Sunday, May 29, 2005

Taqnya 2005

This is the name of this year's annual telecom and communications exposition in Libya. There are lots of business and venture opportunities in that sector and it seems many people have signed up. If I can make it I will try and visit next week.

Meanwhile , it seems we shall be soon getting broadband in our homes at affordable prices, and not just in the business sector anymore. I can hardly wait as although I am grateful for the dial up system it does have its quirks.
Internet is very popular here, and though there are supposedly only 28,000 dial up subscribers in homes, we have so many internet cafes ( who have mostly leased lines internet which is faster than dial up as you probably know) you wonder how they make profit since these lines are expensive while that prices per hour have gone down. You will find all sorts of people in these cybercafes, youth playing online games, chatting with friends, people doing research for homework, foreigners getting in touch with their families and friends, Libyan families calling their loved ones in the US and Canada ( it's cheaper than a phone call) , and even Libyan businessmen sending a quick email. It's become a part of our life - like everywhere else in the world.
Also, now I know why my line keeps disconnecting . We live 300 m from the beach folks, it is pretty humid.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Moving on

I did not think that my loyalty to a childhood friend and wanting to find out her fate could unleash such a torrent of to put it mildly 'strange' emails. Is it unusual to want a reunion with old classmates ?
As promised this will be my last and hopefully final update on this story, obviously it is important to me since I dedicated 3 posts to it.
Well since I found A. last week, we've exchanged some emails, in which she plainly said that she had chosen to stop writing to me for a couple of reasons among them is that she did not get some replies from me ( but hello A. I told you we have sanctions , that means letters take months to arrive and may get lost as well). But the most important reasons was that all those years ago she felt that we had nothing to say to each other anymore on acount of her maturing and me supposedly not ;) and had decided to break the correspondence.
Well that is fine my dear, it would have been more brave to just say it 10 years ago . "Hello Highlander, I think we have outgrown our friendship and should each seek our life. Wish you the best blabla bla . " It would have been so honest, civilised and mature, than to stop writing abruptly. Still no hard feelings, that is not all the story; I gathered it seems something did happen in between the time she broke our correspondence and my getting in touch with her again, because there is a bitterness in those letters and there is allusion to the world of current affairs, to Iraq, to 9/11/ to Islam , to the West . That is what I don't understand. All these things where not part of our world as children. I'm really sorry A. that you have a problem , if you can't voice it , no one can help you. Anyway she was clear at not wanting anything to do with me at all. That is fine , no classmate's reunion I guess :). I accept her choice and I close the chapter on this story, with proper goodbyes. But guess what? The tables have turned and she won't let go. A is demanding answers and bombarding with emails to things which are unrelated to me .I am thinking that I got the wrong person or that I have ended up in a mental hospital. ? It is so painful to loose your childhood memories, now everything is tainted and there are no certainties anymore. So the sanctions have only accelerated a doomed friendship ( I had no idea it was doomed). It is better to know late than never. C'est la vie and it is time to move on. Let us all wish her[A] happiness.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Update on lost friendships

If you are interested to hear what happened , after my post on lost friendships , what did A. do with my email ? Here is the story. Though I'm happy that she has survived and is well, the end is not happy I guess after all. Below is a translation of part of her email, I know this is personal stuff but maybe by sharing it with the whole world I would be able to grasp what exactly happened to necessitate this response. Plus it's good therapy.

