The way we’re born

 

You are born a clean slate, and that is how you will live the first few years of life, bound only by your imagination. Not realizing how vital  it is that you take full advantage of that time, however, there is only so much you can do at such a young age. Which is why you will climb trees, consume an insane amount of cartoons, and sing out loud with your head hanging outside a window, any window, remember, there are no limits.

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Slowly, the canvas becomes a target, they all want to leave their imprint on, whether small or big. They begin telling you to do things a specific way, say specific things, expect things of you, and that is how you become, you are not to blame, it is not an easy chain to break out of, nor is it easy to live outside. With time, you become a pattern of words, customs, and traditions, painted in the colours of the “good old days” where everything was simple and clear cut. Where we didn’t have to be careful of the words we used, or the way we treated those who were different, because ultimately, they weren’t our people, and therefore they didn’t matter.

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You will try to add some colour to the pattern, a piercing pink, a gloomy grey, or a rocket red, and they will allow it thinking it temporary but will express their displeasure every chance they get, no one can blame you for caving in,  painting was never meant to be such a struggle after all. And so you go back to the palette originally assigned, and you try to find yourself within it, because its easier finding yourself within a frame already set.

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This was an accidental mini-Photo-series that I managed to get during a walk throughout the Old City. In the first photo the girl reminds me of the girl in the redcoat in Schindler’s list, grim, I know, but the hair and the sweater were very similar. I have been reading a lot of Nietzsche and Simone De Beauvoir, plus I recently discovered Adrienne Rich’s poetry and Essays which I have not stopped reading since last night. That should explain why what I wrote sounds more like a train of thoughts than an actual structured post. Enjoy ❤ 

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2018,

You definitely weren’t anyone’s favourite year, in fact people have been comparing you to 2016 as if we even still remember what that year was like. Personally, you were a year of huge growth for me, and I’m not talking physically (Although getting a gym membership was a big thing for me) but also mentally, and as an individual.

I never realized how shaped I was by the people I let surround me, how far I let them dictate my actions or validate my feelings, as if I wasn’t an authority of that. Which is why this was the year I learnt to filter, filter those around me, filter my emotions, filter my thoughts. It is also the year I learnt to leave all that was not useful or good behind,  that a little selfishness was never bad, in fact it helped me become more generous in the long run.

When I learnt to fight for my right, to negotiate a salary, to demand credit for my work. The year when left my comfort zone, where I took a chance. The year I met some amazing people, some nice people, some not so great people, and all taught me a thing or two regardless of how long they stayed in my life.

The year I took more pictures, edited more pictures, experimented slightly, and walked around with my camera around the hazardous streets of Tripoli.  I finally got myself a copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses which should be the first book of 2019. But most of all, it was the year I spent more time understanding and observing myself and everyone else around me, as opposed to just rolling through and making a havoc out of life.

 

I hope you enjoy some of my all time favorite photographs from 2018…

 

 

 

 

Why Kiki’s Delivery Service is the kind of movie the world needs.

Before Disney realized that the world needed female leads who had more than one-dimensional personalities, Ghibli studio was already serving us with incredibly thought-out female  characters. Characters like Chihiro in Spirited away, Sophie in Howl’s Moving Castle, and even Shizuku from Whisper of The Heart.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Ghibli Studio is a Japanese animation studio that was founded by  the directors Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and the producer Toshio Suzuki. The name Ghibli is actually …wait for it… a Libyan term used to refer to a specific type of wind, Miyazaki chose this term hoping that the studio will bring about a wind of change to Japan’s anime industry.

I was introduced to Ghibli Studio through Spirited Away, which was their biggest international success, and it took me a while to see the rest of the movies (not being a huge fan of anime to begin with) but when I saw Kiki’s Delivery Service, I was blown away.

The story revolves around Kiki, a 13 year old witch who is leaving home in order to start her year of training. As is apparently tradition for witches. Kiki’s mother, the senior witch, mixes potions and is concerned about Kiki leaving, but understands. Her father, a worried but supportive figure who twirls her around and lets her take his radio with her on her journey. At midnight, on a cloudless starry night, Kiki gets ready to leave, with everyone wishing her luck, she mounts her broom and kicks off with nothing but her radio, some savings, and her cat Jiji (whose pessimistic character provides a nice contrast to Kiki’s good natured optimism).tumblr_p0og7eLad21vart62o1_500

What amazes me about this movie is that it manages to naturally convey such a positive and empowering messages to girls, women, and even boys. It softly portrays the hardships of independence and fitting in, while depicting some of the many different types of  the strong independent women that exist around us. Kiki, at the beginning is not sure of her skills, she knows that she can fly, but that is about it, and it isn’t until she meets Osono and her husband that she realizes she can turn flying into a profitable job.

