussed in the parliament. How about the validity of such bill when it contradicts with other clauses of the constitution? If there are any additions that should be made to the clauses of the constitution; it should guarantee more freedom and not less. What does ElSaqer, and Alrashid who consider themselves liberals think about this?
Somehow I feel that the majority voted with the bill to embarrass the prime minister :p

This bill was passed in haste, now they have to come up with the detailed amendment to describe “how one can dress or behave in a way not to be mistaken for the other gender?” Because this could really be a problem for most of us. I for one; do not have many dresses, or skirts; I usually wear my jeans or a baggy pants with tops. Oh and I wonder what would be the situation with wearing shorts? I love wearing them and go biking :p

Ok, now seriously; I think there should be laws governing our general appearance in the work place, like most local and international banks. And that it should not apply to gays alone. Although I do understand that gays are more liable to discrimination than others when it comes to public behavior.

I worked for the ministry of Public Works for years; one of my many positions there was heading the General Planning Department. And one of my duties was redistributing personnel according to their expertise. Some were considered “excess” in some departments, while were in “demand” as qualifications in others, and the biggest problem I was facing was gays. No one wanted them because other employees did not accept them, although some carried high qualifications that some departments desperately needed. Some others with qualifications ended up working trivial jobs in far away site locations, just to stay away from the main office and the problem they were facing with other employees; especially men.

The problem is that some gays insist on showing their sexual identity by wearing make up, exposing Henna hands, and tight colorful tops. One of the gays I was dealing with, brought his wife to meet me (a Saudi man) who was wearing a black, decolte dress. The whole floor gathered to see them go out of my office. And the number is nothing that one could take lightly; it was around 28 men back then in 2001. There were around 10 women who openly exposed their sexual tendencies with the way they wear their clothes or behave, or even say out loud, without being afraid that others might take discriminatory measures against them. But I guess the society isn’t really bothered with those, may be because this is rooted as an old Islamic belief in us, that women are naqisat 3agl (according to Islam preaching; women’s brains are not complete, whatever that means!!!) and that women are only following a trend that would pass eventually. Well, at least I know by being a Moslem woman I can get away with many things :p

To be honest with you; I really feel sorry for gays in general. Gays are not aliens, as religion wants us to believe. We have to accept them as a part of our society. If God created gays; who are we to defy his creation? Now I’m talking in the same language of the ones who are fighting gays’ rights in the society, and who do believe in God’s creation. And we should not discriminate others according to one’s gender or sexual preferences. But sexual preferences are very private and it should stay so. Working place is not the place to display such preferences. Especially that there are guys who consider themselves straight (whatever is the definition for that), but in reality; they are perverts. Gays may expose themselves to sexual harassment (and it happened although the guy concerned denied it, and nothing was done about it), which they do not need, and there are no laws that can protect them. I had an incident where some employees complained about gays using men’s bathrooms. They demanded that some bathrooms should be labeled for gays only!!!!

Anyway; what I’m trying to say is that a law is needed to control general appearance in the working place. For example; one should not wear evening dresses with glittering sequence to work, nor wear official suits when going for a disco. This should be elementary; but without such laws (broad lines), one can never keep a decent atmosphere. This should be applicable to all employees. It’s not a matter of being conservative; but rather is an effort for finding a workable atmosphere away from other distractions.
And talking about being conservative; it seems to me that the ones who call themselves liberals are even worse than some hard-liners. They did not even discuss whether this move is against the constitution or not. Time for you guys to go home and resign if you can’t take the responsibility. Or, better yet; change your party; there are much more incentives on the other side of the fence, and the Islamists will make sure that you will always get a big piece of the cake; they have the whole country in their pockets.

And on a similar note; incidentally, US military, the Department of Defense has discharged 37 linguists from the Defense Language Institute for being gay, click here. They also fired Arabic-English translators in Iraq, for no reason other than declaring that they are gays. Which clearly shows that being conservative has no nationality, but it is more connected with religion.

Look for the source of the problem; and it’s always religion.

My First Visit to Cantor Center for Visual Arts

Thursday may 17, 2007, I was invited to attend one of my son’s Art classes, not in his college, but in Cantor Art Center of Stanford University, or what used to be called Stanford Art Museum.

The museum had a puzzling air about it; it was not exactly a museum, nor it was an art gallery. Stanford family, the founders of the University bearing the family name in the heart of Silicon Valley, laid the first cornerstones of the museum they built to house the art they collected from around the world, of which some ancient and priceless ones were bought directly from excavators. Then the museum grew to be more of an art gallery housing abstract and modern paintings side-by-side with the ancient, after surviving earthquakes and periods of neglect.

