Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 : Recapping My Year

It's that time of the year again... time to recap my year's events. I really feel as though I have lost a year! But looking back it was not a lost year, but a different one than I had ever expected. The war in Libya has changed everything. Now it's 'Before the war .... ' and 'Since the end of the war....' It has become one of life's markers - a point in time used to measure events. So we'll start with before the war........


I didn't post much in January. It was what I didn't post that was interesting! The revolution in Tunisia and Egypt had begun and I suspected that the revolution fever would spread eventually to Libya. But of course I couldn't write much about it which was very frustrating! I reminisced a bit about time I spent in Tunisia in the past, wishing that I could write more.  Instead I spent time stockpiling in case something happened in Libya (and I prayed something would happen!). I bought cases of toothpaste, shampoo, soap, and deodorant, as well as food. I figured we'd use it regardless what happened but I wanted to be prepared for just in case. On my blog I wrote only three posts -  which only vaguely touched on revolution and unrest - although it was very much on my mind.


By February my posts were mentioning the unrest in Egypt and as the month progressed my posts became a bit bolder as I reported on things happening around me. We were glued to the television while we watched events unfold. On the sixteenth I posted about the 'pro-Leader' demonstrations I witnessed on the way home from work (using the name Kadaffi was taboo!). I didn't know it at the time but it was my last day of work for a very long time. We mostly stayed at home where it was safe, while in the distance we heard gunfire, and rumours and news found it's way to us from family, neighbours and friends. Phone and internet service started to become intermittent and I worried about friends and colleagues that were stranded in Benghazi. I was relieved when all of my colleagues finally made it safely out of Libya. In the meantime I was still here, watching the news and Kadaffi's ridiculous speeches - Zinga Zinga! Outside the safety of my house, Tripoli and the rest of Libya were erupting, helicopters were flying overhead, gunshots and unrest... Libya was in - the Arab spring continued.

March : HERE and HERE


The third of March marked the end of internet in Tripoli. The day before the internet service came to a halt I posted about a 'normal' day in Tripoli (which was far from normal). After that I began to write a daily journal that I kept  on an external hard drive that was kept stored away, hidden in a safe place, in case our house was ever raided. While the unrest in Libya continued I did my best to try to keep our lives as normal as possible. We got haircuts, I did laundry and gardening, and we watched the store shelves empty of goods. We worried about how long our stockpiles of food and other supplies would last and we prayed for the UN to impose a no-fly zone (which finally happened). On the 19th we witnessed the first NATO bombing in Tripoli - we thought it would all be over quickly but it was just the beginning. As the month progressed we settled into a routine of being bombed, watching the news and getting on with survival.  

April

The war continued, and we wondered whether we should evacuate. Food supplies continued to dwindle and  some subsidized foods began to appear at neighbourhood cooperatives. I got together with a friend to try to establish a packing up service for those ex-pats who had left their belongings behind when they fled. It proved to be unsuccessful and we scrapped the idea because without internet it was impossible to coordinate with those living outside Libya and by this time most places where ex-pats lived had been looted by Libyans - It was heartbreaking and I was so disappointed in the behaviour of those Libyans who believed that whatever was left behind was fair game. Meanwhile, I spent time cooking, reading, gardening and getting on with life. The TV news was on 24/7. The challenge to get gasoline had begun as people waiting for hours in long lines. And the war and bombing continued....

May

The war dragged on, NATO bombings became a regular event. There was a constant worry about supplies and gasoline. A friend and I found ourselves in the middle of a very dangerous situation at the gas station - one of the scariest events of my life.  Spring was ending, summer was beginning. The kids found interesting things to do on the farm (that involved scorpions and snakes!) and I did some major spring cleaning, sorting out  papers and books. One good thing happened - I finally managed to get my salary. We settled into a routine of nearly nightly air raids and lots of missed sleep.

June

There was a lot of bombing this month as the weather got hotter and hotter. We also started to suffer from power cuts which meant no air conditioning. On the 15th we were treated with the total eclipse of the full moon. We watched in awe as the full moon slowly disappeared and then reappeared. I spent a lot of time worrying about my mother who was in hospital in America. It was so frustrating being so far away and without internet. There was lots of TV news, reading, gardening and cooking as we wondered how much longer it would continue - and we planned for Ramadan.

July

The kids had final exams and we wondered how they would manage as they hadn't been to school for the lessons - just going for the exams. We also wondered whether we'd have enough petrol to get them there. With the heat and nightly bombing the kids found it very difficult to study. At one point NATO dropped leaflets on the military camp next to Sara's school asking that the area be evacuated. The leaflets were collected and destroyed and no one was told to evacuate. School continued as usual. The best thing about the whole month was that we had a house-guest who kept us busy. It was fun to have a visitor to spend time with. Power cuts were a constant problem, we switched on the news as soon as the electricity came on to find out what was happening. We geared up to face Ramadan.

August : HERE and HERE

Ramadan began on the first day of August. It would be a Ramadan like no other. We spent whole days without electricity. Cooking gas was getting scarce and gasoline was almost impossible to get except at very high prices on the black market. We did our best to cope with the situation while NATO continued their bombing raids. The most terrifying night of my life was spent when NATO bombed a nearby military camp that was being used as munitions storage facility. The deafening noise of explosions could be heard the whole night long and into the afternoon the following day - rockets and debris spiraling overhead. I feared that we would not survive. When we had power we were glued to the TV news, we watched the rebels' progress and worried about what would happen in Tripoli. We prayed to be saved from a bloodbath and our prayers were answered when Tripoli was freed. Not long afterwards the internet was reconnected and we were finally able to communicate with the world. Ramadan ended and we celebrated Eid and freedom, but although Tripoli was free the war still waged on in other parts of the country.

