This is Me Speaking

I just want to quickly share few thoughts on recent problematic coverage. Also to release some stress and anger through writing. Hopefully I’ll encourage myself to write more and become more tolerant. It’s very difficult as such problematic coverage is all over the social media:

Being a neither/nor person is not easy in peace times, it’s stressful and painful in times of war & exile. It’s an isolating position. In virtual spaces like this one, you’re under risk of being attacked, discredited, and ridiculed if you’re a woman. Many times mansplained.

I was almost called a “traitor” by a dear friend. Called a “White Syrian” by another. Most of my attackers are men identified as revolutionaries.

I had to restrict, unfriend and block to protect my well-being in spaces like Facebook.

All because I am not only a dissent to Assad, but to problematic dominant narratives in revolutionary circles, especially adopted by self-identified intellectuals.

That’s why many choose to not speak. Especially women. And I know many whom I speak to in private chat rooms and gatherings offline. Many of the anti-Assads who have different views from the dominant narratives don’t speak. What you hear is not representative of all revolutionary opinions.

The dominant narratives on Syria exclude and attack non-conforming opinions and discourses.

I self-censored myself but my determination to speak mirrors my determination against Assad.

It’s the job of the White Helmet to protect civilians. Doing your job shouldn’t be celebratory. Unless you’re saying this service is exclusive to opposition areas, or to Sunni civilians. So when it’s extended to non Sunni and non Opposition areas, it should be celebrated.

Be careful of your dangerous coverage and your discourse. It embodies Syria partition you claim to be against.

No. The revolution is not pure. The bombing of residents of Damascus, Aleppo, Sheikh Maksoud & other areas were not genuinely being condemned as the ones done by Assad and Russia. Sometimes they were even cheered for out of vengeance.

It’s a mere act of propaganda to use the photos of people helping the injured to whitewash all of opposition and rebel crimes. This is cheap and shameful. Not revolutionary.

It’s worth explaining what exactly you mean by “the revolution continues” when you say all of the above problematic positions that confuse the hell out of me. And I am a protester for 3 years. Anti-Assad since 2006.

Personally, my revolution started at home at the age of 15. Being part of the popular uprising was the most beautiful act I’ve ever done. But it’s clear that my definition of revolution is different than most. And close to handful of comrades scattered worldwide.

Down with all states bombing Syria. Down with all armed groups. Down with propagandists. And viva the people’s struggles in Syria, the region and worldwide.

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Lloyd Bank Int. Don’t Open Accounts for Syrians “Whose Families have Properties in Syria”

I was just on the phone with one of Lloyd Bank International advisors answering questions on whether I am “eligible” to open a dollar account there. After answering questions related to my address, place of residence, reasons for open the account etc, I was asked on my nationality. I answered that I have both Syrian and American citizenships. The advisor then put me on hold for few minutes, and returned with further question on my Syrian citizenship. Are you planning to got to Syria soon? When was the last time you’ve been in Syria? Do you have property in Syria? Family members live there?

I answered that I myself cannot go back to Syria for security reasons (my name is listed on the boarder by Assad regime), and I mentioned that my family are still there and hence they have an apartment a car. That’s when I am told I am ineligible to open an account at Lloyd Bank International.

At first I was very astonished when she said that. I wanted to understand how is that a reason for illegibility. She went on stating the reason but not the explanation:

“We cannot open bank accounts for Syrians who have family members in Syria and who have property there, this might change in the future, but unfortunately we cannot process with your request at this time.”

I got furious, and still furious, not because I couldn’t open an account- I have developed resilience the past five years that will enable to deal with that. I was furious because Syrians are punished in this world on all levels.

I told her that these procedures pose as further pain for people who fled the war for their safety. For those who want to continue with their lives but are punished for their government’s criminal actions.

The logic is outrageous. It is expected of any citizen in any country in this world to be a resident and have a property in that country. But according to Lloyd International Bank, Syrians are not expected to visit Syria, are not expected to have family members in Syria (and won’t welcome refugees either), and are not expected to have properties there.