" I was wondering when would I hear from you again? After all this see, your phone call was not really a big surprise. I expected it in a way, one day..without knowing when or how, because that is the nature of things , to try to reach out again after a long silence.
But my reply has not changed.
You see our paths had crossed at a certain time, but our ideals ( ideologies?) were different, the way we saw life was different. I chose the path of wisdom, at least what I think is wisdon. While for you it was the path of action , which probably has another aspect due to your philosphy in life. That is good , that is fine. To each her belief, and to each her destiny. I am not here to judge you. I think I even understand you , even though you probably don't need my understanding . I bet that is what you will tell me [and she ends by saying] I have not forgotten the good old days. A"

I have no idea what she is talking about and I feel that this letter is full of innuendos. We were kids so what, faith and philosophy is she talking about ? our sole concerns were , if that guy or the other fancied who, pop music, films, books. Not Hegel, Marx, or Kissinger.
I thought she was pretty condescending with the 'not judge you ' and I got the impression that she purposely stopped writing maybe because she thought I did not reply to a particular letter which I have never received. If you recall we had sanctions. Any brilliant ideas out their, do you see something I don't?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Fair & Lovely

Sandmonkey from Egypt brought up this topic among the things that he hated , he reminded me that I need to write about " Fair & Lovely" ( Thanks Sandmonkey).

I am so angry at that, it is still being marketed in the Middle-East, African countries and some parts in the Far east , while it is strictly forbidden in the west and Europe. I will ignore the racial thingy and just concentrate on chemistry. Do you know why it is not marketed in Europe even though the package says Made in UK ( that is the most expensive version, the UAE and Lebanese ones are cheaper). Because it was pulled from the market as the main component hydroquinone which is to de-pigment the skin is carcinogenic and harmful to the skin. Usually hydroquinone is given in extreme cases by a prescription from your dermatologist and not over the counter! Look at all the derivatives sold in Africa alone, we have a lot of them in Libya as our African guest workers love to buy this cream and unfortunately some of the Libyan girls do so as well as they are being told it is a sunblock !.

First time users will experience a lightened skin tone which they will appreciate and so continue but in a few months their skin becomes greyish/blueish and crinkly and more prone to burning in the sun anf they will need to keep using this product (a vicious cycle).

Over the counter products containing this chemical in Europe and US, ex: Fade Out (Fade Out Original Skin Lightening Cream 2oz - that was the one which began to be sold in Europe in 1992 and is still around repackaged for the 21st century) have considerably reduced the % content and clearly tell you to ask your doctor, make a test patch , preferrably to use it on scar tissue not your face etc...aahhhh I'm so angry..everytime I tell one of my friends, they ignore my advice , thinking I'm just jealous of their even toned fairer skin, 6 months later they start crying !This is a tragedy.
A quiz from a blogger

There is a interesting quiz going around in the blogosphere my friend Alan has kindly nominated me for this (thanks Alan :)), he calls it the 'round robin' ..I'm not familiar with this word but for you out there quiz fans hope you enjoy it . The Rules in Alan's words are as follows:

Pick 5 occupations and complete the sentence.Add some more occupations.Pass it on to at least 3 other bloggers.Have Fun! (That's a rule!)

The List:If I could be a scientist...If I could be a farmer...If I could be a musician...If I could be a doctor...If I could be a painter...If I could be a gardener...If I could be a missionary...If I could be a chef...If I could be an architect...If I could be a linguist...If I could be a psychologist...If I could be a librarian...If I could be an athlete...If I could be a lawyer...If I could be an innkeeper...If I could be a professor...If I could be a writer...If I could be a llama-rider...If I could be a bonnie pirate...If I could be a service member...If I could be a business owner...If I could be an actor...If I could be an agent...If I could be video game designer...If I could be a comic book artist...If I could be a hooker...If I could be a crack addict...If I could be a porn star...If I could be a mime...If I could be a domestic engineer...If I could be a chimney sweep...If I could be a masseuse...If I could be a taxi driver...If I could be a priest...If I could be a window cleaner...If I could be a gynecologist...If I could be a world leader...If I could be a healer...If I could be a proctologist...If I could be a carpenter...If I could be a amusement park ride operator...If I could be the manager of an adult bookstore...If I could be Pat Benatar...If I could be a hermit...If I could be a social parasite...If I could be an X-Man...If I could be Paris Hilton...If I could be a movie director...If I could be a super model...If I could be the new pope...