Osono herself is a perfect display of the maternal, supportive, and strong kind of female character. Cheerful and very pregnant, she runs a bakery with her husband in the town Kiki chooses to settle in.  And she is consistently there for Kiki in her time of need (which was only twice, Kiki is a strong girl after all). Ursula, who we meet when Kiki loses a toy she was supposed to deliver in the middle of the forest, is a quirky artist living in a cabin, surrounded by nothing but trees and crows, is another type of strong female character Miyazaki blesses us with in this movie.

Miyazaki also blessed us by giving Kiki a cute as hell, but innocent love interest. However, it all loses its color when Kiki falls into a bout of what can be only be described as depression, she loses her ability to fly and she can no longer communicate with her cat. tumblr_p0cx0pAqXN1vart62o1_500

She worries that she is now unable to be a witch, and while Osono tries to comfort her, it is Ursula who tells her that she ought to come to her cabin for a while to regain her strength, and with this we have the most incredible sequence in the movie, the heartfelt conversation between two women on what it is to be discovering themselves and finding their inspiration.

The magic of the movie doesn’t lie in the force of its message, she is not a sword wielding warrior who is stronger than a thousand men, she isn’t a princess with a spell on her, she is a little girl who is accompanied by the doubts that are embodied in Jiji (her cat), the insecurities of looking pretty, and the fear of failure. Along her journey, Kiki continually feels like an outsider, like she does not belong anywhere, but at no point does she  consider changing who she is at heart, it was a question of patience and time at the end.

Along with the beautifully written characters, some of whom are role models for Kiki, others like guardian figures (Osono’s husband making Kiki a sign out of bread, and pacing back and forth in the bakery to make sure she is home safe) , and a cute Tombo who was besotted with her and her flying until the end. Kiki’s Delivery Service is powerful because its subtle as the sun creeping up at dawn, not shocking but pleasant in its warmth and illuminating with its light.

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You’d be happy to know that Kiki found her inspiration in the end, and was able to fly, but what troubles me is how many young girls never do get the chance to discover a unique identity, or a purpose of their own, because we as a society can’t afford for them to take a “one year training period”, instead we force them into moulds and cast them out when they do not fit them.

I will continue watching this movie, and I have a strong suspicion that it will be the movie I will show my children, because I want them to understand the importance of independence, of finding their purpose, their inspiration, and that it is their responsibility to be as supportive as Osono and Ursula to the people they run into in life, because we are all Kiki’s in the end, and that it doesn’t matter what you are, what matters is what you do…

The Old City

Anyone living in Libya knows how difficult it is for a girl to walk around anywhere at any point of the day comfortably, The Old City though is the one exception, pick the right time in a day and you can walk around the Old City with your camera  un-bothered for a few hours.

 

 

These specific photos were taken early on a Saturday morning, where Nada Harib (An amazing photographer) and I mustered up the courage to sacrifice a few hours of precious sleep to simply wander these streets alone.

 

I can easily say that the Old City is my favorite spot in all of Libya, but the truth is its a lot more than that.  It is a city that has remained unchanged, and whether that is  due to neglect or mismanagement of funds, the result is a mosaic of objects that have survived the people and the passing of time.

 

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The old city is the one place I am at peace with my Libyan-ness it seems, since everywhere else to be Libyan is but a mesh of pessimism and waiting in long queues.

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Do let me know what you think of the photos  below in the comments …

On becoming a hermit and coping mechanisms…

 

It has been a very long time, and I must be excused for life has been overwhelming, so much so that I it has been two months since I finished reading any book. Books are easy enough to start reading, but its the commitment and dedication to finish that is hard to come by. Lately I have started reading  Dosteyovsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Jean Jaqcques Rousseau’s Confessions, Simone De Bouvoir’s Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, and a new sort of book called Quite, by Susan Cain on introverts, something I can easily be suspected of.

This is probably the first time in my life where I don’t feel compelled to finish a book, but its not just books, I have generally adopted a Screw it  kind of attitude towards everything and regardless of what anyone says, that sort of attitude is anything but healthy. It is easy to put all of this on Libya, I mean it is a tough situation, because really thats what Libya is right now to most of us just starting out with our lives, a tough situation of instability, violence, and decline which has made getting by hard, let alone flourishing in anyway.

In the past I have always had something that would shield me from all of this, work, people, projects, books,music,  and most of all; coffee, and these things would temporarily blind me from all that we are in until the next time, kind of like an antibiotic, but like I have mentioned, nothing works lately.

Perhaps that is due to  the fact that antibiotics aren’t supposed to be used for that long of a period, or because the exposure to all the of negative embodiments is finally overwhelming all my senses. Just a commute to work is enough to make me call in for a sick day (I don’t though) ; Lakes  in rainy days, crowds of people waiting in front of banks, Lines for gas-filling stations, lines for petrol stations, people begging near speed bumps and outside bakeries; all impossible to escape.

That is of course besides the alarming stories that are coming into attention lately, just today I read a story on the EL-BIRO site about an underage female prisoner in Tripoli talking about the city in a way I can’t even imagine, we know horrible things happen here, but detail-wise we are happily ignorant for the most part which is honestly a privilege I’m not looking to give up anytime soon.