September

On the first of the month I posted the daily journal that I had written during the months without internet. We attended celebrations in Martyr's Square and my son Yusef toured Bab Al Azizia. I finally went back to work and was thrilled to witness my students exploring the freedom of expression; finally being able to speak their minds for the first time in their lives. I also spent time with friends at the beach. The war was still not over but we were putting our lives back together in Tripoli.

October

Tripoli celebrated, the city was decorated in flags of red, green and black. Graffiti and murals adorned every surface. My husband and I rushed out to document what we could of this artistic expression. On the 20th Kadafy was finally captured and Libya was liberated at last.

November

There was a lot of catching up to do on the internet, I spent lots of time reading articles and blogs that I had missed during the internet blackout. I posted about unexploded ordnance. Good news as Saif Al Islam was captured and on the 23rd as Libya's new cabinet was announced. I spent time with family and friends and had time for the garden too.

December

There were only three posts this month because of the poor internet service. One was a tribute to Libyan female bloggers, another a post about the education system (lack of) in Libya and the final post of the year was a complaint about the internet service - which is still giving me headaches!

2011 was one heck of a year. I'm happy to see the end of it, but honestly I can say that I have so much to be thankful for. And I discovered something about me: I lived through a war and I am a stronger person for it.

Best wishes to you all for a wonderful 2012!













Friday, December 23, 2011

A plea to LTT

I'm getting really fed up with the internet service these days. I know that Libya is recovering from a civil war and all of that - but is it too much to ask to have the internet up and running? Since the internet has come back on the provider has been offering free service while they work on gettting running properly again... so should I complain? We've heard that within a month we will have to pay for the service once again.... but what service???? 

It's off more than it's on and when it's on it's so slooooooowwwww that you all you can do is the very basic things. Forget watching a video - click and wait for it to load.... and wait... and wait.... and wait...... and then finally give up. 

Once in a while the connection will apear to speed up and you get excited, your heart starts to race, and you think 'Oh yeah! It's working!' only to find that it works for about a minute or two and then shuts down completely, switching your browser to the page that says in BIG BOLD LETTERS 'This webpage is not available'. And then you wait, and wait some more for the service to resume. Go off to have a cup of coffee and come back to check... still nothing. Go start a load of laundry and come back to check.... still nothing. Then for an instant or two, or maybe three if you are lucky the service will kick back to life and you think to yourself 'Ahhh... they've fixed it... finally' But then the service stops again.... 'I guess they're still working on it.... sigh....'

The internet is my link to my family and friends abroad. Christmas and New Years is a blink away. I want to be able to communicate with the outside world. Please LTT... get your f***ing act together!

This message was sent by a browser plugin called scribefire... without it I would never have been able to post this because the connection is too slow to log-in to Blogger. 

 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Enough school holidays.... let's get back to class

We're finally having some winter weather here. Yesterday it rained all day and the weather is cold. The dogs huddled on the porch trying to stay warm and dry.  

Nora started back at university last week. She said the university is still a mess. She had hoped this would be her final semester but because there is a shortage of lecturers she has to take fewer classes and now it will add more time until she finishes. At least she is studying and the extra time will give her more time to think about the next step - master's. The other kids are still waiting and who knows when they will return to the classroom... January... March... Apparently there are still no books. No books, no school. What a mess.

We have to find a new school for Ibrahim because his old school has no students for fourth grade this year... School for Ibrahim is a big problem. There are no schools that specialize in teaching kids with autism. If we put him in a regular school the teachers have no time to focus on his needs. Another option are schools for the mentally retarded - but he's not retarded! We recently had him re-evaluated and the 'specialist' suggested sending him to the mosque to study but we are afraid the shaikh will just abuse him. Libya has no national organization for autism. My husband's looking into options and researching what other parts of the Arab world are doing - maybe we can start something here. If you're interested in helping us start something for kids with autism in Libya please let me know.

In the meantime we are looking for a school with small class sizes and a patient teacher. Ibrahim is bored and very tired of staying home. He needs to be in a classroom. Until then my husband and I have been taking turns doing 'life skills' stuff with him and getting him into as many social situations as possible. A constant change of scenery is good for him. A few weeks ago he went through a popcorn phase - he made every kind of popcorn you could imagine! He went through 4 kilos of popcorn in two weeks... he was making popcorn in the middle of the night.  Popcorn, popcorn, popcorn.... I never thought I'd get tired of popcorn. Thank God we finally ran out!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Very Very Versatile! - Libyan Bloggerettes!


I've been awarded the the Versatile Blogger Award. Twice! First I got it from Expatlogue and more recently it was given to me by Jean from 2012: What's the 'real' truth? blog. She started reading my blog after a quest to find the 'real truth' about Libya. Unfortunately my internet is so slow that it's hard to get much blogging done - so now I'm finally catching up.

What is it?
The award is a kind of pay-it-forward award. Those who recieve it are asked to thank and link to the giver and then elect 5 to 15 other bloggers with the Versatile Blogger Award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

Well, first of all - Thank you Expatlogue and Jean

Who get's the award now?
I've decided to award some of the wonderful Libyan female bloggers with this award because they are truly versatile! 

Here is my list... not in any particular order:


Enlightened Spirit  says she's 'a soul visiting this world, happened to be a libyan girl...Wish to make this earth a better place for living ...

Fragola says: I'm not a perfect girl..my hair does not always stay in place..and i spill things a lot..i'm pretty clumsy and sometimes i have a broken heart..my friends and i sometimes fight and maybe some days nothing goes right but when i think about it and take a step back i remember how amazing life truly is and that maybe just maybe i like being unperfect.

Happymoi whose blog sees her through the transitions of being a single girl, then engaged, then married and now a working mom. 

Crowded Mind says she's: a traditional girl..it sounds like crazy life..I'd like to back to school one day I'd like to do every thing

Ema a Libyan architect who loves design, her cat Tutu, and cooking - she has a cooking blog too called Happy Baking.