Bills additions:If I could be a neurosurgeon ...If I could be a playwrite ...If I could be a Belgian ...

Alan's addition:If I could be a Astronaut/Cosmonaut ...If I could be a Time Traveller ...If I could be a Dragon ...

My additon: If I could be a fighter pilot..., If I could be a sailor..., If I could be a dolphin.....

My answer: If I could be an actor, I'd want to be Angelina Jolie to have Brad Pitt's attention 24/7. If I could be a world leader, I would choose to be the President of the US to have a mighty power behind me to be able to force my will on others. If I could be a healer, I would be able to help all the people with strange diseases for free. If I could be a time traveller, I would want to go back to the time of the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and live in those days with him. If I could be an athlete I'd be a professional swordswoman.

Now for the hard part, nominating only 3 bloggers is very difficult because I want to send it to all of them so I will nominate 3 Libyan bloggers ;) and I'm going to ask all my other blogger friends to help themselves and be my guest ( hope that does not break the Karma of the game ;) ). Ok here we go : smokey_spice , FatimasLibya, Khadijateri. It's your turn now ladies .

Monday, May 16, 2005

Desecretating a religious book

The accusations that the US soldiers in Guantanamo have flushed the Qur'an down the toilet have sparked anger around many parts of the Muslim world and caused several deaths in Afghanistan on its own. Now in an effort the save face it seems Newsweek will be scapegoated as it has issued an apology for ' erroneously ' reporting that story.

Now why am I not surprised? It does not matter if Newsweek apologises or not, or if the US authorities are 'investigating' these allegations or not. The soldiers and their superiors at Guam are simply doing their job; you did not expect them to be an icon of innocence did you? of course they are going to use every means to 'torture' the fellows there. That's the game of war and a large part of it is won psychologicaly by breaking the person you consider an enemy. Usually if physical abuse and sexual abuse -as was amply demonstrated - doesn't work that well, vilifying what many Muslims hold most sacrosanct is the next step. Why do we think the US investigators would be above such tactics? Still I could be wrong.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Happy slapping ..

This is a very disturbing article on the BBC , the idea of happy slapping is to creep up to someone slap them and take their photo with your cellphone then send it to everyone and to the internet to publish the person's humiliation. It is to be fashionable in a few western states, sort of like a very sadistic candid camera thingy. I don't know what will bored sick people come up with! Disgusting . In my opinion the perpetrator should be put in prison and pay a hefty compensation to never think again about hurting another human being.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Libyan Blogs encore , and comments section

Thank you to all those who sent me links to other Libyan blogs in the last few days :)

First of all there is the family man Bobraislibyaa , Bobrais means lizard in Libyan so I know this guy could only be a compatriot he he he. I'm glad this blog tempted you to have yours, if you've read I already commented on your first post, but I don't know what have you been up to because none of your links show now. So please put it/them back up again. 3amalt ili 3alaya !

The other is a Libyan satirical blog in Arabic, so here you are the enigmatic mindamir , you seem to be very mysterious (no profile), wish you all the best as well.

COMMENTS Sections : To all those readers who left comments on older posts, for a reply please check the relevant posts. I try my best to reply as regularly as possible. Thank you for your participation.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Libya tightens rules on foreign workers

About time I say , the rules were always there, it's just that they have been taken with a bit of laxity shall we say. According to these news from an official website from now on they are supposed to be applied :

“Any one or any company who employ foreign workers must plan and coordinate their work according to the law, and they must bring their authorized papers to the Secretariat of Training and Man-Power.”
The Secretariat of Public Security said it will take appropriate legal action against anyone, even foreigners and people smugglers who violate the legislations, including a prison sentence of more than a year, and a fine of more than LYD 2000.

