Category Archives: writing&blogging

Afternoon Walks

It’s those walks on this island “Venice”, the island that looks like nothing but itself. Those walks take me back to the past and to memories I didn’t even know I have.

From that pink flower that looks the same as the one we used to have in front of our house in the village. To the jasmine flower which looks different but has the same smell of the one that used to escape from the backyard into my room on hot summer days, in the village.

To the sound of kids and conversations that brings back familiar voices and it takes me a second to understand that those are not the same voices and this is not even the same language!

The familiarity in the strangest things around, to the dreams, the dreams and fantasies of the silent walks.

The walks under the darkening skies, under the reflections of the street lights and through the narrow alleys. And for a second you are not you and this is all a dream!

It is this city, this island with all its people, the modern, the classic, the old, the young, and most interestingly the odd ones. The ones who appear as if coming from a different century.

Out of nowhere a person would appear with a coat thrown over his shoulders as he hasted himself along the small alleys and disappears. As if a time gate had opened and taken him back to where he belongs.

While I stood there lost between the present and the past, between the world of dreams and that of reality!

The only difference is the Sounds

From Kafar rouman to Venice

Theoretically speaking we are always considered locked up. We always seek for freedom, we always consider ourselves prisoned, our souls trapped within our bodies, and bounded by our abilities and limitations.

When it comes to being locked down, restricted from leaving our homes and forced to maintain social distance was something we only saw in fiction movies and read in books. We have read about the plague, cholera, and the Spanish flu. But we have never thought that the day would come, in our modern days, where we will be facing the same destiny and taking the same procurations, like those done a hundred years, to protect ourselves.

I remember reading “Death in Venice” during my B.A studies and ironically when I arrived at Venice in September 2019, to continue my Master’s degree, images of the novella were stuck in my head. Images of the city’s description as the cholera was spreading and I never thought that I will actually witness and experience a similar situation.

The idea of being locked down, looking for a safe space, protecting yourself and fearing of what will happen tomorrow is not something new to me, but this time the context is different.

I was brought up in south Lebanon, in a town called “Kafar rouman”, a town that was half occupied during my early childhood years. I have images and memories in my head of the 8 years old girl not allowed to go out because it is not safe, images of when at school we were taken out from our classes to a safe shelter, images of my mom driving the car fast to get us home the soonest… Followed by memories and images of that day, the day when the occupation ended, on the 25th of May 2000. Images of my brother, my mom and I along with my cousins in my grandparent’s car, as grandpa drove us to a new place, to a new discovery, new land for us kids, as he and my grandma explained that it’s part of our town as well and today it is back to the people…images that made no sense until I was older until I really understood the significance of those memories.

Those images that ended with a happy memory in the 8 years old girl’s mind, were experienced later where I was more conscious and aware of what’s going on, where lockdown had the immense taste of fear. By the age of fourteen, Israeli war happened again and this time I did understand the images at the moment of its occurrence. South Lebanon was one of the main targets in this war, my family and I were still living in our house in the town.

It was summer 2006, we were planning for a nice summer ahead, a time for family, at the worst we worried about was the weather and heatwaves. The last thing we thought about was that we will be living the fear and stress of war.

Out of a sudden, the happy summer ahead, turned to news of death, fear, damage, and destruction. At first, it was all in the nearby towns, our town was somehow safe and we would gather at my grandparent’s house all of us aunts, cousins, and family members to follow the news…

It was on the third or fourth day, I can’t actually remember when the first nearest strike happened. My mom was talking on the phone. I finished my breakfast and walked to the living room when it happened. I was still standing in the doorway. The whole house waggled. From where I stood, I saw the black clouds, just over there over the hill on the other side in the nearby town…

Just like this, the war started for me! In no time the house was full. Friends and family members. Giving that our house was considered to be in a safe neighborhood, some of the family members from my grandparents, aunts, and cousins, moved to our house.