From the Rock - one of the longest running Libyan blogs. She's been blogging since 2003 about all kinds of things including topics about Libya, the north African region and the Arab world. 

My Enchanting Sereeb  A Libyan/British writer, artist and culinary lover. She lives abroad and gives an interesting viewpoint from outside Libya looking in. 

Lebeeya - another Libyan girl who lives abroad - but her heart is very much in Libya. Bright, sunny and sarcastic; it's always fun to read her views and ideas.

I'd like to offer a post-humous award to Hannu from D-Log  Hannu passed away last summer. She was a vibrant addition to the Libyan blogosphere. Active in promoting young Libyan women as the face behind the TIBRA scholarship award, a wife, a mother, a career woman. She touched the lives of many. She truly is deserving of the Versatile Blogger award.





Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Cricket

Years ago my friend wrote a poem called November Cricket. She gave it to me on a peice of paper that I keep stored away as a keepsake. I seem to come across it every November when I do the annual fall deep cleaning. When I find it I stop everything, go in the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee and then I sit quietly with coffee and poem for a while, thanking God for giving me such a wonderful and dear friend. 

It's the last day of November and I came across the poem today. I thought it'd be nice to share.

November Cricket

November Cricket singing by my kitchen door-

You fill my heart with gladness,

You fill my heart with joy.

 

Now as evening falls

Your merry little notes fill the peaceful air

Saying

"This is a happy home."

 

Yes, you know we face our share

Of trials and tribulations.

Yet we are richly blessed

With all the goodness that comes

From our Father up above.

 

Sing November Cricket!

November Cricket-

I love you.

 

Rhonda Ahmed - November 16, 2001  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The end of the story or maybe the beginning

We spotted the praying mantis that has been hanging about the plumeria in our garden (here and here). Ibrahim found her on the front porch laying an egg-case on the wall and ran into the house to alert me to what was going on. 'Bring the camera mom!'

Mantis lay anywhere from 50 to 200 eggs that are encased in a bubbly foam that later dries into an egg-case called an ootheca. It will take aproximately 5 months for the eggs to hatch. 


We've enjoyed watching the mantis's life cycle in our garden. Other things have been happening in the garden lately too. Our pair of tortoises have been romancing and a bird has made a nest in one of the light fixtures on the porch. Flocks of migrating birds have been flying overhead. The early rains this year have turned the fields green and wildflowers are beginning to bloom.

Real life! It's more entertaining than television! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Something Different For A Change

I didn't do anything special on Thanksgiving. It was a normal day for me here. But today was different: I invited a whole bunch of my girlfriends over for a morning coffee get together. Eighteen ladies showed up, each one brought a dish of scrumptious food to share. And that meant there was a ton of food... yummy yum! 

But better than food it was great to see everyone again. We talked, we laughed, we shared our news and gave thanks for all things. One of my friends surprised us with some beautiful music. A song called Change - a new Libyan revolution song that my friend's daughter, Malak, helped create - she's the beautiful backup voice. It's a really pretty song with lots of meaning. I don't know who the male singer is. If you know please share in the comments. Well done Malak! I'm so proud of you.


Download the song here: Change

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sharing the moment

I have had such a wonderful day. Everyone I met was in a good mood. And on my way home after work I went to the grocery store and everyone was staring at the TV while the Prime Minister announced the new cabinet. We all just stopped, watched and shared the moment. When it was over I called out 'Mabrouk everybody! It's a new Libya!'

Saturday, November 19, 2011

They've got him at last!

They've finally captured Saif Al-shaitan Kadafy. From the pictures it looks like someone has chopped off his fingers. Let's hope they manage to keep the rest of him in one peice so he can stand trial. 

I heard the news while I was in a meeting. On the way home I got stuck in traffic for two hours... but it was HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY traffic!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Flashback - Unexploded Ordnance in Tripoli

My wimax connection is on again off again as usual, but when it's on it's seems to be a bit faster. But then again maybe this is due to the fact that our computers, laptops, netbooks, smartphones and other gadgets are pretty much updated. The internet comes on and we all  get online and everything starts to automatically update at once, putting a drain on our already slow connection. 

Today I decided to look at Google Earth - but first I had to update it... and then reboot... and then connect to the net... and finally have a look. The first thing I noticed was that the imagery in the area where I live had all been updated shortly after the liberation of Tripoli. Fantastic! 

One of the places I looked at first was the ammunition dump that was bombed in August that gave me the biggest fright of my life. I posted the experience here: August 2011  It still scares me; from time to time I have flashbacks and I have to stop and take a deep breath and pull myself together.

Imagery date: August 29, 2011 - Click on the images to see larger versions. 

In contrast - the imagery below shows the same site at the beginning of March - before the No Fly Zone was imposed. You can see that it was being used to store munitions at that time. Such a shame that Kadafy thought so little of the civilians living in the area. I suspect most people had no idea what was being stored there. We always thought it was an old unused camp.



Below is the other part of the camp after the bombardment. There are less munitions here but still a substantial amount can be seen.


Here you can see how close the bomb craters and unexploded ordnance are to the main road.
This place is a little over a mile away from me as the crow flies. It's actually two sites that are separated from one another by a small road with the main Ain Zara road running adjacent to it's western perimeter wall. The businesses and homes across the street from the site suffered a huge amount of damage but I have not heard of anyone having lost their life as a result of NATO's bombardment of the area. We were told that leaflets had been dropped warning the people to evacuate the area - but I've not seen any of the leaflets myself. In most areas where leaflets were dropped they were quickly collected and destroyed by pro-Kadafy forces.

Damage from the exploding munitions.
More damage
Some of the shops are actually being renovated although I'm not sure whether the structures would be able to pass any safety standards... but what am I thinking... it's all in God's hands here. If the building falls down while you are in it - then so be it! It was written.... sigh....

