7 Hours Prior To My Flight...

Just last night, I finished packing and was mentally ready to go. As a hardcore procrastinator, I always knew that I'll only start packing when reality hits me; when there's no other escape. My family and I will be flying tonight via Qatar Airways and arrive at Doha after an hour and a half for another one hour transit at Doha's airport. After a 9-hour flight, we'd reach Guangzhou, China at around 8 AM local time and 3 PM China's time.

With much luck, I'd keep a journal filled with our daily roundabouts and would only publish it on here when I get back along with some snapshots, inshallah.

Kafa/Enough! Oman Campaign

I recently had the opportunity to interview Kafa/Enough! Oman Campaign's manager/creator, Torey Beth Jackson for my column and here it is for you. If you're one of those who haven't heard of them, all you have to do is join in their Facebook group, take the Twitter survey or simply follow their blog.

(1)What inspired you to start the campaign?

Torey: During my study in Oman, the very first thing I was warned about was that the traffic situation in Oman wasn't exactly desirable. I was told that the accident rate for Oman's population was disproportionately high and that being in an accident was a very real risk to our safety. I made a mental note of it but it bad driving was never really a problem with me- both of my host parents were very safe drivers and we never had accidents. Even though I witnessed quite a few accidents in my stay in Oman, it never occurred to me to do something about it there and then. I guess I was so lost in the sheer beauty of Oman and the time of my life that I was having to realize that bad driving could affect me at any moment. It wasn't until I lost a very close friend in a car accident that I decided to do something, because suddenly, it was so real to me. It never, ever occurred to me that this could happen to me and to my circle of friends, and I was so devastated. I think the only word to describe how I felt is an Arabic word, and that's masdouma. Shocked. I decided to honor a great friend by starting a campaign to prevent this from happening to others; to prevent unnecessary deaths as well as utter heartbreak and sorrow that always follows the loss of someone in your life.

(2)How was the feedback you received at first?

Torey: At first, feedback was painfully small, albeit strong. I had support from good friends from the Facebook group's baby days, but it wasn't until very recently that support increased. And when we did get support, it poured in dramatically. Our group size doubled in about four days and comments were pouring in. This was so refreshing to see, because clearly, others agree something needs to be done about this.

(3)What is the exact aim of wanting to raise awareness about safe driving?
Torey: What this campaign is aiming to do is to spread the message of how important it is to drive safely. Driving is a complicated task, which many don't realize. Your actions while driving affect those driving around you, and it's so important to follow the "rules of the road" per se. Basically, I want to tell the whole of Oman- from down in Dhofar to the farthest point of Musandam and everywhere in between- that driving safely and correctly is so important, and may even save your life or the lives of others if an accident ever occurred. This has gone on for too long, and we have lost so many lives because drivers think it's okay to speed or talk on their cellphones while driving or overtake when they're not supposed to, etc. These deaths are so preventable, and they've got to stop. Everyone in Oman, young and old, needs to know how important it is to be responsible behind the wheel.

(4)What are you future plans for this campaign?

Torey: I plan to continue this campaign for as long as possible. In the beginning days, we had a long name: Society for Bettering Oman's Traffic Conditions, but in the past weeks, we've been totally revamping everything. We decided to change our name to the Enough! Oman Campaign, or in Arabic, حملة كفى! عُمان, as in we've had enough of bad driving in Oman. We are gaining a range of supporters quite swiftly these days, and we're currently branching out to other social networking sites other than our Facebook group. We created an online campaign blog where we post traffic tips as well as updates about the campaign. We are currently trying to decide if we should expand to Twitter by surveying our support group. I plan to keep growing our campaign and spreading the word about us and our message, and hopefully in the future, we may be able to organize an event, such as an awareness walk. In the meantime, we're working on gaining supporters from all over Oman, as well as the support of local businesses. Together, we can all work together to prevent deaths and spread the message of the importance of driving safely.