That was my first lockdown, even if the neighborhood was safe, the drone (MK surveying plane) was always in the air and it is better to stay in. For seventeen days, our house, my home, that other family members took shelter in, was no longer safe for me, I was even scared to go into my room as it has windows to the outside, fear was in the air, and the terrible part was the sounds, the sound of the aircraft in the air, the sound of the artilleries at night when I could hear it fired and landing, the sounds were the worst part.

Under lockdown, we tried to keep a good spirit within the safety of a home, my cousin wearing all her brand new dresses that she bought for the summer, my brother buying whatever he found at the neighborhood’s small shop and joking that this candy goes back to World War Two (WWII), food lots of food as the electricity was off it was better to cook the food storage we had, it was a war with fancy food, which I barely ate out of fear, and at last playing cards. A table placed exactly in the middle of the house where my brother, cousins and our neighbor would sit playing cards to distract themselves from the outside sounds. At night we would turn on the TV while keeping all the lights off, to dissolute the drone (MK surveying plane) and to save our minimum energy resources to watch the news.

Today, in the year 2020, at the age of 27, in Venice-Italy miles and miles away from home. I am under lockdown once again. A silent lockdown this time, where the enemy is quiet and targeting everyone, anywhere and at any moment. Coronavirus’s war started for me on the 24th of February when the university closed and we were asked to stay home, for the first-week life was semi-normal, everything was still open and operating until the North area, including Venice, became under lockdown and then in two days, the whole country was under lockdown.

At this time, I cannot but link to my early teenage years’ experience, under lockdown there is stress and fear, and people trying to distract themselves as much as possible through playing cards, board games, and cooking. Once again, I am hearing about people, about humans, referred to and reduced to numbers, numbers of those affected, numbers of those recovered, and numbers of those who died…These victims are reduced from being individuals with lives and identities, from being parts of families, into becoming numbers only numbers.

Back home I feared to stand by the window or to look outside. Here the window is the only thing assuring that there is life out there, there is life behind those walls. There is that pigeon by the window flying with its friends from one building to another. Enjoying his daily rituals and not being restricted to social distancing and lockdown.

My whole life here is reduced to a screen, a screen that connects me to work, to my studies, to my family and friends. It is all through one screen and once it is off the room is silent. The silence that brings me back to myself and my memories and to everything I have passed and still passing through.

It makes me think how weird things happen, the other day I had to go out to the supermarket and to the bank. The bank is a 15 minutes’ walk from my house, which on a normal day I wouldn’t even count. I put my mask on, and my gloves and head out to the street. The restaurants, coffee shops, and the bars were all closed, the crowded sidewalk was empty, the empty bus alone drove the deserted streets. The wind was so strong, and I covered my head with the jacket’s hat. I could only hear the sound of my breath while really few people passing by to head to the supermarket or walk their dogs. This moment took me back to 2006, on the day we decided to leave our house and head to a nearby safe city Saida. Well, basically my Mom and my brother were not afraid. It was me who was unable to take it all. After constant calls from my father who works abroad, my elder brother who lives with his family abroad, and my sister who was already in a safer place in the mountains working in aiding displaced people, who reached the area, the decision was made.

We were four to five cars as I remember, it was agreed to keep distance between each car and the other just in case a strike happens, ironically, we won’t all die. In our car Mom was driving, my brother sitting in the front seat, and I was in the back next to, as much as we could take from, our important stuff. We had to take an alternative way as the main highways were inaccessible and assaulted by the air forces. At some point, we lost the others and my mom didn’t know the directions, as the attacks have changed the landmarks of the places. We didn’t have a cellphone, as mom wasn’t a fan of it, well my brother and I were teenagers and phones weren’t a thing yet. Our only solution was to take the exit back to the main highway. We headed back to the highway, where there was a space for exactly one car to pass as the rest of the road was destroyed. The road was deserted except for us and above us, we can hear the air forces. My mom asked us to display a white sign to show that we were peaceful. My brother though was debating that he loves that white shirt. Which was freaking old and he finally hangs it outside the window. In the middle of all that, my brother’s coldness hit it is best when he is like “this actually reminds me of a movie I’ve watched, where the guy was at a hospital and he came out and everyone was dead because of a virus!”. I remember shouting at him to stop talking. I remember those couple of minutes before reaching the crowded city as hours. Everything that we lived back then seems to be prolonged. Same as my 15 minutes’ walk to the bank that felt like hours.