One of the issues facing the NTC is to secure munitions dumps and sites such as these. Hundreds of bombs and rockets are clearly visible through the broken wall; there is only razor-wire between the broken bits of wall and the main road. In some places the unexploded bombs are less than 30 feet from the road.





I don't think it would be possible for anyone to walk in and drag off any of the bombs that are still scattered about. They are way too heavy for anyone to manage on their own. My concern is that they might be sabotaged in some way or that they could detonate somehow by accident. I hope they clean up this site soon. Everyday I drive down that road and I say a few prayers. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Call for papers - Culture in the Era of (Post)Modern Migrations


Posting this in case anyone is interested in submitting a paper about the migration issues that were the result of the revolution/civil war in Libya. See below for details.


Khadija

-------------------------------------------------------------

SIETAR Polska and the Institute of Regional Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow is pleased to invite you to the international conference:

"Culture in the Era of (Post)Modern Migrations"


The conference will be held in Cracow, Poland on 15th and 16th December 2011.

Migration has been a constant in human history. Already in ancient times, settlers used to relocate due to "push & pull" factors: better living conditions (climate, fertile soils, richer pasturage, more abundant game), safety from enemies, or simply the draw of new lands and new life. In the modern era migration has not ceased; indeed, it has become a common, even universal phenomenon.

Contemporary trends in human movements share, to some extent, features with the previous ones. However, despite the similarities in form and cause, the effects of current migrations remain less clear and do not permit yet a full accounting.

The objective of the conference is to invite discussion from scientists, researchers and practitioners involved in the migration issues both on the local, regional, national and global level. The organizers hope to prompt a lively opportunity to discuss, analyze and exchange thoughts and points of view concerning processes associated with or initiated by current migrations.

We would be happy to welcome presentations to the following panels:
- Culture and "people on the move" as objects for new research methods within social sciences and humanities
- Unsolved problems of migration management - politics and economy
- Migration in the context of globalization - Worlds of modern nomads - from reality to virtuality
- Travel and tourism as modus vivendi of the 21st century
- Space, place, time in the era of (post)modern migrations

Conditions for participation:
- Registration through the conference website: http://www.isr.wsmip.uj.edu.pl/konferencje/migration/registrationno later then 10th November 2011
- Payment of the conference fee in Polish zloty: 490,00 PLN, no later than the 25th November 2011 (please note that the payment must be conducted in accordance with the guidelines specified in the registration system)
Cancellation after November 15, 2011 - no refund of registration fee.
Cancellation must be conferred in writing.
- Submission of the full paper or presentation no later than the 1st December 2011 (please note that the paper should be written according to the editorial guidelines given in the Annex)
Attention! Important -> Abstract submission instruction in COFFEE system
Deadlines:
- registration 10th November 2011
- notification about acceptance 15th November 2011
- conference fee payment 25th November 2011
- paper submission 1st December 2011
- notification about the conference programme 1st December 2011

Organising Committee:
Monika Banaś, PhD (monika.banas@uj.edu.pl)
Magdalena Banaszkiewicz, PhD (banaszkiewiczm@wp.pl)

Contact:
Elżbieta Jagłowska
Jagiellonian University Events Office
ul. Czapskich 4 / 301, 31-110 Krakow, Poland
tel./fax: 0048 (12) 663 38 58
http://www.konferencje.uj.edu.pl/
Kind Regards,

Kamila Kowenzowska

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Plenty to read about if your interested in Libya

Eid Al-Adha is tomorrow. I'm ready - knives are sharpened, all the pots, pans, tubs and dishes are waiting on the shelf, we've stocked up on cleaning supplies, I've got all I need for making jerky, my husband's Eid clothes are ready to wear. We're ready for the day's hard work. The only problem is that I've got a swollen eye - an allergic reaction. I look awful and the antihistamines I'm taking make me drowsy - but I'll make it through the day. Happy Eid for all of my readers who celebrate.

I haven't done a whole lot lately. I guess I'm saving up for future adventures. However, I've been spending lots of time on the internet catching up with old friends, browsing old articles and reading new ones. Now that Libyans are free to write as they like there are all kinds of intriguing subjects to read about. Some articles I've found particularly interesting or thought provoking (in no particular order and not complete):

Scholarships... an article about the abuses of the Libyan scholarship issuance and procedures. I hope there are changes in the future.

The Plight of Libyan Diplomats... an editorial written about Libyan political appointees vs career diplomats and the hopeful changes for a new Libya - an eye-opening article that would never have been published during the Kadafy regime. This article is in the Tripoli  Post, the English newspaper of Libya's past and now it's present and future. It's interesting to see the content now! Such a contrast to what was published in the past. Such a refreshing change.

The Ontario man who helped Muammar Gaddafi's son to flee... an article about Saadi's bodyguard, a man who has no qualms at all about his job. Some people find money so motivating I guess - nowhere in the article does it mention whether the bodyguard is gay... but I wonder... lolol...

Translating for Gheddafi... an account of a Libyan who worked as a translator for journalists - an insider's view to life at the Rixos Hotel during the war and gives a list of those who were paid off by the former regime.

Pro-Gaddafi group targets hundreds for assassination... about a group that says they have a list of 500 names that the Libyan Liberation Front (LLF) wants to kill, one by one. And they say it's only the first list! No names were given so I guess I just have to hope I'm not on the list.

Libyans Express Hope for a Modern Islamic Democracy...  Countless articles have been written about the new Libya embracing Islamic Sharia. The journalists jumped on this news as though it were some kind of treasure trove. Horror of horrors! Libyan men would all be running off to the pharmacy to stock up on Viagra so they could take on four wives! Libyan women would be oppressed, buried under their burkas! One-handed thieves would be easily spotted around town! What they failed to do was investigate the legal system that was already in place - one that was based on... surprise... Sharia. 