(5)Do you have any words you’d like to say to those who drive recklessly?

Torey: What do I have to say to reckless drivers?
It is never worth your life. Talking on your cellphone, speeding, overtaking illegally, or participating in a very popular thing among youth- drag racing- all of these things are not worth your life. Your calls can wait, you can be late, you can be patient, you can stay away from foolish things, because the people around you that love you are going to miss you terribly if something tragic as a death happened. It's never worth your life to do anything like those things. I remember when I got my license in the United States, the judge in the courtroom told us not to speed if we were late for something, because our loved ones would rather be late than dead. Keep this in mind. It's not worth your life. And I'd like if reckless drivers kept in mind that their actions affect others around you. Speeding, overtaking, anything like this- you are not only putting your life at risk, but others too. I am 100% sure that if you harmed or even killed someone because you were driving recklessly, you wouldn't be able to live with the guilt- that if I had done something differently, they'd be alive today. Keep it all in mind, and drive safely, please. For your sake and for others.

[Book Review] Change Of Heart

The story is set about a mother (June) who lost her first husband in a car accident then married a police officer, Kurt, who raised Elizabeth, the first husband's daughter. Kurt and Elizabeth get killed by Shay, the house's carpenter.

The mystery surrounding the character Shay and his attitude struck me and I had to figure out what he truly was. He was sentenced to death and after waiting 11 years in prison for his fate things become exceedingly interesting for truth reveals it self eventually. Once inside the prison, Shay, somehow was responsible of turning water into wine, bringing back a bird from dead, healing an inmate from AIDs completely, multiplying food from one item. This whole drama caused people outside the prison and inside to mistake him for Jesus or a Messiah.

Meanwhile, Shay claimed nothing about himself of that sort that Micheal, a saint and a member of Shay's jury who convicted him years ago, struggles to heal the inmate's soul. Shay then fascinates Micheal by quoting some of Jesus' saying that is not written in any gospels of Bible but on the mysterious gospel of Thomas, written 2 thousand years ago.

Father Micheal doubted that Shay would have read such a rare book given his condition of having difficulty in speaking, writing and merely reading. Shay all the while insisted on donating his heart after his death to Claire, Elizabeth's sister and June's daughter from Kurt. An attorney, Maggie, fights along Shay & Micheal to make Shay's final wish happen by insisting on taking an alternative manner of death sentence which is none other than hanging since it only causes brain-death and keeps the heart functioning.

At this point, Jodi Picoult, captivates her reader by a thought-provoking situation when June, the mother, decides on either forgoing the past or accepting Shay's heart that will somehow ensures her daughter's Claire transplant and would give her years to live.

The ending sparks endless questions on my mind so I wouldn't ruin it for you, except that if I ever got the change of asking Judi anything it would be these;

What is Shay exactly? How could he revive the dead and do other miracles?
How can he insist on going to jail instead of someone else?
How did he know things of other people's lives?
When and why did he steal Micheal's grandfather's picture?

Philosophy and religions were mentioned a lot in this book that I would have skipped some pages if it weren't for the thought-provoking storyline and to admit that this book kept my insominac for three long nights isn't an exaggeration for it deserves more than just this. Give it a try, you won't regret it.

My rating: 9/10. Judi continues to amazes me.

[Book Review] عشت معها

Another story distributed by Rikaz campaign based on a true story, written by Siham Khalid AlAmer. The writer starts off explaining how badly treated she was, and how her parents gave her younger brother their full attention.

After returning from University one day, she sees both her parents in a miserable state: mother in tears and father in awe. They didn't answer her question so she went up to her room and that's when her brother came in and the fight erupted at the living room. She ran back to ask again, and this time she was determined to get an answer.