Ironically, here I am in a city where people are keeping distancing and staying at home because of a virus. Here I am walking in the usually crowded places with rarely a few people. Listening to the sound of my own breath. Here I am contacting my family and friends each in a different country but under the same isolation.

Life in the quarantine is similar to that of a warzone. The only difference is the sounds.

WhatsApp Image 2020-03-29 at 8.46.25 PM (1)
Ready to go out!

Magical

One single star up there,
the master of them all,
the moon.
Shining over the crowd,
reflecting on the water,
mixing its beauty with the festive lights.
The Red, the purple, the green,
and the yellowish fire,
all mixing magically together.
The music is getting higher,
you’re detaching from the crowd,
it dissolves in the background,
you’re enchanted,
floating above the masked faces,
above the magical lights and reflections,
flying high in a world of dreams and feelings.
Dancing in the sky, freely above the world,
like a girl tide to balloons.
@_mylightspirit_

Loss

We always lie to ourselves; we lie saying that we accept, we are strong, we are brave and we understand that is how life goes on. We lie saying that we accept that things should go in a certain way. We accept fictional and distance loss, we accept fictional “death”! But we are just liars, we lie to make things easier on ourselves.

When death escapes from the distance, escapes from the fictional, and imposes its dark presences on us. All the lies escape, we are neither brave nor strong, we are weak and helpless. We get ready for the idea of death since birth. Then when it happens, we shrink, we silent, we cry.

We cry because it hurts, our soul hurts, the idea hurts, we can’t express it, and we are too small in front of death, too little, and too insignificant, so we cry.

We cry tears of all the moments that we missed and going to miss, we cry with images of all the memories and moments flashing in our minds. We silent to listen to the echoes of the past voices, the gone laughs, and words. We shrink in front of the empty spots that are left.

We lie, we shrink, we silent, we cry!

Loss is not fictional, DEATH is reality!

Loss
Loss by Nour Al amine/ Photo by @nadinenm 

Mad World

We always look for the future, for better days to come, for better us in a better place in a better world. A better world we say and we’ve always been saying the same, we want a better world for our future and the future of those to come after us.

What future are we looking for in a world where children are being killed in their homes? Being killed just because it happens that they were born in a land that has been stolen from their ancestors and they have to suffer for that.

What future are we looking for when we still fight for the right of human rights?

What future are we looking for when greed and self-benefits are much more important than the suffer of a whole nation?

What future are we looking for when hatred, theft, and killing are normal news to the ear and eye?

What future are we looking for when a whole nation revolts against one person? Who totally ignores it.

What future are we looking for when everything is easy and nothing at all?

What future are we looking for when the nature itself is revolting against all the corruption and damage humans have caused all those years?

A future in a mad world, a world that is crushing itself altogether. A world where we are shrinking, shrinking in size as our voices gets louder and higher. Voices are getting higher and higher as we shrink, the echoes of the voices are fighting for the life and for a better future. Echoes of scattered voices, scattered around the world in different time zones with a wish that tomorrow will be better.

Either the voices will win or will be silenced forever against the madness of the world! As only shadows and silent figures can bear the suffer of a mad world. As everything would die and only shadows will remain.

“Mad World” by: Nour Al amine / Photo by: Husein Djulovic

Land of Contradictions

It doesn’t matter how small Lebanon is, being a country that is barely shown on the world map, still as small as this land in the whole globe, it happens to hide as many diversities and contradictions as possible.

This small land attracts tourists for its history, they come here for Byblos, Baalbek, Jeita, Rouche, and for the beauty of its mountains and sea. They come for the food and the nightlife. They come to the joy that this country brings.

This country that is hiding behind the beauty a misery and suffer of the Palestine nation with 70 years of refugee life. At the corner of the city and away from the fancy restaurants and touristic places, there is life. Life of people fighting to get the minimum of their human rights. People whose only fault is being born a refugee.