Sharia laws are not new in Libya - they have been the basis for family law, inheritance, marriage, divorce and most criminal laws. Polygamy has always been practiced in Libya. At one point during the Kadafy era a law was implemented that a man must get the permission of the first (second/third) wife(es) before being allowed to marry another - but this law was soon dropped. So nothing is really changing in Libya. It's a moderate Islamic country where women are educated, work and are not forced to wear the veil. I don't understand what the fuss is about. People hear the word 'sharia' and go into some kind of wild panic thinking women will have no rights. Instead they should look up Islamic laws and find out what they are all about. I think they will be surprised.

Libya has a new interim Prime Minister... Abdurrahim Al-Keib, an electrical engineer who was a professor in an American university for 20 years (and strangely enough I heard he is the brother of Kadafy's banker). He has a lot of work ahead of him but his appointment is to end in eight months when Libyans hold their first elections. Good luck Mr Prime Minister! You've got lawless rebels to deal with, Kadafy's psycho son is still on the loose,  and thousands of Libyan citizens are trying to get back what is rightfully theirs. Not to mention sorting out the education system, healthcare, and rebuilding (or lets just say building) the infrastructure of the entire country. Hold on for the ride of your life!  















Friday, October 28, 2011

Cats of the Libyan Revolution

The war is over, Libya has been liberated, life is slowly returning to normal. We see less and less freedom fighters on the roads, fewer guns, and a reduced number of checkpoints. 

As I was going to work one day last week the traffic slowed to a crawl and I craned my neck around the truck in front of me, trying to see what was holding up traffic but there was no checkpoint in sight. The traffic continued at a crawl. Suddenly I spotted what was holding us up. In the very centre of the road was a tiny little kitten. Drivers were trying to avoid hitting the poor little thing. As I pulled up next to it I stopped and said to my daughter 'Open the door carefully and go pick it up'. 

My daughter got back in the car with the kitten and exclaimed 'Mom it's so dirty! And her eye is infected' 'Don't worry. We'll get her sorted out later when we get home' I replied. 'Is it male or female?' I asked. 'It's a girl. What should we name her?' my daughter asked and then she started listing off all the names she could think of. 'Wait and see, we'll find a name' I replied.

I only had a few hours of work, my daughter looked after the kitten while she waited for me to finish. When we got home I told my daughter to feed the kitten and let it get used to our house. 

Later I had a look at her. She was filthy and her eye was infected, pus matting all the fur on her face, her eye was sealed shut. I gave her a warm bath, and gently wiped away the dried pus with a clean soft cloth. Then I dried her under the warm air of the hairdryer set to the lowest speed and temperature. Her eye was swollen and I wasn't sure if she even had an eye. I got out some eye ointment that I had in the medicine cabinet and applied it gently. She was so patient and sweet - never made a single complaint.

Our newest addition after we rescued her and gave her a bath.
She's just a little 'ole alleycat. I decided to name her Zenga, the Libyan word for alley which was also made famous during the Libyan uprising - Zenga Zenga! Dar dar! She's the last of the cats we aquired during the Libyan revolution. It seemed fitting to give her the name Zenga. 

Last March at the beginning of NATO's intervention in Libya and 'Odyssey Dawn', the code name for the US operation in Libya, our cat Dawn gave birth to three kittens during a particularly scary air raid; one calico we named Odyssey - my son later gave her to one of the neighbours, a pure black one  named Layla - she later dissapeared, possibly eaten by an owl, and the last a typical striped male that we named Homer after the Greek writer of the famous epic poem The Odyssey.   

Homer's favourite hobby is knocking over coffee mugs. He manages to break a few every week. In the morning he sleeps on my bed where he enjoys the morning sunbeams. The rest of the day he can be found sleeping on top of my computer or draped across the top of the keyboard. 

Homer resting in the sunbeams.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where Were You The Day Kadafy Met His End?

Yesterday marked the end of an era, the end of Kadafy. I was sitting at my desk getting some things ready for work when I heard guns going off in my neighbourhood, and the sound of a young boy shouting in the distance. 'Allah Akbar! God is great! Kadafy is dead! Kadafy is dead!' At first I just sat and listenened, not sure if what I was hearing was real. Then I called out to my daughters to switch the TV on to the news. Sure enough, they were reporting that there were unconfirmed reports that Kadafy was dead. 

Pictures! Videos! Show us some proof! 

Soon enough a still shot was presented on Aljazeera English and it was soon followed by mobile phone video footage of Kadafy's blood spattered body. By then the entire country had erupted into crazed euphoria. Guns were blasting away, horns were blaring, people could be heard shouting out 'Allah Akbar!' Someone went to our neighbourhood mosque and was shouting over the microphones, but he was soon replaced by a recording of the takbir played on a constant loop. 

I tried to call my husband but the phone service was so clogged by users calling all at once that it shut down temporarily. He finally managed to get through to me and told me not to leave the house as the celebratory gunfire was dangerous, and traffic in and around the city was so jammed it was hard to move around the city anyway. 

I got a text message from OTE that said 'Ding dong the witch is dead!' a phrase taken from a song from the movie 'The Wizard of Oz'. Within a few seconds the same message was sent again, and again, and again, every few minutes. AlMadar's sms service was going berzerk but it was so funny that it was this same message that kept being sent to me. It was as if AlMadar was sending me a singing telegram..... 

'Ding dong the witch is dead, Ding dong the witch is dead, Ding dong the witch is dead, Ding dong the witch is dead' 

I started laughing and singing the song out loud. And I wasn't alone -  Everyone in my house was either laughing, singing, shouting 'Allah Akbar' or dancing. Some of us doing all of them at once! It was as if we'd all gone crazy. This must be the hallucinatory drugs Kadafy had talked about! His death was like a drug - a happy, euphoric drug! And we were all high on it.

After a while the noise in my neighbourhood died down, most likely because everyone had gone inside to watch the news on TV. The internet turned to a crawl as everyone with internet access attempted to download the emerging news footage and videos that were hitting the web faster than the television news services could televise them.

