notes on the road

Technical Assistance For My Waning Memory
Finding the #perfect spot to work.. then realising you don’t have your charger… #istanbul #september #beautiful

Finding the #perfect spot to work.. then realising you don’t have your charger… #istanbul #september #beautiful

Sometime the most powerful thing you can say is nothing at all.

Life lived. 

(via notesontheroad)

If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of my violin.

 - Albert Einstein 

cities with/out a soul

Gazientep, technically, is an important town on a historical trade/pilgrimage route, and the first main Turkish outlet to Syria’s second biggest city and (once upon a  time) its commercial capital. And yet, the place has absolutely no soul…

Compared to Beirut, it’s like mining in the desert vs. summer break. The place brings me to standstill. How a place can make all the difference. I am think I am done with the days of work-above-all-else. 

Can’t wait to get back home. 


A Portugese word that would describe a life well lived.

Maybe a title for a book, one day. 

I want to believe. 

I want to believe

Next time I am going anywhere, I am taking my pillow.


looking for motivation with a magnifying glass

For the first time in a while, I have been feeling a little low. And the realisation just hit me. 

My work encapsulates my values and has shaped my life. I do it because I believe, and it consumes me. A few months ago, I worked my butt off to get a paper out on an issue that had touched so many lives, and for which I felt signifant mobilisation was needed. I did my research, flew around, drove the miles, sat on hospital beds, listened to weeping fathers, disabled children, widdowed mothers, collected names and numbers, drew the maps, juggled the convincing arguments to show just internally the size of the problem. I wrote the paper from my heart, and got a pat on the back and a praise. Then in the end, it sat in the inboxes of paralysed decision makers for days, weeks, months, who joined the chorus too late by posing the much delayed uninformed questions, till we missed the queue. I try to convince myself I must go on, but I findle with it, and cannot get myself motivated to write one more word.

The general context of the work I do has gone from depressing to utterly hopeless. While before I could constantly find purpose in my work, I am dragging my feet from a meeting to another one, and go home when it’s over with a huge sense of relief: I can now do something else.

Then love, well. It’s been a marathonic summer of fleeting, mostly undesired attention, the type that makes a lot of noise and leaves no echo. Although this is exactly what I am not looking for, especially when mostly I am not even looking at all. Failure in love is something I stopped blaming myself for. But somehow, there is always a wound ready to break back open, pulling me back to a time already left behind.

Inspite my very busy social life, suddenly I felt removed, hollow, and unheard. Self-doubt was creeping in. It’s been so long since I have felt this way.

I know that road, and it’s dead end. 

But I cannot stand dwellers and refuse to sulk. If I have reached the bottom, then I must count to five, dust myself, and stand right back up. For the simple reason that life is way to short to waste it whining over a broken compus. If I have to, I will use my intuition, even if hazy, but I must keep on.

After all, I am never alone. I have always had the most amazing friends. Kind, generous, and unconditionally supportive. How can I ever lose the way when I am surrounded with people like that?

Out of the blue, I chatted with an old friend I haven’t spoken to in ages. Someone for whom I have so much respect and admiration. Intelligent, creative, positive, succeeds in whatever he does. Someone who truly carved his own space, and quickly gained everyone’s respect for it. A friend I definitely look up to. And out of the blue, he throws me two words of encouragment:

WM: you are my hero, you know that?
WM: ultimate cool :)

Me his hero? :) Some friends know exactly how to set a mood right, without being given any clues. 

Why again was I taking myself down? :)

Life is too short and too beautiful. Go on, kick ass. 

Posted by a friend who’s always stuck in some struggle. I do hope one day he conquers it all.

Posted by a friend who’s always stuck in some struggle. I do hope one day he conquers it all.

the power of vulnerability

"Here is the thing. I am struggling.

What’s the struggle?

I have a vulnerability issue. I know vulnerability is kind of the core of fear, shame, and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that is also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging of love


Now you know how there are people when they realise that vulnerability and tenderness are important, that they kind of surrender and walk into it? A. that’s not me; and B. I don’t even hang out with people like that.


We numb vulnerability… the problem is that we cannot selectively numb emotion. (…) when we numb the hard feelings, we numb joy…gratitude… happiness”

Amazing talk all the way through, basically telling me I have got my priorities in reverse. 

1 week ago - 1

lebanese street language interpreted

One and a half year later, here is Lebanese street language to my Egyptian ear. Many of these went through a whole process of confusion until they finally sank in. Some translations provided (some words mean completely different things in Lebanese and Egyptian). NB: you might want to be 18 years or older… 

bonjourin (‘two good mornings’; answer to good morning), sahtein (‘two healths’, i.e bon appetit), fashkhtein (L: two steps; E: two f**ks), thank you la2elak (‘thank you, to you’ - yes indeed, the precision is invaluable), mret, ta3teer, 3aba2t, tarasht (L: ‘I painted the walls’ E: ‘I threw up’), 3an jad, ra7 o3botek (L: ‘i will hug you’, E: a verb that means nothing), Mni7, Ktir salby (‘very negative’ means ‘very cool’). la wlo (a word, a sound, an expression, I have no clue), w2er! (‘p*n*s!’ stand-alone swear-word), Kis ikhta! (‘screw her sister!’ most common curse), ayri feek! (‘screw you!’ – though literally a bit more graphic), 3ayat 3alay (L: shout at me, E: cry for me), lak ro2 showay! (lak?) laiki, takka, zawareb, day3a (L: village, E: lost), sakar rasy, dakhlik, bedna nwale3a! (‘we want to set it on fire!’ i.e. party hard), mahdoom (L: positive description of a person, E: something digested), bey3a2ed (L: very positive description of a person, E: someone who complicates things), 3ama be2albak! (blindness in your heart!), walaao (E: ‘ya ragel mat2olsh keda’), ballesh (L: to begin, E: unclear when used as a verb: balash is ‘free’), the famous ‘eh’ (L: ‘yes’, E: ‘what?’ often causing confusion to the untrained), ya eib el shoom! (meen el shoom?), tekram 3einek (3einak inta walahi), and the award goes to the polite expression to call for assistance: ‘bedi a3zbak, a3mel ma3roof’ (‘i would like to torture you, if you will’. and I will cut my arm if ever an Egyptian in Beirut actually used it for what it’s meant for)

I am interested in the devil. And I am notorious for it.

I love you; for the ungraspable idea you are, the immeasurable potential; for all what I see and cannot fanthom, for what I understand and cannot explain.

My phantoms 

Him: still ok.. still going strong.. still beautiful.. thats ok no?
Her: that's pretty good, yes..
: I am still ok...
: still distracted, still torn, still deeply engaged and totally disconnected...
: all signs of being ok
Him: ah, like the sudden one I know.. random you called it
: I would say challenging... in more than one way
: which i see as a compliment
: I mean you are lively..not boring..or predictable
: ships, we should have slept together.. for the sake of chemistry
: but the darned principles
Her: ships, i think you're right...
Him: it was always there, should have seen the frown on my face
: I wanted you… but didn't want you unhappy
: I think we would have made magic love

Stop being fearful of unexpected expressions of love, of spontaneous expressions of care.

Physical manifestations to a loss of words or poetic expressions to a lack of touch.

It is from those fragile and vulnerable gestures that are revealed the most sincere partners, that are born the most meaningful relationships.

So lucid, and so poignant, I have been so struck by these words since I read them. It’s like my wordless dilemmas have finally come undone. (From a Facebook status of a - quite random - recent aquaintance.)