A small land, where displaced refugees, from Syria has in its valleys and rural areas their only safe escape. For several years now, they found themselves in tents with nothing more to lose other than their own lives.

A small country where its own people are suffering every day. Suffering to get the minimum rights of women, fighting to protect their children, fighting to have their rights for a better life, fighting for better services, fighting for a better tomorrow and better country.

Still above this all, there are people living in their elite areas, having their prestigious life away from the suffer of this nation. Not even knowing that there are refugees in this country, not knowing any of their suffer. They have isolated themselves in their shallow society away from this country itself.

It is a small land, land of contradictions, land of happiness and misery all at the same time. Land of history and secrets, but as much as you love it, it keeps on disappointing you every day. It leads you to despair and isolation as it gets worse day after day. The gap between the reality and how you dream this country would be only gets bigger and bigger. The land you want is only in the world of dreams.

“Land of Contradictions” by Nour Al amine/ Drawing by Mohammad El Baba

Riddles

We are on a long journey of solving riddles, looking for answers in the echos of unsaid words, in the glimpse of charming eyes, and in the shy smiles.

Sometimes, we risk it all and take chances. We risk everything based on a feeling, based on a guessed answer that might solve the riddle. We might end up happy, it might bring joy to the journey and leaves us more than happy that we risked it all.

Lots of other times, our actions bring us down and it breaks us. We end up with an experience, a lesson, and another memory in the books of our lives.

On another time, we turn around and walk away. We fear the risk, we fear the unknown, and what is hidden behind the corner. Our guessed answers make no sense, and our feelings are those of doubt. It is easier to walk away trough another route. A new route in search for another riddle to be solved and keeping the mystery of the first behind.

Riddles are everywhere, you should at least take the risk to solve one in a life time.

Riddles by: @alaminenour /photo by: @sahar_elamine

Winter Is Here

Winter is here, that was the marking point into entering a new phase, a new season that brings its own habits along. It meant closing the windows in front of the early morning cold breeze, and the escaping odor of the Jasmine in the afternoon. It is marked by closed curtains and carpets that fill every inch of the floor.

It was the season when moving from one room to another comes as a mission. A mission, where you dare to leave the warm room into the freezing one next door. It was the season that once you’re home you change into the most comfortable outfit and take your place around the fireplace. Once you got a place, it is yours till the end of the night. It is the afternoons that were marked by the smell of popcorn and hot chocolate. It is the long night hours, where if we are lucky enough to catch a satellite signal, we will watch a movie, but most of the stormy nights were replaced by playing cards and exchanging stories around the fireplace.

Those moments just seem so far away, as if the past few years were enough to change the lives we are living. Today, winter is here, meant a change in the wardrobe, adding a scarf, and a jacket to an outfit. It is no longer a change in a habit. It is moving your daily battle from under the sun into the storm.

Our days have become a constant battle field, a battle to maintain who we are, to maintain the face that we were raised up to, to keep the standards that we have no matter of the effects of the outer world. It is the struggle to keep your head up, to force a smile on your face, to shed your eyes away from strangers that are strong enough to look you in the eyes and lie into your face. It is a struggle to reach a faraway dream and maintain an honest reality. It is throwing yourself in the crowd, ready to get hurt until you reach the other side of the road.

Life is no longer marked by the change of the seasons, everything has changed, and it is keeping the strength to maintain your head above water is what matters. Everything has changed, life has become harsher, but deep inside you will always be the person with a cup of hot chocolate by the fireplace.

 

Winter Is Here by: @alaminenour/ Photo by: @nadinenm 

The “Jar” of Happiness


We tend to always focus on the dark side, and somehow forget that lots of great things happen with us. There are always those first time things that marks our life once and for all. Once I saw this idea where you create a “Jar” at New Year’s eve, and for the rest of the year whenever something happy and a marking event happens youwrite it done on a piece of paper and place it in the jar, and by the end of the year you open it and check out the best highlights of your year.

