We were treated yesterday to a beautiful tradition of Dukhoon where incense was burnt on our arrival and several times throughout the day during our visit and the midkhan or incense burner was passed around to allow us to incense our hair and clothing following the example of our hostess.
Dukhoon has a very long tradition in the Arabic culture of being used in religious ceremonies as well as social events and it’s use is reputed to heal, repel bad spirits, enhance smells and increase creativity and motivation.
There is something quite haunting about witnessing and being part of this tradition and obviously I go back home tomorrow with a variety of oud and incense to burn in my home and keep this tradition alive.
I went to Egypt looking for adventure. I got far more than what I bargained for…
A group of 25 something friends from all around the globe, all eager to find the truth, we headed into the desert on a moonless night to gaze at the stars and dwell on the mysteries of Egypt. It was magical to say the least, until a few hours later someone looked around and we had a feeling one of our friends was missing. We called her name into the pitch darkness but nothing returned other than the eerie stillness of the desert night. It was the kind of darkness where you could not see your own hand, let alone another person lost in the sand. We desperately came up with a plan to separate into groups of 2 and walk around looking and feeling for our friend. We spent about an hour of very high emotional distress and thoughts going all over the place and expectations of the worst possible. We were each running the risk of getting lost ourselves, if not for a far away light that we left as a marker and a place to meet at the end of our search. Our local friend and guide who was with us walked finally to the nearest road and managed to call the hotel in Cairo only to discover that our friend was showered and in bed after having been lost, finding the road and hitchhiking to the hotel while we were busy searching for her.
That night, people of different religions, backgrounds, nationalities and ages worked together while faced with a crisis, an Arab with a German, a christian with a jew, a European with an American, all towards one purpose, the safety of another human being. Amazing how a real life situation can cause all the ‘stuff’ that does not belong to being human, to be shed away, dropped for the sake of our shared humanity. A great lesson was learned by all that night, as the deserts of the planet can do that to us.
Everywhere you look in Lebanon, you find layers of history and ages superimposed upon ages, telling stories of kings, princes and rulers that left their mark on this small country. About 50 km south east of the capital Beirut, lies a small village on the shoulders of the Chouf mountains, and I have always been caught by its name: Beit ed-Din (house of religion, or house of faith). Besides its natural charm, the village is home to a beautiful palace. In the Druz area of Lebanon, the emir(prince) Bachir Chehab the second ordered the building of the palace by arab masons as well as Italian architects, which gave the building the distint style of traditional arab masonry mixed with a touch of baroque. Today the palace is partly open to the public and partly serves as a presidential summer residence.
The more I write about Lebanon, the more I realize that it would take years to tell its story with me and my story with it…