Friday, February 16, 2007

Tasyig: or how to clean your floor Libyan style !

Last summer, while talking about shebshebs and my zeleiz at home, we broached the subject of tasyig. Tasyig is the term used in Libya for washing the floor, whether it is the bathroom, kitchen, jnan ( courtyard) or other rooms in the house. Most Libyan houses are equipped with zeleiz floor tiles as seen in this photo here. , including the courtyard- or any variations thereof, and the kitchens and bathrooms have ceramic tiles. While those who can afford to have marble everywhere .

Libya is very dusty due to all that sand, our floor cannot be washed except with water and soap. But we do not like to mop it with these types of mops as we think they don't stay clean enough. No sir we have elaborated a whole procedure merely to clean our floors.

Leilouta in one of her earlier posts, brought to my attention how we have a similar attittude in Tunis and Libya about this topic. This post is dedicated to my friend Non-blogging or NBA.

Objective: Tasyig


(1) Water faucet + water source of course :P
(2) toubbou ( hosepipe)
(3) gomma (squeegee with a handle)
(4) neshaffa ( large square fabric mop with no handle)
(5) gardel ( or bucket when no toubbou is available)
(6) Tide => Libyan generic term for powder soap detergent
(7) warakina ( Clorox or any similar brand of bleach liquid)
(8) muknessa ( broom with handle)
(9) khurara ( floor drain)

Procedure :

Fill the gardel with water, pour it on the floor, add some Tide on the floor , then proceed to scrub the floor with the broom; especially the corners of the room . You make fine soap bubbles.
That's the time where you want to squid on the floor either barefoot or with your shebsheb.
Then you pour warakina either to the floor directly or in a bucket filled with water mix thoroughly then pour it on the floor(s) .
You need several buckets of water without warakina afterwards.

You then mop the floor with your gomma and pour some more water, till no drop of soap or warakina is left. The gomma is very good at removing all the water which goes directly into the floor drain.
You can then use your neshafa to mop any stray drops or pools of water off including the corners of the room/bathroom /kitchen/balcony or other surfaces hard to reach with the gomma.

Very efficient procedure. The place smells so clean and nice and you can literally eat off the floor :)
If it is summer you don't need tanshif or mopping as described above just leave the windows open and let the warmth and sun dry your floor after the tasyig. If it is the courtyard you are tsaygi then no need to mop either. If you have a toubbou it is useful and you don't need a gardel.

Tadaa !

Tasyig reminds me of my childhood when my aunts would clean the floors at the old family house and we the grandchildren would be seated on the interior window sill so that we don't fall or get in their way. I miss that part and can only recreate the memory in the summer with the smell of the original Tide soap, water and warakina.

Tasyig also always reminds me of wonderful yummy Libyan breakfasts which is what we would have after the house was sparkling clean at my grandpa's house. Khadijateri has made such a lovely post about our breakfast including the mismatched cups that I feel like wanting to go eat again.

Now admit it how many of you miss Libya after this :P ? want to tell me how you clean your floor ?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happy Valentine (updated)

Valentine's Day Eve, everywhere I turn I see red roses, cards, hearts, teddy bears, even bloggers are posting about this day. Funnily enough I was listening to Allibiya FM two days ago and they were urging people to celebrate 'the feast of love' WOW !

I could not believe it; there was a time where the florists were prevented from opening on the 14 of February (can't remember which year exactly). It was a different regulation than in KSA where someone actually had a fatwa!( yes that's true). But the reason put forth in Libya was that it was not a celebration deriving from our traditions.
Anyway in Libya lovers and friends did not bother, girls wore red and guys brought them teddy bears and other stuff…

Back to Allibya ….So the people on the radio were talking how important it was to celebrate Love and that it does not matter if this feast is not Libyan but a western tradition as love is universal, it is love for your lover, spouse , parents, kids , pets, nation, – it is all love and should have a special day . They managed to surprise me again....

Khadijateri asked me two years ago what will I write on Valentine, well Khadija I think that poem is still good enough and so I'm reposting here .

The true lover has everything to lose.
So, he fears nothing.Without acceptance, relationships become work.
As religion without faith is just an obligation.
Success without passion remains empty.
As love without trust -- just a restriction.A
life lived without love --A life lived without love is just noise and commotion.
And we're capable of so much more .................................