Her brother was addicted on drugs, and so, his parents decided to send him away; shut him off to get a special treatment. The writer then decided to do something different for a change and offered to take care of the situation. Both her parents were shocked but agreed, nonetheless. The writer then left her studies behind in order to help her brother in the procedure. Both siblings then lived out of town, based on the Doctor's recommendation and that's where the journey began. Her brother refused to take his medicine and wanted drugs instead. He would beg, hit his sister but she refused with all her might to do so.

It reached to a point where she had to shut him in a room so he wouldn't hurt her anymore. She stood beside him and endured his hysterical moments. A week later, his situation stabled, making him realize what he got himself into. He stayed focused on quitting on drugs and continuing with the medication.

Months later, the two siblings went back home and the parents embraced the writer with such a warm and loving heart. They praised her determination and thanked her for everything. For once, the writer felt how it is like to be needed and wanted.

The writer remarked on how good it is to be responsible of something so big and important like this. And so, she lived with the joy of this responsibility forever.

You can read the story online here.

This Time For Espana

The fun ended last night with Spain's celebration when scoring a goal at the last minutes of the extra second half and winning the title of the World Cup Championship 2010.

Spain deserved this title as it showed great possession of the ball ever since the beginning of the finale match yesterday Vs. Netherlands, whose players missed a lot of chances in scoring. Yes, I'm talking about Robben.

Fireworks erupted at the top of soccer city stadium last night as a closure for an exciting and nerve-wrecking world cup tournament.

I'd defiantly miss all the amazing nights my family and I went through while watching the games and we're looking forward for 2014 world cup that will be hosted at Brazil.

Congrats Espana and hard luck Netherlands!

Inside Stories

A strong demand was on the inside drama that happened during my teaching course so here it is. (for you, @GazelleR)

Most of the stories happened with two of my older students who, for some reason, couldn't understand that speaking in English was for their own good and gave me a hard time for not doing their homework the way I asked to be done.

Above all of that, they'd often ditch the lesson for some bizarre excuse together. Yes, they were the best of friends who wouldn't dare attend the class without the other and this pissed me off. She's sick but what about YOU? Umm, I don't know. So not only do I have to teach once, but repeat it twice!

Anyhow, just a week before the course came to a close, I decided to change the timings to 1-3 PM to have enough time and get back home and watch the Wold Cup games. The next thing, their moms are in rage and wonders which teacher on earth would care about the World Cup, little did they knew that I was THAT teacher. Just because you do not watch it doesn't mean others don't too.

The principal got fed up with the two of them and kicked them out as they've been giving excuses after another, showing their little interest in learning. But what came after their absence was more sickening; a parent says that she regrets sending her daughter as she didn't learn a thing. And just two weeks back, her own daughter begged me to tutor her 18 years old sister for thanawiya alamma next year. Where did that go?

Wait, what was that? How come all I heard during the lessons were praise and happiness to be here and not anywhere else...?

Turned out, the mother just said this because she was angry and her daughter would like to resume but guess what? We don't want you!

My other sophisticated students said that this was much unneeded drama wrapped up in lies and that they learned a lot and would like to be taught again next summer and I shall do just that without already-pampered girls.

My Style

Polyvore.com is a cool site that allows you to display your style using infamous brand names of clothes, accessories or any fashionable item. I was bored enough to place each item and show you all how simple my style is;

For a formal outing:

Formal outing

A red empire-waist pleated maxi, black high heels, Chanel's lambskin handbag, single strand peal necklace, pearl dangle earrings, crystal ring and a couple of Twinkle Bow Bobby pins to wrap it all up.

For a girls get-together:

Align CenterhangoutFashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

A blurred floral gradient dress, black jeggings, sonnenbrille sunglasses from H&M, heart-shaped pink earrings from Elle, Sabrina's necklace, stamped patent-leather wallet, crystal-studded flats, Valentino's Rock n' Rose perfume, LV's Luxist watch and a sidekick (because I've always wanted one).

China, Here I Come

You're probably wondering; Why CHINA? Well, my mom has a thing for Asian countries. You see, last holiday we went to India and the one before it to Iran, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, etc. So you kind of get the point by now.