No offense meant to anyone...but they should not have been relaxed in the first place, as greedy entrepreneurs only abused the law to get illegal cheap immigrants or very expensive foreign 'consultants' where a European secretary could be employed as a 'computer technical specialist' ( whaaaaaaaaat? ) to bypass the law while a Libyan who could do the job just as well would not be employed ( I know the Libyan girl wants to go home and cook for her husband and not stay and work till 10 PM, but I'm sure if the company pays her the same salary as for the foreigner she would stay at work and hire a housekeeper;) ). Still I think the essence of the idea is good but the implementation leaves a bit to be desired, because the first thing that went was that the majority of the shops that employed Arab workers were closed, in the last 2 days. That means even bakerie etc.. Many Libyans do not like to do what are considered 'menial' jobs but I did notice in the last few years that they do not bulk at them anymore, except that foreign labour ( not experts) is cheaper. But I'm not sure at the rumour that "Arab md’s (medical doctors) are being thrown out of hospitals and clinics". That would be a tad too drastic, those people have valid contracts... plus who is going to man all those hospitals, unless I suspect we are going to be flooded with EU doctors. It's speculation time I guess, but I don't think this drastic approach is going to solve the rising unemployment issue.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Libyan Children's AIDS crisis - Update II

Last month I brought up this case and the foreign and Libyan staff implicated in it here and a possible boycott of trade with Bulgaria here . Well the Libyans have been placated by the visit of the Bulgarian Minister of Economy who states his visit was unrelated with the case ( can't be sure). Meanwhile the nurses celebrated Easter Mass on 1st May weekend in prison where a Greek priest was attending and they got to talk to their families on diplomatic cell phones ( I wish Libyan inmates had that luxury). The trial has been postponed once more until August, whilst the kids' death toll has reached 50 now. The parents have sent letters to the UN and the Bulgarian Ambassador in Tripoli, in which they basically say that the children who are also the victims here have not benefitted from international exposure while everyone has been sympathising with the health workers. That in my view smacks of 'selectivity' by the international community don't you think so? Do you have to be 'white' to qualify for humanitarian care? I've already voiced this in my previous posts, still I'm amazed at the world's hypocrisy in this regard.

Read an excerpt of the letter here or go to the above link for the full article ( and ignore the not so perfect translation):

' While we are stressing to you our strong pride and great respect for the friendly Bulgarian people - as part of the Libyan people which is proud of these relations - we also express our strong disappointment at the treatment of this case by the media institutions of your friendly country, which ignore the facts and the truth currently dealt with by the court. They also fail to respect the independence and the fairness of the court. There is also a complete absence of any serious attitude or a positive view on the part of your official institutions with regard to our children who are the real victims of this tragedy and the ones who are suffering.'

Yes I want justice to be served and before you attack me and say that the health sector in Libya sucks , I would like to say I'm aware of it, I live here you know, still malpractice can and does happen. I cannot confirm that the health workers- Libyan and foreign- did it on purpose ( at this point probably only God knows) but if the court proves they did , then it is the death penalty - nothing less in my book. If it is malpractive well compensations should be negotiated on a par with Lockerbie/UTA or any malpractice victim in the US or Europe ( very lucrative business, ask the lawyers). If they are acquitted well they should be compensated as well. And the children are the most important here, and a program should be set up to take care of them and to ensure this never happens again - regardless of the outcome of the trial. Unfortunately poor babies we will witness their funerals in the coming years as their light going off one by one.

* End of rant. Life is not fair.*

Monday, May 09, 2005

Fuel Price Hikes in Libya

Yes you read right, this happens in an oil rich country as well. Last week we had our petrol prices increased. Benzene went from 11.5 piastres to 15 piastres per litre and engine oil from 130 piastres to 135 piastres a can (thanks DM) a 30% increase some say here but I'm not sure how this is calculated.
I guess we are being slowly weened from the subsidised goodies. The last rise in prices was back in the early 90s. Of course it is still low compared to big oil consuming countries but it is starting to reflect world prices and the 'liberalised' market economy.
Coinciding with this increase, the Ummah Bank has recently issued a prepaid card for refueling at the pump to *gasp* 'spread banking culture' they say, see here .What the heck? Makes us sound like a bunch of morons..I'm seriously offended now! Okay the article has redeemed itself by saying it is basically to get rid of liquid money, but the problem is we don't have much metal coins in Libya as prices are rounded off to the nearest decimal. We do not have the 99p syndrome which we see in the rest of the world. Well since the article was not originally in English I'm going to be magnanimous and asume the translator has botched it and forgive them.