By Baharak Sedigh .

My top 4 favourite posts which are suitable for this occasion are :

(1) Leilouta

He remembered everything. Each look. Every smile. The kiss on the cheek and the
warm embrace she had given him after their first date. The sight of her hurrying
down the street as she left him for work that same night and the wave she gave
him as she turned back to look at him before she entered the building. He didn’t
want to overlook any of this, he thought, as he sat next to her. All of these
impressions were burned into his memory.

(2) Harroun El Poussah

It is a question that insures that I will try my very best, each and every
time. No compromises on that. If she’s worth it, then she deserves my best,
nothing less

(3)Libyan Violet

In the meantime Ladies and gentlemen allow me to share with you my most
favourite Valentine card – it's 22 years old now

(4) Nomad => touching photo....( no comment)

The ultimate gesture of Love is of course sacrifice , embodied in Dolly Parton's " I will always love you".


With Love (to you too :P)


update 14-2-07 => if your muse is nearby maybe you fancy entering a poetry ? check what the crew has come up with on Global Voices :)

PS Despite some Hindu organisations threatening to oppose Valentine celebrations 'claiming the day reflects a Western phenomenon which is destroying Indian culture' , India too has caught up ![more]

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pre- marital HIV test : Yes or NO ?

Redenclave raised an issue in my last post Wine and Sex by saying that in Malaysia "some states have implemented the rule that all would be couples are to be tested for AIDS/HIV. As there were many cases where their spouses were tested HIV + after they have consummated their marriage. Some transmit this through drug addiction or rampant sex."

My reference to chastity and STD was sure to bring up AIDS or HIV, so Red's remark about how HIV testing had become compulsory for newlyweds reminded me of a post by Indian blogger Mahima .

"Andra Pradesh just called for compulsory HIV testing before marriage and
everyone seems to agree that this is a violation of individual rights. [...]
Most of the people who objected were from the US, Canada and other Western
countries. And their objection was pretty much limited to the fact that they
assumed the government was frowning on people’s sex lives. One poster from this
side of the planet pointed out, rightly, that HIV was an enormous issue in India
and since most weddings are arranged and women have no control over their
husbands sex lives, this is one way of ensuring they won’t contract AIDS right
off the bat. "

I had earlier read her above mentioned post "test this" (Hattip Neha Viswanathan from Global Voices) in December but never had the time to elaborate on it. I was going to blog about this topic with regards to Libya, I guess now is the time to do it.

I was not aware that Libya was one of the countries where pre-marriage HIV testing was obligatory. I learned about this a few years back when my friend was going to get married to a non-Libyan and a health certificate was requested for both before proceeding with the other formalities. Apparently no AIDS test = no marriage contract. This rule is for all whether you marry a Libyan or not, as long as one partner is Libyan, and/or as long as you marriage is officiated by a Libyan clerk.

Personally I don’t find this law offensive, because since I’ve made all the efforts to keep myself clean all these years, I expect the same from my partner and knowing the double standards that prevail in our part of the world re. chastity, honour , virginity and other related stuff, and since I cannot guarantee that my potential husband has not been near another woman before me, or I have no idea about his past before he decided to settle as many think it is great fun to be a playboy before marriage, so at least I’ll know. For extra re-assurance I will do it at the reference state lab ( as requested) but also at an independent one since some people have managed to bribe health officials to get a clean health of bill certificate. I would probably check his semen :) too , see my earlier post here.

As a teenager I used to joke that suitors had to come with a CV and application form to marry me and I will screen them thoroughly for suitability, but now they better add that HIV test.
I just had mine for my new job so why not Mr. Highlander.

What do you think ?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wine and Sex

Catchy title eh ? I'm sure since it got you here :P

Two articles caught my eye this past week the first was on the BBC regarding a study in the American Journal of Pathology:

“Evidence shows even the best antiretrovirals find it difficult to penetrate the testes. This may explain why HIV can still be found in the semen of men on drugs that successfully clear their blood of it. “ [more]

Basically this means that even following treatment for AIDS, it will still be found in the semen and is capable of replication and infection of body cells again.