The Gates of Hell, 1880–1900

Stones gathered from the previous museum building that did not survive the earthquake. A groove that was caused by the earth-shake outside of the building was filled with some fillings and the remains of those stones. Notice how the groove zigzags.

So the first impression I had inside the museum was “a combination of an ancient world of museums co-existing with the modern or contemporary art gallery!!!”….. Not an easy combination for the interior decorator of the building, or the ones responsible for arranging such pieces to give the feeling of transition from the two diverse dimension of ancient past to the chaotic modern life. But I can see that this was well taken care of, and the color combination used to paint the interiors in each quarter, in addition to light-shade distribution in the building, added majesty to the place and helped in creating the right atmosphere, where such transitions became very smooth and that by itself is an art.

It was a real exciting experience for me that differed from any other experience I had in visiting museums or art galleries in the past. I have always appreciated arts. To me art is a creation, a discovery process of civilizations. And it always amazed me how some experts could get a lot of information from a small piece of broken ceramic found in the rubbles, or a canvas that may even tell the story of a whole civilization.

Museum visitations always carried a special joy in my heart, as if taking me out of my reality, and placing me in other dimensions, other people’s shoes, so that I could better understand my own reality. To me art is meditative, and that’s why I usually like to be left alone when I’m in a museum. Tour guides bore me with lots of information of which I won’t even remember much when the tour is over, and end up with a headache. I’d rather be left in my solitude to discover the jewels of a museum on my own.

But this visitation was not a regular tour in a museum, it was a class conducted inside the museum, in other words; it was a docent-tour. And to me it was a unique experience that I did not expect. The class assignment to student at the end of the quarter is to choose one realistic painting (not abstract) of the museum to write a report about. Now “how to write such a report, and what element you should look for in a canvas when writing the report” was the purpose of conducting this class session in the museum I suppose .

The class was supposed to group analyze a painting. So habitually I ran to the description label of that painting even before checking out the piece. Well, it is true that 99% of the times I don’t even remember the name of the artist, but I enjoy the effect the piece cast on me at that instant, especially after reading the label to know the theme. But unexpectedly, the instructor stopped me. She said something that sounded like; we will try to read the painting through the painting itself and not through the written words of the label!! In other words; no label reading!!!!

First we started by giving general description of what we saw in the canvas as outsiders; color, light-shade, identifying the objects in the painting and so forth. Then we got in the canvas and tried to figure out what is going on inside that framed boundary, and what impact that painting has on us while we’re there; like what senses is provoked? And what feelings?

Stories started popping out; all wild guesses. Then the majority agreed on a unified interpretation. And then we read the label to find out how close we were in our speculation. Exactly like learning how to read the ABC of a new language. And this to me was a new beneficial experience that I immensely enjoyed. How many times I’ve been to museums. Never for once I tried to see deeply into any piece of art before reading the descriptive label beside it.

The other thing that grabbed my attention was the building itself. The architecture resembled that of the Renaissance buildings with open halls and high ceilings. And lots of arches and beams gives a feeling of abundance and huge breathing spaces. But the Interior decorating in general was modern and it appeared to be based on researched affect each corner is supposed to cast on the visitors. Which was another irony that blended very well.
This is my general impression about the building. I did not get to check it properly since visiting hours were over only ten minutes after class ended. But, for sure I will have more visits and will take the class assignment seriously if the instructor does not mind checking it for me. And I’m sure that my son would be deligted to have my company on his next trip to the museum… 😉
LOL, it feel like a student again, only this time I don’t have to worry about my grade, and can have all my time to write that report, and I also have the option to choose not to hand in the assignment….sorry students, but pun was intended, I’m jealous 😛

Ok now; let’s take a look at some of the things I liked the most in the museum.

“The Horse”, no that’s not the official title of the piece, unfortunately I did not have the time to read the label…. :p. I didn’t even get the name of the artist, but I have made a mental note to check it out next time I visit and will update this post accordingly.
The thing about the horse is that it’s made of bronze. The details of the groves on the piece were so awesome that even with a very close look you could almost swear that it’s natural wood. The piece also had this three dimensional perfection about it; from whatever angle you look at it, you can hardly spot a fault, and the piece becomes more convincing.

Breastfeeding, African personification and “The Kiss” were also my favorites:

Click here if you want to see more pics, and enjoy.

Ends Never Meet!