However although this plastic card seems to be popular I am not getting one. I still prefer to be served at the pump.Hey we girls get to sit in the car while the attendant fills the tank and returns the change, guys have to serve themselves. I refuse to come out in that hot sun no way with or without tons of SPF 60 sunblock.

On the other hand our Maltese neighbours have really felt the brunt of high oil prices since last year 'Gone are the days when we bought crude at subsidized prices from Libya' they lament.

Suffering is relative I guess.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Brother of Cairo bomber caught in Libya (link corrected)

The title of the Reuters article says "Suspect in Cairo bombing caught in Libya", I am not going to count him as a suspect because the Egyptian authorities are rounding up families, neighbours and friends of last week's Cairo bomber Ihab Yousri Yassin. See Egyptiansandmonkey's take on it and Magdee 's input, that is just a sample of Egyptian bloggers.

'Libyan authorities have arrested and handed over to Egypt the brother of the bomber who wounded seven people when he blew himself up with a nail bomb in Cairo about a week ago, an Egyptian newspaper reported.
Al-Ahram, quoting a senior Egyptian security source, reported in Sunday's edition that Mohammed Yousri, the brother of the bomber, had been found hiding with an Egyptian who worked as a cook in a hotel in Libya, Egypt's western neighbour.'
Full article here .
I have not seen the Al-Ahram article , the one online does not mention anything yet so maybe someone in Egypt can confirm this for me.

Whilst I deplore all the tragic attacks that occured in Egypt, I still hope that this guy won't be tortured if he is innocent, the problem is how to know if he is guilty or not before it is too late. I mean if kids have been arrested, nothing is guaranteed anymore. *sigh*.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Haj Hamad's letter from Germany to his wife Ghazelle ( Libyan humour) + Translation on 8-5-05

I just got this cartoon by email, Haj Hamad is a comic social critical cartoon in Libya something like the Simpsons but with no 'alternative' ( * wink* at Egyptiansandmonkey)families. We get to watch his and his family's antics every Ramadan on Libya TV . This guy is hilarious.

Anyway some kid made these drawings at the expense of Haj Hamad and posted them on the internet, I'm not sure everyone will understand the jokes as they are in typical cultural Libyan linguo ( not classical Arabic) and therefore are not meant to be offensive to anyone. Still I want to share them, if any one wants to volunteer to translate fine ..if not- I'll try and do it later. Or ....wait ! I have a better idea!! lets play this game for those who can't read Arabic, tell me what you think Hamad is telling his wife Ghazelle in this letter while he was in Germany? And I'll provide the translation in a few days :) Come on make an effort!

8th May 2005

Well Kudos to Khadijateri for getting it right :) - that was awesome my dear, I've copy pasted it here for all to see:
"1 - How are you Ghazella? 2 - How's the kids? 3 - How's your mother? (the snake-hehe) 4 - I heard your always going out and running around.5 - Oh! If I get home!6 - I slaughter without putting you in the direction of the Kaabaa.7 - Your Husband, Haj Hamed in Germany"

My tiny linguistic adjustments: How are you Ghazella, How are the kids, How's your mother ( good symbolism mothers- in- law are snakes in all cultures- why?), I heard you're always going out and running around, Oh wait till I get home, I'll slaughter you without putting you in the direction of the Kaabaa (basically I'll show you who's boss), Your husband , Haj Hamed in Germany.