Isn’t that a scary thought ? so before having a relationship women may need to ask the guy for a semen HIV check now.. eh unless of course you are practicing safe sex and using condoms.
Which led me to wonder whether the scriptures have been right ? Is that why all 3 monotheistic religion have always advocated chastity and the prohibition of fornication and adultery? Could it be their method of warning us about this killer disease in a way that is graspable by our limited psyche /knowledge 2000 years ago, and so have to disguise it as based on morality? How to inculcate morality in us? One husband per wife ? family virtues etc… No offence against homosexuals here , I’m just speculating loud !

The second article was concerned with another study relevant to the claim that red ( to be specific ) wine was good for the health . I always was under the impression that although drinking alcoholic beverages was common everywhere whether forbidden or not, alcohol ingestion was still bad for you and it was your choice in indulging it just as smoking and other types of 'pleasures' as long as you were responsible towards others. But many people were taking the findings about the wine being healthy for you if you drink a little per day and were being apparently vindicated by the scientific studies.

However, should the liquid that is healthy for your arteries really be ripened grape ? i.e should it be alcoholic ?

Moreover, I was wondering does the Eucharistic sacrament or ordinance symbolised by grape wine and bread (host) really give license to drink as in it being 'non-haram' or was the red wine just a symbol for blood because it is red . I'm not familiar with the whole idea but who introduced the wine in this holly tradition? Was it someone's personal preference ? because it seems that some Protestants differ from the Catholics on that, and use plain grape juice instead.

Anyway for those who held the excuse that the wine was healthy in moderation, this new study seems to reveal that " grape juice can have a similar effect (against heart disease) as red wine but without the alcohol. That is a very important message," said Dr Valerie Schini-Kerth, lead author of the study published in the journal Cardiovascular Research. [more]

Polyphenols which are the active ingredients in protecting the blood vessels are present both in red wine AND in the simple grape juice .

OK now I am so going to drink grape juice at lunch time instead of orange juice.

Disclaimer please be aware that no offense was meant to any religion in this post.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

At last an interesting radio station

Since I converted by joining the 21st Century and using cheeky mp3 players and have confessed to owning an Ipod , I have not listened to anything much except my favourite compilations. This was until a couple of months ago when my cousin convinced me that there was a new Libyan FM radio station which was broadcasting pop and all sorts of other music all day long with some lighthearted show programmes. She even was willing to bet that I would not need my mp3 anymore. She herself does not take any CDs with her.

So I decided to take her advice and test this station while I'm driving on my errands. To my surprise it was very easy to get the frequency on the FM band, the music catered to every taste, classical Arabic, pop, top 10 etc.. there was the news flash, advertisements, the cute talk shows and phone- ins plus the occasionaly token official in interviews. Basically Allibiya FM delivered on all it's promises . It was especially good for going to and back from work and was reminescent of the popular Lebanese radio [station] Strike it had the good quality programming and wide target audience. In fact I think it has made listening to radio popular in Libya again and I notice now how many cars have their antennaes pulled up ( including me :P ).

On such a day last week, I chanced upon one of the shows where letters from fans with a problem are read and suggested solutions from other listeners are sought.

This is Isam's dilemna. While at university he met a lovely girl Nadia and they became pratically inseparable. They helped each other studying and got to know each other very well , fell in love and decided to get married after they graduate. So one fine day after graduation , she made an appointment with her family for him and he convinced his parents to ask for her hand. But despite all her reassurances to the contrary , Nadia's parents refused him. Why ? because he did not have a job, house, car etc..yet He begged and said he wanted to get engaged first and that he was going to have a job and start planning for a house etc.. But to no avail , they wanted what only perhaps an older man could provide or someone whose parents could get that for him.

Nadia and Isam started meeting in secret since their union was not blessed anymore ( this does not mean they were sleeping toghether by the way). He was looking for a job and she was busy refusing suitors. It got to the point where people started to doubt her chastity. In Libya if you refuse too much for too long the majority of people don't say you're being picky or looking for a soulmate.. oh no dirty minds start thinking that you probably played around and must have lost your virginity to some dude ; otherwise why would you refuse to get married , you probably feared getting 'discovered' on your wedding night!