When my husband came home I suggested we have a celebratory meal of bourdeam (meat smoked in an underground pit) with rice and salad. The meat had been marinating and was ready. So that got us away from the television for a while. But when our meal was ready we ate in front of the TV - glued to the news, watching images and video of Kadafy and his son Motesem and listening to everyone speculate as they reported the news. All the while the whole town continued to honk their car horns and shoot off guns. Soon there were even fireworks showering the sky with beautiful colour and light shows.

We all felt so happy to see the end of Kadafy. It's hard to explain the way we felt. Like walking on cloud nine, like walking on air, like having a huge weight removed from our hearts. Euphoria is a good word but how to describe it because you won't know euphoria until you're struck by it. 

We stayed up until late watching TV and checking the news on the internet. Finally we decided to go to bed. 

In the morning we packed up our breakfast picnic and headed out the door for our Friday drive. In some areas the streets were coated with a layer of bullet casings from last night's celebrations. We headed toward Bab Al Azizia. In the past week the walls surrounding Kadafy's old compound had been bulldozed. But there were still many people arriving to have a look at what remained. 

The bulldozed wall surrounding Bab Al Azizia
A flea market had been set up in front of Kadafy's bombed out house and people were buying and selling their wares under the hot morning sun. One section had been turned into a pet market and people were gathering around to look at the dogs on display.  

The Friday morning flea market in front of Kadafy's bombed out house.
Kadafy is gone. Some people think it's a shame that he's not alive to face justice. But I think Libya's wasted enough time on him - forty-two years is long enough. It's time to look toward the future. Libyans have a long road ahead of them. I am so proud that I was here to witness this day in history. 


The view of downtown Tripoli from the broken walls of Bab Al Azizia.



Monday, October 17, 2011

It's my birthday

I hope I get the best present ever. . . . .I'll let you guess what that is.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.7.4

Thursday, October 13, 2011

UPDATED | And the truth shall soon be known: Mis/Dis-information and Libya

As I was drifting off to sleep last night I was abruptly awoken by a barrage of gunfire and shouts of  'Allah Akbar' coming from all directions. My children, who were all still awake, ran out to see what was happening while my husband who was sitting in the TV room immediately started searching the news channels for information. There were unconfirmed reports that Motasem Kadafy had been captured trying to flee Sirte and had been taken to Benghazi. I got up to watch the news, hoping that they would show video or at the very least some pictures - but there was nothing. Finally I went to bed.

In the morning the reports still had not been confirmed. I watched a bit of the news and searched news websites for information but found no new information. Patience, patience, soon enough the truth will be known! 

Libya is awash in misinformation and disinformation. Today, in my blog's email I received an interesting letter from someone in Malaysia who is searching for the truth in some interesting 'facts' that someone had sent him about the 'charitable' former leader of Libya. After having a good laugh I decided to post his letter in it's entirety on my blog and let my readers answer his questions. Please feel free to comment!

Here's the email:


Hi Khadija
I sighted your blog while searching for some facts about Libyan life. Recently I received an email about Col Gaddafi and am wondering if it is at all true? Could you help verify?


Below is the email :-


The international media, influenced by the Americans, has successfully painted Gaddafi as a hard-core dictator, tyrant or whatever you want to call him. However, the media as usual has also failed to show the kind, giving Gaddafi we never heard of. Gaddafi unlike most dictators has managed to show his humane side, the very side we dream of seeing in other dictators. I consider Libyans lucky to a certain extent and one wonders with the new democratic rule they cry for will it improve or worsen life for them. Yes, Gaddafi has spent millions of Libya`s money on personal ventures but is the average Libyan poor? We know others who take a country and destroy it until you feel like there is no hope of restoring this country… looting some prefer to call it. Did Gaddafi loot Libya in any way?


Now let us get to the unknown facts about the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi:


1. There is no electricity bill in Libya; electricity is free for all its citizens.


2. There is no interest on loans, banks in Libya are state-owned and loans
given to all its citizens at 0% interest by law.


3. Home considered a human right in Libya – Gaddafi vowed that his parents would not get a house until everyone in Libya had a home. Gaddafi’s father has died while him, his wife and his mother are still living in a tent.


4. All newlyweds in Libya receive $60,000 Dinar (US$50,000) by the government to buy their first apartment so to help start up the family.


5. Education and medical treatments are free in Libya. Before Gaddafi only 25% of Libyans are literate. Today the figure is 83%.


6. Should Libyans want to take up farming career, they would receive farming land, a farming house, equipments, seeds and livestock to kick-start their farms – all for free.


7. If Libyans cannot find the education or medical facilities they need in Libya, the government funds them to go abroad for it – not only free but they get US$2,300/mth accommodation and car allowance.


8. In Libyan, if a Libyan buys a car, the government subsidized 50% of the price.


9. The price of petrol in Libya is $0.14 per liter


10. Libya has no external debt and its reserves amount to $150 billion – now frozen globally.


11. If a Libyan is unable to get employment after graduation the state would pay the average salary of the profession as if he or she is employed until employment is found.


12. A portion of Libyan oil sale is, credited directly to the bank accounts of all Libyan citizens.


13. A mother who gave birth to a child receive US$5,000


14. 40 loaves of bread in Libya costs $ 0.15


15. 25% of Libyans have a university degree


16. Gaddafi carried out the world’s largest irrigation project, known as the Great Man-Made River project, to make water readily available throughout the desert country.


Which other dictator has done so much good for his people?


Well, are these so-called facts true, my friend?


BTW, keep up the gud work with ur blog.


Much regards,
SivKay
Kuala Lumpur


*** UPDATE ***


Thanks for all the interesting comments about the misinformation that is circulating about Moamar Kadafi's charitable achievements.... NOT


It seems other bloggers in the Libyan blogosphere have also been inundated with requests to explain these most interesting facts. There is an excellent explanation to all of the above mentioned on Ema's blog: Gadaffi Myths Thanks Ema for putting that together! 