Despite me hermit-ifying myself into a work and bingewatching routine, Tripoli has been everything but quite. Art Galleries, Events, and even a recent comic con have taken place in the past two months, and it is those things and those people that really do, very cliche-dly, give me hope in it all, they are people who are continuously pushing themselves and others to reaching their potential even when its hindered by the very people its aimed to improve.

One positive thing I can leave you with is that Nothing Ever Lasts Forever, it all has to come to an end, and whether by force or good old human nature, so will what we are going through, but until then I need to find what it is that can keep me moving and perhaps transform all the negativity I see into a fuelling agent so that instead of slowing me down, it does the opposite.

We all experience this but I’d love to hear it in your own words and know what is it that keeps you moving.  Just comment below

Inthaar // Warning

Walking into Waraq Art space is an experience within itself, let alone walking into it during an exhibit. Waraq, located near the heart of Tripoli by BenAshour, is an underground sort of headquarters for artists and art-appreciators where countless art workshops have taken place, and recently a Van Gogh day on the anniversary of the artist.

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The entrance to Waraq, above is the poster for the Inthaar Exhibit.

Most recently though, Waraq was the home to  an art exhibit titled “Inthaar / Warning”. As I walked into the exhibit for the first time I could tell that this was not an escapist exhibit,  Neither the artwork, not the atmosphere were meant to transform you anywhere, but to reinstate the lack of stability, the looming possibility of a war, and the after effects of the previous one. I later found out that the poster for the exhibit (Created by the graphic artist Alla Buddabous)  was inspired by Picasso’s Guernica, a painting Picasso created as a response to the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish civil war ( A 7.76 meter wide black and white painting hailed as one of the most powerful anti-war painting ever made) .

The lighting of the venue transformed from that its usual white into a hazardous red highlighting the warning signs that were plastered across the exhibit made for an eerie atmosphere, an almost discomfort that left you feeling slightly disturbed.  Although some of the art is humorous (The caricatures created by Suhaib Tantoush) the rest were either disturbing or morose, many left me squirming in my place.

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Some of which caught my attention were a graphic piece designed by Razan Alnaas, an image of an elderly man on a background of cash notes with the words “Kidnapped and yet to return” printed under in Arabic illustrating the grim reality Libyans face nowadays with the countless kidnappings and the hefty ransom orders that for many are simply impossible to pay off.

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On the left, a work by Razan Alnaas, Right, a work by Ziad Alhmedi

Ziad’s art approaches the theme of the gallery in what may seem like an optimistic manner with its bright colors and minimalistic illustrations, his contribution half blue, half red, representing the two genders and their roles in today’s Libya. Where he shows the male half in a sea of violence, and gives the female the benefit of escape, of living in an isolation of what is taking place, although to disagree with Ziad, women are just as much in the midst of the violence as the men, we however find better ways to live in the seclusion society is only too happy to hand to us.

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A painting by Faiza Ramadan

A full wall of Photography took over the exhibit. The photographers Mohammed Almehdewi, Nada Harib, and Nazeeh Mghedir work simply reinforced what was being symbolically conveyed by the other artists, sort of photographic evidence.

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A collection which did stick out was the Children of Wars, inspired by what I can only assume is the Star wars saga (or maybe Star Trek, I can never tell the difference) demonstrating the effects of war  playing a large part in the upbringing of a whole generation.

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This exhibit is a small testimony as to what young people in Libya can achieve despite the effects of war, or perhaps even with them, as we can’t deny that we owe a large part of our resilience, innovation, and optimism to the hard circumstances we have been thrown in.

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Enough of my excessive babbling, I will leave you with these photographs, and don’t forget to leave your comments down below :)!

Is it “love what you do” or “do what you love”?

 

Being proud of your work is not easy, especially in a place like Libya where many work in pursuit of financial stability in a time where everything and anything is all but stable. Which is why I am more than ecstatic to present The Saturday Show in its online form.

With teaching, I was motivated, I was even dedicated but I was certain it wasn’t what I wanted to do for a life time which is why it took me a few months before completely giving it up and focusing on the other aspects of my life that have been terribly ignored.

One was the blog, the other was something that would help me creatively grow, as university daren’t  challenge any of it’s students creatively, and my at-the-time didn’t have the endless bounds creativity I craved, I looked elsewhere. The radio was automatically my next attempt, I had been hosting a show at Radio Alsa3a for a while before yet I wasn’t going 100% in it for many reasons.

Lately however I embarked on a new endeavor, hosting The Saturday Show with a dearest friend Taz. Now the show is a summary of everything we love to talk and find out about including the twice a month interviews with accomplished figures from right here in Tripoli, actual examples of success that undergo all the crippling circumstances that we associate with living here.

Click here to listen to our 1st episode:

The revival episode of The Saturday Show with Sawsan Werfelli, Amideast’s representative in Libya