Keep Makan’s Doors Open

Makan is one of my favorite spaces in Jordan.

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Have you ever been depressed?

I have never been depressed in my life.

It’s true.

Sure, I’ve felt miserable before. Like the time my father died when I was 23. I thought the world was going to end. For a while, it was impossible for me to fathom that things were ever going to be okay, and I felt absolutely terrible. But I was okay in the end. It wasn’t just that once either. I’ve cried many times over the fact that life is unfair, and I’ve gotten angry at the impossibility of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. I’ve made bad choices and bad decisions that affected my life negatively for long stretches of time. And circumstances can be depressing too. These days, for example, I’ve lost my will to write, because I’m frustrated with the disgusting situation in the Arab world.

I’ve had many bad days, yes.

But that’s not depression. That’s just life.

I’ve seen real depression on others. I’ve seen what it does to people, the way it holds them down. I’ve seen my friends change completely, I’ve seen all remnants of logic shatter in perfectly logical people. I’ve seen people who can’t see white when its blazing in their face. People who are drowning in shallow water, who are suffocating in open air.

I’ve seen it, but I don’t know what that feels like.

In every bad experience I’ve ever had, I was always able to logically see through the situation. I always knew that things will be okay again, because that’s the nature of life. I always bounded back very quickly, stronger than before. I didn’t have to make any effort either. I’m just that kind of person. That kind of lucky person.

My parents are my lucky charms. Aside from the wonderful childhood they gave us, they also passed along good genes. My serotonin transporter gene, namely.

You see, depression is a disease. It is a biological disease no different than any other disease. It kills you slowly, painfully, and horribly. It’s genetics.

If you know someone who is suffering from depression, do not take things lightly. If you are suffering from depression, seek some help.

Here’s a video that explains the biology of depression:



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Happy Independence Day, Jordan

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Happy Independence Day, Jordan. This is the Jordan of my childhood… Pink oleanders, vast blue skies, and expansive hills that we always used to run down. Scraped elbows and knees, a crisp morning breeze, and the sound of the cotton candy man’s whistle. May you remain stable, safe, and sound, and give our children the same beautiful memories you gave us. May you strive and prosper, and give us all the life we want.

Happy Independence Day!



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The Hopelessness of Being Arab

When I was a child, the biggest Arab tragedy was that of Occupied Palestine.

فلسطين المحتلة.

The tragedy was the source of both great sadness and imagination to Arabs the world over. In the melting-pot that is Saudi Arabia, being Palestinian meant that I got a role in the majority of our end-of-year school plays (which were often about Palestine), and that I passed Arabic class solely for my diplomatic usage of Palestine as an essay-topic in all my assignments. Charitable telethons collected money to send to the West Bank, and we were taught patriotic songs about how we WILL get our land back. The entirety of the Arab world came together and agreed to boycott Israel and all companies that operated in Israel, including Coca Cola.

Palestine, the tragedy of the Arab world, united us all in sadness and resolve.

Then everything exploded.

Iraq, the queen of civilization. A country that has over 10,000 years of culture, and where Arabs flocked to learn the fine arts and study engineering.

Libya, booming Libya. The place of crazy Gadaffi was crazy, but with oil and money, things were certainly looking up.

Egypt, full of strife. Injustice, death, theft and corruption.

Syria, break my heart. The heart of identity to those of us from the Levant.

Bahrain, the little tiny country. How can a place so small have so many problems?

Lebanon, self-inflicted insanity. I remember the joy of the Lebanese Civil War ending, and I was just 6 years old.

Yemen, which keeps going back in time. You would think that things are supposed to get BETTER, not worse.

And of course, there is still Palestine. Was the situation in Gaza as bad as it is today, when Palestine was the sole tragedy of the Arab world?

Amidst so many tragedies, I find myself unable to believe that at some point, Palestine was the major tragedy of being Arab.

My heart aches for all the Arab children of today. My heart aches for our little children, who have their own catastrophes. The Iraqi children, the Syrian children, the Libyan children, the Sudanese children, the Yemeni children, the Gazan children. My heart aches for the rest of the Arab world’s children too, even if they lead beautiful sheltered lives in Saudi Arabia, like I did. Growing up with one tragedy was heartbreaking, what is it like to grow up with so many?

What’s it like to not remember a time before the Gulf War? A time before the fall of Baghdad? A time when the craziest form of extremism was Saudi Arabia? What’s it like for children who don’t remember a time when Syrian drama was the star of Arab TV? When it was easy to drive to Beirut. And when Gazans in diaspora went back to Gaza for the summer, and had fights on who would eat the hottest chili. When there was hope for Yemen, and when everyone wished they could find a job in Libya.

I can’t imagine what it’s like.

And I will leave you with a song by Palestinan artist Amal Murqus. It refers to the Palestinian tragedy, at a time when Palestine was the major tragedy of being Arab.

At a time when there was still hope for a better tomorrow.

ا أحد يعلم – No one knows
لا أحد يعلم من الآتي في الدور غداً – No one knows who’s turn it is next tomorrow
سماء المخيم عابسة أحلامه مكتوبة – The sky of the refugee camp is gloomy
على كل جدار – And its dreams are written on every wall
اطفال المدينة يلهون بلعبة الموت قرب الشعار – The city’s children are having fun with death games near the slogans
لا أحد يعلم – No one knows
أبطال حكايات النهار نعرفهم في نشرة المساء – We know about “The champions of today’s stories” in the evening news
أناس عاديون يسرقون العناوين للحظة – Regular people stealing the headlines for a second
ويرحلون بعيداً ويرحلون بعيداً – Then they go so far away
في زحمة الأسماء والأحداث والأخبار – In the congestion of names and events and news
لا أحد يعلم – No one knows



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Come visit Jordan this summer



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Why is modern art bad?

That’s not my question, of course. Me? I love modern art, thank you very much. I love it so much that my favorite three artists of all time are all the “bad modern type” type:

Marcel DuChamp

Picassso

Andy Warhol <3

The question was posed by a person who I guess is a professor, and I’m sharing it because I love having this debate with people.

What I really think?

With this kind of thought-policing, this professor should move to Jordan.

He’ll feel right at home.



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