We're the type of family that only sets its mind at the last minute so the idea of traveling to China came up a month ago and till date, I might be materialistically ready but defiantly not mentally.

Shopping wise, my mother covered practically the whole clothes side so that's done. The only thing I really worry about is: When the hell am I going to get my books? The girl has to have some light books to tag along. Last time, amazingly, The Harry Potter series provided a good company and I'm planning to have the same this time. Any recommendations?

On the other side, my uncle have been to China on April and gave us stunning reviews about the place. We all had this idea of China's products are not to be trusted, blah, blah, but there's a nice place called Guangzhou;

عرض خريطة بحجم أكبر

And I'm pretty excited about exploring the Chinese lifestyle and tradition, not to mention, their very-hard-to-catch Language. So far, I know that 'nihao' means hello/how are you? and 'xiexie' as thank you but wait till I get hold of a dictionary, I'll be speaking it fluently in no time (yeah, right!)

Another thing we've been warned about is their weird food; fried worms, cockroaches, etc..so we'll be taking some caned food with us just in case we get stuck at some point and have no idea what 'normal food' stands for in Chinese.

Till then, I'll resume my shopping & packing. What are your summer plans?

The End Of My Teaching Experience

Today is the final day of the summer course I agreed to teach at for 3 lessons a day;

  • 8-9 AM: Kids from 4-8 years old.
  • 9-10:30 AM : Students from 10-13.
  • 1-3 PM: Students from 13-19.

The first group of 4-8 years old were the most enjoyable and tiring ones. All I had to do is teach how to write a new letter after revising the last one. There are times when they'd start calling me repeatedly, seeking for my attention and that's when their yelling hit my nerves.

Special students; Ru2a..There's a lot to say about her. You know how super hyper kids at 6 can be? Well, she's like that and even more. The word 'sitting down' is not in her dictionary and cannot, in any way, be added. At first, I just didn't want to deal with her as she simply disturbs the flow of the class and distracts the other students from paying any attention to what I say. She'd kick this and tease that as long as she does something then that's what pleases her. Another thing that appealed to her was watching Sana channel on TV so I snatched the opportunity as a threat and indeed, it worked!

Students from 10-13 years old were very pampered and wouldn't try solving a new worksheet on their own claiming that it was very hard. And the next thing I know, some of their parents come up to me and complain about it. Well, what if I gave your kids A B C's, will it satisfy you? Easy things won't improve anyone.

Older students group of 13-19 years old weren't used to being talked to with English all the time but by time, they understood that it's for their better good and started responding and asking if they had any doubts. I started out on a serious note and laid back when I knew I could be-friend them.

They wrote letters to me today and I was having the time of my life going through them and knowing that I have made a change in their lives, no matter how small this change is.

Would I do it again? So far, I don't know. But, if I did, I'd have the full knowledge on how it is going to be and hence, would take full responsibility of my decision. But for the time being, I'd say goodbye to my desk:

Now that this is off my shoulders, I should seriously start shopping & packing for China. So the countdown begins from now on and this topic shall have a post of its own. Stay tuned!

[Movie] The Notebook (2004)

It’s been 6 years since this movie was out but I only recently searched for its DVD version in my cousin’s piles of movies. It started out nicely and then, it was full of kissing scenes and I stopped right there. Today, while flipping the channels, Dubai One said it was ‘Next’ and I knew I had to watch.

An old man starts reading a story written on a notebook to a woman in her late years who’s suffering from amnesia...

He tells a story about two young lovers at the age of 17... And the way Noah approaches Ally on their first meeting at the carnival shows the great bond that erupted as soon as their eyes met. Also, Ally’s way of acting so hard-to-get means they’ll end up together eventually.

Then, the relationship goes on a more serious and faster progress with what spending almost every second of the day together. One day, Noah takes Ally to his dream house and farm and gets carried away in talking about his future plans, meanwhile, Ally’s conservative parents call out the police to look for her and things change from there onwards.

