Sunday, September 30, 2007

Libyan Soup: The Best dish in Ramadan

Did I mention how much I love Ramadan? It is amazing what a restful time of year it is for me as I don't have to think about lunch or any other food schedules. Having my Iftar is enough and a little snack for Souhour.

In Ramadan everything tastes so much better. I don't think it is because we are hungry but I like to think that is because of baraka ( or blessings).

My favourite dish on the evening meal is the Libyan soup and this soup only tastes special with watani lamb meat ( watani meaning local. I can never tire of eating it for 30 days in a row so delicious it is.

My Iftar usually consists of a few dates to break the fast and some milk/water then I proceed to attack my salad while the soup cools down. I then just eat some burek or rice or whatever is available to have with it as main meal.

We later have fruits and tea. Nothing wasted, not much bread eaten. Souhour can be leftovers or just yogourt and some dates and water.

If you have a recipe for our excellent Libyan soup please share it here ( I admit I can't cook it LOL )

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Best Libyan Blogs: Highlander's Award and the Ramadan Spirit

I have not done the monthly roundups of Libyan blogs for quite a while and lately it crossed my mind that instead I could do my own Libyan blogs competition and give the Highlander Award for excellence or originality once every three months or bi-annually. It's just a way to keep track of the blogger family and increase our exposure and keep us on our toes LOL.

The first one which crossed my mind was Hibo's blog about her late father . I searched and searched and could not find it anymore. It was going to be a brilliant homage to a great contemporary Libyan academic. Hibo explained that she has deleted it.

I know that it has been about a month now since a big misunderstanding took place between a few Libyan bloggers. I was advised to leave sleeping dragons alone since things might be cooling down and the waters may start to flow back again. Yet I feel that everyone is a bit on the edge now and I don't want the Libyan blogs to go the way of some others. I am extremely proud of our family and I want to see the same spirit of collaboration and jest that was there until a month ago. There has been a noticeable decrease in comments on some people's blogs and I think that affects the quality of the conversation. We are all mature people; Piccolina, Hibo and Ahmed have all made an apology, which is very generous of them and shows what pure souls they have.

In my opinion as someone who is neutral, I'd say none of you guys made any mistakes. The story if I recall was that Hibo started a lovely game, in fact her idea is so brilliant that I thought we could follow it up with more quizzes. It would have been so innovative. Piccolina picked on that and made a post from it in which she demonstrated her theory for the correct answer to the quiz. That post was so funny as well and it was absolutely flattering and great as it put Hibo in such a wonderful light. In fact is showed that Hibo is a genius at inventing games and making the Libyan blogs so interesting. The response on both posts was wonderful. Hibo and Piccolina you made such a wonderful team and Ahmed you were so nice to allow yourself to be the first in this online quiz.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure what happened then- why the misunderstanding? But it got out of hand and as the Arab proverb says "if speech is of silver then silence is golden". Things escalated and posts were deleted. What a pity, as those were some of the most beautiful posts which demonstrated the joy, fun, originality and brotherly spirit of the Libyan bloggers and how much we are all young at heart and one family.

So what is my point ? I wish those posts would go up again. If there is something unsuitable in the comment section you can make that not show. The technology is available for that. It is also a few days only to Ramadan. This is the time of the year when we should not hold any grudges anymore not feel any anger/hurt towards anyone. I wish to see the two factions have a virtual hug, kiss and forgive.
Let bygones be bygones.

ما خلقنا السماوات و الارض و ما بينهما الا بالحق وان الساعة لاتية فاصفح الصفح الجمــــيل* إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ الْخَلاَّقُ العَلِيمُ

الحجر / 85 ـ 86

وسارعوا الى مغفرة من ربكم وجنه عرضها السماوات والأرض أعدت للمتقين الذين ينفقون فى السراء والضراء والكاظمين الغيط والعافين عن الناس ان الله يحب المحسنين

ال عمران/ 134

After all is not this what Ramadan is all about?

The Highlander Award for Excellence© will be ushered in on December 2007 until then keep the Ramadan Spirit on.

May the Blessed Spirit of Ramadan guide us all.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

A tribute to online friends: Highlander 's fourth birthday. (updated)

Highlander is four years old today and I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the effect of internet on our life.