So when a really good catch came to her, Isam who was still being refused by her parents and still had no decent job, decided to seek greener pastures in a different country. Maybe he could forget the love and not having him in her face would help her choose and end her dilemna. But Nadia got word of his plan and decided to commit suicide if he left. So he had to put that plan aside while she once more gave the boot to the 'good catch' . Nadia was not getting any younger and her family was disappointed .

Shortly after that her brother came to him and told him that Nadia's reputation was really destroyed and that he guarantees that if Isam would come and ask for her hand he will be well received and allowed to marry her this time. Apparently the whole area new about their romance which had dragged on for 10 years now.

But fate is weird, Isam's elder brother died in a horrible car accident leaving a young widow and three toddlers, so when after a decent time Isam asked his parents to go and visit Nadia's parents something unthinkable happened. His mum begged him literraly on her knees and asked him to marry his brother's widow so that no stepdad would harm the grandchildren and so that they and her are taken care of. Isam was livid just as his dream was within reach he was seeing it being stolen away. Did anyone even ask the widow if she would like to marry him? he was not interested he wanted his love he was crazy about Nadia, but his mother has begged , could he break her heart ? and could he break the heart of his love ? she has sacrificed her youth waiting for him. This really was a big problem, on the one hand , mother and family duty and 3 innocent lives, on the other hand the love of his life another innocent life. We Arabs fully believe that if your parents and especially your mum blesses you, you will be fine , we call it 'ridha alwalidein'. It is very important and drilled into our psyche and you do not want to incurr the wrath of your parents and God in the process, but still a promise is a promise.They have after all not told him to do anything bad , it is a common practice to marry the widow or the widower to the living sibling to keep the children in the family... Isam had plans , but God made different plans and his question was what should he do?
whom to marry ? was his sister in law even aware of the plot ?

I could see that it was a problem indeed and I wanted to hear what would the listeners suggest male and female.. Do you know what the solution suggested equally by both was ?
I was surprised myself as I was more inclined that he should marry the widow if she accepts him, because no one will love the kids more and she would not need to remarry. Although I was thinking that Nadia was in a tight spot too and it was not her fault. But the solution I heard and which seemed to me logical the instant it was stated is that he should marry both. The widow, for humanistic reasons and to please his mother and family but on the condition that they let him marry his love Nadia too since polygamy is allowed in extreme circumstances. The host was saying that Nadia may not accept a co-wife, and that since he loved Nadia he would not be fair in his love towards the other woman, and polygamy is allowed if you can be fair, physically as in the sexual relationship and materially and emotionally. Some were arguing that he will find a way to be fair...

If you knew that he is not breaking any laws by marrying them both, do you think Isam should make that choice? what do you think should he do ? I personally would love to know what happened and am waiting to find out how it will end. Incidently I have become a fan of Allibiya FM which it seems is available on satellite as well for listeners on other continents. Have you heard it abroad or regionally ?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Tripoli Capital of Islamic Culture 2007

ISESCO has chosen Tripoli among the capitals of Islamic Culture for 2007 . "The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization -ISESCO- was set up by virtue of Resolution No. 12/10-C of the Tenth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, which was held in Fez, Kingdom of Morocco, in May 1979". [this website is good by the way] .

Congratulations to Tripoli, Fez, Dakar and Tashkent !

I am so lucky as last year I was able to visit Aleppo which was chosen as Capital of Islamic Culture for 2006 . I am also familiar with Dakar which I love dearly . I look forward to seeing Fez this year and one day Tashkent .

In Aleppo there was a lot of visible promotion of the city , I have not seen that yet in Tripoli. However, there is a website the English one is still partially built though but check it just in case; and there are many cultural events planned which can be found also in the pages of the طرابلس للاعلان and on the official website above mentioned .

Tripoli is a beautiful city and there are many historical places from Islam which are not properly showcased. Maybe lovelytripoli who has already made an initial post about the inauguration party of Tripoli as the Capital of Islamic Culture can help us here and show the Islamic art ? I missed that party as I was travelling, apparently it was fun. Did any of the Libyan bloggers go to the ship ?

Would any of you Libyan bloggers wish each to post some photos of the Islamic culture or a post about the Islamic heritage of Tripoli that you are aware of- or even Libya as a whole ? why be restricted to Tripoli only ?