The advisor even told me “you know as you just said, because there is war and you yourself cannot go back for security reasons, I am sure you’ll understand why we can’t proceed with your request.” That’s when I told her that I am not sure how detention, barrel bombs, chemical weapons, cluster bombs among other weapons used by the government against its own people on a daily basis, will affect Lloyd bank in the UK.

People ask me what they can do to help Syrians, and the answer is simply: identify what are the threats facing Syrians today (Assad, IS and warlords), identify policies and procedures that punish them for feeing war and wanting to have a life (not welcoming them in safe counties, residency/job applications in the region; Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan) and also policies like these from private institutions that treat citizens who fled death sentences, as a threat.

 

 

My Coming Out Story

There is something that have been part of me all my life but I did not write it down before. I was ashamed of it. Felt guilty towards it. I wanted to change myself to become another person.

Now, I think I am finding my inner peace and want to dedicate this coming out story to all the people like me in the world.

I am a weirdo.

I am one of the awkward persons you meet in your day or week.

That’s it, I’ve said it. I feel so much better.

You see, light social conversations are a nightmare for me. I am very bad at meeting new people and finding the right, light, casual, not too deep and not too shallow conversations to make at certain occasions; dinners with acquaintances, getting-to-know-people-closer meetings, orientations, the social meetings after the panel discussions or conferences, classmates, flatmates, neighbors, distant family members…etc.

Of course, over time (since I am 35), I have worked hard to “perform” a social person in all of these meetings. Sometimes it works very well and sometimes I make embarrassing remarks or positions. I used to be ashamed of those. So very much. Now I don’t think I care much. Perhaps it’s a good thing not assimilate, I tell myself. It’s OK not to fit in all the time. Especially I “trained” myself very well to give the impression I am an “everybody person.” Not awkward at all. Performativity makes wonders.

Unlike casual and light conversations among strangers or acquaintances, I find meeting a very small number of people, sharing drinks, cigarettes and having nice, personal and honest conversations very refreshing and empowering. These are my favorite moments about life.

I am scared of meetings that revolve 20-40 people. I say nothing in those meetings and I feel very self-conscious. Whereas I feel confident at meetings that revolve 100 ppl or more.

I was scared of public speaking but then I became fond of it, especially meeting with like-minded activists and comrades.

I can only do bonding-kind of relationships. That’s why I take friendships very seriously. And that’s why I sometimes value people I shared great moments with online (blogging or uprisings for ex) even though we haven’t met in person.

I don’t think I believe in the concept “socializing.” My brain and body don’t get it. I get disappointed at romantic relationships that don’t involve a real bonding. Interestingly enough, not all people need that sort of thing to be “in love.” I do.

In fact, I can only function in relationships (friendships or romantic ones) that center around bonding. It took me a while to understand this thing about me.

I am a very literal and precise human being. I love examples, long explanations. orientations, well-structed and detailed talk. Because my mind goes like this @($$&%^$(#(@ when I hear a general talk.

I stop listening to sentences that begin with “generally speaking.”

Use your words carefully, please.

I am very organized towards everything (meetings, dates, relationships, conversations, cleaning, buying, planning, going to a bar etc). I wish I wasnt but I am. I am so loving this post.

I am very punctual (unless I am down, unmotivated or depressed) and being punctual among a culture of unpunctuality is, well, frustrating, to say the least. I stop meeting with people who show up 30 or an hour late. I totally get turned off.

I bond very easily with animals. Not sure why I typed that here. Hmm.

Now the good stuff: I talk to myself a lot during the day. Part of my well-being is to understand myself, my new self that evolved during the uprising and the war. After all, I am living with myself ALL DAY. All my life. Sometimes I am not my self and I don’t recognize it. How to deal with that? My solution is that me and myself should talk about it.

These are not simple things. Not common things either. These habits and manners of thinking are sometimes isolating at occasions where casual talk or socializing is a “professional” part of your life as a student or worker. Even in your social and intimate life.

These types or preferences of relationships is difficult when you’re in exile or when you’re a refugee. Saying goodbye to your close friends and family, and entering a whole new space to find new ones, demands a lot of patience and energy that sometimes you have none.