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Libya - Green Where it Should Be

For the past few weeks we've been having unusually rainy weather for this time of year in Libya. Normally the rains don't begin until mid November. Actually, I've never seen such weather in all the 22 years that I've lived here. Many people say that this weather is a blessing from God to the people of Libya and that finally the evil is being removed from the country. 

Today I went for a walk on the farm and took this panoramic photo. The leaves on the apricot and peach trees haven't begun to change colour yet. The fields are turning green long before they usually do and the wildflowers are beginning to sprout. Everything smells fresh and clean. If this weather keeps up the fields will soon be ablaze with the colours of wildflowers. 

Green - where it should be. - click on the image to see a larger picture

The war in Libya continues..... Please keep Libya in your prayers!

Friday, October 07, 2011

On a quest

The weather was fantastic this morning. My husband and I got up early, packed a picnic breakfast, grabbed our cameras and headed out the door. We were on a quest to track down and photograph Libyan street art to post the Libyan Street Art blog

We weren't sure where we would begin, just following our noses. Along the way we took other pictures too. I thought these of the flags were especially nice. 



The weather was perfect. We stopped along the shore to have our picnic breakfast. By 10:30 the lighting was getting too harsh for good shots, so we headed for home.

The fighting continues in Sirte. Don't stop praying for Libya!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Libyan Street Art

I've set up a photoblog to collect and display images of street art inspired by the February 17th Revolution. Have a look:


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Creative Collaboration

One of the wonderful things that is happening in Libya is that Libyans are finally free to express themselves. This is showing up in many ways, but I'm truly amazed by the graffiti and murals being painted all over the city. Many people are even hiring artists to decorate the outside walls of their homes. Designs range from very simple spray-painted graffiti to elaborate murals that are worthy of museums and galleries. 



I cannot help but to slow down as drive by to admire these works inspired by the revolution and the Libyans' newfound freedom. My husband, children and I often stop to take pictures and we see other people taking pictures too.



Many of the messages are written in English as well as Arabic and sometimes in the Berber language, Tamazight. Red, green, and black, the colours of the new flag are used in abundance. And many pictures feature Kadafy and his son Saif Al-Islam. The range of work and ideas expressed by the people of Libya after 42 years of creative suppression is simply awesome.


I'd like to start a blog or website to post images of these interesting works of art. Is anyone interested in collaborating on this with me?

Still Praying

This morning I found our praying mantis friend still happily roosting in the plumeria. Can you see him? He blends right into the leaves.



Keep praying for Libya!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Evening Prayers in My Garden

We've been taking advantage of the beautiful weather this evening to spend some time in the garden. Sara spotted a lovely praying mantis perched on the frangipani, which is also called plumeria.



Mantis are friends of the garden because they eat pests and other insects, while being harmless to humans. I'm always so happy when we find them in the garden.


Did you know.....

  • The word "mantis" comes from the Greek word meaning prophet.

  • Praying mantis eggs can be sold online and is popular among farmers who purchase them to control pests.

  • One mantis species in Spain, Apteromantis aptera, is actually considered as endangered.

  • The praying mantis is actually more closely related to the cockroach than to grasshoppers!

  • It is believed that the female mantis will eat the male after mating since the protein helps in egg development. 

  • The praying mantis has excellent eyesight and can see up to about 50 feet away.

  • The praying mantis is the only insect that can rotate its alien-like head almost completely around! House flies can tilt their head slightly but not to this degree. This flexibility helps with their hunting.

  • In French culture, the praying mantis can supposedly guide a lost child home.

  • In China, roasted praying mantis eggs were eaten to treat bedwetting!

  • The praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer. But it is often spelled preying mantis and is googled this way almost as often as the correct spelling.  Preying Mantis is in essence of the character of the insect and correctly describes its predatory nature.


I like to think that the mantis is really praying. And boy, oh boy we need a lot of prayers these days!

The war in Libya continues........ Keep praying for Libya! 

Friday, September 30, 2011

A day at the beach & finally Tripoli gets some rain



Last Saturday my girls and I got together with some friends for a day at the beach. We went to a beach near Garabali and as we weren't sure about the situation on the road we all met up in the morning and convoyed out together - safety in numbers.

The ride out was uneventful and pleasant. There were only a few checkpoints, one we found interesting near Tajoura because it was made out of stacked empty shipping containers. We passed through quickly, the men manning the checkpoint were friendly and polite.

Near Tajoura- a checkpoint made of stacks of empty shipping containers.

The day was lovely, the weather sunny and mild, the water warm. It felt so nice to be able to relax on the beach and enjoy the day. I hadn't seen most of my friends since before the war and some of them since last year - we had lots of catching up to do. 


Jenna had arrived at the beach looking pale but within half an hour her cheeks began to turn red and her freckles popped out - like magic! 

Jenna on the way home - sun-kissed cheeks and wind blowing through her hair.
 
We had planned to leave at four o'clock, but as the ride out was uneventful we decided to extend our time at the beach, leaving as dusk was approaching. Again we passed through the shipping container checkpoint - this time at night. 

The checkpoint at night. I love the lighting on this shot.

Later during the week the weather changed. It got cooler and cloudy with some really fabulous thundershowers. Thunder and lightning while the rain poured down. It was as though the air were being cleaned of the summer. Finally it feels like autumn has arrived in Libya!

Usually toward the end of summer teams of cleaners set to work along the major roads in and around Tripoli. They open up the drain covers and dig out all the sand and debris that clogs up the works. But because of the war this wasn't done this year, the result was floods just as soon as the rain started to come down. 

Flood water near Fornaj Circle, Tripoli.