Did you ever have to fulfill someone else’s promises, when they thrash this responsibility at you because they couldn’t keep it themselves? Well; this always happens to me when I have to deal with issues concerning my children with their dad.

I am a type of person that can’t do without organization in my life; up to the tiniest bit. I have to know where I’m going beforehand, or else any slight disturbance or unwelcome surprise to the original plan might cause me to lose rational thinking ability. And could end up in disturbing situations.

I hardly make any promises I could not keep. And when I make one; I strive to fulfill it. And my promise to my sons when I last left them here in the States was “give me few months to sort things out in Kuwait and I will definitely come back here to live with you”.

And that’s what I exactly did; I planned a flexible working schedule for the period I intended to stay in Kuwait, took care of the leftover issues; including moving out of my apartment into my dad’s place, and all whathaveyou of packing and liaisons involved. The most important issue was setting a target date to be back, and doing it on my own, at my ease, so I would get to enjoy my last days with friends and family in the process, and have a relaxing flight back to the Sates.

And I think things changed to my favor when my errands ended a month before expected, which meant that I would get to see the boys one month earlier. Everything went better than the schedule; every thing is taken care of and on top I had two days to relax with family in Kuwait till departure time, or; that’s what I thought!!!

A day before I left Kuwait, I had a call from my ex complaining that he could not find a hard box for my son’s electronic guitar (he only went looking for one on that day, although his son had asked him to do so a month back), and that I would have to manage since HE promised his son to send it with me, knowing beforehand that I would not refuse to do so when it comes to my children, even if that meant getting myself into trouble.
To make the long story short; I ended up at the airport with my computer bag and a relatively heavy electrical guitar in a soft leather case with very uncivilized shoulder straps (ask my upper shoulders about them).

And to make the situation even worse; at the BA counter; I learned that I only can carry one bag beside the musical instrument. And since I couldn’t sacrifice my laptop, I distributed the contents of my personal handbag (purse) between my pockets (thanks God I had many of those pockets on my baggy trousers with secure straps), I also used the small compartment attached to the case of the guitar to slip in my digital camera, and the rest of the stuff I pushed in areas around my laptop which was already stuffed with necessities of the one-night stay in London (BA regulations required that I carry no more than one bag and that I had an exception for one piece of musical instrument).

And I have to admit that here I lost patience, as well as mental balance!!!
First; because every piece I had to take out of my personal handbag was organized for easy access during my long flight. And rearranging them in the last moment disturbs my mental ability to concentrate; a burden that I did not need when I’m traveling long distances alone, with stuffed, unorganized baggage. And, second; the responsibility to get the precious thing across the boarder in one piece. And that by itself was the biggest burden…. The guitar had to reach my son’s hands in one piece; I did not need any last minute surprises.

It was no problem in Kuwait airport since trolleys are provided, and one can use them up to the boarding point. Then I only had to carry it on my shoulders for a short walk leading to the plane door, and ask the first stewardess to take care of it in its right place of the first class compartments while I was seated in the back seats of economy.

No problem at Heathrow either; both the laptop and the guitar mounted the trolley and the almost half a mile walk in the tube leading to Hilton Heathrow was a blessing after sitting for almost six hours. And now that the guitar and the laptop are in a safe place; it’s time to go out and have some fun since I had almost half a day to spend considering the two hours I gained with time change in England.

I took out my roaming and dialed a UK number. This number was given to me only tow days prior to my departure to London by a childhood school friend, whom I hardly ran into, as each of us led a very diverse separate life as we grew older. And I happen to run into her particularly one day before her travel to London!!
So you can imagine how disappointed I got when I couldn’t get hold of her line. The other bad news I had from the front desk advising not to go to central London on that day, since it coincided with Bank holiday and the transportation on holidays could get tiresome, when most places are closed. So going downtown London did not seem like a good idea. I spent the rest of the day between writing long awaited replies to e-mails, having a light meal and retiring early with my book.

My flight the next day was at 10:50 AM local time. I called the concierge asking for the direction to get to terminal one, since the tube that led me to this hotel was at terminal four and I wanted to make my provision to reach terminal one on proper time. And he figured it as follows; if I have a wake up call at 7:30AM, fast-check out at 8AM, walk the tube back to terminal four and catch the express to terminal one will all take 20 minutes, where I could be at the terminal on the two hours required time for check-in before my flight time.

