Friday, June 24, 2011

A long overdue dedication

A couple of weeks ago, I encountered a news item that transformed my mood into what I can only describe as a mix of sadness, quiet anger and helplessness. The news was of a jailed Iranian journalist and activist, Mr. Hoda Saber, who had died of a heart attack resulting from a 10-day hunger strike. "Mr Saber, who was in his 50s, began his strike on 2 June to protest about the death of fellow opposition figure Haleh Sahabi, during an incident at the funeral of her activist father." On the face of it, there is nothing about this tragedy that specifically warrants an emotional reaction from me. I had never heard of Mr. Saber and his death will in no likelihood affect my life. However, it was these reasons specifically that made me tweet this news story over and over. It was because I had never heard of him, because millions have never heard of him and never will, while he languished in jail and died alone, that I was saddened. It was because my life was not affected by his death that I felt culpable for being indifferent.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The social contract I never signed

Having just left the Ahliyyah School for Girls on the First Circle, beaming with pleasure at a lovely concert I had just attended (Thanks to the wonderful Dozan wa Awtar Singers), my friend Kariman and I embarked on what soon proved to be the most stressful drive in recent memory for the both of us. Apparently, we had not been warned that Rainbow street and all its side streets, were to be avoided at all costs on a Friday evening. To reach the Second Circle, which normally takes 3 minutes, took us exactly 1 hours and 30 minutes (from 9.20 pm until 10.50 pm. I can prove these numbers). Now having grown up in Beirut and still driving there quite often, I have to admit I've been through traffic like this, many many times, before. This was not the problem.