I got stuck in floodwater near the Fornaj Circle (recently named University Square). Everyone drove through carefully. I've noticed a change in the way most people drive nowadays; people are much more patient than in the past.

The war still continues in Sirte and Bani Walid.

Please keep Libya in your prayers!








Friday, September 23, 2011

Pouring Their Hearts Out


I've been busy getting myself back to some kind of normal. Life in Tripoli is improving everyday but it will take a while for everyone to get back to work and on their feet again. 

I went back to work last Saturday and resumed classes that had been interupted since last February. Not all the students have been able to come back yet. Although stability is returning to Tripoli, the war continues in Sirte and Bani Walid as well as part of Sebha.

Some of my students are fighting at the front, some are involved in getting supplies to the fighters and some I haven't heard from at all -  I pray they are safe and well. The rest are coming to class and we've been doing some review to get us started again. But most of all the students want to practice their speaking/communication skills.  They finally have something to talk about! Never before have I seen such an outpouring of thoughts, feelings and ideas from my students. They have discovered the freedom of being able to speak their minds for the first time  in their entire lives. It is an amazing thing to be a part of this, to hear them express themselves like never before. It's so wonderful!

  

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's the little things....



We have Doritos in Tripoli again!

Yeah! Woo Hoo!

Now if only they can bring Fritos here too....



Fritos... look at that package Mr. Supermarket man... get some to put on your shelves next to the Doritos. I guarantee the customers will be snapping 'em up!

I was out and about this morning. Almost all of the shops have reopened. The shelves are being restocked, slowly but surely. People look so happy to be out and getting back to work and soon school will start again too. And there's the smell of autumn in the air too. It feels wonderful! 


Thursday, September 08, 2011

A Big Fat Libyan Wedding


Well, I finally got my invitation to Aisha Kadafy’s wedding. It was a long time coming. You’re probably wondering what on earth this is all about. Well, here’s the story:

Over the years, every once in a while, I would come across someone that would ask me ‘Do you like The Leader (Moamar Kadafy)?’. Of course in Libya talking about the leader has always been a taboo subject. You didn’t even dare to say his name; usually he was just referred to as ‘The Leader’. Of course, all that’s changed now – you can call him whatever you want, and most times it’s not something nice.

So here I would be, faced with this rather awkward question, wondering if the person doing the asking planned to report whatever I said to internal security. I didn’t want to lie and say I loved the man, or that I even liked him. So I finally decided that when faced with this rather inane question I would reply  truthfully ‘No’.

This answer always provoked a look of shock and disbelief. And then I would add ‘I wasn’t invited to his daughter’s wedding.  I have always done my best to promote his country and to do whatever I can for Libya and its citizens. The least he could have done was to invite me to the party. And you know in Libya if you aren’t invited to someone’s munasabat (occasions) you can just cross them right off your list. So he’s off my list.’ They would spend about a minute contemplating my explanation and then have to agree with me because I had explained it in such a way as to include their very own social custom. And of course, thinking I was joking they would also laugh (rather nervously).

Would I have gone to the wedding if I had been invited? I’m not sure. I hate Libyan weddings and this would have been a mother of a wedding. But in a weird way it would have been nice to have been asked. After the start of the Libyan uprising a video of Aisha’s wedding was leaked to YouTube (here and here).  The wedding had an underwater theme complete with a golden mermaid throne for the bride and groom to sit on while they watched their guests and were entertained by famous Arabic singers. I’m sure it must have cost a fortune, but the overall effect looked really shlafty (Libyan word for redneck).

So where is this story going you are wondering. Keep reading, keep reading….

After the rebel fighters stormed Moamar Kadafy’s compound, Bab Al Azizia, and secured it, people poured in to have a look at all that was there. And there is a whole lot to look at! The place is huge.  And while they were having a look people went crazy and started looting the place. They drove in with trucks and hauled off the furniture, carpets, air conditioners, TVs and anything else they wanted (including arms and ammunition). Kadafy’s house was full of the leader’s personal effects; clothes, books, medical records, they even found his personal photo album devoted to his beloved Condoliza Rice. People and journalists started riffling through all the personal documents and secret files and records that were stored there too.

At first, when I watched this free-for-all on television I was appalled. Then my husband said ‘Let them take it all. Let them get this rage out of their systems. Let them see for themselves what’s been kept from them.’ Apparently, the future plan is that they will demolish the site and turn it into a public park. I suppose it would cost a fortune to hire a company to come get rid of this stuff – why pay? Just let the people haul off what they want. Of course files, and other things of that nature need to be preserved and archived. And weapons need to be secured. But the rest of the junk… let them take it.

As we watched the looting on tv my kids wanted to go to Bab Al-Azizia and see for themselves like everyone else, but I said ‘Not yet. Wait until things settle down a bit.’ We took the kids to Martyr’s Square instead and they had a great time joining in the celebrations. And then we just forgot about going to Bab Al-Azizia. We were busy getting on with our lives. So when my son Yusef came in to the kitchen for breakfast a few days ago and said he was going there with his cousin I was surprised. I asked him what he was going to do and he said that they wanted to explore the place and see it for themselves.

So off he went with his cousin on an adventure that lasted the entire day. And he said he still had not seen everything. The compound is huge; by some accounts over 6 square kilometers. He had a great time discovering what was there. He even sat in Kadafy’s  jacuzzi . That family must have been obsessed with jacuzzi’s – they had them everywhere!

Despite the fact that it’s been over two weeks the looting continues. Yusef wasn’t interested in plundering the compound, he just wanted to explore. But at one point he looked down at his feet and something caught his attention.  A cream coloured envelope, peeking out was a card engraved in gold. He reached down to pick it up and discovered that it was an invitation to Aisha Kadafy’s wedding. Obviously he couldn’t pass that up; he had to bring the invitation home to present to me.

So that is the story of how I got an invitation to Moamar Kadafy’s daughter’s wedding!

Remote control is to show scale.