So, I set the automatic wake-up call of the hotel phone on 7:30AM, and for more reassurance; I set my mobile alarm on 7:00AM. Not to say that I have slept that night, I have a bad habit of attachment to my bed that for the first nights away; I could hardly go to sleep. So, I waited for the mobile alarm to go off between my tossing and turning all night. And when it did; I was already in the bathroom brushing my teeth. And checked out even before the hotel alarm had a chance to go off.

The English morning air was refreshing; I took my time strolling while pushing slowly the trolley ahead of me with the laptop giving support to the precious guitar. And about half the way to terminal four; it suddenly downed on me; I have forgotten my wallet, passport and some other valuables in the safe, up in the room.

Without thinking, I strapped the guitar around my shoulders, tightened the straps of the laptop around the trolley edge, and raced the wind back to the hotel pushing the trolley ahead as if driving a car on a speed track. Thanks God there was no traffic. The concierge took me back to the room, and I retrieved my valuables and fled back to terminal four, this time with the luggage on the trolley, so it wasn’t bad except for the fact that I could not waste any time and lose the express connection on time. And as the express approached the station, it suddenly struck me that the alarm on my mobile was set to Kuwait time, and that I still had two hours to spare. So you could imagine the big smile that broke into my face as I envisioned duty-free shopping.

Of all the countries of the world, nothing is more tempting to me than duty-free shopping in London. May be because I already have in mind what I want and know where to get it. I don’t know. But the bad news was that I could not carry my trolley beyond the check-in point of terminal one, and there were no trolleys at the other side. Which also meant that; I either collapse on a nearby seat guarding my valuables and ogling at the big screen to announce my gate, or carry the guitar on my shoulders; bearing the grooves formed on my skin by the nasty uncomfortable shoulder straps, and wheeling the laptop along, for the sake of spending some time in shopping. Off course I chose the latter, and had to pay for it later.

The shopping was successful; I came out with five sets of new age CD’s, one documentary (aninconvennienttruth) about global warming, that I have not watched yet. I also got a couple of PIMM’S for gifts, of which I had the landlady in mind. Which also meant; more things to carry, but I took my mobile and wallet and other small stuff I stuffed my trouser pockets with, and placed them in my shopping bags.

It was a bit of a relief really, because the stuff was dragging my pants down with their weight to gravity; I did not mind my back tattoo peeking once and a while, but just to imagine that, in my haste, I might find my whole lower parts on the ground sent shivers up my spine, and I had to slow down each few steps to pull my pants up. I must’ve looked a freak to the onlookers, ready to take a corner and start to play the guitar, especially with those IPod ear bits playing in my ears while I’m checking CD’s. Almost everyone I conversed with while shopping asked me to play the guitar. And I kept swearing that I’m just a carrier with good ears, but no musical talents beyond that gift; none whatsoever.

The flight to SFC international airport was extremely comfortable. As usual; the guitar was tucked safely in the first class compartment, and I had four seats at the back of the economy all at my service for the rest of the flight. And it was a good treat for my tiered shoulders while lying down across four seats.

All was well till I got to the shuttle that was supposed to take me to the apartment in Mountain View. And as the driver approached the guitar I was guarding with my life, I asked him to take his hands off, demanding that it should stay with me or by the driver in the front seat. The driver gave in after some hesitation and a promise to be generous with him for his favor. And I thanked my stars for there were no other passengers but another sweet old lady. Boy; how was I wrong!!!

Our station was the first station to be loaded with passengers, there were at least five other stops that the shuttle made around the airport and more passengers were loaded aboard. But that was no problem really, it should have been expected, but what was not expected is the stinky smell of the driver. He smelled like a coolie, who has not had a shower in ages. And to be in a small, closed and crowded area with such a smell could really get you where the famous CA weed won’t dare. And to my disadvantage; I had to be taken to my place after the shuttle was completely emptied except for the last passenger who looked Chinese.

I was so thrilled to have finally arrived, took my luggage up, handed the landlady her gift, and as my youngest hug me, my glance went to the eldest (the owner of the guitar) with a dragged face; I have forgotten the guitar at the front seat of the shuttle, and that was no less than 20 minutes back, the shuttle had already left. And my digital camera was gone with it. Here I started becoming hyper while my son reassuring me that everything will be OK and I just had to relax. But how could I relax!!!! I have developed a special bond to that guitar.

Don’t worry folks; I got my stuff after a big hassle, and more payment. And the first thing my son asked me when he got his guitar was ” where is the Pedals? Please don’t tell me dad forgot it!!”

Now the million-dollar question goes to the judge who asked me to find a way to compromise with the father of my children; does he really think that we could ever have a chance to understand each other’s language?