I did it for the year 2017, although it was a challenging and rough year for me, when I opened my jar/box for this year it turned out that pretty first time events happened during2017. Beside all those down moments there were times that were pretty awesome.
Everyday brings something new to our life, the sum of the days making a year bring us some pretty interesting stuff. Every year we visit new places and new countries where we get to know a new culture, where we get lost for the sense of fun and exploring.
Every year we experience new things as silly as it might sound, it might be getting on a train for the first time, it might be as silly as tasting new food.
Every year we choose to walk away from some people in our life, at the same time we meet others that keep a trace in ours that we know will always be there even if they walk away.
Day by day we learn and change on the personal level, every small event teaches us something new, every single thing changes something within us.
That’s how life goes on, it brings us both the happy and the sorrow moments. From the bitter tears of goodbye, and the embrace of see you later, to the tears of the joy and the embrace of I miss you. From the blink of the eyes in the front of the sight of new things, to shedding your eyes away from something for the last time. From the ackwardness of first meetings, to sharing many happy moments to come.
Time and distance don’t change anything as they say, we tend to forget, but as long as we highlight the happy moments, we will see the good in our life, and we will be proud of how far we’ve walked up till now.
Let’s always fill our Jars with happy moments, today, tomorrow, and for the days to come.

The “Jar” of Happiness/ by: Nour Al-Amineime things that marks our life once and for all. Once I saw this idea where you create a “Jar” at New Year’s eve, and for the rest of the year whenever something happy and a marking event happens youwrite it done on a piece of paper and place it in the jar, and by the end of the year you open it and check out the best highlights of your year.

I did it for the year 2017, although it was a challenging and rough year for me, when I opened my jar/box for this year it turned out that pretty first time events happened during2017. Beside all those down moments there were times that were pretty awesome.

Everyday brings something new to our life, the sum of the days making a year bring us some pretty interesting stuff. Every year we visit new places and new countries where we get to know a new culture, where we get lost for the sense of fun and exploring.

Every year we experience new things as silly as it might sound, it might be getting on a train for the first time, it might be as silly as tasting new food.

Every year we choose to walk away from some people in our life, at the same time we meet others that keep a trace in ours that we know will always be there even if they walk away.
Day by day we learn and change on the personal level, every small event teaches us something new, every single thing changes something within us. 
That’s how life goes on, it brings us both the happy and the sorrow moments. From the bitter tears of goodbye, and the embrace of see you later, to the tears of the joy and the embrace of I miss you. From the blink of the eyes in the front of the sight of new things, to shedding your eyes away from something for the last time. From the ackwardness of first meetings, to sharing many happy moments to come. 

Time and distance don’t change anything as they say, we tend to forget, but as long as we highlight the happy moments, we will see the good in our life, and we will be proud of how far we’ve walked up till now.

Let’s always fill our Jars with happy moments, today, tomorrow, and for the days to come.

The “Jar” of Happiness/ by: Nour Al-Amine

Behind the Sea

He sat in the yard, surrounded by high buildings, a glimpse of the sea can be seen from between the buildings. He stares at the sun-rays sparkling over the sea surface, dreamily imagining himself at the other side of the sea, at a better land.

There he is a normal kid, getting dressed for school, carrying his heavy backpack, his tiny fingers tightening around the sandwich, eating quickly, as his feet march in a rush against time to get to school, before the bell rings. Reaching at last to take his place behind his classmates in the long line waiting to get to class.

In the classroom, he sits behind the small desk, scratching words, listening to the teacher explaining the lesson, she calls over his name to approach the board, he is moving slowly with confident steps forward, still his name being called is echoing in the atmosphere over and over again.

He opens his eyes, looks around, there is no board, this is not a classroom, it is the dusty yard, with the same dull buildings surrounding it, same worn out laundry spread on the balconies, people sitting around in groups of misery, laughing out of despair, exhaling the death away, in wait for the real breath of life.

With weary steps, he follows the echoes of his name leading the way to his home, to his shelter, to the dark room that keeps him and his family safe. That keeps him alive until death appears on his door.

Behind the Sea by: Nour Al-amine/ Photo by: Sahar Al-amine