Finally, I am so happy that I came out to this blog’s readers. To the people who feel they’re awkward; love your self and be confident about it. Life is too short to be ashamed.

Sat March 5th

Razan

Leeds

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kali’s Legacy

I lived. Past tense. I lived nine months in a place called Nomy. Nomy was a strange town, I have to say. But that’s not what I want to talk about today.

I left Nomy four months ago. Past tense. It should be over by now, you know, the memories – good or bad. But those memories are called as such because of present tense. The old reality becomes new after leaving. Here is a new territory, your mind is working daily to accumulate new memories. The old memories are not so much old, they’re still alive with me in my speech, temper, I even developed new fakeness in my character. Most of all, those old memories are alive within me through my new semi-phobias. Continue reading

On Living a Vegetarian Life

Dogs in Beit Shabab Village, Lebanon

I’ve been living for a month now in a very tiny village called Qalhat [Qal7at] in northern Lebanon. It is so tiny that it doesn’t have a single veggies store. And we’re talking about a village here, but no veggies stores. Kinda interesting yet frustrating especially for a vegetarian person like me. There are only two mini-markets and no other stores are found. I kid you not. But that’s because right next to this village there’s another village called Fee’ [Fee3] and it has almost everything. And that’s where I buy my veggies from.

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Antalya

I’m here to participate in a conference, I arrived today and here I am enjoying one of Antalya’s cafes by the sea. The local beer is good. The waitress is hot, very short hair, the way she walks, she’s avoiding eye contact, she’s shy maybe.

Turkish women are incredibly beautiful, it’s kind of scary. And they know it.

I have a workshop to facilitate the day after tomorrow and I am still confused about what exactly I want to say.

Anyalya is so beautiful, it reminded me a bit of Homs, small city, organized buildings, wide streets, except you can see women in the streets.

I’ve seen a lot of mothers in this cafe, maybe because it has a children section. One girl fell and she started shouting in Turkish, she started crying when her mother saw her falling down, I think she was saying: “it hurts! it hurts!”.

I like the waitress. I like Antalya. Thank god we’re not in Istanbul, I hated that city very much. It was designed for tourists, Antalya is tourist- friendly but I love how nobody here speaks English. I am using weird body language to communicate, and people find it amusing. Nice people, people of Antalya.

I hated their airport though, I had a fight with them, their security check is humiliating, and everybody was obsessed about my hat, like I am hiding a bomb there or something. Assholes.

I thought the plane was going to crash, actually I was prepared to die. The captain was funny, the plan would move on and on on the side, and there was a moment when the plane moved fast that I thought this is it, I am going to fall on the sea, I am going to stop breathing as I am falling from the sky and onto the sea. I won’t be able to shout cause the scene is so scary. people are shouting around me. If I ever make it alive in the sea, I thought, I am going to save the children and the baby cat. The cat’s owner is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in my life. Dark skin, fair hair, green eyes. Amazing body, but I won’t save her, I am sorry but I am more sympathetic with children and animals than pretty bodies.

I think the Asians at our plane were Japanese, and I was to say to them “Baka”. But a couple of them were whispering about the Hezbolla sign I attached to my backpack. What a turn off.

So yeah, dying, been thinking a lot about death than usual lately. Isn’t amazing, that one of humanity’s biggest fears is death, yet I am fantasizing about it on my way to a nice gathering?

I know why I like death, and why suicide is an interesting concept. I hope I can explain my thoughts about it one day.

I can’t believe I am writing again on this stupid blog.

Anyways, gotta start preparing for my workshop. Jana!

Would You Be My Palestine?

We can buy Almaza and get to your uncle’s place while he’s having his Argileh with his friends outdoors.

We can buy some of the Armenian nuts you like.

We can sit next to each other on the Sofa.

We can get nervous.

We can allow silence to be so loud.

This is it.

We can turn Valentine into a sacred sin.

Would you break the law with me?

We can wait till we finish our first bottle.

We can forget about your tomorrow and mine.

You can let me start right here and now.

Continue reading