AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: August 2013

In Times Like These

Déjà vu.
It’s always déjà vu.
The constant sense of foreboding. The constant drums of war.

The Gulf War: 1990
Sirens outside. The cartoons on TV turning into a red screen with a banshee-like wail. My dad checking the taped windows. My uncle showing my parents gas masks. Sitting in the backseat of the car for hours, watching the desert go by, as my father drove us from Riyadh to Amman, which was safer.
I was five years old. I don’t remember feeling fear. I was too young to understand war, after all. Too young to understand death. The fear translated to adrenaline. I remember the adrenaline.

The Second Intifada: 2000
Dead children on Al-Jazeera. More dead children on Al-Jazeera. More and more dead children on Al-Jazeera.
My dad calling his family in Palestine. The bad news, the bad news, the bad news from everywhere.
I was 15. I think that’s when I started becoming desensitized. That’s when death started feeling like déjà vu.

Riyadh Compound Bombings: 2003
It was my last year in highschool. It was past 11:00PM. I was trying to sleep. My dad receives a call. Bombing in Al-Hamra Compound! Al-Hamra compound, where we know so many people. It isn’t just death on TV anymore. It’s death of people we know.
The Palestinian community in Riyadh grieved. My mother’s face was yellow, when she came back from the funeral. Even the “Americans” in the statistics and in the news were actually Palestinians. Palestinians we knew, or Palestinians who knew someone we knew. The Palestinian community of Riyadh is tight-knit. The Palestinian community of Riyadh grieved.
My highschool was across the street from Al-Hamra compound. The windows of the school were broken. That’s how I finished my last year of highschool. Amidst cracked windows.

America’s Invasion of Iraq: 2003
My highschool graduation was 3 days away. My friends and I were happily planning for what was then the most exciting day of our lives. Then America invaded Iraq, and nothing was happy anymore.
I had Iraqi friends graduating with me, after all. We watched the news with sadness. We watched the news with pain.

Terrorism in Nablus: 2003
My father packed a bag and went to Nablus, and that wasn’t something he did often. A good friend of his was murdered, Baraa Al-Shakaa, in a booty-trapped car targeting his brother the mayor, Ghassan.
My brother was called Ghassan after a Ghassan Al-Shakaa. Not the mayor. His uncle, I believe.
I never saw my father as sad as he was that month.

Terrorism Strikes Amman: 2005
It was horrifying. Amman! Peaceful Amman. My city. My home. Three places, all within three kilometers of my house. Places I’ve been to so many times. In someone’s wedding. Fuck them.
Life changed after that.

Israel’s War on Lebanon: 2006
Misery. So many friends in Beirut. All panicking. All trying to escape. Fear. Misery. Hatred.

Israel’s War on Gaza: 2008
My father was dying in the hospital. I was sitting next to his bed, watching the news of Gaza on Al-Jazeera.
So. Many. Deaths.
I wondered what was easier. Knowing that your dad will be dead from cancer in a few days, or losing him suddenly in a bomb.
My dad died before the massacre was over.

Civil War in Syria: 2011
You know, your heart freezes. I guess it’s self-defense mechanism. But of course no mechanism is fail-proof. Especially when you’re talking about something that is SO CLOSE TO HOME. Too close to home. It’s painful. It rots your heart. Rots your soul.

This list doesn’t even include the revolutions of the Arab Spring, that have also claimed hundreds of innocent lives. Yemen. Bahrain. Egypt. Sudan. Libya. Tunisia. This is just the non-revolutionary list. The list that I witnessed with my own eyes, with my own friends, with my own family, and not the list that was always there on TV, still close to home.

Strange being Arab in these times.

I was a child once. An Arab child.

I was an Arab child who was told that there were Arab children, like me, dying. My Arab brothers and sisters.

I am not a child anymore. I’m still Arab though.

The Arab children still die by the hundreds. Arab children young enough to be my Arab children.

In times like these, I want to be here:

The Genius of “Yummy” Food Photography

A few years ago, while working on branding “The Cakery“, I developed a fascination with food photography.

It’s amazing how photographing “yummy” is so difficult, much more difficult than you’d expect. Colors are never consistent in food, and neither are contours. Light reflects in really strange ways because of all the oily materials used in cooking. Fruits are not beautiful naturally, and they need to be handpicked and polished.

And then there’s this: The layout of the photograph itself needs to have the painful balance of perfectly-placed items in symmetrical arrangements combined with the chaotic process of enjoying food, crumbs on the table and all. I can’t think of another way of explaining that sentence.

You know, when we think something looks yummy in real life, it’s often the smell rather than the visuals. Capturing the steam, the smell, the colors, AND the way the food makes you feel onto a picture is really difficult. And we didn’t even mention food styling, and the complexity of that.

That’s why I developed a fascination with food photography. It’s an underestimated art, and most people suck it. So I go around collecting pictures of food that’s captured beautifully. I even stopped wanting to eat them. Now I just look at the way they look, at how the light reflects, at the angle it’s captured from, at the color spectrum, at the layout, at the items scattered about…

[Related: Visual Order and Chaos and the Impossibility of Randomness]

I feel really anxious for new technology

This month, I realized that I feel really anxious for new technology.

Before you misunderstand that statement and think I’ve lost my mind and joined the romantic masses that “long for simpler times”, let me clarify: I am so utterly bored with the past two years’ lack of new tech. You know the beautiful new tech I’m talking about… the kind that quickly becomes ubiquitous, changing our very lifestyles over and over and over again.

Yes. 2012 and 2013 were BORING AS HELL technologically, and my skin is itching. I’m feeling anxious. I want to beat my computer up for being the same as it was last year, yell at the Internet for the lack of cool new ways to do things, and chuck my new HTC One out of the window for not being different at all from my 2011 Samsung Galaxy S2.

I’M BORED OUT OF MY MIND.

You see, for most of my life (and yours too probably, even if you didn’t realize it), technology came quickly, and changed everything. PCs. The Internet. Laptops. Cellphones. Video games. GPS. 3G. CDs. Smartphones. YouTube. The iPhone. Facebook. Bluetooth. Wikipedia. Apps. iPads. Google. Digital cameras. USB storage devices. Dropbox. Every step of the my life, something new came, was loved by the masses, and changed the way we interact with each other and the world. I was always on my toes, waiting, wanting, wishing, testing, loving.

My father got us our first home PC in 1991, and it was the most wondrous thing in the world. A few years later, when I was 13, the Internet suddenly became a part of most homes, and changed the very way we think and interact. Then there were laptops, and lo and behold, WIFI! I also remember the first time I saw a cellphone in my life, then suddenly they were in every pocket by the time I was 17. And then came the iPhone, and apps, and 3G, and ewallets, and mobile games and, and, and, and.

There was always something new in my life, something exciting that made my heart flutter. Alas, these past two years, there has been nothing new and exciting, and this technophile wants to cry her eyes out.

Where is the future? The present is killing me.

Qabeela: Ya Nadili

Fun song by new band Qabeela :)

On July

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Can you really archive time?

2007: On March | On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2008: On January | On February | On March | On April | On May | On June | On August On September | On October | On November

2009: On July  | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2010: On January | On February | On March | On April | On May | On June | A Captioned July An UnCaptioned August  | On September  | On October | On November | On December

2011: On January  |  On February   |   On March   |  On April  |  On May  |   On July

2012: On April | On May | On June | On July | On August | On September | On October | On November | On December

2013: On January | On Februaury | On March | On April | On May | On June | On July

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