Before internet, people interested in communicating with other cultures or making friends or even keep in touch used to write letters and use what we now call snail mail. Many of us can surely remember our little pen pals from those exotic far away sounding places.

In recent months the little bug that I noticed was going around is that several bloggers were pouring their hearts out about their friends and friendship in general.

Khadijateri : "Friends are not always forever, I have discovered."

Trabilsia: "Communication is interpreted by each single individual acording to his/her frame of mind.[sic]".

Loulou: " What do you do? Give in to your sense of duty and loyalty? Reach out to her and try very hard to change your perception of her?".

Carmen even devoted two posts: (1) "You hope that you meet people throughout your life journey that'll always stick around and that no matter how bad things get, they just don't go anywhere." and (2) "I always pray that they'll tap into the friendship reserve that we filled up together and realize how much I really do love them."

This is only a sample but basically all these complaints mean friendship IS important otherwise we would not devote so much time writing about it.

I love my friends and loved my pen pals. However, with the explosion of technology that revolutionised communication during the last decade or so, communication is now instant and reaches a wider network and farther then we ever imagined.
We have email, blogs, chat forums and all sorts of other forums. We instant message (IM) each other, Skype, text and leave offline messages. In short we interact and make new friends daily and it is easier to keep up with our old ones.

Before the blogosphere, I was looking for an interface to interact with fellow Arabs online, a place where I could communicate with them in several languages, a social network of sorts where there were like minded and not so like minded people. I stumbled like many Arabs on ( does not work anymore).

By mid 2002 Planetarabia started shutting down, our emails were erased and features disappeared until one day sometime in 2003 Planetarabia was no longer.

I made so many friends on Planetarabia, Arab and non- Arab (probably a few people hated my guts lol) but I never made enemies. I fondly remember our conversations, discussions and arguments. It was the forum I used to hone in my ideas for those 3 years when I was online. I met several of the friends behind the usernames. Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Yemen, Iran, Syria, Kuwait, UK, US, Canada, Israel etc.. so many memories and so many great friends: R, M, Y, S and D I miss you so much. Their numbers are still in my cell phone and though we are no longer on Planetarabia we still are able to keep in touch.

In August 2003 I discovered the blogs and a new way to interact and my comments became long posts on my blog. Funnily enough I came across someone I knew from Planetarabia who also became a blogger, it was so hilarious when we compared notes about those we knew in common. This is just to show that the people you click with, you always will like them under whatever other name they are.

A lot of things changed since 2003 many readers have come and gone among whom I made also some great friends. Many of them who are no longer here but still read me are missed dearly. Others who have chosen to get on with their lives are missed very much.

The blogosphere has changed, the Libyan one has grown from yours truly into a big family. The Egyptian blogs are not as they used to be. The Iraqi blogosphere has a different mood. The Lebanese bloggers have kind of lost hope; the Kuwaiti blogs are not as fun as back in 2005, the Tunisian blogs are different. Yet among all these people I have many friends, brothers and sisters I would die for. I miss you all and I wish we could turn back the clock to before 9/11 and to another era.

I wanted to thank each and every reader and friend who has ever graced Highlander's blog. I learned from you very much. To those of you who know me personally don't worry sooner or later I will get in touch. I won't forget those of you who are no longer in the comment section because you all encouraged me to stay the course.

Planetarabia was a great forum and I am so sorry it closed. I have been able to find one link showing how it looked to us: here and also a piece of news about when the BBC agreed to stream the news on it.
I'm not worried though as I have saved a lot of its webpages over the years and most of the discussions on my hard disk and from time to time I can reread what we said and what we thought and it would spring back to life; the hopes and the innocence but most strikingly the human relations that formed.

In conclusion friends are not only those we find in the conventional way; let's not look a horse gift in the mouth. Also, true friends do last forever, anything else is a 'business transaction' as one of my new blogger friends said in quoting Libyan writer Sadeg Nayhooum.

PS, Has any of you ever been on Planetarabia? Do you want to share and tell me by which name you used to be known there?

Update (11.24 PM)

For the nostalgic among you, is based on the same ideas as Planetarabia but it simply does not feel the same. Planetarabia was simpler and more streamlined.