Seeing as how Noah was a poor man and Ally comes from a rich and educated family, her mother presses in this idea on the same night, saying that he’s not the right man for her daughter and she shouldn’t be seeing him again. Noah, in the next room, hears this and walks out of the house, with important things to think about.

Ally follows him and a huge fight was the cause of their separation. Before Ally knew it, the next day itself, her family wants to leave home.

Throughout an entire year, Noah keeps writing and sending letters to Ally without getting a single response. After 365 days, Noah decides to stop writing and join in the army. Ally, on the other hand, have gotten into med school and nurses army men when she meets Lon, the guy she agrees to marry.

Noah comes back, and with the help of his father, he buys the house he always wanted to have and starts to build it all over again, giving it the modern and renewed look with the addition of the white balcony he promised Ally to make.

While Ally prepares for her wedding, she sees the paper featuring Noah building his house from scratch and goes back to him and realizes that she can’t run away again and makes a decision…

The old man then stops reading the story and memories come back to the sick woman at the hospital and know that Noah and Ally will live together and that she was, all along, Ally and her doctor was Noah, trying to help her regain her lost memories. It's actually amazing how after all these years, Noah still is at Ally's side.

An incredible story line that simply shows the miracles love can make if only it was as powerful as Noah and Ally’s.

Note: Noah’s character can’t get any dreamier than it already is, that much I can assure you.

World Cup Surprises!

(1) If today's result means anything, it only shows the unpredictability of this World Cup: Brazil losing against Netherlands. (When Italy, France and England were eliminated earlier, I said the only team that's left is Brazil and so I was right).

(2) Tomorrow's game between Germany and Argentina is the most deciding one. What are your guesses? Who'll make it to the finale?

(3) Speaking of World Cup craze, here's what this man's annoyance made him do;

Washington - A Texas man has been charged in the death of his two-year-old step-daughter during a World Cup football match over the weekend, a Texas newspaper reported Tuesday.

The suspect, Hector Castro, 28, reportedly told police that he beat his daughter because she was screaming during Saturday's World Cup match between the United States and Ghana, The Monitor of McAllen, Texas, reported.

He said he had punched his daughter twice in the chest.

According to the police report, Castro shoved a screw down her throat to make the fatality look like an accident. Castro tried to revive her when she stopped breathing.

The autopsy report said the girl had four broken ribs, three of which were several weeks old.
...More like ignorance, if you ask me.

(4) Also, 'Wavin' flag' appeals to me along with Akon's 'Oh Africa' more than Shakira's Waka Waka.


5 days and I'll be done with teaching for good.
I should be jumping off the wall about it but I'm not. From now on, I realize how boring endless holidays are and if I didn't do anything about it, I'd become as lazy as I always was. We'd throw a party on Wednesday and I don't think I can say goodbye to the kids after one month. Mr. Physics was right, after all: The worst part of teaching is getting personally attached to your students.

9 days to the World Cup finale.
Who's not excited to know who the Winner is? Hope it's either Germany or Argentina!

20 days till we head to China.
I'm not ready at all. Haven't shopped or packed up anything. I guess I'll always be the last-minute kind of person no matter how hard I work into changing that.

One Year Blog Anniversary

It's been a year since I started this blog back in July, 1st 2009. I started out with an utterly clueless post asking everyone not to wait for any blog posts. I didn't exactly understand what Blogger was all about but things have changed and I now have 104 posts, 43 followers and over 2000 visits.

During the course of one year, Blogger helped me showcase my writings (short stories & poems), thoughts, opinions and various reviews on movies and books. With it, I was able to account many different stages and accomplishments I've done that I'm proud and ashamed of.

Many thanks to my dear readers, followers, and commentators for going through my humble blog! I wouldn't have continued updating without your encouragements and ideas!