Chasing Time~

chasing time~ Boracay

chasing time~ Boracay

It’s a funny thing, time. I remember as a child not minding time at all; being and living in the moment; existing in a plane where time had no say in my business. Then slowly things begin to change. Time would no longer allow itself to be ignored. It wants to assert its managerial role in the affairs of my human existence. Freedom is replaced by deadlines, strict appointments and duties to be fulfilled on ‘time’. But little does time know that I remember what it was like to be free, and that I can escape to that place where I kept my childhood alive and well. Don’t tell time…

Day 17~ June 17th~ Xinjiang

the little questioning eyes

In the streets of old Kashgar I met so many children, playful, joyful, running here and there, but not this little boy. I had some candy in my pocket that I offered him and he just stood there looking at me then down at his shoes, then at me again until he summoned the courage to extend his had for the sweet candy only to drop his eyes back again to his feet. He looked so innocent and fragile with his borrowed woman’s shoe that I almost reached out to hug him… but I did not. He walked slowly away down the alley to found the door to his house and disappear into it.

day 9~ April 9th~ Congo

hope in music

Childhood is the most sacred part of life. We as adults are entrusted with it to shield it, protect it and allow it its full potential…

And yet, in places like Congo, children are forcefully taken from their families by armed forces, sometimes as early as 7 years old, forced into military training, a life of crime, drugs, war and are shoved brutally into an ugly adulthood robbing them of their gift, their innocent childhood.

UNICEF and other NGOs have been actively struggling to save these children from the grips of war, offering them temporary sanctuary in an attempt to help them kickstart their childhood again and reunite with their families or other foster families in the Congolese society.

With arts, some of these children told me that they are able to escape into other places in their minds, places free of their memories of war, of killing, of brutality. They can dream of a normal life, of happiness and of recapturing the freedom that is an integral part of childhood.

Day 19~ February 19~ Lebanon

the bakeress at 'souk el tayeb'~ Beirut~ Lebanon

I don’t think I can remember a single meal at our home in Lebanon that did not include Lebanese bread. There is a saying in Lebanon “between us is bread and salt” which means that we are friends, we are close, we are on ‘sharing life’ terms. And as a child I remember that neighbors’ doors were always open and we children were able to just walk in and out throughout the neighborhood without any type of formality. We had a neighbor living right across the little road from us and she used to have a special old fashioned oven called saj outside her home where she made fresh bread. I still remember smelling the firewood burning signaling the start of the bread making process and running up to her home with wide eyes as she happily made us her special bread called “mtabbkah”. This was a flat loaf sprinkled with sugar and then folded to let the sugar melt inside and it was mouthwatering.

With the modernism of Lebanon, these types of ovens are becoming a rarity. I was so thrilled to see the special traditional market in the center of Beirut (souk el tayyeb) that celebrates old traditions and the best of homemade delicacies that Lebanon has to offer.

the juice seller

Day Eight~ February 8th~ Lebanon

I left a part of me on this old street

Have you ever experienced going back to a place you lived after years have passed? Have you gone through the stirring deep emotion that goes with such an experience?

This little street in a little village in North Lebanon holds so many life changing memories for me. It was along this street that I walked day after day alone but for my thoughts and a little stone I used to kick along the whole way from home to the little shop that sold anything, everything and my favorite 5 pennies ice cream cone; a 15 minute walk that took me more than an hour to complete. I remember walking along that road and letting my mind drift and dream in Arabic save for a single word that kept resonating in my mind strangely in English: ‘determined’!

It remains one of those mysteries of life, unexplained, strange and precious…

walking back into the past~ photo by Shouly Khair

Day Three Hundred Sixty Four, January 21, 2012

friends forever

There are friendships that defy all odds because they were simply meant to be. Lea’s friendship with Laura is such a strong bond. Laura was born in Bangkok, and moved to China when she was less than 2. This is when her friendship with Lea started. They were inseparable even at that age and for the 3 years that followed. Then came the sad day that Laura had to move to Singapore and I imagined that things will settle with time and distance into a distant childhood memory. But no, they managed to stay in touch and strive to meet, connect and continue a powerful relationship as if they still lived across each other as they always did. Today, Laura who now lives in Hong Kong came to visit and Lea was in heaven as they are to spend a week together rebuilding and reinforcing their 6 year old friendship.

photo taken: Lea and her friend Amelie waiting at the airport with their welcome sign for Laura and Sophie

Day Three Hundred Nineteen, December 7, 2011

when color takes you back

Does it happen to you sometimes that you may see a color, smell a certain smell, or hear a specific tune and they act as a trigger for memories that were long dormant in you? Funny how our life experiences are never really gone, but are somehow stacked neatly in the archives of our mind until something happens to wake them and bring them rushing to our conscious awareness…

Today I visited Lea’s school for a Christmas afternoon celebration, and seeing their class colored pencils stacked there neatly took me back with a jolt to a small class room in the North of Lebanon and for a moment I could smell the old pencils, my desk with its worn out wood cover that could open and close for us to keep things inside and that mostly smelled of old sandwiches, the room, the chalkboard and the village breeze that brought with it the aroma of the olive groves through the open windows.

Day Two Hundred Fourty Five, September 24, 2011

love of life

To wake up excited about a new day, to find something wonderful about any type of weather, to look at mud as a potential mud pie, to view a puddle as a chance at some great splash excitement, to laugh at funny things without any inhibition including a funny face or a very fat bum, to run around exploring until your fall down in an exhausted heap, to lay in bed after a long day feeling nothing but peace and an anticipation of a great and full tomorrow…

This is the love of life, mostly exclusively available in children sizes 1 to 12. Highly contagious to open minded adults.

Day One Hundred Ninety Seven, August 7, 2011

the insect tamer

Every once in a while you meet a child who is so attracted and attractive to the little people of the planet that they are seen constantly surrounded by little critters. Lexi is such a child. He loves to observe and be around anything that crawls, flies, swims, slithers… anything that is moving really. He is the child the dragonfly chooses to land on and linger, and the one that the little baby lizard likes be with and who plots to take one of the Gibraltar apes back home in the car!